The Thing Beneath the Thing: What’s Hidden Inside (and What God Helps Us Do About It) – Steve Carter

The Thing Beneath the Thing: What's Hidden Inside (and What God Helps Us Do About It) by Steve Carter
Published by Thomas Nelson on August 10, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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The Thing Beneath the Thing helps readers to identify and then heal from past wounds that have kept them from reaching their full potential and the life of freedom that Jesus has promised every believer.
Every driver knows the importance of avoiding potholes when navigating a route. Besides the uncomfortable bump, they can create permanent damage to vehicles. And left untended, potholes can evolve into sinkholes that endanger entire roadway systems.  
The same is true of our lives. We all have potholes that have been formed by pain, trauma, or choices that we’ve made. What do we do? Usually we find a quick fix, filling the hole with activities and even addictions disguised as culturally acceptable life choices. But before long, the hole is back, waiting to catch us off-guard, which in the end creates even more permanent damage. 
In The Thing Beneath the Thing, former Willow Creek Community Church lead teaching pastor Steve Carter asks the simple question, “How is life working for you?” He knows that potholes exist and that the longer we live disconnected from answering this question, the more we will fill those holes with harmful choices. The solution? Allow God to fill them with His grace and love so that we can discover the beauty of grace, peace, and wholeness He has for us.
The process lies in discovering our triggers: the setup that sets us offhideouts: where we go to escape the pain of our storyinsecurities: the false stories we create about ourselvesnarratives: the false stories we create about othersgrace: the place where we discover how to become whole, holy, and spiritually healthyJourney with a seasoned fellow traveler who has learned how to ask key questions that help unlock the places where we’ve buried things. Then dig deep, invite healing, and learn new ways to operate so that we may begin to experience the life of freedom Jesus has promised us.

In this book, Steve Carter encourages his readers to consider the deeper reasons behind why they do what they do. As he points out in the opening chapter, no one wakes up one day and decides to wreck their lives. When people sabotage themselves, ruin relationships, or lose everything they’ve built in the pursuit of secret sins, people around them find their behavior baffling, but there is always some deeper pattern or underlying emotional issue driving the implosion. Steve Carter urges his readers to consider the deeper struggles or traumas behind their behaviors, so that they can work through profound, soul-deep problems with God instead of remaining oblivious to their vulnerability or only treating symptoms.

The Thing Beneath the Thing: What’s Hidden Inside (and What God Helps Us Do About It) provides deep insight into universal human struggles and how God meets us with grace in the midst of our pain. Carter writes about a range of different topics with sensitivity throughout this book, addressing trauma-related issues from a pastoral perspective. He shares helpful insights into how past traumas trigger us in seemingly unrelated situations, and he encourages us to identify the ways that we withdraw, attack, or hide in response to these experiences. He describes different types of responses, speaking to readers of all different personality types and life backgrounds, and digs into some of the deeper identity and security struggles behind how people respond to their problems.

Carter shares lots of personal stories, and he also narrates powerful stories the Bible, showing how we can see these universal issues and God’s wisdom for them in Scripture. He writes in a way that is accessible to both believers and seekers, and the writing style is very engaging and easy to read. Someone who feels overwhelmed by academic and lengthy books about trauma may find The Thing Beneath the Thing especially helpful, since Carter expresses key concepts in layman’s terms to help readers see how their deep hurts fuel their dysfunctional choices or responses in conflict situations. Carter doesn’t promise quick fixes or promote a deterministic view of human behavior, but he helps readers understand how the past influences the present, and shares insight into how God can help them break free.

In the final section of the book, he writes about the meaning of grace, how God can transform our lives, and how we can live according to our forgiveness in Christ, instead of trying to achieve wholeness through our own striving. His writing can encourage and help people in lots of different life situations and stages, because he gets to the heart of the issue and applies to the gospel to our deepest insecurities and longings for wholeness. This book is full of provocative reflection questions, spiritual wisdom, and practical encouragement, and can be a great help to many people.