It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.
In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero encourages readers to embrace ourselves as whole people. This includes our emotional, spiritual, physical, intellectual and social components.
Scazzero was an experienced pastor who came to a point in his life where he realized he was emotionally unhealthy. He avoided conflict to keep peace and ignored and suppressed his emotions.
“My life was lived more out of reaction to what other people did or might do or what they thought or might think about me.”
Scazzero writes about the top ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality.
- Using God to run from God
- Ignoring anger, sadness and fear
- Dying to the wrong things
- Denying the impact of the past on the present
- Dividing life into “secular” and sacred” compartments
- Doing for God instead of being with God
- Spiritualizing away conflict
- Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
- Living without limits
- Judging other people’s spiritual journey
Scazzero was taught that almost all feelings are unreliable and not to be trusted. Many Christians believe that anger, sadness and fear are sins to be avoided.
It never entered my mind that God might be speaking to me in the “feeling” realm in a way that did not compromise his truth. How could I listen to my desires, dreams, likes and dislikes? Wouldn’t they potentially lead me the way of rebellion, away from God?
This reminded me of a phrase I’ve often heard, “God cares more about your holiness than your happiness.”
I understand the reasoning behind the phrase and agree that our purpose in life is to bring glory to God–and that we shouldn’t allow our emotions to rule our decision-making. Holiness is often produced during difficult times.
However, I also think the underlying tone of that phrase may falsely imply that God doesn’t care about our feelings or that our feelings can only lead us astray.
It is true that some Christians live in the extreme of following their feelings in an unhealthy, unbiblical way. It is more common, however, to encounter Christians who do not believe they have permission to admit their feelings or express them openly. This applies especially to such “difficult” feelings as fear, sadness, shame, anger, hurt and pain. The issue is not, by any means to blindly follow our feelings, but to acknowledge them as a part of the way God communicates with us.
We have to learn to recognize whether our feelings are fleshly desires coming from the enemy or God prodding us to a better choice.
God created us to feel a wide range of emotions.
I enjoyed most of this book but did have a hard time reading through some of the historical application of spiritual practices.
I also struggled with the title of the second chapter “Know Yourself That You May Know God.” To me, this felt like putting self before God.
I would have preferred the title “know God that you may know yourself” since Scazzero does state that “awareness of yourself and your relationship with God are intricately related.”
Scazzero quotes Meister Eckhart, “No one can know God who does not first know himself.”
I think the reverse is true. The more we know God the more we will understand how every component God created in us fits together as a whole so that we can live emotionally healthy.
I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.