(Review) The Cry Of The Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God by Dr. Dan B. Allender and Dr. Tremper Longman III

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Publisher and Publication Date: 1994. Republished by NavPress in 2015. My copy is 1994 hardcover.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Psychology. Emotions.
Pages: 268.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon

I’ve read, Healing the Wounded Heart, and, To Be Told. Both of these books are by Dr. Dan Allender. I bought, The Cry Of The Soul from Amazon in their discount/used books section.

Inside the front cover explains, “Our dark emotions are much more than just uncomfortable feelings we struggle to control. They are windows into our heart. They are the cry of our soul.”

I did a little survey with people I know. I picked their brains about their “thinking.” I don’t remember the exact question, but their responses were similar: “I don’t like to think too much.” I wondered, “what is too much?” Is too much a teaspoon amount or a gallon bucket?”

On page 14, a statement similar to the above is about emotions and why we “avoid them.”

Part of understanding difficult emotions, however, is comprehending why we avoid them. The reason we don’t want to feel is that feeling exposes the tragedy of our world and the darkness of our hearts. No wonder we don’t want to feel: feelings expose the illusion that life is safe, good, and predictable.

People avoid deep thinking and difficult emotions.

On the other hand,

Excessive introspection can lead to a false sense of independence by giving us the illusion that we can exert control over our lives and become the masters of our fate. This path too easily leads to arrogance or confusion.
We encourage honest inward examination for the purpose of gaining wisdom-.” Page 17.

The focal Bible passages used in the book are from the Psalms.

This summer I’ve read several books on mental health. This binge is winding down. I have a few more to review and then I’ll be moving on. I do this every once in a while- read several books in a row on the same topic. This is usually in the summer when I have more time to spend on reading.

What I’ve taken away from this book, the number one idea, is emotions are not bad, they are beneficial and meant to be examined. I’m neither to ignore the emotion in stoicism, nor am I to focus excessively on them. Emotions are to be examined and processed. And, I am to bring the emotions before the throne of grace. God wants me to come to Him in transparency and humility.

Several interesting teaching points are in the book:
•Unrighteous anger. It interferes with satisfaction in life.
•Righteous anger. From page 76. “Righteous anger is called for when we see God’s glory violated.”
•From page 27. “God meets you in your weakness, not in your strength.” This is not what the world expects. The world expects strength.
•Shame. From page 199. “Our culture declares, “Shame arises because I am a victim and I feel bad about myself.” The Bible declares, “Shame arises because I am an idolater and I feel foolish when my idol topples.” I have a hard time with this statement. I’m not ready to say I disagree, but I don’t like it. I don’t like it because from where I am, shame has been experienced because of sexual abuse. I can understand the idol idea more because of the age I was (16-17), and the perpetrator was an abusive boyfriend. But what if I’d been 2. At the age of 2, I’d have no concept of what an idol is.

Over-all, I gave the book an excellent rating despite my one objection.

 

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(Review) True Feelings: God’s Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre

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Publisher and Publication Date: Crossway. October 31, 2017.
Genre: Christian Nonfiction.
Pages: 160.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Okay.

Amazon

I have read the reviews at Amazon about this book. Words like “relevant,” “practical,” and “read this book in one day,” are given.
Usually if a book is okay, I may or may not finish the book. I bought True Feelings, and felt that the financial investment on my part pushed me to finish it.
It’s not that it is a bad book, it just didn’t come close to an in-depth study that I wanted to read. It skimmed the issue. The book felt more like an essay.
From the back cover, “Emotions can be confusing. One moment we’re happy, content, and hopeful, and the next we’re anxious, hurt, and overwhelmed.”
Reasons why I like this book:
1. A good point is made on page 19: Facebook and social media has given us a “distorted view of life.” We only see the best posted. “Many of us bury our unhappy emotions, keep a tight lid on them, stuff them deep down inside. Others of us explode and vent.” We either stuff or explode.
I wonder why we stuff our feelings? Is it pride that keeps us from revealing our true feelings? Is it the feeling of vulnerability?
2. Several times in the book I’m reminded that feelings are not bad. They serve a good purpose. They must be taken in context with other features like Scripture. Scripture does not address all, “unpleasant emotions,” it does show, “that God has a purpose for our feelings-the good and the bad.” This teaching is expounded on several times in the book just using different wording. For example: “Just as our minds enable us to think and our wills enable us to choose, so our emotions enable us to respond…emotions themselves are not bad.” Pages 32, 36.
3.  Practical help. In chapter five, this is for “resisting emotional temptation.” Chapter six is big help. Two questions to ask ourselves: “Do My Beliefs Line Up with God’s Word?” and “Do My Values Line Up with God’s Word?” Chapter seven talks about making “good habits.”
What I did not like about the book:
1. Chapter seven talks about “venting.” This needs to be clarified. The definition of vent, from the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, online version. “Vent” means to give emotional expression to. Mahaney and Whitacre use an example of “venting” by people who post online. “Women often vent to online friends and find comfort and solace in each other’s “likes” and reassuring comments. And while it is true that God encourages us to share our burdens, including our emotional burdens, with other Christians, this is not a license to sinfully vent.” Page 104.
On page 103, “Venting is foolish; it dishonors God and often hurts those we love the most.”
What is sinful about “venting?” When the venting is “gossip, slander, or complaining.” Page 104.
Women who don’t have other women to talk to are bankrupt of friends. God is the first source of pouring our hearts out and seeking help. But, people need other people for support, encouragement, and in being lifted up. People should not be prevented and held back in sharing what is on their hearts and minds. Some people release private information on social media. This is not something I think is appropriate. On the other hand, I believe the book should give more clarity. Venting is not sin. Just like emotions is not sin. How we handle the two can become sin.
In a Christian group, when people share prayer requests, is this gossiping? I guess it could be. Gossip means to stir up “sensational facts,” or rumors that may not be true. If I share that my husband is having an affair, this is sensational stuff, but I don’t want to feel I cannot reach out and ask friends to pray for me.
Christians who read this book should not feel they cannot share from their heart with other Christian friends. And this is a real problem: people who do not reach out to other Christians out of fear of rejection and judgment.
2. The book could have been shorter as some of the ideas circulate repeatedly.
True Feelings is an example of some books that just don’t work for me.