Living authentically without ego-driven thoughts and desires can be difficult, especially when faced with the endless stream of flawless photos on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. The pressure to match what’s on social media can undoubtedly be stressful, but a crop of new books from religion publishers offer faith-based tips on overcoming the soul-sucking symptoms of perfectionism, from feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy to strained relationships due to unrealistic expectations.

Choosing Real: An Invitation to Celebrate When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

By Bekah Jane Pogue (Shiloh Run Press, Dec.)

Blogger Pogue reflects on how she began to embrace everyday feelings such as busyness, tension, and unworthiness as opportunities to grow closer to God. Drawing on her own experiences and the advice of her late father to “enjoy the journey,” Pogue encourages women to stop striving for perfection in their lives and accept what is real. 

No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending

By Esther Fleece (Zondervan, Jan.)

Fleece, a business consultant and speaker, recalls years of ignoring her broken family home and burying feelings of pain, anxiety, and anger until an emotional breakdown brought her back to an imperfect reality. After discovering the biblical practice of lament, or praying out of pain, Fleece writes, she began to heal and form a stronger relationship with God. The book features a guided practice to lamentation.  

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying so Hard

By Jennie Allen (WaterBrook, Jan.)

Allen, the founder of the women's conference IF: Gathering and author of Anything and Restless, examines feelings of doubt about self-worth, intelligence, and spirituality that women experience, making a case for the fulfillment that comes with admitting imperfection. The book will debut at #7 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list in the February 13 issue.

No More Perfect Marriages: Experience the Freedom of Being Real Together

By Mark Savage and Jill Savage (Moody, Feb.)

Targeting “perfection infections,” or idealistic expectations of marriage that can cause detachment, authors and ministry speakers Mark and Jill Savage explore myths about married life and threats to intimacy, such as nonacceptance and defensiveness. The pair also shares their experience with infidelity and the steps that helped restore trust in their marriage.

Brave is the New Beautiful: Finding the Courage to be the Real You

By Lee Wolfe Blum (David C Cook, March)

Blum, a counselor who specializes in eating disorders and addiction, collects stories from women who have wrestled with questions such as “how can I stop comparing myself to others?” and “how can I live out who I really am?” in order to inspire readers to find their own authentic happiness. The book comes with reflection questions and ideas for how to “take off the mask of perfection.” 

Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood

By Kate Wicker (Ave Maria, March 3)

Teachings from Catholicism that encourage self-acceptance and confidence are at the core of journalist Wicker’s guide to overcoming perfectionism when it comes to parenting. Wicker debunks common falsehoods of motherhood, such as “your child’s success is a measure of you,” and includes reflection questions and prayers at the end of each chapter. 

Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life

By Joan Chittister (Convergent, April)

Chittister, a Benedictine nun and the author of Happiness, among others, examines the personal struggles that result from “a culture that prefers public image to spirituality.” Labeling today’s status-driven and competitive society as a roadblock to free, authentic thought, Chittister presents teachings from little-known saints with the goal of guiding readers away from fear, judgement, and insecurity toward wisdom and peace.