“My dad can’t express any emotions,” the young guy told me in tears. “He’s been trained that way as long as he’s been alive, and the rest of us have to live with it.”
Then the whole story came out – his dad grew up in a miserable family situation and learned to stuff his emotions. After Vietnam, he worked in L.A. as an insurance executive where he was consistently called on to be “the hatchet man.” His dad learned, over the
course of a lifetime, to be numb.
The most complicated thing for this young guy was that his dad was “a church guy.” Their
church attendance, as a family, was high, but the family more reflected generations of
dysfunction and hurt than it did the life of Jesus.
“It’s Impossible to be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature.”
The young guy in the story above would attest to this quote from Peter Scazzero, author of
“Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” His dad never realized that not giving God his emotions
kept him from being mature, and ended up harming those around him.
It’s easy to see this in other people but I have to ask, “God own my emotional life?” Do I
express emotions in a way that actually would indicate my life belongs more to Jesus than
just my family of origin? And… How do I know if I’m emotionally mature or not?
Scazzero lists some traits of someone who is emotional immature to help get us started:
Does poorly in transitions, crises, and life adjustments.
Little emotional separation from their families.
Quick to imitate others and change themselves in order to gain acceptance.
Self-esteem soars with compliments or is crushed by criticism.
And some traits of emotional maturity:
Can state beliefs calmly without putting others down.
Can respect others without having to change them.
Able to maintain a non-anxious presence in the midst of stress and pressure.
Stay in relational connection with others without insisting they see the world the same.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has emotionally immature traits. But how do you
move away from being emotionally immature and stop damaging ourselves and those close
Be sure to join us this Sunday, Oct. 4 at Ascent! We’ve got practical thoughts on what it
means to let God actually take charge of all aspects of your life, including your emotions.