When I was midway through college, studying seemed very mundane. I wanted to do something big to change the world – like go to Africa and serve the poorest there. (Isn’t it interesting how going to Africa seems to be the go-to reaction for young, idealistic world-changers?) Some very wise, lifelong missionary friends counceled me against quitting college. Their reasons were sound: Helping others isn’t going anywhere, but it is hard to regain momentum in school. I’m so glad for this sage advice. I learned that I can change the world in so many different types of ways. For some, it means selling everything and making drastic life changes; for others it means budgeting to sponsor those visionaries; and for others still it means something much closer to home.
When I read the description of Jennie Allen’s book, Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul, I was excited to read about her journey. Especially since we’re in the midst of the seemingly mundane – life in the suburbs, kids, work, family – I wanted to read how someone coming from a similar phase in life embraced this adventure.
After Allen and her husband pray, “God, we’ll do anything. Anything,” she says God sparks them on a completely different path. They’re willing to sell everything, to move, to switch careers – whatever God wants. Instead of big changes, God calls Allen to start a blog (the scariest thing she’s ever done), to write and publish books (the scariest thing she’s ever done), and to adopt from Rwanda (a much more joyful country than the US.)
I appreciate that Allen’s anything isn’t gigantic – in many ways that resonates with where I’m at right now. But it’s not inspiring, either. I finished the book unclear as to why she wrote it. It’s great that she’s following what she believes to be God’s path of writing and teaching, but many people are called to that. For praying an extraordinary prayer, there wasn’t really anything out of the ordinary that God called the Allens to do.
Several big decisions were hinted at, but no details were given. This is an interesting balance in writing a memoir. I respect the need to keep things close and private, however when a memoir is about big, life changing events, the reader needs a few details to connect with the author. A lot of vague feelings were described, but nothing that made me really understand how the Allens surrendered to God’s “anything.”
I feel that Allen’s story would make a good presentation or would be interesting to hear over coffee, but an entire book about a journey that is still in its early stages was a bit tedious to read. Even though it was less than 200 pages, I kept checking to see how much longer I had to go before finishing. Perhaps in 10 years, Allen’s story will speak strongly but I think it’s a bit too fresh for an entire book.
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Anything. Even though it didn’t resonate with me, if you’ve heard about it and are interested in reading it, I’d love to send you my copy. Leave a comment and I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, July 10, 2015. (United States addresses only.)