Hurting, hopeless and helpless, 17-year-old Kristen Anderson made a decision that changed her life forever. Believing that life was too much for her to handle, she lay down on the train tracks near her home, prepared to die.
God, however, had a different plan.
In a tragedy that should have, by all accounts, taken her life, Kristin survived 35 train cars racing over her at 55 miles per hour and lost more than 8 pints of blood.
Life, In Spite of Me is her story. It’s the story of what led up to her attempt on her own life. It’s the story of the pain and suffering she endured through the recovery process. It’s the story of her surrender to Christ. It’s the story of how God can do anything and use anyone. It’s a story of hope.
Now 28, Kristen is living a life she never dreamed possible. She is happy, content, hopeful, and used by God. She has a ministry to people who are struggling in the areas she once struggled and she speaks across the nation on the hope that she found in Christ.
I highly recommend this book.
When I read Life, In Spite of Me, I found that a lot of the struggles that Kristen went through are the struggles that many people go through and just do not know how to respond. If only we would cry out to Christ! Through a difficult set of circumstances, that’s exactly what Kristen did; God drew her and led her to a place where she surrendered everything. He changed her life and gave her hope. And the awesome thing is, He can do that for anyone.
While the subject matter was difficult and sensitive, I found the book surprisingly easy to read. Part of that may be that I work with women who are and have been in very similar situations as Kristen, so I wasn’t very shocked or disturbed by the things she spoke of. I was very encouraged to read Kristen’s story of how she overcame her past, overcame her fears, overcame her struggles with smoking, drinking, and depending on antidepressants. What a wonderful testimony of what Jesus can do in a person who belongs to Him!
Kristen continued to face problems after her suicide attempt, and after she initially cried out to God, and after she finally surrendered all. We will all face trouble and hardship and struggle through things. How we respond to our problems is very important. Kristen first responded wrongly to her circumstances and problems; but later, as she grew and God worked in her heart and life, she learned the right way to respond, and that has completely changed her life. Kristen eventually came to a point where she was no longer bitter about what she lost, but instead recognized that what she gained was far greater; she came to a place where she didn’t want to go back for anything, because this was what God used to bring her to salvation.
I want to share a few quotes I read this past week that I believe tie into this. I apologize for the length!
If our circumstances make us what we are, then we are all victims. And that’s just what the Enemy wants us to believe. Because if we’re all victims, then we aren’t responsible – we can’t help the way we are. But God says we are responsible – not for the failures of others, but for our own responses and lives. The Truth is, our circumstances do not make us what we are. They merely reveal what we are.
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss
We want to know no will but God’s in this question… The experience of the past winter would impress upon me the fact that place and position have next to nothing to do with happiness; that we can be wretched in a palace, radiant in a dungeon…perhaps this heartbreaking is exactly what we need to remind us… that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.
The Truth is that we can trust a wise, loving, sovereign God to control every circumstance of our lives. Joy, peace, and stability come from believing that every circumstance that touches our lives has first been filtered through His fingers of love and is part of a great, eternal plan that He is working out in this world and in our lives.
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
We tend to look at the circumstances of life in terms of what they may do to our cherished hopes and convenience, and we shape our decisions and reactions accordingly. When a problem threatens, we rush to God, not to seek his perspective, but to ask him to deflect the trouble. Our self-concern takes priority over whatever it is that God might be trying to do through the trouble. An escapist generation reads security, prosperity, and physical well-being as evidence of God’s blessing. Thus when he puts suffering and affliction into our hands, we misread his singles and misinterpret his intentions.
Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, and desolation, with both thy hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion of dying to self, and entering into a fuller fellowship with thy self-denying, suffering Saviour.
True joy is not the absence of pain but the sanctifying, sustaining presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst of the pain.
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Helping people to feel loved and worthwhile has become the central mission of the church. We are learning not to worship God in self-denial and costly service, but to embrace our inner child, heal our memories, overcome our addictions, lift our depressions, improve our self-images, establish self-preserving boundaries, substitute self-love for self-hatred, and replace shame with an affirming acceptance of who we are.
Recovery from pain is absorbing an increasing share of the church’s energy. And that is alarming.
We have become committed to relieving the pain behind our problems rather than using our pain to wrestle more passionately with the character and purpose of God. Feeling better has become more important than finding God.
As a result, we happily camp on biblical ideas that help us feel loved and accepted, and we pass over Scripture that calls us to higher ground. We twist wonderful truths about God’s acceptance, his redeeming love, and our new identity in Christ into a basis for honoring ourselves rather than seeing those truths for what they are: the stunning revelation of a God gracious enough to love people who hated him, a God worthy to be honored above everyone and everything else.
We have rearranged things so that God is now worthy of honor because he has honored us. “Worthy is the Lamb,” we cry, not in response to his amazing grace, but because he has recovered what we value most: the ability to like ourselves. We now matter more than God.
-Dr Larry Crabb
The Truth may not change your circumstances – at least, not here and now – but it will change you. The Truth will set you free.
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss
I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race
and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -
the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
To Live is Christ!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. Click here to read chapter 1.