Theology Thursday: Developing a Plan To Cultivate Emotional Health
The Christian life is a purpose filled life. Having purpose is based on our understanding the difference between an old spiritual life and a new one, affecting the life we live here and now, along with the one we will experience for all eternity. A new life in Christ translates into a renewed soul that engages the whole self — body, mind and heart — experienced through our God-given emotions. Since emotions direct what we feel, we are wise to be aware of the state of our emotions so that we not only live optimally, but also share this with others.
Internal Honesty and a Christian Worldview
Christian spiritual formation describes the aspects of the human soul that look to become emotionally and spiritually healthy as described in the Bible. The biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation describes the reason human beings experience all the troubles that they do, stemming from actions and words that come from within us. The human heart as the “seat of one’s emotions” from the Hebrew understanding is what informs the mind to act upon every internal decision we make. But what guides the heart in the first place?
In Genesis Chapter 3, it is God himself who introduces a plan for cultivating emotional health, helping to reverse the spiritual damage caused by doubt and dishonesty, the hallmarks of our human failing. Knowing how difficult life is going to be for all human beings, God does not remove the promise of the good possibilities for life as he designed, although there will be consequences to face for all time.
This first expression of dishonesty would be forever embedded in the human psyche (soul), in the deepest sense of self. While we were given the full freedom to make choices, all humankind experience all of life through a distorted filter which could never be disregarded or ignored.
Connecting Emotional Health With Internal Honesty
To grasp the importance of living with internal honesty, we must also understand how that affects our emotional health. Both of these work together, with the first desiring an optimum way to live the Christian life, and second, looking to see where this optimum way can be found. The Bible tells us that this standard is found in the person of Christ Jesus who has fully introduced the reality that internal honesty is possible to achieve, regardless of circumstances, regardless of the depths of our own dishonesty.
The Bible goes on to declare boldly that there is no other way and nothing else that will bring this to pass, even if other ways and means may exist. The Gospel of John records Jesus saying that he is “. . .the way, and the truth, and the life,” (John 14:6, ESV), which means the only truth is the truth of God in Christ. His existence calls for our soulful surrender, by choosing to be honest with ourselves and with him. If we truly desire internal honesty, we must see ourselves in light of how God sees us and begin the process of change, a revolution within the state of one’s heart that will make all the difference in the world.
Growing and Developing Internal Honesty
There are some common questions that come up in the Christian Worldview courses that I teach when the nurture versus nature conversation is introduced. I ask students about why we have to teach kids about being honest in the first place. Why do we need to teach and encourage children to speak the truth? And how much of this truth training carries over into our adulthood?
Internal honesty is this unique state of being that God calls us to live by, in order to live well. In raw terms, it translates into no longer acting or thinking like a child who tells lies easily and is happy living life unto themselves. Their emotions and feelings need to be “molded” right along with owning them, honestly.
The biblical mandate calls us to grow up spiritually to face the hard things in life, to confront the uncomfortable things that make us want to run and hide. Psalm 139 tells us clearly that we cannot hide from God at any time, and we cannot go anywhere God is not present. And so, we are given an inimitable invitation to live the life that we were meant to have, to be who we were intended to be, choosing the exceptional honest life that changes everything about us into what is characterized as a sanctified life.
To live from this foundation provides us a great alternative to guilt and worry and helps us to seek peaceful resolutions in all facets of our lives. In short, it allows us to start fresh, and not live in hiding. Want to put a smile back on your face when things on the inside get tough? Take the time to look inside of yourself and see what needs a little clean up.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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