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Sharon Garlough BrownInterVarsity Press / 2019 / ePubOur Price$9.995 out of 5 stars for Shades of Light: A Novel - eBook. View reviews of this product. 15 Reviews
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Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Exploring Depression and Anxiety as Companions in SorrowOctober 9, 2019Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Whether you suffer from mental health issues yourself, or you are living alongside someone else who is struggling, you know the challenges that come with depression and anxiety. Counseling, medication, support groups, and pastoral care have saved lives and moved the afflicted into healthy space. Management of our grief and the entire menu of suffering that takes our breath away sometimes requires help outside ourselves and always requires the intervention of a loving and all-knowing God.
In Shades of Light, Sharon Garlough Brown offers a gentle invitation to practices of spiritual formation and the shaping of hearts that comes as we identify with the psalmist in our darkest times:
If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,'
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:11-12
The invitation comes in story form as Brown weaves messy lives into a coherent and redemptive narrative featuring Wren Crawford, a twenty-something social worker whose battle with depression and anxiety is exacerbated by an emotionally taxing workload.
Readers of Brown's Sensible Shoes series will find that Wren is in good hands as she lives alongside friends from the New Hope community. In addition to more traditional spiritual practices, Wren explores visio divina (sacred seeing), "a slow and prayerful pondering of visual images (paintings, photographs, sculpture, etc.), noticing the details that catch our attention and draw us into conversation and communion with God." To her surprise, Wren found her love for the work of Vincent van Gogh had become a shaft of light that illuminated her darkest days of recovery.
Parents familiar with the challenges of loving adult children in crisis will join Jamie Crawford, Wren's mum, on the sidelines, aching to help, but unsure of what to offer. The heartbroken father in Mark 9 who comes to Jesus begging for compassion for a son in torment exposes the reality of Jamie's "co-suffering." (88) The tender way in which Jesus enters into the man's story ("How long has this been happening to him?") reassures grieving parents that the Son of God in all his power stands beside them in their confusion and their moments of unbelief.
Painting the colors of despair, Wren identifies the stresses that trigger her downward spirals and begins the step by step process of loading her brush with the colors of hope. Her painting and her spiritual journey coalesce around the words of van Gogh:
For those who believe in Jesus Christ, there is no death or sorrow that is not mixed with hopeno despairthere is only a constantly being born again, a constantly going from darkness into light." (81)
Coping skills that help Wren to shift her mental focus, to acknowledge the sadness while embracing the precious and the beautiful, will draw fellow travelers into the same helpful practice, for the truth is that pain shared is a load lightened, and Jesus himself comes to us as a companion in sorrow, keeping company with us in everything that's hard. He sits with us in the chair of unknowing as we wait for shades of light to break through.
Many thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
Kelly5 Stars Out Of 5Eye-opening, heart-breaking, heart-warming, and soul-stirringSeptember 10, 2019KellyQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In Shades of Light, Sharon Garlough Brown offers wisdom and insight into a tender, important subject, and beyond that, speaks truth about the Christian life and death, loss, grief, and pain. The characters in this novel are raw and real, helping readers understand the complexity of mental health issues and also the compassion we ought to extend toward anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, etc. (and the various characters are thoughtful "case studies"). Shades of Light underscored for me how much we all are in need of grace--for those who are choosing to persevere another day, and for those who are walking alongside.
"When you get discouraged and feel like there's no hope, remember that there is a communion of sufferers. And Jesus sits at the center of it."
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
Sharon R5 Stars Out Of 5A True Masterpiece!September 9, 2019Sharon RQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is such a wonderful book that Sharon Garlough Brown has written. She has captured the truth behind what depression is and how it can effect ones life. This is also a great book for those supporting people with depression as it shows how hard it is for everyone involved. Most of all I love how Sharon has put Christ in the heart of the characters. All share something wonderful and honest and refreshing. I can't wait to spend time going through the book with the study guide. This is a real treasure here.
AnneRJ5 Stars Out Of 5An amazing emotional readSeptember 8, 2019AnneRJQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I loved reading the "Sensible Shoes" series by Sharon Garlough Brown, so I was really looking forward to reading her latest book, "Shades of Light". This latest book did not disappoint; it is an amazing and an emotional read! The author draws on her skills as a writer, spiritual director, and speaker in this novel. And she comes out shining.
In this novel, the main characters are Wren and her mother, Jamie. Wren lives with depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and admits herself to a psychiatric hospital when she realizes she can't care for herself. The description of this hospitalization and her depression, anxiety and panic attacks are very realistic. Jamie, Wren's mother, struggles with how to care for her daughter from a distance without being overly involved or totally distant. The story weaves around Wren's mental health and her faith and the struggles that arise between the two.
Brown challenges the unfortunate Christian pat answers that often are more hurtful than helpful and gives examples through the wise interactions with a spiritual director and pastor, of the strength of listening without judgement and asking helpful questions.
Sharon's characters are so real: she creates them each with a depth of personhood not often seen in novels. I feel like I could sit down and talk with each of the main characters in this novel and have an in-depth conversation with them because I know them.
At times, I found it a challenging read, especially when I was reading about Wren's struggle with depression, as I was clinically depressed myself when I was reading it. Even with this challenge, I would encourage anyone who is depressed and/or a family member or friend of someone who is depressed to read this book (and that includes almost all of us).
Reader in Holland5 Stars Out Of 5Excellent book!September 8, 2019Reader in HollandSharon Brown has done it again. I loved the Sensible Shoes series. Now, in Shades of Light, she brilliantly brings the topic of mental illness to the forefront in a fiction book with realistic concepts. I immediately connected with the main characters and was involved throughout the book. She accurately describes the main character, Wren's, depressive periods and anxiety attacks. It was interesting how she brought in spiritual formation, mental illness, art from Vincent Van Gogh, and even cameo appearances by characters from the Sensible Shoes series. Some characters in Shades of Light took a stance, telling Wren simplistic ways to get rid of mental illness. She was told by some to pray it away, do better at spiritual warfare, or read the Bible more. Many who suffer are made to feel shame or embarrassment because of their lack of faith to rid themselves of the trials. The book flows along so seamlessly and naturally. It is enjoyable to read even though the topic is heavy and important. I am going through it a second time and underlining interesting points and things I want to remember. The accompanying study guide would steer group discussions and book clubs. Many in the church today are just beginning to be more aware and empathetic about the facts of mental illness, and learning to understand and not be judgmental. I highly recommend this book. Sharon brings us before our heavenly Father, who knows, loves, and walks with us through all of life's trials, and holds us in the palm of His hand.