Emotions: Mirrors of the Heart

Emotions: Mirrors of the Heart
Judith Webster
20 April, 2018 2 min read

This book seeks to encourage godly ways to manage emotions such as sadness, anxiety and anger. It warns against sinful responses to these feelings and is addressed to Christians who struggle in this area or who wish to better support others.

Haddow makes it clear that, although Christians still wrestle with sinful desires or responses to life’s trials, God has provided salvation from sin by sending Jesus as a redeeming sacrifice. The rest of the book offers practical advice, proposing the systematic ‘tbH model’ (thoughts, behaviour and biology, heart). This model seeks to analyse the common responses to emotions, why these may be sinful and point towards an alternative, Christian response.

As a chartered psychologist, Haddow writes informatively on emotions and thought processes. As a Christian, she also addresses and challenges the negative thinking patterns or destructive behaviours that may be influenced by these emotions, supporting her arguments with Bible verses, biblical examples and personal anecdotes.

The book also contains tables, diagrams and questionnaires to demonstrate certain ways of thinking. It also provides a model for the reader to assess their own way of thinking, which some may find helpful. Personally, I found the diagrams difficult to follow.

I found Haddow’s discussion of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) particularly interesting. She writes that it is a therapy encouraged in both secular and Christian circles. However, Haddow identifies and warns that some thought processes encouraged in CBT are problematic for Christians. For example, CBT encourages that value and self-worth is found within — something which Haddow points out does not and cannot map onto biblical teaching and the Christian life. Haddow’s comments here were insightful and from a perspective I had not considered before. She carefully explains why certain aspects of CBT must be regarded with caution and wariness by Christians.

Emotions ends by reminding readers of their identity in Christ, encouraging them not to lose heart, even when gripped by difficult emotions or situations. Haddow then lists ways we can care for others who are struggling, whether this is through practical care such as cooking them a meal or through pastoral care such as praying with them or reading the Bible with them.

This brief but well-organised book could be read by individuals struggling to manage their emotions in a godly way, or those offering pastoral care who would like further advice.

Judith Webster


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