“If you are like me, then motherhood may be the first time you were really tested in the business of laying down your life. I am not saying I never did anything hard before I became a mother, but motherhood is different. For one, most other challenges that I had experience with ended. Motherhood is not just a job, it is an identity. More importantly, it is an identity that begins and ends with giving.” (Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst)
There are a lot of mothering books out there. Many of them promise commiseration, practical help, vision, or encouragement, but few of them offer all of the above in short, 3-5 page chapters that a mom of little kids will actually have time to read and savor. Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood does just that. Each chapter is barely longer than a blog post, but filled with the wisdom and wit we have all come expect in Rachel Jankovic’s writing. It is good that the chapters are short, because their depth demands lengthy contemplation and let’s face it, someone in our home is peeing in a bathroom waste basket and in moments we will have to decide whether said basket will be cleaned or chucked. Wait, is that just in my home? In any case, I’m sure that every mom with little ones will appreciate not only the short chapters, but most importantly the insightful words within them!
Like Jankovic’s first book, Loving the Little Years, her follow up, Fit to Burst, is filled with chapter after chapter of encouragement for mothers of young children. By encouragement I don’t mean the “You’re doing great! Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’ve got this!” kind of encouragement, but the “Yeah, I know it is incredibly tough. I’m right there with you; let’s seek the Savior’s wisdom together!” kind of encouragement. This is exactly what makes Jankovic’s writing so powerful. She comes to you as a fellow warrior in the battlefield of motherhood, but doesn’t spend too much time commiserating with us over the power of the enemy and his weapons. Instead, she challenges the soldiers around her to take up the arms given to them by the Victor and to faithfully wage war with the strength he provides. While she challenges mothers to “get down to business” so to speak, she never implies that this should be attempted apart from the grace of God. Quite the opposite actually:
But His blood will change you. When Jesus is all, things happen. When you believe to your core that you are forgiven and loved, one of the first things that happens is you start doing things. Fruit is intimately connected with forgiveness. When we are forgiven, we do not gallop out into a life of ambiguity and indifference. We do not become great negotiators of whether or not it matters that we aren’t doing things. We become filled with gratitude, love, joy, and peace. And then, having a firm foundation of another’s righteousness, we are free to go out and do.
In many ways I feel as though Jankovic’s writing serves an integral purpose in the lives of Christian women. Blogs and books focusing on gospel-centered living and grace-filled thinking are (praise God!) becoming more and more available to women who have been inundated for years with list-driven Christianity. Jankovic skillfully brings the doctrinal truths of the gospel into the real world of mothers who are struggling to understand their glorious calling in the midst of dirty diapers, meal preparation, sibling squabbles, loads of laundry and overall feelings of hopelessness. Each chapter of Fit to Burst brings the glorious realities of the Kingdom of God to bear on the everyday lives of mothers. As we read, we are forced to deal with sinful thought patterns and expectations that we never realized where there; we gain a better understanding of the real battles being waged in our hearts; and we are given hope to overcome through our powerful, sovereign King. Her books are real, biblical, challenging, and invigorating. I would highly recommend both of them–Loving the Little Yearsand Fit to Burst–to all of my readers. If you are a mom of little ones or know a mom who could use some biblical encouragement, don’t hesitate to draw from these excellent resources.
You can purchase Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood here on Amazon. I also highly recommend visiting FeminaGirls.com where Jankovic, her sisters and her mother regularly serve up thoughtful and helpful articles for women in all stages of life.