One genre that I want to enjoy but have trouble with, is Christian non-fiction. It often feels like Christian self-help. Or more like self-help without any questionable language in it.
It’s hard for me to find my sweet spot in this genre because people are in very different stages in their faith and in their personal development. We are all looking for different things in our non-fiction books. Some are looking for practical tips. Some are looking for encouragement. Some may want conviction. Some may want to hear from the experience of someone who is very different than them.
First, I need to identify what I am looking to gain from spiritual non-fiction books. I want to learn and have that a-ha! moment. I want to be encouraged. I have two recent examples of books that were exactly what I needed at the right time.
Last year I read Introverted Mom by Jamie Martin and I felt like someone was holding my hand as I read. I felt understood. But I also was given some ideas to implement. I walked away from it encouraged in who I was and how God made me unique. Quiet, wanting/needing alone time and learning how to find that in a home of little kids, sensitive – and uniquely made! More books like this please!
“When suffering is sharp and profound, I expect and believe that God will meet me in its midst. But in the struggles of my average day I somehow feel I have a right to be annoyed.”Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
Another book I read that deeply encouraged me was Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. Liturgy is not something I’m very interested in. That said, I think when someone is struggling in a season, liturgy can be incredibly comforting. I can’t pinpoint what was difficult about the season. It was probably just having so many little people in my house that were demanding things of me around the clock. (Remember, Introverted Mom really encouraged me in this same season.) Or maybe it was a chronic health ailment I was dealing with. Anyway, Liturgy of the Ordinary was so beautiful and profound to me, it was one of those books I couldn’t even write a review of it on Goodreads. Five stars, for sure. But why? Learning to worship God in the most mundane activities was exactly the lesson I needed to hear. Because all I could do was worship God in the small moments.
“Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.”Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
Besides these two books, I have read many duds. I have read some books that were just ok. Maybe I learned a thing or two. Or I thought, “I’m not sure if I got anything out of it, but I liked it.” I don’t want to use up my time with duds. Or with books that frustrate me! I received some recommendations for several books and bumped them to the top of my reading list. I’d love to hear if you’ve read them or have heard of them.
In His Image is a book that I am reading with a group of women. Jen Wilkin writes about the attributes of God and this particular book is about the communicable gifts – the ones that God possesses perfectly but that I can possess too. These are gifts like wisdom, justice and mercy. The other category, incommunicable gifts, are ones like omniscience and omnipotence, that only God can possess. I like this one because I’ve already learned something: the definition of communicable/incommunicable gifts and I love learning about the attributes of God. It’s like Tozer’s Attributes of God, but easier to read and maybe some more application.
I’ve owned The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero for two years at the encouragement of a dear friend. But I’ve never worked my way through it. I suspect it’s because it may require some heart-work that I don’t particularly want to do. (But need to do.) More recently, someone who was recommending some “soul care” practices insisted that everyone needs to read this book, men and women. Alright already! Two strong recommendations from trusted sources is enough to get me to give it another try.
I’ve included Prayer by Tim Keller because while I’m not a Keller fangirl, I do like what I have read by him. More recently, I was gifted a devotion of his psalms and I love how he writes the prayers at the end of each day. They are honest and thoughtful. They are eloquent because he’s a fantastic writer. But there is a rawness to them that I appreciate and made me want to check out what he has to say about prayer.
The last book on the docket in this category is Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. This book is about spiritual disciplines. I’ve read Richard Foster’s book on Spiritual Disciplines, but many years ago! I’m interested to see how this book differs. This book also comes recommended to me.