Monday, December 5, 2016

Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms - Review

Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms

By: Tim Tebow

Published: October 25th 2016 by Waterbrook Press

224 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Sports, Biography

Source: Publisher via Blogging for Books (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

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Goodreads description--First, he was a beloved college football champion, Heisman trophy winner, media sensation, and best-selling author drafted in the first round of the 2010 Draft. Then he had a miracle playoff run with the Denver Broncos before being traded to the New York Jets. After one season he was cut by New York. Next he was signed by the New England Patriots then let go after training camp—a scenario that repeated itself the following summer with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tim Tebow has achieved big victories and plunged the depths of failure, all while never letting go of his faith, even in the face of doubt and disappointment. In Shaken he explains why neither the highs nor the lows of his life can define him—and he reveals how you, too, can find confidence in your identity and know who you are. In revealing passages, Tebow pulls back the curtain on his life, sharing the vulnerable moments of his career that have shaken him to his core—while also teaching the biblical principles that will enable you to keep the faith, no matter what comes your way.

I'm not what you would call a football fan. I went through a period where I was engaged to a guy who was a fan and during that time I'd watch college games with him. After we broke up, I tried to continue watching the game but found that I would get angry when my team wasn't doing well or a ref called a penalty that I didn't agree with. I didn't like who I became while watching football, and I didn't like what I saw of people who say and do things in the name of "football rivalry" to purposefully anger and upset their friends, relatives, and even strangers. I know most of this is in "good fun" and not meant to truly be offensive, but other times offense is exactly the intention. Football isn't at fault here. Humans are.

But even as far back as when I was still engaged to the avid football fan, Tim Tebow was quarterbacking at Florida. I remember watching a few games that he played in. He was good, but what I was most impressed with was his openness with his faith. Since I stopped watching football before he graduated college I didn't really follow his career. I do remember watching an episode of Lip Sync Battle where Tim Tebow battles Nina Dobrev. He stuck with songs like "The Eye of the Tiger" and "Take Your Time" (by Sam Hunt), while she performed "Cheerleader" (by OMI) and "Let's Get It On". I was impressed by his lack of response toward Nina on this episode. She specifically chose "Let's Get It On" in an attempt to make fun of his decision to wait until marriage for sex. He didn't seem offended by her at all. She came off (to me anyway) as trying to flirt with him like she might be the one to show him what he was missing from his archaic and idealistic views on sex. I wasn't impressed with her, but his behavior stuck with me.

One day, I was driving to my mom's house and I was listening to K-Love (a Christian radio station) where Tim* was giving a radio interview about his book. I heard him talking about how our identity is not in what others think about us or what our job is or in our current situation. No. Our identity is in Christ. I was impressed, and I thought that I remembered seeing Shaken available for review. When I got home, I went and requested this book immediately.

And here's the thing, once I started reading...I couldn't stop. It took me 2 days to read Shaken which has to be close to a record for a nonfiction book for me. I was so impressed with Tim's writing, with the words he chose to use, the stories he picked to illustrate his points, even the amount of Scripture he included...pretty much all of it.

I was affected by the humility of this guy who has been in so many unique life situations. He comes off as humble but I'm not sure how much of it comes naturally to him versus how much is a choice and a conscious decision he makes to be so. He mentions frequently that he tries to live his life with intention. He's a firm believer in personal growth, not just physically but mentally and spiritually. He discusses frequently overcoming one's personal feelings in the moment (because those are subject to change with the wind), and make the difficult choices time and time again...to get up and work out, to say no when it's easier to say yes, to choose Christ, to put anger and disappointment on the backburner and CHOOSE differently. He seems like he's got this part figured out (even though I'm sure he still fails at times in this area). He makes the choice to humble himself and turn his attention and focus back to God...in the high moments and in the low.

One thing I really appreciated was that people might easily think that even his lows aren't as low as what some people endure. And no one knows that better than Tim. He has a love for God and a love for others that prompted him to create a charity which puts him in frequent contact with those who are facing life and death or chronic pain. He knows that what he's been through may not compare with that of others. But pain is relative. And what is the most painful experience of my life is still the most painful experience of my life, even if it doesn't compare to the life someone else has lived. Tim uses the stories of others that he's met and come in contact with throughout his journey and his foundation to further illustrate his points. Often times when his aim was to be a blessing and an encouragement to these people, they have ended up being the blessing and encouragement to him.

Those who represent God in this world and claim to be Christians are often being lifted to a higher standard. They're expected to be perfect, above reproach, always "on" so to speak. But they're just people too. Tim is just a human being like we all are. He makes mistakes. Yet in today's society, when public figures make mistakes for the world to see there is very little of forgiveness offered to them. They are publically ridiculed and labeled a hypocrite at the least. But as Tim accurately states, only Jesus has lived as a human and lived perfectly. He is the example. He is the standard. It is to Him that we look, and Him that we aim to imitate. Not Tim Tebow. Not any other celebrity. Not even those who claim to be Christians. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." And what Paul means is that we should imitate him ONLY as he imitates Christ. Sure...imitate Tim in the ways that you see him imitating Christ. But if you see him veer off course, then follow Christ and not Tim. But don't be surprised when humans miss the mark. It's okay to be disappointed in them, but offer them forgiveness knowing that often you miss the mark as well.

I took note of many sections of this book. Sometimes entire pages were worded just perfectly to illustrate the point he was trying to make. I had a hard time narrowing down the sections that I wanted to share with you all, but I feel like these give the best glimpse into this book. Here are my favorite quotes:

-One day, according to the world, I'm on top of my game, adored, praised, and respected. And the next, I'm at the bottom of the heap, cut, criticized, and torn down. You know what I've learned in the process? How important it is not to allow either the highs or the lows in life to determine who you are.

-...I made a conscious choice not to quit. Not to gripe. Not to pout. Not to let others define me. And not to live in disappointment or regret. Believe me when I tell you, I wanted to be angry! And I was tempted to say in that place. But I had to get back to the place of trusting God.

-"God was authoring a bigger picture," Mark told me. "He always gets you to where He wants you to be in spite of yourself."

-..."God fills up so much of my life with good things that I don't miss what I don't have anymore."

-Imagine there is no God. Then you were not created for a reason. You aren't special. You are the accidental, unintentional result of motion, matter, time, and chance. Tim Keller said, "If your origin is insignificant and your destiny is insignificant, which means someday nobody will even remember anything you ever did, have the guts to admit your life is insignificant."

-"No matter the outcome, healed by Him or taken home to live in eternity, we win."

-A lot of what it means to work out your faith muscle is to choose to live above your feelings, to remember that He is God and that you are not.

-Feelings are normal. They can change on a dime. They come. And they go. We need to understand this and learn how to live above them, not by them.

-When we ask questions, when we doubt, when we wonder if God is going to pull through, or wonder why He didn't pull through, or wonder why our miracle is taking so long, or why the miracle never came at all, remember that doubt is normal. God isn't scared of our questions. Bring them to Him. It is better to vent to Him than to run from Him.

-God will come through in some way or other. Sometimes in the form of an answer to prayer, other times in the form of comfort, peace, and perspective far above what's possible in our human strength.

-"God will never waste pain that's offered to Him."

-Often, we make the mistake of comparing God to someone who represents Him, either poorly or wonderfully. Problem is, because we're human, we may mirror God's heart beautifully one day and pretty awfully the next. ...Don't let your relationship with God and your ideas about Him stem from those who represent him.

-I promise you this: God will use your giftings and abilities in His way and for His plan. It might be to influence one person or one million. Rather than focus on trying to figure out or influence how He will make it happen, focus on Him.

- Don't limit what He can do on how you limit yourself. Be yourself, and let God be God.

In young adult fiction, I can't tell you how many times I've read a book that discusses how bad things have happened in the life of the character and because of those bad things the character has determined that God doesn't exist or at least doesn't care about the character. Because I've come across this so frequently in my reading journey, there has to be an audience that connects with these feelings. Either the authors of these books or many readers. Likely both. But here's the problem with these scenarios...bad things happen to all people. Live long enough and chances are that something traumatic is going to happen in your life. What makes any of us think we're special enough to avoid tragedy in this fallen world? If God acts to prevent bad things from happening in your life then what about the millions of people who don't avoid tragedy? Or was there something you did to deserve special treatment? Of course not. We're all dearly loved by God. But we have all also sinned and fallen short. This world is sin-cursed. Time and chance happen to us all. C.S Lewis said, "Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties." Tim does a great job discussing situations where doubt in God's ability to save us and His love for us could easily creepy in and devour. Yet the examples he used were full of people who were confident in God's love for them and His plans for their lives--even unto death at times. This isn't an easy thing to come to terms with, I understand. But he does a great job conveying this in just the right way.

Despite my lack of football interest (you totally don't need to be a fan in order to enjoy this book) and my lack of following Tim's career, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms called to me. My brother (coincidentally also named Tim) recently went through a job situation that could have shaken his faith, but it didn't. Like Tim Tebow, my brother's faith in God having a plan and a path for his life made his situation endurable and even borderline exciting (not that he didn't have to battle a myriad of other emotions throughout the process). I've witnessed situations similar to what Tim discusses in this book, not only with my brother, but also with my cousin who--though she lost her physical battle with cancer--showed strength, grace, and an unwavering faith to anyone she came in contact with. Shaken is a book that I would recommend to anyone who might need a reminder of whose they are.

I read Shaken with a pace that I don't often feel for nonfiction books. I was interested in the overall message as well as the glimpse into the person of Tim Tebow that it gives. I found myself getting teary-eyed in more than one section. And more than anything, I'm impressed with the way that God is using Tim to reveal Himself to the world. I was well on my way to giving Shaken 5 Stars until I came upon the last page or so of the book. While I love the thought of reaching out to those who might be reading this book and find themselves wanting a personal relationship with God (I don't see how they wouldn't), Tim's explanation of how to do so falls short of what I find in my own study of the Bible. Search the Scripture and you will not find "the sinner's prayer" anywhere. You will find example after example in Acts of sinners being converted to Christ. What you see there goes a bit beyond the steps he outlined. I always refer readers back to the Source, the Bible, God's Word, to determine what is truth and from God versus what is from man. (Here's an article that might direct you to some specific Scripture to read.) This small piece of the puzzle had me feeling like a more accurate rating of Shaken for me is 4 Stars. I have no doubt that God is using Tim Tebow and his platform to reveal Himself to many. And this book has made me want to make changes in my own life for the better--specifically in the area of showing love to others--and there's just about no better recommendation that I can give. Have you read Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms? What did you think? Let me know!

*Pardon my frequent first name usage. He references himself as "Timmy" throughout the book so much that it's hard not to feel like I now know the dude on a first name basis.

**I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts are my own.

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