Summary of Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge

The Problem:

The world has gone completely mad, and it’s trying to take our souls with it. The number of demands on our time and energy, and the overwhelming torrent of information come at us 24-7 have let us all ragged, wrung-out and emptied. What we assume is a normal lifestyle is absolute insanity to the God-given nature of our heart and soul.

Some of the many problems include:

24-7 access to everyone’s life:

  • Thanks to social media, everyone’s life is open and accessible… We’ve created an assumption that you can enter and observe, or engage, with anyone, anywhere, anytime. There are no boundaries… a total loss of personal space” (22). This leads to many problems, especially depression.

24-7 access to global problems:

  • “To add on top of our individual struggles and heartbreaks, we now have the tragedies of the entire world delivered to us hourly on our mobile devices… the suffering of the entire plant, in minute detail, is served up on our daily feed.” The fact that the average American consumes 10 hours of media per day is alarming” (5).

We’re addicted to this distracted life:

  • This has become the new socially acceptable addiction. And to be honest, we prefer distraction because the more distracted we are, the less present we are to our souls’ various hurts, needs, disappointments, boredom, and fears. It’s a short-term relief with long-term consequences.

We’ve lost our ability to focus:

  • We thought technology would make our lives easier, make more room for doing the things we love. Exactly the opposite has taken place. Without thinking, we expect our souls to process information as quickly as our iPhones.
  • The internet has also altered the structure of our brains. There is an incessant barrage of “information” competing for our attention. News. Marketing. Notifications. Alerts. Status updates. Postings. You can’t get away from it now.
  • We are now living at the depth of the text, the swipe, the “like.” And even worse, we’ve lost the ability to focus on the things that matter most in life and the things that nourish us – like lingering conversations with friends and leisurely strolls through the park.

This is all very hard on the soul. Traumatizing, in fact. Our souls are not meant to do life at the speed of smartphones. To be honest, we’ve all been sucked into a pace of life nobody’s enjoying.

“Honestly, I think most people live their daily lives along a spectrum from slightly rattled to completely fried as their normal state of being” (5).

The Solution:

In Get Your Life Back, John Eldredge provides a set of wonderfully simple practices to help recover your soul.

Transitions

  • Technology has robbed us of ordinary transition spaces and opportunities. Our souls need transition time though. Especially in this world. We will find God in the transitions.
  • Tips: Turn off your phone notifications, put your phone to sleep at night (8pm bedtime), use the Pause App (www.pauseapp.com).
  • We need to loosen our grasp on efficiency and focus more on loving well (click here for a blog post on that).

Get outside

  • The average person spends 93% of their life indoors. That means that if you live to be 100, you will have spent 93 of those years in a little compartment and only 7 outside in the dazzling, living world. The rescue of our souls must take place through engaging with the real world. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” (Hopkins).
  • “Beauty is one of the richest graces God has provided to heal our souls and absorb his goodness” (29).
  • Two tips: (1) Pause when you are offered beauty & consciously receive this grace; (2), fill your world with beauty (paintings, music, nature walks).
  • Do you seek quick fixes for relief or long-lasting solutions through restoration? (click here for a blog post on that).

Loving God

  • Start with something you love. The laughter of your child. Sunlight on the ocean. Your beloved dog. A favourite song, painting, vacation spot. Someone dear to you… Then say. So does God! He made this for me. He is the creator of everything I love. Every wonderful thing in your life is a gift from God, an expression of his heart toward you… Every moment you have ever been happy, thrilled, comforted, hopeful… that was God loving you (cf. James 1:17).

Gratitude & Admiration

  • Pray for people who are in a better situation than you are, who are more gifted than you are, or who currently have wonderful circumstances coming their way. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Praise God for other’s wonderful lives, cheer for them, praise God for it. Pray for someone else’s promotion, someone else’s pregnancy, someone else’s healing. These practices crucify envy and restore the soul.

Care for the neglected places in your soul

  • Whereas our culture wants us to move on and say our losses in life don’t really matter (ie. the average bereavement period for the loss of a spouse or child in corporate America is 4 days), we need to practice kindness to ourselves by giving ourselves time to grieve. Remember, the world will never budget soul-care for you.
  • For now, you can pick one thing you would call a loss or disappointment that you feel you’ve put aside because there wasn’t space or time to deal with it when it happened: name it, allow your soul to feel it, give yourself full permission here, then invite Jesus in (“What do you have to say about this, God?). Allow yourself to fully enter into this place yourself and then invite Jesus in – he’s knocking!

Comments

  1. Jonathan Neal Tarman says:

    My name is Jonathan Tarman. I was hoping to use your personal affirmations as a springboard to start my own. I am a person who struggles with obsessive negative thinking. My email address is tarmanjonathan14@gmail.com. I listened to your podcast on the battlefield of the mind and was really encouraged. Thanks for answering God’s call to service as a priest.

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