I spend a lot of time reading. There always seems to be something I am pondering, struggling with, or sorting through. On the first day of this year, I reviewed a book about suffering titled Be Still, My Soul http://lovetopaint.blogspot.com/2011/01/understanding-and-accepting-suffering.html. I enjoyed the book and was encouraged by it. I read the book because I struggled with understanding the place and purpose of suffering in our lives. It encouraged me a lot, but I was still left with some questions.
How do I cope with the yuckiness of the world?
How do I keep it from overwhelming me and not becoming cynical?
How do I keep sight of eternity?
How can I best love a fallen world?
What should I expect of the people in my life?
How do I hold onto hope?
As usual, a book came across my path that I hoped would help me answer some of these questions. I mentioned it a few months ago in this post: http://lovetopaint.blogspot.com/2011/05/books-we-choose-to-read.html I started reading Broken-Down House by Paul David Tripp in late May. It is now August! Although I can read many books in a day, some books need to be read over time. This is one of those books. I find that I need to read it a chapter at a time and let it sink in.
Paul David Tripp begins with this wonderful quote early in the book,
"The Bible is not a higher-plane tome about some mystical life of spiritual devotion. It does not teach blissful separation from the brokenness of everyday life. No, the Bible is a book about this world. It is a gritty, honest book. When we read Scripture, we face the world as it actually is, in big-screen, high-def details. God doesn't pull any punches. He doesn't paint over any cracks. he doesn't flatter or avoid. There is no denial of what is real and true." p. 26
Tripp explains that we live in a broken-down house that is in the process of being restored. Our world is a broken-down house and so are we. This metaphor was very vivid to me when he reminded me of what it's like when you're remodeling a house. It's messy, dusty, and often chaotic. Things are out of place until they get fixed and everything's put back. But, when there's repairs that need to be done, you can either put them off or fix them! And if you don't fix them--they only get worse. So, how do we cope with this mess and chaos while fixing the house?
That's what this book is about. First, Tripp talks about what we need to know to see this world and ourselves rightly. The second part addresses what we can do. This book is meaty and has so much solid truth in it. It is difficult to distill all of the important ideas I have in this book into one paragraph.
I thought I would just touch on one chapter I read this week. This week I felt particularly convicted by the chapter about eternity. It began with a powerful story of a woman losing every material thing that mattered to her in this world. She learns some very hard lessons and realizes that her hope was in the things of this world and not in eternity. She also faces some hard truths about herself. Tripp shares that after all that she had gone through she realized that no one was ever good enough for her. Her expectations for all in her life, including herself, couldn't be met because her hope had been placed in being perfect and in this world. Questions followed that asked the reader, in this case me, to reflect--am I expecting too much of the people in my life? Am I expecting them to do things they were never designed to do? Where is my hope really being placed? What makes a week good? (This question implies that what makes our week "good" may not be what should make it good.)
In answering these questions for myself, my thoughts went first to my family. My children really behave quite well. They have their squabbles now and then, but they love to play together and love each other well. Yet I get frustrated at the first sign of a squabble. Is that appropriate? No.
My middle daughter has struggles with eating foods she doesn't want to. But, is she healthy? Yes.
My youngest son gets upset when anyone says no to him, but he's 3! Pretty usual for a child that age. I try to talk him through it and help him understand his emotions, but I think some (not all) of his behavior will just have to wait for him to grow up.
My job is to take care of my family and be present with them. I'm very hard on myself. I need to be able to admit my mistakes, repent, accept forgiveness, and let go. I don't need to condemn myself.
This book is helping me process some issues I've seen in the world and have struggled through this year. I know this is one of those books that I'll dog ear and underline. I'll come back to the book shelf year after year to remember and be challenged to put my life and the world around me in the right perspective. I need to remember to keep my eyes on eternity and God's glory and not on myself and this world. I need to live in this world and love people well, but not get broken down by the yuckiness of this world. I hope this book will encourage many people as it has me. It's like drinking a glass of water when you're parched. Soda doesn't really cut it, because water is what you've really been needing.
If you're struggling as I have with the yuckiness of this world and how to cope with it...or if you're struggling with how to help your children cope with how to live in this world and not be of it...I highly recommend this book! I hope your heart and mind will be deeply encouraged by it as I have been.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Shepherd Press.