Learning to Be

Finding Your Center After the Bottom Falls Out

by Juanita Campbell Rasmus

It felt as though every nerve in my body was pop­ping. Imag­ine large strong hands slow­ly apply­ing pres­sure while break­ing a fam­i­ly-size pack­age of uncooked, dry spaghet­ti. I was the spaghet­ti. Break­ing down one piece at a time.

This is how Juani­ta Ras­mus begins the wise, frank, and wit­ty account of what she lat­er called The Crash” and what her coun­selor labeled a major depres­sive episode.” This expe­ri­ence land­ed Juani­ta, a busy pas­tor, moth­er, and com­mu­ni­ty leader, in bed. In addi­tion to exhaus­tion and depres­sion, on the spir­i­tu­al front she expe­ri­enced a dark night of the soul. When every­thing in her life final­ly came to a stop, she found that she had to learn to be — with her­self and with God — all over again.

Pas­tor Juani­ta writes from her life with kind atten­tion to the life of the read­er. She offers both prac­ti­cal and spir­i­tu­al insights but nev­er pat answers. If you are long­ing for a trust­wor­thy com­pan­ion through dark days, this book is here for you. Each chap­ter includes life-giv­ing spir­i­tu­al prac­tices to help you dis­cov­er your own new ways of being.

2020 IVP


Juani­ta and I have been friends for many years. I admire her preach­ing and teach­ing gifts, and val­ue her gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tion as a mem­ber of our Ren­o­varé min­istry team. Juani­ta describes her­self as a type A per­son­al­i­ty. This is indeed true … although triple A might be a lit­tle more accu­rate descrip­tion! Her crash,’ as she describes her major depres­sive episode, was exact­ly that in every sense — phys­i­cal, men­tal, emo­tion­al, and spir­i­tu­al. I say all this to under­score for you the impor­tance of _​Learning to Be_​. This is a book of gen­uine sub­stance deal­ing with the most heart-wrench­ing needs of the human soul. Learn­ing to Be is an essen­tial resource for every per­son seek­ing to nav­i­gate life in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture. I rec­om­mend it highly.
Richard J. Foster, Renovaré Founder
Carl Rodgers wrote, That which is most per­son­al is most uni­ver­sal.’ _​Learning to Be_​by Juani­ta Ras­mus is a book of auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty about her crash’ with a depres­sive mood dis­or­der. In her can­did reflec­tion she cre­ates a psycho/​spiritual world­view that is a resource for us all. This is a must-read for all who seek to find a faith that is both prac­ti­cal and func­tion­al, a non­sen­ti­men­tal spirituality.
J. Pittman McGehee, Episcopal priest and author of The Paradox of Love
Every per­fec­tion­ist should read this book, every South­ern good girl,’ every per­son who has ever felt emp­ty. The real­i­ty is, many of us stand in a cir­cle with stones in hand all too often,’ says Pas­tor Ras­mus. Then she con­vinces us, her read­ers, to set down our stones.
Andrea White, novelist and civic leader

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