Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Peter Scazzero, pastor of New Life Church in New York City, convincingly makes the case: you can't be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally unhealthy. In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, he tells how as a long-time Christian and a pastor of a growing church, he nonetheless used God to run from God, handled conflict in unbiblical ways, suppressed his feelings of anger, sadness, and fear, and managed to alienate his wife from himself and his church in the bargain!

Scazzero's book details seven steps to transformation, and brought great encouragement to me, personally and as a pastor. His discussion, in chapter 5 ("Going Back In Order to Go Forward"), of the patterns of sin and brokenness depicted in the Genesis stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was an eye-opener. The same chapter's portrayal of a typical family's behavioral patterns set forth as ten unspoken commandments was similarly effective. And chapter 9 ("Grow Into an Emotionally Mature Adult") showed me, among other things, a couple ways in which I operate as an emotional adolescent (often tending to be defensive, and being threatened and alarmed by criticism).

The book wasn't always gripping reading, but it was thorough and helpful at every turn. The only disappointment I can lodge is that it didn't meet my hope and expectation that after reading it I would be transformed overnight into an emotionally healthy and spiritually mature person. But I suppose that was an unhealthy, immature expectation. So maybe I'm learning.

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