It’s a wonder we struggle with our emotions as believers. We have the culture telling us that it’s our right to be in a continuous state of happiness and then we have some in the church emphasize a secular mentality that we should always have a smile plastered to our face. That smiling equals joy. That despondency and anger have no place in the Christian life even though David cried to God in his anguish and that the Bible itself encourages us to be angry- just without sin.
This is why the importance of emotional health in the church is so vital. We have to retrain the old tapes in our minds that emotions that aren’t ‘happy’ are bad. So we will be diving into three Christian books about emotional health.
First on the list of Christian books about emotional health: The Complicated Heart by Sarah Mae
Oh my goodness this book! I don’t dole out five stars very readily but this one, my friends, is five-star material. Sarah Mae writes of her complicated relationship with her mom, an emotionally abusive, alcoholic mother. The memoir-style read, The Complicated Heart is written as if she’s living the scenes she’s talking about in the moment so the book reads even faster (in my opinion) because of this. Interspersed throughout are her own mother’s journal entries giving us a perspective of her own complicated mind and heart.
Here are some of my favorite takeaways from The Complicated Heart:
“It’s okay that we will always have a little bit of sadness in our life regarding loss. The goal isn’t ever to be sad, it’s about getting to the point where the pain no longer consumes us or controls our perceptions of ourselves, others, God, and the world.”
“We have to mourn because it is the process of accepting reality.”
“The worst thing we can do is dam up our feelings.”
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Being There: How to Love Those Who Are Hurting by Dave Furman
My husband, Michael was the one who read Being There and shared with me some of his takeaways. He let me know that it provides wonderful validation and comfort to those facing hardship, especially health challenges. Given Furman’s background, with a debilitating nerve disease, this makes sense. Here’s some great quotes from Being There:
“It’s imperative that you are honest about the pain you are going through…It’s important that you grieve your loss and come to terms with your reality.”
“The Psalms show that believers can be overcome by darkness for long periods of time.”
“If you’re going to help the hurting, your heart needs to be healthy. Your efforts in your own strength can go on for only so long.”
“We need to remember that the Bible is not a Band-Aid, and we best not go around slapping our favorite Bible verses on suffering people.”
Michael tells me that Being There would be a perfect book for anyone who is in ministry and wants to create a spiritually healthy atmosphere.
True Feelings: God’s Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacare
I couldn’t have a list of Christian books about emotional health without True Feelings.True Feelings is written by a mother-daughter duo who the writers explain are as different as Marilla Cuthbert and Anne Shirley in the fictional book, Anne of Green Gables. If you don’t know the story well, let me explain. Marilla is the adoptive mother of Anne and is more of the practical grounded type. Anne is the dreamer and deep feeling type who sees the world through the lens of her romantic heart. Of course, you can’t get much different than those different personality types! So it’s interesting to see the different emotional perspectives from these two women as they dive into our emotions and how they are a gift from God. Some of my favorite takeaways from True Feelings:
If God describes Himself using emotional language, how can we be averse to seeing ourselves as emotional creatures?
Did you know our emotions are a gift from God?
If our grief and sorrow go on for a long time, we should take our place next to Job and patiently cry out to God.
I like how much ground the mother-daughter pair cover in such a short book. For instance, the writers also talk about how we need to act in order to feel at times. For instance, we can’t wait to ‘feel’ like we want to read our Bible. We need to set the action in place to read the Word even when we don’t feel like it.
May these resources help you in your growth emotionally and spiritually.
Hope is always an option,
I received The Complicated Heart for free from B&H and Being There and True Feelings from Crossway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.