Emotions: Mirrors of the Heart

There are some books that I read right away and others that I put to the side and, to my shame, forget about. Emotions is one of those books. I’ll be honest and say that the only reason I bought it was to get free postage and packaging from 10ofThose, but man I am so glad that I did.

Our emotions are powerful, they dictate our attitude, our perspective, our approach to life and they affect the way we interact with others. But how much emphasis should we put on them?

The minute I opened the first chapter I knew that I was going to like this book; Haddow starts off by saying…

“We live in a postmodern culture that is dominated by the pursuit of emotions, and their unique meaning for the individual experiencing them. But a biblical worldview of absolute truths turns postmodernism entirely on its head”

I often have conversations and the tone of them is ‘I feel this…’ or ‘I feel that…’ and these are good things to talk about and to explore with other. However, we must all know that our emotions and our hearts can deceive us.

“They [our emotions] tell us what we want, which is not necessarily right or the truth, and encourage us to selfishly pursue our own agenda”

Now don’t read what I am not saying, emotions are wonderful things that we do need in our lives. Emotions make us enjoy experiences and relationships, but they come second place to truth. Truth is the solid foundation that we should build our lives on, not feelings. Our emotions, as the subtitle of the book says,  are mirrors into our hearts; they can reveal to us who we really are and we can act on those emotions, or we can see the areas that they highlight that need to be submitted to God.

“Emotions of all kinds can be good and biblical in energising us and driving us forward, but they can also lead us unhelpfully astray”

Catherine Haddow is a chartered Psychologist who uses her professional expertise to help people see their emotions for what they are and give practical advice in this book for how to address difficult issues.

CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is used by many, if not most, psychologists today and is useful, but Haddow says that it is lacking the heart. Therefore, in this book she changed the model slightly and adds a ‘H’ for heart. In chapter three Haddow expands her model and says that missing out the heart is missing out one of the biggest problems.

“It is often when we are at our lowest points physically and emotionally that our ‘true self’ – our heart – is laid bare and revealed to other around us. When we let our guard down, our heart motives tend to burst our unexpectedly”

But how can we change our hearts? How can our emotions be in check with who we are as Christians?

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit, reoriented Christ-centred thinking connects head knowledge to the heart and turns faith into action. It steps out in trust, behaving differently based on God’s promises to us in the security of our identity in Christ”

The best quote, in my opinion, in this book summarises the problem that many Christians have when they try to simply stop thinking, stop feeling and stop doing. It doesn’t deal with the issue but just brushes it under the carpet.

“Simply medicating away uncomfortable emotions or altering unhelpful thought and destructive behaviours without addressing the heart of emotion is missing out on opportunities to hear God’s voice and to grow in our spiritual walk following him”

Haddow summarises emotional suffering into three categories; Sneers, fears and tears and applies her own tbH model (thoughts, behaviour, Heart) to help the reader see how emotions can be warning signs of deeper spiritual issues between us and God that need to be addressed.

In chapter five to seven Haddow unpacks these three categories and ends each chapter with evaluation questions that help you assess what your emotions are telling you and help you see how you might not have it nailed, but that you too might be suffering.

This book ends not with looking at your own emotions or by looking at case studies but it ends exactly where it should, it ends with the reader looking to God. The final chapter points the reader to God, to his purpose for humanity which then results in His followers looking out for others, Haddow encourages you to remember who you are in God and the new identity that He has given His people.

“As we reflect on the truths of God’s faithfulness and worship him in love and adoration, the inner bondage of our heart melts away”

I highly recommend this book, I have so many markings in it that my word count would be a dissertation if I posted them all here. Do yourself a favour, buy this book as an early Christmas gift for you and for a loved one and grab a coffee and be drawn into great material about a big topic that affects each and every person.

Rating 4/5

Catherine Haddow is a Chartered Psychologist and conference speaker. She uses her training, aligned with Scripture, to offer counselling ministry to struggling believers.

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