By Elizabeth Prata
Never Enough: Confronting Lies About Appearance and Achievement With Gospel Hope, at 128 pages, is readable and relatable.
Published August 2019 by Reformation Heritage Books, it’s written by Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary), a Reformed author, mother, homemaker, Bible study teacher, and retreat and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA).
My usual stance is that I try to avoid books written for females by females, often finding them more emotional than theological. So many of these ‘women’s’ books either have false doctrines weaved through them, are me-centered, or are a nod to the encroaching feminist culture invading the church.
The long lasting Jesus Calling, which has spawned a cottage industry aimed at deceiving women, and the 2018 bestseller “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be,” are testaments to this. They are more self-help books with a smattering of Christianese than they are biblical explorations of who we are as women in Christ.
But sometimes I read these books in order to answer a question from a fellow sister, or to be able to recommend one, or not recommend one with credible reasons. This is why I read Ivill’s book Never Enough.
I was happily surprised. As a side note, it is published by Reformation Heritage Books, which, along with Banner of Truth books, are much safer publishing venues than the chaotic fracas other ‘Christian’ publishing venues tend to be. /cough cough Lifeway/.
Author Sarah Ivill says the messages women are prone to believe from culture are,
My ways are better than God’s ways, and my wisdom is better than His wisdom.
I have to look like “her” in order to be beautiful.
My worth is defined by whether or not a man loves me.
My significance is based on my success as defined by my superiors.
If I had what “she” has, I would be more satisfied than I am now.
Ivill relates her own struggle from sports, but many women battle these insinuating cultural attitudes from other competitive arenas of their formative years, such as debate club, being valedictorian, chorus or band, etc. One aspect I enjoyed about Ivill’s writing is that though she used personal examples, unlike other women’s books where the examples are lengthy and difficult to transfer into a personal application, Ivill doesn’t dwell on her own anecdotes. They are also easily transferable to one’s own struggle, whatever it may be. Then she quickly goes to Christ.
In a culture where we often compliment external beauty, even in church, I needed someone to remind me that I’m not pretty apart from Christ, no amount of makeovers or designer dresses will fix that. Apart from Christ I am ugly and dead in my sins. I also needed someone to tell me that I will never perform perfectly and to seek perfection is futile. Christ alone is perfect.
Some other quotes I enjoyed:
- Because of Christ’s work, our significance is based on Christ’s success.
- We have been taught to hide our weaknesses and highlight our strengths, but God’s word says to highlight His strength by not hiding our weaknesses. (2 Cor 12:10).
- In 1 Timothy…these false teachers were proud and obsessed with arguments that came from envy.
- One of the reasons we compare and covet is because we fail to believe in God’s sovereignty and providence. (I liked her envy and comparing section a lot).
Ivill’s book counters the usual Christian women’s book industry message to women, that they are enough, are fine just the way they are, that they just need to let the inner women come out, that they should follow their heart, and so on. Those messages, rather than salving women’s insecurities, actually stoke them. I appreciated Ivill’s strong stance on the Gospel truths through Christ.