A Spacious Life: Trading Hustle and Hurry for the Goodness of Limits, By Ashley Hales alt

A Spacious Life

Trading Hustle and Hurry for the Goodness of Limits

by Ashley Hales

A Spacious Life
  • Length: 168 pages
  • Published: September 14, 2021
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4739
  • ISBN: 9780830847396

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We're told that freedom and opportunity are our ticket to the good life. Get out there and follow your dreams! Be the hero of your own story! Find your happiness! Live your best life! It seems that limitless possibilities await anyone with vision and willingness to hustle their way through life.

The thing is, instead of resulting in a sense of accomplishment, this limitlessness merely has us doing more and trying harder—leaving us depleted and dissatisfied. With life and faith.

Ashley Hales invites us to a better way: a more spacious life. Contrary to what we've believed, the spacious life is not found in unfettered options or accomplished by our hustle and hurry. The life we crave is found within the confines of God's loving limits. Ashley helps us recognize that when we live within these boundaries, we discover a life filled with purpose, joy, and rest.

This is the spacious life—finding true freedom within the good limits given to us by our good God.

"Every now and then, it's helpful to be reminded of how un-American the gospel is. The gospel is not anti-American because Jesus is for people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, but it is un-American because Jesus does not call us to an endless pursuit of upward mobility, star power, or 'more' as much as to a life of holiness, faithfulness, and rest. If you are weary from the pressure of limitless expectations and you desire healthier rhythms, Ashley has provided an excellent road map."

Scott Sauls, senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and author of Jesus Outside the Lines

"From limitations to flourishing, Ashley Hales takes us by the hand and walks us forward into a new freedom that is really an old freedom. She offers the good news that the good life is not what we expected, but it's right here in front of us, waiting between the boundary lines of our limitations. A Spacious Life is a welcoming invitation to consider that a smaller life means bigger love."

Sandra McCracken, singer-songwriter and recording artist

"In this wonderfully meditative book, author Ashley Hales rescues us from the siren seduction of self-help. Her vision of the spacious life isn't something to chase after but receive. It's a life modeled by Jesus—a sacramental, attentive, inescapably human life. If you're running breathless, A Spacious Life will help you slow down, look up—and breathe."

Jen Pollock Michel, author of A Habit Called Faith and Surprised by Paradox

"Ashley's words awaken us to our present, particular lives, where showing up needy is our most important work. Here we taste and see and feel the wind on our faces. 'Love exposes us,' Ashley writes. This book is an invitation to that sort of love; a road map for finding our way home."

Shannan Martin, author of The Ministry of Ordinary Places and Falling Free

"A spacious life is an integrated life, and Ashley Hales has woven together the forms an integrated life takes. From the physical to the spiritual to the emotional to the intellectual, Ashley intersects all the aspects of our humanness, our limitations, to show us how submitting to the skin in which we live can lead us to greener pastures than we imagined."

Lore Ferguson Wilbert, author of Handle With Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry

"Nearly every other voice in our culture calls us to defy and detest limits, which is why it is so important for us to understand the different ways proper limits are not only good but essential to human flourishing. Dr. Ashley Hales has written a welcoming, biblically rich, and well-researched book that invites us to live a spacious life. Her painfully relatable stories of life in the contemporary world are paired with insightful cultural analysis, scriptural wisdom, and beautiful prayers to help readers see the goodness in embracing God-given limitations."

Alan Noble, editor in chief of Christ and Pop Culture and assistant professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University

"Our world tells us to repent of weaknesses and die to limitations because limitations assume a kind of weakness we'd rather not admit. We often assume you can make a lot of money, spend a hundred hours a week at work (because you are needed and important), exercise five days a week, eat extravagant food at extravagant restaurants, look great, have a great sex life and marriage and cute kids, travel extensively, own a great home or apartment—all of it, of course, posted on Instagram. Ashley Hales teaches us that following Jesus is a life of embracing limitations and boasting in weakness. This isn't a disappointing life, it's a better life."

John Starke, lead pastor of Apostles Church Uptown, New York City

"God created limits, and he called them good. That is the message of this book, and it is an urgent word for our overwhelmed, overextended culture. With tenderness, wisdom, and scriptural insight into our times, Ashley Hales has written a spiritual meal of a book. It is lovely and deep and true, and a long overdue invitation to our souls."

Sharon Hodde Miller, author of Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It's Not about You

"We hurry through life, militating against our limits, strictures, and guardrails, yet we find ourselves miserable and exhausted. We kick off constraints, doing whatever we want, all in the name of freedom, and remain deeply dissatisfied. Joy and contentment elude us. In A Spacious Life, Ashley Hales draws us to ancient truths: it's within our limits, the life that God has given us, that we flourish. Trying to escape our humanity to be superhuman, unfettered and unencumbered by the quotidian, leads to destruction. Hales, in her inimitable way, deftly and wisely details the path to a spacious life. It is the way of Jesus, the way of wisdom. The way for us. This book hospitably offers an invitation to that sort of life. May we receive it."

Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up Is Down

"In our world crowded with schedules, endless lists, and hustle, Hales maps out a way to breathe again. A Spacious Life is exactly what I needed. We all need the gentle reminder that our limits are what lead us to real life."

Anjuli Paschall, founder of The Moms We Love Club and author of Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking

"In this book, Ashley offers us a glimpse of the steady beauty that a small life can provide. Interspersed with descriptions of everyday beauty that we so often overlook, she invites us to slow down and savor the fullness of Christ manifested in every moment. She invites us to find respite from the noisy, squawking world that so often distracts us—to find rest (and purpose) in Jesus. Reading her writing is a wonderful first step to the restfulness of which she speaks. It is a balm for a weary soul."

Jasmine Holmes, author of Mother to Son

"Most of us in the West are trying to do too much. We wear ourselves out with our mad dash to make something of ourselves and secure a sense of significance. In A Spacious Life, Ashley Hales shows us a better path of flourishing by meditating on the goodness of creaturely limits and the wise way of Jesus. Her theologically rich and pastoral invitation to slow down is a needed tonic in our culture of ambition and excess."

Tish Harrison Warren, Anglican priest and author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night

"Hales's suggestion to make more space for Jesus in one's life will resonate with Christians who feel harried by the busyness of modern living."

Publishers Weekly Review, July 2021

Read an Excerpt


1. The Supermarket of Life: An Invitation to Reconsider Freedom and Significance
2. And Limits Were Good, Very Good: An Invitation to Smallness
3. Jesus Isn't on Instagram: An Invitation to Set Aside Social Media
4. Of Cucumbers and Skipping Stones: An Invitation to Wait
5. The Spiritual Life is Not an Instant Pot: An Invitation to Rest
6. Flying Kites on the Edge of the Sea: An Invitation to Delight
7. Love Isn't a Cocktail Party: An Invitation to Pay Attention
8. The Goodness of Gathered Salt: An Invitation to Community
9. The Givenness of Things: An Invitation to Remember the Stuff of the Kingdom
10. Practicing the Art of Dying: An Invitation to Abide
11. Following the Guardrails of Love: An Invitation to Be Surprised by Hope
12. Some Superheroes Clean Toilets: An Invitation to Purpose
13. Drawing Cathedrals: An Invitation to Seeing Anew

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Ashley Hales

Ashley Hales holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. With her husband, she is the co-founder of The Willowbrae Institute, a new think tank researching the intersection of Christianity and the common good in America. Ashley hosts the The Cartographers Podcast and is the author of Finding Holy in the Suburbs and A Spacious Life.