Reading time: 4 minutes
No one likes to feel pain but facing pain is the only way to a healthy emotional life. Everyone has some uncomfortable memories. It’s never fun to remember them, but it is rewarding. Those who don’t face them leave a minefield of suffering waiting to be triggered.
Here are three ways you can know you are emotionally healthy.
Healthy Sign #1: You Can Recall Memories From Various Ages
If you feel fine today, but don’t want to revisit memories because they are too painful, you aren’t as emotionally healthy as you could be.
I believe Jesus has access to all of His life experiences, including His years growing up as a child. God doesn’t forget anything (except perhaps our sin when He forgives). An emotionally healthy person can easily access important memories and can review them for encouragement. Even painfully traumatic memories, once healed, become a source of encouragement.
At any given moment you might want to gain encouragement from a memory that is related to what you are presently going through. It’s important that you have many such memories, even if they were nasty and are healed today, rather than only a minefield of pain.
The healing process involves scanning through your life to find the mines, disarm them, and plant something better like a tree. The more healing you have, the more you can look back and see a forest of encouragement. Even though the trees are from different times, you can see them as one forest–a place where you’d want to take a hike.
Healthy Sign #2: God is More Important than Anything or Anyone Else
If you value your job, parent, friend, spouse, pet, or anything else more than God, you aren’t as emotionally healthy as you could be.
The healthy person trusts God with their life. If you can’t trust God, you aren’t as emotionally healthy as you could be. Trauma can result in feeling betrayed by God. Why didn’t God prevent this horrible thing from happening?
Trusting others more than God is a sign of priorities being out of order. If you lose something you value more than God, it can create a barrier between you and God. In this case, you’ll be angry at God because He allowed you to lose.
But, there are some things you can never lose, if you can keep your trust (your faith) in God. When you trust God, life doesn’t have to be fair or even make sense for you to feel at peace. You’ll be at peace if you can let God do the heavy lifting regarding your quality of life.
God has a purpose for your life. It works out better if you can let Him evaluate your life. You can do the best you know how, but it’s up to God to use your efforts for His purposes.
Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.John 6:5-11 NLT
God already knows what He is going to do with your life.
Healthy Sign #3: You Know Who You Are
If you have to ask your spouse, ‘What’s my favorite _________?’, you aren’t as emotionally healthy as you could be.
To be healthy, you must know yourself. What opinions do you have? What do you like? What do you dislike?
To be healthy, you must be able to stand on your own, even when others seem to be against you. This has to include people who are supposed to be on your side. Sometimes, due to their own weakness, people will fail you.
But if you’ve done the work to heal and you’ve made God most important and you trust Him, you will survive the criticism, betrayal, and nastiness. Jesus did. So you can too.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.