The Good and Beautiful You
The Christian faith is not only about belief and practices, it is also about the kind of people that we become. Yet some of the biggest barriers to our transformation come from our toxic self-narratives. These narratives shape the way we see ourselves and the way we interact in the world. God designed us with a deep longing in our souls to be wanted, loved, alive, and connected to God. Healing our souls requires more than knowing what God thinks about us. Our healing comes not through reason alone, but through revelation.
"The best practice I have seen in Christian spiritual formation" was Dallas Willard's endorsement of the Good and Beautiful series a decade ago. Now this fourth book in the series, The Good and Beautiful You, addresses the self-narratives that hinder spiritual growth and the desires of the soul that only God can satisfy. James Bryan Smith reminds us how Scripture reveals the beauty and goodness of our own souls and how we long for healing that only God can provide. Complete with spiritual practices that help us live into that reality, The Good and Beautiful You will serve as a welcome companion on your journey to discover who you truly are in Christ.
"The good and beautiful me—you've got to be kidding! My lifelong, toxic self-narrative has been a stubborn foe—like a petty dictator, no longer wanted yet refusing to stand down. Thank you, Jim, for patiently and carefully illuminating the path that leads to letting go of our common, neurotic need to create a self. And in letting go, to discover God's creation of our soul—which is the good and beautiful me."
"Cracking open the deep struggle of our human existence, Jim recovers the truth of our personhood—we are ensouled bodies seeking the transcendent. We long for God, and every false image we turn to erodes the truth of our being. Discover what false narratives have led you away from the truth of who you are in Christ—forgiven, redeemed, and holy—and follow the soul trainings for a deeper embrace of his love. Take care of your soul and allow Jim to guide you to the truth only found in Jesus."
"More than most realize, the bottom level of discussions about many of the currents in our life is, Who are we? That is, anthropology. Jim Smith fulfills one of Dallas Willard's major hopes for the spiritual formation movement in this book—a Christian and biblical framing of who we are as persons, as souls. The danger of all such studies is self-idolatry, and that is why I so heartily recommend this book. Here we are called to understand ourselves as God created us and understands us and envelops us in Christ, that is, in his love and grace and transforming power."
"Writing in the venerable tradition of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, James Bryan Smith has given us a valuable guide to caring for our souls in The Good and Beautiful You. Convinced that Christ is the way to the wellness of the soul, Smith points us to paths where we can find healing for our damaged souls. This book will help many people!"
"With his signature combination of intellectual rigor, accessible language, and pastoral care, James Bryan Smith has helped thousands of us believe firmly in the goodness and beauty of God. But what are we to believe about ourselves? How do we fit into God's good and beautiful universe? Merging solid teaching and carefully crafted soul-training exercises, The Good and Beautiful You firmly debunks the false narratives we believe about ourselves and replaces them with life-giving, soul-enriching truth. This book is a treasure."
"James Bryan Smith writes what he lives, and no more so than in The Good and Beautiful You. With personal transparency, intellectual fullness, and day-to-day practicality, my friend Jim adds to what has already been a tremendous series of books on the Christian spiritual life. This book is a true and significant gift for any of us who walk with Jesus and tend to our souls."
"Six words come to mind whenever I think about my friend Jim: holy authenticity and intimacy with God. James Bryan Smith knows what it means to walk with God without pretense and with holy expectancy. He knows Jesus as his Redeemer, Healer, Defender, and Deliverer. Jim knows God; he knows his love. That's why he's just the person to write The Good and Beautiful You. Though we were born into sin, as Christ-followers we've been redeemed, through and through, by his grace. If you still struggle with a sense of identity and purpose, settle in and take your time working through these pages. I believe you'll encounter God, you'll hear his voice, and you'll learn afresh how much he loves you. Even today I pray that you hear the love song he sings over you, for it is life-giving and beautiful, just as Christ is in you."
"Jim Smith takes us on a formation journey—his and simultaneously our own. We visit our false narratives so prevalent in the world today, and we are provided wider eyes to see the truth in every area of our being. Jim takes the key areas that we long for and invites us into the reality of the divine grace of God present to all of us. This is not a quick read unless, of course, that's all you long for. But if you are searching for riches out of the stones of your life, this book will help you see that you are the treasure you have been hoping for."
How to Get the Most Out of This Book
1. You Have a Soul
2. You Have a Sacred Body
3. You Are Wanted
4. You Are Loved
5. You Are Made for God
6. You Are Forgiven
7. You Have Been Made Alive
8. You Have Been Made Holy
9. You Have a Sacred Story
10. You Are Called
11. You Will Be Glorified
Appendix: Small Group Discussion Guide