Having a Mary Spirit, by Joanna Weaver (2006, WaterBrook Press)
“Maybe you’ve discovered, as I have, that most of your New Year’s resolutions have little effect on day-to-day life except to add a burden of guilt and a feeling of failure. Continually striving, yet never arriving. Hoping, praying to be different, only waking up to find you’re not as far along as you’d hoped.
“I know. I’ve felt that way too.” (page 2)
If you’ve read Joanna Weaver’s first book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, you’ll remember that she explores Jesus’ relationship with Mary and Martha: how He values the sisters’ individuality and desires each of them to have both hearts and hands for Him.
You may also remember Joanna’s engaging, at times humorous, writing style. Her insights and her writing in the first book left me ready to read anything else she’d write. I was delighted to receive this book for Christmas 2006, but for some reason it sat on my shelf until 2010.
When I picked it up this year, I discovered it spoke to the very issues God was addressing in my life. Surprise!
This is a book for Christian women who want to change—want that Mary spirit—but can’t make it stick. As Joanna so transparently points out, of course we can’t do it on our own. That’s God’s job, and He’d like to get at it if we’ll please give Him room to move.
As the back cover says, the book “directs your gaze past your own shortcomings to the God who stands ready, willing, and able to make a new woman out of you.” It’s not about us—it’s about Him.
The book’s subtitle is “Allowing God to change us, from the inside out.” Having a Mary Spirit is filled with practical teaching, personal examples, and text boxes of focused tips and quotes. It never claims the road to change is easy, but it shows why God wants to change us and how we can cooperate. Sadly, He won’t just “zap” us into spiritual maturity.
Joanna Weaver looks at some of the causes of our failure to change: self-reliance, believing lies, and perhaps chief: our natural selves, who deep down oppose the change.
One area that stood out to me was Joanna’s focus on our thoughts: the lies we accept, and the feelings we believe over the truth. It’s not enough to merely recognize these things, so she gives us clear alternatives.
For example, the chapter titled “Mind Control” offers scripture antidotes for various feelings like fear, anger, depression or confusion. I’ve found that declaring biblical truth saps a lot of impact from these feelings, so I can put them in their place and deal with what may have caused them. (Interestingly, they’re often caused by my natural self, “Flesh Woman” as Joanna calls her, trying to pull me back from God-focus to me-focus.)
The book shows that having a Mary spirit requires guarding our minds and hearts—and of course, trusting God. It includes a Bible study guide for individuals or groups, as well as other resources.
Having a Mary Spirit is definitely a keeper. It encouraged and ministered to me, and I’ll need to go back through it at times for a refresher lesson or two. You can read an excerpt here and download a reproducible Bible study guide and leader’s guide here.
The study guide is the same as the one in the book, but it lets you write workbook-style instead of squeezing your thoughts into a bound book. (And it keeps your book unmarked so you can share it.)
Joanna Weaver’s Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World is a best-seller, and I expect Having a Mary Spirit will be too if it isn’t already. These aren’t trendy books with limited shelf life. They apply to the perennial needs of Christian women.
Joanna is also the author of With This Ring, a gift book that “celebrates the beauty, delight, and mystery of married love”. And I’m excited to discover that her next book, The Lazarus Factor, will release in February 2011.