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Friday, December 27, 2013

"The Wall Around Your Heart" (Mary E. Demuth)

TITLE: The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You
AUTHOR: Mary E. Demuth
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013, (256 pages).

This book talks about the external wall that hurt people built around their hearts, and how Jesus can help take down the walls through inner healing. Using the Lord's Prayer as the path that can help us draw closer to God, and in the process, restore any broken relationships with people. Calling the prayer a "treasure map," the bestselling author of Everything invites readers to journey with her and to learn to see life through the eyes of God instead of our sinfulness.

The very first chapter is already a reminder that following Christ is counter-cultural. When people are hurt, instinctively they will either hit back or retract themselves like a clam. DeMuth reminds us that our first instinct must be "Pray First." Pray like Jesus. Pray to God the Father. In praying first "Our Father in Heaven," we cling onto five truths about relationships.
  1. That our earthly relationships need divine intervention
  2. We all need spiritual parenting
  3. We need to see God as the Perfect Parent
  4. We need to come before God not as judges of people but worshippers of God
  5. We need to avoid running away from people and from God.
Praying to hallow God's Name keeps any human retaliation in check, and to remind ourselves that God's holiness trumps human haughtiness. It is letting God deal with the difficult relationships and people of our lives. Praying God's kingdom come is about learning to put God's agenda before ours (which is often narcissistic). We then learn to respond like Jesus in the midst of all kinds of people. People can behave badly but that does not mean we respond in kind. Instead, we can learn to let God help us frame our relationships so that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Asking for help is also about asking for contentment in our age of consumerism and greed. In the prayer of forgiveness, we learn about genuine repentance as well as checking any bitterness inside. DeMuth even supplies nine things about forgiveness.
  1. Forgiveness is counter-culture
  2. Forgiveness is a respite from the turbulence of brokenness
  3. Forgiveness has many positives 
  4. Forgiveness enables one to empathize
  5. Forgiveness is not the perfect answer but the most humane response
  6. Forgiveness is costly but rewarding
  7. Forgiveness reflects our need
  8. Forgiveness helps us pray well
  9. Forgiveness can be revolutionary.
Her take on "lead us not into temptation" is surprisingly a very positive one. Instead of shunning away from doing things, DeMuth urges us to boldly engage and defy fear.

So What?

For anyone who is hurting or who has been hurt before, this book is like a healing balm. Writing as one who had suffered many hurts and grievances, DeMuth shares very intimate details about her traumatic past, how she was sexually abused, a daughter of a father who was into sexually perverted stuff, her early struggles in her writing, and the many disappointments in her life. With the use of the Lord's Prayer, she was able to revisit these negative past and to uncover some positive responses to it. More importantly, she puts herself in the presence of God so that she can see as much as possible God's perspective of it all.

We all need that. Far too often, we are quick to retaliate but slow to listen. We are full of ourselves and our own rights. We imagine we are at the center and unwittingly usurp the role of God when we judge others. As part of our human nature to hide or to react aggressively, we dishonour God with our behaviour that is un-Christlike. It is easy to call ourselves "Christian." It is more difficult to live out "Christlike" behaviour. The Lord's Prayer is indeed a treasure map for taking down the walls that we unwittingly put up each time we are hurt. As we situate ourselves more and more in not just saying but living the Lord's Prayer, we will tackle our human walls and take them down layer by layer, brick by brick.  Once we are free from self-guilt, and open to God, we are ready to face the world in the way of Jesus. If anyone of us dare to think that we are the world's most hurt person, remember that Jesus himself was given the deepest cut of all, by the people he loved the most. For each time we sin against others, God is hurt. Others may hurt us, but Jesus heals. Always.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan Publishers through the Booksneeze Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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