Category Archives: forgiveness

Becoming Emotionally Healthy

In our journey toward flourishing, it is vital that we begin with humility before the Almighty and receive the unconditional love God has for us through Jesus Christ.

The Bible is full of encouragement toward maturity for believers (Ephesians 4; Phil. 3; Heb. 5-6). We discover that spiritual maturity is inseparable from emotional and relational maturity! How we act, feel and think about others and ourselves demonstrates whether we are making progress toward true adulthood. In my almost four decades of pastoral ministry I have met many senior citizens that were adolescents when it came to vital issues of emotional stability and relational integrity. Conversely, it is always encouraging seeing younger women and men display poise and thoughtfulness.

In our fallen world, both nature and nurture, our circumstances and responses to life all impact our development. In 21st century America, we are in a crisis of human identity and development. Over the past century, the transition for child to adult has gone from a few teen years to over a decade, with many 20-somethings commenting how hard “adulting” is! The breakdown of the traditional family and the lessening of religious loyalties has created a vacuum, with uncertainly about expectations. Add to this the gender confusion exacerbated by Western elites and we have a toxic psychosocial elixir paralyzing normal development.

Along with these moral and spiritual issues, people are coping with real emotional traumas. We have also seen an exponential increase in persons struggling with addictions. I am grateful for the insights of the mental health professionals that help us have compassion for others and ourselves. But the downside of our therapeutic society is that many make excuses exempting themselves from normal responsibilities.

Where do we start? Personal wholeness begins with affirming the eternal worth of every person, including ourselves. A positive self-image respects God’s handiwork and appreciates our limitations. We were designed to receive and give love in mutually enriching relationships. Fulfilling this divine plan requires a few focused actions on our part. First, we must learn gratitude and hopefulness. These are not always natural attitudes or activities (especially if we have been seriously rejected and/or victimized), but they please the Lord and foster emotional health. Second, we must ask God’s help and learn forgiveness. God in Christ has forgiven all our sins, yet we hold on to the offenses of others (and even our own mistakes) for years, sometimes decades. Forgiveness is not excusing, but extending the same grace to others that we have received from Christ. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can learn the managing of our negative emotions, avoiding repression of valid feeling and ungodly indulgence.

With these foundations, we can take other strides toward wholeness, including learning how to love deeply and wisely, eschewing toxic relationships and offering ourselves unselfishly for the good of others, respecting the blessings and boundaries of different types of relationships. As we own our mental health, we will get more comfortable seeking help from our friends, counselors, ministers and others God places in our lives. Just as we need humility before the Lord, we need this same virtue so we know when to get personal and professional help. There is no disgrace is asking for assistance, from the prayers of saints to the insights of trusted ministers and therapists.

“Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6) Let’s not delay the decisions we can make toward our wholeness. We will please the Lord, encourage our family and friends and have more capacity for serving our broken world.

The Truth Sets Free

“The truth shall set you free.” This famous line has an important context. Jesus of Nazareth declared this at the end of an insightful description of his true followers: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. THEN…you will know the truth…”

Truth is liberating for all that decide character and integrity must trump expedience and power. Admitting our personal failures and offering proper credit to others for our successes are both part of truthfulness that liberates the soul and earns the respect of others now and forever.

The Benghazi fiasco is compounded by an Administration unwilling to admit its foreign-policy failures. The terrorist attacks on 9-11-12 were not a spontaneous reaction to an obscure and obscene film produced months before. They were the deliberate actions of groups bent on the destruction of Israel, the USA and any other powers impeding a global caliphate. These attacks undermine the mythology that recent “outreach” to radical Islamicists has been successful. The hubris emanating from the Bin Laden assassination has obscured judgment and promulgated increased self-deception and public resistance to investigation.

If the President and Secretary of State had forthrightly declared, “We were ill-prepared and will correct our policies” the day after the attack, Benghazi would still be a tragedy. But it would also fade from public memory and we would not be subject to the current polemics that only increase the cynicism on the Left and skepticism on the Right.

The Watergate scandals of 1972-1974 were quite similar. If Nixon had fired the responsible parties and cleaned house, he still could have won the election. But paranoia won the day and two years later our nation had a new President they did not elect to that office.

Free the film maker. Admit the failure. Apologize to the families of the dead. Restore the positions of the whistle blowers. Come clean with no excuses and many Americans will offer a second chance – we love stories of redemption for those that repent. Continued defiance may preserve a public myth, but it subverts private and public morality and erodes of national character. Do the Republicans have political hay to harvest? Yes. But any such schemes have no fuel when humility triumphs over hubris.