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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Enjoying the Journey by Jamie Theler with Deborah Talmadge

I have a confession to make. I read a lot of “how-to” books (which frightens my husband a bit, trying to figure out which “how-tos” I might actually try). The “how-to” books that I don’t read are probably the ones that could help me the most. I don’t read “Life is great, this is how to be happy” books. Why? They depress me. Their “simple” steps to happiness are far from simple for me and I come away feeling even worse about how I’m living my life. If what they say is true then obviously it should be easier and I’m getting something major wrong that I can’t seem to fix. Make sense?

I know it’s counterintuitive to everything the gospel teaches but that’s the power of Satan. He knows me well and makes sure I notice how inadequate I am in the face of such “simple” solutions that seem to work for “everyone else”. So that’s the big confession, I don’t read books that might actually be of use to me because I’m too afraid they won’t work and I’m too far gone already.

I love and respect Jamie Theler and Deborah Talmadge, authors of Enjoying the Journey: Steps to Finding Joy Now. When this book came out, I put its title on my reading list because I like to rejoice in my friend’s successes. Sadly, it kept finding its way to the bottom of the list. Even though I knew Jaime was real person with real problems and real outlooks she obviously knew something about this whole life thing that I wasn’t getting. I didn’t want to find out what that was. I didn’t want to have to admit that even though she got it, I couldn’t.

I know that my personal struggles are nothing compared to those many men and women face, but still they are struggles because, well, I struggle with them. Just like many of you, these trials can weigh me down until I switch from enjoyment to survival mode. Sadly, I probably find myself in survival mode much more often than I find myself in enjoyment mode.

Eventually it did happen. I opened the book and began to read and I was bawling before I was half-way through the first chapter. Jaime was describing me and the way I feel when others seem to point out what I’m lacking. Jaime and Deborah weren’t afraid to talk about their own human frailties. They’d tried everything that seemed to work for everybody else and still felt a void. Their answer? We don’t have all the answers for you, but we know where you can get them. We’ll teach you how to ask God and work with Him. He’s the only one who can make things right for you.

I know it sounds weird, but for me that was the most important part of the book- knowing that the people who wrote it honestly understand where I’m coming from. I didn’t feel belittled, incompetent, or talked down to within these pages. They aren’t testifying of their own triumph over huge and seemingly insurmountable trials, just every day things we all face. They are human and understood I am too.

I love the fact that each chapter not only lays it on the line and gives valuable insight but the authors don’t leave it at that. Most of us can read a self-help book and say, “Yeah, that’s what I need to do” but not come away with any realistic idea of how to accomplish it. Enjoying the Journey really wants to help you. Jaime and Deborah not only give you the thoughts and ideas, they give you the simple (yes, really) steps and methods you can use to make it happen in your own life in a practical down-to-earth way.

If you’re humble and open-minded, if you truly desire to make the most out of your time here on earth, there’s great wisdom to be found in Enjoying the Journey. If your like me and can’t figure out how to get a batch of laundry folded, much less establish a house of order, then just plant that first seed of faith. Buy the book; place it on your bedside table where you can see it. One day when you’re feeling brave just take a peek. Just a little one. See if you don’t feel at home within this book’s cover. If you’ll at least try, you’ll begin to figure out where your own joy in the journey can come from.

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