The tag line on Freeing Tangled Hearts is “Only by taking our eyes off of ourselves and focusing on God can our tangled hearts truly be freed.” It is a fitting, if counter cultural, summary of the content you will find within.
Kimball opens the book by clearly laying out her worldview and defining how that will shape the chapters that follow. She is clear in her assertions that the root of our emotional turmoil is the curse of sin, and as fallen humans we can do nothing to untangle our own hearts. Having laid out these foundational premises, Kimball enters into her “five point cure for a tangled heart.” 1. Examine to see if you are separated from God. 2. Recognizing that we are in a spiritual battle. 3. Manage our emotions instead of letting the manage us. 4. “Refuse to think of ourselves” – a quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones and finally 5. Put on the truths of God.
I found myself in hearty agreement with Kimball and her early presuppositions. Because we approach the subject of emotional care with a similar worldview I found myself skimming over the passages in which she defends it. That is a weakness on my part, not on hers. Filled with personal, poignant illustrations, and excellent biblical instruction, this is an easy read, but not an easy read -if you know what I mean. Witten clearly and laid out in a straightforward and easily progressing manner, the words themselves are easy to read; but I am afraid that too many women who desperately need this book will find the ideas too challenging and refuse to continue to read the words.
I have only two reservations about Freeing Tangled Hearts.
The first is with her first point, handled in the first two chapters. While calling women to seek the fruit of the Spirit in their lives and examine their lives for the works if sanctification that would give evidence of a redeemed heart – the only kind of heart that can be untangled – Kimball fails to give any counsel or direction to the woman who may be unsure if she is, in fact, separated from God. The middle of chapter 2 contains this startling transition: “. . . no amount of advice or counseling will solve your problems if your biggest problem is that you are separated from God. . . But once salvation is reasonably assured, you can begin the process of moving forward with the understanding that you do have the power of the Holy Spirit. . .” (P. 30). Now, please understand that I completely agree with all of these concepts, but surely we must also include the encouragement that if we believe we are separated from God we can surely call on the name of The Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13).
My second reservation is with less with concept, and more with placement. Kimball’s final point is to put on the truth of God. Again, I agree completely with the concept, and found her illustrations in the chapter to be completely fantastic. In fact I think it is the strongest chapter of the entire book, and I wish it had appeared far earlier. The chapters on managing our emotions would have been so much stronger with the concept of putting on truth to replace the emotional tangles interwoven throughout.
Those two points aside, it is a strong book, with a much needed message for today’s increasingly narcissistic, emotionally tangled society. If the “listen to your heart and do what feels right” brand of emotional care is leaving you more tangled than ever, this is your book. But read it all, right to the end, because Dolores Kimball saves the best for last.
I received no compensation for this post. I was provided a paperback edition for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one. I keep a disclosure statement here.