Being biblically literate and memorizing verses is important, however, when head knowledge becomes heart knowledge, that is when true life transformation happens.
Over the past few weeks, I have been going through a book with my life group (Young Adults Community Group) called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. Emotions are complicated, messy; life would be much easier if we could just get by our days by shutting away our emotions to get things done.
I have learned over the past weeks that God speaks through our emotions. When we shut down or bottle our emotions we miss out on the things that God is trying to say to us. God speaks through disappointments, sadness, happiness, anger, jealousy. The point is not that we should be guided by our emotions (because that would lead to horrible life decisions), but the point is to realize and reflect on why we feel the way we feel, and what are the things God is trying to reveal to us through these emotions.
In moments we are disappointed or during situations that just make us burst in anger, we must analyze why we feel angry? Is it because we do not like losing control? Is it because we do not like being abandoned? Why do we react in the way we do? Is it because of our family culture, the way we are brought up?
Understanding why we feel the emotions we feel and being able to correct ourselves to be emotionally healthy is an important part of spiritual growth.
Living in a culture where we are taught to "save face" and bottle up emotions, this book was not easy to digest. I live in a culture where emotions of sadness, anger, disappointment, or even over the top happiness are seen as a sign of weakness and not appropriate to display in public.
From a young age, I was taught to "know my place", and "accept" the way young people are treated based on culture and tradition. I push down emotions of frustration when being scolded and learned to numb emotions of disappointment. I noticed later on in life that these bottled emotions started to leak out in the form of passive aggressiveness and sarcasm. I begin to create emotional barriers in my relationships to prevent myself (my heart) from getting hurt.
Understanding how family culture and ethnicity has built me to the person I am today and taking a step back in realizing the emotional baggage that has accumulated over the years has helped me uncover bad habits and emotional behaviors I have built up. I began to reflect on situations that would rise up that would cause me to be overly sensitive or give out overblown reactions and made a decision to lay my insecurities and emotional baggage at the feet of Jesus.
In response to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, I have decided to be more open vulnerable to a trusted group of friends about the emotions I feel. I can say it has not been easy but being able to sort through emotion and respond in a healthy manner has been a challenging yet liberating experience.
It is a liberating realization to know that I am not bounded by my past or my or emotional responses built by my culture but embracing God's love gives me the power to break these unhealthy emotional habits and embrace God's family culture.
We tend to belittle emotions and see them as signs of weakness but when we bring those weaknesses before God, He can turn our greatest weakness into our greatest asset to serve others and bring glory to God.