God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours

Reviewed by Susan Reimers

God Never Blinks:  50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours by Regina BrettThere is no shortage of inspirational books. There’s not even a shortage of good inspirational books. But every now and again, hidden beneath the glut of all the goods and the also-rans, is the great inspirational book. God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours by Regina Brett is, in my opinion, one of the great inspirational books.

Its greatness doesn’t lie in some new message. In fact, Brett immediately admits that most of the “lessons” are the same ones the sages have been handing down from generation to generation since time immemorial. The sameness doesn’t dilute them, though, when repeated by Brett, whose conversational style and willingness to share her life story makes each one seem new. It is her life story, after all, that was the genesis of her column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the 45 lessons life taught her, and when she turned 50, she expanded that list by five.

Brett is quite open with her life story. She was one of 11 children born and raised in America’s Midwest. She began drinking at 16 and by 21 she was an unwed mother. She sought sobriety, applied herself and received her bachelor’s degree at 30. Still, Brett believed that God blinked when she was born and never knew she arrived. Ten years later she met a man who loved her unconditionally and she finally married, only to have her happiness threatened a year later when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She valiantly battled the disease and her own remaining demons. She even went on to earn her master’s degree in religious studies. By 45, when she wrote the column, she realized that God never blinks. She was right where she was supposed to be, and so are we.

Each of the 50 “lessons” is followed by a part of Brett’s story and while the content is as much memoir as it is inspiration, Brett is a talented writer who paints the right picture to go with each lesson in short, digestible essays that would appeal to both men and women of all ages. The first lesson states that, while life isn’t fair, it is still good. With it, Brett recounts her battle with cancer and the camaraderie that was forged from a baseball cap that she and others wore while undergoing chemotherapy. It read LIFE IS GOOD. As she tells the story, I could almost feel Brett gathering her courage to go through chemo and sharing that courage with me for whatever I’m facing.

Lesson 13 instructs us not to compare our lives to others’ because we have no idea what their journey is all about. For anyone who has ever experienced self-doubt (and you know who you are), there is the welcomed sigh of relief that it’s normal and part of the human experience. Brett writes, “We’re all scared that we’re doing it wrong, that people don’t like us, that we’ll never be smart enough, good enough, successful enough, attractive enough. Don’t fight it. Make it roller-coaster scary. Enjoy the bumps, the wild turns, the ups, the downs, the almost-lost-my-lunch lurches. Life will kick you around like a World Cup soccer ball. Keep your bounce.” Sigh.

And I was bowled over, simultaneously laughing and nodding while reading Lesson 36: Growing Old Beats the Alternative, Dying Young Looks Good Only in Movies because this essay gave me 50 ways to celebrate my 50th birthday (when that time comes). Sure, I may follow #24 and vow to meditate for 50 minutes each day, but I found #42 – honking the horn 50 times – rather amusing. Likewise, #14, rolling down a hill screaming, “Youth is wasted on the young! Youth is wasted on the young!” Silliness can be good.

Thanks to Regina Brett, I also discovered that all the mental wandering I did that I believed rendered me incapable of meditating is actually – gasp! – normal.

In short, the 50 “lessons” are pretty spot on. They are the human experiences that most of us will have at some point in life – from the good to the bad to the ugly to the surreal. Brett shares with us what they looked like when it was her turn to experience them, which may be of some comfort when it is your turn. This book is a keeper. In fact, I am taking the liberty of adding Lesson 51: Buy several copies and pass them out to anyone who needs some understanding, a sense of belonging, and a good laugh.

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