CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN GIRL: The Secrets Women Keep and the Grace That Saves Them
Tammy Maltby, with Anne Christian Buchanan
Tammy Maltby, co-host of the "Aspiring Women" television talk show, grew up in a conservative church where she heard "testimonies of those whose lives were broken and painful before they came to the Lord." Then, she notes, "the implication is that once a person accepts the Lord, she stops sinning and lays all her brokenness outside the door." But in reality, too often "we cover up the ugly stuff to protect ourselves."
That's where CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN GIRL starts. The next chapter tells the chilly tale of Maltby's midlife marital distress and suicide attempt --- carbon monoxide poisoning aborted by what she refers to as "the Voice," the Holy Spirit instructing her to "get a drink of water." Feeling compelled to comply, she walked out of the garage and into the house, where she heard her cell phone ringing. It was a friend who urgently asked, "What are you doing right now?" By the end of the crisis, Maltby says, "The pain and fear and shame and stress were still there. But the hopelessness, the longing for death…all those were gone."
The "pain of suicide" is the first of eight issues or "secrets women keep" that Maltby addresses: sexual brokenness, family violence and abuse, divorce, addiction, mental illness, perfectionism (or "constant striving") and chronic discouragement. She tells stories of women who have lived with and faced the reality of the havoc wreaked by brokenness, whether defined or caused by sin or disease. Each chapter eventually draws out practical and spiritual insights --- and hope --- gleaned from a biblical character, in most cases a woman.
Maltby, with co-author Anne Christian Buchanan, is at her best toward the end of the book, discussing the "torment and stigma" of mental illness, including multiple personality disorder. And, though in comparison it may seem to be a lightweight issue, she offers insight and hope for women struggling with "the weariness of constant striving," noting that "success is a moving target --- and often it's other people, driven by their own issues and insecurities, who keep it moving."
A final chapter, subtitled "The Deeper-Still Adventure of Being God's Christian Girl," summarizes some principles applicable to surviving and thriving through any difficult situation. Exactly what is a Christian woman called to be? (I can't quite bring myself in print to use Maltby's pervasive self-descriptive "Christian girl.") The answer is spelled out with a grace that can empower a seeking reader.
The book includes two helpful appendices: "What to Do When a Good Christian Girl Confesses to You" and a chapter- or issue-specific list of resources --- most but not all of them from Christian publishers or websites.
--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
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