Own Your Life: Living With Deep Intention, Bold Faith, And Generous Love, by Sally Clarkson
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
While this book is one of many in my collection written by, about, and for women , it speaks to a lot of concerns that men can easily identify with as well. That said, the book is written intentionally for broken and overstressed mommies struggling to find time to pray or rest, or who have to deal with divorce, difficult family backgrounds and personal pasts full of abuse and shame. The book manages to toe a delicate and biblical balance between a focus on our responsibility and accountability to God as stewards of the time and gifts that He has given us as well as an understanding and compassionate and gentle appeal for women not to be so hard on themselves and to accept the limitations that we have been given as a first step in allowing God to work through us so that we transcend those limitations. The book also balances between deeply personal stories about the author’s life and family and friends and more broad and general principles taken mostly from the Bible but also from excellent literature like A Little Princess , the works of C.S. Lewis, and The Lord Of The Rings. This balance is somewhat complex, but it also helps the book avoid the pitfalls of either an extreme emotionalism or an extremely remote and sterile intellectualism, being both idealistic and practical. Significantly, this book manages to be focused largely on the honorable responsibilities of godly womanhood while also showing appreciation and gratitude for godly manhood, which is less common than it ought to be even within Christian writing.
In terms of its organization, this book has the hallmarks of an accomplished approach and well-organized mind. The book as a whole, which is around 250 pages (including its introductory material) is divided into five parts: the first dealing with the barriers to owning one’s life (like the mundane nature of existence, chaos, and negative internal voices), the second dealing with the purpose of life (looking at a vision for the world to come as well as the nature of God’s training and discipline in this life), the third dealing with the faith needed to let God take and keep control of our lives (looking at God’s transcendence and Spirit), the fourth dealing with what needs to be done to partner with God in our lives (such as developing habits that enlarge the mind, build the courage to take risks, preserve emotional health, move beyond hurts, and develop godly character), and the fifth dealing with the creation of a godly legacy in love, home, marriage, motherhood, and the legacy one leaves after death. Each chapter begins with insightful quotes and relevant scriptures, includes helpful lists and illuminating stories, and closes with a short and practical guide on how to live out the chapter’s lessons.
This book is one that deserves, and will likely receive, a wide and appreciative audience of women. It is a book that seeks to comfort the afflicted, especially mothers anxious about ruining their children, and afflict the comforted, which is the right approach to take. The reminder that life is messy but that God takes special care in working with the broken to recreate them anew is a point that resonated deeply with me and will likely touch many other readers as well both with its deep thoughts and its compassionate heart. I strongly suspect this is a book I will look at and reread at some point at least in part, and that I will be loaning out to quite a few friends, and this book is worthy of such a promise. Best of all, this is the sort of book that, despite its occasional flaws, is one that the author and her family can feel justly proud to be a part of, grateful to God for a life full of adventure and lessons and wonderful moments of insight. All lives should be as well lived.
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