Throughout this year, I will be sharing one book review each month. I am not a professional book reviewer, but I would like to share my thoughts about some of the books I have read recently that have impacted my life in meaningful ways. This month’s review is a book written by a friend of mine, Sally Gary. It took a lot of faith and courage for Sally and her parents to have this book published. I am grateful they all agreed to share their story with us. I am grateful that Sally has had a positive influence on my life and the lives of my wife and children, as well. I would encourage you to buy her book and read it, and then to buy more copies to give as gifts to your friends and family! You can order your copy here:
Sally Gary makes no attempt to provide answers or solutions in her book Loves God, Likes Girls. Rather, she attempts to tell a story about a daughter’s love for her parents and longing for a closer relationship with her father.
And what a powerful story she tells.
This book is a memoir; Sally is telling her story from her own perspective. Throughout the book, she draws you in to her life by sharing life-snippets. At times, they are humorous; at times, they are sad. But they are all real.
While reading this book, however, it was not Sally who I connected with the most. Rather, it was the person she writes about with whom she constantly desired a closer relationship, her father.
Sally shares her journey of discovering and accepting her same-sex attraction. Her story is not shared as a formula that all people should follow, but it is a sincere representation of what it was like for her. Her story can help people who question their own sexual orientation. Not by giving answers, but by offering hope and understanding. Her story can help those who may know people who experience same-sex attraction. Not by giving all the right words to say, but by showing how important love and relationship with people truly are.
As Sally shares her story she talks of her relationship with her father, Dan. Dan is the person in the book I found myself connecting with over and over again. Sally shares stories, spanning from childhood to adulthood, that detail an often scary relationship. Dan’s struggle with anger left Sally and her mother often wondering when the next explosion was going to come.
Sometimes in life, we struggle with a variety of different demons. And the people we desire to talk to the most about them end up being the people we talk to the least and hurt the most. We want so badly to reach out to our children, our parents, our partners and say, “Please help me understand what is going on,” but instead of acting on that desire, the demon wins and we lash out and cause pain. Or we stay silent and suffer alone.
Sally’s story is important because we in the church need to understand better what it means to live with same-sex attraction. We need to learn how to love without qualification. We need to make sure that our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attraction do not feel as if they are alone.
Dan’s story is important because we in the church need to understand better what it means to live with demons. We need to learn how to love without qualification. We need to make sure that our brothers and sisters who struggle with demons (anger, addiction, sin) do not feel as if they are alone.
Churches have often done a poor job of knowing how to deal with people who experience same-sex attraction or struggle with demons. We have pulled away when we should have been surrounding. We have avoided the existence of problems when we should have been dealing with them. We have pretended that when we gather for worship we have everything together when we should have used our assemblies as times of sharing our brokenness and questions.
Through sharing her story, Sally provides the church with a wake-up call: we must be more aware of the issues the members of our community are facing every day. We must be talking about them, praying about, and sharing life with one another. We need to be walking side by side through this life.
But even more than the stories she shares, Sally’s book illustrates that redemption is possible. Sally details how her journey with God has grown throughout her life. She also details how her relationship with her father has grown, as well. Sally’s book tells the story of her life.
And what a powerful redemption story it is.
Today, Sally sits with her father, Dan, as the two comfort one another. Sally’s mom, Betty, passed away Tuesday night. Had this happened years ago, the story would play out in a much more tragic way. However, because of the love that is present between Dan, Betty, and Sally Gary, because of the love that is present between God and the Gary family, because of the love that Sally and Dan share as daughter and father, they are together.