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Turn My Mourning Into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  507 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
In times of suffering, simplistic answers ring empty and hollow. But Henri Nouwen, beloved spiritual thinker and author, offers real comfort in the concrete truth of God's constancy. Nouwen suggests that by greeting life's pains with something other than despair, we can find surprising joy in our suffering. He suggests that the way through suffering is not in denial, but r ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published July 29th 2004 by Thomas Nelson (first published October 17th 2001)
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Mary Alice
Quotes from the book say it better than any commentary from me:

“I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted; then I realized that the interruptions were my work.”

“Grateful people learn to celebrate even amid life’s hard and harrowing memories because they know that pruning is no mere punishment, but preparation.”

“In so many encounters we try to look away from the pain. We try to help our friends quickly process grief. We hastily look for ways to bring cheer to a child
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd learned of Henri Nouwen fairly recently, and it was through other authors who'd admired him.(Fans as diverse as Elizabeth Sherrill and Anne Lamott), So I decided to check out this short book first. What a gem. Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest whose writings and teachings have garnered a following from Catholics and Protestants alike. Though I don't think this book's title is quite accurate to reflect its content, I was not disappointed in this book. It's full of deep insights into our huma ...more
Nathan Albright
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge
One of the sure signs that one has become a writer of importance [1] is that after one’s death books are made by combining together unpublished or forgotten essays in larger book collections for posthumous royalties. This particular book is written with an elegant and tender introduction by Timothy Jones, where he discusses the graciousness of the Nouwen estate in granting him access to look at Nouwen’s unpublished papers, for he was apparently a prolific writer, and create this particular book ...more
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirit
I'm not sure why I picked up this book at the library bag-day sale. Also I do read spiritual books from time to time, I pretty much steer clear of anything too god-y, anything that refers too specifically to a particular faith. But there it was, slim and new, when I needed a break from the apocalypse, so I picked it up.

In many ways it feels Buddhist with all its words on what are essentially impermanence, striving, clinging, trying to control. But it's not, except in that way in which all spiri
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There were sections of this book that I really connected with, and other sections that didn't keep my attention. I'm not sure why...perhaps the writing was a bit too academic?

This book was put together from some of Nouwen's writings after his death, and it is well organized. Five chapters contrast the unhealthy things we hold onto with the healthy perspectives we should seek (e.g.,"From Fatalism to Hope").

One of my favorite quotes is from the last chapter ("From a Fearful Death to a Joyous Life"
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Christians
This book helped me through a really hard time. I wrote a song after reading it. Nouwen's perspective on suffering and how to cope with it in a godly way is right on. It helped me understand how important it is to enter into other peoples' grief with them in addition to helping me deal with my own. This is very Christ-centered and inspiring without being over-emotional or unrealistic.
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I find Nouwen's books deeply restorative. Searching for some encouragement in a time of despair I seem to have been led to this book and found comfort and wisdom on almost every page. Nouwen writes in a simple and direct style but also with an openness and honesty, not afraid to admit his own weaknesses . He writes of his own journey but points unerringly to the one who can restore our souls.
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I first picked up this book during a rough time in the lives of my community, but I couldn't read it. Several months later I was lead to it again and found it very helpful in knowing how to keep walking - and dancing through life.
Diane Badger
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My copy is highlighted, dog eared, post a noted. I have read and reread this book. I find something new each time I read it.
Kayla Roth
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I go back to this book again and again to reread underlines and reflect on what it means to live with open hands and an open heart.
Robert Lloyd
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that seemed written personally for me

I highly enjoyed this book. There are many good things I got out of this book, but two really stand out. First, the author did an amazing job of discussing how to work through and reframe the struggles we have in our relationships and how to be more at peace with them through Christ. Second, the author did a wonderful job of discussing death and what it means to us and invited us to look at it with a new set of eyes. This book is filled with deep insi
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to provide insight and comfort to a person going through a season of suffering of any kind. It is a book based on principles of the Christian faith, so there are many religious references. I found do many parts really helpful or insightful that I was underlining and marking frequently.
It is short and a book you could read and reread yearly and you'd probably come away with new, useful guidance each time.
Vickie Kim
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful enlightening book. Henri Nouwen is beautifully introspective in his writings and has a way of bringing God even closer to us.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A perennial re-read. Beautiful and healing truths.
Amy Beth
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stopped-reading
Did not finish this book.
Andy Love
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This brief collection of Nouwen's writing, as its title suggests, has a primary focus on suffering and how Christians can regard and interact with the reality of our own pain. However, I found it to have much more to say about the ways in which we regard relationships and interact with people. I also found myself particularly challenged regarding solitude and silence, two disciplines I find lacking in my own life (much to my own frustration and detriment!).

I'd also add that as a writer, Nouwen'
Greg Western
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent book on dealing with loss and grief. Nouwen's main idea is that life is full of suffering and loss, because we are all going to die and everyone we love is going to die. He writes that because of suffering and not in spite of it, we can truly love, because God suffered for us. It is an honest and heartfelt look at this topic that doesn't start or end with "God gives us bad things to make us better." This is a better way to think about this big topic, and Nouwen is very good writ ...more
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can't say this was a page-turner. If I wasn't reading it for book group, I might have abandoned it but I'm so glad I didn't because the last three chapters were amazing. I thought it would be a quick read at 110 pages, but it's not. It demands your attention. The words are deep and healing and beautiful. I'd highly recommend to anyone, not just those going through a hard time. This is from the UMW book list.
Jun 28, 2011 rated it liked it
The title of this self-help book is based upon the scripture Psalm 30:11. Nouwen, called a spiritual writer, is well-known in circles devoted to helping oneself and others feel at peace and a little better about the things that make them sad. The book is well-written and easy to understand. I didn't finish it though because I didn't want to think about my mourning. But, I think I will try to read it again someday.
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It really is hard to get enough of Henri Nouwen. I have seen this side of him in other books that I have read where he was able to capture the essence of death in the same way that you would a friend. However, never in a morbid way, but instead as a natural part of life as a child of God. As one of the most spiritual people who ever walked on this planet I am convinced that he was able to live out this in his own death way too soon for the rest of us.
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Danny by: Kayla Roth
Shelves: religion
Perhaps I'm not ready for the ideas in this book. I ended up feeling worse about my lot in life than I did before after reading this book. I see the need for hope, faith, and dependence, but I don't see a way to produce or achieve those things. So I'm left being even more convinced that my hopeless, faithless life is more doomed to fail than ever, with no idea how to get out of it.
Jonathan Drnjevic
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This little 110 page jewel, which I found while shopping on Amazon, has as much great advice as any work I've come across. It answers the questions: Why do we suffer? What happens when people we love die? What about our own approaching death? If you're at all drawn to a Christian understanding of life this book has Lots to offer.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I am really enjoying this book so far. There is sometimes an analogy that I don't quite enjoy. (I have never been one for any analogy, but comparing Jesus to my lover, or my life to a dance you are guaranteed to make me zone out.)
I have been convicted in the way that I look at trials or believe that I am entitled to an "easy" existence.
Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, religion
I always enjoy Nouwen, but I read this book looking for more concrete tips on mourning. Some interesting reflections but I also felt like Nouwen frequently turned away from the specific topic of mourning to focus instead on the challenges of daily living. That's important, though not really what I was hoping for.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent book dealing with mourning, loss, depression, disappointment, and how the Christian life is to be lived out in community. I was disappointed with the fact that when Nouwen reflects on Scripture, he often tries to defend good (and even biblical) ideas with the wrong passage of Scripture. Nonetheless, his words are very encouraging and I recommend this book.
Andrew Kruse
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed two chapters in particular, From Fatalism to Hope (3) and From a Fearful Death to a Joyous Life (5) because Nouwen visits the characteristics of true faith and hope in the abundant, eternal life and love that God offers us through Christ. Just one reason Nouwen is on of my faves!
Sallie Howell
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent for Help in Healing

Nouwen gives words to healing. This book offers insight into how to find healing in the midst of grief. The words by Nouwen open our eyes to the realities of loss and how Jesus struggled through the same. The hope offered is refreshing.
Alyssa Foll
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on grief. It contains some of the most profound insights on grief--I highly recommend it for anyone who is experiencing a season of grief and loss or for those who will accompany someone through a season of grief.
Susan Sevier
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was one of the titles I picked up when struggling with the loss of my beloved Gracie. I am not always a fan of Nouwen, but I am a big fan of the Psalm from which the title is taken. My other thoughts about this book can be read here:
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, theology
Deep, excellent and true. Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow.
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Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (Nouen), (1932–1996) was a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Nouwen's books are widely read today by Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved, and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of
More about Henri J.M. Nouwen...

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“Hope is not dependent on peace in the land, justice in the world, and success in the business. Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness. No one can truly say with certainty where he or she will be ten or twenty years from now. You do not know if you will be free or in captivity, if you will be honored or despised, if you will have many friends or few, if you will be liked or rejected. But when you hold lightly these dreams and fears, you can be open to receive every day as a new day and to live your life as a unique expression of God’s love for humankind. There is an old expression that says, “As long as there is life there is hope.” As Christians we also say, “As long as there is hope there is life.” 5 likes
“I am less likely to deny my suffering when I learn how God uses it to mold me and draw me closer to him. I will be less likely to see my pains as interruptions to my plans and more able to see them as the means for God to make me ready to receive him. I let Christ live near my hurts and distractions.” 4 likes
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