Abide (A Book Reflection)

“Healing is always about intimacy, not just the removal of pain” (p. 34) -Heather Khym

I have loved the Abiding Together podcast for years, so I was excited to see that Heather Khym had a book coming out this year. I just finished Abide: A Pathway to Transformative Healing and Intimacy with Jesus and mostly read it for part of my weekly Adoration time slot spanning across multiple weeks. I appreciated seeing familiar glimpses into Heather’s experiences and background from her podcast and a talk at a women’s conference a couple of years ago, mixed in with many aspects that I did not yet know. Some of the concepts related to healing were also familiar from her husband’s podcast, Restore the Glory.

As I expected, I loved Heather’s voice throughout. I also really appreciated the format of the book. Each chapter began with a narrative from Heather’s life, followed by related teaching points infused with scripture, and concluding with questions to ponder and/or an exercise to reflect and journey through the healing process. It included different angles that can be helpful to consider that would be fruitful to navigate with a spiritual director, counselor/mentor, or faith-filled friendship. For example, last spring I participated in Integrated Daily Dialogic Mentorship (IDDM) from the Catholic Psych Institute and I can see the exercises and prompts from the book pairing well with IDDM especially because of the daily dialogic aspect of the model allowing for space to explore as processing unfolds, capturing thinking in the moment with someone trained to accompany others on their journey through an authentically Catholic lens with deep understanding of the human person.

Beauty of Becoming has a focus on story, so naturally, I was drawn to one of the early chapters titled We Have a Story. Within the bigger picture scope of Salvation History, Khym mentioned, “The next important step is to recognize that with the larger story of salvation, each of us has a personal story and that story matters” (p. 13) – a concept close to my heart and aligns with how the Lord has been working in my life, including the inspiration to create a course Your Story with God (still in progress). Instead of finalizing my course and launching it this summer, I ended up diving deeply into my own story centering on burnout using some of the concepts that were at the foundation of the course in development.

Khym continued, “We will begin to see how the overarching story of salvation is mirrored in our individual narratives. Just like salvation history, our personal story is also filled with moments of love, pain, deception, battles, healing, infidelity, restoration, adventure, courage, sorrow, romance, loss, and triumph, and it also has the Savior” (p. 13). Towards the end of the book, Khym came full circle but highlighted a different angle, saying, “As Christians, we are called to share fewer stories and more testimonies: testimonies of those who have walked the hard road of the Paschal Mystery and are now walking in the freedom that only Jesus can bring; testimonies of how we were lost and have been found, were blind and now we see. […] As we are restored, we are invited to share in the mission of Christ to proclaim freedom and liberty to those who are still held captive” (p. 126). An earlier inspiration for my course was the phrase: Know Your Story, Live Your Story, Tell Your Story, and I think this testimony piece aligns well with that concept.

It turns out this thread that resonated so much with me was intentionally at the core of the text, as Khym noted in the concluding sentences of the introduction, “The world desperately needs people who have been restored by the power of Jesus, people who can proclaim this message to others. This is how we will restore the Church and the world; it must begin with us” (p. xix). Thus, throughout the book, Heather provided resources to journey through healing with the Lord paired with an encouragement to then share of the Lord’s goodness.

John 14:2-3 have become the verses at the core of Beauty of Becoming paired with John 15 (the same concept for the title of this book). Viewing life as a journey towards the place uniquely and specifically created for us in the Father’s house and the beauty of the process of getting there, especially since the pathway there is relationship with the Lord, has taken root in my heart. Though I don’t remember Heather specifically mentioning John 14 (but I might just be forgetting it), these lines from her resonated a lot with it, “If we don’t know where we have come from and where we are going, it’s very difficult to navigate the middle–and the middle is our entire life on earth” (p. 4).

Based on just beginning my Word for the Liturgical Year – Father, I also loved references to the Father, such as, “As we find ourselves secure in the Father, we can let go of our way and live a life of unconditional trust” (p. 105) and “Invite the Father to come into those little places of your heart and fill you with his love and fatherly blessing” (p. 107), followed by some helpful prompts to explore in more detail.

Heather’s book had a richness and depth that has the capacity to prompt great reflection and growth. This book pairs well with other Ave Maria Press books, including Sr. Miriam’s books (a co-host of Abiding Togehter), and Dr. Bob Schucts’ books (a co-host of Restore the Glory).

Copyright 2022 Amanda Villagómez

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