Allowing Christ to transform our hearts: Heather Khym’s ‘Abide’
Reviewed for The Catholic Post by Lindsey Weishar
In the introduction to her book “Abide: A Pathway to Transformative Healing and Intimacy with Jesus,” Abiding Together podcast co-host Heather Khym tells readers, “this book offers a reintroduction to who we are, the truth of who God is, and some practical tools for living a restored life in Jesus.”
Speaking to the sufferings and traumas of our own stories, Khym’s book leads readers toward better knowing the true person of Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life.”
Throughout the book she interweaves her own story and ends each chapter with small exercises (e.g., how to distinguish the voice of the devil from the voice of God and to reflect on “messages I believe about myself, God, and others”) and questions for reflection.
A KIND GUIDE, A GENTLE BOOK
I value this book first and foremost for its gentleness. Because Khym has herself walked through suffering, and has therefore had to surrender self-reliance and rely on faith in Christ, because she’s done the hard work of healing in her own life, she’s a kind guide through a book that may touch tender places in the reader’s heart.
For example, in the chapter called “Blocks to Healing,” Khym outlines a few inner dispositions that can make intimacy with Christ harder: practical atheism, unforgiveness, sin, self-reliance, and lies and agreements.
I was personally struck by the description of practical atheism; Khym provides the example of a friend for whom “The experience of hardship seems to negate most of the goodness, truth, and beauty that she ‘knows’ about God when times are good and draws her to a place of orphan living where she feels alone, abandoned, Fatherless, and reliant on herself to get through.” I was surprised by how often I’ve personally run up against this particular block.
WHO WE ARE, WHO GOD IS
In providing readers an invitation “to wake up to our own life and the power of God to heal and restore it,” Khym helps reorient readers to the truth of who we are — God’s beloved daughters and sons — as well as who God is. To do this, she utilizes Scripture (notably Luke 7:11-15 — the raising of the widow’s son, and John 21 — Jesus’ post-resurrection restoration of Peter), noting the goodness, kindness, and love of Christ along the way.
She makes clear that though many of us have false impressions of God that were formed at a young age, restoration is always possible: “In his kindness, God will send people into our lives to show us a part of who he is. My husband Jake calls this the mosaic of the face of God. When we open our hearts to the way God wants to restore our vision of him, we begin to encounter the real him.”
Incredibly useful to this reader is the practical advice Khym provides for growing our relationship with Christ. One that I found to be especially helpful is Khym’s witness of utilizing Scripture to respond to the particular lies that exist in our lives.
For example, I often struggle with not feeling connected to God and the lie I want to fight against is “I can’t have a relationship with God because I so often feel separated from him.” Instead of following the trajectory of that lie into fear, anxiety, and desolation, I can instead speak aloud Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Khym also points out the necessity of community and the sacraments to help keep us from falling into isolation and self-reliance.
MOVE THROUGH IT SLOWLY
This book, though easy to read, is one I would recommend moving through slowly. It asks the reader to be vulnerable, to examine our relationship with God. By nature of living in a broken world, every person is in need of restoration. And, as Khym points out, the hardships of our particular stories, when restored, can bring hope to the world.
“Just as Jesus’ wounds have become a sign of glory,” Khym writes, “he wants ours to become the same. Our wounds, which have become a sign of our shame or sin, once transformed by the healing power of God, are meant to be a sign to the world of the good news of Christ.”
Khym reminds us that, just as he was in his own day, Jesus is still a God of miracles. This book is an invitation to draw closer to the one who loves us tenderly and is always pursuing us.
LINDSEY WEISHAR is a native of Champaign who has a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is a member of The Catholic Post’s book review team. Write to her at email@example.com.