Summary: Part 7 in series Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, this message shows what it means to be an emotionally mature adult, explains why most adults are not emotionally mature, and connects the process implicitly to spiritual growth, referring to the work of t
Grow Into an Emotionally Mature Adult
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, prt. 7
Wildwind Community Church
November 21, 2010
Well, I’m sorry to say we are nearing the end of our Emotionally Healthy Spirituality series. It has been a difficult series in many ways, to be sure, but very rewarding. And of course ending the series does not mean we end the journey. Hopefully some things have happened in your life over the past few weeks that are going to take you in some brand new directions in your understanding of God.
I want to speak to you today about growing into an emotionally mature adult. Scazzero had a reason for the way he organized his book. Obviously we cannot be mature while we remain locked in the false self. We cannot be emotionally mature while we refuse to be honest about the impact of past events on our present way of being. Obviously we cannot go on to maturity if we get to the wall and give up entirely. We cannot go on to maturity if we do not face the reality of our grief and losses and mourn them properly. And we cannot go on to maturity if we refuse to cultivate a life of solitude and quietness and reflection and rest, which Sabbath and the Daily Office help us to do.
So it truly is a journey. But it’s not like we have to remain at stage 1 for ten years before we can move to stage 2. Think of it, instead, as being the case that the more you shed the false self, the more mature you can be. The more you grieve your losses appropriately, the more mature you can be. The more you learn to build your life around the rhythms of rest, the more mature you can be. Doing the work of the earlier stages increasingly frees you up to experience the freedom of the later stages. So if you begin dealing honestly with your losses right now, you will immediately begin living in a more mature way. If you begin acknowledging your limits right now as a gift and start living within those limits, you will automatically be living in a more mature way. That is how I hope you will understand this, and it is important, because otherwise you might feel like, “You mean I have to mourn my losses for thirty years before I can move on to maturity? Why bother?” But it’s not like that.
Consider that each of our previous lessons has actually been about freeing you up for this one – to live in an emotionally mature way. There’s another way we could put it to make it more clear. Each of these previous lessons has been about freeing you up to live – in truth. Who do we know that is truth? GOD, of course. So this literally IS the spiritual journey we are talking about. This IS the path to spiritual maturity. Can there be any other path than the path that leads into increasing truth? Remember, Jesus said:
John 8:32 (NKJV)
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
This world is full of unfree people, and I’m not talking about people in our prisons and penitentiaries. The church, also, is full of unfree people. There is only one reason people are not free, and that is because they don’t know the truth. There are only two reasons people don’t know the truth. They either have not been made aware of it, or they have chosen not to live according to it. Saying “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” is kind of like saying, “Lower speed limits save lives.” That is a true statement, but lower speed limits only save the lives of people who live according to the law. You can know the speed limit inside and out in your head, and still drive like an idiot into a median divider at 100 mph. Knowing it in your head doesn’t do you the slightest good. You will die because of your unwillingness to conform to what you know. You can know what Jesus said and taught inside and out in your head and live all your life in anger, defensiveness, guilt, blaming, lust, jealousy, regret, fear, etc., etc. Knowing the truth of God in your head doesn’t do you the slightest good. Every day you will experience in your life the same consequences as someone who doesn’t claim to know God at all, and in fact that is exactly what we currently see in the church – undiscipled disciples, as Dallas Willard calls them. People who claim to know the truth, but all you need to do to see that they don’t is to look at their lives. The truth always brings freedom when you really know it. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is the journey that takes you from knowing about the truth in your head, to living in the truth in your mind, heart, and life. And I don’t want to be overly black and white, either. Many of you are partly on the journey. You are experiencing some freedom, maybe more than you had before you came to God, but still stuck in habits of denial and defensiveness. Maybe until now you just didn’t see what emotional health had to do with God, but hopefully you’ve begun to realize that it has everything to do with God because it’s all about truth – getting rid of the false self and coming to live in the true self God created you to be.