Wednesday, November 26, 2014
'Finding Spiritual White Space' by Bonnie Gray
Move beyond Coping and Surviving to a Rejuvenating Place of Soul Rest
How many of us find ourselves exhausted, running on empty with no time for rest, no time for ourselves, no time for God? Bonnie Gray knows exactly what that's like. On the brink of fulfilling a lifelong dream, Bonnie's plans suddenly went off script. Her life shattered into a debilitating journey through anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. But as she struggled to make sense of it all, she made an important discovery: we all need "spiritual whitespace."
Spiritual whitespace makes room--room in one's heart for a deep relationship with God, room in one's life for rest, room in one's soul for rejuvenation. With soul-stirring vulnerability and heartbreaking honesty, Bonnie takes readers on a personal journey to feed their souls and uncover the deeper story of rest. Lyrical writing draws readers into Gray's intimate journey through overwhelming stress to find God in a broken story and celebrate the beauty of faith.
"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea. Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. If you're exhausted with being exhausted, read this book. If you feel too busy to read this book, then that's probably the best sign of all that you need it."--from the foreword by Jon Acuff, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Stuff Christians Like"
I think this book is unusual, but not for the reasons the foreword says it is.
Many self-help style books are authored by people who seem to write from a lofty position as if they have all the answers. Perhaps publishers and marketers think their authors won't have enough credibility if they don't come across as 'super pastor' or 'super psychologist' who aim to tell us how to be as strong and together as they are. I've been getting a bit tired of the mold, but Bonnie Gray is different. She has been in a really dark head space and isn't too reticent to share about it. She starts from the devastating events of her childhood, when her parents used her as a tool to vent their bitterness at each other, and goes on to explain how hard it's been for her to hold herself together as a wife and mother of small boys. She lets readers glimpse everything from her fits of tears to her hopelessly messy house. It's all very well for some 'expert' to tell us what to do, but sometimes what we need more is an understanding friend who may say, "I've been there too. I was a mess and still am sometimes. I'm familiar with panic attacks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." It's refreshing to see Bonnie Gray write with a tone that doesn't try to set herself up as different or better than the rest of us, as she has experienced her share of terror and shame.
I didn't find Bonnie's ideas of moving forward particularly unusual. I'm sure you've often heard many of them before. Clear out your clutter, pamper yourself, eat tasty food and chew slowly, phone a friend with a sympathetic ear. But to be fair on her, maybe the ideas don't come across as original because they are tried and tested, and proven to work.
I'm sure it will be valuable for some readers to understand, through Bonnie's experiences, how the terrifying features of PTSD may strike a person out of the blue, years after the events which set the ball rolling. It may be just what some people need to see that our dreams and foibles, rather than being shameful idols or self-indulgences, are features of the way God made us. I think people who need to learn to treasure themselves more may get a lot of good from this book, but on the other hand, some readers may let Bonnie Gray's long, sad flashbacks into her own childhood stir up their own melancholy natures and do the opposite of what they expect. I think it's a good idea to mention this, so potential readers may be forewarned.
Thanks to Net Galley and Revell for my review copy.