Today is Mother’s Day, first wishing all mothers a happy day and may you all experience spiritual renewal!
In the first two pastoral letters of this series, I attempted to explain that emotion is inseparable from spiritual life, and that emotion is not necessarily an obstacle to spiritual growth. In this pastoral letter, I will provide some practical suggestions on how to develop an emotionally healthy spirituality.
(1) Take time to understand and perceive your different emotions. The goal is to be able to recognize and express our emotions appropriately. This is not easy to learn. I encourage everyone to regularly (such as spending 1-2 days every six months) practise silence and solitude, in order to relax, slow down the busy pace. And then write down the thoughts and feelings, and then bring these before the Lord who loves us (Luke 5:15-16). If it is too difficult to be quiet by yourself, you can participate in some silent retreats. First, these retreats provide opportunities for quiet reflection. Second, there will be workshops led by an instructor to guide us into further reflection, with time provided to discuss with the instructor to receive spiritual direction.
(2) Look for spiritual companions who are mature and willing to listen to your heart (preferably those who have received spiritual direction training). They must be non-critical and be willing to listen to your stories with the heart of Christ and be seeking the Lord’s will together with you (2 Tim 2:22). Meeting once or twice will not necessarily be effective, instead it should be a continuous process; the aim is to help you understand that any emotion requires proper expression or counsel, and that emotions should not be repressed or randomly vented. And in the process, you could feel God at work through another’s love and acceptance of you, as you are reminded by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, how to properly express and manage your own emotions.
(3) Treat the rising of each emotion as an invitation from God. When we notice that we have emotions, accept its existence, and learn to meditate on God’s Word, the hope of eternity and our noble identity in Christ. This enables us to turn our eyes from the helplessness of sinners and the brevity of our time in this world to the kingdom and presence of God, to attain intimacy with the heart of Jesus, to learn to share our joy and sorrow with Him, and let the peace of Christ rule our hearts (Col 3:15). Hence, we are empowered to love God and love others.
I hope we can slowly practise listening to ourselves to understand that behind the underlying negative emotions is a positive invitation to let God renew our minds so that we can live the lives of being Jesus’ disciples thereby honoring God and benefitting others. Are you willing to embark on the journey to cultivate an emotionally healthy spirituality?
(一) 花時間了解、覺察自己不同的情感，目標是能夠適切地承認及表達自己的情緒。這個學習可不是容易的，鼓勵大家定期 (如：每半年花1-2日) 透過安靜和獨處的操練，放鬆、放慢忙碌的步伐，把自己的思想、感受記下，然後把這些帶到愛我們的主面前 (路5:15-16)。若認爲獨個兒地安靜有點困難，可以參加一些群體靜修營，一來有安靜反省的機會，二來有由導師主領的工作坊提供一些反省的方向，並有與導師約談的時間，得到屬靈的指導。
(三) 把每次情緒的出現看待成一個從神而來的邀請，在省察到自己有情緒的時候，一方面接納它的存在，另一方面，學習默想上主的恩言、永恆的盼望或自己尊貴的身份。這可使我們的目光，從罪人的無助、今世的短暫，轉向神的國度和同在，貼近耶穌的心懷，學習與祂同喜、同悲，讓基督的平安掌管我們的內心 (西3:15)，從而有能力愛神愛人。