David F. Allen, M.D., ©1993, p.237
Some books are meant to be read once. Then there are others that are meant to be kept nearby, like reference materials. These are the types of books that if you were to loan them out, you won’t get them back. Such is the case with In Search of the Heart by David Allen, M.D., a Christian psychiatrist.
In Search of the Heart is beautifully written with such simplicity and literary style. Obviously, the author is a medical doctor by profession but a poet at the heart. His use of extended imageries of the heart and life’s journey become containers for us to grasp difficult subjects pertaining to the psychology of human kind in light of God’s grace–love. The heart, he says, is like a sponge. When the heart becomes filled with pain, it becomes blocked—blocked to love. It is only in “opening our innermost selves to accept love, even when pain seems to overcome us,” that we are able to work through our “hurt trails” that have followed us, creating “space in our hearts to love, beauty and truth”(117).
Life is wounded, which is one of Dr. Allen’s themes in In Search of the Heart. In other words, we have all been hurt in life. This man knows pain; he understands human suffering. I, particularly, enjoyed the personal examples from his own life he shares. As a result, In Search of the Heart is not a text book or a compilation of patients’ case studies. It is a book from the heart of a doctor with love. With his understanding of the human psyche, he allows us to travel with him like Luke, the medical doctor and disciple of Jesus, sharing his eye witness accounts of how God’s love is the only power that can actually heal a broken heart that has been shattered into pieces.
Though Dr. Allen has spent much of his work in the area of addictions, he makes it clear that this book is not about recovery but moving beyond it. “It involves breaking apart the hardened shell of repressed hurt, unraveling the false coverings woven around the heart for self-protection, and exposing the pearl beneath” (12), he writes. For this reason, In Search of the Heart is a book for all of us who want to find our true selves in God. This is the journey of discovery of the heart.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to deepen their relationship with God. For the more we understand how God wired us, the more I believe we will appreciate God’s love for us. The key word there is “deepen.” Also, this type of book might also seem different to some who are not used to reading books written from other disciplines on God. But Dr. David Allen certainly is a man in search of God’s heart.