Archive for September, 2016

Loving God

Friday, 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.

Rechannel Our Efforts

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Happiness is not happenstance, but rather it involves a profound spiritual discipline. If I want to be strong, I don’t sit around waiting until I’m strong enough to lift weights; rather, I lift weights in order to become strong. To accept joy as a commandment is to admit that it doesn’t come to one effortlessly but requires the cooperation of the will to achieve. Like salvation, joy is a free gift of God that cannot be earned, yet even a gift must be opened and actively enjoyed by the recipient. It takes energy to “shout for joy to the Lord,” but it takes just as much energy (or more) to be miserable. Why not rechannel our efforts into something more fun?

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 24

Compassion Changes You.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

The use of compassion to cajole someone into changing is especially tragic in abusive relationships, when abused partners are desperate to bring about change. Their desperation is misconstrued by abusers as pure manipulation, to which they respond angrily and often abusively. Compassion is a healing emotion for the person who behaves compassionately because it engages Adult brain power to access our deepest humane values. But it’s helpful to recipients only when they are in the Adult brain. The Toddler brain does not receive compassion positively. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you must understand that your compassion will change you by putting you more in touch with your humanity, but it will not change your partner. Only your partner’s compassion for you will change him or her.

Steven Stosny, PhD, Soar Above, p. 52

Self-Acceptance

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Self-acceptance is the first step to holiness. But for many the path to self-acceptance can be arduous. Men, women, and children in ethnic or social minorities, with physical disabilities, with dysfunctional family backgrounds, with addictions, or those who feel unattractive, uneducated or undesirable may struggle for many years before accepting themselves as beloved children of God.

But the journey is essential. Many gay men and lesbians, for example, have told me that the real beginning of their spiritual path was accepting themselves as gay men and women — that is, the way that God made them. Coming to see themselves in this way, and, more important, allowing God to love them as they are, not as society might want them to be, or think they should be, is an important step in their relationship with God.

“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” says Psalm 139. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God loves us as we are because that’s how God made us.

— James Martin, S. J., The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, p. 380-381.

Wouldn’t Trade It

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

My dear readers — what do you do with the fact that hundreds of thousands of the dearest and most valiant saints would tell you that even though they have passed through terrible affliction, their most precious and fervent prayers unanswered, they would not trade it for anything in the world? They would not trade it because of what they have learned of God, learned of love, learned of hope.

John Eldredge, Moving Mountains, p. 223