We hope that last week you were able to do a brief 'assessment' of your emotionally healthy spirituality by simply looking at your emotions, or lack there of. In Chapter 2, Scazzero goes into much more detail about what emotionally unhealthy spirituality looks like by giving the Top Ten Symptoms to look out for. This week we encourage you to take some time to evaluate your life again, but with these symptoms in mind. Invite God to show where or which symptoms exist in your life, your marriage, your relationships.
Below we have provided each symptom, along with questions or challenges to go with each. We hope these questions will help you dive head first into the depths of your internal life, possibly discovering that you experience at least 1 or more of these symptoms. These questions are challenging to write, so we know they will be challenging to not only read, but to ask yourself.
Scazzero writes, 'The pathway to unleashing the transformative power of Jesus to heal our spiritual lives can be found in the joining of emotional health and contemplative spirituality.'
Before we can ever experience this healing power, we have to first diagnose the problem by asking the hard questions.
1. Using God to Run from God
Take a look at all the 'God-activity' in your life. Honestly look at your motives behind these 'good works'. Search your heart. Is there anything you might be running from or avoiding by filling every moment with a different activity?
2. Ignoring the Emotions of Anger, Sadness, and Fear
Do you feel permission to admit and express your feelings, all of them, openly? Do you think your feelings are not to be trusted? Do you find yourself devaluing or repressing certain feelings or emotions? What 'false confidences' do you use to ignore certain feelings, such as fear or shame?
3. Dying to the Wrong Things
What are your passions, desires, and dreams? Do you feel guilty for having these desires and passions? Have you 'laid down' some of these for God? Are there 'good' parts of your life and who you are that you have 'laid down' that God is inviting you to 'pick up' again?
4. Denying the Past's Impact on the Present
Look at your relationships. How you work through conflict. How you define success or self worth. What are you mirroring? Do you notice any unhealthy patterns you've picked up from your past, your family?
5. Dividing Our Lives into "Secular" and "Sacred" Compartments
Is God compartmentalized to only certain parts of your life? If so, which ones? Can you find God even in the most mundane activities throughout your day?
6. Doing for God Instead of Being with God
Do you receive your worth and value from what you do? Evaluate your motives behind all the 'work' you do for God. Is it to earn approval? To earn value or purpose? Do you feel a pressure that 'it is all up to you'?
7. Spiritualizing Away Conflict
How do you handle conflict? Do you blame others? Attack? Or maybe you avoid it all together. Look at the relationships in your life. Is there any 'false peace' that needs to be disrupted in your life?
8. Covering Over Brokenness, Weakness, and Failure
What pressures do you feel? The pressure to have all the answers? The pressure to never make a mistake? Are you afraid to let people see or know how you really feel or think?
Identify moments when you are comparing your life and journey to someone else's. Do you feel like you come up short?
9. Living Without Limits
Are you experiencing contentment in your life, or are you exhausted and over-committed? Do you even think you have limits? How are you taking care of yourself? Do you struggle with saying 'no'? Or feel guilty when you do?
10. Judging Other People's Spiritual Journey
Who do you receive from? Do you believe that everyone, created in God's image, has something unique to offer, something you could receive? What unconscious categories/stereotypes have you created based on judgements?
Again, we know that evaluating our lives in such a deep, personal way will lead all of us to experience some level of pain, and we want you to know that is OK and is all part of this journey.
Scazzero writes, 'To feel is to be human. To minimize or deny what we feel is a distortion of what it means to be image bearers of our personal God. To the degree that we are unable to express our emotions, we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves as well.'
To cut our feelings out of our spirituality is to 'slice off a part of our humanity.' We encourage you to lean in, move towards what you feel as you go through these questions. Again, you are not alone. There is no judgement, no condemnation. Just as Scazzero writes, we are all weak, vulnerable and dependent on God and others, no matter what our gifts, talents, and strengths may be. Give yourself permission to feel. This Sunday, Rob mentioned how Jesus definitely experienced feelings and emotions. He was constantly moved and driven by feelings of compassion and love. Trust that God is one who feels, and will only continue to move toward you with feelings of love and compassion as you journey with him.
> > > by Stefanie Drawdy