I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading this book. I only know that my spirit resonated with the title because I was, without question, tired of trying to measure up. VanVonderen has broken his book into two parts: Part 1: Wounded by Shame and Part 2: Healed by Grace.
Part 1 works toward revealing what is at the core of the feeling of not measuring up to what the world or specific people expect. It explores a fascinating model of how one gets caught in a cycle of give up/try hard. This cycle is one of defeat and a continual drive to "perform" better. VanVonderen details how this cycle works as one caught in it filters everything through a lens he calls the "shame-based grid", a view that clouds all of life with failure and shame. A person living in this grid will remain tired because nothing will ever be enough and yet will continue to try to do better and work a little harder to measure up and be acceptable. It is a futile effort with destructive results, not only to the one "trying harder" but to all relationships and people in their path. Reading this first section, I had more than a few "a-ha" moments as I saw myself in the illustration and model he presented. I was relieved to move to part 2 for some help in the cycle.
Part 2: Healed by Grace begins with an introduction stating that "it is God's grace, not our striving, that makes us accepted and acceptable. It is His performance in Christ, not our trying to perform, that eradicates our shame...we can be loved, accepted, capable, and worthwhile for free-because, in love, God purchased our eternal state of 'acceptedness' with the blood of His own Son, Jesus Christ...That's the real Good News of the gospel." This section introduces the "rest cycle" to replace the "give up/try hard cycle" and focuses on the grace grid which is replacing the shame-based grid. The goal of the grace grid is to be alive, where the goal of the shame based grid is to perform better and be acceptable. In Christ, the work has already been accomplished on the Cross by Christ and because of that, I am accepted and acceptable to Him, the only one I need to be accepted by. VanVonderen provides a lot of scripture to point out the grace grid that he is presenting, which is basically our identity in Christ.
This book helped to bring some clarity to areas of my life that I found to be helpful. Seeing some of his points played out in my life wasn't easy to take and accept, but overall it was beneficial to understanding why I do certain things and think certain ways. I recommend this book to anyone that battles feelings of inadequacy and struggles with being "good enough" in anyone's eyes. If you have wondered where all of these feelings come from and want to move to freedom in Christ, this is a good read for you.