Annie F. Downs has done it again. Maybe it’s the fact that she lives in Nashville, and I just tend to trust Nashvillians more than I do the average person, but I’m such a fan of her style and the way she thinks.
Her writing isn’t flashy or extraordinary necessarily, but it shines because of its simplicity. It’s in the way she breaks things down and sets the scene. The heart of it reads like a warm conversation.
After reading her last book, “Let’s All Be Brave,” I was so ready to take on the world; a fire burning deep inside of me. I was ready to move across the country, brainstorm new ministries, write a book and go wherever God called me. It woke me up from mediocrity, and the fact that God has called each of us with a special mission to carry out, we just simply have to say yes and do that thing. It woke me up out of my comfort zone and made me see how far I’d come by breaking me out of my shell, and in the ways that God had already used me.
In “Looking for Lovely,” Downs talks specifically about looking for those beautiful moments — the different seasons of life we experience, such as pain, beauty, ugliness and so on, and all with a myriad of metaphors and stories, including the Ryman Auditorium, cocaine, love life, growing up and the like. There are also exercises throughout several of the chapters, like having a conversation with a friend, watching the sun rise in the morning, painting your nails and taking some time out for you…Really, just moments that make you pause and engage you to go beyond just reading some words on a page.
Throughout her own stories, she gives readers a chance to stop and reflect on their own moments — hurts, hangups, and dreams. Her writing is like a breath of fresh air, and after every chapter, I continuously felt like I was at the beginning of something really good and couldn’t wait to see how it ended.
I related most to her this time around when she talked about quitting. I don’t know that I’d call myself a quitter in my professional life, but she talks about how she runs and escapes when things are emotionally challenging. I’ve been there. In fact, I’m in one of those seasons now. Rather than wanting to deal with the situation, I’d rather just ignore it and walk away, because it’s easier than ripping that band-aid off, right? Except for it’s not and it gets you nowhere in the long run.
Downs is honest and real. She doesn’t sugarcoat, but she also doesn’t condemn. She does it in love and truth. And she has such a love for Jesus that just jumps right off the page. She encourages girls (and of course, guys, too) how God has a calling on their lives and that this world is messed up, yes, but it is through persevering in the challenges that we are able to grow and come into what God has planned for us. Sometimes life is just plain tough, and it’s okay to feel all of those emotions. God’s a big boy and can handle us in each and every phase that we go through. But, it’s in those moments that we also recognize what a HUGE God we serve and how we can be assured that He is there with us, even when nothing else makes sense around us.
“If you aren’t experiencing pain, you aren’t experiencing beauty. Darkness makes us appreciate the beauty of the light. If you aren’t allowing yourself to feel the hurt, sadness, loneliness and disappointment this fallen world has to offer, you probably aren’t feeling the fullness of the joy and beauty the redeemed moments have to offer.”
~Annie F. Downs (“Looking For Lovely”)
I can’t express enough just how much I throughly enjoy her books. She also has a couple others that I need to check out as well. Go out and buy your own copy, then look for some lovely in your own life.
That’s all for now,