Book Review: Heart Made Whole by Christa Black Gifford

My Summary:Heart Made Whole

Heart Made Whole by Christa Black is one of those books I think everyone should read. It is beautiful, tender, touching, moving, and so very helpful.

It begins with the story of how Christa gave birth to a daughter with half a skull and an underdeveloped brain exposed. Her baby lived for 40 minutes. 40 minutes that left Christa with a broken heart. It was in this place of immense pain, rage, sorrow and grief that Christa drew on her intimate relationship with Christ and made a decision to stay connected with him and let him make her heart whole again.

The rest of the book chronicles different painful and joyful experiences from Christa’s life as she has learned to face her pain, feel it, take it to Jesus, and be healed. She shares how she took abuse, addiction, an eating disorder, and other painful issues to Christ and how she developed an intimate connection with him.

This book is relevant to everyone because we all feel pain, have questions about it, and many of us don’t deal with it in a healthy way. This book is a comfort and a great resource for dealing with pain.

My Reactions:

This book had me in tears often and gave me many insights. It’s never condemning but always comforting.

It took away a lot of Christian guilt I felt by showing me that the Christian journey doesn’t always look ‘perfect.’ Christa struggles with a lot of the same struggles I have and we’ve dealt with our pain in a lot of the same unhealthy ways: performance, addiction, escape, denial.

The book has changed parts of my theology and I love when my thinking is expanded like this. Here are the main insights I got out of this book:

  • Bad stuff isn’t okay.

I used to think that bad stuff was okay because ‘there’s a reason for everything,’ and ‘God’s in control.’ But God cries and rages over the bad stuff. His will is for no bad stuff.

So why is there bad stuff? God is in charge but he isn’t in control. He gives us the control to choose what we do even if it harms ourselves, others, and him. He never controls us; instead he submits to us because he loves us. He loves us enough to endure the pain we cause, so we should love ourselves enough to feel our pain too.

Yes, God turns all things around for good and for his glory, and he heals all pain and brokenness, but he still shakes with rage and cries with anguish at pain and brokenness. He feels so strongly about the pain and brokenness that he died so we could be healed and made whole.

  • Pain isn’t bad.

It simply tells us the condition of the heart. I always thought my heart was my enemy. I saw it as something I couldn’t trust and something that would hurt me. But pain isn’t the issue. Pain tells us that something is hurting us and we need to deal with the cause of the pain. If we ignore the pain, then we will continue to be hurt. So listen to the heart when it cries out.

  • Self-hatred comes when our heart is at war with itself.

A really helpful theory the book presents is that there are three parts to our heart. The emotional heart is the part that feels, the guardian heart is the part that protects, and the function heart is the part that keeps on going so you can continue to go through life.

If the guardian heart condemns the emotional heart for feeling, and if the function heart ignores the pain, then the heart is divided and at war with itself.

We will never feel peace in life if our heart is at war. And we will never be free if we don’t face the truth of our pain because it’s the truth that sets us free.

  • Our job isn’t to heal our own heart, to fix it or make it whole; that is Jesus’ job.

Our job is simply to feel pain and bring it to Jesus. As long as we stay connected to Jesus we will never be alone in our pain and he will heal what only he can heal.

There is nothing wrong with you if you’re a Christian and you have a broken heart. When bad things happen and you feel pain, your heart breaks. Each time it breaks, stay connected to Jesus and he will put it back together.

Don’t condemn your broken heart or your pain. Don’t shame yourself or hate yourself for what you feel. Don’t try to change yourself. Instead, accept the way you feel as Jesus accepts you as you are. Let him love you.

  • Don’t live to love and serve God.

Live to be loved by God. As he fills you with love, you will naturally love him and express this naturally by serving him and others.

  • Head knowledge doesn’t give you your beliefs; experience does.

If you’ve experienced rejection and never experienced the love of God, then no matter how many times you hear the facts about God’s love and tell yourself that God loves you, your core belief will still say that you are unlovable.

I can trick myself into thinking I believe what my head knows but deep down I believe what my experience has told me. So I need to have an encounter with Jesus where I meet him at a heart level.

I need to experience a God who is safe and trustworthy when life hasn’t been safe or trustworthy. I need to experience a love that is greater than fear, acceptance that is greater than rejection, and joy that is greater than pain.

My Recommendation:

If you’ve got a broken heart, if you deny your feelings, if you struggle with self-hatred, if you wonder why bad things happen to good people (or why bad things happen at all), this book will help. If you’re a perfectionist, a people pleaser, a performer, and/or a stress-head, this book will help. If you’re a Christian struggling with depression, addiction and/or exhaustion from doing good works and doing the right things, this book will help.

Read it, read it, read it!!!

My Rating:

5 stars -Very helpful book for my life journey. Definitely want to read it again. Learnt so much!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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