As we embark on a new year, let’s do it with courage. What kind of courage? The courage to admit that no matter how much we pray, read our Bible, serve others and our local church, or give money, we might not be loving ourselves and others very well. We might be emotionally unhealthy. We might have emotionally unhealthy patterns of dealing with failure, disappointment, stress, people’s expectations, hurtful comments, family members, friends, and authority figures. You fill in the blank.
At our church here in Edinburgh, one of our pastors, Ben, introduced me to the author, Peter Scazzero. He has written several books, one of which I’m only 30 minutes from finishing. The title of the book is Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. The subtitle is even more illuminating: It’s Impossible to be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature. I’ve enjoyed listening to the audiobook version as a nice break from reading with my eyes (I do plenty of that in my PhD studies). As a current pastor who admits to being an emotionally healthy person and pastor for much of his life, he writes about busyness, stress, the need for a Sabbath, how we hide behind religious activity, healthy ways of dealing with others, being honest with people including ourselves, noticing and admitting and working through unhealthy patterns of behavior that are learned from our families growing up, and so much more. He quotes authors such as Martin Buber, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
In a nutshell, the book is an invitation to a spiritually healthy life that includes, at its center, emotional and relational health. The honest truth is that for some people, their “religion” has made them unloving, unkind, and horrible to be around. Part of the catalyst for me reading this book is that a few weeks ago, I looked myself in the mirror and confessed: “I am emotionally unhealthy in several ways.” It immediately released a sense of peace and freedom in my heart to pursue Jesus and his health in a new and more genuine way.
I highly recommend this book, especially now as the new year has dawned and we have a renewed hope that his year can be better than the last. Ultimately, emotionally healthy people can lead to emotionally healthy churches, and emotionally healthy churches are better positioned to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ by their freedom to love well.
Some of his other books include: