Henrietta Ivy, Mission President
Excerpts from Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook, Peter Scazzero
1 - The Problem of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality (Held February 2021)
Emotional health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.
When we ignore the emotional component of our lives, we move through the motions of Christian disciplines, activities, and behavior, but deeply rooted behavioral patterns for our pasts continue to hinder us from an authentic life of maturity in Christ.
We often neglect to reflect on what is going on inside us and around us (emotional health) and are too busy to slow down to be with God (contemplative spirituality). As a result, we run the high risk of remaining stuck as spiritual infants, failing to develop into spiritually/emotionally mature adults in Christ.
We are made up of deep layers that exist well beneath our day-to-day awareness. The 10% above the surface represents the way we conduct ourselves and the changes we make that others can see. The 90% below the surface represents the roots of who we are that continue unchanged and unmoved.
2 - Know Yourself That You May Know God (Held March 2021)
Self-awareness is intricately related to our relations with God. In fact, the challenge of Scripture to shed our old “false” self in order to live authentically in our new “true” self, strikes at the very core of true spirituality.
In AD 500, Augustine wrote in Confessions, “How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?” He prayed: “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.”
In 1530, John Calvin wrote in his opening of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Our wisdom. . . consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.”
The vast majority of us go to our graves without knowing who we are. Without being fully aware of it, we live someone else’s life, or at least someone’s else’s expectations for us. This does violence to ourselves, to our relationships with God, and ultimately to others.
David had to cut through three obstacles to be his authentic self in God (1 Samuel 17:26-45).
- His Family – unsupportive family that judged him, he was ignored, disregarded and put down
- Significant Others with Authority and Experience – Saul had led army of 330,000 men - David was just a shepherd, Saul tried to give David his armor to wear – it was too big and bulky, everyone was giving him advice.
- Goliath – Told David he would kill him - Goliath despised David for thinking he could fight him.
However, David knew himself and God (a powerful combination). David was true to himself and to God. Are you true to yourself and to God?
3 - Going Back in Order to Go Forward (Held April 2021)
Emotionally healthy spirituality involves embracing God's choice to birth us into a particular family, in a particular place, at a particular moment in history. That choice to embrace our past grants us certain opportunities and gifts. It also hands us a certain amount of "emotional baggage" for our journey through life. For some of us this load is minimal; for others, it is a heavy burden to carry.
True spirituality frees us to live joyfully in the present. Living joyfully, however, requires going back in order to go forward. This process takes us to the very heart of spirituality and discipleship in the family of God - breaking fee from the destructive sinful patterns of our past in order to live the life of love that God intends.
4 - Journey through the Wall (Held May 17, 2021)
Emotionally healthy spirituality requires that you go through the pain of the Wall - or, as the ancients called it, "the dark night of the soul." Just as a physical wall stops us from moving ahead, God sometimes stops us in our spiritual journey through a spiritual Wall in order to radially transform our character. Often, we are brought to the Wall by circumstances and crises beyond our control.
Regardless of how we get there, every follower of Jesus as some point will confront the Wall. Failure to understand and surrender to God's working in us at the Wall often results in great long-term pain, ongoing immaturity, and confusion. Receiving the gift of God at the Wall, however, transforms our lives forever.
5 - Enlarge Your Soul Through Grief and Loss (Held June 7, 2021)
Loss is a place where self-knowledge and powerful transformation can happen - if we have the courage to participate fully in the process. We all face many "deaths" within our lives. Our culture routinely interprets these losses and griefs as alien invasions and interruptions to our "normal" lives. The choice is whether these deaths will be terminal (crushing our spirit and life) or will open us up to new possibilities and depths of transformation in Christ.
6 - Discover the Rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath (Held June 21, 2021)
Many of us are eager to develop our relationship with God. The problem, however, is that we can't seem to stop long enough to be with him. And if we aren't busy, we feel guilty that we are wasting time and not being productive. It is like being addicted - not to drugs or alcohol - but to tasks, work, and doing.
But God is offering us a way to deeply root our lives in him. This can be found in two ancient disciplines going back thousands of years - the Daily Office and Sabbath. When placed inside present-day Christianity, the Daily Office and Sabbath are groundbreaking, countercultural acts that go against the grain of our fast-paced Western culture.
Stopping for the Daily Office Sabbath is not meant to add another "to-do" to our already busy schedules. It is the resetting of our entire lives toward a new destination - God himself. These practices enable us to day attuned to God's presence throughout our days and weeks.
7 - Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult (Held, July 12, 2021)
The of the Christian life is to love well. Jesus was aware of that true spirituality included not only loving God, but also the skill of loving others maturely.
Growing into an emotionally mature Christina person includes experiencing each individual, ourselves included, as sacred, or as Martin Buber put it, as a "Thou" rather than an "It". Becoming emotionally mature requires learning, practicing, and integrating such skills as speaking respectfully, listening with empathy, negotiating conflict fairly, and uncovering the hidden expectations we have of others . . . just to name a few.
As we will see in the bible study on the parable of the Good Samaritan, both self-respect and compassion for others are part of a life rooted in "I-Thou" relating.
8 - Go the Next Step to Develop a "Rule of Life"
If we are to nurture a heart that treats every person, ourselves included, as a "Thou" instead of "It," we need to be intentional about our lives. By ordering our lives to contemplate the love of Christ and to receive the lover of Christ, we will be able to give the lover of Christ away to others. In this way, he transforms our lives into a gift to our families, friends, coworkers, and communities.
The problem again, however, is our busyness and lack of intentionality. Often, we find ourselves unfocused, distracted, and spiritually adrift. Few of us have a conscious plan for intentionally developing our spiritual lives.
Nurturing a growing spirituality in our present-day culture calls for a thoughtful, conscious, purposeful plan. To do this well requires us to uncover ancient buried treasure - a "Rule of Life."