Healing for Damaged Emotions

by David A. Seamands, Victor Books, 2002, 144 pp.
Reviewed by Jack Heppner.

Ever since the first edition of this book came out in the late 1970s, I have had a hard time keeping a copy on my shelf. Countless times I have given away my last copy to someone I felt might find in its reading some healing for damaged emotions as I had. Sometimes I bought three or four copies at a time. But always they disappeared.

On one occasion a couple we knew from our time spent in Virginia stopped by to spend the night in our Manitoba home on the way to the wife’s parental home in Northern Alberta. That evening she shared about the many deep wounds she had experienced during childhood in the region to which they were now headed. I gave her my last copy of this book to take with them on the journey back to the land where her pain was born. A month or so later I received a letter from her. She wrote that they had read the book aloud to each other all the way to her parents home and wept nearly all the way. By the time they arrived she had found a measure of healing for some of her deepest wounds.

Seamands tells of how, in his pastoral ministry, he discovered a group of people who seemingly could not be helped with the standard “spiritual remedies”. No matter how sincerely they prayed, studied their Bibles or tried to have more faith, their problems persisted. He refers to these wounded people as having infirmities (Romans 8:26) and requiring a special kind of healing process. Like rings of a felled tree expose the hidden wounds the tree has suffered during its lifetime, many people’s wounds lie hidden behind a façade of normalcy. His thesis is that unless and until those wounds are exposed and healed, they will be a festering source of brokenness throughout life.

In the first four chapters, Seamands helps the reader understand how the process of guilt and debt-collecting works to create infirmities in our lives. In the rest of the book he expands on the symptoms and healing processes required for three specific infirmities that he says require special attention. He suggests that low self-esteem, perfectionism and some kinds of depression are firmly rooted in emotions that have been damaged somewhere along the way. Discovering those places where the emotions have been damaged and then bringing those wounds into the healing presence of God’s grace can restore a good measure of spiritual and emotional health. Having struggled with all three of these infirmities over the years myself, I can only say that Seamand’s book has been one of the key sources to which I have gone for help.

One illustrative story in the book stands out in my mind. Charlie Steinmetz had built the great electrical generators that ran Henry Ford’s first car manufacturing plant. One day they stopped functioning. After many attempts to get them to work had failed, Henry Ford called Steinmetz. The great genius came, appeared to tinker around for a few minutes, and the generators sprang to life. When Ford received a bill for $10,000 he complained to Steinmetz and asked for a discount. Steinmetz returned the letter of appeal with a note attached, “$10 for tinkering on the generators. $9990 for knowing where to tinker.” Ford paid the bill.

Seamands suggests that sometimes we don’t know where to tinker in our lives to find the healing we need. However the Holy Spirit knows where to tinker. And sometimes we need each other to pin-point the place where the Spirit wants to heal our infirmities. We have a High Priest who is touched by the “feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).

Get this book and try keeping it on your shelf! Good Luck.