Today’s guest post is an author interview with Counselors and Co-Authors, Eliza Huie and Esther Smith about their new book, The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care. Eliza Huie, MA, LCPC, is the Director of Counseling at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA and the Dean of Biblical Counseling at Metro Baltimore Seminary. She is the author of Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World and Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World and is the coauthor of The Whole Life. Esther Smith, MA, is a biblical counselor at Life Counseling Center Ministries and is a licensed clinical professional counselor in the state of Maryland. She is the author of Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith, coauthor of The Whole Life, and has been published in the Journal of Biblical Counseling. Esther and her husband live near Baltimore, MD.
What inspired your new book, The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-care?
The content of this book flows directly out of our work as counselors. We both have jobs that require us to be intentional about our own self-care. In our work, we also observe many believers who struggle to live a self-sacrificing life without succumbing to burnout.
What we do not see is biblical support for this high-paced, stress-filled lifestyle. Sadly, we also do not see much encouragement from the Christian community to embrace a balanced mindset of love for others coupled with attentive care for oneself. All these things and more convinced us that a book like this is long overdue.
What sparked your desire to collaborate on this project?
I (Eliza) initially came up with the idea for The Whole Life, but I knew I could not write this book alone. I knew that my personality and capacity were how God wired me and everyone is not just like me. I did not want to write a book that only a few people could gain from. I wanted to be able to apply it to people whose lives looked different than mine. I knew Esther for some time and greatly respected the way she approached life in light of some specific challenges she faced. I felt her perspective would bring a better balance to the book and I am quite confident it did.
I (Esther) was intrigued by the idea, and it didn’t take long for me to agree. Co-writing this book has been a great experience. We work well together and both agree this book is balanced and relatable in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if either of us had written it alone.
Who is this book written for?
We wrote this book for people who are running on empty and need reassurance that self-care is honoring to God. It is written to people who need structure, direction, and accountability to help them incorporate self-care into their busy lives. This includes so many types of people! People in ministry and people who work in an office. Moms who work from home and people who struggle with chronic illness. Counselors, pastors, business owners, and caretakers. If you feel weary, overworked, or uncertain how to slow down, this book can help.
What kind of book is it? Devotional? Workbook? Other?
The Whole Life is divided into 52 short chapters and is meant to be read over the course of a year. You might think of it as a guidebook to help lead you on a journey of self-care. Each chapter ends with journaling questions and suggestions to help you incorporate self-care into your life. We hope people will read through slowly and take the time to implement the self-care practices we suggest.
Why do you think this book is so needed right now?
Self-care has been a trending issue for some time but mostly in the secular world. Christians are cautious and confused about how self-care fits with the sacrificial life God has called us to live. In result, Christians have avoided self-care or felt ashamed for taking time for themselves. This has contributed to the significant experience of stress and burnout amongst believers.
This, as well as living through the 2020 pandemic has elevated the need to understand the importance of self-care from a biblical perspective. The post-pandemic stress has renewed attentiveness to self-care practices as people have headed full swing back into the craziness of life. This is an ideal time for people to step back and consider what they want life to look like. What self-care practices need to become habits? What does a balanced life look like? This book gives focused direction to help people answer questions like these.
What are some key takeaways you hope readers get from this book?
Quite simply, we want people to see that self-care is biblical. It’s not something to feel guilty about. We reframe self-care in light of the biblical principle of stewardship and help believers see the importance of stewarding everything God has given us for the purpose of personal enrichment, the good of others, and the glory of God.
We open the dimensions of self-care to include more than caring for our spiritual lives. It is important to attend to our physical, emotional, and relational health as well. This book is about caring for all parts of ourselves. We hope people will walk away inspired to invest in their own well-being, so they are better equipped to pour into the lives of others.
What is something surprising you learned while writing it?
Something I (Eliza) learned was just how intentional I had to be to incorporate biblical self-care into my life on a regular basis. It is easy to live a jammed-packed, stress-filled, busy life. It is hard to slow down. It is challenging to pause. It is difficult to pay attention to being still. But I also learned that when I take the time to do so, I drew near to God in unexpected and very encouraging ways.
Something that was really reinforced for me (Esther) as I co-wrote this book is how much I need feedback on my writing and in so many other areas of my life. Collaborating on writing was a growing experience for me. So many times, we would meet to write and Eliza would point out a new perspective I hadn’t considered. This feedback made my writing better and increased my desire to make sure I am intentional about seeking feedback in other areas of life.
What kind of feedback or response have you gotten from it so far?
Incredible feedback! One comment we have heard more than once is that people feel encouraged. It’s encouraging to hear self-care talked about positively from a biblical perspective instead of being made to feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Many people have also expressed surprise that self-care is broader than they realized. It includes being creative, caring for your body, and paying attention to your thoughts. We talk about many self-care topics that people haven’t considered before, and it has been exciting to watch people expand their understanding of what biblical self-care looks like.
What’s your next project?
I (Eliza) am working on a book for parents on how to raise emotionally healthy kids and also a resource related to trauma care from a biblical counseling perspective. I am also co-writing again with a colleague on small resources to help people considering counseling know what to expect out of the process. Besides that, I continue to work on the applying all I have written in The Whole Life!
I (Esther) am currently working on another book about strategies for changing unwanted thoughts. I’m really excited about it! It should release next spring and I will be sharing more details about it over the next few months. Stay tuned!