Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality (Scazzero)

Continuing the list of Emotionally Unhealthy practices among Christians…..

4. Denying the Past’s Impact on the Present

Obviously this is of great interest to me as a counseling student, but Scazzero’s personal story is practical and telling.  After 9 years of marriage, he and his wife went to counseling.  Only then did they recognize how much of their patterns in life were similar to their parents.

“We were evangelical Christians. We were committed and stable. Our priorities and life choices were very different from that of our parents. Yet, underneath the surface, our marriage bore a striking resemblance to that of our parents’. Gender roles, the handling of anger and conflict and shame, how we defined success; our view of family, children, recreation, pleasure, sexuality, grieving; and our relationships with friends had all been shaped by our families of origin and our cultures.”

There is the spiritual Truth of becoming a “new creation” in Christ. But we assume too much about that.  We often assume our past is irrelevant to our present. We talk about our life “before the Cross” and want to move forward. But how can we truly move forward and be transformed by the Spirit when the past has its tentacles deep in our hearts. And how can we change things we don’t even recognize are unhealthy.  They can be so ingrained and natural that we have justified them for decades.

Maybe you don’t need a therapist. The Holy Spirit is trying to help you realize things that need to be changed.  God is in your life to use whatever He can to teach you and change you.

But we can’t simply stick our heads in the ground and pretend everything is okay.

5. Dividing our Lives into “Sacred” and “Secular” Compartments.

This is a problem that we have all heard sermons about. We are sometimes good Christians on Sunday and then jerks at work and school.

The author shares the stats on divorce, abuse, racism and how many evangelicals live lives that are comparable to the average non-believer.

It’s easy to “do well” at church activities, even sincerely, but God wants more.  He wants every day.  He wants hearts to be changed.  He wants us to love our enemies and the like.

Being actively involved in a church is a step above being a pew sitter. But it is not the same as being a disciple of Jesus who is constantly being transformed into His Image.

I am Thankful for my Wife

Today is not only a great holiday focused on gratitude and thanksgiving, but for me it is also my 10th Wedding Anniversary!!

Today, I am especially thankful for my lovely wife!

My wife is very private and doesn’t like to be included in my interwebs activity, but let’s just say I have an amazing wife and am very grateful for these past 10 years + and am looking forward to at least another 10, if not 20 or 30 with her.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Jersey Shore: Confessions

I hate the beach.  I hate going to the beach.  I hate the heat.

I hate the mixture of sunscreen, sand and my leg hair.  I hate sand in my hair, under my toenails, in the cooler, in the car, in my clothes, and always ending up somewhere in the house.

I hate…well…….I really don’t need to be surrounded by attractive, barely-dressed women.

I hate that I always forget sunscreen in some weird spot under my arm or behind my knee that ends up burnt and painful for a couple of days.

I hate walking without my flip-flops on red-hot sand.

I hate that my son likes to play in the waves, only because neither of us can swim and he isn’t concerned at all about getting sucked out to sea as he lays and jumps in the waves so I feel I have to be super-vigilant.

We went to Sandy Hook, NJ, last Thursday.  Nice beach area.  It wasn’t to crowded.  Pretty day.

My wife loves going to the beach.  The kids like it, as well, but would be content with a sandbox and an Elmo sprinkler, so I don’t really feel I am going for them but for my wonderful wife.

I tolerate it once a summer for her.  I do enjoy watching the kids have fun but that’s about it.

The wife had been talking about it lately and we were going to go sooner or later.  I had resigned myself to that fact.  We halfway considered going late on the hottest day of the year (Tues).  She’s from Louisiana so 101 degrees didn’t scare her even though there was a Heat Advisory.

I preferred last Thursday even though it was the day before leaving for camp.  I had lots to do.  She actually had a lot to do because she and the kids were going to stay at her folks.  Laundry, packing, last minute stuff before leaving town.  I needed to finish a couple of bulletins, prep for preaching on Sunday plus a bible lesson each day Sunday through Friday at camp.

I told myself I needed to go to the beach.  I forced myself not to complain, make excuses, put it off till after camp.  Even though I felt it might be reasonable to do it another time, she knows my hatred of all things beach.  I couldn’t say no.  After all, the following day was her birthday.  I knew I needed to cooperate so she could enjoy the day.  And so we went.

Here’s where the confession comes in.  I was cranky.  I agreed to go but my attitude left much to be desired.  I was annoyed when the kids shoved their sand-covered hands into the cooler and dumped sand all over our sheet.  I was too stressed trying to keep my son from drowning and was ready to come home.

The highlight of my day was meeting an Italian family and talking with the dad.  A family from Parma did a house exchange with a family from Red Bank.  They were riding the bikes and driving the car of the family who were staying at their home in Italy.  And the guy complimented my Italian and I probably blushed from excitement.

So, here’s the summary:

  • Agreed to take family beach:  good
  • Mr Grumpy-pants:  bad
  • Pride in my language skills: bad

What made me feel worse is that when we were loading the car, she asked, “you really hate going to the beach, don’t you?”

Sigh.

She was appreciative that I went even though I didn’t want to and didn’t put it off, even though she would have been fine with that.  I explained that I hated to put it off since she wanted to go.  She kissed me.

I have a great wife, and that’s good.

10 Years Ago Today: Marriage Proposal

It was a Friday night and Marisa took a train from Florence to Rome, where I had lived for about 7 months already.  We had already talked about marriage.  She was actually the one who purchased her ring!  Yep, she wanted what she wanted.  And because of a mix-up at the jeweler, she ended up bringing it with her on the train that night.  I had visited Florence a few weeks before with the intent of taking the ring home and making plans from there.  Anyway, she knew it would happen this weekend but didn’t know at what point.

This is the picture that prompted a mutual friend/matchmaker to declare that we should get married and have beautiful blue-eyed children, which led to pranking her, which led to actually dating

You can read about how we began dating here and here and here.

She arrived by train and I think there were train problems which led to her arriving later than expected.  She wasn’t on the first train that I expected her to be on.

She got in late and we put her bags in a locker and headed downtown.

When we got to the Trevi Fountain, I asked two American tourists to take a picture of us.  I then let them in on the secret.  I told them I was going to propose and for them to take as many pictures as possible.  They were thrilled to witness and help.

I did the one knee thing and a more or less prepared speech (when we returned to a friend’s apartment later that evening where Marisa would be sleeping while in Rome, I had a card with the proposal speech already written down).

It was an exciting night. I didn’t want to remove the pictures of me proposing from our albums so here is one that I took that same night.

minutes after the proposal

The most amazing part of this True story was that she did not want a diamond ring. She chose a gold band for the engagement, engraved with the date and her first name, and then added a gold band for the wedding which was engraved with our last name plus the wedding date.  She decided to forgo the diamond in hopes of getting a couch/furniture earlier on in our marriage. That’s my wife!  I love her.  This Fall we will celebrate 10 years of marriage.

P.S.-It took about five years but she finally got her furniture.