If my bookshelves could talk, they would tell you of my love of books. Yes, I am a bit of a bibliophile, and I enjoy reading a good book with a steaming cup of tea. And while I have read many good books over the years, very few enter the category of “best books.” You know the ones. The books that are more highlighted than not, the ones you return to again and again, the ones you praise from the rooftops. When a book like that comes around, I can’t put it down, but I also don’t want it to end.
This fall, I read such a book, and it has earned a prominent spot on my list of “best books.”
Jesus Approaches Review
Jesus Approaches: What Contemporary Women Can Learn about Healing, Freedom & Joy from the Women of the New Testament is the newest book by Catholic author and speaker, Elizabeth (Liz) Kelly (you can find it here). In it, she writes lovingly and directly to the woman’s heart.
In each chapter, Liz shares familiar stories of New Testament women who encounter Jesus in a very personal way. And through their encounters, Jesus heals, transforms, and sets them free to flourish. She also incorporates moving accounts from her own life and stories of women she has met along the way. Throughout the narrative, Liz writes with an openness, honesty, and vulnerability that few books contain.
Jesus Approaches begins with the story of St. Mary Magdalene. Liz expands on her possible life before encountering Christ and on how her life blossoms fully and completely after Jesus heals her – so much so that He appears to her after the Resurrection!
Healing and Restoration
From the story of Magdalene, Liz draws readers into a conversation about the reality of the deep and painful wounds we experience throughout life. She is courageous enough to share her own story of woundedness and the process of healing through which Jesus led her.
She goes on to explain that in order to heal, we need to completely surrender our wounds to Jesus, and that can be hard.
“It can be the hardest thing when intuitively it should be the easiest… Our pain is precious to us… It defines us and marks us and tells us what matters. And to let it go can feel like saying, ‘This doesn’t matter to me anymore.’ But that’s not what Jesus is asking. He is not asking us to let go of our identity or to deny what is precious to us or to say that our pain is unimportant… Instead, he is asking us to give him this most precious pain so he may put comfort in its place. He is asking us to anchor our identity in him, he who is able to redeem all pain, make it worthy, powerful, transformative, a force for good in the world and in us, to give it a proper and eternal horizon.”
From a place of pain, Jesus meets us and calls us by name, just like He did with Magdalene. And from that place “he draws us into the fullness of our true identity as redeemed by the resurrected one.”
While the book openly discusses the reality of suffering—because we all experience it in some form or another—Jesus Approaches is profoundly hopeful. Liz even lends readers her hope, when ours may seem diminished. “If your hope has vanished, you can borrow mine.”
Real Hope for Real Women
In the proceeding chapters, we meet other Biblical women who encounter a very approachable Jesus, such as Jairus’ daughter, the woman with the hemorrhage, St. Martha, and the Blessed Mother. Some topics within Jesus Approaches include motherhood, single life, chronic illness, forgiveness, and perfectionism. Liz’s thoughtful planning of this book and her heartfelt writing style reflect her genuine understanding of women’s gifts, struggles, joys, and sorrows. She writes with compassion and reverence for women and our personal (and shared) experiences.
More than any other theme in Jesus Approaches, Liz writes with conviction about how deeply and passionately Jesus loves us. And He shows us His love through the stories of the New Testament women. To Jesus, women were (and are) essential to Salvation History. Women intimately witnessed two of the most important events in history—the Incarnation and the Resurrection. He befriended women at a time when we were considered second-class citizens (or worse). And today, Jesus still invites women into relationship with Him.
“The world needs us—it needs you, needs me, needs us to be the people we were created to be… This is an era that desperately needs a faithful Christian woman, not a perfect woman, not a woman who has never failed nor fallen, but a woman who has fallen in love with the truth, a woman in love with Jesus… Jesus is not waiting for you to be perfect; he is waiting for you to say yes.”
An Opportunity for Community
Jesus Approaches is more than a book to read or study. With guided mediations at the end of each chapter, it also invites readers into the practice of praying with Scripture. In addition, it provides discussion questions, making this a great book for a small group to read together.
Yes, Jesus Approaches is one of the best books I have ever read. I praise it from the rooftops (or at least from this blog), and I know I will return again and again to my well-loved and highlighted copy.
For more information about Elizabeth Kelly’s writing, please visit EMK Books.
What have you been reading lately?
Sarah Damm is a Catholic wife and mother of six children, living in Minnesota. She spends her days running errands, helping with homework, and keeping up with laundry and the family schedule. Sarah loves her faith, coffee, and good books. You can find out more about her and her writing here.