In the body of Christ, we readily talk about our joys and our blessings, but we less often discuss the ways in which the brokenness in life tears us open. Even though the message of the Gospel is our one hope for healing, shame can silence us, and fear isolate us. We worry that admission of our struggles will reflect a meager faith. We hesitate to beseech our brothers and sisters for help, when Sunday mornings seldom allow space for melancholy.
Such barriers to open dialogue about suffering highlight the importance of books like The “M” Word and Freed from Shame. Both books, will distinct in the topics they address, share an emphasis on experiences that highlight our need for the Gospel, but on which discussions in church seldom focus.
The “M” Word: A Collection of Stories About Miscarriage and Hope by Pamela Djima, chronicles the stories of ten Christian women who have suffered miscarriages. Their accounts are candid, heart-wrenching, and most of all reflect our hope in the God who is there when grief subsumes us. Djima’s writing is especially poignant, as she weaves personal account and biblical reflections in to a beautiful, haunting, and ultimately glorifying narrative.
Tackling a similarly neglected topic, Dawn Holmes’ and Karen Todd’s Freed from Shame: Addressing the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church offers practical help for those of us grappling with mental afflictions. Their book is both empathetic and pragmatic, with clear explanations of varying mental illnesses, as well as practical suggestions for how we can support our struggling brothers and sisters. Freed from Shame would be an excellent tool for churches looking to increase awareness of mental illness, and to provide a more supportive environment within their congregations.