TerKeurst's Uninvited vs. Brownback's Finding God in My Loneliness
September 22, 2017
This is a guest post from my friend, Dana Tuttle. She has recently read Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited and Lydia Brownback’s Finding God in My Loneliness side by side. As we were discussing the differences, I asked her to write a review for Housewife Theologian comparing the two.
For most of my experience as a Christian, I have sat in church alone as a single woman, as a married woman, and even as a mother. I do not feel lonely as I go about my daily routine in any of these seasons in my life until that moment when I join my fellow believers in church. Don't get me wrong, I have been actively involved in several ministries and enjoy being apart of the weekly services, but the prick of loneliness is there, nonetheless.
I look around and see several families sharing in the experience of worship together. I thought that would change when I got married, but it did not. I realize when I am there that I struggle with loneliness and that I long to share this with my own family. I see and talk to other women who share my same struggle and I know that I am not alone in my spiritual loneliness at church.
I asked Aimee Byrd if anyone has written about loneliness and if she could direct me to a book that would be helpful on this topic. She immediately recommended Finding God in Your Loneliness, by Lydia Brownback. However, during our talk, which also consisted of coffee, laugher, interruptions, and eclectic topics, I quickly forgot her recommendation.
Around the same time, my church was starting a book club, and they had chosen Uninvited, by Lysa TerKeurst to read. At first, I thought it was the book that Aimee had recommended since the book was about loneliness. I spoke with her again to refresh my memory on what she had recommended and Uninvited was not it. I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to get to know the ladies in my church, so I decided to read both at the same time and compare the two.
I generally like to read several books on the same topic and was excited to take on the task of reading both books at the same time. TerKeurst is a popular female Christian author and president of Proverbs 31 ministries. As a New York Times #1 Bestseller, her book was easy to find, standing out on the bestseller shelf even at Target. Brownback is also a female Christian author and speaker, however her book was a little more difficult to find. With both books in my hand, I was eager to see what these two ladies had to say about the topic. For me, I was specifically looking for guidance with spiritual loneliness within my marriage and as I attend weekly church services.
I don't feel uninvited, unloved, less than, or even left out, but I do feel lonely when it comes to attending church without my family. Going into TerKeurst's book, I was hopeful that it would touch on the situation I was facing. Within the 250 pages, I thought that there would be at least a chapter for me to glean from.
The chapter titles were confusing as I searched for a straightforward statement that mentioned loneliness in marriage or church. Instead, I found chapters about "the lady at the gym who hates me" (the title of Chapter 3). TerKeurst points out that "there are misalignments embedded in our soul" (3) and that we have a "broken identity" (12). I know enough basic doctrine to know that we are more than just misaligned and our identities aren't the only thing that is broken. I felt as though she was not treating her reading audience as mature thinking, Christian women. This concern was solidified on page 120 where she calls us "Jesus girls." Yes, she does get around to using the word sin, but she never gets around to discussing the deep issues in which people may feel lonely. TerKeurst keeps it safe and stays on the surface talking about the lady who ignored her or the lady who is thinner than she is. These were really the examples she was giving in every chapter. She shared an over emphasis on her poor body image and never mentions the body of Christ---the church, his bride. Instead, I was directed several times to her issue with cellulite. In Chapter 9, she discusses rejection and compares her experience to Hannah's barrenness. Only TerKeurst's struggle was about the lady who got the writing job instead of her, calling her "thigh gap girl."
TerKeurst’s chapters and stories were cluttered and I had a difficult time navigating through her book. She has some false teaching as well when she encourages us to "be prepared to hear new things from the Lord" (112) and to "seek your own divine revelation" through prayer and journaling (177). Just when I was about to give up hope she did share the gospel, point me to Christ and encouraged me to read God's word. For that I am thankful. I wish she would have invited her readers to believe the gospel and that sin plays a large part in why they are feeling "less than, left out and lonely."
In contrast, Brownback's book was clear and organized. Each chapter was important and led into the next one. Brownback starts right off with a true definition of why we are lonely in the introduction. "Loneliness is an indicator that something is missing, and that something is found only in Jesus Christ." Just 14 pages in and I have hope! I was able to go straight to the chapter titled "The Loneliness of Marriage," where she had great advice and application. She reminds us, "to view [your husband] as a surrogate savior is to intensify our loneliness" (130). Instead, she encourages us to "lean into our heavenly Bridegroom" and "we will find what no earthly husband could ever give us" (131).
In her carefully thought out chapters, Brownback addressed real issues that cause loneliness like relocating, singleness, and grief from a death or a divorce. I felt like she was writing to an audience of mature thinking Christians and I felt respected. Her book contained enriching vocabulary and intelligent thoughts. I was convicted and encouraged to repent as she touched on the sins that we may lean toward to fill in the gap of loneliness. I was pointed to Christ in every single chapter. Right from the beginning of the book, I was given hope and a remedy for my loneliness. She didn't wait until the final chapter to fill us up with the good news. Brownback used many examples of people in scripture as examples of those who struggled with loneliness, while spurring me on towards my heavenly Groom and his kingdom!
I am not sure if Lydia Brownback has cellulite or a thigh gap, but I do know that Christ is the answer to her loneliness and being in the body of believers, even though it may feel lonely at times, is the remedy.
You can listen to an MoS interview with Lydia Brownback on her book here: Is One the Loneliest Number?
Dana Tuttle is a housewife theologian who is obsessed with headless queens. She is a wife and the mother of 11-year-old twin boys. She daydreams about owning a pub, but is happy with her role as the crazy theme mom and scrapbooking fool. Dana is an over-achiever in Book Review Club, and can often be found hiding in her closet reading books written by dead theologians while eating the latest leftover holiday candy.