“Most people who decide to grow personally find their first mentors in the pages of books.”
― John C. Maxwell, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential
Dark days are coming. In one way or another. Maybe you've already been through some hard times or are going through them now. In any case they are inescapable because life is unpredictable. You may be sick, have lost someone you love, or have been shaken to your core by disappointment in someone you trusted. Our ability to cope with hard things is not unlike building physical muscle. The more things you endure and deal with the more things you can deal with. And next time you'll already have some skills in place and tools on hand to help you. You'll know that you aren't going to feel this level of hurt forever.
You have choices and power over yourself no matter what has befallen you. Are you really just going to pull the shades on your life and wallow in your pain for the next 30 years or so claiming you can't get over, forgive, or move on? Or are you going to deal with your situation, doing whatever needs to be done and then get about the business of working on yourself? The latter allows you do take pain and use it constructively to grow into a fuller version of yourself.
I've put together a little reading list for life's darkest moments, curve balls that hit you in the shins, broken hearts, and all manner of fiery arrows that may be hurled your way. They don't all seem like books you'd want at such a time, but it's been my experience that I am a much better student in the midst of pain.
1.Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn. Acutally, anything by this author is helpful when you are in crisis mode. He's been there. And he's extremely honest about it. If things are bad I'd say, start here.
2. Rick Warren's classic Purpose Driven Life has been...well, repurposed and updated into What On Earth Am I Here For? It's the question we all really want the answer to. Take 40 days and do this one a chapter at a time, it's filled with extra resources via your smart phone to further your discovery process. A great book for starting over...at the beginning.
3. Stephen Arterburn has another winner called Reframe Your Life. Simple idea that helps you develop a new perspective.
4. Joyce Myers has a collection of books that would help anyone get through pretty much anything but I found Change Your Words Change Your Life to be particularly helpful. Those words have the power of life and death in them and NOT just when we are saying them to others. Watch that self talk!
5. Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. Classic. Simple. Brilliant.
6. Boundaries by John Townsend: Put your people pleasing ways to an end once and for all.
7. The Marriage Benefit: The Surprising Rewards of Staying Together. If you happen to need a list of reasons to do that. Full of stories from his counseling sessions that are honest and hopeful.
8. Just like all his other books John Gray's book Why Mars and Venus Collide is like drinking a cool glass of water on a hot day. You recognize the truths he is outlining immediately.
9. The Five Love Languages. A modern classic that will help you understand how your spouse, children, and friends are communicating love to you and what they need in return. Fascinating discussions will follow! He has versions for kids, teenagers, and singles but the basic information applies to all.
10. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Even on the worst day there are things to be grateful for. Many of them, in fact. Practicing gratitude is going to ease your pain in ways you can't even imagine.
Biographies. Biographies. Biographies. People have endured some pretty wretched things and lived to tell about them and thrive. They have then written them down for us so that we can learn from their experiences. Sure your life may suck right now but have you had to cut off your own arm? Were you born without arms and legs? Have you been held prisoner and tortured by anyone? Sometimes a little perspective doesn't hurt. Here are a few I recommend: