Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Review - Thin Places, A Memoir

Warning: the book you are about to read is real. It's raw. It's honest. If you like to keep things light and happy, this book is probably not for you. But if you want to read a true redemption story, give this one a try.

Mary DeMuth has done it again--she's made me think, made me wonder about life, and made me feel so grateful. Mostly, she's made me see God's hand in a new and wonderful way.

Just as I said about her previous novel, A Slow Burn, this book is not easy to read. Mary would probably be the first to tell you that she's had a tough life. Growing up with less-than-attentive parents was hard. Really hard. Mary experienced things that no little girl should ever have to experience, and as a mother of daughters, I do not say that lightly. Never. Ever.

My heart ached for Mary as I read her words, and yet, I rejoiced that the God of the Universe would reach down into all that brokenness and pick her out to proclaim His goodness. It's amazing, really, the picture of redemption that Mary's life paints.

With brutal honesty, Mary tells about her childhood abuse, her struggles on the mission field, and challenges in her marriage. Yet through it all, Mary shows how she has seen God in the "thin places" of her life--those places where He has lifted the veil, ever-so-briefly, and revealed Himself to her. It's beautiful to see how Mary weaves God's redemption into every aspect of her life.

I resonated with many of Mary's emotions, not because I have endured what she endured, but because she has chosen to honestly share her insecurities as a mom, as a wife, and as a person. I get that. Here are a couple of quotes that I really identified with:

"I am sitting with Sophie, Aidan, Julia, and Patrick [her children and husband] around our table. We are eating dinner and sharing our days. I battle inside
myself, wondering if I should share my frustrating day or just let it rest
securely inside my head. Such heaviness settles on me that I don't want to
infect my children. But when it's my turn, I make a snap decision to speak up.

'I have had a hard day,' I tell them. 'I got another book rejection.' I
expand the story, letting my family know the wrenching details. I take in a deep
breath. 'And here's the thing. When I'm rejected it sends me to this very dark
pit, to this place where I wonder if I'm worthy enough to take up space on this
earth.' I point my finger into the table. 'This space right here.'

'Mommy," Julia says. 'I love you. I'm so glad God made you to be my mommy.'

'I don't know where I"d be without you,' Sophie says.

'Please don't feel like that,' Aidan tells me.

'I love you.'Patrick grabs my hand.

In that embrace of words, I am home."

And in another chapter, she talks honestly about her own insecurities, something I could really relate to:

" . . . I'm insecure at heart.

I love to order my world. When others don't like me, my world breaks apart. And I panic. I can be secure when everyone approves.

. . . I drive myself nutty, all for the sake of wanting every single person on this earth to like me. Notice me. Not criticize me.

. . . Even though I know it's a lie, I tend to believe that in order to be valued and loved, I must never do anything to hurt anyone. Likewise, in order to love myself, I must never do anything wrong.

That sure doesn't leave room for grace, does it?"

But in her chapter on insecurity, Mary also says this: "It all comes down to who you want to like you." That line hit me squarely between the eyes. And in my heart. With that one line, Mary pointed me back to the cross and to Jesus, the only One whose opinion of me really matters.

And that's what this book does. Yes, it reveals a broken girl, a broken life, a broken world, but it also shows that the only opinion that really matters is of the One who redeemed our lives from the pit. Mary lifts our eyes and helps us see Him.

This morning, as I opened my Bible, I read Psalm 124. I was contemplating writing this review, and the passage seemed so fitting that I think I'll quote it here.

"What if the LORD had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
What if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
The waters would have engulfed us:
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.
Praise the LORD,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter's trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth."
Psalm 124 (NLT)



Michelle Wegner said...

I loved it too. Really made me think hard about my life.

Mary DeMuth said...

What a beautiful, thorough, well written review. Thank you so much!

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Excellent review! Thin Places is powerful, filled with hope. I hope it reaches many.

Linda said...

I loved it too! I also identified with her even though many of her experiences were not my own. She is a real, honest writer. I like that!

Laura said...

It was a lovely book, wasn't it? I'm pleased to share the blog tour with you, and glad to discover your sweet place over here!

Are you going to enter the kindle contest?? I think you should...

Kay @ Off the Beaten Path said...

Indeed, it is so good that the Lord is on our side! And His opinion is the ONE that matters. Thanks for sharing this review with us. I'll have to give it a look-see!

Veronica Lee said...

Hi! I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog.

Joyful said...

Thank you for sharing the scripture with us. Yes, I believe it is very fitting.