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"When we are struggling, where is happiness actually to be found? What I have learned in response to this question has been one of the biggest surprises of my life." — James L. Ferrell
As incredible as it may sound, much of the sadness and frustration we feel in mortality is actually created by our well-meaning efforts to find happiness. Relief from this predicament can be found through a divine gospel paradox that rescues us from failed roads and puts us on the surprising path to happiness.
Through engaging stories and fresh, invigorating gospel insights, James Ferrell has written a book that challenges our unquestioned and perhaps mistaken assumptions about many of life's fundamental concerns. For example, what if happiness depends less on forgiving ourselves than on giving up that quest? What if repentance is even sweeter than forgiveness? What if neither happiness nor heaven can be reached by climbing?
Falling to Heaven is an account of a gospel that's specifically designed to change our minds and transform our hearts. It is an account of the truths of Christ that really do set us free.
- Size: 6 x 8
- Pages: 192
- Released: 02/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged
- Number of Discs: 4
- Running Time: Approx. 4 hrs.
About the Author
James L. Ferrell was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Yale Law School and is a founding partner of the Arbinger Institute. He has authored several bestselling books, including The Peacegiver, The Holy Secret, and The Hidden Christ. and Jim and his wife, Jackie, are the parents of five children.
Truth in Contradiction
I once saw a T-shirt with this message on the front: “The sentence on the back of this shirt is true.” Then, on the back, it said this: “The sentence on the front of this shirt is a lie.” The two statements make the mind spin, don’t they? That’s because they form a paradox—a self-contradictory and therefore absurd statement. The paradox at the heart of the gospel is not like this one. The divine paradox seems to be a contradiction, but it actually expresses the deepest and most exquisite truth. The trouble is, since it seems like a contradiction, we can easily resist or dismiss it. If we do, we miss all that it offers, including an understanding of happiness.
Sometimes I find it helpful to think by analogy, and regarding paradoxes, some of the clearest examples are from sports. For example, consider weight training. How do we build our muscles up? By breaking them down. That seems paradoxical, doesn’t it? But it’s nevertheless how it works.
Similarly, think about rebounding a basketball. The natural reflex when rebounding is to go to the hoop to get the ball. But this is a mistake. The best rebounders don’t move toward the basket to get the ball, they move away. That is, their first move is to step away from the basket to seal off their opponents. This is hard to do because it seems backwards. To put it in scriptural voice, “Move to the ball and you will miss it; move away and ye shall find.”
Or consider biking. When I first started road biking, every day I tried to ride as fast as I could. It seemed obvious that the way to build strength and be able to ride faster was always to pedal as hard as possible. But then I met a wise man and master cyclist, and I learned this paradoxical truth: “If you want to go fast, you have to go slow.” What? I responded. That doesn’t make sense! But it does. The building of strength and speed requires regular rides of only moderate pace in order to build what riders call their “base.” To put it scripturally, “To go fast, ye must needs go slow.”
Similar paradoxes abound in golf. If you want to hit the ball hard, for example, it turns out that it usually helps to swing easy. And to hit the ball up, you have to swing down. Most of us who golf are hackers because in order to do it well you have to submit to the paradoxes that lie at the game’s core. Our bodies resist. “I’m going to crush this ball!” we say to ourselves, and we tense up the very muscles that need to be relaxed in order to hit a good shot. Insisting on doing what seems natural and logical, we end up doing exactly the wrong thing!
The existence of an important divine paradox is implied by how often the Lord and his prophets speak in paradoxical terms. Jesus famously taught, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”15 To his disciples he said, “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”16 Concerning wisdom, Paul declared, “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”17 “When I am weak,” he declared elsewhere, “then am I strong.”18
Consider as well the paradoxical nature of the central elements of the gospel. God became man. Mankind fell so that they might become exalted. Jesus died so that we might live. Our “garments are made white in his blood.”19 “And with his stripes we are healed.”20
“Compared to God,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “man is nothing; yet we are everything to God.”21 He called this the “paradox of man,” and warned against concentrating only on one half of the paradox. We may think that happiness is found by focusing only on the happy second half of the statement, for example—on the reality of God’s love. But this is a mistake. We cannot understand the infinite depth of God’s love unless we can grasp the extent of our own nothingness before him, and we cannot understand our nothingness apart from the loving Being who saves us from it. The two parts are a whole, and the truth emerges from the apparent contradiction.
Considering these various examples, it seems that certain central truths of the gospel are most accurately expressed through paradox. If so, here is our challenge: Until we penetrate the divine paradox, we will reflexively resist it. It will seem strange to us, or mistaken, or difficult to understand or to implement. The temptation will be to give up and go back to our old ways—back to focusing on or doing what feels easier or more natural. But that would be a mistake. When we begin to tire of lifting weights, that’s exactly when we need to keep doing it. When the basketball is lofting toward the hoop, that’s precisely when we need to move away. When we are wondering whether God loves us, the answer may paradoxically lie in discovering, as Moses and the people of King Benjamin did, how we are less than we have ever before supposed!22
So it seems that the pathways to the answers we seek are often exactly where we are not looking. This means that in order to put off the unhappiness of the natural man,23 we must first do what feels unnatural to the natural man. And that requires that we to submit to, rather than resist, the paradox. Which, of course, is an act of faith, a reality that brings us to the mother of all paradoxes, the divine paradox that governs our ability to receive the blessings of the tree of life—the fruit of which, the prophet Lehi taught us, fills one’s soul “with exceedingly great joy” and is “desirable to make one happy.”24
by Courtney - reviewed on October 14, 2012
Falling to Heaven is amazing. There really is no other way to describe it. It’s one of those life changing books with layers of lessons that you will discover every time you read it. You have to follow the Lord and only then will true joy find it’s way to you. You can’t force it. Only through service and humble submission to the Lord’s will will you ever find lasting happiness. I can’t tell you how much I dislike the “self-help” formula for women these days, and I have mentioned several times that for many of the world’s women, even more “me time” is not necessarily the answer to why you are discontent with your life. Only by fully embracing your role as a woman, wife and/or mother will you feel relief. I’ve gotten a lot of flack for that kind of comment because people think that I am somehow saying that we women shouldn’t ever do anything for ourselves or that we should never take a break. I’m not saying that at all ... For the rest of this review go to: http://ordinaryhappilyeverafter.com/blog/2012/07/falling-to-heaven-the-surprising-path-to-happiness/
Insightful, uplifting - a message of hope
by Justin - reviewed on May 08, 2012
Falling to Heaven is full of insights into the paradoxes of the Gospel of Christ. To find our self, we must lose our self. To be chief among (wo)men, we must be the servant of all. We are strongest when we are weak. Ferrell takes his reader on a surprising pathway to happiness. A pathway that requires us to bow ourselves down, develop humility, and fall at the feet of our Savior. I have spent the past decade of my life studying the science of happiness. None of the 'world's' strategies for happiness come close to the ideas in this book - and yet the principles in Falling to Heaven have left me feeling renewed and elevated, spiritually touched, and 'happier' than any of the typical happiness strategies offered by positive psychology. I loved this book. I couldn't stop turning the pages to learn more. I am already looking forward to re-reading it (more slowly this time) with my wife and children. This is a book that every follower of Christ should read. At least three times!
Good ideas, but can be misleading
by Customer - reviewed on March 29, 2012
This book starts with a great idea, but then spins it off in what might for some be a discouraging direction. Some of the expressions and phrases the author uses directly conflict with what I've read in talks by apostles and Preach My Gospel. I don't think he intends to be discouraging at all, but it can easily be read this way. If you're interested in this book, I'd recommend trying to read it with the Spirit, so you know which ideas are right for you to apply, and which are inappropriate for your circumstance.
An Eye Opening Book
by Logan - reviewed on March 05, 2012
Even after reading the first 50-75 pages of this book I really started to reconsider what I've been doing to be happy in my life. It's encouraged me to look at my relationship with Christ from a more hopeful perspective. I've really benefited from the chapter where the author discusses the trend of comparing ourselves to friends, family, neighbors, etc. His analogies are clear, insightful and most importantly they have motivated me to make positive changes in the ways I look for happiness. I even used some of the analogies in my Sunday School class yesterday!
Spiritually Heart Changing
by Kandee - reviewed on February 26, 2012
I was able to read an advance copy of this remarkable book. As Eleanor Roosevelt suggested "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people" This book elevated my mind to spiritual/intellectual/CHRIST centered ideas which are truly matters of my HEART. Many of the ideas shared in this book were butter to my soul. The honesty of the author's perspective invites a level of humility that I desperately welcome. Thank you James Ferrell. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!
Major paradigm shift between book bindings
by Tiffany - reviewed on April 14, 2012
I can't begin to describe how important this book is to me. I've already given 4 copies away as gifts because I want to share this with everyone! I agree with James Ferrell, that most of us are slavishly laboring in an effort to find happiness, but our efforts are often the very thing keeping us from that result! His language is plain, direct, humble and laden with the Spirit. I believe that he has captured the essence of our true mission on Earth and cut past our usual to-do lists, even those good and better lists, to go straight for the best. At the same time, his approach is empathetic of our fallen nature and our human foibles and does not leave the reader feeling shamed or condemned. Just as if blinders have been taken off our eyes and a wonderful tool given by a loving friend to draw closer to Heavenly Father and to true joy. This book could remake the modern world, if enough eyes and hearts took it in.
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