Becoming: God Heals Broken Self-Esteem. By Miriam Martin. AuthorHouse (2012).
Book review by Deborah Ruth Ferber
Becoming: God Heals Broken Self-Esteem by Miriam Martin is a devotional book that invites readers to grow in emotional and spiritual maturity through discovering their true worth in Christ. In her introduction, author Miriam Martin explains how her desire for the book finds expression in the cover photo she has chosen. She writes, “The cover of the book shows a beautiful tulip bud, just waiting to be empowered to turn into a mature flower. The same is true of each individual with low self-esteem. They are waiting to be empowered by the Spirit of God to become lovely, special people with the ability to live a full life as a mature Christian.”
Martin divides her book into sixty short chapters, clustered into the following themes: Delight in God and Life, Trust, Guilt, Forgiveness, God’s Plan for Me, Feeling Good About Myself, Humility, Gifts, Asserting Myself, Good Relationships, Mentoring, Prayers, and Healing. In this way she delivers a vision that begins with working through spiritual issues and ends with an understanding that our self-esteem, once addressed, will work its way into interactions with peers and family, and full healing will be achieved. This book implies that self-esteem is a process, but if one is willing to make the journey, in the end the rewards will indeed be worth it.
Martin guides the reader into a devotional life which consists of reading one short chapter a day for two months. However, I found this book to also provide freedom to readers to take the book at a slower or faster pace depending on their needs. A slower pace may be helpful if one needs to gives more attention to a certain topic. For each chapter, Martin provides a consistent framework: a short autobiographical story, key scriptural learnings, and guiding questions which can be explored individually, with a spouse, or with a church small group.
Throughout her book, Martin draws from personal experience which brings readers into her story and empowers them to view self-esteem as experiential rather than as an abstract concept. Martin’s views are distilled through conversational and scriptural lenses providing a casual-dialogue feel which the reader can easily trust and relate to.
I really appreciate Martin’s vulnerability through disclosing that she is a person who lives with a mental illness. She often draws from her experience of being a person with bipolar disorder, and does it in a way that is respectful, appropriate, and helpful. Her gentleness in this area allows an understanding to take place between herself and the reader because, as she addresses her unique needs, she seeks neither pity nor shock value, but rather pure sincerity.
This book is a helpful resource for any individual or church library because not only is it written honestly, but it also provides a unique Anabaptist perspective with personal devotional anecdotes rather than being a generic self-help book written by an expert therapist. The insights Martin brings are both realistic and personal.
Personally, one of the things I appreciate most about this book is that it addresses topics that are little talked about within the church, such as medication, counseling, and hospitalization for a mental illness. It is refreshing to see such practical approaches and Martin's desire for all who struggle to know that they are not alone and that therefore there is nothing to be ashamed of.
The author's purpose seems to be to journey with the reader into greater self-awareness of their worth as humans regardless of circumstances or past mistakes. The book could have immense value among women’s groups comprised of individuals who have previously been in abusive situations, in Christian support groups for individuals recovering from addictions or who have mental health concerns, or between a mentor and mentee.
I would like to encourage Martin to consider writing a second book intended for teenagers and to include a study guide with it. I believe this present book written with an adult audience in mind may not reach out that much to the teenage demographic, however, I believe there is great potential for Martin to do so, especially because so many teenagers have self-perception and body-image concerns.
Although this book was primarily written for those who struggle with self-esteem issues, I believe the lessons presented in it are invaluable to others, including spouses of people with low self-esteem, and the friends, therapists, or pastors who support these individuals. As someone who works in a Christian community with adults with developmental disabilities, I have often longed for a book which breaks away from the cultural taboos which place blame on the individual, and this book presents just that. It offers a fresh perspective on viewing medication as a blessing rather than an obligation, and of walking alongside rather than pushing a person with a mental illness away. Its crisp, succinct chapters make it an easily accessible read and the thought provoking questions Martin asks gently encourage deeper probing and reflection. Highly recommended, please discover it for yourself!
Reviewer Deborah Ferber is an ADNet Field Associate and shares her reflections on life in a L’Arche Community on ADNet's blog.
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