God made you good, and you are enough. Thanks be to God for the gift of you.”(pg. 149)
Danielle Bean’s new book; You Are Enough: What the Women of the Bible Teach You About Your Mission and Worth is a straightforward dive into the sisterhood of the Scriptures, laced with Bean’s signature style of down-to-earth stories of God at work in our everyday lives. I have not read Bean’s previous book, You’re Worth It, with stories of Jesus and the women of the New Testament, so I cannot compare one with the other. However, if you are looking for an introductory course on the woman of the Old Testament, or if you just want to reconnect with some old friends, this book may be just what you are looking for.
“There, in the sometimes odd, sometimes colorful stories of our age-old sisters in the Old Testament, there in those ancient words, I found an eternal and intangible truth: … God loves us. God has a unique love and a unique plan, not only for all women but for every woman in particular… Only you can answer your calling.” (pg.2-3)
Bean intersperses the women of the Old Testament and the lessons they represent with vignettes from her personal life to help us remember that what the women of the Bible teach us is still pertinent, even in today’s modern world. The heart and spirit of womankind remain timeless.
The book is divided into eight chapters, each with a message and one or more women from the pages of the Old Testament whose stories speak to the chapter theme. After sharing a personal story Bean weaves faith stories of our foresisters with reflective questions on faith history and how these lessons relate to our modern-day lives. Each chapter ends with a prayer from a saint.
Chapter 1-God Calls You
“What will your story be?” (pg. 21)
Here we learn about belonging and the loneliness of not fitting in with those around us. Bean examines how despite this, God asks us to step out in faith, as seen through the stories of Rahab and Abigail. Despite Rahab’s “scarlet” reputation, her heroic actions and a scarlet cord foreshadow the coming of Jesus. We learn of Abigail’s heroism when placed between the foolishness of her husband and the impulsivity of King David. The reward that comes soon after her brave act gives her a new life.
Chapter 2—God Sees Your Pain
“There’s a lot of healing to be found in sharing our stories and listening to one another.” (pg. 27)
This chapter begins in the most secret of all places—the women’s restroom. Bean shares stories, tragic, poignant and memorable (Have you ever had an entire bridal party ask you for marital advice?) as a precursor to the wrongs suffered by many women at the hands of those who profess to love them. Bathsheba and Tamar are the women we meet in this chapter—women who have been used, abused and exploited by men in power.
Bean touches on the #MeToo movement with compassion, connecting God to those suffering and giving them hope to unite in a sisterhood that speaks out against violence and injustice towards women.
Chapter 3—God Gives You Strength
“God means for us to use our womanly gifts and strengths to love and care for the people he places in our lives, but it is our choice to do so.” (pg. 46)
In this chapter, we meet a real-life Wonder Woman—Bean’s mother—and the amazing story of a car crash. Bean encourages us to recognize the superheroine within us all. When we read the examples of Judith and Delilah, we see that God-given power within us which can be used to build-up or destroy—depending on how we use our free will.
Chapter 4—God Gives You Hope
“God sees all your desires, the big ones and the small ones.” (pg.62)
A budget with absolutely no wiggle-room, a very pregnant and bratty (Bean’s words—not mine) pray-er and the desire for a new minivan make for a most engaging (and miraculous!) story of God’s providence in modern times.
The hope of motherhood in the stories of Sarai (Sarah) and Hannah further this chapter’s message, that truly nothing is impossible for God.
Chapter 5—God Blesses Your Trust
“…we are all always completely dependent on the mercy of God.” (pg. 89)
Who hasn’t been wide awake in the middle of the night with anxiety, worrying about how to possibly fix things come morning? Bean, who claims 4 a.m. as her hour for this exercise, gives the terrors of the night credit for what they truly are—our belief that we are in control of the universe, or at least our own corner of it.
Bean brings forth the stories of two women (the widow of Zarephath and the Shunammite woman) of extremely different financial situations, their sons, and the prophets Elijah and Elisha to light the darkness of our anxieties, showing the blessings God provides to those who remain steadfast in faith.
Chapter 6—God Gives You Sisters
“The kinds of bonds that women create in authentic friendships with one another simply cannot be replicated in other kinds of relationships.” (pg. 94)
Here Bean shares stories of her own biological sisters, as well as her sisters in friendship.
Contrasting examples of sisterhood are shown in this chapter, first through the dangerous alliance that becomes a bond of trust as Moses’s sister Miriam and the Pharaoh’s daughter work together to save a baby they know will be marked for death without their protection.
Bean then illustrates the treachery of Satan, at work to break the bonds of sisterhood with envy and jealousy in the story of the beautiful Rachel and her sister Leah as they vie for the affections of their husband Jacob.
Lastly, in the priceless story of love and loyalty between Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth, we all see the reward in lasting fidelity to one another.
Chapter Seven—God Made You for Life-Giving Love
“Motherhood, meaning the practice of feminine, nurturing love can take many forms.” (pg. 123)
Eve is the example of this chapter, her story woven together with modern examples of women who make a gift of nurturing those around them, despite the pain and heartache that may come.
Chapter Eight—God Made You Perfect
“It means God made you perfectly suited to the life and work he has planned for you. He made you to be holy and he calls you to greatness.” (pg. 134)
For all of us who have read Proverbs 31 and felt wholly inadequate, Bean offers hope. The paragon of perfection described here is not one woman, but rather a “poem of praise for womanly virtues”. Bean breaks down this scriptural verse extolling the strength, active work, generosity and faithfulness of every woman.
This was my second read of 2019. It is an easy, companionable read. The audience is decidedly women, but men can learn from its pages as well. This book would also make an excellent book for a parish women’s group to read and discuss over an eight-week period.
You are Enough: What the Women of the Bible Teach You About Your Mission and Worth by Danielle Bean. Published by Ascension Press, $14.99, 149 pages, 5.5 x 8.3 inches, paperback.