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It’s been a couple of years since I went through this book with a group of women at church. One of the ladies in our group recommended it and we thought, Hey why not? Oh boy, were we in for a surprise. This ain’t no light reading!
Each week we read from the chapter book and filled in the workbook pages at home. There was also a daily devotional to read. When we had our weekly gathering, we shared insights we had gained from the book, emotions we were struggling with, workbook answers and insights into the topic we were focusing on that week, and generally encouraged one another. There is also an eight-week DVD with short video sessions that you can watch.
Oh mylanta–only engage in this study if you want to keep it real! I mean really real. We all ended up crying at some point, sometimes full on weeping. Crying and weeping was also a part of the process that we went through at home. And don’t even get me started on the issues from your past which it brings up. In our discussions we talked about divorce, job issues, death, sexual abuse, anger issues, difficulties with our children, marriage difficulties, and several other topics, as well. Anything and everything that messes you up emotionally comes up in this study.
I know that I’m not painting a pretty picture, but this is honestly the best study I’ve ever done. And it’s one that I’m sure I would benefit from by going through again in the future. Prior to this study, I had never been taught how to identify and deal with my emotions. Up until that point in my adult life I felt like I was at the mercy of my past, my current circumstances, and my emotions. This study helped me to identify what I was feeling and why; how those feelings were affecting my present behavior; that I had a choice in how to respond to and deal with my emotions; and to let go of the things that were out of my control. I had a lot of built up anger towards my husband and I realized that it was being misdirected and leaking out in many other areas of my life. I learned to be more assertive, to state my opinions and feelings in an objective manner, and to strive for more measured and healthy responses to my husband.
The study also made me own my own feelings and reactions, while simultaneously realizing that I’m surrounded by people whose choices have an impact on me. I need to let others own their behavior and I have a choice about how to respond. It helped me not to internalize and take other peoples’ behavioral choices personally. I also gained great insight into the complexity of feelings. I can never truly know the complete motivation behind someone else’s actions and emotional responses. There are so many things in their life that I’ll never know about, which shape who they are. If I have to interact with someone whose behavior bugs me, one of the best things I can do for them is help them see that they don’t have to be ruled by their emotions.
If there were one study that I would choose to go through with everyone I met, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality would be it. My own emotional health has been tremendously improved by it; I’ve seen friends grow by leaps and bounds; and it creates an entire culture of emotional vulnerability and honesty. Who wouldn’t benefit from that?
In case you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this book. I look forward to sharing it with our new church family–wherever that may be. I think it’s also a great resource for young people who need a bit of help learning how to deal with their emotions.