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


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


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.



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