Book Review: God Loves Ugly

Maybe I’m the only one in America who doesn’t recognize the name, Christa Black, but she knows how to punch you in the gut on the first page. God Loves Ugly and Love Makes Beautiful is raw, authentic, wild, and mixed up.

Christa Black is a singer and songwriter for celebrities like Jordan Sparks and Michael W. Smith. She grew up in a loving home as a pastor’s kid.

A man sexually molested her as a small child making a “PK’s” life tougher (pastor’s kid). Religion seemed more about the rules than the love. Addiction drove Christa’s life. Success drove her to over-achieve in everything from music to sports. Contrasting her success in high school and college were her addictions to drugs, drinking, and bingeing. The memoir she writes has much wisdom of lessons learned in the journey, written positively, casting a beam of light into the dark dungeon of her own self.  For the most part, I agreed with much of what she said except for a couple of points.

Christa speaks a lot of how our attitude is a choice. It’s true that we do have mastery over our emotions. We rule them; they don’t rule us. Or at least, that’s how it should be in people’s lives. But I have noticed she points out the power to overcome our darkest days come from within. I don’t think she meant to point out that the power comes from within us as if God isn’t really needed, but if not read carefully, the words can seem to say that. She clarifies later in numerous places how God helped her realize she is loved. Many times forgiveness, a bad day, depression, and other shadows are difficult to overcome simply by thinking happy thoughts. It’s a process, a choice, but also divine.

I posted on Facebook my favorite quote about jumping puddles (Chapter 3). Christa explored Washington D.C. by foot and a rain storm caught her unawares. That night she was to perform with the Jonas Brothers and a good mood became sour. She cursed everything until she realized she should just jump in the puddles; make the best of a bad day no matter what the rain did to her hair or make-up. The forced smile eventually became real.

Christa also writes how we shouldn’t judge someone committing a wrong (page 81-82). We have to look at the root of a problem. She makes it clear that she doesn’t condone those who make bad choices, but there’s a story behind the behavior. To that point, I agree. The root of our choices are the problems solved only by journeying with God and allowing Him to change us. I disagreed with her Pollyanna approach of churches not preaching of sin and of being too condemning; of not speaking of Jesus’ love enough.

The church she attended sounded pretty controlling, but then, I have met some homeschooled kids who lived in a controlled environment where they could only listen to certain music or watch some movies. I even knew a Christian friend who frowned at secular music. As a church we do have to be careful not to add to scripture man-made rules, but to embrace truth balanced with love.

Christa spent much of her life self-hating, trying to be loved. The way Christa writes this book is helpful, authentic, and deep with a first page that literally makes you gasp and clutch your neck, wanting to reach across the blank pages and rip out the lies of worthlessness from her mind. I gave this book four stars because of the points above, but she did make a great point that we all need to get involved with people.

To reach the root problem of poverty it requires relationships forged in authenticity, not entitlement, with a hand reached out in friendship and love; a person committed to walking the difficult journey with the suffering person.

*book given by publisher to review.