I learned the hard way. Just because I was raised in the church and was a passionate follower of Christ, that didn’t mean that I was whole on the inside. The truth was, I was an emotional wreck.
I was demanding and critical of myself. I was obsessed with winning other’s approval. I was terrified of rejection. I had a hard time listening to criticism. I felt it impossible to say no to other’s demands. I could never speak my thoughts and feelings and I did my very best to avoid any conflict that came my way.
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For so many years, I sat in church and listened to amazing sermons by profoundly gifted pastors. Yet somewhere in the deepest shadows of me, what I could believe for so many others, I could not believe for myself. Other people could be whole, but that must not be for me. No amount of study, prayer, or faith ever seemed to glue together what was terribly broken inside.
My healing came in an altogether different way. God’s greatest gift to me was the gift of emotional healing. He brought me to a place where my emotional wounds could be safely exposed, understood, healed. My emotional healing did not detract from my faith, my emotional healing increased my faith.
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God created us as multi-dimensional beings – we are physical, spiritual and emotional beings. God wants peace for us. “Peace” in Hebrew refers to wholeness, completeness, safety, soundness, and fullness. God wants us to be whole —physically, spiritually, and emotionally. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NLT) states, Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
According to a study by Jocelyn Rebisz, there is a significant correlation between emotional health and spiritual maturity.1 Rather than pulling us away from our faith, it appears the more healthy we become emotionally, the more healthy and mature we become spiritually.
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There are three reasons that emotional health is a spiritual issue:
God’s purpose for us is to be continually “transformed into His image” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV). He wants us to be spiritually holy (set apart and pure), as well as emotionally whole (complete). If we ignore the emotional aspect of our lives, we can never experience the peace and abundance we desire. We are left to carry with us the emotional scars from our past. That is not God’s plan. James 1:2-4 encourages us to, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
How can we be the hands and feet of Christ when we come to church on Sunday and feel so isolated, so veneered, so incredibly invulnerable? We smile the appropriate smile, we say the appropriate prayer, yet we never feel safe enough to get real. We rarely let anyone know what’s really going on. We raise our hands and celebrate God’s victory and yet we walk into the rest of our week feeling depressed, anxious and anything but victorious.
The truth is, the church can be uncomfortable with broken things. We don’t typically like things that are messy. Yet Jesus always found Himself in the messy. He was quite at home with the brokenhearted, with the diseased, with the downtrodden. He didn’t need them to fix themselves up for Him. He, rather, drew a picture of a church as a hospital, a triage, a place where the broken could feel comfortable exposing their wounds, where they could be invited in and welcomed to bring their bruised and bothered selves to experience a fellowship of compassion, grace, and healing from God’s people.
He wants the light of His love and healing to shine radiantly through our lives. He wants us to be “set-apart,” to be different, and to make a difference in our sphere of influence, whatever and wherever that may be. We cannot accomplish His purpose, we cannot be powerful ambassadors if we are just hanging by a thread. Emotional abundance not only empowers our faith, it fills us with a reservoir of strength, of stability, of peace in Christ that overflows into our relationships with others.
We live in a broken world, in hurting communities made up of dysfunctional relationships between wounded individuals. They need Jesus. They need to see Jesus in us. They need to experience the hope of Jesus through us.
Is emotional health a spiritual issue? Absolutely.
1. Rebisz, Jocelyn B D, "The Emotional Well-being and Spiritual Maturity Connection: A Study on the Relationship between Emotional Health and Spirituality " (2007). Counselor Education Master's Theses. Paper 87.
About Lisa Murray:
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, blogger, speaker, coffee lover, and wife. My online community, at www.LisaMurrayOnline.com seeks to provide a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships. Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!
In my book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I have discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
I’d love to connect on Facebook: Lisa Murray, and Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/tommaso79
Publication date: June 22, 2017