Book Report: Own Your Life

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson

A mentor at heart, Sally warmly invites women along on a journey of basic discipleship, covering everything from the theoretical (the purpose of beauty, cultural imagination, God’s transcendence, etc.) to the practical (like the spiritual disciplines, handling past hurts, and marriage advice). Her work dismantles mediocrity and stirs up a desire for excellence in every aspect of life. She peppers the text with personal stories, quotes, questions, and prayers with her typical tone of gracious hospitality. Reading Sally’s words feels like an afternoon of sharing sweet tea and great conversation on a porch swing with a trusted friend. 

I underlined this book like crazy. Here are some of my favorite quotes: 

Running away from [difficulties] keeps us from growing stronger and eventually becoming heroes in our own stories.

The false lights and values of this world can darken our minds to the grandeur and brilliance of God.

Whatever you water will grow.

Miracles … come in the seemingly inconsequential moments when faith is engaged and practiced but no one else is looking.

Beautifying the corridors of your own soul will enable you to reflect a life of excellence.

Whatever you practice, cherish, believe, habitually think, and speak every day is what you are becoming.

Measure your life by how well you have loved. In the moment that you love well, you are the most like Jesus.

My biggest takeaway was that (surprise!) a Christian will never be able to muster up enough strength to live the Christian life—we must rely on the Holy Spirit to invade us on a minute-by-minute basis. Realizing that it’s “not our strenuous efforts, but His life [that] generously provides all we need for flourishing lives of ministry” was a breath of fresh air for my try-hard soul. “Thankfully, God never called us to live a ‘good Christian life’ based on effort and rule keeping … Christians cannot flourish apart from making God’s Spirit the source of their spiritual lives … When you allow His Spirit to live freely in you, then, and only then, will you have the energy and wisdom to live the Christian life well. It is His work, and He will kindly carry your load.” I grew up thinking of my life (if I did it right) as this big, beautiful sacrifice I could one day lay before the throne of God; apparently the sacrifice He wants is a life I surrender to His work in me rather than to my work for Him.

Ten questions from the text I’ll need to journal through:

  • If God lived fully through my life, what could He bring to pass?
  • How can I begin to fill my mind with great thoughts?
  • What is my biggest emotional drainer? How can I place it in God’s hands and step back to get a better picture of how I might deal with it?
  • Where have I been too busy living in the whirlwind of my own making and trying to subsist on my own meager provisions?
  • How might I grow in learning to be comfortable in God’s presence?
  • Where have I been more concerned with my doctrine than I am with Jesus?
  • How might I remind myself in the moment to choose gentle words and listen with my eyes to the people God brings into my life?
  • What are three ways in which I can build my home into more of a haven of rest, comfort, and beauty?
  • How will I redeem the dark places in my life?
  • What would I include in my good-bye letter to family and friends?

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