“Lead Me Home” is a book that raises many issues within the context of fiction, that women grapple with.
The main character, Shiloh, is a pastor’s wife who is struggling with her identity, calling, and memories of the past. The decisions she makes, (one of which is to go back to work and consequently finish her college degree), bring her in contact with other characters who are struggling with issues she herself dealt with (or didn’t deal with), in her own life.
Shiloh is in effect, ‘living a lie’; trying to be the ‘perfect pastor’s wife (and role model), and as such, her memories simply will not allow that.
However, the premise that a pastor’s wife could struggle (as in this novel), for as long as twenty years with self-forgiveness, is something I found a bit of a stretch. If Shiloh in her role as pastor’s wife was doing any kind of supportive counselling within the church, she would have assured many new believers of God’s complete forgiveness once they come to Him in faith. There would have been many Scripture verses Shiloh should have been very familiar with, that affirm His complete provision of our past (verses like Micah 7:19, “You throw our sins into the depths of the sea’, and Jeremiah 31:34 “and their sin I will remember no more.”)
So for Shiloh herself to have this an issue in her own life just didn’t smack of a genuine story conflict to me.
“Now she understood why she’d been stuck for so many years. She hadn’t really been commemorating her loss, or truly seeking peace…. she’d actually been using that date to dredge up old feelings of guilt and shame, and to remind herself why she needed to be so good for the rest of her days. Through her own might, she’d held herself in bondage all of these years, when God only required repentance once.”
I appreciate the author’s attempt to ‘show’ the reader that no sin is too great for God to forgive, and also that it is part of humanity’s struggle to find acceptance and forgiveness. I just have a bit of a hard time believing that a pastor’s wife can keep a secret, especially from those closest to her, for that length of time, after sitting in the pew year after year after year listening to sermons (because the core teaching of Christianity is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.)
There are many issues the author attempts to portray in the book that women DO struggle with. “This year, God has shaken me out of my comfort zone. It’s like he said, “enough is enough. No more guilt, no more paying the martyr.” He wants me to use my experiences and my shame to help others heal, and to bring his name glory.” (Sometimes our worst enemy is ourself!)
Like everyone else, Shiloh has relationships with others that are affirming, but also some that are difficult. The author uses the irritants within relationships and personalities, to portray growth and the surprises that life throws at us.
For instance, Shiloh is much more able to be kind to someone who has been especially irritating, after she finds out that that person has a disability. “How hypocritical,” we think…and yet, how true! It is much easier for us to be kind to someone AFTER we know what they are struggling with (and for Christians, perhaps this is partly what Christ meant when He said “judge not lest ye be judged.”) We all want to be treated well, even when we ourselves are ‘covering up’ a secret by acting too assertively toward others.
” Where is God when we are in the middle of our stuff? On the outside, we may look happy or like we have it all together, when World War II might be raging on the inside… we can get so caught up in our personal drama that we forget that we don’t have to figure out everything on our own. We don’t have to hide our truths for fear of others condemning us when we know that the one who gives us life and breath is always walking with us, no matter what.”
Stacy Hawkins Adams does have a lot to say, and her novel will give you food for thought! I encourage you to read “Lead Me Home” and think for yourself about the issues she writes about.
(I received this book free from Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for my honest and fair review.)