There's a reason why Ann Voskamp only has a few books out: she completely pours her heart onto each and every page. And that takes courage and bravery, vulnerability and humility. It takes dedication to waiting for the write message to display itself on the page and the right time to release it to the world.
Ann's first book, One Thousand Gifts, left a profound impact on me; it instilled in me a sense of living with gratitude that I didn't have before. And her Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift, spurred me on to a deeper focus on Jesus during the Christmas season through the lens of biblical theology, by seeing Jesus in every story of the Bible leading up to His birth. So when I heard she had a new book coming out, I was quite eager to dive in with full anticipation that it would enrich my Christian journey.
While One Thousand Gifts was all about eucharisteo, The Broken Way is all about koinonia. It looks into the act of communion, the brokenness and sharing that comes after the thanksgiving, the communion we can have with our Savior and the communion we can have with others. Ann wastes no time inviting the reader into her own brokenness as the very first sentence reveals her past struggle with self-harm. And from that first sentence to the last she shares stories from her life and lessons from Scripture that will definitely encourage, help, and comfort any reader.
Ann splits the book into eighteen different chapters traveling through all sorts of different aspects of brokenness, its affects, and the way it actually can lead to an abudant life.
Chapter One: What to Do with Your One Broken Heart
Chapter Two: Re-Membering Your Broken Pieces
Chapter Three: When You Want to Exchange Your Brokenness
Chapter Four: How to Break Time in Two
Chapter Five: Becoming the Gift the World Needs - and You Need
Chapter Six: What's Even Better than a Bucket List
Chapter Seven: Love Is a Roof for All Our Brokenness
Chapter Eight: Why Love Is Worth Breaking Your Heart
Chapter Nine: The Miracle in Your Pocket That Breaks Stress
Chapter Ten: How to Passionately Love When Your Heart's Breaking
Chapter Eleven: Breaking into Being Real
Chapter Twelve: Breaking Your Brokenness
Chapter Thirteen: The Inconvenient Truth No One Tells You
Chapter Fourteen: Breaking the Lies in Your Head
Chapter Fifteen: How to be an Esther and Break a Thousand Gates
Chapter Sixteen: When It Comes to Wooing God and Healing Wounds
Chapter Seventeen: How to Find the Heroes in a Suffering World
Chapter Eighteen: Why You Don't Have to Be Afraid to Be Broken
Each chapter overflows with wisdom. I found myself constantly underlining and making notes throughout the book. Ann has a way of revealing truth and beauty that is inspiring and lovely.
The Broken Way is a call to fix our gaze on Jesus, on the One who was broken for us on the cross, still bears His scars, and now strengthens us by His grace to persevere in our own brokenness and to share in the brokenness of others. It is an encouragement to choose courage and share your brokenness. It is a reminder that any suffering we face on this earth can be a gift to draw us nearer to God and closer to each other.
The book is filled with Ann writing in questions. It is part of her writing style. And I realized it helped me feel at ease in reading this. It helped me see that she was coming to me vulnerably and lovingly. The way she writes with questions allows her to share truth, often hard truths, in a way that isn't judgmental or harsh. Her tone is not one of condemnation or criticism, but one of encouragement and trust as she invites you to consider your own life, heart, and brokenness. I felt all sorts of relief in reading this, a relieving feeling that I am not alone, a relieving feeling that a newfound freedom is coming. Too many of us have denied our hardships and scars; too many of us have tried to put on a mask and chosen to only reveal parts of ourselves to others. The Broken Way offers a better way, a way that declares that vulnerably sharing our brokenness and being with each other in suffering actually gives abudance and meaning, hope and joy to our lives.
One of the parts of the book that I can't stop thinking about is how we are an Esther generation. We are like Esther, the one inside the gate who risked her position and her life for the ones outside the gate. We are "inside the gate," born in a place and with positions to radically affect the lives of those "outside the gate." Ann says:
The reason we are here is to risk everything for those oppressed people over there outside the gate. You are where you are to help others where they are. This isn't a Christian's sideline hobby; compassion is our complete vocation. We do not just care about people; caring is our calling. That's it. God forbid, you don't get a roof over your head and food on your table because you deserve more, but so you can serve more. God forbid, you believe you're a little better than others instead of making another's life a little better. (page 202)
I've always had a hard time thinking about how where we are born and who we are born to determines so much about our lives; and we, here in the West, have so very much while so many others around the world struggle to survive in the hardest of ways. But the Lord has given us so much grace. And Ann's words help me better trust the Lord and know He has given us our comforts and luxuries and resources and positions in order to give, serve, help, love others. Her words are truthful and helpful.
This message is indeed for everyone. But I don't think all will appreciate her writing style. She writes very poetically and in a stream of consciousness type of way. Some may find it distracting and some might miss the message because her writing style doesn't appeal to them. (I've listed some other recommended reading at the bottom of this post.) If you've never read something of Ann's, I would recommend reading some of her blogs or checking out her Instagram to get a feel for how she writes. I so hope you'll decide to read this book, but if you choose not to for whatever reason, I hope you hear the message of The Broken Way, that death always comes before resurrection, that you are not alone, that your story is needed, that Jesus sees and knows and understands and cares and provides, that you can give out of your brokenness.
Personally, The Broken Way has been completely refreshing and so very helpful. It made me feel safe and helped me find beauty in my own scars. It gave me renewed confidence to be open with others and helped me see how to sit with others in the brokenness they face. I am better for having read this new grace-filled gift from Ann. Her very raw and real words and stories are nothing less than an offering to the Lord for His glory and for the encouragement of the Church and the good of the world.
Ann was recently on Jamie Ivey's podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Check out that episode here!
You can go to www.thebrokenway.com to learn more about Ann and her new book. You can also find free printables there as well as a way to read the first chapter for free.
Buy The Broken Way here!
Other books I recommend on the theology of suffering, personal stories of suffering, and how to care for those suffering are:
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller
Surprised by Suffering by R. C. Sproul
A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada
A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot
Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie
Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? by Ligon Duncan
Being There by Dave Furman
What books have impacted you on this topic? How has Ann's writing impacted you? I'd love to hear!
*I received a free copy of The Broken Way by the publisher for being on the launch team in exchange for an honest review and for promotion of the book.
**Affiliate links are used in this article. Thank you for your support!
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.