Mending Broken Branches: When God Reclaims Your Dysfunctional Family Tree is the latest book by author Elizabeth Oates. She is a brilliant, theologically sound woman who is excellent at sharing both the truth of God and her personal experience. This book seemed to be a written expression of how her faith, education, and personal journey all come together.
I believe most people like to talk about themselves sometimes, and we love to read the stories of others (which is why blogging is so popular). The pages of this book are filled with Elizabeth telling the reader about herself (and some other amazing women) which makes what I love about this book most seem so odd. The thing I loved most about this book was me. My story isn’t among those stories she shares, but the way the book is written it felt as though it were. Because of the challenging questions littered throughout the pages, by the time I was done reading my story WAS written on every page, in the space between the lines and in the margins. I genuinely believe that is what this book was intended to do – to draw me out and to draw me in. Reading this book has been a spectacular experience.
This is not the kind of book you sit down to read casually. Your engagement in the process is how the branches of your family tree are mended and how what was once dysfunction can become functional again. This book is set up in three parts: The Past, The Present, and The Future. Each section reveals new tools to add to your personal toolkit for healing. I discovered how important it was for me to understand some of my personal triggers before I could explain them to others. I also was reminded that my husband did not live my childhood alongside me, which may seem silly to forget, but many times I just operate under the assumption he has the same memories floating around in his brain that I do. He doesn’t. My reactions and my wounds will make no sense to him if I do not communicate them to him. I read this book for me but I also read it for my hubby. He deserves the best version of me I can possibly be.
This book felt a lot like a climb up a steep mountain, and each chapter helped me ditch some of the baggage of my past or gain some expertise to make the climb a bit easier – with the pinnacle being a holistically healthier me! I also never felt alone in the journey as Elizabeth was right there the entire time with her personal anecdotes, stories of both hope and pain to spur me along. I also feel as though the women who have stories in the book (“Fellow Broken Branches”) are now friends as they too have been willing to look at the pain from the past in order to prepare for a hopeful present and future. This book is also filled with scripture from the Bible to guide in the healing and hoping process.
Throughout the pages of Mending Broken Branches, various mental health issues are addressed. Elizabeth is quick to encourage readers to find excellent support in friends, counselors, and ministers, and she does not claim to be an expert in the mental health field. As someone with a M.A. in Human Service Counseling, I will say that she masterfully tackles these topics, and I did not feel at any point as though I was left hanging without any resources or support. I also knew that when I became overwhelmed I could set the book aside and come back to it. My past wasn’t going anywhere.
I would like to say that this book is for anyone, but it is not. It’s not that we don’t all have things from the past we need to work out, but not everyone is ready to delve into the cobwebs of their past, nor do they see any reason to do so. This book is not for those unready people. It is, however, a beautiful experience for anyone who wants to go on a journey with some brave women who admit their brokenness, share their stories, and challenge you. Elizabeth has written a book I believe will resonate with people. I immediately sent a message to my own sister asking if she would read the book if I sent it her way. She has been going through the process of becoming a foster parent, alongside her husband, and so much of what is shared in this book is information a foster parent may find helpful. It is information which can shed light on things going on beneath the surface with each child coming into the home. This is an excellent resource for foster care agencies to provide their staff as well. As I mentioned, it is not for everyone, but I hope that everyone reading this post who is serious about finding healing and freedom from the past will pick up a copy of Mending Broken Branches. More information about MBB along with other books and resources can be found at elizabethoates.com. Grab your favorite pen and get to work. It is so worth it.
Here are just a few of those tools taught within the book: Establishing boundaries, learning how to create a healthy balance, discovering effective ways to communicate, managing conflict, practicing forgiveness and so much more! Eeeek! Aren’t you excited.
Let me leave you with this – I will never regret reading this book.
Mending Broken Branches is without a doubt, a work of heart.