I come from a long line of emotionally damaged people. I bet you do, too! My family weren’t sociopaths, but still, as a former pastor used to say, “Hurt people hurt people.”
This damage limits the set of options we have for reacting to people and situations. For example, imagine that you hurt your foot and are using crutches. If you are walking down the street on crutches and a mountain lion appears, your options for escape are limited! You can’t run away. You can’t fend it off, either; you don’t have the balance or firm stance you need.
Hence the term “emotional cripple.”
Emotions play a HUGE role in our lives. Here are a couple of sobering quotes to that effect.
From The Evolution of Consciousness: “Our emotions set our agenda…They govern our choices, they determine our goals and they guide our lives. We are, for the most part, in most of life their servants and we are usually not conscious of them.”
From Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Or, as we like to say in Christianity, “God’s will.”
If we keep operating according to the fallen agenda that our emotions set for us, it means that:
-Our lives aren’t going to work as well as they could.
-We will not become the truest expression of our God-created selves.
-We might miss out on our destiny (see King Saul in 1 Samuel 15 for proof).
Peter Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, says this:
“When we ignore the emotional component of our lives, we move through the motions of Christian disciplines, activities and behaviors, but deeply rooted behavioral patterns from 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.”
The subtitle of Peter Scazzero’s book says it all:
It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature
I wish this were written on at least one wall of every sanctuary in the land; it’s that important.
Emotional health is extremely important to God! It’s exemplified in this verse:
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3
Jesus repeatedly dealt with people’s emotional health. At a well in Samaria, he cut right through a woman’s diversion tactics and exposed her brokenheartedness. He stopped under a sycamore tree and told a short, despised man that he was worth eating dinner with. That’s just two of many examples.
The best tool I’ve ever found for increasing emotional health, which then creates greater spiritual maturity, is the Enneagram. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s an overview. The Enneagram helps you understand your emotional landscape and what your current level of emotional health might be. Then it helps you get healthier.
You are worth this work – and it is work. Daily work. But the world needs your unique contribution. And walking in it will give you more joy than you thought possible.
Quick Start Guide to Centering Prayer
This short guide gives you the essentials for learning to be still and quiet before God so you can hear his voice and feel his love in a deeper way.