Levels of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
How do I discover where I am emotionally in my walk with Christ? Here are a few indicators.
Emotional infants. I look for other people to take care of me emotionally and spiritually. I often have difficulty in describing and experiencing my feelings in healthy ways and rarely enter the emotional world of others.
I am consistently driven by a need for instant gratification, often using others as objects to meet my needs. People sometimes perceive me as inconsiderate and insensitive. I am uncomfortable with silence or being alone.
When trials, hardships, or difficulties come, I want to quit God and the Christian life. I sometimes experience God at church and when I am with other Christians, but rarely when I am at work or home.
Emotional children. When life is going my way, I am content. However, as soon as disappointment or stress enter the picture, I quickly unravel inside. I often take things personally, interpreting disagreements or criticism as a personal offense.
When I don’t get my way, I often complain, throw an emotional tantrum, withdraw, manipulate, drag my feet, become sarcastic, or take revenge. I often end up living off the spirituality of other people because I am so overloaded and distracted.
My prayer life is primarily talking to God, telling him what to do and how to fix my problems. Prayer is a duty, not a delight.
Emotional adolescents. I don’t like it when others question me. I often make quick judgments and interpretations of people’s behavior. I withhold forgiveness to those who sin against me, avoiding or cutting them off when they do something to hurt me.
I subconsciously keep records on the love I give out. I have trouble really listening to another person’s pain, disappointments, or needs without becoming preoccupied with myself. I sometimes find myself too busy to spend adequate time nourishing my spiritual life.
I attend church and serve others but enjoy few delights in Christ. My Christian life is still primarily about doing, not being with him. Prayer continues to be mostly me talking with little silence, solitude, or listening to God.
Emotional adults. I respect and love others without having to change them or becoming judgmental. I value people for who they are, not for what they can give me or how they behave. I take responsibility for my own thoughts, feelings, goals, and actions.
I can state my own beliefs and values to those who disagree with me — without becoming adversarial. I am able to accurately self- assess my limits, strengths, and weaknesses. I am deeply convinced that I am absolutely loved by Christ and, as a result, do not look to others to tell me I am okay.
I am able to integrate doing for God and being with him (Mary and Martha). My Christian life has moved beyond simply serving Christ to loving him and enjoying communion with him.
Taken from Peter Scazzero with Warren Bird, The Emotionally Healthy Church: Updated and Expanded Edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).
For more information and further resources, contact www.emotionallyhealthy.org.