Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Shame Lifter

Shame Lifter

Shame Lifter
by Marilyn Hontz

Trade Paperback: 206 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
First Released: 2009

Author Website
Author on Twitter

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Replacing Your Fears and Tears with Forgiveness, Truth, and Hope

Not good enough. Is that how you see yourself? Maybe you constantly put yourself down or work harder and harder trying to measure up. Perhaps you're sure that people wouldn't like you if they knew the real you. You may even battle an eating disorder or other serious addiction, or suffer from a history of abuse.

Marilyn Hontz knows these feelings all too well. While her life has been marked by many outward successes, a series of devastating losses early in life left her feeling insecure and inadequate. In Shame Lifter, Marilyn tells her personal story of how she released her own shame and overcame the destructive habits of bitterness and negativity. This sensitive yet powerful book will help you let go of the unhealthy shame holding you back and embrace the God-given truth about yourself instead.

Shame Lifter is a Christian Living / Spiritual Growth book. Marilyn Hontz explains the sources of shame and how to find freedom by mixing this information into the story of her personal journey from shame to freedom. There are sections at the end of each chapter with questions and scripture to help the reader apply what was learned.

While the book does seem to be somewhat slanted toward a female audience, the information can be used by anyone. The book is easy to read and easy to understand. The points made in the book are in line with what the Bible teaches and are often backed up by specific scriptures. I, of course, would have liked the use of even more scripture.

The first half of the book focuses on humans and their behavior--identifying the source of your shame, how your actions can lift shame from others, recognizing a shame-giver and how their words affect you, and how guilt becomes shame.

The second half of the book is wonderfully Christ-focused and teaches on forgiveness, depending on God, discovering the truth of our identity in Christ and how God sees us, and the many ways God brings healing into our lives. (Yes, she tells us various things we can do, but the focus is still on Christ.)

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone, even those who don't personally deal with toxic shame. Quite likely, you know someone who is in bondage to shame, and this book can help you know how to help them.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Introduction
Do you ever have a vague, bogged-down feeling that something is wrong with you? Do you ever feel that while you’ve been told God loves you, He certainly must love others more than you? Do you sense that you can’t measure up to what people or God want from you? Do fears torment you and keep you from being a confident person?

Perhaps you feel a rush of anger whenever you feel put down so you lash out at the person closest to you. Or you might down an entire half gallon of ice cream after listening to your boss go on and on about how you should improve your time management skills. Maybe you berate yourself for minor mishaps. Say you accidentally back into a neighbor’s mailbox. Even after paying to have it replaced, you continue to feel bad about it and indulge in self-berating thoughts. Why wasn’t I paying more attention when I backed out of the driveway? How could I have been so dumb? And every time you drive by that now-repaired mailbox you wonder how you could have been so brainless to make such an obvious mistake. By way of contrast, people who do not view life through the lens of toxic shame may back into a neighbor’s mailbox and while they feel bad, they can fix the mailbox and then move on. They do not continue to degrade themselves.

Toxic shame can take an outward event (like hearing a critical comment or backing into a mailbox) and turn it inward. It causes you to focus on yourself in a negative way. Instead of recognizing that you accidentally hit a mailbox, toxic shame can make you believe that you are a mailbox hitter and always will be. If you make a mistake while presenting a workshop for your company or church, you tell yourself, I’m not a good presenter. I’ll never be able to speak again. You believe the internal message and refuse to give another presentation—even though you are very capable.

Shame is bound up in who we are and not so much with what we do. Author Stephen Seamands writes, “Shame, though it may be triggered by something we have said or done, is about our being.”

Read the rest of the introduction.


Marilyn Hontz said...

Hello Debbie, What a fun surprise to find your review of my book, Shame Lifter, on your Book Club. Thank you very much! If you're interested, I'd be happy to send you a free copy of my first book, Listening for God - which deals with Scripture, prayer and taking time to actually sit and listen to our Heavenly Father. I'm on Twitter - so if you'd like - you could send me a direct message to let me know where to send you a copy. Thanks again. God bless you! Marilyn Hontz

Debbie, ChristFocus said...

Marilyn Hontz, thanks for dropping by. I'd love to read your book, "Listening for God." I'll DM you on Twitter immediately.