Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Review

Rather surprised by the title of the series our Senior Pastor presented to us one day: “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, many were not sure what to expect. However, as a church community we begun an eight-week journey of discovering what it truly means to be ‘Emotionally Healthy’ in light of our Spirituality.

In contrast to the common belief that ‘feelings’ are unreliable, the EHS series was completely different to anything we’d looked at before. The messages, readings and daily devotionals prompted us to begin to peel back the layers of their identity, and discover where years of hurt, pain and issues had deeply affected their character. Surfacing scenarios that are hidden in the hurt and pain of the past isn’t always easy. It left many people feeling ‘raw’ and challenged and needing to draw close to God for comfort.

One of the most impacting parts of the EHS series is its simple request for participants to allow time for contemplation. The ‘two-minute-silence‘ model of the devotionals was new to many who had often not taken time to stop, consider and reflect in silence and solitude. Some literally required a pair of ‘ear-muff’s’ to block out the distractions of daily routine, but for others it was a refreshing addition to their quiet time.
The EHS series promotes vulnerability and deepens real community. Some members commented that it is exhausting to reflect and deal with past issues which they’d already come to terms with. But the series encouraged them to realize that things which they thought had been put to rest, had actually just been buried and never really given acknowledgement and the time to grieve that they deserved. While the journey was not all about digging up the skeletons in the closet, the series challenged our thinking and responses, helping us to realize how important character is to God.

The series is neither a quick-fix for hurts nor a substitute for counselling, but rather challenges its participants through revealing why certain tendencies and patterns exist in their lives. Peter Scazzero offers a refreshing and inspiring look at change and what it means to be made new. Our own Senior Pastor reminds us constantly that, “God is in the business of transformation”, and the EHS series was a true reminder of that.

Many were confronted in coming to that place of realizing there is an emptiness in our hearts that hurt won’t allow us to fill. God’s desire to provide freedom and healing meant that many masks were taken off, with individuals realizing they no longer needed to hide behind facades of composure and togetherness.

One church member described the EHS experience like “putting together puzzle pieces and seeing a mirror image of the various components of self and all the emotions we are made up of.” Whilst challenging and confronting, the outcome is refreshing and empowering. Seeing hope and a light amidst the darkness makes it worth the pain and struggle.

The Bible small group studies were both rich and enlightening. The sense of community within our home-groups throughout the 8 week period was incredibly comforting. Experiencing transformation together helps you to realize that the journey isn’t a solo one. There was tremendous healing that took place when various ones stepped out, confessing challenging experiences in the ‘safe-place’ setting of the home group.
We live in the midst of a culture that sub-consciously promotes self-sufficiency and independence. We’re part of a wider community however, where God urges us to depend wholly on him in complete surrender. Jesus is the only constant in life, and though people fail us, He always remains. The series reminded us as a church of the real frailty of humanity, not to destroy our confidence or bring us to a place of hopelessness, but rather to promote the hopefulness and eternal life offered in Christ!

The EHS series will leave us as a richly fulfilled community. It has enabled us to truly disciple people and bring them to a place where they can encounter God in a real way because they understand their own reactions and responses to life’s challenges. We’ve come away feeling like we’re moving forward, and gaining victories over self in order to present the true Christ to our community.

Jade Giles

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