by Kathy Reimer and Lisa Whittle
The title of this book, The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do, grabbed my attention immediately. As a woman, I wanted to know what those hardest things are; I want to be ready. I also wanted to know how the authors determine there are only 7. Kathy Reimer and Lisa Whittle, a mother-daughter team who taught The 7 Hardest Things… as a study course to a group of women before turning it into a book, alternate writing each chapter. Using scripture and narrative, Reimer and Whittle encourage women to allow God to help them strike the perfect balance between seven pairs of apparent contradictions. The authors suggest that God asks women to have a single focus and multi-task, be tolerant and intolerant, fail and succeed, proceed and wait, hold on and let go, lead and follow, and, finally, die and live. Rather than taking an either/or approach, the authors write that both tasks in each pair are “applicable and integral to our lives as Christian women. They coincide while remaining essentially independent of one another.”
While there is not anything alarming or extremely objectionable in this book, I found a couple of detracting aspects. First, the authors utilize dozens of stories to illustrate each point. Anecdotes are a good tool for teaching and aiding comprehension; however, Reimer and Whittle rarely use personal anecdotes. Most of the stories involve distant people, some of whom lived hundreds of years ago. While there isn’t anything wrong with that, it became excessive and tiring. I counted the number of stories in one chapter — the total came to nine. And they were not related or connected in any real way other than, here’s another story to illustrate the importance of letting go. When the authors did use personal anecdotes, however, I found their points more compelling and interesting.
Secondly, there are a couple of instances where some clarification, rather than another story, would have been helpful. For example, in “Proceed/Wait,” Whittle writes, “In the Christian life, we are guided by a very real and personal Holy God who actually gives us signals based upon each and every circumstance we face.” Speaking in terms of traffic signals and “a still small voice,” she goes on to share how she proceeded with life after a break up with her fiance, which is followed by another story, which is followed by another story, and so on. In this instance, and one or two others, I would have appreciated more biblical explanation rather than random story-telling.
On a positive note, each chapter ends with study questions and a list of scriptures relevant to that chapter’s theme. This feature, by far, is the best thing about the book. The study questions require real thinking and self-evaluation. The list of pertinent scriptures at the end of each chapter proved to be quite profitable for reflection and allowing the Holy Spirit to instruct. A woman would not necessarily have to read the book in order to utilize the questions and lists.
Though it isn’t one of the best books I’ve read, I would still recommend it. The categories are general enough that any number of women’s specific circumstances could find a home. Overall, Reimer and Whittle present a good, encouraging message.