My dear friends,
My ‘letter’ last week elicited so many responses from so many people - thank you for your thoughtful, kind and warm responses. I have been deeply touched by the letters many of you have written to me in return. Thank you for trusting me with your stories…
Each of our stories leaves us with work to do: and one of the ways we learn and grow is by reading, and so in case it could help any of you, I have added below a few of the (many!) books that have fed me through my journey to greater wholeness. I’d love to hear of any which you have found helpful too. Also, we’re exploring at Incarnation the possibility of doing a book study in the Fall using ‘On the threshold of hope’- if you’re interested or want to know more please email me.
But meanwhile, last Sunday Amy preached such a profound and helpful sermon about our hunger and the ways that God feeds us. I loved her invitation to remember that God created us to be hungry people: Adam and Eve were surrounded by food to delight them in their hunger. What a fabulous image!
And then she asked us to examine our hungers daily using the practice of examen as developed by St Ignatius of Loyola. She suggested each day this week to review your day in gratitude, welcome God's presence, and then ask yourself:
1. When did I feel most alive today? (Amy added: Where was I feeding on (being nourished by) the life of God?)
2. When did I feel life draining out of me today? (Amy added: Where was I left hungry?)
(questions adapted from Stephen Macchia)
I hope you are able to do an examen each day this week - and I am also hopeful that as you become aware of areas in your life where you are hungry that you will turn to God - perhaps through our community of faith, or your friendship group or your family to work out how to fill those hungers in ways that are healthy. Where you can eat richly and without causing harm to yourself or others. God made us as creatures who can feast with delight: may we do so with joy and gratitude and a humble reminder that we are often tempted to feed in ways which do not nourish. Be careful where and with what you feed your hunger.
And now - as promised:
Books on abuse or trauma that I have found helpful
The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender was the first book I read on abuse. The power of reading 'my story' was an enormous first step in realising I was not alone, that people may believe me and that there was hope. He has since revised the book to include more on the abuse suffered by men, but I haven't spent as long in the update. In the past I have been part of several 'Wounded Heart' small groups and they have been such beautiful times of seeing God work his healing in the lives of women who have been so deeply harmed.
Suffering and the Heart of God by Diane Langberg. Honestly, I've only recently discovered Diane's writing and speaking and it is SO good. SO theological. SO clear. I now have her book Reedeming Power as well and she is my latest heroine.
**On the Threshold of Hope by Diane Langberg. If you are an abuse survivor who is exploring your story this book could be helpful. We are offering a small, confidential, group for women this fall who could work through the book together. If you’re curious about whether such a group could be helpful, why not reach out to me and we can talk about whether it would be a good next step for you? If you are a man processing your story, we can also arrange a small group for you. Again, let’s talk…
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. Not a Christian book but so enlightening about the ways our bodies remember and heal from trauma. When I was writing my doctoral thesis on touch this book was the one that most inspired me.
My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem. Another book on our bodies and storing trauma - written from a perspective on racial trauma - but his ideas are also so helpful.
Embodied Hope by Kelly Kapic. There are lots of books on pain and suffering - but this one focuses on Christ's journey and is deeply thoughtful.
The Shame Exchange by Steve & Sally Breedlove and Ralph & Jennifer Ennis. As with all books there are things that are helpful and some which have less resonance. The idea in this book that I found most helpful was the explanation of different kinds of shame (appropriate and inappropriate) and how to deal with each.
Not marked by Mary Dumuth. A personal story of sexual abuse, written powerfully.
The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson. Curt has written a number of helpful books, but as shame is such a dominant force in sexual abuse stories this was particularly helpful.
Unwanted by Jay Stringer. And this is the best book I have read for those struggling with sexual brokenness. It is unflinching, practical and deeply hope-filled for those who long for freedom.
In other news:
As always, let me know if you are free for coffee or a walk (Poppie the bernedoodle and I are always looking for new and old friends to walk with) - drop me an email, text or WhatsApp to find a time!