It’s time for another 3PR (3paragraph-ish review). After writing a bit about this book earlier in the week, I thought it was time to really look at Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart. It was written by a guy named Matthew Elliott. A couple quick things: First, don’t judge a book by it’s subtitle. Or cover. Agreed? Agreed. Second, don’t confuse this book with this book, though I think that’d be just as deeply enriching…and definitely, strikingly more hilarious.
I found a list on a blog some time ago called 20 Books to Read in Your 20s. I have no intention of reading every single one. But for many reasons, this book stood out. If you read my recent post about hope and feeling and found yourself in similar situations, this might be the book for you. Let’s take a look.
Just five quick pages into the book, Matthew Elliott writes, “I have come to believe that the true health of our spiritual lives is measured by how we feel.” How’s that sit with you? You a little worried? Thinking he’s putting way too much emphasis on our heart-strings? I was hoping that wasn’t the case. I was hoping this book would tell me to ignore what mainstream Christianity has ingrained in me over the past decade: that we can’t trust our feelings. That we must obey the facts and put them into motion, that we must not let our emotions guide us in our walk with God. Instead, Elliott tries to plant a seed in us that he hopes will grow into something powerful and beautiful.
Whether it’s joy: “It’s about doing anything that will break me out of my emotionally controlled stoicism and help me relearn the joys and art of celebration.”
Or grief: “I wondered how I’d react if I went to church one Sunday and heard, “If something really bad happens to a friend in the church, you need to be over at their house crying with them. No, I don’t mean dropping by a card and a casserole for dinner, your Christian duty. I mean entering into their pain and really crying with them.”
I couldn’t remember ever doing this. Grieving in that way, for someone else. Ever. Elliott’s words worked. I was pushed to feel. And feel deeply.
Elliott’s not going to win any awards any time soon for crafting literary masterpiece. At times it feels like thesis-reading. Other times it feels like his own hope and heart poured onto paper. But on a pretty regular basis, you’ll find words and thoughts put together in such a way that truth comes crashing and colliding right onto the pages. It’s those moments that cause you to set down the book and just think for a second. That’s the real strength here. Writing with a purpose. Here’s an example:
We Christians focus so much on duty — fulfilling the list of things we are supposed to do — without honest and genuine heartfelt emotions behind the actions. We elevate reason and duty above true emotion and compassion. That leaves us, and those we are trying to love, empty.
I took time reading this book. I really wanted to work through it and process. I hoped to engage truth and put it into action. The book itself is not out-of-this-world brilliant. But the thoughts and issues raised, and the way they’re addressed, proved incredibly fruitful for my life. Even now, a couple months later. It began to reverse old un-Biblical ways of thought that I’d built up as truth in my life for years and years. Elliott really wants us to “stop holding inside all that God created you to feel.” After reading the book, I was ready to begin another phase in my life. A season in which I really began to let go and let God.
If you feel like you’re in that place, where you’re struggling to release and receive, where you’re holding on and holding in, where you’re desperate to really live out the full spectrum of emotions God has given you, then give the book a try. For the rest of you, all you well-adjusted happy human beings, go read something depressing instead.
Kidding. Sort of.