Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking – Anjuli Paschall

Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking by Anjuli Paschall
Published by Bethany House on March 31,2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Memoir
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As women, we are exhausted. Our hearts are being wrung out to dry--squeezed and yanked in every direction. We take care of everyone but ourselves. We've gotten lost in bedtime routines and our Costco lists. We have lost our voices in the storm of everyday life. We need to be reminded to reach inward and heed the quiet voice whispering, Stay.

This book is for anyone who longs for a connection with God and his people but can't seem to escape the haunting feelings of guilt, shame, loneliness, and fear. Through raw, authentic stories, (in)courage writer Anjuli Paschall invites you to stop running from your pain and to recognize that the deep end of your story is the way to intimacy with Christ. Alongside Anjuli, you will encounter a loving God who invites you to stay with him at the table of your soul, where you are free to spill the milk, to fumble through your words, to embrace the awkwardness and the joy, and to taste and see that he is good.

Anjuli Paschall encourages women to stay within the mess of their everyday lives instead of seeking shortcuts to wholeness, and since the COVID-19 shutdown requires us to literally “stay” right now, her advice on vulnerability and contentment is especially timely. Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking challenges the lie that we need to meet worldly standards of perfection in order to be lovable, and encourages her readers to see the shameful, painful, and frustrating parts of their lives as places in which they can meet God. Because our current world crisis has ripped away common comforts and inescapably magnified life problems, this is especially encouraging right now.

Paschall illustrates her message with personal stories, and even though this is more of a memoir than a teaching book, she writes with such vivid sensory and emotional details that I soon felt as if I knew her. This book is like sitting down at a coffee shop with a good friend, hearing about their life and laughing with them over their stories and past mistakes. Paschall’s rallying cry against “mom-guilt” will resonate with lots of women, and because she also writes about her childhood, her search for belonging in college, and her professional joys and struggles, this book is very well-rounded. There is something here for most women to connect with, regardless of their context or life stage.

However, even though these personal elements make the book very engaging and accessible, they sometimes distract from the author’s spiritual messages. She frequently quotes from Scripture as she writes about “staying” in the hard and difficult parts of her life, but the book is mainly about her experiences, not Christian teaching. It’s a great memoir to read for fun and encouragement, but readers who are seeking a more robust, theological view of vulnerability and grace should look elsewhere.