The Matthew Elliott File:
Reviewed by Dale Lewis
Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart
"Feel is all about living as a more passionate and fulfilled Christian."
Talk about emotions can be volatile, focusing on the negative aspects: emotional outbursts (frowned upon) . . . controlling emotions and not letting them control us . . . don’t trust your feelings. I’ve always wondered where exactly the line is dividing overly emotional and stoicism? How close can you get without disturbing the peace? Is permission needed to feel and express emotions?
In Feel, Matthew Elliott dives in and takes a critical look at what our culture and many churches have taught about controlling and ignoring our emotions. His well thought out thesis is clearly stated in this excerpt: “I learned that psychology, philosophy, culture and the church have led us to believe that emotions and the mind are separate. What I started to put together was that our Christian culture tended to do one of two things; It either banished emotions, sidelining them from serious engagement or it rationalized them, turning emotions into rational ideas or theological concepts.”
His journey resulted in some startling conclusions: our emotions are God-given driving us to do our best, they’re among the most logical and dependable things in our lives, and our true spiritual health is measured by how we feel. Wait a minute here . . . that’s close to blasphemy! I’d venture to say there are many of us who relate to his profound, yet common sense discoveries.
His sharing of highly personal insights on the influence of his upbringing on the role of emotions and how it affected his marriage were enlightening. His comments triggered a personal inventory. My discovery is that at times, I’m about as emotional as road kill. I had to acknowledge a self-defeating focus on doing my duty and living by reason, recognizing the reality that Elliott states, “what we know trumps how we feel—“ and that can leave us feeling dead.
The author does not call us to a life of hypersensitivity. Nor does he recommend tossing all critical thinking and logic overboard with not so much as a second thought. He contends a healthy Christ-follower must find and maintain a necessary balance between reason and emotion.
At the end of each chapter, there are blog entries from others as to their thoughts on what was discussed in the chapter. This was another area which helped “loosen” the dark chains holding my emotions in check. There tends to be more than enough repetition within the pages of Feel to hammer the clarity of his premise’s foundational points. Feel deserves more than just a casual, quick read-through.
Having been raised in a church environment where emotions were reluctantly kept in check, Feel was an extremely important read for me. While the relationship between faith and emotions is often difficult to decipher, Feel will help ease the tension and encourage a new mindset.
Bottom line: Feel is all about
living as a more passionate and fulfilled Christian. “Feel” and
say goodbye to a dull and uninspired faith.