When we accept Christ and begin our Christian journey, we begin the process of transformation and sanctification moving toward greater maturity and wholeness. As Andrew J. Bauman looks at this process in his new book, Stumbling Toward Wholeness, he reminds the reader that it does not happen all at once and requires courage for the journey.
Bauman frames the theme of the book through the lens of the well-known parable of “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” He opens a wider window of understanding that each of us may have parts of each of the main characters of the parable at work within us. He looks at the necessity of addressing the wounds of our lives if we are to experience intimacy with the Lord and those closest to us so we can know the joy and delight God would desire.
Many (if not most) of us avoid facing those wounds for as long as possible. Bauman states at the outset a response to that:
“Unaddressed woundedness always catches up to us no matter how fast and far we run.
All of us have ‘backstories’ that have made us who we are. Whether our stories are joyful or tragic, ordinarily straightforward or hopelessly convoluted, we don’t write our narratives when we are young; we live into what we are given.”
As a licensed mental health counselor, Bauman invites the reader to new insight not only through the parable, but also by courageously sharing his own journey through heartbreak in his family-of-origin and childhood wounds at the hands of peers. He cannot escape the longing for a father’s love and his broken family so he looks for ways to handle the pain. This leads to addiction to pornography and a life of shame, self-contempt, and guilt until he finds the path of healing in the love of God exemplified by the father in the parable framing this book’s theme.
This book will especially resonate and give hope to those who have struggled to face the long journey to wholeness marked by shame and self-contempt from whatever the cause. It will also remind those whose lives have been less wounded to consider how they respond to the broken among us and come face-to-face with the power of the message of the gospel.
Bauman synthesizes the journey this way:
“The scandalous message of the gospel is that God loves us despite our self-righteousness, entitlement, and greed and invites us into relationship and resurrection. Transformation begins as we surrender our addiction and entitlement and make our way toward confession and reconciliation. As this happens, we find ourselves moving toward the Father Realm, in which we are at peace with ourselves and those we are in relationship with. It is this realm that we are designed for, yet as we will see, it is the realm we fear the most.”
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.