A new way to view our struggles: “Breaking Open” by Jacob Armstrong (a review)

**this is a sponsored post**

I have yet another incredible book to tell you about! FrontGate Media provided a copy of Pastor Jacob Armstrong’s Breaking Open for me to read and review. I so appreciated the perspectives he shared on suffering and our struggles; and how we can approach walking through them differently. Just amazing. What if, when we try to run away from painful moments, we are missing something transformational?

About Breaking Open, from the publisher

Everyone aches to be whole. We ache to be healed. We ache to be restored. But most of the time we wouldn’t put it into words. We just know we are broken because our child is addicted. We ache because the depression of our youth is now the depression of our golden years. We are stretched to the point of breaking because our career ambitions position us to commit to a pace we can’t sustain. Miscarriage, divorce, loneliness. In all of it, we ache.

In Breaking Open, Pastor Jacob Armstrong exposes the seven dangerous ways that we commonly seek to avoid a breakdown, showing how these seven ways are stealing life from us, and then walks us through a progression of seven Jesus-ways that move us from merely breaking to breaking open. It is these Jesus-ways that get us to the good stuff: a life filled with hope and opportunity.

In Breaking Open, you

  • discover how your greatest heartaches can open you up to the life God desires for you,
  • learn how to slow down from a frenzied pace and settle into the spacious life you have been longing for right now,
  • stop living a cheap imitation of life and develop trust in who God says you are,
  • receive permission not to have it all together by finding the power to love and live vulnerably, and
  • find the courage to name the achy undercurrent in your soul so you can break it wide open and let Jesus heal you and make you whole.

Jesus never intended for us to break and stay shattered, but to fall and rise differently. To rise with power, rise with hope, rise with purpose. In Breaking Open, learn to rise open to a new way of living!

My thoughts about Breaking Open

There was a time in my life when I thought I really had the suffering thing down. (Don’t laugh.) Let’s just say that my personal pair of rose-colored glasses was VERY rosy. Also, I was still in my twenties and obviously naive in many ways.

But, as it can, unexpected suffering hit me hard and fast for a number of years, later on. And none of the things I thought I had learned during that first dramatic time of adult suffering really seemed to apply. These more recent years of suffering really began to wear me down and in some ways, I felt, changed my outlook quite a bit. I struggled as I tried to navigate those years and situations, and I never really felt that I was able to get on top of them and manage them.

How refreshing, useful, and hopeful Jacob Armstrong’s book was to me! It seems that there are a lot of behaviors that not just I, but many humans, try to utilize in suffering: running faster and harder; trying to hide from it or “hunkering down,” as Armstrong describes it; turning the focus on myself and my own pain; and striving to be capable, among others. All of these coping mechanisms don’t really solve our problems or reduce the suffering. They can just make us numb.

Sometimes, without a guide, our attempts to navigate struggles can take us down the wrong paths of building useless habits, overworking, hardening our hearts, or even wearing down our bodies. How grateful I am for Breaking Open! In this incredibly good book, Armstrong doesn’t try to give us the perfect 5-point sermon for overcoming suffering. Rather, he tells us how humans can go the wrong routes–but then shares Scriptural truths along with the contrasting paths, to help us to choose and open our hearts to better ways that might just help us to know that Jesus is near; and He has never left.

The practices that Armstrong recommends in Breaking Open might feel counterintuitive. After all, when we’re in pain sometimes the last thing we want to do is to open our hearts and be vulnerable. But perhaps, like me, you are actually looking for something different to help you navigate the painful parts of life. I learned so much on my first reading of Breaking Open. In fact, I ordered an additional copy from Amazon today for my family. So much good, for areas of life where we really need some good counsel and kindness.

Some of my favorite moments from the book

I’ve got a lot of bookmarked places in my copy. From the many well-loved passages, here are a few of my faves:

  • “First, we have to notice that we are hurting. We might have to pause for a moment here, because there are all kinds of ways the ache can be numbed. Some of us are experts at ignoring the ache. We may have an unintentional routine to push it down every day.” (p. 31)
  • “We, the people of God, who live in the midst of so much promise, can actually settle for way less than the real thing. Over and over and over. It can become normal. That is why we can have such trouble understanding our breaking points. That is the ache–the ache for the real life Jesus holds for us.” (pp. 59-60)
  • “But life is crazy and filled with brokenness and grief, and that can lead us to live in urgency. An urgent need for Jesus, for real love, for real connection.” (p. 88)
  • “Whether we identify with the haughty teachers, the passive onlookers, or the condemned woman, the call is the same. Jesus is beckoning us to see ourselves in desperate need of grace. Neither the teachers the crowd, nor the woman can escape the stones until they hear the call to holiness.” (p. 142, on the Gospel of John, chapter 8)
  • “Some of us began reading this book with some places in us that were really broken. And as we come to the end of the last chapter, we still feel that brokenness. But with a miracle-working Jesus, we can reframe that brokenness in our lives. With a Jesus who experienced all the brokenness and then walked out of the grave whole, we are given an entirely new way to experience brokenness and an entirely new invitation to wholeness.” (p. 183)

And so…

Now that I have finished Breaking Open, have I returned to the perspective of that naive young me who thought she had suffering mastered? No, not at all.

What I do have is a new set of tools, or perhaps a new pair of glasses to look at suffering. I have longed for healing and restoration, as perhaps you have. I believe this lovely book will help me as I walk toward those; and to embrace God in the process, as truly Emmanuel. God with us.

About the author

About the author

Jacob Armstrong is a published author, speaker, and pastor of Providence Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Jacob and his wife, Rachel, founded Providence Church in 2008 with a vision to see people who feel disconnected from God and the church find hope, healing, and wholeness in Jesus Christ. Providence Church has been one of the 100 fastest growing churches in the nation the last three years.

Where to purchase Breaking Open

You can purchase this wonderful book at Amazon, by clicking the link below.

Purchase link for Breaking Open

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions shared here are my own.

2 thoughts on “A new way to view our struggles: “Breaking Open” by Jacob Armstrong (a review)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.