– What’s it about?
The Voices We Carry is about wrestling with our many voices, including self-doubt, people-pleasing, trauma, grief, and family dynamics. It’s also about discerning through mixed messages and misinformation, owning your voice, and how to give a voice to the voiceless.
The book is half memoir as I go through my hospital chaplaincy and what I learned from patients at the edge of life and death. I talk about feeling “other” growing up an Asian-American and what it means to find a voice amidst being silenced.
To see the Table of Contents, click here.
– Where can I buy it?
– Does the book address coronavirus?
While the book was finished before the COVID-19 pandemic, TVWC has chapters specifically on trauma, grief, practicing healthy skepticism towards misinformation, and empowering voices that are silenced. These chapters may be helpful for you in this season.
– I’m not religious. What’s in this book for me?
You’re in good company. I’m an interfaith chaplain, which means I work alongside every type of religion or none. My main role is to be a comforting and non-judgmental presence to the ill, dying, wounded, and bereaved. A chaplain’s role is never to preach at anyone, but to be present. While TVWC has spiritual elements woven in, such as mortality, it is much like my blog: open to all. Having grown up an atheist, I remain skeptical to much of religion myself. If anything, please feel free to skip the spiritual sections that you don’t prefer (though I hope you’ll read all of it!).
– I’m a Christian (or spiritual, or in between). What’s in this book for me?
You’re also in good company. Much of the faith community is a bit clumsy when it comes to mental health. Sometimes this is the church’s fault, but there is also a lack of resources for the church that combines mental health with faith. TVWC has both evidence-based research and theological insights, so that each supports the other. If you consider yourself a Christian or spiritual or are rediscovering your faith (or are plain disillusioned), TVWC approaches both mental health and faith with the same seriousness they deserve.
– Who is the book published by?
TVWC is published by Moody Publishers under their “mainstream label” Northfield. They have published bestsellers such as The Five Love Languages, When Helping Hurts, 101 Secrets for Your Twenties, and Your Future Self Will Thank You.
– Is this a self-help book? Memoir? Pop psychology? Social commentary? Action comedy thriller?
TVWC is a chronological journey through my hospital chaplaincy, anchored by a self-help-ish model of the different voices we wrestle with. The book is filled with patient encounters (details changed), my Asian-American upbringing, clinical research and studies, and yes, at one point it turns into somewhat of an action comedy thriller.
– Who is this book for?
I think this book will be valuable for everyone, but especially helpful for
1) Leaders. The first part of TVWC covers self-doubt, people-pleasing, judging others, and our tendency to defend ourselves too much. These are important battles to fight for every leader.
2) Couples. I spend a chapter on how my wife and I almost got a divorce, and how we recovered. There’s also a chapter on family dynamics, crucial to know for any member of the family.
3) The silenced. TVWC has several sections about finding our voice, especially when we’re silenced or in a place that does not hear us.
4) If you’re grieving and traumatized. Working at a hospital and undergoing the year-and-a-half chaplain program has dramatically informed how I approach loss. I also discovered I was a 9 out of 10 on the ACE Score. TVWC has a chapter on grief and one on trauma, which contain much of what I learned.
5) If you’re figuring things out. If you’re approaching a new season or trying to move on from an old one, TVWC has sections about finding your voice and your values, especially in hardened cultures. There’s also a chapter on family dynamics and how to navigate our family-of-origin patterns.
6) If you love stories. TVWC contains recent studies, evidence-based research, and practical insight, but there are also stories of patient encounters, my own weird upbringing, and the inner-workings of a hospital.
– How did you come up with the book title?
You may have guessed already, but the title is inspired by The Things They Carry by Tim O’Brien. In O’Brien’s memoir, he details the many things that he and his fellow soldiers carried in the Vietnam War, like their guns, cigarettes, Bibles, and ghosts.
– What sort of education or experience helped you write this book?
I’ve been a hospital chaplain for over four years and a chaplain at the homeless shelter for almost two. To become a chaplain requires intense training: an accredited program at a hospital which includes a six month internship and then a one year residency. I accomplished the internship and residency in 2015-2017. This includes hundreds of hours of classes and clinicals. I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of patients, many of whom were dying and in their last moments. Much of the book comes out of the chaplain program and my continued role as a chaplain.
– What does a chaplain do?
In the hospital where I work, which has over 1000 beds, chaplains attend every death, Code Blue, and trauma alert (which includes gunshot wounds, stabs, car accidents, burn wounds, falls, and strokes). We often make the call to Next-of-Kin to notify their loved one is in the hospital. Chaplains offer emotional and spiritual support often at the moment of crisis, and are trained in caring for those in grief. Chaplains are also a part of the palliative care team and involved in end-of-life care.
At the homeless shelter, I do regular rotations through the crisis outreach where many homeless or low income families seek assistance. I also provide staff care, as many staff members at the homeless shelter experience compassion fatigue and burn-out.
For more on what a chaplain does, check here.