Book Review of Comfort Detox By Erin Straza

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Erin has been a mentor to me. We connected through Christ and Pop Culture (where I do some writing). She is the managing editor of the Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, which is for members only. And she has a podcast through CAPC, with Hannah Anderson, called Persuasion. This is one of my favorite podcasts, because these two women are deep thinkers, culturally savvy, and don’t spend too much time chatting and giggling (as do some podcasts for Christian women).

Now Erin has launched into the book publishing realm to release Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom From Habits That Bind You, through InterVarsity Press. She starts off with what she calls “The Shredding”, which for her was a defining moment in the red light district of India. This shredding was a humbling experience and a severe mercy that devastated her, but woke her up to the sorrowing world around her. And out of “The Shredding” came what she terms, “The Question”, which was, “What am I doing?” Erin finally faced this uncomfortable question when she came home from India; this is where her comfort detox began.

Erin does a great job explaining what she means by a comfort detox: it is rewiring our brain by rewarding it with true comfort, instead of the false comforts of this world, and thereby replacing old habits with good ones. She thoroughly analyses the culture around us and the craving for comfort, and specifically unpacks a few ways our culture attempts to satisfy this craving. Three broad categories, Erin proposes, for old, world-conforming habits are: convenience, safety, and perfection. These three areas are ways we seek comfort. But Erin points us in a new direction.

Her new direction is true comfort. And Erin unpacks the idea of God being our comforter. This where comfort is redeemed. As Erin says, “I have pursued the comfort of things, when all along comfort is a person.” She goes on to say that God designed us to crave comfort, but it was meant to find ultimate satisfaction in him. And the comfort from God does not stop here, but is joined together as we comfort others with the comfort we have received (2 Corinthians 1:4), which in turn equals more comfort for us. Instead of collapsing inward, we must turn outward. This way, as Erin says, we’ll receive a full measure of comfort. She says, “True comfort enables us to turn outward – toward God for the comfort we need and toward others who need what comes only from God.” 

Erin reminds us that comfort is a mindless habit, and that the gospel overpowers the old habits of living for convenience, safety, and perfection and replaces them with “life-giving habits we need – compassion, trust, and humility – in order to walk free from the destructive habits that bind us.” She then ends the book with three chapters dedicated to the ways true comfort is set loose in our lives. First, we experience gospel freedom, then we are engaged with the sorrowing world around us, and finally we will be captivated by God’s kingdom purposes.

This book is a true treasure full of creative insight and deep biblical thought. Erin writes as she speaks (which, if you’re a writer, is a compliment). She writes clearly, thoughtfully, and vulnerably. It’s obvious she feels and cares deeply, and she inspires us to do the same.

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Unfulfilled Longings in the Check Out Line

Part 3 of the Christian Thinking series. 


Have you looked at the women’s magazines at the store check out lane recently?

  • 99 Ways to Look Better, Feel Better, Enjoy Life More!
  • Snack off Weight
  • Look Gorgeous When It’s 100 Degrees
  • 25 Secrets to Looking Young
  • Indulge Yourself: Instant Long Hair; Goof-proof Self-tanning
  • The Little Health Habit That Keeps You Thin, Improves Your Skin, and Ups Your Energy!
  • The Easy Life: Fun Jobs, Cool Dresses, Wild Fantasies, and Smart Solutions

All of these article titles promise to satisfy our desires to be thin, beautiful, young, and have everything we want quickly and easily. Yet, if we don’t get the results we want, when we want them, we launch into feelings of resentment, depression or anxiety. Then when we feel this way we look for other
ways to fulfill our longings: a new hairstyle, wardrobe, job, a man, children, vacations, and food. It’s a frenzied cycle of bondage.

We live in a culture of convenience. The only worthy pursuits are ones which come with little effort. Once life gets hard and we don’t feel fulfilled we pitch a fit. We live in a time where results are demanded instantly; a fast-food mentality permeates all areas of our lives.

This is false teaching alive in the message of our culture, and it is not a biblical message. Women embrace this message, because of insecurity, unhappiness, and a desire to feel fulfilled. Here are 3 ways we can put on our Christian Thinking caps and impart truth into our lives in this area:

1. Unfulfilled longings are not always sinful.

Longings and desires, in and of themselves, are not sinful, and fulfilling these desires are not always sinful either.  When our quest for fulfillment becomes a demanding right that must be fulfilled instantly or we insist on fulfilling our longings in illegitimate ways then we have entered the territory of sin. The problem enters when our desire for other things or people take the place of our desire for God.

2. Our unfulfilled longings cannot be filled by people and things.

C.S. Lewis says this perfectly:

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We will always have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven. The problem is we are too easily satisfied with lesser things offered on this earth, and these lesser things will always fail and disappoint us.

God gave us these desires as a way to point us to heaven and to himself as the ultimate satisfying source of life. He wants us to feel restless on this earth; we are sojourners and aliens here. We should not try to make our home in the wilderness, while the promised land is waiting for us.

3. Unfulfilled longings are a normal part of life. Contentment is key.

We will always live with unfulfilled longings. Once we get what we want, we’ll just want something else. The grass always looks greener on the other side, until we get there and see all the weeds we have to fight, and then we desire a new patch of grass. Our consumer minded society is constantly feeding its ferocious appetite for more. This is not a Christian mindset. We are called to think like Paul and learn contentment in every season of life.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13

As Christian women, we need to ask God for strength to be content with whatever lot we find ourselves in. We need to ask for joy in whatever God has set before us. We need to trust God with our unfulfilled longings, and see Christ as our source of ultimate fulfillment to life.

Part 4 >>