Book Review – Choosing to SEE

In May 2008, tragedy struck the family of recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman.  His 5-year old daughter Maria was accidentally struck with a vehicle and killed by their older son.  In Choosing To SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope, Mary Beth Chapman writes of the impact the devastation and loss had on her and her family.  In sharing a little of her life story, she reveals her struggle with accepting things that she could not change (both the good and the bad) and learning to follow God in what came into her life.  Part of the difficulties came through battles with depression and part came through coming to terms with things she could not control.  This lesson was to help her when tragedy struck.  Interspersed throughout the book are lyrics from various songs her husband wrote.  It gave these songs a whole new life to discover the backdrop of why they were written.

Chapman is very open, raw and brutally honest with the challenges she faced and continues to face.  This is not a book written from the perspective of someone who has all the answers, someone who has it all together.  Rather, it is from a mother who still aches for her daughter and longs for the burden and guilt her son carries to be taken away.  It is from a person who still asks God “Why?”  In one of the most poignant statements of the book, Chapman says “When people ask how we are doing, the first thing I always say is, ‘I want Maria back. I want my son Will Franklin not to have this as a chapter in his story.  I want my children to be healthy, my family secure.  I don’t really care whose life has been touched or changed because of our loss!’”  Throughout the book and especially after the death of their daughter, Chapman writes of her trust in God, a trust in his sovereignty that says although things look bleak now, one day God will make all things new.

Choosing to SEE is not an easy book to read.  I had to put it down several times to relieve the ache in my heart for her family and deal with the fears I had of such a thing happening to my own family.  As my wife has said to others in recommending the book “You might as well buy Walmart out [of tissues] now!”  Having gone through (and currently going through) the adoption journey, I also enjoyed reading of their family’s journey in bringing home their three daughters from China.  Ultimately, it is encouraging to see someone who is living through a tragedy not only admit they still struggle (something I’m too often afraid to admit!), but confess an unwavering trust in a God who gives us hope.  Rating: 5/5 stars

I don’t usually do this, but I’m including a music video from Steven Curtis Chapman’s album “Beauty Will Rise” that perfectly captures the message of his wife’s book.  Amazon’s description of the albmu says “Created in the past 18 months in the walk through the darkness of the loss of his daughter Maria, and while God continues to meet him there on the journey. Part lament, part praise, part grief, part hope, part wrestling, part pondering; these tracks resonate as Steven’s personal Psalms. It is a desperately hopeful, raw, personal, and honest recording that is likely the most important of his already incredible 20 plus year.”  This song is called “Spring is Coming.”


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