Believe: A Young Widow’s Journey Through Brokenness and Back [BOOK REVIEW]

As I share with you today about Jennifer Silvera’s book, Believe: A Young Widow’s Journey Through Brokenness and Back, I’ll also share a piece of my own story, because reading Jennifer’s book was a life-giving, healing step in my personal journey out of depression.

Our stories are now intertwined.

This isn’t your typical book review.

I believe that books are counselors, comforters, and friends.

I know from experience that when you invite the Holy Spirit to read a book with you, he will use it as a vessel of his healing, his guidance, his love, his truth, and his freedom in your life.

(To learn more about how God leads me to the right books at the right time and how he ministers to me through those books, read How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time.)

Life is a patchwork of seasons. Good, bad, joyful, sorrowful. These seasons make up a whole life – a meticulously crafted piece of art – sewn together by the hand of God. As we travel these seasons, books can be our mentors:

  • Books help us to make sense of the rips, stitches, patterns, and repairs in our imperfect yet meaningful lives.
  • Books help us to know: We’re not alone.

Believe: A Young Widow’s Journey Through Brokenness and Back

Like I said, this is more than a book review: It’s a story of hope – Jennifer’s, mine, and yours.

Before I share how Believe affected my life, let me give you a very brief summary of the book.

Believe: A Young Widow’s Journey Through Brokenness and Back

Overcome by sorrow and overwhlem at the loss of her husband, Jennifer Silvera must journey through the valley of grief and depression while still caring for her two young children. Family and friends, along with her husband’s co-workers and many others, gather round Jennifer to offer love and support. Yet nothing takes the pain away. As Jennifer’s darkness becomes unbearable, she draws closer to God and somehow finds significance, even hints of joy, amidst her sorrow.

How Believe Entered My Story

When I first read Believe over ten years ago as a young mom with a toddler and a baby, I was in the throes of postpartum depression, and I found myself identifying with Jennifer’s season of overwhelm. Although our circumstances differed, her overwhelm, grief, and depression resonated with my own struggles.

Jennifer was often surrounded by family, friends, and of course, her two dependent children, yet she still felt alone. In the midst of my own loneliness, Jennifer’s words comforted me, gave me an understanding ear, and offered me permission to accept and survive my season. She encouraged me to trust that God could work through my circumstances.

The Greatest Lesson Believe Taught Me

There’s too much beauty and truth and comfort and wisdom in this book for me to explain all the things I’ve learned from Jennifer through her writing. There’s one lesson, however, that stands out above the rest. And that is to:

“Be here now.”

Be present.

Be in the moment.

Don’t miss the little things. The small joys. The smiles, the blessings, the beauty.

Because life is short.

From Jennifer, I learned to embrace slowness.

I observed.

I read (probably too many) storybooks to the kids.

I played.

And I rested.

I rested a lot, letting God heal me and work in my season, even while I felt impatient with his version of “progress.”

Jennifer’s words gave me hope:

  • Hope that I could enjoy at least bits and pieces of my life as I travelled through the darkness of depression.
  • Hope that nothing I was experiencing was wasted.
  • Hope that Jesus wouldn’t leave me alone in my struggle.

Ten Years Later Believe Still Speaks

I re-read Jennifer’s book recently. It still speaks to me but in a different season. I’ve changed. My circumstances have changed. Jennifer’s grief touches me in a way I couldn’t understand ten years ago.

There are dreams, relationships, and joys that the years have stolen. These losses have brought a grief deeper than I ever imagined possible. Although the darkest years are hopefully behind me, there’s still a grief for the things that now can never be, for the hopes that will always lay in shadow.

I identify with Jennifer’s loss of vision for her future – a future that, although God is able to create beauty out of it, will never be what she initially dreamed.

A letting go is now needed. Letting go of my own assumptions and hopes in exchange for the reality of the season.

And submission. I’m learning to submit to what God has planned, rather than insisting that my way, my dream, is the only way.

And there’s something else.

A Lesson Learned and Forgotten

Upon re-reading Jennifer’s words, I understood that I’d forgotten.

I’d forgotten how to “Be here now.”

Realizing this made my heart break.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal recently:

Be present. Be in the moment.

I used to know how to do this.

When the boys were little, I watched them play. Their noise was a joyful sound. Their messes were evidence of health and activity. I sometimes simply sat and watched them be. Their sounds and movements, their play and their fights. I looked at their ears and noses and smiles, the way they held their crayons.

I’ve often felt that I missed my daughter’s babyhood. I think I know why: I forgot to watch. To stop and simply be in the moment.

I don’t want to miss the rest of their moments, Lord. I don’t want to see them as responsibilities or distractions from my “real” work of writing and house productivity.

They are my real work. They are my joy.

Help me to “Be. Here. Now.”

And although I think I’m improving, learning this lesson again, it’s surprising how difficult it is to be present. I need Jesus to keep showing me how.

If You Can Get Your Hands on a Copy…

Believe: A Young Widow’s Journey Through Brokenness and Back is an older book, I know. But if you can get your hands on a copy, I’m certain you’ll be blessed by it, whether you’re:

  • feeling misunderstood;
  • searching for a book that will both challenge and restore your faith;
  • suffering or witnessing grief;
  • raising small children;
  • writing for God’s glory; or
  • experiencing any type of difficult season.

Let’s Pray Before You Go

Dear Father in Heaven, we love you. No matter what our circumstances, we know that you are good, merciful, and gracious to us.

Bless my dear friend with healing for whatever heartache or struggle she finds herself in during this season of her life. Help her to believe you are with her!

Whatever her next step is for healing and renewal, I ask that you would set up that opportunity for her and give her the courage to take that next step.

In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.

With love, signature

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