Though I’ve been in ministry for quite a few years now, I realized just this year that one of the things that God has called me to do is to help mature the Saints. As I have traveled across the country since 2016 doing seminars and workshops on mental and emotional health, I have learned that my call is not just to help people be spiritually mature, but emotionally mature as well. Often we tend to separate our spiritual health from our emotional health, and even our physical health. This is simply not possible.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV)
In order to be whole, all three parts of us must be in working order; body, soul and spirit (Genesis 2:7). If we try to have spiritual health and wellness without having emotional health and wellness, we are disjointed, broken and we have a false balance (Proverbs 11:1). God is concerned about all of us! When I understood that God called me to help people be spiritually and emotionally healthy and mature (the merging of the two); my life and my ministry context started to make even more sense. This is called purpose!
While thinking on the topic of spiritual and emotional maturity today, I was moved to write about the coming season. As we prepare for a new year, we must ensure that we are emotionally prepared for it. If not, we will repeat the same patterns of the previous year. Our emotional health and wellness are regulated and governed by our soul. The soul is the foundation and the core of who we are. The soul is the heart, mind, will, emotions, appetites, our thought processes, our character, our personality, and our memories. With that in mind, it does not matter how strong we are spiritually or physically, how many promises and prophecies we have, or how gifted, talented or anointed we are. If we are not winning in our soul, we simply aren’t winning.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” -3 John 1:2 (KJV)
Our soul and our spirit must be alignment; working together continually to produce wholeness within us. If we do not have a good understanding of how to maintain our emotional health through proper, adaptive coping skills, we will allow the enemy to prey on us when we are most vulnerable. When are we most vulnerable? When we are close to victory! This is an age-old tactic of Satan.
This is what we call on the spiritual side, the “Amalekite spirit”. The Amalekites as a people are no longer in existence, however the spirit they operated had its origins from the dark world and is alive and well today.
“Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!” Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (NIV)
Notice how the Amalekites attacked the children of Israel when they were on their way to the Promise! Whenever you are close to victory, close to a promise, the enemy of your soul seeks to wear you down emotionally! In your soul! There is always an emotional fallout with physical effects! It’s spiritual with psychological implications! It’s psychological warfare. But if we only teach people about the spirit realm in the church and not the soul, we do a disservice to the Body and we remain defeated in our minds. We must know how to engage not just the spiritual warfare, but the psychological warfare as well!
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:25 (KJV)
He knows that he cannot touch your spirit–it belongs to God. It will return to God. So he comes for your soul. How does he do it? This is where you have to do your own “soul searching”. What are your triggers (what sets you off), and what are your behaviors that follow being triggered (coping skills/mechanisms). Do you shut down? Do you isolate? Do you sulk and go into a deep depression? Do you overeat, refuse to eat or eat emotionally? Do you oversleep? Do you become moody or irritable for an extended period? Do you become spiritually apathetic, lethargic and/or disobedient? Do you participate in risky sexual behaviors? Do you lash out? Heavy alcohol or drug use?
This is not judgment; it’s healing. It’s soul healing. It’s addressing the root so you can stop the fruit from reproducing year after year, season after season, relationship after relationship, etc. It’s self-awareness. It’s breaking the cycle. When triggered, we will always respond a certain way. What’s your go-to? Is it healthy???
“So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NLT)
There is an enemy to your soul. Don’t lose the battle within another year by being ignorant of his schemes, plots and devices. Sometimes our enemy knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how to trigger us and he knows how we’re going to respond. One of my sayings for 2017 (and beyond) was: “I am emotionally healthy, whole and free”. I even had it printed on a wristband and sold them at my workshops this year. Emotionally healthy and mature people are always in a place where they are aware of their triggers and their coping mechanisms and they are disciplined enough to sit with themselves and “process”, tracing their feelings and emotions to a thought and then challenge and replace the thought. Either we will control our emotions and thoughts or they will control us! (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Coping mechanisms can either be adaptive or maladaptive. Adaptive coping skills are positive and have no long term consequences. Maladaptive coping skills ease the pain or hurt for the moment but have undesirable long term consequences.
Make this your year that you come into a place of self-awareness, understand your enemy (both the enemy and the ‘inner-me’), and break the cycle! You’re too close to lose control of your soul.
Have a healthy, wealthy 2018!
CHALLENGE: Be honest! It’s the first step to healing and breaking the cycle. Make a list of your unhealthy coping skills (maladaptive) and make a separate list of healthy coping skills that you would like to try (adaptive) when triggered.
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