Spiritual and Emotional Maturity
If I asked you to assess your spiritual maturity, which measures would you use? Reading the Bible, attending church, and even mentoring other women may be on your list. While those are all important aspects of spiritual growth, one component that is often overlooked is emotional health. As faithful as we may be in “checking all the boxes,” and as honest as we are in our desire to walk with God, the reality is that our spirituality often fails to touch the deep internal wounds and sin patterns in our lives. For many of us, our past hurts and failures continue to control our present thoughts, emotions, and behavior. We must address this emotional component in our lives if we want to experience deeper spiritual growth; spiritual maturity and emotional maturity are inseparable.
The Kingdom of God and Our Emotions
Why is emotional health so important? I’m glad you asked! In everything we say, do, or think, we are always advancing either the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness. If we read our Bible every day and go to church every Sunday, but consistently lash out in anger, minimize other people’s feelings, or hold grudges, then we are not advancing the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 13). The call to salvation is a call to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. It is an ongoing process of sanctification where Jesus is saving us from the power of sin in our lives. This includes saving us from our unhealthy patterns, like how we handle anger, sadness, relationships, and conflict. The more we surrender this aspect of our lives to his lordship, the more our thought processes, emotional experiences and relationships will be transformed to reflect his Kingdom.
Emotionally Healthy Discipleship
The transformation we experience in our emotional health will not only affect ourselves but will also have an undeniable effect on those around us, whether it’s our family, colleagues, mentees, or the cashier at Publix who’s taking forever to ring up your groceries. We know we are called to be disciples. Discipleship isn’t just about teaching women to read the Bible. It’s about living a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians 4:1-3), authentically loving people, and living in a way that others would want to imitate. The apostle Paul says to “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” What would it look like if another person imitated how you handled traffic? What if they imitated the kinds of boundaries you have, or don’t have, in your relationships? What about your level of patience? Can you honestly say you would want others to imitate you?
Journey to Emotional Maturity
So, how does one begin to work towards emotional health?
- Start with an honest self-inventory:
- How do you handle your own emotions and those of others? (e.g.: Do you deny/ignore all feelings, or do you go to the opposite extreme of letting emotions control you?)
- What do your relationships look like? (e.g.: How do you interact with others? Are you loving, patient, kind? Do you have healthy boundaries?)
- How do you deal with conflict? (e.g.: Do you avoid it at all cost? Are you overly confrontational?)
- Do you have past hurts and/or traumas that still have a strong hold on you?
- Take note of the patterns you see in your life and aim your prayers to those specific targets.
- Spend time in the Word of God to gain a deeper understanding of who God is and how we should live in light of his Kingdom.
- See a professional counselor who can offer wisdom and guidance as you process past hurts and overcome areas where you feel stuck.
Ladies, the investment you make in your mental and emotional health will bear eternal fruit in the Kingdom of God, affecting not only yourself and those in your immediate circle, but also generations to come. So, take an honest look at yourself and your spiritual/emotional health. Allow Christ to touch those areas that need growth and healing. It may be hard work, but it’s worth it.