The topic of mental health is not a new topic, but one the Church has begun to embrace more and more of. While we talk about big implications with regards to mental illness, sin and suicide, or the ramifications of substance misuse on the soul, the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero takes on what it means to have good mental health with regards to our faith.
If I am being honest, this is not the book you use to start a conversation about mental health within the Church or if faith and mental health integrate. If you want to have that conversation, check out Sanctuary Mental Health Ministry for a good curriculum or ability to have good dialogue on this conversation. This is also not a how to implement mental health ministries in your church or what is like living with a mental health disorder or someone you love that has mental illness, which you can find in Mental Health and the Church by Stephen Grcevich and Troubled Minds by Amy Simpson, respectively.
The book talks about an individual Christian’s path to not only find wholeness within their walk with God, but also their own emotional self with regards to others. A great quote from the book includes:
“[E]motional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”
The Good and the Bad
In reviewing the book, this definitely feels like a self-help book that looks to explore information, though it does not get into evidence-based practices that is hard for myself as a professional clinical counselor to ignore. Further, I have read many reviews from pastors who have issue with the lack of Scriptural foundation within the book as this is written to all Christians and probably pursued by many pastors for their congregation. I can understand both of these issues and feel more could be done with this within the text, but also feel the lessons within them are not without merit or to foster growth and spur on healthy dialogue between Christians.
I appreciate that the book not only identifies the benefits and necessities of being emotionally and spiritually healthy, but does not shy away from the difficulty and uncomfortability of the situation. This is shown in one part of the book with Peter saying “Be willing to tolerate the discomfort necessary for growth.” It also highlights that our thoughts, emotional, and spiritual practices cannot be separated, though we should always be focused on our faithfulness to God and recognize that our emotional healthy will impact our heavenly relationship. Many times, people feel they do not know enough about their faith or maybe enough about mental health that they avoid these topics all together. This book encourages you to tackle it in a profound way.
How many times have we seen a senior pastor who loses his cool while in an argument with a youth pastor, a worship leader struggle with depression that ultimately drives them away from serving, or a Christian couple whose anxiety becomes more of a barrier to their faith and marriage than the faithful and consistent steps of discipleship and honoring one another to glorify God. These examples and more are times where we would not say are a failing of mental health but a time for us to becomes healthier in our emotions and faith.
I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. What are your thoughts about this or other resources that look to improve mental wellness within one’s faith?