Book Review: Undivided Heart by Lucy Mills
I first heard about Lucy's book on Facebook and listened to her talk about it on Facebook Live. Both the title and what I heard from her persuaded me this was a book worth reading.
The phrase "Give me an undivided heart" comes from Psalm 86. It is a phrase that has meant something to Lucy for many years and she writes, "It captures a deeper longing, beyond the surface chatter of my mind."
I can relate to what she is saying. I too want to know what it means to have an undivided heart for God. To live totally for God. To have him first and foremost in my heart. To live a life surrendered to him and his will for me.
Lucy writes honestly about longing for an undivided heart whilst at the same time, knowing that she is often divided. She writes about her journey and invites her reader to come with her on that journey.
In her book she shows how we have all been shaped by our environment, the family we grew up in, other relationships, painful experiences etc. She looks at how we are shaped by others' expectations and by our core beliefs, beliefs about ourselves and our world. She explores the labels we are given, the image we present to others, using the example of social media, and how all these things combine to give us our identity. These are often the things we find meaning in and the things which motivate us.
No wonder our hearts are often divided!
In the second half of her book, she looks to the Bible which teaches us that our motivations are to come from a heart which loves God. How, as God's people, our hope for the future can motivate us in the present, how we move from seeking the approval of others to seeking God's approval. That our identity is found in Christ, which means we are all one in Christ, despite what has shaped us in the past. Meaning and motivation are found in our relationship with Christ.
A life lived in the Holy Spirit means we are no longer bound by the things that defined us and shaped us. They are no longer of any significance. With the Holy Spirit's enabling we can reject the old way of living and the lies we have believed, and embrace our identity as a child of God.
"The Holy Spirit reminds me of my true motivation and helps to unite my heart in praise of the One I follow. When my motives are confused, I look to the Holy Spirit to shake them up and shake them out. When I struggle to find meaning in my life, I rely on the Spirit to open my eyes again and restore my sense of purpose."
One of the chapters which stood out most to me was Chapter 8 'The Age of the Like Button'. I can get too caught up in wanting people to 'like' my status on Facebook, feeling hurt if someone doesn't comment on my post, writing what I think others want to read, portraying a certain persona etc.
I love Lucy's prayer in this chapter:
"Lord, give me a healthy sense of who I am.
Help me stop trying to be something I'm not.
Where I'm tempted to airbrush my image
And glorify myself, bring me back
To your love alone."
Chapter 18 'Led by the Spirit' was another chapter which was key for me. It is so hard to break free from lies, beliefs once held, things which have defined me in the past. Believing them for so long has formed a stronghold in my life. But with the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, I can break free and live in the truth of who I am in God's eyes. This chapter reminded me of how much I need to follow the Spirit's leading on a daily basis.
I really like that Lucy includes her own prayers and poems and also the reflection points at the end of each chapter. These reflection points are great for getting the reader to think some more on what they have just read and how to apply it to themselves.
I like to make notes and underline things as I read, and I did a lot of this throughout the book. I underline anything that speaks to me, is encouraging or helpful. Whilst writing this review I went back through the book to remind myself of what I read and what I had made a note of. This reminder was helpful and convinced me that it's a book that is worth reading again. I'm sure there will be more in it for me to discover!
It is not a book to be rushed through. I found that I needed to take my time with it, to think about what I was reading and to understand it. Sometimes this meant reading a paragraph more than once so as to get a better grasp of it. It would make a good book to read in a book club or with a small group. I can see how I would benefit even more by reading it and discussing it with others.
In her last chapter, Lucy asks herself:
"I wonder, if I prayed every day to the God I claim to follow, worship and obey – unite my heart (whatever it may entail), what would happen? Do I dare pray again in this way? Do I dare ask this of God, a God who, if I believe what I say I believe, is vaster than an entire universe of light and dark?"
I also ask:
Do I, will you too, dare to pray to God: "Unite my heart"?
Lucy Mills is a freelance writer and editor.
She is the author of Forgetful Heart: Remembering God in a Distracted World and Undivided Heart: Finding Meaning and Motivation in Christ. Both these books can be bought from Eden as well as other bookshops such as Wordery and Book Depository.
As well as books, she writes feature articles, poems, prayers and worship resources. She oversees the editorial team at magnet magazine.
Ways to connect with Lucy:
Instagram and Facebook pages: @lucymillswriter