Publisher and Publication Date: 1994. Republished by NavPress in 2015. My copy is 1994 hardcover.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Psychology. Emotions.
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.