Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Book review: Devout

Today I picked up Anna Gazmarian's new book Devout: A Memoir of Doubt. I began by reading the foreword, just to get a sense of the work. And it was good. It was so good that I read the whole book today. Learn more about the book here.

(Full disclosure: Anna is my daughter's sister-in-law. I have known her for years, and I knew a good bit of her story already. And I want to cheer her on.)

This book shows one young woman's struggle with church culture and her deep desire to honor God. For some, the Christian life at least appears to be easy, but for Anna it felt all but impossible. She notes how shallow some Christian communities can be, how she tried so hard to fit in. But her own experience did not fit the mold. 

Many churches and Christians could not grasp Anna's challenges with mental health. Well-meaning people urged her to try more prayer, more faith, more Bible reading. But easy answers were simplistic. 

As she tells her story, Anna shares insights from the scripture, showing struggles of faith in the heroes of the faith. Her depth of understanding inspires people like me to keep digging into the riches of relationship with God. 

As a gifted story-teller, Anna takes us with her on her journey. She leans on the Christian community as well as the world of psychiatry. In both spheres she finds those who can help and those who just don't get it. She shows how creativity can connect us with the work of the Spirit in us. She shows us the pain and the rewards of addressing mental health. 

I can think of dozens of people I want to give this book to. It's a real story about a real struggle. It calls out Christian cliches and calls us to take mental health seriously. 

Anna, your story gives us permission to live with doubt and to face our own struggles with mental health. For many, reading your story will be a game-changer.