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Lifting the Burden: A Review of Choosing Love

In the waning light of most autumn afternoons, you can find my daughter walking a slackline in our backyard. The really uncreative among us call slacklines tightropes, I think—it serves the same basic purpose. The line is drawn tight between two trees and is suspended about two feet above the ground.

As I understand it, once people get really good at navigating a slackline, they loosen it a bit. You can find any number of slackline trick clips on YouTube. So far my daughter is not interested in tricks; she is content to make her way across it, clinging tightly to the “trainer line”—another line that rests above her and helps her keep her balance.

Forgive the heavy-handed metaphor, but this is what life at eleven probably feels like to her some days. I am certain that it’s what mothering her feels like. Is she a child or a young woman? We like to call her our Luna Lovegood. She has the same combination of quiet wisdom and carefree joy. When I can’t find her, sometimes she is up in the arms of a tree in the yard, but sometimes she’s in front of the mirror playing around with makeup. For the foreseeable future, both of us are content to have her do both.

What a world we live in for young women to navigate. Conversations around women, men, sex, gender, and marriage have reached a fever pitch in the last few years. On any given day, a young woman can hear a myriad of screaming voices, all telling her something different about her identity, value, and place in the world. What young women need now more than ever are calm, grounded, wise voices—older women who are willing to reach out a hand and help the next generation step into adulthood with solid footing beneath them. With her newest book, Choosing Love, Heidi Johnston has offered us a book that embraces our daughters with generous, kind wisdom.

The truths of this book center around three themes: we were created for relationship with God and other people; sin and brokenness haunt earthly relationships; God’s vision of love and marriage is good and lovely. Heidi begins with the Gospel, the Greatest Story, beginning with creation and the fall. She tells the story in a way that helps the reader understand the pervasive homesickness that reminds us all of Eden.

As our culture attempts to substitute fleeting relationships for eternal ones, Choosing Love rises above to call our daughters to a higher, better love. Kelly Keller

This book is a resource to give your daughter that will lift a burden from her shoulders. It will encourage her to walk in freedom—the freedom provided by God in embracing relationships with himself and others in a way that she is created for. In a kind, direct manner, Heidi speaks the truth and gently cuts away the scraps that our culture offers young women. She reassures readers that the stories they hear every day about relationships are merely refrains of the Greatest Story.

Sometimes, without realising it, I think we almost believe that the whole idea of romantic love came from Hollywood. The truth is that even the greatest movies, books, and songs are just an echo of something that is older, deeper, and more real than anything we could write or imagine. —Heidi Johnston, Choosing Love

One chapter that sang to my heart as a mother and homekeeper is entitled “The Power of Home.” Heidi asks the reader to recall that wonderful chapter in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when the Pevensie children visit the Beavers’ home. Remember the meal? Fresh fish, potatoes, and hot chocolate! Using Mr. and Mrs. Beaver as an example, Heidi teaches about the power of a godly home:

Over the years I have been welcomed into several homes that stand out in my memory. Whether the home of a single friend, or a family, or a couple with or without children, they are places where both laughter and tears are shared, forgiveness is offered, love is evident and God’s presence is so real it’s impossible to miss. —Heidi Johnston, Choosing Love

The wise young woman, Heidi reminds the reader, will seek out a spouse who will join her in this noble cause of establishing a home and family culture where God is honored and people are deeply loved. I was reminded of my own mission and calling as a mom in this part of the book; what a service Heidi has done to cast a vision for this vocation for a younger generation of women.

This book would be an excellent resource for a small group to explore together. Heidi provides discussion questions at the end of every chapter for the reader and the group leader. There’s also a letter to parents for those who are entering into these conversations with daughters for the first time.

The most important voices I want in my daughter’s ears right now are faithful, winsome ones: I want her to be told the truth about her glorious identity in Christ; I want her to understand the joy of community; I want her to gain legs under her for being tenacious and persistent in spite of the battles of everyday Gospel living. We cannot afford to lie to our children about either the hardship or the glory of following Jesus. As our culture attempts to substitute fleeting relationships for eternal ones, Choosing Love rises above to call our daughters to a higher, better love.


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