“We experience spiritual renewal through empathy, emotional growth, and longing for God” (Journey of the Soul, Chapter 7).
Characteristics of the I Stage
The beginning of the I Stage of Inner Journey usually overlaps with The Wall. Its symbol is a shovel because we need to dig into our emotions, struggles, and faith questions to get through The Wall (e.g., Psalms 13, 42, 139:23-24). Through persisting in the I Stage you can deepen your intimacy with Jesus, breaking through into a spiritual renewal in the Second Half of the CHRIST stages journey.
The I Stage is about growing deeper spiritually through being emotionally honest with God and people who are gracious and wise.
At the I Stage the main temptation is denying your emotions, needs, or problems. You may want to avoid the distress by turning back to an earlier stage that’s familiar, but that would be resisting God’s work of grace. This potential roadblock may become a wall where you feel stuck in your growth.
God’s Grace for the I Stage: Deeper Experiences of God’s Love
You grow in the Inner Journey by taking courage to ask for help with your emotions, needs, and desires. The way up into the joys of intimacy with God starts with moving down by being gut-honest about your struggles and brokenness so you can receive empathy at the Lord’s throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
Mirroring Jesus Emotions
The Bible indicates that Jesus felt all the emotions that you do and appreciating this can help you be aware and loving with the emotions that you and other people have. This cultivates a “deeper experience” of God’s love (Journey of the Soul, pp. 149-155). Here are a few examples:
Growth in the I Stage
There are ten soul care practices that are especially important for becoming more healthy and loving in the I Stage (Journey of the Soul, pp. 160-165). The top three are:
- Praying the Psalms
- Soul friendships (with empathy)
- Lectio Divina (Scripture meditation)
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23–24).
Spiritual Direction Tip
“Mirror [people’s] emotions that are just under the surface of their awareness (don't go too deep) to help them find words for their experience and feel cared for” (Journey of the Soul Leader Guide, p. 66).