Runaway Emotions by Jeff Schreve
When I first saw this title available on the BookSneeze site, I was hooked by the title. Immediately I wanted to review it because emotions play such an integral part in my life, at times they get away from me also. The goal of the book is to ‘explore the potentially positive impact of those troublesome negative emotions that you’d prefer to discard…..God wants to show you exactly what is wrong so you can effectively deal with the source of the problem, and not waste time masking the symptoms’ (xv). The type of skirting around the source of the problem with focusing on symptoms is part of the hard work of dealing with your emotions and not an easy task by any stretch. In the book, Jeff deals with eight topics ranging from embarrassment to depression and seeks to use biblical wisdom and counsel to open up these negative states and how they push us to see how they can build up a positive impact.
I wanted to say first that I think Jeff really spent some time in seeking to be very concrete and practical in his understanding of the various issues. In his chapter on embarrassment, Jeff cuts against the notion that we can build self-worth by verbal commendations or self-talk. Rather, he looks to Jesus for the foundation of our infinite worth by writing, “All those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord and have been born into the family of God have infinite worth as well. And when you really begin to grapple with that truth, when the incredible reality of it begins to settle into the cracks and crevices of your soul, it will change the way you see yourself” (9). Heaping praise upon yourself only goes so far, but resting in the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf puts infinite value into proper perspective. By working through some key teachings of the Scripture (image bearers, future with Christ), Jeff situates our self-worth with King Jesus, who makes us his own sons and daughters. What this does for our emotional embarrassment is pushes us to flee to God in our times of exasperation, asking God to remind us of His promises and that he has not once thought of us as unworthy or second class.
My favorite chapter of the book was the last one on depression. As a person who suffers from depression, I needed some help in dealing with this issue. By looking at depression from a mental, spiritual, and physical lens, Jeff was able to clearly identify the times when depression is most acute in people. I resonated with his wisdom about not blowing off the Sabbath and keeping rest on that day (199). Our bodies are designed to come apart at the seams if we run it all day, every day. Furthermore, I was encouraged to see that Jeff and his wife Debbie consciously chose to bring praise music into their lives during a very difficult time. It is often the daily choices we make that help build our muscles to fight off temptation and despair in times of weakness. In a different light, learning to receive compliments without thinking something negative can be a hard road but a necessary one.
I didn’t agree with the way Jeff interpreted some biblical passages but his overall presentation about turning our negative emotions into opportunities for growth is a great word of wisdom. I recommend this book to anyone dealing with the volatility of their emotions and wanting to find some freedom in bringing them before God.
Thanks to BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for the free copy of this book in exchange for review.