Laura Sumner Truax, senior pastor of LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, brings to readers an insightful and hopeful book about how to repair oneself from being undone in life. Truax, who studied at Loyola University Divinity School and serves as teaching pastor for World Vision and for the University of Chicago Divinity School, offers readers who struggle with the pressures of life and societal constructions hope that through faith they can redeem themselves and reclaim their lives.
In Undone: When Coming Apart Puts You Back Together, Truax provides readers an insightful look at her own journey from undoneness to repair. Truax speaks of her trials of divorce and in so doing offers a glimpse as to how she found herself becoming less undone. Truax provides readers hope through countless Scripture passages and Biblical stories. At times heavy with inspirational cliché, however, the book often intimates that readers can only find redemption in life through faith in Jesus Christ.
While Truax never fully defines what she means by being “undone,” the reader can surmise that it means that one’s life has spun out of control or that one’s life needs some kind of repair. The author indicates that her own life became undone during and after a divorce and a near-death experience, but she never explains what “undone” might mean for other readers. While the word and the theme “undone” appear frequently, Truax often uses it as though its meaning is a given, a psychological fact or diagnosis. It is not, of course, and can mean any number of things depending upon one’s circumstances.
Throughout the book, Truax speaks of social constructionism and the constructs of religion, often lamenting that Christians are no better than the rest of us in many ways. To some extent, Truax seems to be saying that Christians are better at wearing the figurative mask of “good person” than are non-Christians or non-believers, yet she continuously intimates that one cannot repair one’s life without Jesus Christ.
Still, Truax does a fair job in helping readers cast aside societal conventions and expectations. Truax talks of people wearing masks to hide their true selves, especially in the church, and of how we cannot become our true selves until we cast off those masks. Again, though, she seems to indicate that doing so is possible only with the help of Jesus.
Truax also seems to say that readers’ lives are predetermined by Jesus, that their every decision has been determined in advance by Jesus and the Lord God Almighty. This might not sit well with readers who believe in the concept of free will. (The book, however, is not geared primarily for secular readers who likely have not adopted Jesus as their savior, nor is it for readers of other faiths.)
In this insightful book, Truax speaks of trust and perfect imperfection, both of which must be embraced in order to move from undone to repair. She speaks of Jesus’s own imperfections and offers readers a way to accept their own imperfections as beautiful and worthy of love. This is something many readers who are undone likely struggle with, and Truax offers hope that, with the love of Jesus, readers can accept these imperfections.
Becoming undone can be the best thing that ever happens to us, Truax promises, because from there we can rebuild our lives and ourselves. Rebuilding means that we can become whomever we choose to become. And in rebuilding, Jesus will be with us every step of the way as long as we accept Him into our lives. Truax does not indicate what might happen to those readers who do not accept Jesus as their savior and guidance counselor, however.
Undone is not a how-to guide that offers step-by-step instructions regarding how to move from being undone to living a more rewarding life. Truax offers hope to readers who are faithful, but at times can get bogged down in cliché. The author does, though, provide insight into how she became undone and then repaired in her faith in Jesus Christ, which may well be of interest to readers who are looking for a source of inspiration in their own lives.
July 2013, InterVarsity Press
$12, paperback, 230 pages
—Reviewed by Karri E. Christiansen