I get tired of Christian books that sugar-coat life. Ignoring the fact Christians often feel broken, just like everyone else? Can I get an Amen?
Faith

I Don’t Like Christian Books that Sugar-Coat Life

“It isn’t a burden,” my pastor’s wife said to me, shrugged happily and walked off after offering me yet another month in the church van after my husband sold his 1994 Chevy Lumina (that was given to us six years prior) to the junk yard.

“But it’s a burden to me,” I muttered under my breath turning my attention back to the church service.

I knew she wasn’t lying. She didn’t care that we used the church van. It was, as she said, “just sitting in the parking lot.”

But I hated being broken. Being the person that always seems to be “receiving.”

My husband leaned in during the worship song, “What ‘cha thinking about?”

“Brokenness.”

He smiled. “It’s humiliating, isn’t it.”

To say the least.

It doesn’t matter what form it takes, The Broken Way is humbling:

  • Someone is physically broken from a lifelong handicap..
  • Another has suffered from a broken marriage.
  • And yet others receive government benefit.

And it doesn’t matter what people really think, because if left unchecked, the thoughts along The Broken Way can do more breaking:

  • It’s so sad that she’s in a wheelchair, someone should lay hands on her. Maybe she’s doesn’t have enough ‘faith’ for healing. Maybe she’s living in sin?
  • Poor woman…I’m so glad that will never happen to me.
  • Should a Christian be on welfare. Haven’t they heard of Dave Ramsey…I mean, geesh! How hard is it 10% tithe, 10% save? Duh.

The problem with so many Christian books I read is although they share ‘The Good News‘…they often forget to put these types of stories in there. 

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The unresolved ones.

The ones that doesn’t have all the answers worked out and wrapped up in a nice pretty bow..

How can it be good news if there was no bad news?

How can we, as readers, overcome by the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11) if we only hear part of the story?

In order to walk down the path of restoration, we must first recognize The Broken Way that lead us there.

The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp and my Boba Tea at Mr. Boba, Cedar Park, TX

In Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, she doesn’t seem to forgo the details of her painful childhood where she watched her sister get run over by a tractor. She morbidly recalls the very real desire for cutting…and how she is petrified that she’s passed this trait onto her oldest daughter.

In her flowery vocabulary, I hear the cries of a woman who might still cry at night…in her shower. Just like me.

I hear a woman, who doesn’t have all the answers. And doesn’t pretend to.

I hear me.

But then, unlike the voices so often in our heads, I hear the good news speckled afresh. Washing over the brokenness.

Telling me to press in. Telling me that my brokenness isn’t a mistake. That it doesn’t need to be completely removed, but embraced — because in MY weakness, HE is strong.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Though my copy of Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way is literally almost completely underlined. My absolute favorite, upon favorite, sentiment is this one. One that actually her husband said (and did I mention I adore that she doesn’t brow-beat and make her husband the object of her humor, but exalts him throughout the book…so refreshing:

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It’s this:

The seed breaks to gives us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, The sky breaks to give us the rain, The wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast. There was once even an alabaster jar that broke to give Him all the glory.... Never be afraid of being a broken thing. -Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
The seed breaks to gives us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, The sky breaks to give us the rain, The wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast. There was once even an alabaster jar that broke to give Him all the glory…. Never be afraid of being a broken thing. -Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

I’ve always viewed (despite the scripture in 2 Corinthians I listed above) that weakness was something to be overcome (and of course, sinfulness IS something we should fight against), but I’m realizing that through it I can become closer to Christ. I can minister to people more…because let’s face it. This world is broken. It ain’t getting any better.

In fact, we are promised that THE EARTH WILL WEAR AWAY LIKE A GARMENT…that doesn’t sound anything like mending.

Despite the fact that earth all around us is dying, we are also told:

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

If you, like me, are broken in a certain area of your life.

And it doesn’t feel like it’s ending anytime soon.

I hope you know that you ARE NOT alone.

Not all Christians are living that fairy tale life where bills are always paid, children always live and marriages are always passionate.

Life is messy.

For the in-between time, before we get to heaven, I’m so glad that there are books like The Broken Way that make me feel normal.

Before this I’d never read Ann Voskamp because I was a little scared of her poetic-style of writing, but I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed it and can’t wait to go back and read 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (doesn’t that title say it all and make you wan to read it anyway!?)

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I received an advanced copy of The Broken Way in exchanged for my honest review. As a “Radical Christian Woman” I don’t take very many posts of this nature because I don’t want my blog skewed by “freebies” but I was willing to take a chance and am giving my absolute genuine and honest opinion. If I had hated the book, I would have told you so. I’m not scared of pissing off publishers because in the end I answer to God on judgement.

And I am driving the church’s van.

I get tired of Christian books that sugar-coat life. Ignoring the fact Christians often feel broken, just like everyone else? Can I get an Amen?

23 Comments

  • Sherri J

    I have just gone through a tough divorce after 19 years of marriage…unfaithful spouse. It was devastating and I feel broken. I am looking to God to lead and help me out of this.

  • Deb E

    I would like a copy of the book because I am, indeed, broken. I have been struggling with a family member with a mental illness. I am the “safe one” and take the majority of the abuse. I have been struggling to shed the harsh words and instead see the beauty of God’s plan.

  • Nita

    I thoroughly agree with you that many Christian books about brokenness come across as sugar-coated self-help books. If it were honestly that easy to be unbroken, we all would be perfect, yes? After losing one baby and then losing twins, I struggled a long time, but it was through those times I grew closer to God. I think that’s why He kept my babies. I was not mad at God, only the experience of such brutal heartbreak. Now, we are expecting again, a complete surprise. And, I am at total peace with however He chooses to play this out. Thank you for your honest review of this book. Either way, I’ll be sure to grab a copy (or two o share!)!

  • Callie

    My husband and I are in the ministry of helping those who are incarcerated and those who battle addictions. I would love to have this as reference material for the ladies I work with because they struggle so much with guilt and shame! I’m always looking for reference material to help them.

  • Victoria Fisher-Cuthbert

    Checked my email looking for some hope, inspiration, or a solution to my problem. I don’t know if I will win or not, but I will see this through despite my current situation. I hope you pray for me if any one is reading this comment.

    • Elaine Mingus

      Lord Jesus, I lift up Victoria. Minister to her spirit as only you know her problems and struggles. May she have peace where there is no peace, joy where there is no joy and patience for herself in the midst of it all.

      You are loved, my sweet sister.

  • TallulahJane

    I have been through some very broken points in my life over the past two years. I try to stay steadfast and strong in my faith, but at times that’s hard. I think this study sounds awesome and just what I need.

  • Becca

    First of all, I love Ann Voskamp. One Thousand Gifts was a game changer for me! Secondly, I identify with brokenness being how God speaks to us. He has been faithful through many difficult circumstances.

  • Suzanne

    This sounds like a book I need to read…really struggling right now with brokenness. Trying to keep my eyes on Him – sometimes when I suffer I feel closer to Him and sometimes I feel further away…this is one of those times. Yet it is His grace and mercy that see me through.

  • Leah

    Life is interesting right now. God has my husband and I in a long waiting pattern. Brokenness is a subject that keeps coming up during this time. I’m looking forward to the encouragement and challenge that this book will hold

  • Roz

    Broken … a constant state of being for me. Reminds me of Paul learning to be content in whatsoever state he was in. A lesson continually being walked out every single day. So many things I could say here but suffice it to say, brokenness KEEPS me at the foot of the Cross.

  • Elaine Fish

    Don’t know whether i’d rather read more of her or more of you! Love how you both keep it real! I’ve long since tossed my pretty bow in the trash.

  • Bethany

    I want a copy of The Broken Way because I believe it will help me with my current season in life and remind me that good things come out of hard times.
    I love that this is a very real post. Keep up the good work.

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