Self-kindness can sound self-indulgent. Self-care, as described in social media posts, often seems merely like baptized hedonism. Self-anything may feel impossible as a parent when we are relentlessly focused on our kids and spouse. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In her book Be Kind to Yourself, Cindy Bunch invites us to be attentive — to what bugs us and to what brings us joy. She’s unsparing in her honest attentiveness to her own life, describing experiences of spousal abandonment, being a bad parent, workplace impatience, as well as God’s grace throughout. As a veteran spiritual director, she challenges us to take that awareness (that self-awareness) to explore spiritual disciplines familiar (e.g., Lectio Divina and liturgy) and unfamiliar (e.g., intentionally smashing things and making collage) as a way of engaging with God more honestly and more reflectively. As someone who wonders if spiritual directors just float ethereally distant from the petty grievances and on-going personality flaws I harbor, I love that Cindy is honest, real, and relatable. I mean, who hasn’t thought about smashing something once in a while? And to be given permission to do that as an act of following Jesus? I’m in.
As a long-term editor with InterVarsity Press, Cindy also gathers into the book the experiences and voices of the many authors she has worked with over the decades.
Legendary bookstore owner Byron Borger reviewed this book and noted, “This is absolutely not a simplistic, cheery little self-help book about taking care of yourself in a way favored by our shallow consumer culture. Not at all. It is about radical transformation, serious inner work, listening well to your life. But it may be in the guise of a cheery little self-help book. What’s not to love — this book is fun and fantastic, and I highly recommend it.”
If you’re not familiar with Byron, you need to become familiar with him. He offers profoundly insightful reviews of Christian books on a regular basis at his store’s website: https://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/. (I think of Byron and his store as a cultural treasure, and I order all my Christian books from him. Amazon will never give me that kind of wisdom and insight — or be able to provide just the right recommendation when I need help finding a book.)
So, are you ready to be kind to yourself? Read an excerpt from Cindy’s book here: