Lessons I Have Unlearned
Discovering that life isn't what I expected, and neither is God.
We all have ideas about what we think life will be like - ideas we pick up from books, films, music videos, the adults around us, and even church. We think we have a roadmap that will guide us towards success. But it isn’t long before life throws some curve-balls at us.
Florence Gildea looks at a series of myths that we cannot help but absorb from films, fairytales, songs, and advertisements: that we get to call the shots and have control over how our lives turn out; that a happily ever after is within our reach.
All the strategies we have learned to make ourselves safe, loveable, and successful will backfire. Life, it turns out, is found exactly where Jesus said it was: at the end of ourselves, at the foot of the cross.
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This book is challenging, heartbreaking and hopeful. But more than that, it is a necessary antidote to the fake smiles and empty promises that blind our paths, trying to fill us up but never quenching our thirst. Memoir woven alongside theology, it is gentle and shared from a place of vulnerability. Gildea doesn’t shame those who have fallen foul to the same traps, but illuminates the problem while offering the alternative, thirst quenching hope that can be found in Jesus. A must read. (Book gifted but review given voluntarily). ~ Amazon Review
This concise and profound book is written with such insight, precision, humility, wit and wisdom - it was such a delight to read that I want to read it again and have already given it to others. This is serious and accessible contribution to Christian writing about eating disorders, but also one that is relevant and helpful to everyone. ~ Amazon Review
Lessons I Have Unlearned by Florence Gildea is a powerful book about learning to be the you that God created. It is about focusing on what God says about you and not listening to the world. This book will aid you in your Christian walk. The style is very personable. It feels like advice from a dear friend rather than reading a book. Lessons I Have Unlearned is an amazingly powerful book, full of godly advice and scripture. It will help you to live in God and to live out His love. It is a perfect book to work through on your own or in your connect group. Whether you are a new Christian or more established in your faith, you will gain much from this book ~ Julia Wilson
This book is such a treat! Florence narrates and reflects with such transparency, depth and cut-through-nonsense-wit that she had me deeply reflect on (my) life one second and laugh out loud the next. A breath of fresh air among the foggy messaging surrounding us in our world today. Can't wait to devour future books by Ms Gildea! ~ Amazon Review
I loved this book and devoured it all in once afternoon. It was so full of riches though I am going to have to go back and digest them all properly. The book deals with the frustration so many have about why life hasn’t turned out like we expected or thought we were promised. It is beautifully written and Florence’s wit and honesty mean it is easy to read, even when the issues she addresses penetrate the core of problems in our hearts. Although she talks about her own experiences, that is never centre stage and the book is relatable even if you haven’t had exactly the same struggles. Florence doesn’t shy away from the messy heartaches of life but instead gently points the reader back to the character of God and the real truths about the wonderful person of Jesus. I would totally recommend for anyone who has questions about life but is suspicious of books and people who claim to have all the solutions. ~ Amazon Review
Ms. Gildea lays bare her soul, exposing all of her anxieties, struggles with mental illness, anorexia and rock bottom self-esteem with such wit and intelligently crafted examples of her very relatable life, that she immediately engages the reader. Just reading the table of contents chapter titles pulls you in for more! Florence’s big turn-around happened when she read P. Yancy’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace and is finally able to live into the truth that God loves us completely, struggles and all, and that He never abandons us on this zig-zag journey called life. Readers will easily identify with the modern day struggles the author humorously describes, and be comforted by the ancient truths of love, hope, grace, and beauty we get when we are in a relationship with God. Lessons I Have Unlearned helped me to understand the negative impact that modern-day pressures have on everyone, perhaps most especially on those who present a strong profile to the world. Anyone who is struggling to juggle and control their lives but feels like they are losing the battle will find help in this book. ~ Shirley Alarie, https://findinggodamongus.com/lessons-i-have-unlearned-book-review/
Former chaplain Gildea debuts with a brisk account of her journey into Christianity and the pitfalls of pursuing perfection. Hypersensitive to societal pressures to be perfect and happy, Gildea struggled to live up to unrealistic expectations and suffered from an eating disorder in her early 20s. Realizing she had fallen under the spell of an illusory “tripartite structure” of life (“set-up, development, resolution”), Gildea argues young people need to unlearn lessons from popular culture and social media in order to live happier lives, because “life isn’t like the movies.” This unlearning, based on gradual disillusionment with these false narratives, is enthusiastically explored alongside lessons from the Bible, including the story of Ruth and Naomi’s loyalty and Peter’s pure devotion, which demonstrate how “God’s love truly is unconditional.” For Gildea, grace allows one to do away with unhealthy comparisons because “compared to the source of all righteousness and goodness, the variation between us humans is utterly insignificant.” Similarly, the pursuit of perfection or of unrealistic versions of happiness will inevitably lead to angst. Gildea skips between modern examples—including the 2017 Fyre Festival debacle and Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” declaration—and biblical stories with ease to make her arguments. Religious millennials will want to take a look. ~ Publishers Weekly, https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-78904-575-8
Lessons I Have Unlearned speaks to the core of a generation who wants the good life but may be misled on what the definition of a good life really can be. Gildea writes with authority and vulnerability on a God-centered life—debunking some of the narratives about success that leave Christians discontent and confused about their personal journeys. This book is full of good wisdom, truth and heart. ~ Bailey T. Hurley, author and speaker
Lessons I Have Unlearned is a short but mighty book packed with insight, wisdom, and vulnerability. Florence Gildea provides an intimate glimpse into her struggles with mental illness and both the subtle and profound ways in which her faith led her toward grace. Gildea doesn’t pull any punches as she dissects the feelings and anxiety that plagued her youth. Instead of suggesting a one-size-fits-all approach solved all her problems, she opens her heart and paints a picture of a young girl struggling to control the circumstances and trajectory of her life. One of the things I love most about this book is the author’s frankness in addressing how she (at first) used Christianity as another means of controlling her life, and the ways in which it backfired. There are countless books on the market telling us that faith is the only thing that can heal us, but Gildea illustrates quite beautifully how religious practice can become a crutch. This level of self-awareness is courageous and humbling. In 104 pages, Florence Gildea embarks on a journey of exploration, weaving sociology, scripture, and personal anecdote to illustrate a very important point: we are not alone (not one of us) in this life. Without making assumptions about her readers and without setting her own expectations of us, Gildea lends us her perspective and invites us to open our hearts and minds to a critical truth: when we let go of our illusion of control and embrace our faith, we find grace. ~ Amy Rivers, Christian Feminism Today
‘Lessons I’ve Unlearned’ makes you feel like you are having a heart to heart with an old friend. Florence wades right into discussions about identity and spirituality, speaking to those inner voices which all of us battle, with clarity and fluency. I highly recommend this book for every person, because we all battle fears and insecurities. There are no easy answers, but this book is an encouragement that hope remains. ~ Selina Stone, Tutor and Lecturer in Political Theology at St Mellitus College
2. This is a gem of a book, packed with biblical wisdom, honesty and hope. It blessed me and will help many others. ~ Emma Scrivener. Author of A New Name, A New Day, and What Does the Bible Really Say About Eating Disorders, Author of A New Name, A New Day, and What Does the Bible Really Say About Eating Disorders
3. Witty and cutthroat, Florence managed to shred me to pieces whilst I laughed out loud in public. An insightful exploration into the madness of postmodern life, calling us back to a truth we all once knew: that intimacy with God and each other can never be replaced. ~ Tom Cozens. Director of Owlinspace, Director of Owlinspace
4. This book is a wonderful testament to Gildea’s splendid intellect and humanity. It is a deeply moving and personal description of the fight against mental illness and the role that faith can play in coming out the other side. ~ Frank Field. Member of Parliament, 1979-2019, Member of Parliament, 1979-2019
5. Very few books meet you where you're at, making no assumptions about you, and gently ease you into the absolute common-sense of believing and saying yes to Jesus and his Kingdom. This one does. ~ Martin Saunders. Deputy CEO of Youthscape and author of The Man You're Made To Be, Deputy CEO of Youthscape and author of The Man You're Made To Be
6. This book is a rich, wise and thoughtful exploration of some of the deepest issues facing young adults today. Read it to be challenged, informed and inspired. ~ Rev. Mark Woods. Baptist minister, editor at the Bible Society, and journalist, Baptist minister, editor at the Bible Society, and journalist