I know that I will always have something I can improve about myself.
I spend a lot of time trying to improve and work toward who I want to be. In doing my Reading Challenge for the year, I have read even more books than normally that have aided me in changing my attitude, marriage, lifestyle, habits, and even accepting who I am so I don’t have to manically run after improvements.
As I was looking back over the books I have read this year I was realizing that I have kept a lot of these books close to the chest because I learned some very personal things and I am not quite ready to share everything I have learned and am trying to implement in my life. I am not ready to shed all my layers and be completely naked before you all on the internet, even though I try hard to be very vulnerable on this blog.
If I do not believe in the help offered by a book, I won’t finish it. In the self-help category I start out pretty skeptical. Yet, this year I have already read 15 books that I would put in this category, and I loved the majority of them. Finding those 15, however, took starting and qutting quite a few others. Because of this I figured it might be helpful to some of you out there who are tired of trying to weed through books with your own busy schedules if I could share what made these books stand out amidst the others of their type.
Additionally, I want to provide a starting point for you if you are looking for something in your own life. Self-help is very specific, and the idea of having a book be the answer is pretty ridiculous, but when we are living an open and honest life with ourselves we can usually find a book that can be of great help in walking us through and processing with us a specific area of life that we need in a certain season.
This Momentary Marriage
To begin with this review I will take you back to 2015. Last year I read a marriage book of his that absolutely changed my marriage. I have never finished a marriage book prior to This Momentary Marriage.
As a young person getting married, I definitely feel like my marriage is different than anyone else’s I observed growing up. We tell each other everything, and we are honest with each other. We don’t need these books that talk about such normal issues. We will never argue about those things, or if we do we will argue and solve it. Those things that wreck other people’s marriages are just because they are missing the love we have.
Well, this book didn’t even try to tell me what a normal marriage book would talk about. In the very beginning of this book, John Piper shares a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his fiancée while he was in prison in Germany for attempting to assassinate Hitler. The beginning of this book was very clear: Jesus Christ is the most important thing. End of story. This will wreck your life if you let it. I cannot say enough good things about this book and the way it made me see my marriage with God’s eyes instead of my own.
This book was nothing like the other marriage books out there.
It doesn’t approach marriage at all like other people and books. Not only did it help me take off all those blinders and rose colored glasses and blindfolds I had put on to keep from seeing my marriage as normal, it raised my expectations and standards for myself way higher. This is a must read for anyone in the world who has a heart that might love ever. CLICK HERE to read my full review of This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.
A Time to Grieve
When this year began I was depressed and just couldn’t climb out of it. I was so sad all the time, and just felt lost. I knew that I wasn’t grieving in a healthy way, and I knew that I needed to let myself grieve and be sad for things I had never grieved. So, I took the time to walk through a book called A Time to Grieve. The book worked well for me in two ways. First, I was able to grieve with the questions and process. I took extra time to journal as much as I could about the questions presented and really take time to be sad.
The book is written for people who want to help others grieve, so I was also able to take a step back and think about others. How I could take my own pain and grieving and become more empathetic. For me this was a huge deal because I do not have a great deal of empathy stored up in myself.
Not Your Regular Stages of Grief / Step Program
I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to comfort others, to learn more about the grieving process in a way that is not formulaic. The book is written in more of a relational way than a step by step definition of the grief process, which I really enjoyed.
Desiring God –> When I Don’t Desire God –> When the Darkness Will Not Lift
Because I loved the John Piper book so much last year, I decided to read another one this year. Piper is known for his book Desiring God which is what his website domain is as well. I meant to read that one, I really did, but at the beginning of this year I just wasn’t desiring God. I was mad and depressed and in culture shock and grief stricken.
As I was looking at Desiring God, I found a follow up he had written called When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy. That sounded a lot more like where I was at. But then I found a third follow up. John Piper took the last chapter in When I Don’t Desire God, and made it into a book, When the Darkness Will Not Lift. That was perfect.
This book was amazing at letting me be depressed. I really was able to just sit before God and grieve and be sad for days and months. When the healing came it was not fast and it was not pleasant, but I was able to sit in the promises of God that He will not put me to shame, and that He is my refuge. In the middle of the darkness, He is my refuge. In the middle of depression, He is my comfort. Even when I don’t feel comforted, He is my Tower.
If you or someone you know is in the darkness, this book is powerful and excellent. If you are just struggling to find joy, I would recommend any of these three books. Even without having read the first two, I know they are excellent books.