There is a Facebook challenge doing the rounds to post the front cover of a book that has shaped you in some way, each day for 10 days, with no explanation.
I didn’t fancy waiting to be nominated, and would find it too difficult to do the challenge without an explanation anyhow.
Besides the Bible, which I didn’t include in this list – because this is a Christian blog and so hopefully everyone who reads it knows that the Bible has shaped, and will continue to shape who I am and what I do – I have found it a struggle to choose only 10, so I’ve cheated and lumped a couple of books together.
So, here are ’10’ books that have shaped my life, and if you are interested, how they have shaped me:
Crucial Conversations saved my life. OK that’s probably an exaggeration, but it did help me to communicate in a way that is beneficial to me and others and has given me the confidence to relate to and communicate with others in a more collaborative way. This book had been lent to my husband, but on cold autumn day it leaped off the bookshelf at me. I started reading it and read it in a few days – cover to cover. I made lots of notes and it was the first book I read in a very long time. I read it in October 2015 and it has shaped me in a lot of ways.
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) and The Gifts of Imperfection are both books written by Brene Brown – possibly my favourite author; I have all of her books! These books (and her others) have been instrumental in my journey of discovering who I am, what I struggle with, ad how to start my recovery. She gives me hope of a future. She speaks to my core and made me realise that I’m not alone and that I too am worthy of love. She gets me, and, I think, I get her. She’s a refreshing author and very special to me. She speaks about shame, guilt, courage, bravery, worthiness, wholehearted living, authenticity, belonging, and acceptance etc. They have become concepts that explain who I am and what I’m working towards in my recovery. It also helps me to make sense of my emotions and diagnoses.
Finding The God-Dependent Life, by Joanie Yoder, was incredibly formative for me. For a start, her pattern for quiet time – her morning coffee while praying and reading Scripture – was the inspiration behind the name for my blog and website, ‘Morning Coffee With Abba’. Her story, testimony, and ministry resonated deeply with me and has been instrumental in shaping me and releasing me to be who Abba has called me to be. Also, I am a modern supporter of the Recovery Programme she and her husband founded over 40 years ago: Yeldall Manor – A Christian Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre for Men. (http://www.yeldall.org.uk/)
(Un)Qualified, by Steven Furtick. This book taught me a valuable lesson – that I can be me and do things out of who I am. I learnt that God doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called – although I’m not sure that that is an actual quote from the book. In the blurb on the back of the book it says, ‘Many of us are overwhelmed by the gap between our weaknesses and our dreams, between who we are and who God says we are meant to be. We feel unqualified to do God’s work or to live out the possibilities we imagine. But God has a way of using our weaknesses for good. In fact, God loves unqualified people.‘
Living Beyond Your Feelings. I’m still working through this book, but so far it’s been very formative for me. Emotional stability and awareness is something that I’m passionately and determinedly working on as part of my recovery. Joyce’s book is very heartfelt and reflects her own experiences of healing from, what one might label, a personality disorder. Not only do her experiences link so closely to my own, but I appreciate and value her teaching and tips about regulating and managing ones emotions.
Just One Day is a fiction book. I haven’t read many fiction books; I usually can’t get into them. Although, having said that, a surprising number of the books that I’ve chosen for this list are fiction! I didn’t think I’d read that many! This was lent to me by a friend and I enjoyed it immensely. It helped me to understand myself a little better and how relationships work. It was a breath of fresh air, at a time when I needed to read this book.
The Time Traveller’s Wife – another fiction. This book was the first book I’d read in about 10 years, when I was in my mid-twenties. It took me a year to read, because of dyslexia (which I’ve been healed of – by’s God’s grace!). I read the book before watching the film, which was a totally new experience for me. I think I prefer the book – I never thought I’d say that about a book! I quite liked how the story jumps around and you have to try to keep up with which timeline you’re reading and who’s speaking. I read it again when my dyslexia had been healed and I must admit it was much easier the second time around.
Hannah’s Gift, by Maria Housden. This book is based on the true story of a little girl, Hannah, who died from cancer. It holds the written memories of her mum, and tells the precious gift Hannah had been to all who knew and loved her. I read this book in my teens and it impacted me deeply. I saw life as a gift – although still struggled to see my worth and that my life too is a gift. It probably though, thinking about it, laid the foundation of discovering my own value and worth as a beloved daughter of Abba, and loved by so many people. ‘During the last year of her short life, Maria Housden’s three-year-old daughter Hannah was fearless in the way she faced death – and irrepressibly joyful in the way she approached living. The little girl who wore her favourite red shoes into the operating theatre changed the life of everyone who came in contact with her.‘ It’s well worth a read – but have tissues!
All is Grace, by Brennan Manning. Brennan’s books spoke to me very powerfully about the LORD’s grace and His tenderness towards us. His books, including this one, were very formative and instrumental in leading me to become a committed Christian in September 2016. I was blown away by the concepts he writes about. One of my favourite quotes is, ‘…the deals I made with myself to be a “good boy” cost me my voice, my sense of wonder, and my self-worth for most of my adult life. The invisible dragon roared, I cowered, and what I call the “impostor” was born… The impostor is a fake version of yourself… The imposter lives in fear; is consumed with a need for acceptance and approval; the impostor is co-dependent; the impostor’s life is a herky-jerky existence of elation and depression; the impostor is what he or she does; the impostor demands to be noticed; the impostor cannot experience intimacy in any relationship; and last but not least, the impostor is a liar.‘ (PP. 56-57) By God’s grace, I’m slowly killing off much of my ‘impostor’, or ‘false self’, or ‘constructed self’. The real healing, comes by the grace associated with letting Jesus into all of this stuff and fix it and learning who He say’s I am and courageously living as ‘the real me’.
British Sign Language. The books I have, in order to teach myself sign language, were given to me when I was a child. I remember sitting cross-legged on my bed teaching myself sign language so that I could communicate with the deaf or hard of hearing. It was a passion of mine. A few years ago I found myself sat with a group of deaf and hard of hearing ladies at a conference. I was amazed how much sign language I could remember and it was a joy to be able to communicate with them, even though I still needed some help from the translator.