While I did receive an ARC to review, this post contains no affiliate links because I’ve been blogging for 15 years and still don’t do it properly. I just really like this book, okay.
Every once in a while, a book comes along that promises to change your life and actually does.
That’s Aimée Walker’s new book, But I Flourish: Learn to Thrive in Every Season.
I couldn’t have read this in a more perfect season to receive its message of messy grace, abiding love, and thriving no matter the weather (inside and out). I’d just acknowledged a relapse of anxiety and depression, was fully pissed off at life, covid, and myself, and did not have time nor patience for yet another fluffy Christian book written that made me feel bad for feeling bad. I committed to reading it purely out of support for my friend—and found healing in its pages.
Cliché but true.
But I Flourish doesn’t just acknowledge the hard, dark war in your mind between what God wants for you and what you think is good/right/timely; it seems to read your mind with snippets of inner monologue and raw heartache that feels like Aimée is reaching through the pages to wrap you in a hug saying, “me, too.”
And then it goes deeper, showing your true, godly roots and identity and the incredible reward that comes from stopping all the striving, pushing, and hustling that you fall into when you take the Big Dream that God has given you and run off with it into the sunset, only to crash and burn because you lost connection with Him, the only One with the strength to actually do the thing.
Or maybe that’s just me.
If it’s not, though—if that’s you, too—press on, fair reader.
Below is my official review, but below that is my personal experience with the book, which, as you can probably tell, totally effing rocked me.
It’s going to rock you, too. In a great way.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 10/10, will be buying multiple copies to give to people I know need exactly this: a short book that’s easy to read yet jam-packed with Scriptural truth, deep insight, and gentle strength.
TL;DR If you’re frustrated by deferred dreams, a broken heart, and too many unanswered questions, this is for you. God means for you to flourish here and now, not “one day when.”
How do I condense everything this book means to me in a few brief sentences? From the very first chapter, I felt seen, understood, and comforted. After years of wrestling with restlessness, never seeming able to thrive in my season, heart, calling, and relationships the way Christ promised, to find not only my own inner monologue printed on the page but God-centered truth staring back at me was almost too much. Every chapter offered something soothing to my hurried, frustrated soul; by the time I finished, I can truly say I am not the same person.
Walker has written a book that is both incredibly vulnerable and incredibly powerful. She shares her personal tragedies, disappointments, hopes, and dreams alongside often-overlooked details from Psalms 52 and 92, using three special trees and examples from King David’s life to fully illustrate the design of God’s intended flourishing for His precious children. Little is held back and much treasure is given.
But I Flourish is a must-read for anyone battling thoughts of inadequacy, failure, or the lie of “one day when” thinking. God means for us to flourish in every circumstance, right where and when we are, trusting and abiding in Him as the great Father He is, allowing Jesus to cover our shortcomings and the Holy Spirit to empower us. If you’ve ever doubted that, this book will gently take your hand and walk to you to the other side.
A bit of advice: Don’t skip the reflection questions at the end of each chapter. It’s tempting, especially because Walker’s easy-yet-deep writing style makes it easy to get swept along, but they are powerful opportunities for transformation. Meditate on them, pray and write them out, let them get into your soul. You’ll be amazed what God reveals—and heals—in you.
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Okay, so, full transparency. When I was invited to join Aimée’s launch team, all I was expecting was to help out a new friend. As I mentioned, I was not in a good place. My giveafuck levels had completely bottomed out. But I love Aimée, so I figured I’d read the book quickly, jot down some review notes, boost signal on social media, then slide back into my comfortable mire.
But the Holy Spirit had other plans (as He so often does).
Y’all, it took me a month to read this book, and it’s half as long as Hunger Games.
Not only did I mark up the text like a college student (or at least the kind of college student I was) in highlighter and black AND red pen, but I took 35 pages of notes as I was repeatedly stopped by HS at the end of each chapter and compelled to engage with the reflection questions. And they were not easy.
Here’s an excerpt from my journal pages in response to a question about fear:
God is asking me to be present and faithful with my family—individually with my daughter and my husband but also as a whole unit. In order to do this, I have to set aside nearly all I’ve built over the last two years. It hurts and it’s scary and disappointing, but I know that doing things God’s way leads to things better than I could create, imagine, or build for myself.
This season is pressing on my need to DO and to be great—it’s asking me to stay put in radical ways. But I’m afraid. Afraid I will never accomplish anything aside from “loving wife and mother” or “dedicated church member” on my tombstone—that nothing I do will matter beyond these walls. I’m afraid of wasting my gifts, of missing the mark, of not fulfilling the words/prophecies/visions that have been spoken over me. I’m afraid of disappointing others—people out there and God, of course, but also the people in here; I’m afraid of failing my family through not being a whole person by not fully engaging with my calling in order to serve them. I’m afraid that I will be happy to be just a wife and mother. I’m afraid that I will have wasted so much in wanting more that I will never be able to fulfill this calling I’ve heard because I will never get past whatever selfishness, wounds, and dysfunction is in me. I am afraid that when I am eventually cracked open, there will be nothing inside.
Each time I opened this book, I was confronted with ignored fears, repressed anger and resignation, ghosts of the past, unresolved grief, and my own (many) character flaws. I had to read it behind closed doors to hide my tears and to make sure my time in God’s presence was as private as the wounds He was healing.
And He did heal them.
Between age-old fears of running out of time and the new stress of being alive during a pandemic, I’d allowed my soul to get so beaten, broken, and brittle that I had accepted that I would never be able to thrive. That I’d always be behind, always be striving instead of flowing, never be good enough, never be able to truly abide in God and enjoy the life He’s given me.
But as I diligently (sometimes begrudgingly) worked my way through embracing my current season, overcoming hurt feelings, understanding my purpose, and finding strength with God, I received revelation after revelation about my assumptions about who I am, who God is, and what He wants us to do together, both in the world and in my own heart. I yearned to be robust and tenacious like the olive tree, versatile and ever-fruitful like the palm, and majestic and holy like the cedar. Verse after verse, connection after connection, story after story, I was walked ever-so-gently from one side of the dark sea to the other.
I was set free.
I wish I could share every precious and powerful gift I received from this book, but it would stretch well beyond what anyone wants to read on a blog (if it hasn’t already). If you’d like to hear more, drop a comment or email and I’ll talk your ear off.
Before you run off to snag your own copy, let me leave you with a final thought.
Flourishing is not about perfect conditions. You are not an orchid that must have the exact right humidity, soil, and air quality to bloom. You are a mighty cedar, a versatile palm, a hardy olive tree that can draw what it needs from the very rocks if need be in order to produce a bountiful and satisfying harvest fit for the King of Kings. You don’t have to strive or force your way into flourishing—you’re already designed to do it.