Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Review: "Unashamed" by Heather Davis Nelson

Have you ever felt shame?

Do you know the difference between "shame" and "guilt"?

Is shame holding you back from finding happiness in your life, confidence in who you are, and the freedom to take risks and enjoy moments that happen daily? 


If you answered "Yes", "No", and "Yes" to these questions, then the book Unashamed by Heather Davis Nelson may be one that you should consider getting your hands on. Taking a Christ-centered approach to battling the shame we all feel, Nelson draws from her own personal experience and time as a counselor to present to her readers a new perspective on the various types of shame we all carry. It is a book that could be a useful tool in today's society; we are constantly being criticized by others on social media, in grocery stores, at local pools and beaches - anywhere we can think of - on any number of topics from our body appearance to our parenting skills to how we should manage our marriage.

Shame is real, y'all.

Once I got past the first couple of chapters, I decided to hand-pick chapters that best fit the types of shame that I tend to struggle with. A big one for me right now is body shame - a shame that is largely self-imposed. After deciding to make healthier diet and exercise choices prior to having kids, I had lost 80 pounds and was feeling the best physically I had ever felt in my life. Then I had 2 kids and had a net gain back of about 40-45 pounds of weight and felt physically exhausted. I didn't bother dieting because I was breastfeeding... and then when I stopped I noticed my clothes didn't fit as well as they had when I was.

Then I stood on the scale. And I became disgusted, appalled - ashamed of myself.

How could I have made such poor choices - probable overeating, definitive lack of exercise - and let myself slide backward and lose what I had worked so hard to achieve?

How many of you out there reading this right now have felt something similar?

I love Nelson's working definition of shame that she reminds you of throughout the book: "It's the feeling of 'not good enough' according to our own standard or our perception of someone else's standard for us. It's what keeps us from being honest about our struggles, sins, and less-than-perfect moments. Fear of shame drives us to perfectionism in all areas of our lives, so that there would be no imperfection for others to notice and judge." What a powerful definition to remind us that shame is largely self-imposed, that it is something that we can choose to release and let go of and allow ourselves to grow.

I cannot tell you how unsexy, how unattractive I have felt and wondered what my husband must think of me. My husband who the other day after I commented I would wait and buy a swimsuit next summer when I looked better looked at me with a genuinely sad face and said "Honey... I think you're pretty NOW...". It is not my husband or my friends or other people who make me feel shamed... it's me. I own that. Nelson addresses this in her body shame chapter with words that truly spoke to me: "They cannot fully heal body shame because it is not primarily a cultural problem or a self-image issue, but a heart condition for which we need massive inner transformation."

As a Christ-follower, what I also appreciated about Nelson's book is that she continually points us back to Jesus. Jesus, she reminds us, wants us to cloth ourselves in Him - that He clothed Himself in our shame so that we no longer have to wear it. Whether that shame for you is your body image, or your parenting skills, or in your social circles, or in your marriage - Jesus has taken that shame from us so that we no longer have to carry it. In her chapter on "Shame-Free Parenting", she reminds us that "God the Father poured out all our shame on Jesus, who did not deserve it. All of our own shame... was borne by Jesus at the cross - in order that we could walk free of shame's insidious hold on our lives...". 

If you, like me, are a Christ-follower carrying some sort of shame that's holding you back from becoming your true self then consider reading this book. The only word of caution that I would offer is that unlike the familiar, pastoral, almost energetic tones of a Max Lucado or Mark Batterson book - Nelson's tone is very much that of a Christian counselor. She is encouraging, she is calming, and she is even a bit inspiring - but she is at her heart a counselor who is looking to have her reader transform through his/her issues into their best potential self.

So - what do you think? Want to read this book?

Turns out I'm also giving away a copy!!!




There are a two ways you can win: 
  1. Comment below with either how shame affects you, how you've overcome shame in the past, or a verse that helps you to remember your identity in Christ. 
  2. Share this post and comment below that you did.

Every comment gets an entry! If you don't want to enter the contest OR just want to check out the book before you do, check it out by clicking here to read more about Unashamed.

Contest closed on July 3rd and our winner is Jamie! Thanks to everyone who read this post - click on the above link to get your own copy of Unashamed!

Thanks to the fine folks at FlyBy Promotions for providing the prize to the winners! 


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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”