Grieving and The Health of my Soul

Every once in a while it seems a window opens that blows fresh air into my soul on a deeper than normal level. I never expected the emotional journey of grief to be one of those windows.

Two weeks ago Margaret and I spent the day in a hospital cafeteria while our son had surgery to repair his heart. We sat there with family and friends waiting for the phone to ring, with news about Ryan, but also awaiting news on Margaret’s father. Just two days earlier Jesse had fallen and broken his pelvis. The injury was more than his declining health could handle and his systems were shutting down rapidly.

We sat there in the hospital waiting at the edge of life for news about two of the men I respect most. We were unprepared to lose Margaret’s Dad on the day Ryan’s heart found “new life.” The two strands of uncertainty turned that day into a moment at the seam between life and death that puts a whole lot of stuff into perspective.

In a poetic way, both Ryan and Jesse went home at the same time the next day. Ryan’s surgery was successful, so he was released mid-day sent home to recover. At that very moment, while driving Ryan home, Jesse was released to go home as well… home to the Savior that he loved. Both men stepped into a new chapter of life together.

That week and the one that followed were more emotionally draining than I would have guessed. They were days of memories and sorrow and letting go and loving one another and loving Jesus. They were days of in-your-face reminder that life is fragile and because of that truly sacred. They were days where grieving reminded us that the mosaic of people and moments that fill our days are worth celebrating.

It has caused me to do a lot of thinking about the relationship between grief and the well-being of my soul. It is amazing how much the grieving process accesses and cleanses out the accumulated clutter in the deep recesses of the soul. In moments like this, you cannot escape the fact that real life happens on a much deeper level than most daily activity.

There is something about living in a soul-deep way that awakens the senses of the spirit and unleashes true peace in spite of the torrent around us.

[fyi: this is the bookend essay to one from last March on life being fragile and sacred.]

Runner’s up for Book of the Year 2008

Getting beyond the wow factor of technological advancements can be hard at times. After all, today my phone has more memory, speed, and graphic computing power than my first computer ever dreamed of. But the real issue for all of us is how we are going to leverage the opportunities created by technology in order to exercise leadership influence? How do we participate in the social-networking and web-based explosion of the likes of Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, or blogging phenomenon.

Tribes is about that kind of leverage. In fact, in the surprise I didn’t expect, Godin’s book offers powerful principles for effective leadership in an information age. I an such a fan o the book that I have been highly recommending it to our staff. Every leader of the day faces the challenge of getting beyond the surface and superficial use of technology and informational systems and getting to the real issue: leadership. Here is a book to help you do just that.

Tribes invites all of us into a fresh look at the opportunities and necessities of leadership in the environmentof our day.

The second book in my Runner’s Up category is Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero.  I have written on this in an earlier entry that you can read.  But, as I look back on the year, I realize that I am continually having conversations that link back to EHS and to the journey that book sent me on.

One component of the book I have thought a great deal about lately is the way Scazzero addresses the need we all have to grieve our limits and our losses.  We all have God-given limits and our ability to discover genuine emotionally healthy spirituality is connected to how well we learn to deal with loss and with our limits.

I don’t know about you, but I have found that my emotional well-being and my spiritual well-being are inseparably intertwined. Here is a tool to guide the integration of my (and I hope, your) journey.

SO THE QUESTION IS: IF YOU WERE TO NOMINATE YOUR “BOOK OF THE YEAR” WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST AND WHY?


Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Scazzero - Emotionally Healthy SpiritualityEmotionally Healthy Spirituality
Peter Scazzero

“It is impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature. [But,] something is missing…the spirituality of most current discipleship models often adds a protective layer against people growing up emotionally.” (pg. 15)

I grew up in a Christian culture that functionally reduced following Jesus to a list of obligations and daily duties. Do daily devotions–or “have a daily quiet time,” memorize scripture, tithe, attend services and Bible studies, acquire knowledge about the Scriptures, and avoid the obviously sinful stuff. I heard very little of the mystery and dynamic nature of following Jesus into a life of deeper mission and intimacy.

Biblical and theological facts, not to mention ecclesiological tradition, were the substance of our Church conversations. Absent was anything of the radical invitation to engage God with the fullness of my emotions. Missing was any notion of the depth of God’s nature as an emotional being in who’s image I was created. Even further off the radar was the notion that my sanctification and my emotions could be connected.

Here is a profoundly different look at discipleship. It is freeing and enticing. It might give new meaning to what Jesus meant by, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And it is different from the way most of us “do” the Christian life.

Scazerro’s honesty about his own journey, the way he led his church, the frustrations of his wife Geri, and his redemption into a new way of life make the book human. It is written with an honesty and a connection to the daily stuff of life and leadership that is as compelling as it is convicting.

In a sentence, the summary of his prescription, is this: “the pathway to unleashing the transformative power of Jesus to heal our spiritual lives can be found in the joining of emotional health and contemplative spirituality.” (pg. 37)

The book is not only helpful, I think it is profoundly significant and recommend it highly. At the same time I need to be forthright. You should know that I was a fan of this book before reading it. Pete won me over with his earlier book, The Emotionally Healthy Church and, because a few of CRM staff have attended his church in Queens, I have followed the stories of his leadership for some time. I think so highly of what God has shown him that I have invited he and his wife Geri to be the keynote speakers at our staff conference in Portland this coming August.