This book review was also published here:
This book gives a profound biblical view of seeking contentment. Even though the authors are writing from a perspective of singleness, it is a gem of a book with so much to offer women in all seasons of life: single, married, widowed etc.
There are a great many books written for women that are, well …. fluff. It was refreshing to read a book filled with biblical truths instead of just trying to pacify women in their current situation. Many books on singleness or on finding contentment in a less than ideal situation are filled with scripture twisting promises, and give the reader a false hope – and worse – a false view of God and His holiness.
Imagine, sitting on a porch swing on a cool morning, wrapped in a quilt, hot coffee in hand and having a good heart to heart with one of your best friends – that’s the way this book reads. The authors are so down to earth. Each author wrote a handful of chapters, and have personal stories intertwined, so it really reads like a conversation.
I found myself smiling at their heartfelt stories and wincing at the sometimes painful truth (though spoken in love.) Contentment is an area that everyone struggles with. How easy it is to feel disgruntled in a situation – all because God didn’t form the circumstances exactly as we think is best. Oh the audacity that we ever are discontented and assume that we know better than our Creator!
A lack of contentment breeds hopelessness and depression. There is true joy in contentment – and the joy the authors have is so inspiring. I have never read a book that made me feel as if the authors have prayed for their readers and even love them, simply because they are sisters in Christ – until now.
This book is a must-read for every Christian woman. It can speak into the life of a single woman struggling to find her place in life; to the young mother struggling to survive the chaos of toddlerhood; and even to the woman who is struggling to find meaning in the “empty nest”, because, at its core, this book is about contentment.
“Contentment does not mean pretending to be perfectly happy with one’s circumstances. Nor is it some sort of passive, fatalistic regard for life’s trajectory. True contentment is much more robust and God-centered than a Pollyanna outlook. It begins with an honest assessment of one’s true feelings, but moves swiftly to reconcile those feelings with the absolute truth of God’s character. When life seems unfair, I must remember that the God who is in control of it cannot be anything but fair. When life seems harsh or too much to bear, I must remember that the God who orders it cannot be unloving or unkind. Ultimately, contentment is characterized by an attitude of submission to the One who might sovereignly orchestrate events in my life in a different way than I would choose for myself. But you know what? He is good, and I can trust Him with my desires, whether for marriage or anything else.” Pg 25.
I love that you can hear their heart with each chapter, they each had goals and dreams… and life hasn’t turned out quite like they had planned. “As 30 nears, I think I am beginning to understand. Dreams die a slow death. The hurts and disillusionments of other people add insult to injury. Change itself is excruciating. These things can turn us into someone quite hard, ugly, and unloving over time. The anecdote to bitterness? Getting our eyes off of others, and onto a hope for eternity that does not fade and a Christ that does not disappoint.” Pg 37
They are taking you on a journey of what they have learned about identity, the surety of God’s Word, trusting God, how to wait well, true friendship, the importance of community, fears, and God’s promises. The boldness in this quote is so encouraging to me: “So are we still single? God be glorified in our contentment. We still do not have our dream job? God be glorified in our acceptance. Our future dreams have not come to fruition? God be glorified in the new dreams He has given us. Let us learn to enjoy our life. Enjoy our season. Be content. Be bold. Make a difference. And ultimately, trust God.” Pg 54.
My only critique of this book is:
1) Of the use of a John Eldredge quote on pg 21. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely quote – but John Eldredge teaches some heretical doctrine, such as open theism, and I wouldn’t want to steer anyone in his direction. (For more information on why his teachings are heretical go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3-EFXObuD0 and here: https://www.challies.com/general-news/john-eldredge/ )
2) I wish it was longer. It is not that the book felt like there was so much left unsaid, but it left me yearning for the conversation to continue. It was much in the way it is bittersweet when a cherished friend has to leave after a good visit. (Obviously, contentment is something I am still working on!)
“My singleness happens to be the thing that has driven me to the Bible like nothing else, time and again, for answers to my questions about identity, purpose, and many other perplexing issues besides. God’s Word anchors my soul like nothing else can. It is through His Word alone that God reveals who He is. It is there that my perspective is transformed. It is there that I learn of hope that I have in Christ and understand who I am in Him. It is there that I can learn of God’s ways. It is there that I am reminded that ultimately; this is His story, not mine.
“Does the reading, study, and memorization of the Bible seem like a daunting task to you? Dear friend, if you glean nothing else from this little book, please heed the encouragement to pursue God through His Word. In this ever-changing world we live in, it is ever so important to know the foundation on which you stand. Only when your roots are planted deeply, and are growing deeper still, can you stand strong against the “dangers, toils, and snares” that you will face. May we hunger and thirst after the life-giving Word, and may we yield ourselves to the transformation it brings.” – pg 15
Contentment is something that I have struggled with in my own life. I write out my daily ‘To Do List’ and a large portion remains undone at the end of the day, regardless of how hard I tried. I have mapped out my life goals in detail and have even drawn out the blueprint for my dream house – yet I find myself struggling to find a way to make it all happen.
Far too often I find myself in the depths of despair simply because I can’t do it all. It’s hard finding balance between being a wife, a mother, a family member, a church member, getting prepped to homeschool a pre-schooler, trying to learn a trade, finding time to finish my work, plan and cook meals, clean the house, run errands, take my daughter to multiple therapy appointments, supporting my husband as he starts his second year in seminary – there is so much to do, and precious little time. My ‘To Do List’, as helpful as it is, can easily be a gateway into depressing and anxious discontentment.
My plans are “good” but quickly become a sin issue. For example, I plan on my family sitting around the table feasting on a very healthy meal, but my oldest has Asperger’s and her food sensory issues are rather extreme. She eats precious little in way of variety and very few of her foods are reasonably healthy (unfortunately.) When my good plan, my desire for her to eat a healthy meal elevates from a desire to a need, then it becomes idolatry. Idolatry is at the very root of discontentment.
God wants me to be obedient in how I mother my children – I need to give her healthy food, encourage her, foster an environment where she develops the security and courage to step out of her boundaries and try different things. I don’t need her to fit into my agenda. I need to be content in that God is in charge of her sensory issues – not me. She will mature and learn coping skills in His timing and to the degree that He sees best. His best brings Glory to His Name and brings us to further sanctification. And this book has helped me to see that by remembering that God has Providentially placed me in this situation, for my good & His Glory, I will find rest, joy, and contentment.
“Friends, our prayer is that you would see blessings and marriages and dream jobs and fulfilling lives. Indeed, we hope that for ourselves. But if not, He is still good (Daniel 3). Because God is still in control, because Jesus’ blood still redeems sinners, because the Comforter is still with us, He is still good. Let us exclaim with the psalmist: ‘I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.’ (Psalm 34:1 KJV).”
It doesn’t end quite there – almost – the authors have compiled a forty-something-long list of resources. These resources are books and radio programs that have been influential on their journey. These books are theologically sound, some I have read and a great many I am familiar with and have bumped up on my wish list. But even that is a wonderful reminder that our journey of sanctification really doesn’t have an “End Point” on this side of Glory. And we can praise God in that – that His work of sanctifying us is progressive. We don’t have to be perfect right now – in fact, we can’t be. We can trust Him to gently guide us along as we seek Him.