Glorious Weakness: A Book Review

I wrote my first story in elementary school. My teacher encouraged us to think about a snapshot or memory of our lives and make it into a book. I remember sifting through ideas with my parents at dinner, imagining what I would draw and the words I would piece together to tell my story.

My parents shared my birth story with me often as I was growing up, so frequently that I thought I remembered the entire ordeal myself. This was what I chose to write my first story about. I was born too early, and once I was born, according to my mom, I barely survived. 

Every time I shared this story, listeners quickly moved on to how strong I must’ve been, to have survived. I learned quickly how uncomfortable we all are, myself included, with weakness. We want to flip the card as quickly as possible. We want to answer for it and find a weightier reason for it.  

I started telling my birth story in a way that didn’t make anyone too uncomfortable. I made sure to focus on the miracle of my survival and how my underdeveloped lungs grew against odds. As I got older, I didn’t talk about how I still sometimes felt so small that I was hanging on for dear life inside. Until recently, I didn’t tell people about the way I’ve felt closed in by the weight of not knowing how to embrace my God-given identity as a woman and a biracial Korean American, just like the way I began life: enclosed in an incubator and dependent, the opposite of confident and strong.  I wrote the story again as an adult, understanding for the first time that weakness is where strength is birthed .

Alia and I met over Voxer, or maybe through She Loves Magazine. Once we started Voxing, I felt like I had known her for years and our conversations there have felt like a breath of fresh air, a place where I can be real as a writer, as an Asian American woman, and as a person who often feels the weight of weakness in a world that is terrified of that description.

I knew that I would love Alia’s book, as I have loved every word she’s written publicly and spoken to me over the phone. Alia is a prophetic poet that isn’t afraid to tell the truth and make room for others with a hospitality that’s rare in the world today. She writes raw, but not just for shock value.

What I didn’t expect was the way God would use her words, masterfully weaved on every page of Glorious Weakness, to speak love to me. As Alia shared glimpses into her own life, from her personal experience of pain, mental illness, church and poverty, I felt God’s love.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown weary of the multitude of Christian books out there with empty messages, ones that pass over the pain, only tell stories of triumph, try to convince us that we can live shallow lives, chase small dreams of personal success, and twist Jesus’ call for us to love like he did into an easy, comfortable love.

“Christians lie when we sell a packaged and sanitary way of following God. We offer a discounted gospel when we say it will fix your problems, ease out the wrinkles of your day, give you shiny, full-bodied hair and perfectly behaved children. We wield our Christianity like an omen to ward off hard times. We want a warning sign or someone to blame when things get broken. When children die. When dreams fail. When we are summoned to great and immeasurable loss and the hits keep coming.” (147).”

Many of us need to know that we were never made to muster up our own strength to live and thrive. Many of us need to be reminded that hope lives through the death of our dreams and the confusion that comes when we’ve been sure of our calling and then lost our way. Most of us need to know that love doesn’t cease to be love when things get uncomfortable, and that we can indeed be found no matter where we are. That in our weakest moments, the ones we think would disqualify us, bench us and leave us enclosed, God moves most powerfully.

“I didn’t know my dry and weary bones were kindling for a spirit ablaze with the weight of God’s glory.” (169).”

“Weakness is my spiritual gift. In my complete and utter poverty, I give up my illusion of control and my weakness becomes my greatest offering of worship.”  (171).”

Alia’s book launches into the world tomorrow. Don’t miss this book, friends.  This one is for everyone and it’s a message the church and the world today desperately need to hear. Order the book here or here.