It’s called In the Midst of Chaos: Caring for Children as Spiritual Practice. Because it’s written by a mom and theologian, it seems to be both practical AND deeply theological. Many books targeted at moms are not deeply theological. Sometimes barely theological.
I’ve only read the Preface so far and I’m already in love with it. Really? Who falls in love with a book in the preface? (Actually, I have a history of really liking a book at the beginning only to find myself cringing by the end. But whatever. I KNOW that is not going to happen with this book). On the first page, she explains her own goal in parenting:
I strongly believe I owe my kids bountiful love and attention, not the kind that indulges their every whim or puts their success ahead of other children’s, but the kind that cares deeply about their maturation into compassionate, faithful adults.
Yes! Me too! As I’ve written about before (and quite clumsily, I might add), I want to love my kids extravagantly while also loving others extravagantly. I want them to love people deeply, putting others needs before their own (when appropriate), so why do I think they will become these kind of men and women someday if I’m telling them NOW that their success is more important than others’? My ultimate goal is not their success now in the areas of sports and education, but that they would be compassionate, faithful adults, which in my book is true success.
Spiritual Development Does Not Always Require Quiet Spaces
The Church has often emphasized that spiritual development happens best in quiet ways- sitting in our “quiet time”, Bible open, reading, praying, meditating. And while it certainly does happen there, it can also happen in loud, fast, semi-chaotic times- like in the daily experience of raising children. Bonnie writes:
I want to redeem the chaos of care as a site for God’s good news. What would happen, this book asks, if we were to search for spiritual wisdom by looking closely at messy, familial ways of living? What would happen if we considered how people discover God not just when alone, in worship, or on the mountaintop, but when with others- specifically when with children and all the turbulence and wonder they bring into our world? (xiv)
Well, I’m ready to find out.
The author, Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, is a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and an author of several books. This is the first one I’ve read.
On a more regretful note, I must tell you that I’m a little sad because I have a feeling this is the book I was hoping to write in 10-20 years. But thankfully I get to benefit from it on this end of parenthood as opposed to the other.
p.s. This book is not just for parents. Bonnie takes a whole page to explain how this book is for anyone who cares for kids- aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, friends.