Book review by Caroline Head
Choosing to SEE is a story about triumph and hope. Mary Beth is a woman who thinks she has her whole life orderly planned out, but God has other plans for her. She has to learn to trust God’s plans for her instead of her own and fully rely on Him. Throughout her life God uses her struggles to grow her relationship in Him so she can withstand a catastrophic tragedy that turns her whole family upside down.
In the beginning ~ Mary Beth was a Chapman before she married Steven Curtis Chapman (no relation). Growing up in a hard-working Christian home, she had almost no exposure to any of the harsh realities of this world. The Chapman family motto was “there was a place for everything and everything should be in its place.” They never talked about their problems growing up but simply swept them under the rug. Mary Beth’s church taught that you could lose your salvation. A relationship with God was working hard and being the best you could be, so she never understood where she stood with God. This affected Mary Beth tremendously in her teenage years. She became very insecure and a perfectionist but could never live up to the expectations for herself and thought God was disappointed with her too. She had never heard of grace and was never allowed to talk about questions challenging their church’s teachings.
When Mary Beth went off to college at Anderson University in Kentucky with a friend, she wanted to turn over a new spiritual leaf and prayed God would guide her. There she met her future husband, Steven Curtis Chapman, who was in a
band and studying there. After a very short time they were married, but soon learned they had very different personalities. Steven had come from a strong Christian family, and he was more laid back and looked to God in all things. Mary Beth had grown up in an organized, performance driven home where God was a judge of abilities. Mary Beth had planned to get through school and marry someone safe and reliable, like an accountant. Instead God surprised her with Steven, a musician. He was only 21 and Mary Beth, 19, but they decided to move to Nashville to try and jump start Steven’s musical career. Mary Beth dropped out of Anderson University to work and support her husband so he could go to school and build his career. Their first few years of marriage were rough despite that they were very much in love.
Years later ~ After years of growing a family with three biological children despite a devastating miscarriage, suffering with clinical depression, adopting two little girls from China, and supporting and celebrating Stephen’s successful Christian music career, Mary Beth’s life is full. May 21, 2008 starts off as just a normal crazy day in the Chapman household, but tragedy would forever alter Mary Beth’s life along with all the Chapman’s and friends close to them. Will had not seen his tiny five
year old sister running toward him, and he hit her with the car. Mary Beth rushed out to see Will soaked in blood holding his limp sister crying and pleading her to wake up. She took Maria laid her on the grass, told them to call 911, and to get their dad. She started rescue breathing on Maria’s limp body. Maria was taken in a helicopter to the hospital. Caleb had called Elizabeth who had just got off work and was picking up Tanner (her fiancé). They were all going to meet at the hospital
along with some close family friends. By the time Mary Beth and Steven got there the doctors called them in and said they had done everything they could, but that Maria had passed away. They were all devastated.
Reader’s Response ~
Mary Beth’s story of hope truly inspires me. She didn’t grow up knowing of God’s mercy and grace like I have. I admire that she let God use her struggles to grow her faith. Sometimes I am resistant to want to see the good God can make out of my struggles. It encourages me that she writes about how difficult it was for her to admit that she struggled greatly with accepting that God’s plans really are better, and what Satan intends for evil God intends for good. She is Choosing to SEE the good God made of this horrible situation, and she knows that God will never leave. ~ cnh