"You are not going to figure everything out by reading a book," the author tells PEOPLE. "But maybe, a book can inspire you and challenge you to go out there and try again"
Becca Stevens has long been a person of rituals. A childhood survivor of sexual abuse, the social entrepreneur and Thistle Farms founder has grown to adore the comfort that comes with the mere simplicity of doing something over and over and over again.
“One of those rituals that I follow is taking baths before the sunrise,” Stevens, 58, tells PEOPLE in a recent interview. “My head is so clear at that time of the day. I can write and I can think before the emails of the day puts my brain on the fritz. At that time of day, I feel like I can do anything.”
Indeed, within the crazy world we find ourselves living in at the moment, it’s simple acts such as this that Stevens says can perhaps keep us all sane. And it’s just one of the many practices that Stevens touches on in her new book Practically Divine.
“[Practically Divine] was my favorite book I ever got to write,” says Stevens, who has also written books such as Love Heals, The Gift of Compassion and Funeral for a Stranger. “As a writer, you get all these thoughts and ideas in your head and the gift of getting them out of your head to share with people is huge.”
But one thing Stevens says she didn’t want was to write anything that resembled some sort of self-help book.
“I myself don’t ever want to read another self-help book,” laughs Stevens, who has also served as an ordained priest for the past 30 years. “I don’t want anybody to pretend like this stuff is easy. There isn’t some secret formula you have to follow. You are not going to figure everything out by reading a book. But maybe, a book can inspire you and challenge you to go out there and try again. Maybe it will make you want to feel love in your life in a daily way.”
It’s this idea of infusing love into the world around us that certainly serves as the cornerstone of Practically Divine, a book that touches on the hope of love, the promise of love and the experiences that come simply by loving one another.
“This is not my idea,” admits Stevens, who was recognized as a White House Champion of Change back in 2011. “This idea is from the oldest and wisest people, who believed that any small act of love changes the balance of love in the world.”
It’s this love that she has spent a lifetime clinging onto, having lost her father at an early age, and watching the struggles that her mom went through as a single mother when Stevens was just a little girl.
“Throughout my life, I feel like whenever a door opened, I went through it and followed where it was meant to take me,” says the wife of Nashville songwriter Marcus Hummon and the mother of three children, including country artist Levi Hummon. “I have been so hungry to believe in love and to believe in community and any time that I moved towards that, it was my answered prayer.”
One of those doors, in fact, led Stevens to the creation of Thistle Farms, a two-year residential community providing women survivors of trafficking and addiction safe housing, food, clothing, access to healthcare, counseling, and job training.
“I feel like all of us want to feel like our lives are making a difference,” says Stevens, who opened Thistle Farms in Nashville back in 1997. “We all want to feel like our work and our relationships and our breathing and our just being here makes a difference in this world.”
And it’s this idea that serves as the heartbeat of Practically Divine.
“I wanted to write this book as a way of saying, ‘You got this. You know who you are and where you come from and no matter who you are, there are small, beautiful acts that you can do to infuse love in the world.”
But make no mistake — Stevens admits that it can be a slow process.
“You can’t eat a salad once and the rest of the time eat pizza and feel good, you know?” she explains. “You have to say, ‘OK, I’m going to eat salad three times a week for a year and see what that means.’ It’s all about doing small things on a daily basis. That’s how change happens.”