Published on August 30th, 2013 | by Amy Jane Helmericks

(Book Review) Healing for Damaged Emotions by David A. Seamands

Healing for Damaged Emotions, written David A. Seamands, has two distinct jobs. First, to show Christians that emotional hang-ups and old wounds are not the same thing as hidden or denied sin. That unsolved problems are not always about willful negligence or disobedience.

Second, its purpose is to open the uninitiated to the process of emotional healing, as most of us have no instinctive drive or orderly training in the matter.

He writes:

Early in my pastoral experience I discovered that I was failing to help two groups of people… I saw one group being driven to futility and loss of confidence in God’s power. While they desperately prayed…[and] tried every Christian discipline… they were going deeper and deeper into disillusionment and despair.

I saw another group moving toward phoniness. These people were repressing their inner feelings and denying that anything was seriously wrong, because, “Christians can’t have such problems.”

This book was written decades ago, and I believe that is an advantage to readers today. It can’t be dismissed as something new and flashy (an unfortunately common dismissal of many things we’re nervous about and won’t take the time to vet ourselves), and there is no assumption on the part of the author that anybody has specialized vocabulary for this specialized topic.

In fact, I like how he both acknowledges the specialization of the topic and casually includes everyone in the importance of its resolution.

What I appreciated most about the book was that it talked to the type of people I’ve known—those who don’t know how to treat a problem that is not the individual’s fault, so they make it the individual’s fault, or they wring their hands, or they ignore it.

As someone who did not find emotional help in the church, this is exactly the sort of material I wish every churchgoer could learn.

Topics covered include the importance of self-esteem (yes, it’s real, and it’s necessary for healthy functioning), healing perfectionism, and dealing with depression.

The content was validating, a chance to see the individual God created as valuable, despite what our baggage may be. Seamands was also the first Christian author I read who acknowledged that depression (or a tendency to depression) can be part of a personality without wrecking that life.

It takes real humility to recognize that what we already know isn’t enough, and I believe this book is a tremendous resource for filling in some missing pieces regarding how people in the church deal with themselves and other hurting people.

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