Strong like Water: Finding the Freedom, Safety, and Compassion to Move through Hard Things--and Experience True Flourishing
“Aundi Kolber’s Strong Like Water is an excellent resource for Christians, and those who don’t mind Christian theology, to find greater compassion for themselves and others . . .”
Masterfully written using beautiful language and metaphor, Strong Like Water: Finding the Freedom, Safety and Compassion to Move Through Hard Things—And Experience True Flourishing is an excellent resource for Christians working through traumatic experience.
The book uses the theme of water throughout. As many have observed, water can be both gentle and strong. Waves can help us regulate our breathing and emotions. Water can destroy or soothe. Water takes the shape of whatever vessel it finds itself in. It can be liquid, gas, or solid. Water is necessary for our continued life and part of our very being. The shifting of water’s form can be a lesson to us as we grow.
Early in the book, author Aundi Kolber asks the reader to consider not always being the strong one. Instead, she asks us to redefine strength. “What doesn’t kill us can actually make us isolated, traumatized, and deeply harmed if we don’t receive the support we need as we go through it.” From this point, Kolber takes the reader on a journey toward greater psychological wellbeing and emotional integration.
One of the author’s premises is that we are already loved, whether we believe or accept the precept. Kolber is a Christian, and so believes that all people are loved by their Creator. If this is a worldview that upsets you or that you reject, this isn’t the book for you.
Kolber excels at defining terms in easy-to-digest language. She discusses the differences between situational strength and the flow of strength, the latter used to describe how we can be strong in various ways, at various times. These definitions are important because they make accessible her discussions of the science of trauma. She examines the way trauma affects neurology and how this impacts our nervous system and lived experience.
The author’s goal is to give the reader a “more expansive view of strength.” To this end, she uses a “trauma-informed lens,” encouraging the reader to honor their capacity. There are times when one’s capacity is great and other times when our capacity is limited. When unpacking traumatic experience, we sometimes need to go slow or take a break to rebalance and connect with others and ourselves. Kolber’s work honors that reality.
In the book’s first section, the author walks the reader through the myriad ways in which traumatic experience limits a person’s experience to existing rather than fully embracing the breadth of wonder life offers. In the second section, she offers many robust resources to create change and redefine strength.
The exercises are intended to help the reader find grounding and containment. This emphasis on safety is infused throughout the book and important for those engaged in healing from past traumatic experience.
With informative sidebar text, illustrations that reinforce the water theme, and images and tables that underscore important points, the book is lovely to look at. The inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter serve to uplift. Kolber seeks in all ways to connect the reader to their resources, to make the work of healing possible.
The ultimate goal of the book is to help the reader find the support and resources necessary to be effective in engaging safely in trauma healing work. Kolber asserts that once one has the appropriate support, the body knows what to do to heal itself. It is through this process that one finds integration and healing.
It must be emphasized that Aundi Kolber is a Christian author. She frequently quotes Christian scripture and uses Christian metaphors, such as viewing the idea of resurrection as a dramatic life change. This book is not for everyone and will likely be resented if given as a gift to someone who does not identify as or has been harmed by Christians.
Aundi Kolber’s Strong Like Water is an excellent resource for Christians, and those who don’t mind Christian theology, to find greater compassion for themselves and others doing the hard work of healing from traumatic experiences.