Emotional Discipline

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I believe emotional discipline is as important as physical and spiritual discipline. Just proposing physical and spiritual healing like building a two-legged stool. Not one I would stand on to clean windows.


I belong to a recovery group called Celebrate Recovery (CR). CR was started by John Baker at Saddleback Church (Rick Warren). It’s for hurts, habits, hang-ups, and addictions. And all of these issues almost always start in a person’s past. And it creates emotional handicaps in a person. It’s only by digging into the past and working on uncontrolled emotions that discipline can then be used to enrich our spiritual and physical well-being. And once spiritual discipline can be achieved it will then control our physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.


I’m reminded of a minister in the Bible Study my wife and I attended each week.  He said that like a landfill we can cover it up with topsoil and grow things on top of the landfill.  So if we take God’s love, the teachings of Christ, our own devotion to God, and our service to others as we receive service from others, the sins of our past and the sins of others will disappear.  We pointed out to him these rejuvenated  landfills become generators of radon gas.  Unresolved trauma from our past can be just like radon gas, even if the trauma is not even remembered.

This is not a psychological thing where you blame someone else. Rather it is a point where the responsible person (namely the victim) can recognize the nature of their anxiety and work on it themselves.  Because the person who created the trauma usually doesn’t care.  And part of the responsibility of the traumatized person is to forgive the person who hurt them.

are you kidding me?

And the reason for this is two-fold: 1) to provide closure for the person who was harmed, and 2) to provide a chance for the offending person to repent and receive God’s healing.  Vengeance will not heal the person who was hurt.  And since Christ already laid down His life for the offending person, the person who has been hurt completes Christ’s sacrifice by giving a chance for that sacrifice to redeem another lost soul.  And a soul that may have never been able beforehand to heal from their own undeserved trauma.

Case Study

My open life is a case study.  And while my issues may seem trite, the resentment I built up was far more consequential than what I experienced myself.  I told my two sons after they finished college and were on their own, that if they had trouble with temper and abuse, to take me along to counseling sessions as I was the beginning of the chain.

So the issues I had when I grew up were not with abusive parents.  I was born with a cleft palate and speech impediment.  I grew up on a farm in a rural area with a village in the center of the township.  I was self-conscious as long as I could remember because in a small town everyone is treated well (NOT).  So the most important people that didn’t know I had a problem were my family and my verbal (sometimes physical) abusers who didn’t care.

When I went to college I left that behind.  But mentally I was still there although I told myself I wasn’t.  I got into two dorm fights in college and fortunately wasn’t caught.  And when I got married 1 week after graduating I was even farther (130) miles from where I grew up.  We visited fairly frequently, but only visited my best elementary through High School friend occasionally.

Family of my own

After my first child was born my temper got worse verbally and physically for the next twenty years.  I had even joined a Bible-believing church twenty-two years after we were married.  My sons never enjoyed a peaceful trip back and forth to church the whole time they lived in our house.  It got so I couldn’t go into any retail store or restaurant and not get into an argument with a waiter or clerk.

A few years later I got involved in a cross-racial cross-denominational men’s ministry.  I loved every man and thoroughly enjoyed their company.  But issues of race became more and more of a point of explosion for me.  Growing up I had witnessed three gross prejudiced episodes against blacks who had figuratively lost their way and found themselves in our township.  None of which were addressed by any adult in our township.


At this point my wife said I needed help.  So I went to a Christian counselor who identified my problem.  He said I identified with my cleft palate and not about anything else about me.  Well that was an eye opener for me.  And he had scripture for me that helped a lot.  Prior to that the scriptures I was given basically just said “stop being stupid and stop doing that (my paraphrase)”.

Along with the good Biblical teaching I got from my counselor, my preacher and elders, and the integrated men’s group I belonged to got me onto the right track.  Some of us are just slow learners.  But if you find a “slow learner” like I was, befriend them, listen, get to know them, and hang out with them so that they don’t create a legacy that weighs them down.

The moral of my story is to be sure your life is built on a three-legged stool: physical, spiritual, and emotional. 


Categories: Christian, church, men

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1 reply »

  1. All parts of life make up the whole. It is interesting because before I read this post, I was working on a new book and the last paragraph I wrote was a side note on making sure when you improve yourself, you improve all aspects including spiritual (It is self improvement book not necessarily religious).
    Emotion comes into play as well. We are to guard our hearts and not inflict wounds on others, but at the same time forgiving those who wounded us. Hard to do, but with guidance from the Lord, it is possible.

    Thank you for sharing.

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