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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Breathing Room" (Leeana Tankersley)

TITLE: Breathing Room: Letting Go So You Can Fully Live
AUTHOR: Leeana Tankersley
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2014, (224 pages).

Everyone has a critical line, even though they are all different. For we all need space and room to be ourselves. What we need is simply a breathing space or a safe room in which we can truly find where we are, sense what we feel, and to be self-aware. Entitled "breathing room," author Leeana Tankersley writes with breathing as a metaphor for such a space for self-discovery, self-awareness, and self-understanding. Having spent many years simply holding her breath amid the many obligations and family commitments, she discovers that God was always reaching down to her to ask her to make space and breathe. With her Navy Seal husband, she knows what it means to be under the pressure of risks and unexpected dangers. She finds solace in nature. She fights toxic thoughts by calling them "brain vultures" and to replace such "lies" with God's truth. She deals with her fears by reminding herself constantly that she is a child of God. She makes a distinction between fixing and healing. The former puts us in control while the latter lets God take charge. Having Googled about Emotions Anonymous (EA), she learns eventually that while Google is a "great place to start," so is beginning with the Word.

With 26 chapters that describe her search for breathing room, Tankersley shares about her constant struggle between letting God and letting go. She even tries to marry the two by "channeling" her concerns into her "inner Navy Seal" and to ask us to do the same. Each chapter can stand on its own as Tankersley often pulls in thoughts from different literature. She quotes several spiritual writers like Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Debbie Ford, Sue Monk Kidd as well as theologians like CS Lewis. She lists several female authors like Anne Lamott, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Kathleen Norris as her teachers. She resonates with the struggles of Brennan Manning and Anne Lamott. The book is less about critique but more about what it takes to create breathing room. Whether it is from nature or from literature, from circumstances or from planned activities, Tankersley says that it is ok to struggle and be down. It is ok to hold back for a while. With a voice of understanding that says, "It's ok. I've been there too," readers will find this book a breath of fresh relief to know that one is not alone in the struggle. This work is more about one woman's search for breathing space and how one can learn to let God take charge. I admit that I find it ironical that the author on one hand speaks about letting God, but throughout the book, it is about her constant efforts to take charge instead. Perhaps, this echoes what a lot of people who call themselves Christians often do. It takes the honesty to recognize our sinful desires to take control. It also takes a humility to acknowledge the need for God to take over. Most of all, the book shows us that while it is a challenge to know when to let God and when to do something about it, it is ultimately about self-discovery that we can learn the optimum level.

Rating: 3.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Revell Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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