Unstuck by Robert Reynolds is a how-to manual for repentance. But it’s not just an ordinary how-to manual, because we all learned the steps of repentance in Sunday School, right? This book is more of a primer in how to achieve lasting repentance, how to make real changes in our lives and our hearts and learn to leave, as the author calls them, our “favorite sins” behind for good.
Written by a more-or-less ordinary guy like the rest of us (ok, he gets to interact professionally with rock stars and other “cool” people, but I’ve never been much of a fangirl), this book is more of a long conversation than a doctrinal how-to. Yes, there are some well-used LDS stories and analogies in here, but I’m ok with those. To me, they give the book a certain amount of cultural credibility.
A Plain-Speaking Guide
I really like that Robert Reynolds writes in plain English. Very often books dealing with the weighty topic of repentance are written in very formal language like somehow that makes the subject more serious and important. I’m a plain English girl myself, though I can certainly throw out lots of $2 words and make my writing sound more impressive. But really, the language helps give Unstuck its upbeat and hopeful, do-able tone.
It’s not a long book, only a smidge over 150 pages and divided neatly into three main sections. Part One: Sin and Weakness discusses how we get these “favorite sins” and why we have a hard time letting go. One of the things that adds to the credibility of Reynolds’ writing is that he writes from experience. The entertainment industry provides a constant flow of temptations and opportunities to stay from the path of righteousness. The steps and principles outlined in this book are often illustrated with experiences from the author’s own life.
Part Two covers how to obtain a mighty change of heart. He doesn’t tell us to pray harder or read more scriptures or simply to “avoid temptation.”
Instead, the author recognizes that most of us cannot do this on our own, even with divine guidance. So he presents resources for getting help. He also discusses the role of bishops, family members, therapists and friends in helping us to make the changes we are seeking. Finally, He reminds that we should never be ashamed to ask for help because we ALL need help.
Part Three teaches how to maintain that might change of heart. And yes, he does mention avoiding temptation–basically avoiding places and situations that we know are going to weaken our resolve. But his bigger focus in that our ability to maintain our change of heart is focused on our thoughts and attitudes. We shouldn’t be just seeking to avoid temptation. But we should replace those thoughts and situations with thoughts and activities that uplift and encourage. When we replace our evil inclinations with good ones, we are able to focus our mind on better things and let the temptations simply fade away. And of course the best thing of all to focus on is the Savior.
Reynolds concludes the book with a discussion of the blessings of making and maintaining that mighty change of heart. These include increased closeness to the spirit, increased revelation, charity and joy.
Unstuck: How the Savior Frees Us from our Favorite Sins is written in language easily understood by most readers.
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