It’s that time of year for me again to go in for my yearly physical. I am not very intentional about it, and yet I know it is critical for me to monitor my health on a regular basis. If I want to enjoy life and the beauty of all I hold dear, it’s not an option, I have to just do it!
It’s the same for me in other areas~emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I need a regular check-up. So let me ask you, how is your health these days? More specifically, how is your emotional health? Let’s start there. Many of us like to ignore this part of ourselves. We’d rather just gloss over and assess our physical and spiritual well-being, that’s easier. It seems like it can be measured quickly with a checklist. But when it comes to our emotional side, we can be sailing away as happy as the Titanic oblivious to the impending danger ahead, and like that fated night, the ship that wasn’t supposed to ever sink, not only sank, but over two-thirds of those onboard lost their lives in the frigid sea. There were miscalculations from the master builders of the ship to the crew and as a result it became one of the largest disasters of that era.
Digging into the emotional side of us can be intimidating and rather frightening. It’s like digging into the back of a deep closet. I have two of those in my house. I’ve only recently had the courage to take everything out that is in front and really clean out the back. I found both treasures and items I had to discard including mystery boxes full of things I didn’t even know I possessed. It was work, it took time, but now I know what’s in the back of my closets. It brings order to that part of my life, and it feels good.
Digging deep emotionally and cleaning out the back of our emotional closets is healthy. I have found it to be tough but it has brought a level of health to my heart as I’ve been willing to look at some hard stuff. If you are like me, I need help to know how to begin to even dismantle this closet in my soul. How do we start?
I have a dog-eared copy of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. I have read it so many times I need to get a new copy. I’ve used it to encourage others to start the journey of becoming emotionally healthy because it has been transformative for me. Peter says, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature.” He lists 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality.
Read them, make a note of which ones trigger some red flags and then do some investigation to start on the journey of your own emotional health AND….
Talk it over with a friend, see a counselor if you have to.
Take the first step of digging deeper.
I promise you it is worth it.
Not easy and gut wrenching.
But worth it in the long run. I believe every leader needs to contemplate the principles Peter has in this book. It opened my own eyes several years ago of just how much this side of my life impacts everything I do, from my personal life to how I lead others. It has shaped and changed me as I’ve allowed God’s spirit to help me get to the back of that deep dark closet.
Here are the Top Ten Symptoms:
1. Using God to run from God
2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear
3. Dying to the wrong things
4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
5. Diving our lives into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
6. Doing for God instead of being with God.
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure
9. Living without limits
10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey
Hit a nerve? Any of these make you feel uncomfortable? Great! That’s a good sign, you are on the path. Ask God to help you know how to start and just pick one or two. Small consistent steps make for permanent change.
Life piles up, we cycle in and out with our habits and patterns. Eventually, if we don’t take note of what’s going on deep inside, we may hit an emotional disaster like the Titanic and sink. I encourage you to pay attention to your heart, dig deep and do some preventative work as Proverbs 4:23 says, Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.”
(Picture from www.beyondphilosophy.com/blog March 2013)
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero: copyright 2006, Integrity Publishers,Franklin TN, page 24)