Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Review: Not Forsaken

Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse, Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, The Good Book Company, 2019, 232 pages.

Not Forsaken by Jennifer Michelle Greenberg began as series of letters to her husband to try to explain the trauma and emotional, mental, and physical aftermath of her child abuse. She also wrote for her own understanding of herself and to try to make sense of what she endured. Those letters became this book, and I am so glad she wrote it for the rest of us.

The book begins with memories from Jenn's childhood. Painful memories of fear and betrayal. But also memories of crying out to God to be the father she did not really have. These recollections, while written with discretion, are raw and a window into the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father who was a professing Christian.

The subsequent chapters work through the questions that she had to come to terms with. Was she really abused? Does Jesus understand? Jenn also deals with the issues of trauma, which she describes as a "concussion of the heart," self harm, guilt, and more. The misunderstanding that victims endure regarding reporting, the fear of not being believed, and pain of being doubted are eye-opening especially for readers who haven't suffered abuse. Also basic concepts like being made in God's image, the fatherhood of God, and love itself have been so distorted that they needed to be learned perhaps for the first time. Jenn's chapter on forgiveness is one of the best that I have ever read. She upholds the grace of God for sinners in balance with the need for repentance, God's justice, and care for the victims.

I had a hard time putting the book down once I started reading it, although there were times I had to pause and cry. Jenn's writing is candid, powerful, and full of hope in the God who did not forsake her. In her reflections, she sometimes incorporates the stories of other survivors but always draws her conclusions from the Word of God. While Not Forsaken isn't meant to be prescriptive or a clinical manual, it provides spiritual and practical insight on how to support and not add to the hurt through ignorance or misunderstanding.

I strongly recommend Not Forsaken. If you are a victim/survivor, you will find a compassionate friend who has walked a similar path. If you are a church leader or anyone who cares about the suffering of others, this book is for you, too. It will help you to better love and support the child abuse victim/survivor who may be in your family, next door, or in the next pew.

I received a copy of this book from The Good Book Company. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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