I’ve read many books with a quote on the cover which says “This book is a must-read”, but I think this is one of the first where I can whole-heartedly agree that it’s true.
I’m not going to lie, this isn’t an easy book to read, but then it isn’t an easy life that Vicky has lived, and her bravery in writing this book is astounding.
I cried multiple times while reading this, thinking of all that Vicky had to live through growing up in her traditional evangelical church, keeping her identity secret so that she wasn’t disowned by those around her – seeing what happened to other people who came out as gay and were ostracised from church.
I’m lucky to live and worship in a church where that would (hopefully) never happen, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Vicky as a teenager to sit in her own church, a place that’s supposed to be safe and supportive, and have to listen to people condemning the very secret that she was hiding.
All I could think about while reading was the young people in my youth groups and how I would never want them to go through something like that.
I cried for all the health problems that Vicky has had to endure as a result of keeping her sexuality a secret and the stresses that put her under. Having to choose between a career as a highly successful worship leader/recording artist, and living a life that was true to her. It made me feel very fortunate, but very angry too.
Vicky shared a Billy Graham quote that she shared with her grandfather when she finally came out, and I think it summed it up perfectly:
It’s God’s job to judge, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, and my job to love.
There were many chapters in the book devoted to Vicky’s internal battle with being told her sexuality was un-biblical, and her eventual realisation that that wasn’t the case. I really appreciated how well researched this all seemed to be, because it definitely opened my eyes to some bible verses which I’ve definitely seen used in different contexts in the past.
Vicky also talks about how it’s not just sexuality that is frowned upon by some parts of the church, but other things like struggles with mental health, and I think that even though it feels like the church is moving on, there’s definitely a lot of work to do (and as mentioned before, I think I’m lucky for the church that I’m in too).
The Christian faith teaches: “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” – the implication being that we must learn to love ourselves first, in order to love others from a place of health and well-being.
Discussed in the book, and something I’ve never thought about before, is how the church has changed it’s viewpoint on seemingly immovable topics before, like historic views on slavery and female equality, so we can have quiet hope that we will keep progressing and get to a point where all people are affirmed and respected.
I really can’t say much more about how I think this book should be essential reading, it gave me so much to think about, and things to reflect on from my own past, as well as making me want to work hard to make sure my own young people never have to go through what Vicky went through – she’s truly a remarkable woman – and so I’ll finish this review with a quote from her:
We become our most beautiful, powerful, irreplaceable selves when we allow our diversity to shine.