When Real-Life Encouragement Trumps Self-Help Books

Awhile back, I visited a very large Christian bookstore. I dearly love books and Willow Tree figurines and DaySpring cards and inspirational CDs. So normally, this kind of place would be like a little bit of heaven for me.

But this time, it wasn’t exactly that. It was mostly just overwhelming.

Because of all the books.


I’ve been feeling this for some time now, a slight resistance to the abundance of materials designed to help with every single solitary thing in life. I’m glad that these resources exist, and I know that many are encouraging and useful and even life changing.

I guess I’m just at a point in my life where I don’t just want to read advice. I don’t want to be told to make lists of this and that with my almost-fifth grader, or print this out and put it on the fridge, or implement this strategy with my 13-year-old, or pray these exact words when I am feeling anxious.

Maybe it’s because, as the aforementioned teenager sometimes says, “I’m just feeling a little bit rebellious today.” Or maybe what I really want is to hear from a real live person who is a little bit farther down the road—or maybe a lot farther down the road. A real live person who would smile when I tell her about my “rebellious” daughter because she actually knows this daughter and understands that—at least right now—she’s not really rebellious at all, she mostly just likes to talk big.

A real live person who gets that marriage books can be helpful, but sometimes, you just have to plow through the stuff of life together and be thankful that you can at least laugh about it occasionally. A real live person who tells you stories about her own children and the things that were hard for her when she was parenting youngsters, and how it doesn’t always get easier when they become adults but at least she knows the end result doesn’t all depend on her.

Yes, that’s what helps me now. Back when the girls were little, the books were exactly what I needed. They still are, from time to time. But these days, when I’m facing things I’ve never faced as a mother, daughter, wife or woman, books usually aren’t enough.

I need people.

Real live people.

Lois Flowers

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart and Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith.

Photo credit:Natalia Romay Photography via photopin cc

16 Responses to When Real-Life Encouragement Trumps Self-Help Books

  1. Dear Lois, I couldn’t agree more with Deb Wolf..
    With Teens these days, loads of prayer patience and chatting with them helps.
    I am a Sunday School teacher and I have a lot of them around. Getting to have hearty conversations and making them comfortable in discussing dos and donts requires lots of reassuring and loving words while you pray they don’t go astray.
    But I think you will be fine, don’t work your self up. Do the best you can and allow God do His own part.
    Loads of Blessings

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, Ifeoma. Your last line is becoming my motto more and more every day: “Do the best you can and allow God to do His own part.” 🙂

  2. Deb Wolf says:

    I used to be an avid reader of self-help books. And I still think learning from others either IRL or in books is helpful, but s0-called “experts” are still just sharing their beliefs, opinions, and perspective. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s truth. I now believe that prayer and patience is the best way to approach those things with which I need help. Blessings!

  3. At some point, my brain stops absorbing all the oceans of advice online. (More so when you live with the mood disorder I have where your focus is easily overwhelmed.) It can’t take another word. And I realise that’s when I’ve neglected being around real people, face to face and heart to heart.
    I’m glad it’s not just me 😉 Love your thoughts today, Lois!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      No, it’s not just you, Christine! Not with this or with anything else. When my brain can’t take another word, Psalm 43:3 is my prayer: “Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.” I’m trusting that God’s light and truth will lead us both today. 🙂

  4. Trudy says:

    Thank you for these thoughts, Lois. Yes, sometimes it can get overwhelming with self help books. One says this works and another says that works. But they don’t personally know our situations, do they? We need caring and understanding kindred spirits to carry the burdens with us. God bless you and supply all your needs! Your neighbor at Holly’s

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You’re right, Trudy … only God truly knows our individual situations. Like you, I’m so thankful He sends caring friends our way to cheer us on and hold us up. Your latest blog post is such a wonderful example of exactly that!

  5. There is an old Scottish prayer that goes…”Lord, I thunk thee a thousand times for the roses, but help me to be thankful for their thorns as well.”

    Hang in there as you plow and remember to give thanks. I will say a prayer for you and yours today. God bless!

  6. Yes, ma’am. I, too, have felt the overwhelm of too many “self-help” titles lately. I’ve read many books over the years in the hopes of improving something in my life, but I’m taking a break from that and just relying on the pure wisdom of God’s word on the page and spoken through wise friends.

    A wise friend is worth her weight in … paper and ink. 🙂

  7. Winter says:

    I totally get this! Having a mentor is so needed and offers something different than just a friendship. Your neighbor at #raralinkup

  8. Rachel Masters says:

    Amen sister!!!

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