Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 07/19/2011 by Leslie Wiggins.
Recommended. A compelling "before" and "after" portrait of one woman's realization of her new status in Christ.
Kelly Minter may be a name you've not encountered much in the Christian musician, speaker, author, Bible study, conference circuit; I only heard her name for the first time about a year and a half ago. Lately, though, I've read mention of her on several blogs and listed as a featured speaker at various conferences for women. The author of three books, three Bible studies, and the songwriter and composer for four studio albums, Minter is prolific and passionate in her ministry to women.
In The Fitting Room, Minter shares her spiritual journey to imitate Christ. Though each chapter is titled for a specific virtue or Fruit of the Spirit, it is not a study of that virtue. Minter does not provide long definitions nor word studies revolving each virtue; she is not all that interested in the theoretical or ideal manner in which one can apply scripture to life. Instead, she engages women in an honest conversation about her struggle to exhibit the virtues of Christ in the midst of her daily life. She shares the details of her fight to treat others the way that God has treated her in the Gospel.
Deriving her theme from Colossians 3, Minter takes the reader to the spiritual fitting room where we "put off the old self" and "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator" (9-10).
[T]he spiritual concept of throwing off scratch wool for designer silk sounds simply effortless, but the real-life version is another matter altogether. Many of us who have attempted such a wardrobe overhaul have come up frustrated rather than inspired...Because most of us know we're supposed to take off old things like bitterness and anger and full-on recklessness and put on the new self, which is full of qualities such as kindness and joy and self-control. But knowing this doesn't automatically make it so...Our character clothes are frumpy, because we've never been groomed and fitted from the pages of Scripture.
The Fitting Room is both prescriptive and descriptive. It is prescriptive in that the Gospel is the remedy for us all. Minter begins with a compelling explanation of God's gospel of grace shown to us in Jesus and invites her readers to believe today. To her readers who've been believing, she gently reminds us that we are free to be who we are: holy women of God.
It is descriptive in that it is Minter's unique story of growth in grace. She provides personal anecdotes of how God worked, and is working, through His word to shape and fashion her into His image. I imagine this book in this way: picture a photo collage entitled, "The Gospel in Kelly Minter's Life," filled with before and after photos. In the "before" snapshots, Minter shares her realization that, according to God's word, the old garment no longer fits her new life in Christ. She then explains how God worked in her heart and mind to renew her thinking and behavior so that they were in line with the gospel. The "after" snapshot features a "fitted" Kelly Minter within the frame of the Gospel. In the same way that an identical garment will look different on two women, likewise, the virtues will manifest differently in our lives. We "wear" them in various ways depending on our circumstances, but they flow from and are motivated by the same gospel and grace. Minter writes,
Trying to clothe ourselves in the virtues outside of the fitting room of being chosen, holy, and loved will prove a maddening endeavor of dress-up. We may look the part in the moment, but inevitably the tight collars of moralism and crooked hems of behavior management will eventually give us away. There is no need for such striving when words like 'I have also loved you' have already been spoken. It's this love of Christ that lets us out of the suffocating garments of do-goodism for approval, giving us the grace to obey God's commands while we revel in His affection.
I enjoyed this book. Minter is a gifted writer, and I hope to read more from her pen. If a study of Christian virtues is what you're looking for, then you may want to look elsewhere. If, however, encouragement and a little inspiration are what you need, then I gladly recommend The Fitting Room.