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by Alli Worthington
Although we all know how to put on our “Sunday” faces for those who don’t know us intimately, we all have struggles of one kind or another. In her book Fierce Faith, Alli Worthington gets real with Christian women. She gives us a “battle plan against the fear, worry, and anxiety” that want to pull you down. She uses anecdotes to illustrate the kinds of battles that we face and identifies that the attack usually comes from the spiritual realm. She offers Scriptural promises and practical applications and ways of fighting back with a “fierce faith.”
Worthington addresses issues you may not even know you have because you avoid confronting them by strategies such as staying busy, bingeing on a variety of things, or becoming numb. I don’t consider myself a fearful person, but I got zinged a number of times as she addressed fear of betrayal, rejection, and an uncertain future. Some might identify with FOMO (the fear of missing out) which began with Adam and Eve but is put on steroids by social media. Fear of failure and not measuring up are other common forms of attack.
Alli Worthington offers practical help for common problems. She encourages the reader to trust God and explains how to do that. I recommend this book for all Christians regardless of where you are in your faith walk.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Zondervan for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: The end of the book has workbook like pages to help the reader develop a person battle plan.
Publication: January 23, 2018—Zondervan
Fear doesn’t have to stem from some catastrophic event that cripples us. Everyday worries can be as crippling as catastrophes. Fear often stems from small worries and anxiety that build up over time, eventually shutting us down or causing us to explode.
Sometimes the illness or disability isn’t cured, the financial hardships aren’t resolved, the bad news doesn’t change, but when we throw ourselves at Jesus’s feet, he gives us what we need to walk through our difficult seasons and to fight against the storms that darken our skies.
You can choose to believe the truth that Jesus has a purpose for you beyond your failures and allow him to rewrite your story. Our futures are already claimed by God; we don’t have to stay stuck in a cycle of fear and failure. Failure doesn’t have to be your story. He is still writing your story.
Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection
by John E. Sarno, M.D.
Dr. Sarno, through many years of treating patients with back pain, has discovered what he considers an epidemic of back pain in the U.S. and states that usually the cause is not an accident or a degenerative disease. He attributes it to repressed emotions, usually anger or anxiety, and says that the stressful situation that causes the Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) does not always have to be resolved for the pain to go away. The patient just needs to recognize the mind-body connection that he is experiencing.
I have not tried to apply Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection’s seemingly simple techniques; I have only read the book. Dr. Sarno’s detailed discussion of the failure of traditional medicine’s handling of back pain does make sense. He advises someone with back pain to consult with a doctor to get that perspective, but then evaluate their symptoms in the light of his thesis. He also says many other conditions such as eczema, headaches, and irritable bowl syndrome may be attributable to repressed emotions also.
Dr. Sarno cites a lot of anecdotal evidence as well as data gained from surveys of patients to support his theory. He does not claim to understand how the brain can exert such powerful control over the body, but reminds the reader that there are many things about the way the brain works that are not completely understood yet. Dr. Sarno is a medical doctor, not a salesman, not a slick businessman ready to perform on morning TV. His background is displayed in his writing style, and my 4 star rating reflects that. His bold stance against the traditional and unsuccessful medical view of back pain and his obvious enthusiasm for helping those with back pain rates 5 stars.
- Much of the book is technical. The chapter about his technique is vague, maybe because it is so simple and we expect more bells and whistles from modern medicine. Because of these factors, I found the Appendix particularly valuable. It is comprised of “Letters from Patients” and shows concretely how various patients have applied his theory and their results.
- Having finished this book on the mind/body connection, which deals primarily with the power of repressed emotions, I was amazed as I started a fictional book to discover at least four prominent references in the first chapter to how the characters realistically reacted viscerally in various ways to stress inducing moments. I reflected that if people instantaneously respond physically (tightening muscles, a sinking feeling in the gut) to anxiety, then Dr. Sarno’s connection of repressed emotions and body pain seems rational even if ignored by the medical community.
Publication: Original 1991, Kindle 2001—Hachette Book Group
Though the low back is the most common location for an acute attack, it can occur anywhere in the neck, shoulders, or upper and lower back. Wherever it occurs, it is the most painful thing I know of in clinical medicine, which is ironic because it is completely harmless.
It is not the occasion itself but the degree of anxiety or anger that it generates that determines if there will be a physical reaction. The important thing is the emotion generated and repressed, for we have a built-in tendency to repress unpleasant, painful, or embarrassing emotions. These repressed feelings are the stimulus for TMS and other disorders like it. Anxiety and anger are two of those undesirable emotions that we would rather not be aware of, and so the mind keeps them in the subterranean precincts of the subconscious if it possibly can.
Traditional medical diagnoses focus on the machine, the body, while the real problem seems to relate to what makes the machine work—the mind. TMS is characterized by physical pain, but that acute discomfort is induced by the psychological phenomena rather than structural abnormalities or muscle deficiency.