It's hard to believe it was only a year ago that Robb kept hearing about a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. When he mentioned the title to the oversight team at Vintage Fellowship, there was an immediate response..."YES! We should read that!" So he ordered the book, started reading it, and declared I HAD to read it. So I did. And then so many things started to change, I doubt I could really explain them all.
After reading it together, we wanted Vintage to read it. But we decided to take it slow and so we had a small group of leaders that we worked through it with in the fall. Those leaders led groups in the spring.
A few months ago, Gerri Scazzero's book I Quit: Stop Pretending Everything is Fine and Change Your Life showed up in the mail as a free gift, since we had bought a LOT of copies of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. It sat on the nightstand for a long time. Until the right time, I guess.
The impetus behind Emotionally Healthy Spirituality flowed out of a conflict between church planter Peter Scazzero and his wife Gerri. She sat him down one day and told him that she wasn't going to attend his church anymore because she didn't trust his leadership.
I Quit is the internal story that Gerri has to tell about what was happening inside of her over the years as a mother of 4 little girls while her husband was planting a church in New York City. While EHS is theological and spiritual, I Quit is practical and psychological.
The Bible says that as you think in your heart, that's what you are. Gerri's book explains a lot about how people think and what they really are.
Her chapters are:
Quit Being Afraid of What Others Think
Quit Dying to the Wrong Things
Quit Denying Anger, Sadness and Fear
Quit Faulty Thinking
Quit Living Someone Else's Life
Intrigued? Honestly, I wasn't at first. If I wasn't for my experience with Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, I wouldn't have read it. The claims seem a little too big. And too Oprah-ish. But I should have realized that with Ruth Graham and Kay Warren recommending the book, Gerri Scazzero had something to say.
I don't know what effect the book would have on someone else, but I came away from reading it with two things...freedom and confidence.
Freedom is something I have not always had in my adult life. I was deeply weighed down by other Christians and their expectations of me. Even five years in a church that gives me all the freedom in the world didn't make it clear to me how to BE free. To a lesser extent, I feel the expectations of non-church people as well. I am just keenly aware in most situations what people want from me. And being a compliant person, I'm likely to give it to them. Which gets exhausting and depressing. So I hide. I begin to wonder if it's possible that I'm not as introverted as I have thought I was all this time...I just had lousy boundaries and took on other people's stuff too easily. But when you are free to just be yourself, when you know what your own edges are, it makes it a lot easier to be around other people and even to enjoy them, because you aren't trying to respond to all their non-verbal communication. You are just being. Yourself. Who God made you to be. Which makes Him happy. Which makes me happy.
People assume I am confident because of the fake poise techniques I learned in school. I'm as scared as anyone a lot of the time. I am uncertain about my choices. I am keenly aware of my capacity to screw up. But what flows out of accepting the freedom to be yourself is a confidence that being calm, steady, resolute, happy, peaceful, and relaxed is good. It's good to feel that most of the time and not the tense, on guard, over-prepared, super-responsible mindset I maintained for years.
Where the rubber meets the road is that while reading this book...
- I dealt with two major conflicts that have been hanging over my life for months, even years.
- I stopped wearing my hair in a dowdy style that I was hiding behind.
- I was able to differentiate my journey from my husband's journey instead of feeling guilty that I'm not exercising with him.
- I recognized that I am super sensitive about over-functioning and feel guilty a lot of the time that I don't do it. This book alleviated that guilt, making my soul feel much quieter.
- I understand what role anger plays in my life and I know how to use it to propel myself to make something good come from it.
- I am thankful and proud of people at Vintage who take care of tasks that I feel responsible for. In the past, I just felt like a failure, that I wasn't a good pastor's wife.
Lastly, Gerri and I have a LOT in common. But this isn't a book just for pastor's wives. We all have things we need to quit.