In case you weren’t able to join us last Sunday, Josh kicked off a new series entitled “What your Emoji?” (or, as my 11-year old said “the Emoji Life”). The series introduces us to the idea that our spiritual maturity is intricately connected to our emotional health. (Think “spiritual maturity” equals a more satisfying life because it leads me into my giftedness and into the person for which I was created. All of this means a bigger, brighter, and fuller story.) A common belief says our spiritual maturity can outdistance and eventually suppress our emotions, so that we really have no need to face our emotional unhealthiness as long as we’re “following Jesus.” The reality is that both of these important categories must go hand-in-hand.
After Josh described an instance of his personal home decoration skills at a rental cottage during a recent vacation (the story is worth the ask or you can listen to the sermon here), he introduced us to Saul – a man who appeared to have it all together on the outside, but was hiding among the baggage of his life (both figuratively and literally).
The family of Matri took its place in the lineup, and the name Saul, son of Kish, was picked. But when they went looking for him, he was nowhere to be found. Samuel went back to God: “Is he anywhere around?” God said, “Yes, he’s right over there—hidden in that pile of baggage.” (1 Samuel 10:21-22, MSG)
Saul was a prime example of someone who never faced his emotional immaturity – and it marked him throughout his life as king of Israel. Because of the deep connection between becoming more of ourselves and our emotional health, we are invited to face our “issues”- unhealed patterns and emotional baggage that trip us up. Our issues get in the way of God’s desires for us and prevent us from becoming a better version of current selves. For many of us, we live in our baggage and it railroads our lives in unhealthy and unwanted ways.
Enter emotions. Our emotions are the language of our souls and reveal what issues are keeping us captive to unhealthy patterns. Consider the following baggage – emotion pairs below:
By asking, “When have I felt angry?” it might help me better understand the question “When was I hurt?” We were encouraged to consider our emotional reactions of bitterness, shame, and defensiveness, as potential indicators of the baggage where I hide that leads (hopefully) to an awareness of my issues.
Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story because that sounds a little painful if that’s all – my baggage spread out in more full awareness. (For whom to see?) But David reminds is in Psalm 18, that this is not the end of the story:
God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before God … when I opened the book of my heart to God’s eyes. (Psalm 18:20, 24)
Our lives are made more complete as we bring our emotional baggage before God and face our issues in a healthy and transparent manner. “We are royalty who get stuck in our issues. We are kings and queens who get caught in the baggage.” Is it possible that as we go out into the places where our story matters (family, employment, friend group, team, club), a more honest understanding of our issues might bring us to a deeper place of meaning, fullness, and adventure?
Who doesn’t want that?
As we move ahead, one starting point is to better understand your current spiritual maturity and emotional health. There’s a survey available to help us begin to navigate these water, which can be completed individually. It has some helpful descriptions for different places where our issues might be detrimental to us and others. You can download a PDF copy of the “Inventory of Spiritual/Emotional Maturity” here.
May we be led deeper in the journey inward so that we may extend ourselves further outward.