Jennie Allen—a bestselling author and founder of the If: Gathering, an annual event for evangelical Christian women designed to charge them up to disciple others—came for readers’ brains with her 2020 blockbuster Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts. Now, she’s coming for emotional baggage—the juggernaut of feelings such as fear, anger, and sadness that can block the pathway to joy. In her forthcoming book, Untangle Your Emotions: Naming What You Feel and Knowing What to Do About It (WaterBrook, Feb. 2024), Allen presents readers with steps for noticing and identifying their feelings, making a case for how emotions can lead to a deeper connection to others as well as Jesus.
Laura Barker, v-p and publisher for WaterBrook & Multnomah, says Allen has sold nearly two million copies across her seven titles to date “because she writes with vulnerability and candor about her own intentional pursuit of spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational health,” adding that she offers readers “tangible solutions they can put to work in their everyday lives.”
You call this the most difficult book you’ve ever done. How so?
In all my research—and I have a master’s in biblical studies—I didn’t find many Bible teachers or theologians who have looked at the power of emotions, although mental health concerns are the topic of our day. Even the church has gotten this wrong by communicating that emotions are dangerous and untrustworthy. But I say emotions are a gift to help us navigate a wild world. We need to feel our feelings. Without feelings, there is no life.
The book features your own experiences to illustrate the damage that occurs when we try to control, cope with, or conceal our feelings. Why share how hard it was to give up those “three C’s”?
I am super honest in my books and my [Made for This] podcast about my life. This work is very personal. This book reflects two years of learning how to deal with my emotions and developing the steps to notice, name, and share these feelings with others and with God.
You write in boldface type in your book, “Let me be clear, you will never be emotionally healthy outside the will of God.” Is this book of use to non-Christians, too?
I am coming at this from a Christian worldview, but this is a book for all humans. If you don’t know Jesus, I hope you still like this book. I think of myself as just following Jesus, who has blessed me, and in following Jesus I want to love people whoever and wherever they are.
What is next for you?
I’m going to do more books for children, including one on emotions. And I’m already writing my next book for adults. It’s called God Likes You. Too many people think God is angry or disappointed with them. He may not like everything we do or always approve, but I know a God, personally and from the Bible, who has great affection for me and for all the people he has created. We may do things he is not happy about, but he loves us and has a plan for us.