James 1:2-4

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journeyand cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. James 1:2-4D

Monday, April 13, 2015

Is Emotional Health Real?

I've been pondering this thought, is emotional health real?  Is anyone really emotionally healthy? Or is our emotional health just a mask that we wear in order to convince ourselves and others we are okay?

I read this book once about relationships and how to avoid falling in love with emotionally unhealthy people.  The author suggests before making that leap into love there are two things you should look for:

  • Is this person physically and emotionally available? (meaning they are not in a relationship that is providing them physical or emotional nuturing) Okay that makes sense.
  • Are they reasonally emotionally healthy. Really? Okay now I ponder.
He goes onto say that falling in love is like a moment of temporary insanity.  You know that honeymoon period where you are swept off your feet.  He says it's in that moment in time that you have to watch for red flags and not allow yourself to be swept up in delusion.  Okay I get that.  He says that if they seem too good to be true and if there is even one thing that gives you pause about their emotional health, even if its something small, that you shouldn't ignore it, but really question if this person is for you.  Hmmm.  That criteria would disqualify a lot of people, even me at times.

So I ponder this question,  What is emotional health anyway?  Not just for any future suitor, but for myself and whether or not I even consider myself emotionally healthy.  I had to honestly ask myself the question, am I emotionally healthy according to the standard set out in that book and am I emotionally healthy enough to be in a relationship?

I agree with the author that there are truly some very emotionally unhealthy people out there, and there are red flags one should look for when choosing a potential new mate that probably shouldn't be ignored.  Some people really are not able to give or receive love in a healthy way and this ultimately could lead to a toxic relationship with certain doom.  But.... what about the "average Joe or Jane"? Is anyone really emotionally healthy?  If we are honest we will have to say no - no one truly is at least not 100% of the time and maybe that's okay.  Maybe that's just a normal part of being human.

I know for myself I've had varying degrees of emotional health over my lifetime and often it's been at it's worst when I was not dealing well with life and my "stuff".   A big part of my healing journey has been those times when I allowed myself to be a bit of an emotional mess and I began to deal with why my emotional health wasn't so stable.

I recently completed the Emotional Healthy Spirituality course at my church.  We read the book with the same name written by Peter Scazzero.  In his book he says that, “emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”   He suggests that there are varying degrees of emtional healthiness and as we deal with our "stuff" we not only grow emotionally but also spiritually.  

He suggests in order to grow emotionally we must deal with our past, not for the sake of dwelling, but to face it in order that we can move forward and grow into an emotionally healthy people.  We also learned that there are these "wall" moments.  Incredible times of pain and suffering that God allows in order to wake us up emotionally and spiritually.  These times of our life are intentional--they are there to cause us to mature as human beings.

Yesterday in church the pastor preached a sermon on suffering.  He shared that there are two types of suffering therapeutic and destructive suffering.  Destructive pain is a result of human sinful desires and is sometimes forced upon us by others, or we bring it on with our own destructive behavior.  Therapeautic pain, is good pain (although it might not feel like it) but it brings with it emotional and spiritual growth. He suggested that when we learn to diagnose the different types and also realize that suffering is a normal part of life; it's in those times of suffering that we actually grow.  Hmmm!  I think I see a repeating theme here.
The truth of the matter is that suffering is a normal part of our lives and we must learn to accept that. One way is to develop your emotional intelligence.  Wikipedia defines emotional intelligence as the ability to monitor your own and others emotions in order to label them appropriately and use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior.

Emotions are real.  They are not our enemy, there is a reason why God made us emotional people. Emotions are the fibres that allow us to connect to other humans.  However, emotions if we dwell on them too long and believe everything they tell us, can cause us to stay stuck in our "stuff" longer than we need to. 

There are going to be times in our lives that we have setbacks and may not be as emotionally healthy as we would like to be.  The challenge in life is how do I deal with my emotions and not let them completely paralyze or define me. We need to face the truth that suffering is a part of life and that it does lead to emotional and spiritual health.  

I challenge you to embrace whatever it is that your facing today, recognize that it is a part of this journey called life.  Just know, it doesn't make you a good or bad person, it just is.  Life sends us these things in order to wake us up, teach us and then grow us.  Life is our teacher.  Your job is to discern why is this happening, why do I feel this way, ask yourself, "What is this experience here to teach me?"  

Many blessings as you journey along life's road!

“I learned to love the fool in me. The one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes & loses often, lacks self-control, loves & hates, hurts & gets hurt, promises & breaks promises, laughs & cries.”  ― Theodore Isaac Rubin

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