Dew, “Worth the Wrestle” (reviewed by Kristie Wilkins)


Title: Worth the Wrestle
Author: Sheri Dew
Publisher: Deseret Book
Genre: Religious Nonfiction
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 104
Binding: Hardbound
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 9781629722351
Price: $16.99

Reviewed by Kristie Wilkins for the Association for Mormon Letters

If you were to ask my favorite LDS author I would tell you, hands down, Sheri Dew. I have never encountered another author with such a gift for conveying gospel truths to the heart and mind. Her words inspire joy and confidence in even the more difficult parts of the gospel and our mortal journey. Her insights into the subjects she addresses are always extremely well researched, thought out and profound. Invariably, after spending time with Sister Dew’s thoughts and wisdom I am uplifted and motivated to stretch myself a little more. This experience was particularly true of her new book, “Worth the Wrestle.”

From the moment you pick this little book up you know you are in for a treat. I love the folk art by James C. Christensen that graces the cover and is found scattered throughout the book, cleverly placed to illustrate and emphasize significant points made by the author. It is delightful to see images that I am familiar with paired with words that inspire me. The use of the folk art theme was clever and fun.

“Worth the Wrestle” is not a long book at 104 pages, but what the book lacks in length is more than made up for in depth as Sister Dew addresses the subject of asking meaningful questions and seeking or “wrestling” out the answers in faith. She shares what she has learned through her own learning process: “I learned that questions can be instruments of growth. I learned that the Lord will respond to sincere questions. I learned that the humility that accompanies the asking of questions mirrors, though in small measure, the humility demonstrated by the Savior again and again, And I learned that, although there are some answers we don’t have, there is no question or issue or problem that the Lord doesn’t understand completely, omnipotently.” [p. 5]

One of the things that most endures me to Sheri Dew is that she allows herself to be real and relatable in her writing. She shares thoughts and experiences she has had herself and that she has encountered in others. She is not afraid to share the process of questioning and seeking — wrestling — that she goes through when she comes across doctrines or gospel principles that she doesn’t fully understand. Readers will find her great strength in her examples. When you can see that someone you admire and respect has questions, and then you walk through her process of seeking answers in faith, you are given the tools, the power really, that you need to engage in the wrestle yourself. Knowing that even women of great faith and gospel knowledge struggle and wrestle with questions gives comfort and courage to those with their own puzzlements.

Sister Dew approaches the subject of seeking answers to our questions in six chapters which are summarized by a quote from each below. If the principles demonstrated in these chapters are applied in faith, the reader has a step by step guide to greater faith and a firmer testimony.

Chapter 1- Questions Are Good

“*Questions are good.* Questions are good *if* they are sincere questions, asked in faith, and asked of credible sources where the Spirit will direct and confirm the answers. Searching ‘*diligently* in the light of Christ’ is the only way to ‘know good from evil’ (Moroni 7:19; emphasis added). For ‘the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be’ (Jacob 4:13)”. [p. 11]

“Asking inspired questions leads to knowledge. It leads to revelation. It leads to greater faith. And it leads to peace. Not asking questions, on the other hand, closes off revelation, growth, learning, progression, and the ministering of the Holy Ghost.” [p. 12]

Chapter 2- Wrestling

“Spiritual wrestling leverages the strength of true doctrine to overpower our weaknesses, our wavering faith, and our lack of knowledge. Spiritual wrestlers are seekers. They are men and women of faith who want to understand more than they presently do and who are serious about increasing the light and knowledge in their lives.” [p. 22]

Chapter 3- Receiving Answers

“Learning and receiving revelation depend upon our increasing our knowledge of the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But intellect and reason must be combined with the impressions of the Spirit upon our hearts, because the heart is the ultimate instrument of conversion.” [p. 37]

“Among other things, through the years it has become apparent that seekers have certain habits that are key to learning to communicate with God. For starters, they engage in the wrestle, meaning they work at it. They immerse themselves regularly in the scriptures, which are the text book for the Lord’s language. And seekers listen…. Seekers also work to be increasingly pure- pure in their heart, thoughts, and motives…. Purity invites the Spirit, and it increases light.” [p. 39]

Chapter 4- Walking by Faith

“Once you have received a spiritual witness of the truths that form the foundation of a testimony, then when questions arise-even the thorniest questions about our doctrine or history or positions on sensitive issues, or the aching desires of our hearts-they are opportunities for personal, spiritual growth. They are not red flags suggesting that the gospel isn’t true. They are opportunities to engage in the wrestle for inspired answers, receive personal revelation, and increase faith.” [p.52]

Chapter 5- Cherishing Keys

“The Lord has given us prophets, seers, and revelatory who see the path ahead; who have authority and power that authorize them to prescribe a spiritual regimen designed to help us get stronger; who warn us about pitfalls and setbacks and how to avoid them; who, when we have setbacks,often of our own making, show us how to heal; and who cheer us on by speaking in the name of the Lord and communicating His love for us.” [p.64]

Chapter 6- Standing as a Witness

“We don’t have to have answers to every question to receive a witness. But we must *receive* a witness before we can *bear* witness and before we can *stand* as a witness. As the world marches steadily toward the Second Coming, fewer and fewer people will be in a position or be willing to declare their faith. So the bearing of testimony will become an even greater distinction and a light in the darkness to those whose spirits are receptive to the truth.” [p. 75]

For years now I have wanted to be a woman with the faith and wisdom of someone like Sheri Dew. I was struck by an impression a few years ago that I would never be able to do that unless I was willing to put in the time and effort that she so obviously has in studying the gospel and seeking answers. Therefore I am truly grateful that Sister Dew took the time to share both her personal experiences and her process of seeking answers and insights into the gospel. I learned a great deal, and was comforted by the assertion that “though perfection is our ultimate objective and destination, it is not something that will occur here and not something we earn. Ultimately, perfection will be a gift from our Father. So fixating on perfection during mortality can become an immobilizing distraction. Progress, however, is another thing entirely. We can make progress in countless ways, large and small,every day of our lives if we choose to.” [p. 61-62]

Sister Dew concludes the book with her testimony which in and of itself is a testament to the precious value of engaging in the wrestle. She shares, “I testify that our Father and His Son are real, that Their power is real, that Their truth is divinely mandated and directed. And I testify that the wrestle to follow Them, to come to know Them, and to become more like Them is work everything.” [p. 99]

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