Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Peter Scazzero  
Thomas Nelson,
2006 Paper, 219 pages

Jesus’ command was to love God with everything we are and have and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality explores the last part of the command, that of loving ourselves, in order to truly experience the love that God has for us and then be able to live out that love in our relationships with others.

The goal is authenticity, understanding and dealing with experiences and emotions that make up one’s DNA, then shedding the unhealthy and damaging plague that clogs the arteries that connect us to God.

The seven steps as outlined in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality present a journey that, though painful, ends at the truly Christ-centered life.

Know yourself and understand that God’s love for you and the value He places on you is not conditional on what you do, what you have or what other people think of you.

Break the sinful patterns of the past so that you can move forward to be the person God always intended you to be.

Beat the “wall” of pride and the need to control, and experience what Scazzero describes as “a life of undivided devotion to him [Christ]. This requires that we simplify our lives, removing distractions…learning to grieve our losses and embrace the gift of our limits” (page 133).

Understand and accept our limits and learn humility.

Develop a healthy spiritual rhythm in our daily lives, stopping to focus on God, embrace silence, solitude, Scripture and Sabbath rest.

Learn how to love well and stop treating people as a means to an end, as objects to help us in our journeys rather that fellow travelers on the same journey.

Develop what Scazzero calls “The Rule of Life” which will result in us loving Christ above everything, and everyone else. “A rule of life, very simply” writes the author, “is an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do. It provides guidelines to help us remember God as the Source of our lives. It includes our unique combination of spiritual practices that provide structure and direction for us to intentionally pay attention and remember God in everything we do. The starting point and foundation of every Rule is a desire to be with God and to love him” (page 196).

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality promotes contemplative spirituality and some of the practices of the early monastic societies. This emphasis that resulted in criticism of Scazzero’s work from some corners of the evangelical world—a “tribute” to our tendency, to coin a phrase, to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” While the book has a few too many lists, points and principles within principles for my taste, and I struggled with some of the ways in which Scazzero expressed some of his ideas, the premise of the book is a valid one and the seven basic principles need to become part of our reality as believers if we expect to live out the true meaning of life in Christ.

—Reviewed by Lynda Schultz


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