Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review: A Beautiful Mess


This book came highly recommended from a college friend of mine that I deeply respect.  I even won a copy off her blog, but before she could send it to me, I found out the author was giving copies away in exchange for a book review.  Being ever impatient, I chose that route.

A Beautiful Mess: A Perfectionist's Journey Through Self-Care serves to help women experience the healing of the Holy Spirit by examining every facet of herself; emotional, mental, physical, sexual and spiritual.  We live in a society that demands and celebrates perfection, even though that burden brings most of us to a breaking point.  Women spend most of their time carefully cultivating the facade of perfection, living in constant fear that someone will "find them out" to be, well, human.  Kristin Ritzau shares her personal journey and what she discovered as she navigated a new marriage, survived a quarter-life health crisis, and was forced to redefine the God of her childhood.  What she found was that there was freedom in accepting that she was a beautiful mess.  There was no need for her to be "perfect" any longer.

There are a lot of life-giving messages in this book.  Sometimes we just need to hear someone else give us permission to not be perfect in order to give ourselves permission.  One of the more significant portions for me was included in the mental journey, when Kristin talks about grieving.  We seem to think that the only time you can grieve is after the death of someone.  Kristin mentions that there are tons of other times in our lives that we should allow ourselves to grieve, and really it's anytime there is a big change.  Grieving something doesn't mean you are sad about what is happening or going to happen, but it is acknowledging that what once was is no longer.  After my second was born, I had quite the case of baby blues.  I do not believe it was postpartum depression, but I found myself crying a lot for about two weeks.  I tried my best to suck it up and get over it, because I truly loved my new daughter.  I now know that it was okay to simultaneously rejoice in the birth of my daughter while grieving the fact that our life as a family of three was over.  We assume that tears and grief are bad things, and if we feel them then we can't possibly feel happy about something else at the same time.  I wish I had had the freedom back them to just cry because I wanted to cry, rather than spending that time coaching myself into feeling good about the massive change that had just taken place.

Kristin does go quite a bit in depth into the sexual facet of women, which made me very uncomfortable.  She would probably say that my discomfort validates the very point of that chapter, but I'm not so sure that she's entirely on point on what sexuality should mean to a women.  What I mean is, while she doesn't advocate for anything immoral, I'm not sure her viewpoint is entirely from a Biblical worldview.  It feels a bit more like Christianizing a secular worldview of sexuality.  Obviously that is just my opinion.

I would definitely recommend this book to all women, however.  I think it would make life just a little bit clearer, allowing them to refocus their lives into what God would want them to be.

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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