Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kim Gaines Eckert's new book, Stronger than You Think: Becoming Whole Without Having to Be Perfect, (InterVarsity Press, 2007). 

Do you feel like something is missing or flawed inside you or your relationships? Life in a fallen world can make you feel broken. But God can take the broken pieces of your life and use them to create something beautiful – a whole woman who is healthy and free.

Here’s how you can trade your brokenness for wholeness:

Look in the right place. Stop wasting time and energy looking for wholeness in the wrong places, such as through romance, motherhood, or a career. Realize that nothing and no one except God has the power to complete you as a person. Give up unrealistic expectations for others to meet needs that only God can meet for you. Rely on God alone for the healing and fulfillment you’re seeking, and know that you can always count on Him.

Embrace your true identity. Recognize that you have incredible worth because you’re one of God’s children, made in His image. Know that despite whatever critical comments you’ve heard about yourself from other people (parents, siblings, teachers, bosses, etc.), God loves you deeply and unconditionally. Understand that your value isn’t based on what you do or don’t do; it’s based on who you are as a person. Don’t calculate your worth on the basis of your appearance, job performance, success in a certain relationship, or anything other than your identity as God’s beloved child. Embrace the freedom that Christ offers you – to be forgiven and cherished, no matter what, and to express your gratitude by making healthy choices in life.

Learn to use your voice. Get to know the unique qualities that make you distinctive as a person, and don’t hesitate to express yourself to others with confidence. Ask God to show you who He has created you to be, and who He is calling you to become. Don’t live your life for other people; instead, seek to please God by discovering and fulfilling His purposes for your life, no matter what other people think. Express your opinions honestly, clearly, and directly, even when others think differently. Make your own choices rather than just going along with someone else to try to keep that person from disliking you. Say “no” to requests you can’t reasonably accommodate, and don’t feel guilty about doing so. When a friend or family member hurts you, don’t be afraid to let that person know. When you hurt someone, admit it and apologize. Don’t be shy about asking people for help whenever you need it. Start speaking your mind in small ways and build up the courage to do so in larger ways. Remember that when you’re open and honest with other people, you’re actually giving them a gift – insight into the real you.

Change the way you talk to yourself. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. If you tend to think that you should give up on yourself or other people when you or they make mistakes, realize that no person can be perfect and mistakes are bound to happen. Ask God to give you the compassion you need to be understanding and accepting. If you often become frustrated because people don’t live up to your standards of what you think they “should” do, ask yourself whether the standard they haven’t met is truly biblical, or simply a preference of yours. Keep your expectations of yourself and others realistic, and don’t punish people unnecessarily. Don’t make assumptions about what people are thinking; don’t come to conclusions without sound evidence. Instead of attempting to read people’s minds, get to know them well and ask questions. Don’t let “What if?” questions plague you; stop worrying about potential worst-case scenarios in the future. Instead, focus on the present and use your energy to work toward solutions for the problems you’re facing. If you catch yourself filtering out the positive aspects of situations and seeing just the negative parts, ask God to give you a holistic perspective. To change these and other unhealthy thought patterns: Stop yourself whenever an unhealthy thought enters your mind, and challenge it by evaluating its accuracy. Then reframe the thought so it reflects the reality of God’s love for you and the truths in His Word.