One of the things I noticed not long after I left vocational ministry was how tired everyone was. Not just physically tired but exhausted by the social and psychological hamster wheels of modern American culture. The demands of so many voices about everything from marriage and parenting and vocation and even what you eat were marking the hearts and faces of my friends and those I heard from because my writing.
The church is not immune. And when I left vocational ministry to enter the business world, the “Radical” movement was at it’s zenith. And I kept hearing from how Christians were by the demands of the church. And with nearly one voice, what I heard was, “Where is the rest offered in the gospel?”
Especially young moms.
I heard from so many mothers about how exhausted they were from being a mother and how they felt like they were not doing enough for their church or the world. They were tired. They were really tired. They felt guilty. And there were days when the only hope they could muster came in the form of a glass of wine at the end of the day or medication.
The gospel of grace had been silenced by the noises of social media, the news and their own fears. Expectations were not realized and motherhood looked like nothing they had pinned on Pinterest for 9 months.
Obviously I am not a mother. And in this world of gender confusion and the leveling out of the differences between men and women, it seems appropriate for me to point that out. I am not a mother. So while this put me at a distinct disadvantage while reading Engaging Motherhood, I knew I had heard of enough to recognize the power of this book.
First disclosure: I need to point out the first author listed is one my closest friends. So while you may be tempted to think I am doing this as a favor, know that is not the case. Actually, that is why I never do book reviews. I do not want anyone to think I am exchanging review favors – I write a “review” for them and they write a review for me. This is not the case. I chose to read and write a review of Engaging Motherhood because I know Holly Mackle. I know her desire for this book is for them to believe the gospel of grace in the trying times of Motherhood, and I know the church culture in which she and the other authors wrote this book.
Actually a review is terrible idea. This book is meant to be used by Mothers in community to help one another, as they gather around the Scriptures to believe the gospel of grace when being a mother is hard. For some this is everyday. So this is not a review so much as a commendation. From where I sit the need is so obvious.
The great beauty of this book is how the authors focus on the grit and grime of everyday life as a mother. Motherhood can be so celebrated, and it should be. But also, it can feel like a daily grind which you never clock out of. And it touches on every part of your life. Your friendships. Your marriage. Your hopes and dreams. Your feelings failure and true real, sinful failures. And what I found so compelling about this book is each day of study applied the gospel to the struggles of motherhood in a way that was consistent and refreshing when a new facet of what God had accomplished in Jesus on our behalf needed to be seen.
Engaging Motherhood is an 8 week study with the hope “you will be calmed and steadied by the experiences of some women who have gone down this road before you.” There are questions with plenty of space to write answers.
And here is the thing about those questions – and I am not sure this as intentional or just came out of the hearts of women who wanted to encourage other women – the questions are actually encouraging themselves. We have all gone through a study and the the questions beat you down. Were they helpful in seeing things about yourself, you had never seen? Sure. But I read through the questions each day, I saw something. They consistently guided the reader to look at the good news of what God has done for them in Jesus and respond according to that, and not just their own sins and failures. This is so rare.
Second disclosure: Holly called me one night and asked if they could use my Mother’s Day sermon in the book. I didn’t hesitate. So there is an essay by me in Engaging Motherhood, but I gladly do not financially benefit.
A lot of my readers are moms (no idea why). If you do not yet have something for a summer Bible Study, use this. A lot of you are pastors and leaders in your church – push this book on the young moms. The following is a good example of what you will giving them and I will let it be my final reason for why I commend this book to the Church:
“There is no checklist on how to be full of the Spirit for everyday life as a saved sinner. There are no set rules for perfect results. Desperation and dependence seem to open God’s heart to our emptiness. Somehow, childlike faith in his ability to do what we can’t is key – not to perfection, but to a deep rest in the completed work of Christ. We trust in his sure but unpredictable work of grace at work in us through faith, a grace that is as sure as Christ’s death and resurrection, and as certain as his faithful love. And as we wait with open hearts, he comes. This is grace.”