It took me a long time to become a mother. Years of infertility treatments and a most unconventional adoption finally turned me into a mother. The next step for me was to become the mother I want to be. This is something that I struggle with every day- am I being the best parent I can be for my children? What can I do better? How can I help them to have a better spiritual experience that I did? How can I help them to develop a relationship with God?
My list of questions is unending, so I grabbed the opportunity the read and review Sharla Goettl’s Spiritual Resilience: LEADING OUR YOUTH TO GO and DO.
Okay. So. To be fully honest, I was initially … disappointed when I first opened the book. In summary, Goettl’s thesis is entire founded in the book of 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Whilst I love a good exegesis of scripture, I was not looking forward to the typical church book that would tell me I was doing everything wrong, feminism is bad and I need to repent a lot before I even read the second page. You know those books.
Thankfully, this was not the case in this book. It has been a long time since I read a non-academic church book, and though Goettl does offer advice based on what she learned in reading the Book of Nephi, what she shared was absolutely her voice. That is to say that she did not shape her analysis with politics, an agenda to prove something, or because she is trying to write a best seller. Sure, she quotes LDS prophets, but not in a manner that seems like she is using them to show or prove some kind of ecclesiastical superiority. Rather as I read, I felt like I was reading the words of the kind of mother who cared about me, and my children. Goettl’s words are those of a believer, but also as someone who takes humility seriously. She sounded open minded, and willing to let her children to explore spiritual self-sufficiency even if it wasn’t exactly how we are “supposed to”. She allows the reader to breathe and follow their own promptings. For example:
“My family and I read the scriptures together the best we know how…There was a time years ago we could hardly read three verses a few times a week. I have come to understand that our collective, continual efforts toward progress are acceptable to the Lord.” (page 140)
In other words, perfection isn’t for now, and that is okay. How I crave this advice!
I love reading how much love and admiration Goettl has for her three daughters, and the stories of her daughters actually teach her to be a better person as well as a better parent. She tells us, “In this hopefully helpful book, I have tried to muster all my truth.” (146) This is what made the book work for me. The author does not try to challenge others who do not agree with her, nor does she try to sell you on the church as a perfect institution. There was not one iota of strawman here. Rather, she teaches you about how she balances her relationships with her children, with God, and with the Spirit, without talking down.
The book does not challenge religious inequalities as it positions all on the same playing field. It is written from a faithful believer’s, though not a blind faith, point of view.
As a part of the book’s Blog tour, there is a Rafflecopter contest here that runs from May 1-8 to win a copy of the book from the author.
It is published by CastorAmera and is available from Amazon.