Kate Bowler and Jessica Ritchie, authors of Good Enough and host and executive producer, respectively, of the Everything Happens podcast, once again join forces to address the cultural myth of the attainment of perfection when sufficient effort is applied. “Contrary to most of the advice of the self-help and wellness industry, our days are not simply a reflection of our choices. We are not a tally sheet of our yes and no decisions,” they write.
Embracing such a framework results in spiritual confusion and makes it “hard to accept something that, deep down, we also know to be true: that most of what defines our lives happens to us.” The authors assert that we need a “language of acknowledgement” for the lives we are living, rather than the lives we dream of inhabiting. “We need a spiritual account of time that is rich enough to name the breadth of our experience. Good. Bad. Difficult. Sublime. Mundane,” they say.
Bowler began to explore the language of blessing when she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. She discovered that it is “a beautiful and instructive language that we can use for naming that strange mix of awful and divine experiences in our lives.” As the authors learn to bless every day no matter what they are experiencing, they discover that they have much more to say about their lives that is truly honest. They assert, “Blessings put our spiritual house in order, even when our circumstances are entirely out of order.”
The authors invite readers to use their book in the way that best suits them, reading just the sections that apply to their lives or reading the entries in order. The blessings are organized by different life experiences: ordinary days, tiredness, beauty, grief, feeling overwhelmed, pain, and more. The Lives We Actually Have proves to be an encouraging, kind, and gentle companion for readers seeking God’s presence no matter what they are going through. (Convergent Books)