The Lives We Actually Have

100 Blessings for Imperfect Days

About the Book

Warm and witty blessings found within the struggles of our shared humanity, from the New York Times bestselling authors of Good Enough

Blessed are you, the strange duck.
You with the very intense hobbies.
Or the collection of movies or mugs or sneakers.
You with the hometown or home team that makes you very, very proud.
You, my dear, in all your intricacies . . . are a marvel.

We live in a world that demands relentless perfection. Happy marriages and easy friendships. Bucket list–level adventures and matching family photos. But what if our actual lives don’t feel very #blessed? Might our everyday existence be worthy of a blessing too? Even an average Tuesday?

Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie offer creative, faith-based blessings that center gratitude and hope while acknowledging our real, messy lives. Formatted like a prayer book, The Lives We Actually Have is an oasis and a landing spot for weary souls, with blessings that focus on the full range of human moments: garbage days, lovely days, grief-stricken days, and even (especially) completely ordinary days. These heartfelt blessings are a chance to exhale when we feel everything from careworn to restless, devastated to bored. Let’s have a reminder that we don’t need to wait for perfect lives when we can bless the lives we actually have.
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The Lives We Actually Have


for this ordinary day

Lord, here I am.

How strange it is, 

that some days feel like hurricanes

and others like glassy seas

and others like nothing much at all.

Today is a cosmic shrug.

My day planner says,

rather conveniently,

that I will not need you,

cry for you, reach for you.

Ordinarily, I might not think of you at all.

Except, if you don’t mind,

let me notice you.

Show up in the small necessities 

and everyday graces.

God, be bread.

Be water.

Be laundry.

Be the coffee cup in my hands

and the reason to calm down in traffic.

Be the gentler tone in my insistence today

that people pick up after themselves for once.

Be the reason I feel loved

when I catch my own reflection

or feel my own self-­loathing

fluttering in my stomach.

Calm my mind,

lift my spirit,

make this dumb, ordinary day

my prayer of thanks.

“Earth is so thick with divine possibility

that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere

without cracking our shins on altars.”

—­Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World


for feeling it all

Blessed are you who feel things big.

You who might feel embarrassment because of

how overwhelming things can be.

Blessed are you who need reminders that those

emotions are not bad or good.

They are just . . . information.

You feel angry because this is unjust.

You feel sad because this is awful.

You feel tired because this is exhausting.

Your emotions are not wrong or bad 

or lying to you or telling the full truth.

They are giving you a bit of data 

that you shouldn’t ignore.

We love, and lose, and fall, and get back up,

and fail, and try again.

Your humanity is not an affront.

We are reminding ourselves that 

this is who we are, how we’re made: 

to feel the pain, the grief, the stress, 

the risk, the fear, the heartbreak.

So, you beautiful creature, 

here is your permission slip to feel it all.

To feel the joy and delight and excitement.

And the sorrow and fear and despair.

All the yellows and pinks, and violets and grays.

Because you are the whole damn sky.


for when you just need to put one foot in front of the other

Oh God,

the thought of trying for a new and improved me

makes me tired.

I am barely getting anywhere,

so draw me closer to a different vision,

one that sees that I don’t need perfection—­

I need love.

Free me from the expectation 

that life should always be better.

From the everyday stressors—

­the bills, the pressure, the dependents,

the existential fears about the future 

and the worries of right now.

I am threadbare.

Blessed are we, remembering

that the world is not ours to shoulder alone.

Help us put one foot in front of the other

as best we can.

Oh God, today,

give us enough to go on,

give us hope to see a future,

give us joy to see a present

lit up by your love.

P.S. And give me only enough humility

to be reminded that I look terrible in hats.

I mean, truly, unphotographable.

About the Author

Kate Bowler
Kate Bowler is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved), No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear), and Good Enough, as well as Blessed and The Preacher's Wife. She is the host of the popular podcast Everything Happens. A Duke University professor, she earned a master's degree in religion from Yale Divinity School and a PhD from Duke University. More by Kate Bowler
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About the Author

Jessica Richie
Jessica Richie is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Good Enough, the executive director of the Everything Happens Project at Duke Divinity School, and the executive producer of the Everything Happens podcast. She received her MDiv from Duke Divinity School. More by Jessica Richie
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