Living Beyond Your Feelings by Joyce Meyer
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
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Living Beyond Your Feelings by Joyce Meyer is strictly for older Christain woman, so if you don’t fit that demographic, I wouldn’t recommend this book.
Living Beyond Your Feelings was written in 2011 by Joyce Meyer. Meyer is a Christain and runs Joyce Meyer Ministries. She is a Bible teacher, author, and speaker. Born Pauline Joyce Hutchinson on June 4, 1943, Meyer married Dave Meyer on January 7, 1967, and became a Christain in 1976. Meyer was instrumental in the international charismatic movement of Christain religion. The charismatic movement is characterized by Pentecostalism and spiritual gifts; it began in the 1960s.
People come in all shapes and sizes, and so do Christians. Meyer is a different type of Christian than I am, so it was hard for me to enjoy this book or get any wisdom out of it. Meyer’s style of religion is what I call old school Christianity. This type is characterized by moral authoritarianism. I felt Living Beyond Your Feelings was preachy. Meyer thinks the answer to everything is prayer and inserts her words and intentions into Bible verses. It’s every complaint I have about that generation of Christianity.
Now that you know my bias, I will try to give an honest, unbiased review of this book.
The book is trying to do what I am trying to do on my blog in the emotional part of dimensional health - take a hard look at feelings and how they affect life. Meyer wants to explain in Living Beyond Your Feelings how to control your emotions. As every Christian from that generation, I believe their intentions are in the right place, but their execution is off.
Inserts Her Words Into Bible Verses
An example of Bible verses from Living Beyond Your Feelings is “When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long.” Psalm 32:3 (pg. 14) I brought out my Bible to figure out the difference between this verse in Living Beyond Your Feelings and the source of this verse.
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” Psalm 32:1-4 ESV
The verse is the same except the tenses. I don’t like using one verse at a time. It’s like pulling a page out of a book. The story is taken out of context, and it leaves room for misinterpretation. I’m no scholar, but through a little research, I discovered this passage is talking about redemption (which means to pay off). It’s talking about God forgiving his believers for their sins (offenses against Him).
When Meyer inserts her phrases into the verse, I don’t think it is necessary. If she just included more verses or the whole passage, it would convey the message she is trying to get across. Again I’m not a Christian scholar, so I don’t want to claim that she takes verses out of context, but she walks a thin line. Meyer is a Bible teacher, but I don’t think that gives her the right to mess with the Bible.
I don’t like Meyer’s writing style or her voice. A writer’s voice is the words they choose to use and the tone those words convey. It’s a personality displayed through the book. I felt like Meyer had a narcissist attitude; she knows better than everyone else, and she is going to let us know about it. Take the part of the book where Meyer tells a story about a woman cheated on her husband.
“The woman in question feels she can never be happy without the other man, but I know for a fact, from the Word of God and life’s experiences, she will never be happy with him either. Once the excitement of having the forbidden fruit wears off, the misery will begin.” (pg. 56)
The chapter was titled, “I wish I didn’t feel this way.” The theme of this section was about not letting emotions make decisions for you. A statement I agree with, but I have a problem with Meyer telling a hypothetical story with a particular ending to prove her point. It allows Meyer to make blanket statements about life and choices when it’s not that simple. I felt like Meyer was not honest with me about emotions or how to make decisions.
Another criticism I have with this type of Christianity is that they preach that the answer to everything is prayer or believing harder. Let’s look at chapter 15, “Freedom from Discouragement and Depression.” Meyer states the following:
“When God gave us the ability to control our thoughts, He gave us a wonderful ability. We have the ability to cheer ourselves up, no matter what our circumstances are. Sadly, a lot of people don’t know this wonderful truth. It is easy to go through life with a victim mentality, simply believing that you can do nothing about the way you feel, especially if you have encountered a major disappointment in life.
Here is one simple solution the BIble gives for depression: Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (see Isa. 61:3). What God offers us is greater than anything the enemy offers. Praise will neutralize sadness, but we must remember that we are instructed to “put on” praise. We cannot be passive and merely hope the sad feeling goes away.” (pg. 198 - 199)
Though I agree a victim mentality won’t get you out of depression, praying won’t solely get you out of it either. Prayer isn’t the answer to everything. It is just one answer. Every problem has multiple solutions. Most situations Christians try to solve with praying will have other solutions that work just as well.
Living Beyond Your Feelings has a few useful nuggets.
“Choose your thoughts.” pg. 90
“Dis-ease causes disease.” pg. 91
“What we say in difficult times determines how long the difficulty will last and how intense the difficulty will become.” pg. 106
“If you want to give the devil a nervous breakdown, just get up every day and see how much good you can do.” pg. 135
“Christianity is not a passive religion.” pg. 154
“There is no way to heal and get over the trauma without forgiveness.” pg. 211
“Hurting people hurt people” pg. 213
I love these statements. They are excellent pieces of advice that would help almost everyone trying to get control of their feelings! I plan to use them in my own life.
Not Citing Sources
There were a few statements in this book that weren’t sourced. For a little background, I have my master’s in biomedical sciences, which means I always cite my sources. It is a massive discredit to yourself to make statements that aren’t backed up by facts.
The first fact not cited is from Dr. Caroline Leaf. Living Beyond Your Feelings claims, she discovered we could replace damaging old thoughts with new ones. (pg. 97) I can’t find any peer-reviewed articles written by her on PubMed, but her website has research articles free to download. https://drleaf.com/ You can check them out for yourself.
The book also claims, “The human personality consists of roughly four-fifths emotions and one-fifth intellect.” (pg. 114) From what I understand, this comes from an evangelical doctrine of personality. It is not based on any research, but evangelical theology. That doesn’t mean the principle isn’t true; it just means you have to take it with a grain of salt.
Lastly, Meyer uses the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. (pg. 173) This test is legitimate and aligns with the statements in Living Beyond Your Feelings. https://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory All it took was a simple Google search to find the information. You can check it out for yourself.
Is it such a big deal that Meyer didn’t cite her sources? Yes, it is. To prevent the spread of misinformation, every fact should be sourced. With no references, Meyer (or anyone) can say whatever they want about whatever they want. There is no way of knowing if it’s true or false. To be more credible, always cite your sources.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have read Living Beyond Your Feelings by Joyce Meyer if I didn’t need to do a review over it. I got a few chapters in and realized the book wasn’t for me, but maybe it is for you! Joyce Meyer has helped thousands of women in their Christian walk, so Living Beyond Your Feelings might be precisely what you need.
Need another book? Maybe one of these will work:
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