Book review: ‘Choosing to See’ by Mary Beth Chapman

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Faithful lyrics - Steven Curtis ChapmanOne of the things that draws me to people is their honesty and transparency about their struggles. When someone is brutally honest about his or her life without glossing over the mess, that’s when I can relate. That’s what draws me in to a story.

ChoosingToSee_coverUsually when I think of the death of little Maria Sue Chapman (5-year-old daughter of Mary Beth Chapman and contemporary Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman), three things come to mind: 1) the morning I heard the news on my car radio, 2) the family’s appearance on Larry King Live a couple of months later and 3) Steven’s sweet song “Cinderella,” which was even more poignant after Maria died.

But those are things I saw and heard from a distance – before I read Choosing to See: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman and Ellen Vaughn – before I heard the rest of the story from a grieving mom. After finishing the book, I had a deeper understanding of the family’s grief and how far Mary Beth, her husband and their children came in the two years between the accident and the book’s publication. Slowly but surely … God was healing them. In the meantime, they remained faithful to giving Him the glory and honor – even in the messy middle of their grief.

The family shares some of that story in the Larry King interview, too. The links to the interview start here, and below is the first segment:

The Chapmans’ faith – strengthened by their history of walking with God, and with a strong support network of friends, family, church members and counselors – is a testimony to others who are grieving, questioning … struggling.

There are no pat answers here, no trite quotes or pithy sayings, only the words of a mom being honest about her journey to healing. That she (and her family) looks to God as the ultimate source of that healing is largely what the book is about.

I wrote about this on my other blog last weekend, in a post called “Of funerals and letting go,” after I put down the book to get ready for a friend’s funeral. It was a day that could have been depressing but instead was encouraging.

Something that astounded me is that Mary Beth dealt with depression in the early years of her life, yet she still managed to cling tightly to God’s hand as she mourned, as she struggled and as she told her family’s story.

This story strengthened my faith and reminded me of the great truths of God’s love, mercy and healing.

If you or someone you know has suffered a deeply felt loss, my prayer is that this book would strengthen and encourage you, too. Check it out.

In the aftermath of losing Maria, Steven began writing songs for a new album, which he called Beauty Will Rise. The song “Faithful,” quoted above, is from that album. Give it a listen. It, too, is honest and vulnerable – filled with hope.

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