Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Matt DampierCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Today’s guest post is by Associate Rector Matt Dampier.

Dear Christ Church,

This summer the Christ Church staff has been reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. It’s a fantastic book and one worth reading if you’re looking for a next book.

This is my second read-through and I’m finding it just as insightful as my first time. I find myself slipping away to read it during early morning coffee rituals when the house is still asleep. At breaks through the day as I push back the keyboard. Late night before I drift off to sleep. Its allure is that Scazzero quietly and kindly invites his reader to be honest and present before God. The basic premise is that true spiritual maturity must take into account our emotional life—the raw, unadulterated, fickle emotional inner life—and learn to bring it before God.

Several quotes will give you a flavor of the book.

“To the degree that we are unable to express our emotions, we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves well.” (p. 24)

”Unhealed wounds open us up to habitual sin against God and others.” (p. 89)

“Our culture routinely interprets losses as alien invasions that interrupt our “normal” lives. We numb our pain through denial, blaming, rationalizations, addictions, and avoidance. We search for spiritual shortcuts around our wounds. The choice is whether these deaths will be terminal or open us up to new possibility and depths of transformation in Christ.” (p. 118)

“Turning toward our pain is counterintuitive. But in fact, the heart of Christianity is that the way to life is through death, the pathway to resurrection is through crucifixion. Of course, it preaches easier than it lives.” (p. 123)

That idea of bringing our total self before God, including our emotional self, has been a theme of our Summer Psalms series. Our culture often falls into two false extremes of either ignoring our emotions or overindulging our emotions. But the Psalms give us language to pray our emotions, to bring our full humanity before Him not hiding ourselves or trying to dress ourselves up.

The Book of Common Prayer gives us a plan to pray the psalms in its lectionary. Perhaps these next few days, you find the Psalm for the day and pray along with it, offering your full humanity, and your intellectual, relational, volitional, and emotional self to God.

Grace. Peace.