Racial Reconciliation, Identity, and Emotional Health

Works of reconciliation don’t necessarily stir the emotions and none of the workshops I’ve attended or training materials I’ve read seem to correlate the two. But as my friend and colleague, Dante Upshaw, is a huge advocate for Emotionally Healthy Church and Spirituality, recently approached me about the possibility about working on a project tying the two together, I picked up Scazzero’s books again and began reading. Then I came across this passage in his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:

One very helpful way to clarify this process of growing in our faithfulness to our true selves in a new way is through the use of a new term: differentiation. Developed by Murray Bowen, the founder of modern family systems theory, it refers to a person’s capacity to “define his or her own life’s goals and values apart from the pressures of those around them..”” The key emphasis of differentiation is on the ability to think clearly and carefully as another means, besides our feelings, of knowing ourselves. Differentiation involves the ability to hold on to who you are and who you are not. The degree to which you are able to affirm your distinct values and goals apart from the pressures around you (separateness) while remaining close to people important to you (togetherness) helps determine your level of differentiation. People with a high level of differentiation have their own beliefs, convictions, directions, goals, and values apart from the pressures around them. They can choose, before God, how they want to be without being controlled by the approval or disapproval of others. Intensity of feelings, high stress, or the anxiety of others around them does not overwhelm their capacity to think intelligently. I may not agree with you or you with me. Yet I can remain in relationship with you. I don’t have to detach from you, reject you, avoid you, or criticize you to validate myself.

MR Peter Scazzero. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash A Revolution In Your Life in Christ (Kindle Locations 850-858). Kindle Edition.

In a multi-ethnic context and a diverse society, this notion of differentiation is an important pushback to assimilation and the colorblindness that is promoted by many. This is the connection that keeps the tension between mono-ethnic and multi-ethnic churches vibrant and generative.

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About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come. View all posts by David Park

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