There’s Not a Catch.

September 28th, 2016

We think joy is like sugar or chocolate and we’re only allowed so much.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 14

How Do I Want to Feel?

September 23rd, 2016

When it comes to feelings, the best strategy is to validate them (briefly) but put your focus on how you want to feel. This approach is more future-oriented and less susceptible to the feedback loop of past mistakes. More important, it invokes Adult brain values.

“I feel resentful, but I want to feel kind.” With this subtle but crucial shift in focus, past experiences of feeling kind are loaded into implicit memory. I recognize that I really like myself better at those times, because kindness is part of my value system. I imagine myself doing things that will bring those feelings to life, such as wishing others happiness and well-being. I practice allowing myself to be concerned with the well-being of my loved ones. I practice behaviors that embody my concern for them.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 106-107

Maturity and Affliction

September 22nd, 2016

Yes, our maturity certainly involves doing the things Jesus did. Healing and all. But that maturity also involves becoming like him in the transformation of our character. It involves holiness — loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Being willing to suffer the loss of everything for him. Choosing him in the midst of suffering. Which is to say, having within us the character of Jesus. And how does God shape our character? We hate the answer, but we know it to be true: affliction.

— John Eldredge, Moving Mountains, p. 224

God’s Love Is Personal.

September 19th, 2016

Realize that God loves you as an individual, not simply in the abstract. God cares about you personally, much as a close friend would. Remember how God speaks to you in personal, intimate ways, in your daily life and in prayer, which only you can appreciate. This is a sign of God’s personal love for you.

— James Martin, S. J., The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, p. 385.

A Gift

September 17th, 2016

Being attracted to someone lets us know that we have a gift for them. Often, when we are attracted to somebody, we think they are supposed to give us something, but our joy comes in realizing that if we give the gift, a creative project comes to both of us as a result of that connection. If we are willing to give our gifts with integrity, we enjoy a creative connection with many, many joyful people.

Today, as you recognize yourself being attracted to someone ask yourself, “What is the gift I am to give them that would really move them forward?” It might only be a blessing or a feeling of support, but whatever it is give it without any expectation of receiving anything in return. Give your gift with integrity and love, and enjoy this creative connection you now have with them.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 182

Making Us Good

September 16th, 2016

As the love of him who is love transcends ours as the heavens are higher than the earth, so must God desire in his child infinitely more than the most conscientious and loving of mothers can desire in hers.

He would have his child rid of all discontentment, all fear, all grudging, all bitterness in word or thought, all measuring of his own with a different gauge than he would apply to another’s. He will have no curling of the lip, no indifference toward any person, no desire to excel over another. He will not have him receive the smallest service without gratitude, would not hear from him a tone to jar the heart of another, a word to make it ache.

From such, as from all other sins, Jesus was born to deliver us — not primarily, or by itself, from the punishment of any of them. When all are gone, when the sin nature which causes them has been put to death and his Spirit substituted inside the part of our hearts that rules our deeds, then the holy punishment will have departed also.

He came to make us good, and therein blessed children.

— George MacDonald, Hope of the Gospel “Salvation from Sin,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 41

Compassion and Boundaries

September 15th, 2016

Very early on in my work I had discovered that the most compassionate people I interviewed also have the most well-defined and well-respected boundaries. It surprised me at the time, but now I get it. They assume that other people are doing the best they can, but they also ask for what they need and they don’t put up with a lot of crap. I lived the opposite way: I assumed that people weren’t doing their best so I judged them and constantly fought being disappointed, which was easier than setting boundaries. Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and when you are a pleaser hell-bent on being easy, fun, and flexible.

Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.

— Brené Brown, Rising Strong, p. 114-115.

Hand in the Grievances

September 13th, 2016

Dear God, I declare a day of amnesty
in which I gratefully volunteer to hand in all
my resentments and grievances to You.
Please help me to handle well all the
peace, love, happiness, and success
that must inevitably follow.
Amen.

— Robert Holden, Loveability, p. 183

Never Tired of Forgiving

September 11th, 2016

The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking him for forgiveness. We need to ask for the grace not to get tired of asking for forgiveness, because he never gets tired of forgiving.

— Pope Francis, The Name of God Is Mercy, p. xi

Loving God

September 9th, 2016

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” If we are angry at God because of something that happened to us or because of something going on in the world, and we are reluctant to admit our anger either because it seems disrespectful or because we fear that God will punish us for being angry at Him, we won’t be able to “love God with all our heart.” We can only love him halfheartedly. The wife who is afraid to tell her husband how bothered she is by some of his habits, for fear that he will be upset with her and perhaps even leave her, will not be able to love him wholeheartedly, and that inability will affect their relationship. The adolescent who is scolded for being angry at his parents “after all we’ve done for you,” or whose hopes and dreams are mocked by his parents, will learn to keep his feelings to himself. That will be an impediment to his being able to love his parents as wholeheartedly as he would like to.

Accepting anger, ours and that of people close to us, has to be part of any honest relationship. If the opposite of faith is not doubt but despair, then the opposite of authentic love, wholehearted love, is not anger but pretense, censoring our feelings. I don’t believe God is fooled by that, nor do I believe that is what He wants from us. God will accept our anger, justified or not, so that we can then go on to love Him “with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our might.”

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 129-130.