A tsunami of self-help books on parenting has hit the Christian coastline and flooded bookstores and homes. The cyber tidal wave of practical tips is not any weaker and engulfs much of social media. When I scroll through my Facebook news feed, I am, in fact, drawn to some of the posts that seem to offer quick fixes to my parenting problems. Want to raise successful kids? No problem, just do A, B and C! Want to make sure your kids don't get cancer? No problem, just feed them X, Y and Z. It is not that these questions are unimportant but the way they are approached often leaves parents guilt-laden and exhausted.
You will find Gloria Furman's little book Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full -Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms to be an antidote to the ills of self-help. You will not find any practical parenting tips here. In fact, her explicit goal as a writer was to "[R]esist the urge to reduce God's word to nice tips for nice living: give them the gospel"(p. 21). And that is exactly what she does!
So, instead of a "band-aid on the wound" approach to the difficulties of motherhood, Furman provides her readers with a wide, over-arching understanding of God's redemptive purpose for motherhood. Giving birth to and raising image-bearers of God is a divine occupation that flies in the face of Satan's destructive plans for this world. Even the mundane, challenging, complicating and failing moments of motherhood can be transformed into an act of worship when seen from the perspective of eternity. Mothers who want to communicate an understanding of grace to their children need to first be recipients of the gospel of grace themselves.
The book is filled with great Scriptures, transparent personal stories coming from the author's life and a singular throbbing heart-beat throughout each chapter: the gospel, the gospel, the gospel. Furman is dogged about weaving the message of grace into her story and her book as a way to minister to other weary mothers and that is a balm to the soul. I particularly loved the last chapter entitled "The Metanarrative of Motherhood" in which the author gives a mini biblical theology of motherhood. That topic deserves a book of its own!
Most women will find this book a confirmation of their call to motherhood and a motivation to cling to Jesus more and more as they honor Him through their task. Though Furman does say that "[T]he highest aim of womanhood is not motherhood; the highest aim of womanhood is being conformed to the image of Christ" (p. 139), it does still beg the question of what the implications are for single women or married women without children. How do they fit into God's redemptive purpose? Can mothering be seen more broadly than just physical mothering? I would have appreciated a discussion on how childless women can still be a part of this tremendous, redemptive plan without raising physical children of their own. But maybe this transcends the purview of this book.
I highly recommend this very readable, highly inspiring, Christ-exalting book. It is high time we start viewing mothering in such spiritually meaningful terms..
Click here to read an online review.