Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst was one of those books I heard good things about, got when it was either free or on sale for the Kindle app, and then let sit there for months. I’m not sure what prompted me to read it now, but I am glad I did.
The subtitle is Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Most of us have had experiences with out-of-control emotions, both externally from others or internally within ourselves. Some of us are “exploders” who lash out at others in some way, and some of us are “stuffers” who seethe inside, or some combination of the two.
Emotions in themselves aren’t wrong: God gave them to us for various reasons. But just like with the rest of His gifts, we can use them in wrong ways.
Lysa starts with the idea of making “imperfect progress.” Sometimes we beat ourselves up over missteps and failures, but we need to remember it’s okay to take baby steps and to get up and start over as many times as needed, as long as we’re moving forward.
A big part of diffusing our emotions is taking control of the thoughts that feed them. “We won’t develop new responses until we develop new thoughts. That’s why renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial. New thoughts come from new perspectives” (p. 22K – the K means Kindle version. I’m not sure if the page numbers are the same in the book itself). “Scripture also teaches that we can accept or refuse thoughts. Instead of being held hostage by old thought patterns, we can actually capture our thoughts and allow the power of Christ’s truth to change them: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (p. 23K).
The other biggest factor in getting our emotions under control is spending time in God’s Word, and Lysa shares many applicable Scriptures.
Here are some other helpful quotes:
“I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control” (p. 23).
“Could I trust God and believe He is working out something good even from things that seem no good? You see, if I know there is a potential good hidden within each chaotic situation, I can loosen my grip on control” (p. 24K).
“We can’t always fix our circumstances, but we can fix our minds on God” (p. 28K).
“Instead of condemning myself with statements like, I’m such a mess, I could say, Let God chisel. Let Him work on my hard places so I can leave the dark places of being stuck and come into the light of who He designed me to be” (p. 37K).
“I choose to view this circumstance as a call to action, not a call to beat myself up mentally” (p. 40K).
“In processing unglued reactions, soul integrity if the heart of what we’re after. Soul integrity is honesty that’s godly. It brings the passion of the exploder and the peacemaking of the stuffer under the authority of Jesus where honesty and godliness embrace and balance each other” (p. 52K).
“I stuff to protect myself by keeping conflict at bay. But if I’m stuffing and not being honest about my true feelings, that self-protection quickly turns into selfishness, and the unresolved conflict gives birth to bitterness” (p. 56K).
“Choosing a gentle reply doesn’t mean you’re weak; it actually means you possess a rare and godly strength” (p. 69K).
“Feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate there is a situation I need to deal with, but they shouldn’t dictate how I react. I have a choice” (p. 72K).
“We must spend time with God, letting His truths become part of who we are and how we live. That’s what it means to have an internal experience with Him. Only then will we develop holy restraint” (p. 75).
“I acknowledge that I can only control myself. I can’t control how another person acts or reacts. Therefore, I shift my focus from trying to fix the other person and the situation to allowing God to reveal some tender truths to me…My job isn’t to fix the difficult people in my life or enable them to continue disrespectful or abusive behaviors. My job is to be obedient to God in the way I act and respond to those people” (p. 88K).
“I stuff as a false way to keep the peace. True peacekeeping isn’t about stopping the emotion. Remember, emotions move inward or outward – whether we want them to or not. True peacekeeping is about properly processing the emotions before they get stuffed and rot into something horribly toxic” (p. 91).
“Is my desire in this conflict to prove that I am right, or is my desire to improve the relationship?” (p. 92K).
“Instead of reacting out of anger, I pause and let the Holy Spirit redirect my first impulses. Then I tackle the issues – not the person” (p. 93).
“It is through God’s ‘great and precious promises’ (2 Peter 1:3-8) that I can participate in the divine nature. A nature very different from my own. I may not be gentle by nature, but I can be gentle by obedience. If – and only if – I equip myself with predetermined Biblical procedures that I can rely on when I start to feel the great unglued coming on” (pp. 104-105K).
“I started thinking that maybe I needed my own set of default procedures for when selfishness, pride, impatience, anger, or bitterness rear their ugly heads. Because in the moment I feel them, I feel justified in feeling them and find them hard to battle. But God’s promises – His truths and examples from Scripture – are powerful enough to redirect me to the divine nature I’m meant to have. Having a predetermined plan from Him will help me stay calmer when I start to feel unglued. More godly. More in line with Scripture” (p. 107K).
That’s probably way too many quotes – and that’s not even all I marked. But I hope some of them spoke to you as they spoke to me.
This is the first book by Lysa Terkeurst I’ve read, though I have two more on hand. I enjoyed her style, and I gleaned much from this one (I even went skimmed back through it after I finished to remind myself of some of the main points).
There were places where I didn’t agree with something she said, but I instead of going into them here, I’ll refer you to this review for more detail. Reading it has made me rethink this book.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)