“As a girl and young woman, I memorized hundreds of Scripture verses in vacation Bible school and in Sunday school. I grew up memorizing the hymn book. I didn’t, however, grow up understanding much about God’s grace and freedom.” [pg. 191]
For so many women around the country, the melodic sound of Anita Lustrea’s voice piping into the kitchen each day on Moody Radio is a call to sit down with a good sandwich and breathe deeply during the lunch hour. Speaking for myself, her show Midday Connection has been a welcome hour-marker in my day; for years I have flipped on the radio, scrambled to hush crying babies or quickly closed the door on a noisy washing machine so that her conversations could bring light into my day. You can imagine, then, how I felt to have received a note from her asking me to review her new book [WOW!]. And after you read the book yourself, you’ll understand the joy I felt in turning each page [11+ pages dog-eared].
While the topics discussed in Anita’s book are reflective of what one might hear on Midday, rather than threading in an outside voice to the dialogue, Anita stitches in her own unvarnished story of growing up and grappling with the ebb and flow of life. Whether it be loneliness, struggling with fitting in, divorce, single motherhood, or body issues, Anita’s journey is told with the curtain pulled back and the lights fully on. To her credit, she doesn’t retreat into silence when discomfort creeps in: she tackles it with truth and the kind of authenticity that brings the reader back through the chapters of her own history to the place where she can whisper, “me too.”
What struck me about What Women Tell Me was how well-crafted each chapter was. Opening each chapter with an email snippet from a radio listener, Anita dives in with her own stories recounted from various points in her life, drawing on Scripture and noted authors for depth and breadth. With a skill and eloquence that is not overdone, people, places, and emotions become real–nearly tangible. I could picture the junior high version of Anita navigating the halls of her school. I could sense the deep longing within her for true, lasting friendship. I remembered having been there myself.
In particular, Anita’s bravery in discussing both divorce and the issue of pornography should be applauded–especially by those within the church who often turn a blind eye [or fire quick judgment] to these kind of bleeding wounds. I was surprised by all the hurt and struggle the Lord has brought into Anita’s life, yet she unfolds each detail with the hope that her story can bring freedom to another shrouded in secrets.
Anita is real and unflinching in her storytelling and in her faith. I picked up the book with curiosity and put it down next to a list of people with whom I need to share it. If you have ever felt the tight, suffocating grip of secrets, I encourage you to read this book while you seek the freedom Christ died to give you: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galations 5:1.
This year, end your slavery to secrets and isolation! Choose today to unyoke yourself. Find room to breathe, room to cry, room to be real…in the pages of What Women Tell Me, and ultimately, in the arms of Jesus.