INTRO -- The Emotionally Healthy Church book - I read over 10 years ago by a Pastor -- Peter Scazzero - church in Queens New York - New Life Fellowship.... certainly a book I coulda shoulda wrote....a message I believe in and have been teaching for years! - he even uses some of the illustrations I have been using to teach this concept for 20 years.
I was recently asked as part of our LifeCare newsletter (Ask the Pastor/Director Section):
"What's a definition of emotional health that everyone can use to understand where they are?"
Dear 'What's a Definition': It's a shameless plug but I invite you to attend my next class called Healthy Spirituality to find the answers. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a full definition here that would be complete. However, I would like to say that self-awareness is one of the keys to emotional health - what am I feeling and why? what am I thinking and where are those thoughts coming from? Your belief system is very important to your emotional health - we all have lies we believe and those lies lead to emotion that inevitably lead to action. If we believe things that are not true, we will respond negatively to a situation based on the emotion that it evokes oftentimes. God's word tells us 'we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free'.. that also means facing the truth about our feelings, thoughts and beliefs so they can be changed by God's truth. Living an emotionally healthy life has much to do with believing and responding to truth and managing our emotions God's way.
I want to take this and explain something before we go any further... I chose to call this class Healthy Spirituality rather than Emotionally healthy spirituality as the book is titled because I believe the 2 are inseparable... having emotional health is part of spiritual health.. having mental/intellectual health is part of spiritual health.. having relational/social health is part of spiritual health.. and I will even take it a step further and say that.. having physical health affects and is a part of spiritual health...
We are 3 parts - body, soul (mind & emotions), spirit - God desires as much health as possible in all the parts...Therefore, to call this emotionally healthy spirituality would eliminate some of the parts.
Many Christians have a tough time feeling or even considering emotions let alone believe they have a need for becoming healthy in that area…
Examples – know anyone who can quote Scripture backwards and forwards, say they are spiritually mature and yet have a marriage that is falling apart, jobs they continue to be let go from, have out of control anger, depression, etc?
The author of this book explains that he fell into this trap of not dealing/ feeling/ processing / paying attention to feelings – he quotes… "I was taught that the way to approach life was through fact, faith and feelings in that order. As a result, anger, for ex, was and needed to be suppressed. Most people are either ‘stuffers’ or ‘inflictors’ of their anger. Some are both – maybe they stuff until they finally explode onto others." – your feelings/ emotions will come out – perhaps not the way you’d like .. but they will come out – they will be misdirected and oftentimes destructive!! Anyway.. this author/ pastor was a classic ‘stuffer’.. always asking God to take away his ‘bad’ feelings and to make him more like Christ. Hmmm.. sound familiar to anyone????
By the way… there are no ‘bad’ or ‘good’ feelings… feelings are just feelings…
We are taught in 2 cor 5:17 that when we become a follower of Christ, old things are passed away and all things have become new. My experience has taught me that I have to go back in order to go forward. I have to go back and understand what the ‘old’ things have to teach and tell me. The only way they can pass way.. be put to death.. be healed/ made new is for me to face them, deal with them.. we must feel, deal and heal…. The tragic reality is that most of us will not go back in order to go forward until the pain of staying where we are is unbearable.
Statistics show that only 1% of the population ever self-actualize - a study quoted in Neil Anderson's research says that only 8% of the Christians surveyed experience maturity/ wholeness.
In order for us to get health in all the parts, it will take some work.. We are going to have to go beneath the surface of our lives -- ICEBERG Illustration
Tonight we are going to hit on an overview of why we need to do this and what the goal is. Then we will spend the following weeks unpacking these in greater detail and 'how' to become healthy.
WHY CHRISTIANS ARE NOT HEALTHY / WHOLE
LACK OF BROKENNESS –
DENIAL & DISHONESTY –
REFUSE TO SEEK HELP/SUPPORT –
DO NOT ACCEPT THEMSELVES JUST THE WAY THEY ARE –
TRYING TO GET FEELINGS TO LINE UP WITH THE TRUTH –
FAIL TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE FLESH (OUR SINFUL NATURE) AND THE REAL YOU –
AN INADEQUATE UNDERSTANDING OF GRACE –
WRONG CONCEPT OF GOD –
NEVER APPROPRIATE THEIR TRUE IDENTITY IN CHRIST –
HAVE NOT LEARNED TO RESIST SATAN/THE ENEMY –
HAVE NOT LEARNED TO DISCIPLINE THEIR MINDS –
ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS TO LIVING HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
1) Belonging to a family – SPIRITUAL MOMS AND DADS - God re-parents
2) Receiving and giving life & love
3) Recovering from the effects of traumas – TYPE A, TYPE B - Things that happen 'to' us.. or.. the absence of good things
4) Contributing to a community
Failure in any of these factors, people remain stuck and do not learn to live out their true God-given identities.
The question I want to present to everyone here is the same question I was presented with over 24 years ago.. and the same question Jesus asked in John 5:5-6 of the paralyzed man..
"One who was there had been an invalid for thirty eight years. When Jesus
saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition a long
time he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
Do you want to get well?! What a shocking question. Isn't the answer obvious? Why even ask?
One of the most confusing parts of the healing process is the fact that we have many layers of resistance to it. As we begin to see the changes this journey will demand, we begin to see how attached we have become to our existing way of life. Sometimes we play games to hold on to the past.
I know people, including myself that wanted to be healed of alcoholism so that they could continue to drink – socially of course! We are all like this - we want healing but we fear the changes healing will bring.
Sometimes the fear comes from the fact that we can't imagine any way of being in the world other than what we have known. A life consumed with
despair, rage and self-loathing may seem pretty awful, but its the only life we may have known. Any change may seem risky and uncertain.
God is not ignorant of our resistance to healing. God asks the difficult question: "Do you want to get well?" It's not always as obvious as it seems. The 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous/Celebrate Recovery addresses this issue when it talks about being "entirely ready" for God to change us. The process of becoming "entirely ready" is at the heart of the struggle of healing and coming into spiritual maturity. Our hearts and minds are being prepared to answer 'yes' to God's offer of wholeness.
So.. what do we hope to accomplish as we go through this together? One of God’s promises is found in Gal 5:22-23… Let’s look at the NIV and The Message – the fruit of the Spirit.. (the dysfunctional broken me – gets out of the way or becomes what God originally intended.. then I can bear fruit).
NIV - The Message
Love – affection for others
Joy – exuberance about life
Peace – serenity
Patience – a willingness to stick with things
Kindness – a sense of compassion in the heart
Goodness – a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people
Faithfulness – involved in loyal commitments
Gentleness – not needing to force our way in life
Self-control – able to marshal & direct our energies wisely.
GROUP WORK FOR DISCUSSION– LESSON 1
1. As we consider healthy spirituality and that we are 3 part beings… what part(s) do you seem to struggle with the most to come in alignment with God’s truth? Body, Soul (Mind and/or emotions), spirit
2. What have you been taught historically about emotions – in your home? By the church/ other believers?
3. In the section on why Christians are not healthy/ whole and the components of becoming healthy, which do you see as the most predominate in people’s lives or in your own for that matter?
4. Take the time right now to verbally commit to one another and pray for the courage to become a spiritually healthy Christ follower. Share any areas you specifically want accountability, support or prayer in.