This book will leave you longing for the kind of friendship it describes.
Heartfelt is a book all about Love, Relationships, Hospitality, and Home.
It is specifically about a certain, often neglected, relationship.... the one outlined in Titus 2.
That Bible passage implies a group of young women trying to stay afloat on the rough waters of life: work, faith and family in whatever forms those take. That's a common picture- who hasn't experienced it?
But the Scriptures add something- they show us mature, dedicated women, fabulously flawed and fully captivated by the Gospel, stepping up and guiding the younger ones.
Who hasn't read a book or blog post- by Gladys Hunt or Sally Clarkson or Ann Voskamp- and wished those ladies lived next door?
Why do we want that, because they're Pinterest Perfect godly gurus?
No- it's because we smell something we like when we read their writings.
They smell authentic. They smell like they know the power of grace.
And we know we need somebody like that around us.
Thankfully for us, there are many women who smell like grace just waiting to be discovered in our neighborhoods and churches.
This book makes a powerful case for getting a Titus 2 group going.
There is a part of me that doubts what I'm reading about here.
I doubt that women of widely different social classes could join together without Helen Homemaker silently resenting the Platinum Blonde across the sofa, without them comparing their cars and vacations and houses and husbands.
I doubt that they could gather to discuss growing as wives and mothers without battling over who parents properly.
"Well, let me just say... my toddler wasn't in diapers/throwing tantrums/biting ankles/cutting teeth at that age."
I doubt that the older women would be able to bear having young women need them so much.
I would be afraid that the mentors would run out of patience and energy, and dump me midway through my troubles.
I doubt that younger women would humbly take advice from the mentors, without digging in their heels and refusing to change.
"She says I should respect Bill, but she doesn't know what a donkey he is. This isn't the 1950's anymore...."
So I doubt it.... But That Is Only Because I Have Never Seen It Done- Not At All Because It Cannot Be Done.
Because it Can Be Done- By Grace.
Joneal Kirby uses multiple testimonies of real women- some of them desperate and lost when they encountered their mentor, now flourishing in a place of grace.
And she includes so many words from the mentors, with them describing how much joy these relationships brought them, how much they came to love their "girls."
And it is a truly beautiful thing to think about.
But the only way it would work is if everyone genuinely- stumblingly, falteringly, but genuinely- wanted to put on the character of Christ.
You'd have to treasure these relationships, and be willing to fight for them.... fight yourself and your fallen tendencies, if necessary.
Otherwise, it would all buckle under the weight of pettiness, resentment, comparison, and pride.
So if you're looking for some guidance about finding or being a mentor, and you need some strong encouragement as you try to share your heart and home, then this is where to go. Go into friendship with your eyes open- not to better see out other's flaws, but to look long at Jesus and let him shape it all.
I thank Worthy Publishing for my review copy.