Rock-Bottom Blessings: A Review

By Tim Muldoon

Have you ever experienced Facebook jealousy, the kind that emerges when you see the photos or comments that your friends post? Perfect vacations, sweetly smiling children, anniversaries or other major life events? Recently my wife shared with me one of the quotes that caught her attention when reacting to this phenomenon: it’s like you are comparing your everyday life to someone else’s highlight reel. It’s the newest digital twist on the old grass-is-greener phenomenon: it’s hard to see our own reality when everyone else’s looks so much better.

Enter Karen Beattie. She has written us a very generous book, for she refuses to tell a happy-go-lucky story which will raise your spirits and then later make you wonder why you aren’t as spirituality gifted as she is. As a writer of an adoption memoir (full disclosure: same publisher), I know that telling the world about your messy life requires first a willingness to relive where you experienced pain—no easy task—but also a readiness to allow others to share it with you so that they might learn from your experience.

Rock Bottom Blessings is not a straightforward “here is how God has worked in my life!” kind of book. To be fair, there is a place for that kind of testimony, especially in a world which sometimes doesn’t want to entertain the idea that God wants a place in it. Instead, it is a book that simply tells a story: I’ve struggled hard with relationships, money, and wanting a family, and somewhere along the way I found myself asking really deep questions about the meaning of it all.  Here is someone whose discovery of God was not through books or sermons, but rather through the most bare of crucibles, namely the Biblical Job-like experience of suffering.

If you or someone dear to you has experienced infertility, and who finds herself (or even himself) in a dark place, the gift of this book will at the very least help her (or him) to understand that she/he is not alone. More broadly, the book points to the search for God in the midst of hardship, and the emergence of faith not as a kind of triumphal discovery of truth as much as a wearing-down of resistance, smoothing us like sea glass.

Visit the Patheos Book Club for more conversation on Rock-Bottom Blessings.

Tim Muldoon is the author of Longing to Love and (with Sue Muldoon) the forthcoming Six Sacred Rules for Families. He is a frequent contributor to Patheos.


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