Good News For Weary Women
As soon as I saw Good News For Weary Women: Escaping The Bondage Of To-do Lists, Steps, and Bad Advice by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick I knew I wanted to read it right away, just based off the title! The description immediately resonated with me: "Are you exhausted? Women today really do feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Every morning we are greeted with a long list of to-dos: get the kids up and out the door on time, have a meaningful quiet time, put in a full day at the office, spend an hour at the gym, prepare a healthy and delicious meal (organic and locally grown, of course), and make sure the sink sparkles before you go to bed. Oh, and don’t forget to look great and smile while you’re doing it. These are all good things to do, of course. But the bigger problem occurs when we start to feel as if our worth is measured by our to-do lists. And the messages we receive at church, on Facebook, and from the media only perpetuate these unrealistic expectations, creating a relentless cycle of exhaustion. As Elyse Fitzpatrick has traveled this country, she has seen increasing evidence of this weariness epidemic invading our churches and communities. And she has good news for women everywhere: there is hope! God doesn’t judge us by our to-do lists. Instead, He calls us to faith. Free yourself today from the endless stream of bad advice and discover the true rest God offers."
Can you relate to this? What woman doesn't, really?! I loved this book. Written Bible study style with questions for reflection and discussion included at the end of each chapter, Elise offers an introduction, 8 chapters whose topics include: How Did We End Up Here?; What Ever Happened To The Good News?; Laws, Rules, Steps, And More Bad News; When Rules Define You; The Delusion Of Self-Perfection; Who Is Your God?; He Said Us!; and What's On His List For You Today?, and two Appendixes. Elyse writes straight to the heart of every woman, cutting through Pharisaical rules and regulations and bringing us back to what really matters: knowing and loving Jesus. Written in a loving way, woman-to-woman, Elyse touched my heart and made me do some serious soul-searching. Reminiscent of Having A Mary Heart In A Martha World and A Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver, I recommend this book to every Christian woman who is feeling overwhelmed and stressed in her multifaceted roles as wife, mother, Christian, homemaker, church leader, and more. Truly, I can't say enough good things about this book. The author has provided me with an excerpt for you to read, and I'd like to share it with you:
I have a daughter, two daughters-in-law,and two granddaughters, and if there is anything I want them to know, it is this:
There is good news for you. You don’t need to learn
secret steps, try harder and harder, wear yourself out in
an attempt to be beautiful, snag Mr. Perfect, or raise
perfect children. You are already welcomed, loved,
forgiven, and completely okay. You can laugh and rest
and resist all the ways the world lies to you and tells
you you’re not good enough. And you can love God
because He has already loved you. You can be free to
fail, to rest, to love, to be weak, to grow, and to know
that everything is already given to you in Him.
I know that women (and men) have been overwhelmed
by to-do lists, steps, and bad advice since the beginning of
time. Even five hundred years ago, Martin Luther didn’t need
to read his Facebook friends’ posts about their having fun
without him to realize that there was something wanting in
his life. He was aware of his inability to obey God’s law from
the heart, and he knew he didn’t have his own self-approval,
let alone God’s. But I do think there is something a little
more desperate, more frenetic about our present wilderness.
There are so many messages being broadcast at us from every
direction about “How to be perfect in 149 simple steps” or
“How your life will become a self-inflicted Armageddon if
you don’t follow these rules.”
As a woman who loves Christ, the gospel, her family, her
church, and her country, I’m standing up to scream, “Stop this
madness! Be done with the fluff, the bricks, and the despair-breeding, anxiety-multiplying self-righteousness!
It’s time to trust in Christ—and Christ alone! He has already done it
all. Everything you need has already been given to you.” Or
in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, “Whoever has
entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did
from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews
Instead of freeing me to love and serve Christ and my
family, all this “good advice” loaded me down with guilt and
shame over my ongoing sin and piled on more and more
wearisome rules. The very thing I was taking as an antidote
for my failure was making me more and more ill. Instead of
finding freedom, I was a slave to self-justification.
And judging from what I’ve heard from other women, I don’t think
I’m the only one who has ingested this poisonous brew.
The problem comes when women (and men) haven’t
learned how to differentiate between law and gospel—when
we don’t understand how the good news of Jesus’ perfect life,
death, resurrection, ascension, and reign is meant to impact
us. When we don’t see the connection between the righteous
life Jesus lived and our standing before a holy God, we are setting
ourselves up for bondage. Many women don’t understand
the freedom that has been purchased for us, and we often get
tangled up in legalism or moralism. We don’t know what it
would look like for obedience to be motivated by gratitude.
I believe there are specific instructions in Scripture regarding
gender roles, including those in Genesis 2–3, Proverbs
31, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3. I believe
that these truths remain valid for today and that we ignore
them to our great harm. But I also believe that much of what
has been dished out to women under the guise of “biblical
gender roles” has failed us in at least two ways. It has gone
way beyond Scripture’s bounds, while at the same time closing
off much of the Bible’s message of comfort and hope. In
these ways, much of this teaching resembles Jesus’ description
of the Pharisees’, for it gathers unnecessarily heavy burdens
and lays them on women’s shoulders (see Matthew 23:4).
Meanwhile, those who teach these things effectively “shut the
kingdom of heaven in [their] faces” (verse 13).
When we define gender roles too narrowly, overemphasizing
a limited number of texts while completely ignoring the breadth of Scripture— when we try to make Scripture say more than it actually does or tell any segment of people that only certain parts of the Scripture concern them (whether we
intentionally communicate this message or not)— we do so to the detriment of women and men, and to the detriment of the church and its mission in the world.
and soul crushing to tell a woman that the only worthwhile
activity she can do is to birth children and serve a husband
and a family. This mind-
also creates an idol out of the
family structure, making success as a homemaker/mother the
most important vocation in a woman’s life. And although
this is a high calling, it should not trump our first and foremost
calling: to believe in Christ.
In response to the evils of radical feminism, which shamed women who didn’t work outside the home, the radical femininity movement has shamed Christian women who work outside the home (for a variety of reasons) or who are not married or who have been divorced. Many Christian women have been taught that motherhood is not only their highest calling but also that it is the only calling they should aspire
to. It seems a little like the drunk man who falls off his horse on one side and climbs back into the saddle, only to fall off on the other.
Taken from Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick copyright © 2014. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
I received a copy of this book from the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.