The Self Help Sham

One of my favorite things to do in NYC is just wander around.

Especially now that it’s warm out, I like to just put on my sun hat and get lost for a few hours on a Saturday.


There’s never a lack of things to do or explore.

Like just the other day, I happened upon a person playing the didgeridoo.

The didgeridoo.


On the street corner. Busking.

Like, you were able to smuggle that thing all the way from Australia, and yet here you are busking for money? How’d ya swing that?


But on those exploration afternoons, somehow, I always seem to end up at my favorite frozen yogurt shop. Which just so happens to be next to a big bookstore.

You guys…

It hurts my heart to think that actual bookstores are becoming extinct.

Seriously. Enough of this E-Reader crap. Let’s get back to real, hard bound, turn-the-page books!

Who am I kidding, I haven’t read a book in who knows how long. I never even read a book throughout high school. #CliffNotesForLife


But, that being said — I like to go into bookstores.

So, many a Saturday, I’ll meander around the three levels of Barnes & Noble, ice cream in hand, and people watch, browse, title skim, and just watch the literate in their native habitat.

But one thing that just boggles my mind is how many Self Help books there are.



It is a billion dollar industry.

Everyone from Jessica Simpson, to Jenny McCarthy, to Ozzy Osbourne, to Steve Harvey has authored a self help book.

And, I don’t mean to be cynical, but self help books…kind of make me angry.

Now don’t get me wrong, I read The Purpose Driven Life and loved it. (Albeit 2004).

And I understand that a lot of people have really “gotten a lot” out of these self help books.

But in my humble opinion: self help books are a bunch of crap only scratch the surface.

During my recovery from anorexia, I tried everything. I bathed myself in positive affirmations. I worked on mindfulness. Therapeutic crafting and adult coloring. I practiced positive thinking. Journaled. Set goals. Broke goals. Gave up on goals. Ripped up said goal calendars.

I tried every “self help trick” in the book.

Nothing truly made me free. Nothing broke through the chains of ED addiction and fear and destruction.

Only one thing: Only God.

I was reminded of this just the other night.

I had reached my breaking point.

Yes, I am strong in my recovery, but every once in a blue moon, I get tired of being strong.

Looking in the mirror, my face stained black with mascara, eyes swollen and distant, I allowed myself to just cry.

To Him.

And I remembered something that I had momentarily forgotten amid the chaos that life can so easily become:

I cannot do this on my own. 

I cannot “self-help” my way out of the trials and the heartaches of life. There is nothing I can do but just cry to my Savior that I need rescuing. Need guidance. Need Him. 

Maybe you can relate, but I know at least for me personally, I sometimes feel as though I cannot be real with God. I have to present to Him only the best parts of me. Only the polished, healed, well-spoken parts of my soul.

But what about the broken parts? The parts that need healing? The parts that a self-help book can’t fix. Why is it that those parts of my soul — the parts that need the most healing — are the parts that I am the the most resistant to reveal to Him. To hand over to Him?

That is the part of my spirit that Jesus longs to heal. That He so desperately wants to shine His love into so that the brokenness can mend.

But He’s not going to force Himself where He’s not invited.

In order for His healing power and healing love to be able to penetrate into my spirit, I have to surrender it. I have to be willing to say, God, help.”

Not “Self, help.”

But “God, help.”

He’ll take care of the rest.

Self help books, sure, they can offer some good advice. Some ways to alleviate stress, relax, organize your life, boost your confidence, declutter your home.

But they can’t heal.

Only God can do that.

I should know.

“God, help.”

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400 thoughts on “The Self Help Sham

  1. Lovely post… God can help us through anything. I love your graphic that says “give yourself permission to ask for help” …very liberating and inspiring.


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