Book: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
[Here are some thoughts by the President of UBF on Peter Scazzero's book, "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality". I suggest listening to Peter's introduction to his book.] I would like to share with you about Peter Scazzero’s book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”. Often times seemingly good Christians can have deficiency in emotional maturity. Scazzero deals with this problem very well in this book. Before I thought “emotional” means immaturity and something to be avoided if possible. But the author said the emotions of anger, sadness and fear are just one component of many parts of our whole human being.
Another aspect of emotional health is to respect and love others without having to change them. We have to assess our strengths, limits and weaknesses and freely share them with others.
The author said the importance of balancing of our healthy spirituality between Contemplation and Activity.
“Mary is “being” with Jesus, enjoying intimacy with him, loving him, attentive, open, quiet, taking pleasure in his presence. We became “human doing” not “human being”.
“The reason we need to stop and be with God is so we might create a continual and easy familiarity with God’s presence at all times—while working , playing, cooking, taking out the garbage, driving, visiting friends, as well as during worship, prayer and Bible study.” There is no dichotomy in God.
“God speaks to each one of us every day—through Scriptures, creation, dreams, silence, traffic jams, boring workdays, interruptions, conflicts, job losses, relationship breakdowns, successes, failures and betrayals.”
Another good example is Joseph in the OT. He said in Genesis 45:8, “It is not you who sent me here, but God”. Joseph overcame his personal tragedy by accepting it from God’s divine providence. Joseph put God in between him and his brothers. He accepted his misfortune as God’s mysterious leading with good purpose.
The author said, “Every mistake, sin and detour we take in the journey of life is taken by God and becomes his GIFT for a future of blessing. Joseph rewrote his life script according to Scripture. He was not bitter or revengeful. He opened the door to God’s future by rewriting it with God.”
It is inevitable for us to face some kinds of walls and crisis during our journey of life.
It can be through divorce, a job loss, the death of a close friend or family members, a cancer diagnosis, a disillusioning church experience, a betrayal, a shattered dream, a wayward child, a car accident, an inability to get pregnant etc.
Christians can be notoriously judgmental in the name of standing up for the truth. I am not an exception. I judged other people’s journeys with Christ that were different from mine.
Scazzero said, “Pride and our tendency to judge others I found in every corner of the world, in all cultures, workplaces, playgrounds, families, neighborhoods, sports teams, classrooms, marriages, homeless shelters, corporate boardrooms and ten year olds birthday parties.
Contrast that image with a broken person who is so secure in the love of God that she is unable to be insulted. When criticized, judged or insulted, she thinks to herself, “It is far worse than you think!”
The author contrasted some characteristics between emotional children and grown up adults.
“(Emotional Children) Interpret disagreements as personal offenses.// Are easily hurt.// Complain, withdraw, manipulate, take revenge, become sarcastic when they don’t get their way.// Have great difficulty calmly discussing their needs and wants in a mature, loving way.”
“(Emotional Adults) Can, when under stress, state their own beliefs and values without becoming adversarial.// Respect others without having to change them.// Give people room to make mistakes and not be perfect.// Appreciate people for who they are—the good, bad, and ugly.// Have the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that consider the perspectives of others.”
Martin Buber, a great Jewish theologian wrote a book called “ I and Thou”.
“Buber described the most healthy or mature relationship possible between two human beings as an “I-Thou” relationship. In such a relationship I recognize that I am made in the image of God and so is EVERY OTHER person on the face of the earth. Because of that reality, every person deserves respect—that is, I treat them with dignity and worth. I do not dehumanized or objectify them. I affirm them as having a unique and separate existence apart from me. Though you are different from me—a “You” or “Thou”—I still respect, love and value you.
The result of I-It relationships is that I get frustrated when people don’t fit into my plans. The way I see things is “right”. And if you don’t see it as I do, you are not seeing things the “right” way. You are wrong.
True relationship can only exist between two people willing to connect across their differences. God fills that in-between space of I-Thou relationship.
Practicing the “I-Thou” in our relationship leads to another aspect of emotional maturity. It informs our capacity to resolve conflicts maturely and negotiate solutions as we consider other people’s perspective.”