Monday, August 16, 2021

The Whole Life

The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care, Eliza Huie and Esther Smith 

Biblical counsellors Huie and Smith have combined their skills to create this wise and winsome book that considers what biblical self-care looks like, and ways to approach it. As New Growth Press say:  
“They give Christians a framework for biblical self-care that will help them live for Christ by stewarding the spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical aspects of life.”
Huie and Smith start by identifying their audience:
“This book is for Christians who are committed to loving God and loving others; it is for believers who pour their lives out in sacrificial service” (Introduction)
Then they helpfully define what they consider biblical self-care to be:
“the practice of drawing on divinely given resources to steward our whole lives for personal enrichment, the good of others, and the glory of God. We don’t practice self-care because it’s trendy. We practice self-care because it’s a biblical concept. We embrace self-care as a way to steward our souls, minds, bodies, and relationships. This whole-life stewardship is an act of obedience to God’s call to love others as we love ourselves.” (Week 1)
The 52 weeks are divided into 6 sub-sections:
  • Spiritual life 
  • Physical Life 
  • A Purposeful Life 
  • Community Life 
  • Work Life 
  • A Restful Life 
Each week brings focuses on a specific area, allowing the reader to pause, reflect, consider God’s word, and respond in prayer and thoughtfulness. This includes a gospel spotlight, and a chance for application through consideration of questions covering four areas (spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational), and finishes with a a guided journalling suggestion.

As such, taking a week for each topic doesn’t appear to be too slow. I read this book quickly to get the review done, but I plan to return to it and read it much slower at a pace that enables me to dwell in it further. Yet, even a fast read gave me much to consider and be aware of.

Some things I appreciated:
  • Their starting focus on the gospel, our relationship with God, and our spiritual self care 
“The key is that we prioritize time alone with God to spiritually care for ourselves in the midst of caring for others. We cannot properly pour out to others if we are empty.”
  • The encouragement to see the value of counselling in Week 6. They were honest about the fact that there are time where we may need some extra help. 
  • The recognition that not everything can be solved with self-care: 
“Rest and self-care do not always prevent burnout. Sometimes burnout is a form of suffering that comes from the circumstances of living in a broken world. No matter how faithfully we care for ourselves, we may not be able to experience whole-life thriving. It’s difficult to grapple with the reality that some burnout has no earthly solution. If this describes you, I want to encourage you that even this realization has purpose” (Week 51 - Self Care is not a Savior)
I found this to be a wise, balanced, and helpful guide to biblical self-care. It’s quite short, and each week covers only 2-3 pages. However, the real benefit would be taking the time to work through each week in detail and prayerfully. Highly recommended for all Christians who long to serve the Lord sacrificially and faithfully, yet also with wisdom and awareness of our human limitations.

I received an ecopy of this book from New Growth Press in exchange for an honest review. 

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