Book Review: Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger

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I first heard about Jessica Honegger through Jen Hatmaker‘s For the Love podcast. Jen and Jessica are friends, and even though they don”t know it yet, I feel like all they are missing is their third amigo…me! I just know we would all be best friends, but that’s another story for another day. Anyway, I had heard about Jessica and her company Noonday Collection, but that was about it. I thought Noonday sounded like a great idea and Jessica sounded like a fun gal on the podcast, but I hadn’t really done much research into her or her business. However, a couple of weeks ago her new book, Imperfect Couragewas released and there was so much talk about it on social media that I fell to the peer pressure and purchased it for myself.  And I am so glad I did!

This book, y’all, it is so encouraging,  challenging, and inspiring. I’ll admit I was more than a little apprehensive that it would essentially be one big Noonday promotional, but that is not at all the case. She does talk about people from her business and relate stories about her business, but it is not at all in a promotional way, rather it is purely to prove the point she is making or add dynamic to her writing. The story of Noonday is very interesting and inspiring in and of itself, and if you decide to read the book, you will learn more about it, but for now I’m going to focus on the book as a whole, rather than only one aspect of Jessica’s story.

After the introduction, the book is divided into three sections – Part One: The First Step, Part Two: Better Together, and Part Three: A World Changed. The book as a whole is written with the goal of transforming the reader, “from letting fear sideline you to choosing to go scared”. The three parts are essentially the three steps that it takes, that Jessica took, to complete that transformation. As with most of the books that I review, there is way too much goodness to ever do it justice in one blog post. You just really need to read the book for yourself. However, to give you a preview, I have chosen one chapter from each part to go over in very slight detail here.

Step Into Your Story

Jessica writes openly about her desire in the beginning stages of her business to rewrite the truth of her story, meaning that she didn’t want to tell some of the parts that may not have been seen in the best light. She didn’t necessarily want to lie about them, but she just didn’t want to include them either. However, she finally realized that, “trying to rewrite the truth of my story was keeping me from actually living in the real and beautiful story unfolding before me”. She goes on to point out further problems with this shame we sometimes feel for our own stories when she says, “If I am unable to resonate with my own story, especially the parts I find to be imperfect and unflattering, I can’t resonate with the story of someone else. If there are things in my story that are intolerable and unmentionable to me, then I will find those same things unacceptable in others. The result is judgment”.

When we don’t accept ourselves, we can’t accept others…what a powerful realization! There’s so much beauty that is brought to our lives when we finally and fully accept ourselves, including a better and stronger ability to accept others. I believe that this chapter is in “The First Step” section because we can not complete the transformation to imperfect courage if we do not first accept ourselves fully, even the parts we may want to hide…hiding parts of ourselves is not courageous…owning up to who we truly are is.

The Sisterhood Effect

Jessica has coined a term called “the Sisterhood Effect”. As she defines it, “The Sisterhood Effect happens when women refuse to let perceived threats strangle our relationships, when we let empathy triumph over judgment and let collaboration win over comparison”. She goes on to challenge readers that, “you can choose to assume positive intent – to assume that someone is doing the best she can, instead of jumping to the conclusion that she is acting out of malice or laziness or a sense of superiority”.

How different would our world be if we actually lived our lives with this mindset?! If we would just support one another rather than judge? If we would cheer each other on rather than gossip? If we didn’t view each other as competition, but as support? I love what Jo Saxton says in relation to this. It is something along the lines of if we fan another woman’s flame, it doesn’t extinguish our own. We should be supporting one another and cheering each other on, especially as women. What a refreshing truth!

Come Close

In the chapter, “Leverage Your Power” Jessica talks about thinking about our proximity to the problems/needs. She speaks specifically about how her family has decided to “come close” to the needs in their community, which includes buying a home in a lower-income area, enrolling their kids in a school where forty percent of the kids are on free and reduced lunch, and intentionally shopping at a grocery store where she may not be able to get all the organic brands she wants, but she is around more diversity. She says, “I’m not telling you that you need to sell your house, uproot your family, and move to a needier part of town, but I am telling you that until you are comfortable at least entertaining the idea, you’ve got some bubble wrap yet to remove”.

I have to admit that this concept was extremely challenging to me. As Christians, we want to minister to the needy, but we want to go somewhere to do that and then come back home to our comfortable, plush lives. The idea of making our entire lives a ministry is not something most of us consider. We want to say that’s how we live, but when we truly examine our lives, most of us have parts that are off-limits when it comes to sacrifice and ministry.

Imperfect Courage is so much more than the three concepts I have mentioned here. It is full of stories that not only exemplify the principles that Jessica mentions, but pull you in and make the book difficult to put down. Initially, I thought this book would be more directed towards people who have or want to start their own business or are in direct sales, but I do not fit either of those categories, and I found it enjoyable and challenging. It ministered to me, and I think it will do the same for you.

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