Have you ever noticed how broken places (addiction, violence, abuse, neglect…) are passed on from generation to generation? Certainly some families are better than others. However, it is very common to have the wounds of the parents passed on to the children. In fact scripture says,
“5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:5-6 – TNIV
These wounds often emerge from deep places within our spirit. They tend to take over when we find ourselves in pain, distress, anxiety, and the like. Sometimes they are so deeply engrained within us that we do not even know that we are operating in an immature way. Unfortunately, these wounds do not tend to go away just because we have decided to follow Jesus. Anyone who has spent anytime in church has witnessed (or participated in) very immature behavior many times from people who have known Jesus for many years! But this not only does not have to be the case, but should not belong within the family of the church!
Peter Scazzero in his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality gives some great insight into this problem. Below are some of Scazzero’s definitions:
TWO MYTHS :
1. When I accept Christ and he comes to live inside me, growing into an emotionally mature adult is natural.
2. A Christian’s ability to love those around them is qualitatively different than those outside the church.
–feels a need, but can only cry
–must wait for parents to figure it out
–becomes angry if parent is inattentive
–can communicate but still dependent on others
–acts out feelings of pain, fear and resentment
–Lacks skill to openly discuss and negotiate getting needs met
–rebels against parental authority
–defines self in reaction to others, fears being treated as “child”
–“don’t tell me what to do”
Adult as Emotional Infant
–treats others as “objects to meet my needs”
–acts like tyrant and wins through intimidation
–unable to empathize with others
Adult as Emotional Child
–acts out resentment through distance, pouting, whining, clinging, lying, withholding, appeasing, lying
–does not openly and honestly express needs
Adult as Emotional Adolescent
–cannot give without feeling controlled or resentful
–capacity for mutual concern is missing
–defensive, threatened by criticism
1. Able to ask for what they need, want, prefer – clearly, directly, honestly, respectfully.
2. Desire for relationships to win.
3. Able to listen with empathy.
4. Willing to risk saying what is needed without attacking.
5. Respects others without having to change them.
6. Able to resolve conflicts maturely and negotiate solutions.
7. Gives themselves and others room to make mistakes and not be perfect .
Take a moment and honestly and prayerfully reflect on your life. Where would you say your emotional maturity lies?
Our goal is to not only introduce people to Jesus but help every person become fully mature (including emotionally) followers of Jesus.