BLOSSOMING HOPE: THE BLACK CHRISTIAN WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.
Overflowing Hope Media (2018)
Reviewed by Valicia France for Reader Views (2/19)
Let me just start by saying I absolutely enjoyed reading “Blossoming Hope” by Tonya D. Armstrong. As a woman who identifies as a Christian, it is always a blessing to find a book that aids my spiritual journey—as we know, it is truly a never-ending process. However, what makes this book even more of a gem is its attention to the different challenges faced by women that are black and Christian. Dr. Armstrong has done a great job with the overall organization of the book, primarily focusing on four areas key to mental health and wellness: the mind, spirit, body, and soul. She touches on many issues—mental illness, microaggressions, financial concerns, lack of self-care, etc.—specifically in light of how many black women are impacted and provides solutions on how to address or face those issues while remaining connected to God.
A short quiz in the introduction helped determine which area I needed to focus on the most; however, I still read the book sequentially. Each section was supported by anecdotes recognizable by the black community, quotes from powerful and famous black women, scripture, data and other validated information, and my favorite, recordings by the author. With every lesson, I received guidance on how to achieve growth, develop good habits and overcome bad ones, all while looking toward the Creator.
I have many favorite things about this book. The author provides statistics on each topic applicable specifically to black women. I found this to be very important as black women often have a skewed view of mental health and wellness as it applies to them—the combination of being black and also a woman presents unique issues that Dr. Armstrong eloquently states in this book. In addition, the vignettes on the struggle with mental illness for the black women presented in Part One of this book each provided something that I could relate to.
Another favorite was the recordings provided on her Blossoming Hope website. The references to the recordings are littered throughout the book and were applicable to each section. I enjoyed every single one, witnessing that Dr. Armstrong is indeed a multitalented creative, but recordings #8 (The Jesus Prayer) and #9 (Keepin’ It 100 Prayer) literally took my breath away. The spiritual connection that I felt to God was more palpable while actively listening to both of those recordings than I have felt in a long time. While they would be powerful on their own, I believe they were even more so in the context of the lessons they were included in.
I even learned new spiritual concepts such as the kairos (which means God’s time) and an acronym (ACTS-L) that anybody can use for prayer, whether if you are new at prayer or a solid prayer warrior. There was a list of daily affirmations that I will be printing and incorporating into my daily activities. There is document referred to as the Blossoming Hope Tool that includes more than 100 cheap or free self-care ideas. I plan to print out this list, cut out each idea, and stick into a jar that I will randomly pick from as needed—because, as the author promotes, this “radical notion of self-care” (Chapter 18) maybe shouldn’t be that radical at all.
I am giving this book a 5-star rating for how accurately Dr. Armstrong portrayed the black woman and her challenges, for the skilled manner she has been able to incorporate so many topics in a way that was seamless and not overwhelming, for her thoughtfulness in the choice of quotes and development of her recordings and other resources. I recommend this book for all black Christian women, whether strong in your faith or searching for a deeper connection with God. I even recommend this book for individuals seeking to gain insight into the struggles of black women from a Christian perspective.
Overall, I highly recommend “Blossoming Hope” by Tonya D. Armstrong for giving the ‘Strongblackwoman’ permission to take care of herself while growing in her spirituality.