Extra Virgin :: Anchored In God's Love
I recently read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero and found it so eye-opening and helpful. This month on Extra Virgin, I’d like to explore aspects of emotional health (and unhealth) by sharing excerpts from the book ::
Christianity is not about our disciplined pursuit of God, but about God’s relentless pursuit of us—to the point of dying on a cross for us that we might become his friends. The inexhaustible God loves us so intensely that every time we turn to him after wandering from his love for us, all heaven breaks out in a thunderous celebration (Luke 15:7).
Most of us believe this intellectually. This is the message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Experiencing this infinite love in our hearts, however, is another matter.
The sinister voices of the surrounding world and our pasts are powerful. They repeat the deeply held negative beliefs we may have learned in our families and cultures growing up:
- I am a mistake.
- I am a burden.
- I am stupid.
- I am worthless.
- I am not allowed to make mistakes.
- I must be approved of by certain people to feel okay.
- I don’t have the right to experience joy and pleasure.
- I don’t have the right to assert myself and say what I think and feel.
- I don’t have a right to feel.
- I am valued based on my intelligence, wealth, and what I do, not for who I am.
It is astounding how so many deeply committed followers of Jesus would affirm that the preceding statements articulate how they truly feel about themselves. Like the prodigal son, they are content to relate to God as hired servants rather than enjoy the full privileges of sons and daughters of our heavenly Father (Luke 15:11-21).
Emotional health uniquely positions us to gain a small glimpse into “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to [experientially] know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19). That small glimpse alone is enough to ground us in our true identity—to know we are deeply loved by God. Because of this, we can have new, more biblical self-understanding:
- I hold myself in high regard despite my imperfections and limits.
- I am worthy to assert my God-given power in the world.
- I am entitled to exist.
- It is good that I exist.
- I have my own identity from God that is distinct and unique.
- I am worthy of being valued and paid attention to.
- I am entitled to joy and pleasure.
- I am entitled to make mistakes and not be perfect.
Emotional health powerfully anchors me in the love of God by affirming that I am worthy of feeling, worthy of being alive, and lovable even when I am brutally honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly deep beneath the surface…
(Photo via Piccole)