Emotionally Healthy Relationships: Integrity (06.10.19)
Note for this week:
We do not labor towards self improvement, but towards Godliness. To live into our true selves, our Christ-like selves, we must sometimes take stock. This week will be more introspective than most, but we must remember that it is in service of realignment and reintegration with who we are meant to be.
If we feel rotten because of how far we’ve strayed, remember that God actively loves us as we are. We should take care to remind ourselves of that.
What has distracted you this week?
Open by reading the simple words below. Then, take three minutes of silence in the presence of the Lord.
Each week we gather to praise our God,
to give ourselves over to our God
and to ask our God for help
We believe when we gather, He is with us
We believe when we openly confess our hearts, we become more like Him
We believe in Christ we are our truest selves,
created to love and serve others for the sake of the world
Taking Stock: Who are you? (20 mins)
Read Matthew 6:19-24.
We live in a world of masks. To each of our groups, to each of our cultures, to each of our social media feeds, we carry and maintain a different brand, a different false self—seeking to please, seeking to participate, seeking perhaps just to belong. What we feel (what bothers us, what sits on our minds)reflects what we value (what we love, what we treasure), which stems from who we are (what we do, what we believe we are, what we consume). Let’s take some time to find what our hearts are fixed upon today; open a journal and ask yourself one or any number of the following questions:
- What are you anxious about? What’s been bothering you?
- How do you spend your time, money, and attention?
- Is there some part of your life you’ve been denying, neglecting, or avoiding?
- What would you be ashamed of people knowing about you?
In the group, share what you feel comfortable sharing.
Climbing the Ladder: Who are you really? (30 mins)
Read Mark 10:17-22.
The truest thing about you is that you are a beloved child of God (Romans 8:14-17), just as you are; this is an absolute and immutable truth. While it is natural and human to feel feelings when something threatens our values, we are called to master our feelings by examining our values and finding their source, either to see where God is grieved, or to see where we may have become divided against our true selves.
Break into pairs. In confidence, each of us will examine something that’s been on our minds lately. We want to get a feel for how consistent our feelings are with what we love and who we are.
Each pair will choose a listener and a speaker to start.. One by one, the listener will walk through the 12 sentence stems below and the speaker will finish them. (The speaker can feel free to skip any stems they feel are not illuminating).
Take about 12 minutes per person to complete these sentence stems:
- Right now, the thing that’s been on my mind is-
- I’m anxious in talking about it because-
- My part in this is-
- My need in this issue is-
- My feelings about this are-
- What my reaction tells me about me is-
- This issue is important to me because I value- ___ -and I violate that value when-
- I am willing/not willing to-
- One thing I could do to improve the situation is-
- The most important thing I want you to know is-
- I think my honest sharing will benefit our relationship by-
- I hope and look forward to-
Thank each other for listening and speaking.
Then, as a larger group, debrief with the following questions.
- What surprised or challenged you in this exercise?
- What does what you feel say about what you love and who you are?
- Did you learn anything about yourself? Did you encounter any wounds, stumbling blocks, or lies you’d come to believe about yourself?
After debriefing together, take a moment to pray for the whole group.
Rung by Rung: Declaration (10 mins)
Read the passages below:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8
Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
– Mark 10:27
Jesus was unswayed by the glories and titles of this world. He held fast to his integrity, his identity, and his love for us. He was integrated. Whole. One with God and seeking to be one with us, by coming down to die for us.
We should feel as He feels. We should love as He loves. We should be as He is. We take stock to see where we are. The distance between where we are and where we should be is sometimes disheartening, but remember that all things are possible with God.
This next part takes courage. If you’ve encountered a dis-integrated part of yourself that you want to change, a false truth you want to break, a false love you want to leave, or a false self you want to reform, take a moment to identify some small step you can take towards change, towards your true self in Christ. Share it, declare it, and ask to be held to account with the group.
This declaration should be actionable and reasonable. Don’t feel guilted into it; it should be something you earnestly want to do. Seeking God’s help, pray that He would graciously help you all on your climb.
Closing (5 min)
Have someone close your time in prayer. Make sure no one leaves in need.
Note for this next week: As we live out this principle of emotionally healthy relationships, take note of any moments where you found your thoughts, words, or deeds dis-integrated with who you are in Christ. Receive the unconditional grace of Jesus, confess to him, and repent by choosing a new course of action that is one with Christ.