WOUNDED BY GOD’S PEOPLE displays a perfect title, in that it describes the book’s content as well as the targeted readership. Daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, Anne Graham Lotz is a biblical teacher, preacher and ministry leader in her own right. As church layleaders, she and her husband have themselves encountered painful rejection from congregational peers. The questions lingered. What went wrong? How could this happen? Aren’t we all supposed to live together, exhibiting the grace and peace of Christ?
"This is a good book for anyone who is or has been emotionally suffering from a broken relationship, whether that relationship is one-on-one with a fellow Christian believer or more complex with larger group dynamics."
In nearly 20 chapters, Lotz moves her readers from open wounds through a healing process to “the end of the healing journey,” where God’s love has mended the open wounds. WOUNDED BY GOD’S PEOPLE is grounded in the Old Testament story of Hagar, a slave who was drawn into Abraham’s family circle, then mistreated, prompting her to run away, then confronted by a strength-giving God, then welcomed back into the family only to be sent off, to make her own way in the wilderness. Here again, she was not abandoned by God, who met her in her distress and dire need. The biblical story implies some modicum of reconciliation: that Hagar’s son, Ishmael, joined Isaac at Abraham’s burial (Genesis 25:9).
A few chapters in the middle of the book ask readers to look at their own blind spots. None of us is perfect. How do our own character flaws contribute to our difficult or broken relationships? “When we are wounded, hurt feelings and injured pride can distort our perspective and our focus. In self-defense, we want to explain and excuse and blame the ones who wounded us.” Regarding a broken friendship, Lotz says: “If I had wounded her so deeply, could it be I was also wounding others without knowing it?” Here Lotz makes herself vulnerable, admitting how her perfectionism --- a perceived strength --- could turn to a liability if it was perceived as her having “control” issues.
This is a good book for anyone who is or has been emotionally suffering from a broken relationship, whether that relationship is one-on-one with a fellow Christian believer or more complex with larger group dynamics. Her theme is forgiveness. She gives examples of Christians making overtures toward reconciliation, even if reconciliation is unlikely. Anecdotally, Lotz doesn’t “lay it all out” and bleed on the page. You sometimes wish she had been more vulnerable, but it’s clear that her intent is to heal past wounds --- and walk toward peace with her fellow Christian brothers and sisters --- not reopen them.
And what she sees in her own life --- and draws out of the biblical story of Hagar, which covers decades, nearly a lifetime, rather than an isolated incident --- is itself a balm-like healing.
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on September 19, 2013