Books That Shaped Our Lives

Mike McGowan, Student Life

Abba's Child by Brennan Manning


I grew up thinking I had to earn God’s love. My home church taught not only the things we should believe, but also the things we had to do, or rather, not do. When I inevitably failed, as all fallible people do, I would get down on myself. I was different than other kids. Not only was I different because I was a Christian (and most of my friends were not), but I was also different because I was not even a good Christian.

This pattern continued throughout high school, so when I got to college I thought I would reinvent myself. I spoke differently, I acted differently, and I hung out with different people. Weird thing is: I went to a Christian college, so to fit in there I had to be the best at speaking Christianly, acting Christianly, and pretending that I had things together.

Then, in my junior year, a friend with whom I spent the summer gave me a book: Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. This book showed me what was going on in my life. What I was desperately seeking – a full and joyous relationship with the God who loves me unconditionally – I had sought in vain in so many areas. Instead of a vibrant relationship with God, I had let an “imposter” take up residence in my life: I was acting like something I’m not, pretending that the approval of others was most important.

For those of you who struggle to bring your real self to the table – with friends, FPU staff and faculty, or God – I would wholeheartedly recommend Abba’s Child to you. Manning has a way of showing us that there is nothing we can do to earn or forfeit God’s love. And rather than constructing an identity out of our accomplishments or failures, Manning encourages us to just relax. He invites us to be radically defined by our status as God’s beloved, not who we are, but rather whose we are. Realizing that my identity is based solely on my status as a child of God, I’m excited to say, is good news indeed.