Sunday, June 17, 2012

Re-engaging, Reinforcement, & Words that Change Us


I was thinking of skipping my post this week. I came up with several reasons: this is the first Father’s Day since my dad passed away, so the day feels especially heavy. I’ve spent the day cooking and baking a special dinner and dessert for my husband. I had a tiring week, adding cat sitting responsibilities that had me up extra early and out extra late. I could go on and on. It’s easy to make excuses. But then I thought of a line from the book I’m reading right now. In the YA book, Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, the main character, Felton, doesn’t have many friends, considers himself an outcast and tends to isolate himself. His mother is constantly prodding him: “Felton needs to re-engage.”


Did I know I was making excuses this morning? Yes. Would I have sat down sooner to write this post if someone had told me to? Yes, again. It’s funny how reading (or hearing) something can reinforce what we already know. So with Felton’s fictional mother’s voice in my head, I’ve decided to re-engage. And write my blog post.

I think we all need reinforcement sometimes. When I send a story off to my critique partner and she comes back with advice, I’ll say to myself, I knew that line was unnecessary or  I knew that statement was didactic. But sometimes we need to hear it from someone else before we act. Reinforcement is good.

I'm re-reading a wonderful booklet by Jim Wilson called How to be Free From Bitterness. Years ago, this book changed my life. It made me a better person. The words shared are powerful. I knew at the time that I would need to read them again and again. And I wanted to share them with others. I ordered booklets for friends and family. This was probably twenty years ago. I've read it many times since. 


I had my copy out the other day when my sister stopped over. “Oh, you’re reading your bitterness book,” she said. Then she told me she still has hers as well. I wasn't surprised. Here is the blurb from Amazon:

Bitterness often grows out of a small offense: perhaps a passing word, an accidental shove, or a pair of dirty socks left in the middle of the living room floor. Yet when bitterness takes root in our hearts, its effects are anything but small.
In this collection of short articles, Jim Wilson and others discuss what it means to live as "imitators of God." As the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians, we have been called to leave the bitterness and anger of the world and instead embrace the love and compassion of our God. The authors remind us that we are to forgive others just as we have been forgiven, pointing to Scriptural admonitions and examples as they offer sound teaching on the trials and temptations of everyday life.

 It’s available here as a free PDF or here as a Kindle download for 1.99.  With sections like Forgiving Others, Taking Offense, Bridling the Tongue, and Saturation Love (to name a few) it could be the best 23 pages you ever read.

Have you ever read a book that helped you become a better person?




58 comments:

  1. I can't think of a specific book, but I feel like all books change me in some way and I love that. Books are like people you meet. They come into your life (sometimes for just brief periods of time) for a reason. They have an effect on you and help you see things differently.

    I'm sorry Father's Day was a difficult one for you. It's never easy when a holiday becomes a reminder of a loss.

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    1. I like how you put it, Kelly. You're right, every book has the potential to change us, I suppose. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  2. I am so glad you wrote your post, Ruth, because they are a balm to me today. The bitterness book sounds wonderful. Our family could use this too.

    Books that have changed my life in dramatic ways:
    Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C Douglas
    Adventures in Two Worlds by AJ Cronin
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
    The Holy Bible

    Celebrations of any kind are hardest when a loved one is gone. Time is the best healer. Hugs.

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    1. I'm glad my post touched you in some way, Vijaya. Thanks so much for sharing these titles with me.

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  3. The Bible, first and foremonst, but I also read a book years ago called FORGIVING YOUR PARENTS by Robert Freeman Bent.

    Thanks for sharing, Ruth.

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    1. Thanks, Angelina. Writing that title down now. . .

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  4. I think I need to get this bitterness book. So true the little things in life that tend to wear us down.

    Hope in the end you had a lovely Father's Day week and your memories of past years cheered.

    ctny

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    1. Thank you, Courtney. I do have lots of good memories.

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  5. Ohhhhh... I'm so sorry about your dad... :/

    And it's SO TRUE with the critique partner thing... I swear we already know deep down the parts that need fixing... but it's that extra push that finally makes us act on things. :)

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    1. I guess some day, we'll learn to trust ourselves. Until then, critique partners are irreplaceable ;)

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  6. Thanks for the book recommendation Ruth. I too struggle with wanting to withdraw at times, but you are so right about reinforcement. Thanks for the reminder. And I hope you are finding comfort in your family this week!

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  7. Ruth, I'm sorry about how you were feeling. I can't say much to help since we still have Dad, although with dementia, but after Mum passed away it took quite awhile to handle holidays without a terrible sadness. I send you loving hugs.

    There is a book I picked up at a Christian Women's meeting years ago and it's one of my prized books. It is called Out Of My Bondage and was written by Marion B. West. That book truly helped to bring me to the Lord as I laughed and cried my way through it. It is out of print now but available on Amazon and such places.

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    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Lynn. And for the book recommendation.

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  8. The power of words... That's why we read, and why we write. I think I write for kids because that was a time when stories and books had even more of an effect on me.
    I'm glad you got that backwind from Stupid Fast.(What a title!...)

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    1. I know, great title, right?!! I love it ;)

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  9. Hi Ruth -

    Off topic. I finally posted on the sweet award you gave me.

    Thanks again,
    Susan :)

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    1. Susan, you deserved it =) It's fun to see these things go around and get to know each other a little better.

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  10. The "firsts" that come after a loss are so trying. I think one of the greatest challenges in life is not to let bitterness take root. This books sounds like a must. Thanks for the rec.

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    1. Exactly, Leslie. The fight against bitterness is ongoing. I hope you get as much out of the book as I have.

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  11. What a great post, Ruth. This pamphlet looks like a good read. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. I'm so glad you decided to post today...and sorry about your Dad. It's difficult to let go, isn't it? My dad died when I was only four, but I have wonderful memories that I have transferred to my Father God because of it. Thanks for the book referral...looks like an important read, Ruth!

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    1. Thanks, Jarm. I know I was lucky to have him for as long as I did.

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  13. I can see how easy it would be to feel down on the first Father's Day since your dad passed away. I'm sure I'd feel the same way. Very difficult. Good for you for re-engaging. I've done the same thing with critique partners, thinking I should change that line or word but waiting until someone pointed it out! So yay for reinforcement.

    The book sounds good. It's so true that bitterness only grows bigger and does more to harm us. I'd never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing this with us, Ruth.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lynn. I'm glad I'm not the only one who waits to act until a critique partner validates my concerns. We writers are really alike in so many ways, aren't we?!

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  14. I love the idea of dealing with Bitterness and rooting it out of one's life. Thanks for suggesting this book. I could use some reinforcement right about now.

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    1. You're welcome, Lee. I hope you find the reinforcement you need in this booklet ;)

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  15. I can't think of a specific book that has changed me... probably more than one but nothing that leaps to mind. So glad you were able to crawl out from under the heavy weight of your first father's day without your dad - I can't imagine how hard it must have been - but hopefully re-engaging reminded you how many friends you have who are here for you :)

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    1. Awww, thank you so much for your kind words, Susanna. I am always lifted by my friends. Thanks for your support.

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  16. Hi Ruth!

    I'm so happy to find your blog. Thanks for visiting mine. Oh yes, I can't count how many books have challenged and changed me. I learn so much from story.

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  17. You're right about the reinforcement -- we writers are needy in that way, I think. And as far as books go (besides the Bible), A Future and a Hope by John Courson got me on track toward becoming a better person by giving practical advice on relinquishing worries.

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    1. That title sounds great. I'm going to check it out. Thanks so much for stopping by and mentioning it here.

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  18. I'm so glad you re-engaged and wrote this wonderful blog post, but I am sorry for your loss. Father's Day is tough for those who have lost their dads--especially that first Father's Day.

    The bitterness book sounds wonderful. I think we all have to battle that demon from time to time. Thank goodness for wonderful books to escape into and learn from.

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    1. You're right, Cynthia, there are so many wonderful, helpful books out there that have the ability to enrich our lives.

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  19. Thanks for the book recommendation. It sounds interesting. Hinds Feet on High Places changed me and the way I think about my walk with God.

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    1. I've often heard that title, Julie, but have yet to read it. Thanks for the reminder.

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  20. Thank you for the download, Ruth. Many times I've said, "I don't want to be a bitter old woman."

    A book that changed my life? Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts comes readily to mind.

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    1. I hear you, Sara. None of us wants to become that bitter old woman. I hope you find the book as helpful as I did. And thanks for sharing that title.

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  21. Re-engage...I love that concept. I've hit way too many walls in my writing life, but sometimes just sitting at the keyboard and starting to type--even if it's nonsense--gets me re-engaged. :)

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    1. I guess we all have different ways of re-engaging. Glad you've found one that works for you.

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  22. That sounds like a great book.
    though the bud be bruised, has changed my life.
    Other that that, I'd have to say the Bible... I learn so much from those pages.
    Xx

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    1. Sounds like a lovely title. I'll look it up. Thanks so much.

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  23. Good that you re-engaged. Great post.

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  24. I'm glad you made the extra effort, Ruth - your post is so inspirational. As I get older I recall a quote I've known a long time: "As you get older, you either get bitter, or you get better, the choice is yours."

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    1. It really is true - that saying. Bitterness is all about blame, but you're right, in the end it's our choice to remain bitter or not. Thanks, Victoria.

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  25. Great article Ruth, thank you :) I think we've all had a 'go' at bitterness at one time or another, it's a fact of life. 'How to be free from bitterness' sounds like a great resource for life's trials!

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    1. Thanks, Rod. Yes, I don't think anyone escapes bitterness entirely. This is a book everyone could benefit from.

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  26. I'm sorry Father's Day was rough for you. Outside of the Bible, I'm finding it hard to name books that absolutely changed my life. But they all contribute, because I'd be a different person if I weren't a reader.

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  27. Sorry, I'm late in responding to everything and everyone. Glad you posted. Got me thinking. I have several authors that move me -- Caroline Myss, Defy Gravity and Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks. When I need inspiration and need to get back in touch, that's where I head.

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  28. Ruth, I was missing my father one day; and YOU popped into my head, you and your wonderful post about your father. Since you have recommended this booklet, I'm sure I'll like it and get some valuable points from it.

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  29. I'm sorry you had a difficult time on Father's Day. That sounds like a wonderful book, one that I could use. The Bible helps guide me the most.

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  30. Great post, Ruth! Isn't it interesting how reframing something can change our whole attitude, and how books can help?

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  31. I'm glad you decided to do a post! I really enjoyed Stupid Fast (and the sequel) so I hope you are loving it or did love it (if you're finished). That booklet sounds pretty lovely. I like to think most things I read make me a better or different person in some way. One of my all-time favorite books is The Perks of Being a Wallflower and there is a great quote about people having what they have and you shouldn't tell someone "people are starving in china" or something because you can't help the stuff you were given. It's obviously written a WHOLE lot better in the book, but I love that quote and always use that or give it to people in my life who I think could appreciate it.

    -Lauren

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  32. Oh Ruth. So sorry about your dad. Mine has been gone for almost 15 years. So, believe me. I understand!

    The book sounds great, I'll order it, for sure. Also I need to read Stupid Fast. I guess the best book I've ever read, that impacted me the most is The Holy Bible. Tucked between those pages is everything we'll ever need to live our lives. The best advice book ever! :-) Thinking of you! (((Hugs)))

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