The Iceberg & Looking Beneath the Surface
Adapted from Pete & Geri Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Relationships by Gavin Bennett & Collin Mayjack
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief last week’s Practice in triads (10 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
Thinking back on the past week, were you able to use any of the Community Temperature Reading components in your ordinary life?
Of the five components from last week (appreciations, puzzles, complaints with possible solutions, new information, and hopes and wishes), which would you like to continue working on?
Read this overview
Emotions are complicated. In the span of a single day we can soar to feelings of ecstasy, drop to feelings of despair, or swirl in feelings of anxiety.
For many of us, our tendency is to avoid or ignore our most difficult emotions, such as fear, sadness, or anger. Yet, from David and Asaph in the Psalms, to the Samaritan woman at the well, to Jesus himself in the garden of Gethsemane, the Scriptures are riddled with examples of men and women willing to go beneath the surface of their lives in order to examine their emotions with God. As followers of Jesus, we are invited to be honest with God about the feelings and emotions that we’d rather not look at.
Some of us feel that spending time looking at our emotions might be selfish or not important. Yet, as we read in Emotionally Healthy Relationships, this “inward look is not to encourage a self-absorbed introspection to feed narcissism.” Rather, “the ultimate purpose is to allow the gospel to transform all of you… The end result will be that you and I will be better lovers of God and other people.”
One helpful metaphor for this journey beneath the surface is the iceberg. Just as about 90% of the iceberg is under the waterline, so only about 10% of our emotions exist on the obvious surface. And when we are unaware or unconscious of the 90% that isn’t readily visible, we run the risk of ship-wrecking our relationships on obstacles in our minds or hearts that we didn't even realize were there. As we actively work to take our emotions seriously, we find three core truths along the way that guide us on our journey: 1) unprocessed emotions don’t die, 2) healthy community requires that people know themselves, and 3) feelings help us discern God’s voice.
In light of all this, our goal for this week’s Practice is to explore our emotions together. By taking time to look beneath the surface in Community, we are opening ourselves up to becoming more loving towards others, in tune with God’s voice, and at peace in our inner being.
Do this Practice as a Community right now (20 minutes)
The purpose of this week’s Practice is to spend time examining our emotions with the help of the Holy Spirit so we can analyze how those emotions may or may not be affecting our relationships with others. The Practice is a journaling exercise that will create space for each person to prayerfully reflect on four emotion questions.
Step 1: Find a comfortable, somewhat isolated space
Encourage everyone to spread out across the house or space you are meeting in, ideally with a journal or something to write on. You can use different rooms in the home, or simply have everyone sit far enough apart so that they are able to focus on the Practice at hand.
Step 2: Invite the Holy Spirit and wait
Pray to invite the Holy Spirit and take a few minutes to allow everyone to come to quiet. There is no need to rush or fill the space with words.
Step 3: Questions & Prayerful Reflection
After taking a moment or two of silence and stillness, read the following four questions out loud. You can give the four questions at once so people can write them down or you can read them one at a time, giving 5 minutes between each question for people to pray, reflect, and write down what comes to mind. For some, this will feel easy and the time will pass quickly. For others, it will feel slow and uncomfortable. Whether you journal in bullet points or full sentences, strive to reflect on these questions in a posture of prayer, allowing God’s presence to guide you.
What are you angry about (past or present)?
What are you sad about? (e.g. a small or big loss, disappointment, failure, etc.)
What are you anxious about? (e.g. money, future, family, health, career, etc.)
What are you glad about? (e.g. a relationship, opportunity, state of life, etc.)
Work through these discussion questions in triads or as a large group (15–20 minutes)
What was that activity like for you? What new insights did you have, if any?
Growing up, how did your family express anger, sadness, or fear?
How might these emotions (anger, sadness, fear) be affecting your relationships? Or how might they affect your relationships if left unaddressed?
Discuss the coming week’s Practice (5 minutes)
The Practice for the week ahead is very similar to the Practice from this evening: we want to create space to examine our emotions and bring them before God. Below are a few suggestions for how to facilitate that:
Journal: Set aside 2–3 times this week to repeat the journaling and prayer exercise we did this evening, reflecting on anger, sadness, fear, and gladness. You may find your answers shift day by day.
Pray through Psalm 139: The Psalms is a collection of ancient poetry in which we find some of the best examples of what it looks like to honestly acknowledge what is happening in one’s interior. Slowly read Psalm 139, inviting the Holy Spirit to search your heart and mind. Spend time interacting with the Holy Spirit as you search your heart and mind together.
Go on a prayer walk: Go on a prayer walk and express to God any anger, fear, sadness, or gladness you’re feeling in this season.
Reflect with a friend: Meet with a close friend and work through the four reflection questions we worked through this evening.