{Reading Report} Choosing to SEE

Choosing to SEEA month or two ago, I finished Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman. Many of you are familiar with the story of the (Steven Curtis) Chapman family’s young daughter, Maria, who was killed in a fluke accident. (Her brother accidentally hit her when pulling into their driveway.) In this raw account, Mary Beth (Maria’s mom) conveys her long, hard journey of unthinkable grief and inexpiable hope.

Time and again, God’s faithful presence was made known through small things only He could have orchestrated, from a coloring Maria left behind, to a stranger encountered at Disneyland.

I’ll be honest, I hoped for a little more straightforward gospel message in this book. There’s undeniably plenty of emphasis on God and His sovereignty, love, and care. I would have appreciated a more specific look at the cross and the Person of Jesus Christ in the midst of this trial.

That said, Choosing to SEE gave me an excruciating window into grieving the loss of a child. Christian or not, there are no words for a tragedy like this. I could feel the pain and begin to visualize the anguish through Mary Beth’s candid descriptions. It made the challenges I face pale in comparison, and, I trust, better prepared me to be as empathetic as possible with people I encounter who have experienced similar loss. For that reason alone, I’m glad to have read it.  It’s a well-written, honest look at the gaping hole left in the wake of a child’s death.

Here’s a taste of the book, via part of a letter that Mary Beth wrote to Steven and included in Choosing to SEE:

I know this is a difficult process for you, but please trust me when I say that the world will SEE and hear and many will put their trust in the Lord. Not because of you or your abilities, but because you have been a willing, broken vessel into which you’ve allowed God to pour Himself. You have set an example for your family on how to allow God to leak out of the broken pieces of our lives.

Again, I don’t like it one bit. I would be just fine with a perfectly unbroken vase, especially one that wasn’t broken over the loss of a child. But I’m trusting that God saw fit to entrust us to steward this catastrophic loss well. May He be honored with all us Chapmans as we do our best to let the world SEE that He alone is the Author of our salvation, the Mender of our hearts, the Healer of souls.

4 thoughts on “{Reading Report} Choosing to SEE

  1. I read the book last summer and was permanently changed by it. Mary Beth’s story so clearly illustrates a life submersed in the gospel that I don’t think she needed to write it out specifically (although she did tell her testimony of coming to faith in the beginning of the book). The theme was holding tightly to God through ALL things– ridicule, depression, bumpy times in marriage, new adventures, and, yes, loss of a child. I think her mission was to share the story God has given her, not to convert anyone, but even still people have come to a deeper faith because of it, myself included. Jesus was all over the book, even if Mary Beth didn’t focus on one specific piece of Him. It was still clear as day.

    • I appreciate your comment, Tessa, and am glad the book impacted you as well. By using the phrase ” I hoped for” I was communicating not a black and white problem with the book, but merely an aspect that I personally hoped would be more prominent. It’s certainly not a reason not to read or recommend it, which was, I trust, clear in my review.

      • I’m sorry I sounded snarky; it just sounded to me like you were almost telling Mary Beth what to think and feel in her grief, and I wasn’t okay with that. Thank you for being gracious with me.

      • That’s alright, I’m glad you commented! Maybe the clarification in my comment was needed for others as well. I always appreciate feedback, negative and positive.

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