The last month or so, I have been (slowly) reading through Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. I have really enjoyed the book so far and have been convicted by his charge for Christians to be more in touch with their emotions.
I don’t trust my emotions, so I tend to ignore them more than I should.
On page 24 of the book, Scazzero lists the top 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality. I found the list and his subsequent commentary on the items helpful, so I figured I would include some of his thoughts and mine here.
So, the top 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality:
1. Using God to run from God
This symptom is especially toxic because it’s so hard to see.
Christians, myself included, excel at filling their schedules with so much Christian programming that it makes it easy to hide from God amidst all of the small groups, prayer meetings and worship gatherings.
Scazzero says, “Using God to run from God is when I create a great deal of ‘God-activity’ and ignore difficult areas in my life God wants to change.”
Amen. I have done this far too often in my own life.
2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness and fear
I get angry about the dumbest stuff.
A couple of years ago when we totaled our car and shut down part of I-65 in Kentucky the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I wasn’t mad at all.
But, when I forget my phone on my desk or almost trip on the dog in the kitchen, I get mad and annoyed.
Seems kinda backwards.
I don’t like when I get mad, sad or afraid, so a lot of times I just ignore these feelings. It isn’t healthy physically, emotionally or spiritually to ignore these feelings.
Scazzero is super helpful here. He says, “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.”
Let yourself feel.
3. Dying to the wrong things
Scripture calls us to “come and die” when we trust in Christ for salvation and follow after him. This is a difficult command to follow for most of us because we’re unwilling to die to our sin and selfishness.
For others of us, this command is difficult to follow because we’re willing to “come and die” but we die to the wrong things.
“God never calls us to annihilate the self,” Scazzero says. We aren’t supposed to die to that which is good, but that which is not of God and hinders us from Christlikeness.
4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
It’s so easy to assume that your past is simply dead and gone, having no impact on you or what you’re looking to do in the future.
Assuming this is harmful to your emotional and spiritual health.
Not everyone can afford counseling, and some Christians wrongly think counseling is only for people in dire situations.
But if you see a counselor to talk through any emotional or spiritual issues you may have, you will quickly learn how impactful your past is on your present.