From the time we’re little girls, we long to be loved and accepted—from the playground to the lunchroom to the places where we live and work as grown women. We do our best to prove we’re lovable and to avoid being left all alone. But the truth is that it’s impossible to walk through life without experiencing the pain and loneliness of betrayal, shame, guilt, loss, judgment, or rejection. These wounds can shape our views of ourselves, others, and God and even make us question if we are worthy of love and acceptance. Whether old or new, our heartache can convince us there’s no one who understands or cares. Yet Jesus tells us a different story.
In Never Alone, author Tiffany Bluhm offers hope and encouragement that as our plans, hearts, and lives change, God does not miss a beat. What we may have mistaken for absence was only our mind questioning his goodness and grace. Tiffany reveals the depth and healing power of Jesus’ unconditional love for us and how we will never escape his love. We do not possess that kind of power. If we are willing, we can discover the sacred truth that we indeed, are never alone.
Accept your invitation to find healing for your deepest hurts as we experience the unfailing companionship of Jesus—the Rescuer and Redeemer of broken lives and wounded hearts.
A companion six-week Bible study Never Alone: Six Encounters with Jesus to Heal Your Deepest Hurts is also available for those who would like to dig deeper into the book's topic. Study components, each available separately, include a Participant Workbook with five days of lessons per week, Leader Guide, DVD with six 20-25 minute sessions (with closed captioning), and boxed Leader Kit containing one of each component.
About the Author
Tiffany Bluhm, author of the She Dreams and Never Alone books and Bible studies, is a speaker and writer who is passionate about helping women come to know their value and purpose because of a loving, redeeming God. In a style that speaks to women right where they are, she shares insights from a life spent chasing after Jesus while walking alongside women from suburbia to the inner city, jails and brothels, and the slums of Kolkata. Bluhm speaks regularly at conferences and events nationally and internationally and writes for a number of websites, print publications, and popular blogs, including the YouVersion Bible app, Deeply Rooted Magazine, and ScaryMommy.com. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and two sons, and blogs at TiffanyBluhm.com.
Read an Excerpt
With middle school girls squished on both sides of me, I sat between them as their "fearless" youth group leader on a cushy church pew. These bright-eyed girls were full of faith as they threw their prayers to God, believing He would answer. After hands rose in worship and heads bowed in prayer, we feverishly took notes from the guest preacher. The preacher man, with his youth pastor–like faux hawk and distressed jeans, fervidly shared the gospel message with the youngsters, as many of us were on the edge of our seats. At the close of his sermon, he held up a kabuki mask explaining how God beckons us to remove our masks, exposing our raw hearts. I smirked at his cheesy, predictable youth-group analogy.
He went on for some time, sticking proudly to his example of the kabuki mask. As he wrapped up his sermon he instructed the crowd to bow their heads and pray. He asked each of us to remove his or her "masks" and to be honest with God. To fall in line and set the example for the sweet youth-group girls sitting around me, I repeated the prayer under my breath, asking God to remove any mask I might have been wearing, to get to my heart, to walk in the light and fullness of all He had for me. Next thing I knew, I found myself hunched over in the pew scratching at my face. This prayer begun in genuine honesty changed to one of earnest desperation. I was blown to bits by what I felt. Pain. A dull pain. In the depth of my belly, I felt alone and in the dark. I felt like a deserted little girl. I was unable to explain why I felt so bleak. So achy.
There I was, the barely-out-of-high-school youth leader, scratching at my face like a toddler. I groped around the ground for anything to comfort me, anything to save me. Hot tears poured from my eyes; I was overcome with the murky emotions that bubbled to the surface of my heart. Only later, in counseling, did my therapist explain that when a baby fails to cope she is driven to rage, hitting and scratching herself. I was aware, yet again, that I had unresolved issues that I could not button up.
The feelings I later identified as loneliness, abandonment, and rejection that erupted during the youth service first made me their slave when I was four years old. Tiny tears dripped into my pink plastic sippy cup as I wondered why on earth my mama did not want me. Thoughts twisted in my head: What did I do that was so bad? What if I apologize? Is it because I am a girl? Does she ever think about me? At four years old, I was aware that my dark skin did not match the skin of my parents or brothers. Their skins boasted a creamy whiteness while mine looked like muddy water.
Later, at seven years old, I still could not put it all together. Why did everyone have these common stories of a hospital delivery and Olan Mills baby pictures? No trauma at birth. No lost mama never to be met. No daddy never to know of her existence. I was sodden with grief, without words to articulate my heaviness.
I guess that's the affliction of shame on a young soul, a trauma one cannot explain. It's the voice of shame that whispers: "You are different. You are broken. You always will be." You are, simultaneously, not enough and too much. Shame is worn like a corset tied so tight that it makes it hard to breathe. Full of disgust, we look in the mirror, ashamed of ourselves, our stories.
Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, writes:
Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That's why it loves perfectionists — it's so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we've basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly for the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it.
Just like Roosevelt advised, when we dare greatly we will err and we will come up short again and again. There will be failures and mistakes and criticism. If we want to be able to move through the difficult disappointments, the hurt feelings, and the heartbreaks that are inevitable in a fully lived life, we can't equate defeat with being unworthy of love, belonging, and joy. If we do, we'll never show up and try again.
Shame. Once it happens it can never un-happen. It affects how we think, feel, and relate to one another. It gives us a false sense of self, a fragmented view of our soul. We can feel shattered under the weight of loss. The pains of neglect or rejection leave a scar on us. The scars will always be part of our story. They won't be the end of the story, only the beginning. While shame can never un-happen, it can certainly be redeemed. We can show up for our own lives. Lives marked by grace and acceptance, not guilt and shame.
A shamed heart shapes our view of God, His love, His nearness, and His restorative grace. If we dare to trust Him, even though we don't fully understand how He operates in our lives, the distressed pieces of our soul can be resurrected into something beautiful. Something whole. No matter the source of our shame, the wound is dressed the same way. Not through self-help. Not through applause from others. Only by the love of Jesus do we exchange our shackles of shame for the robe of freedom.
The Never-Ending Cycle
I was told she made her way to the orphanage, birthed me, then left. She didn't sign any papers. She left. With no way to track her down. The caregivers at the orphanage waited for a couple months, wondering if she might change her mind, come back, and take me with her. She didn't. Before long I was given the name Abhilasha. I was one of more than twenty-five million orphans in India. Although orphanage caregivers were far outnumbered by a seemingly endless influx of orphans, the caregivers truly believed each orphan's life was not meaningless; there was something for each of us.
I own just one baby picture of myself, taken at five months. I'm wearing a simple cloth diaper with my moppy black hair piled atop my head. My pursed lips appear to be permanently carved on my face. Every time I look at that picture my heart drops. Even at five months old I was scared and unsure of everything around me. Those overwhelming emotions of fear and uncertainty, my demons, were already there for me to fight, not only as a child but also as an adolescent, and later still as an adult.
Shame never lets us rest. It reminds us how we feel about ourselves when we'd rather forget. It's a mark of something deeper. It evokes emotions that cause us to question why we wallow in them day after day. Yet, every shameful thought in us has a story, a birthplace deep in our core. It grows as we grow. Shame threads itself through our ideas, dreams, and hopes. It convinces us we aren't good enough, strong enough, or worthy enough for anyone's love and affection.
Regardless whether our shame stems from abandonment, abuse, neglect, or loss, we believe we are defective, rejected, and just plain broken. The other women in our life may be able to keep it together, parent well-behaved children, sport a size 4, and flirt with their husbands like newlyweds, but not us. Shame keeps us from closing the gap of what we think life should be like to who we really are. Deep down, we aren't OK with who we are, what's happened to us, and where we're headed. The devastating effects of shame can be healed, but not alone. We need a Helper, a Savior, to rewrite our story and renew our thinking. We need Him to tell us we aren't beyond repair. We need to know it won't always be like this, feeling like we can't get ahead, stuck in a forsaken cycle of life.
The Lonely in Families
A small-town family from Washington State went through the three-year process to adopt an orphan from India. They adopted mewhen I was a year and a half old. I was suddenly part of a family: a father, a mother, and two brothers, six and eight years older than me. My adoptive father was a firefighter and fire extinguisher technician for the military. My adoptive mother was a homemaker. My oldest brother, Teddy, had brain damage. Although he was nearly ten years old when I was adopted, he still had the mentality of a toddler. My other brother, Tim, was cheeky and sweet. He played the big brother to both Teddy and me.
All together we made a family that had both a child with disabilities and an international adoptee. This became my family. We were our own brand of odd. I grew to love my brothers and to give my parents grief, just as all little girls are entitled to do.
The funny thing about adoption is that for the family who is adopting, they often have stars in their eyes about what adoption should look like when adding a newcomer to their home. The truth is, adoption originates in abandonment. Inviting a bedraggled child, who hasn't experienced a healthy home life before, into a home is about as trouble-free as bathing a cat. Rooted in trauma, adoption is only the first step in a long road to healing; and for the adoptee and the family, the road is rocky and rough.
A completed adoption doesn't presume a heart made whole. A new marriage doesn't presume a heart made whole. New friendships don't presume a heart made whole. The broken pieces of our lives will follow us until we surrender them to someone who can fix them. Surrender and healing is a choice. A long road. Healing comes from confronting dark parts of the soul and choosing restoration, incident-by-incident, ache-by-ache, pain-by-pain.
And healing takes time. It doesn't happen instantly with a new surname or a green card. It doesn't happen instantly with new parents or new brothers. It doesn't happen instantly with a new husband or child. It doesn't happen instantly with a new job or applause. It happens at last when a soul surrenders to Jesus, choosing His love and His grace. It happens when peace, forgiveness, and a renewed mind, by the power of the Holy Spirit, work inside an ashamed ragamuffin. It happens when insight from those who have walked the road before, build up the soul that's been traumatized.
It's not impossible. It's not out of reach. Freedom is ours to claim.
Scorn the Shame
I unwrapped my bologna sandwich from my hot pink lunchbox and did my best to hide my excitement as I snagged a seat next to my potential best friend, a transfer student new to the third grade. Since our school was small, just two classrooms for grades K–6, I was eager to learn everything about the new girl. Before I could even utter a measly "Hello," she hastily gathered her juice box, turkey sandwich, and Fruit Roll-Up to find a new spot at another table. I was baffled. Confounded as to why she would flee in my presence, I pursued her. There were only nine kids in the third grade, slim pickings in the way of new friends. When I finally mustered up the courage to ask her why she left, she answered, "I've never met anyone brown before. I'm scared to be with you. You are so different."
In February, she wouldn't eat the cookies I brought to the Valentine's Day party. I assured her they were delicious, shortbread with red crystal sprinkles, my favorite. She quietly took them off of her plate and put them on a napkin. I had no words for the feelings she left me with that day. I didn't have a clue what to make of it. But I could feel the heat of disgrace on my face.
Back then, I wouldn't have been able to explain it like I can now. I know the word for it now. Shame. Shame left me embarrassed about the color of the skin God gave me. It started young, and I battled the beast through many seasons. I was ashamed of my body because I believed others were dissatisfied with my almond eyes and thick brows and the honey hue of my skin. My skin and story didn't fit into their world, and therefore, I — with my thoughts, feelings, dreams, and ideas — didn't fit into their world either. I was a minority in almost every situation I found myself in. I was unremittingly reminded of how different I was.
Whenever you feel like the outsider, with a difference you can't control, you feel utterly helpless. You have no way to get what you want. It doesn't matter if you try to ignore your differences. Others will point them out to you unannounced. It's a crippling feeling, being different.
It was true for me. I felt debilitated with my brown skin and broken story. I felt the narrative of my life being written without my consent, a narrative in which shame forever played the leading lady, never to be replaced on stage. The truth is, shame is a liar. She is no friend to the abandoned heart; she is only capable of destruction.
Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus scorned and despised shame and endured the cross. Not the other way around. We spend far too many days enduring shame and despising the cross, our path set out by Father God. If we scorn shame, if we shoo it off the stage as soon as it makes its appearance, we will begin to understand our place as free and beloved daughters. We will be victorious. We will endure the cross as we follow Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Author and Finisher of our story.
The Dance of Shame
I pulled my long sleeves down over my tanned skin and wiped my tears. How had I let this happen? I had been so careful to stay out of the sun. I already felt so out of place and there I was, darker than before. After hours in the Ford Aerostar, bound for a family camp in Santa Cruz, California, we spent the night at an economy motel. Eager to splash with my brothers in the motel pool, I knew the sweltering California sunshine would leave me with an unwanted tan, my skin wheatish brown.
I wanted so badly to be white. I would've given anything to have the strawberry blonde locks. The hairless legs. The peachy skin. I swore to myself I could wear that proudly. I wanted to be white because I was convinced it was not OK to be brown. Other than my African American Barbie doll, I saw no one around me who was proud of her dark skin. I struggled to identify as East Indian. I didn't know a lick about the culture. At school, learning about national holidays, popular cuisine, and customs of the Hindu culture fascinated me.
As women, we find ourselves in the traditional female dance of body shaming. Why is that? Why is it that our hair is not straight enough, curly enough, soft enough, or shiny enough? Why is our nose too small or too big, our ears too pointy? Why freckles, why crossed eyes, why arm fat, why facial hair, why a flabby tummy, and for God's sake, why cellulite? These are the questions that consume us for so long. We can't seem to hush the earworms of shame. We stare in the mirror, wishing for a different body. One that is the right height, the right weight, and most of all, the right color.
As time went on I began to accept my skin color, my broken story, and the soul it housed. Still, for so long, I let others steal my dignity. They had no right to take it from me, yet I meekly allowed them to step up, take stock, and decide if I was fit to be loved, to belong. For the rejected heart, it can feel impossible to escape the weight of shame.
In the Gospels, we read of the woman who anointed Jesus' feet with costly perfume and found freedom from her shameful past.
Luke 7:36-50 reads:
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."
"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (ESV)
Excerpted from "Never Alone"
Copyright © 2018 Abingdon Press.
Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Shame 1
2 Doubt 17
3 Isolation 33
4 Undesirability 51
5 Lovelessness 67
6 Exposure 83
7 Jealousy 99
8 Faithlessness 117
9 Bitterness 135
10 Hopelessness 151
11 Loss 165
12 Fear 183
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book has been a beautiful and powerful read from start to finish. What an engaging, humorous, at times heart breaking, and truly redemptive life story the author has had. Every chapter spoke deeply to things that I have personally encountered, and to be reminded of the truth that we are never alone has been profound. "The Father is a Comforter, He wipes away our tears, holds us tight, and reveals the sweet, silver lining of our bitter times, Himself." Thank you Tiffany for writing this book and for being honest, filled with hope and pointing me to Jesus. I will be highly recommending this book.
Never Alone is a book I've needed to read for years. Tiffany's wisdom and experience is shared in beautiful, honest storytelling and biblical reflection. For women who have struggled with their identity, worth and purpose - this book breathes life. It challenges hearts to search for God in new ways, understanding Him even more as our Protector, our Redeemer and our Restorer. Fantastic book.
God used this book in powerful and surprising way. In each chapter there were thoughts, feelings, experiences, that I resonated with and I found myself nodding while highlighting, chuckling, sympathizing and empathizing- sometimes with frustration and a tear. I often took portions of the book with me into my prayer closet and spoke the scriptures over myself as I laid out before the Lord instances of isolation, doubt, or bitterness that surfaced as I saw myself in the pages. The Loss chapter in particular melted away some calluses off my heart. This book is definitely a labor of love & made a wonderful impact on my life & I’m sharing some lessons learned. I am excited about some new understanding, forever grateful and never alone.
Never Alone Book This book is the story of the author, Tiffany Bluhm, and how throughout her life she has found that she never was alone. The author tell the story about how she was an orphan in India and then when she was adopted and brought to the United States. Along the book she goes back to that moment in her life and how God manifested in her life as she struggled with shame, doubt, isolation, undesirability, lovelessness, fear, and loss. To me the book is a reflection on how in our darkest and deepest moments of our life's the love of God is always with us if we choose to fix our eyes upon Him. The quotes on this book that make an impact in my reading are the following: "Only by the love of Jesus do we exchange our shackles of shame for the robe of freedom" "If we dare to trust Him, even though we don't fully understand how He operates in our lives, the distressed pieces of our soul can be resurrected into something beautiful" "Shame never lets us rest. It reminds us how we feel about ourselves when we'd rather forget. It's a Mark of something deeper" "Shame keeps us from closing the gap of what we think life should be like to who we really are" "We need a Helper, a Savior, to re wrote our story and renew our thinking" "The broken pieces of our lives will follow us until we surrender them to someone who can fix them" "Surrender and healing is a choice" "God won't be offended by an investigation of our doubts" "Vulnerability is the offering of our raw and fragile emotions without any idea of how another will respond" "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity" The book also tells the story about her adoption journey for her oldest son, Jericho. It is so well explained and it almost make you feel that you are in Uganda with them. This book is a true reminder that we are never alone, that God is with you, on your corner, cheering you on, lifting you up, giving you strength and hope in the darkest times of your live. Disclaimer: I was given an advance reader copy in lieu of an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Never Alone is a book that soothes the soul. In her book, Tiffany talks about the different hurts that she has experienced in her life. She ties her personal experiences in with biblical truths about how God loves us unconditionally. Reading through Tiffany’s book was like sitting across from a close friend in a coffee shop offering encouragement. I definitely recommend this book for those who are dealing with various hurts and are looking for encouragement.
While reading the entire book I felt like this woman was across the table from me, in a cozy chair coffee in hand telling me beautiful, life-giving, redemptive testimonies to the goodness of God. This book has found me in the post-partum stage of life and I literally consumed every reminder that I am not alone, God is on the throne and so tenderly close. I highly recommend this beautifully written book to YOU!
Never Alone speaks to the heart and soul of every woman. Tiffany shares truths that will rock you to your core and lead to the healing of your deepest pains. Her honesty and candor is captivating and will have you laughing, crying and coming back for more.
Tiffany so beautifully articulates stories of rejection, with which we can all identify, only to make way for acceptance in the presence of Jesus. What a beautiful extension of Tiffany's heart, so that we too can call out our pain in order to usher in wholeness and freedom. Never Alone is a must-read!
Tiffany did an amazing job of being real, connecting with your heart, and bringing it back to Jesus. This book is perfect for every single woman regardless of what stage of life you are in. Thank you Tiffany for sharing your life with us and for reminding us of the Hope we have in Him! Your vulnerability and wit kept me laughing and crying through the whole book.
What an incredible book! The author lets you into the most personal and intimate moments of her life by sharing her experiences. This book is part memoir part spiritual growth/self care and is truly a riveting read that will have you completely captivated beginning to end. From the absolutely incredible, heartbreaking and truly beautiful stories of her own life Tiffany takes you to meet a Jesus who is always with you in the midst of the most unimaginable pain, and desires to heal and restore every part of you. I found this book to be personally encouraging and deeply challenging, pushing me to seek Jesus more.
Tiffany will speak to your soul! Her words are captivating and she brings out emotions that may have been hidden for far too long. She lets you know it's okay to feel these emotions. Great read for anyone who has experienced the struggle that is LIFE!
I love how this book brings a personal journey, Biblical passages and passionate teaching all together in one read. The author hits all the insecurities that women face on the head. If you ever felt that you are alone this read is a wonderful reminder of Gods love, presence and grace over your life through Christ. And even if you aren't looking for something heavy, just the testimony and stories of how God works in the authors life is so inspiring. A great read!
I am a big fan of this book. Bluhm systematically breaks down the barriers that we, as women, struggle with that keep us from connecting with God. Her writing is clear and biblically based. Bluhm's insight and ability to shed light on darkened areas is refreshing and extremely encouraging. She inspires a deeper look into areas of our hearts that often get pushed aside or neglected--her chapter on exposure was my favorite. This book has been a blessing, and I definitely recommend this to anyone who struggles with feeling alone and is ready for a change.
As women we have all had moments where we feel like we are completely alone. In this book author Tiffany Bluhm takes us on a journey from an orphanage in India, to her teen years in Washington, to a prince charming who broke her heart, to ultimately finding her incredible husband, then having her heart break again through the adoption process. Throughout the book she brings the reader back to the ultimate truth - we are never alone because we always have Jesus. Tiffany intertwines her own stories with stories from the bible to bring light to some of the biggest reasons that women feel alone: shame, doubt, bitterness, loss, fear, jealousy. Whether you have grown up in the church or are trying to discover if God is real, this book is a breath of hope to help you know that you are never alone. Please note that I did receive a free advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Are you looking for an author who relates deeply to your experiences of hurt in life? Tiffany feels like a close friend as she unpacks her own journey, digging into vital topics that are often avoided in everyday conversation. Even though I grew up in church, I could hardly go a page without underlining thoughts from a refreshingly new perspective on Scripture that were balm for the soul. By revealing the truth of Jesus and how He worked in her story, you can't help but be inspired to seek out and trust the life-changing presence of Jesus like never before!
I was incredibly encouraged by Tiffany's words in Never Alone. I felt like she was sitting across the table from me with a coffee in hand, sharing personal stories, Biblical truth, and constant reminders of who I am in Christ. Tiffany's words are easy to read (like I said, I feel like you can hear her actually speaking them to you), and the 12 chapters hit on some of the deepest pains in a woman's heart: fear, isolation, and bitterness - to name a few. I also found her personal stories and encouraging words from her friends woven throughout as a wonderful reminder of the community of women we have in Jesus... we are Never Alone in many ways and she let's us know that. I would definitely recommend this book for when you need a quick hit reminder that God is always near in your pain and circumstances. Wonderful, clearly written truth.
This book follows the author's beautiful personal journey; from the dust packed paths of India to the concrete curbs of America. Exploring the reality of adoption and how our deepest hurts can be transformed into beacons of hope. I am so glad I took a friend's recommendation to read this book! This hearts journey opened my eyes to my own, revealing fresh insights into how "we can show up for our own lives" and the truth that, no mater the road ahead, i'm never alone.