5 Reasons Why Spiritual Direction Might Be Right for You

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Guest post by Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Ph.D.

A life lived in faith has only one final goal, intimate communion with Jesus Christ. Without Him, life is empty and stripped of its ultimate meaning. With Him, we gain a sense of fulfillment and purpose. While perfect communion only exists when, at the end of our lives, we see God in the face; the nature of the Christian life is to grow in ever-deepening intimacy with Him during our earthly walk.

Over the centuries, the Church has used several terms and phrases to describe this dynamic such as conversion, divinization, growth in holiness, and cultivation of the interior life. All of these are meant to convey a sense that God, who is Love, desires us more than we can possibly desire Him. Because of this, and in spite of our sinfulness, He draws us to Himself through the passion, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. Beyond this, He established the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, through which the fullness of truth and sanctification subsists.

This said, we live in a pluralistic society that can easily distract us from our final goal and the experience of intimate communion during this life. God, who knows all things, knows this and so provides us with the grace to refocus and reorder our lives. This grace is experienced through such things as: prayer, meditating on the sacred Scriptures, frequenting the Sacraments, active parish life, and ongoing adult formation.

Despite the many ways to encounter our Lord through these pious activities and thus grow in intimate communion with Him, all can benefit from spiritual direction. Here are five basic reasons why spiritual direction might be right for you. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but represents key elements in the discernment of spiritual direction:

  1. Cultivating a Richer Prayer Life We often forget that prayer, as important as it is, is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.  We simply don’t pray for the sake of prayer, but to encounter the God who saves us. As we progress in the spiritual life, we can experience dryness or constant distractions. Good spiritual direction helps directees to enter into prayer in a more profound way, to see it as a kind of dialogue in which we are called to listen first and, only after we listen, speak.   
  2. Greater Awareness of God It’s very easy, amid the hustle and bustle of life, to compartmentalize our experiences of God. We are aware of His presence in religious activities, but God is all around us constantly communicating to us through the often-mundane aspects of our lives. Spiritual direction helps directees to better attune themselves to the nudgings of the Holy Spirit in all areas of their life.
  3. Transform Faith into Action The interior life does not exist in a vacuum. As St. James reminds us, “Faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17).” The interior life finds it’s expression and realization in the exterior life, the life of choices and actions. The more we are aware of the presence of God throughout the day the more likely we are to order our choices to Him. These not only impact the world outside of us by witnessing to others, it also has an inward transformative effect. Spiritual direction helps directees to consider their actions in light of their faith revealing Christ in often subtle, but nonetheless profound ways.
  4. Help Make Major Decisions Life this side of heaven often brings us to crossroads; places where we must make major decisions in the course of our lives. These decisions can be about relationships, career opportunities or even the level of participation in the life of the parish. To a greater or lesser degree, these test our faith and the core values that flow from that faith. Good spiritual direction helps to refocus faith, tap into the grace we received at Baptism, and reaffirm our Christian values so that we are better equipped to make these decisions.
  5. Get Spiritually Unstuck Because the spiritual life is about growing in a deeper more intimate communion with Jesus Christ, it is, by its very nature, dynamic. At times and for different reasons, we may find our relationship with Him as rather static.  At it’s worse, we can experience what seems like an abandonment from God resulting in a kind of spiritual paralysis. This paralysis will negatively impact our prayer life, our reception of the sacraments and the way we see Christ in others.  Sound spiritual direction can help identify the reasons for this paralysis and provide spiritual and pastoral guidance.

Though spiritual direction is not a requirement of the Christian life, everyone seeking a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ can benefit from it.  If you would like to pursue spiritual direction, consult your pastor to recommend a solid spiritual director in your area or contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute about spiritual direction over the phone.

 

Deacon Dominic Cerrato is the director of Pastoral Solutions Spiritual Direction Services

Stop Dreading Disagreements

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A lot of us dislike conflict, and because of this, we dread even the concept of facing disagreements. Often, however, disagreements are unavoidable, and sometimes even necessary. There’s good news, though! If we take a caring and loving approach to disagreements, we will have healthier, more productive conversations and less to fear about conflict!

Theology of the Body reminds us of the importance of mutual self-donation, the idea that a healthy relationship is characterized by the commitment to work for each OTHER’s good.  That applies to arguments as well.  The opposite of angry isn’t “calm.” It’s “care.”  The commitment to being mutually self-donative challenges us to actually care about the needs and POV of the person we’re arguing with.  Doing this doesn’t mean we have to surrender our own perspective or give up getting our own needs met.   It just means that we should be equally concerned about meeting their needs as we are getting our own needs met. Doing this in arguments allows two people to encourage each other through the tension and find solutions that are actually satisfying.

Here are a few tips on cultivating care in conflict:

1. Make Breaks Count–When you “take a break” in an argument, don’t just step away and distract yourself by not thinking about the disagreement.  That just sets you up to pick up the fight where you left off the next time you start addressing the issue.  Taking a break is an opportunity to think differently about the disagreement; to take some time to see the other person in a more sympathetic light so you can come back to the topic with a more caring heart.  When you take a break from a disagreement, spend some time in prayer reflecting on questions like, “What needs does the other person have that they are afraid I’m not willing to meet?”  “Why might the other person think I’m not interested in them or their concerns?”  and “How can I show them that they are important to me–even though we’re disagreeing?”  Taking some time to ask questions like this helps you make breaks from conflict count and allows you to go back to the person, confident that you can approach each other again in a more compassionate and productive wa

2. Look For the Positive Intention–If you’re struggling to feel sympathy for a person you’re disagreeing with, make sure to look for the need or the positive intention behind their words or actions.  Doing this doesn’t excuse any bad behavior.  Rather, it gives you a way to address it respectfully.  For instance, you might say something like, “When you do THIS or say THAT, can you help me understand what you’re trying to do?”  Then, when the other person explains their intention, you can brainstorm together about ways to meet that intention more respectfully and efficiently in the future.  Looking for the positive intention behind offensive words and actions gives you a way to be sympathetic without being a doormat.  It lets you work for change, respectfully.

3. Give It To God–When you’re disagreeing with someone, don’t forget to pray for them.  Not, “God, please make them see that I’m right and they’re wrong!”  But rather, “God, help me know how to express my concerns in a way they will hear and to really hear what THEY are saying so that we can both get our needs met and draw closer because of this disagreement we’re having.”   Giving your disagreement to God doesn’t mean giving up your needs or, for that matter, trusting that God will sort it out while you ignore the elephant in the room.  It means asking God to guide you in the steps of having more compassionate conflict, where the tension between you and the person you care about can lead to even greater closeness. Don’t try to pray away your needs or your feelings.  Instead, ask God to help you find ways to meet those needs and express those feelings in a manner that reflects God’s grace, honors your concerns, and respects the dignity of the other person as well. Let God show you how to master conflict instead of just avoiding it.

For more information on how to effectively handle conflict, check out When Divorce Is Not An Option and tune in to More2Life Monday-Friday, 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio, SiriusXM 139.

“I Can’t Believe You Said That!” When Words Hurt

shutterstock_332011016When things get heated, our “fight or flight” response kicks in, but sometimes our reaction is to take the “fight” response a bit too literally. When someone speaks rudely to us, or yells at us, we yell back and attempt to “out argue” the other person. While this may be our instinct reaction, it’s not the most effective way to deal with these situations.

Theology of the Body reminds us of the power of words by pointing us back to Genesis and how God created the world. Specifically, God spoke the world into being. Words have creative power, and God shares that power with us in the hopes that we will use it to build each other up and be co-creators with Him as we work to cooperate with His grace and encourage each other to be the whole, healed, godly, grace-filled people we were created to be. But we can also use those words to destroy each other and we often do.

Here are three More2Life Hacks on how to respond when words hurt:

1. Be Confident And Be Clear–No one ever deserves to be spoken to disrespectfully or hurtfully. Even if the other person accuses you of doing something that they found hurtful or offensive, no matter what you may or may not have said or done, you don’t deserve to be spoken to cruelly or disrespectfully. Be clear about this and be confident in your right to insist that, while you are willing to listen to anything the other person wants to say, you cannot listen to anything that is said in a cruel or hurtful manner. Being clear about this doesn’t only benefit you, it benefits the other person and your ability to address whatever the problem might allegedly be.  If there is a problem that needs to be discussed, it deserves to be discussed respectfully and effectively. Be confident and clear about the need to insist that “respect is the price of admission” to any conversation a person may want to have with you.

2. Use Do-Over’s–If you feel attacked in a conversation, resist the temptation to just lash out or shut the conversation down completely. Instead, assume that, given the chance, the other person will be able to say what they are trying to say respectfully. Give them that chance by asking for a do-over. Say something like, “I’m feeling really attacked right now. I want to hear what you’re trying to say, but I need you to be less aggressive about it. Tell me again what you’re trying to say.” Often, when we hold up a mirror like this, the other person will appreciate the opportunity to see how they are coming across and adjust their behavior. Do-overs allow you to reset the conversation and move forward in a more respectful and productive way.

3. Don’t Feed the Troll–If someone is saying cruel or disrespectful things to you, don’t defend yourself. Don’t try to talk them out of it. Don’t argue back. Any attempt to argue someone out of their unkind view of you will inevitably backfire as the conversation will begin going in circles with new accusations being hurled and as the previous defenses are overcome. The best thing to do in this situation? Don’t feed the troll. As before, stop the conversation and give the person as chance to do a do-over. If that fails, simply say, “I’m really sorry you feel that way. I hope you can get past it. If there’s something you’d like to talk through when you’re feeling a little less angry I’m happy to hear whatever you have to say, but I can’t talk about this with you this way.” Then be done. If you have to say anything, simply repeat that formula, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I hope you can get past it. I’d love to talk to you when you’re in a different place, but I can’t do it like this.” Trolls don’t like to eat broken records. If that’s all you serve them, they’ll look for other places to feed.

For more information on how to effectively respond when words hurt, check out God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts! and tune in to More2Life, weekdays at 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network, SiriusXM 139.

When Your Emotions Get Derailed: Here’s How YOU Can Get Back On Track

18447716_1326200774095096_1823817419_nYou overslept through your alarm, you’re late for work, and—on top of that—your kids are sick… With all of this going on its easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control, which only adds to the stress of daily life, instead of helping to solve the problem. So how do we get back on track when our emotions get derailed?

Theology Of The Body reminds us that God made our bodies to work for our good and the good of others–that includes our feelings which are a function of our bodies. If our emotions are making it difficult for us to function at our best or treat others well, the answer is not to blame others for the feelings our bodies are making, but rather to learn to take responsibility for our bodies and our emotions. Taking responsibility for our emotions doesn’t mean shutting them down or shutting them off, but rather making sure that we express them in ways that help us meet our needs efficiently and make our relationships with others stronger and healthier.

Here are three More2Life hacks for getting your emotions back on track.

1. Reclaim your Power–When feelings throw us off track, we can feel powerless over our emotions.  The good news is that both psychology and theology agree, no one is in a better position than we are to manage our emotions effectively.  The trick is to not see it as a choice between venting your feelings or stuffing your feelings.  Instead, let the goal be expressing your feelings in a way that serves you well.  Before acting on overwhelming emotions, try to remind yourself of times when you handled high pressure situations well.  Ask yourself how you could use those same strategies in THIS situation.  Remembering past successes helps you connect with the fact that–despite how it feels right now–your emotions are not the most powerful force in your life.  GRACE is.  Bring these feelings to God and ask him how to express them in a way that solves the problem AND respects both you and the people around you.

2. Remember the True Opposite of Anger–The opposite of anger is not calm. It is empathy.  If you are being derailed by anger, frustration or irritation with someone, don’t focus on calming down so much as focusing on trying to see things through their eyes.  The point of empathizing with the person you are frustrated with is NOT excusing any offense or explaining away a problem.  The point is trying to get yourself to the place where you can stop seeing the other person as an obstacle to your progress and, instead, inviting them to be a partner in helping you make progress.  Research shows that problem solving works better when the problem-solvers feel like a team.  Acknowledging your anger doesn’t mean you can’t empathize with others as well.  It just means being able to keep your needs and theirs in mind at the same time.

3. Return to the Scene of the Accident–Often, when we lose our cool, we allow our guilt and shame to cause us to refuse to return to the topic. We MIGHT apologize, but beyond that, we may feel like we have surrendered our right to address the problem that provoked our reaction in the first place.  Nothing could be further to the truth.  By all means, if you need to apologize for something you said or did, be sure to do so, but don’t forget to circle back and address the problem that caused the train to jump the tracks in the first place.  For instance you could say, “I’m really sorry that I lost my temper.  You didn’t deserve to have me speak to you that way.  I would like it if we could make some time to talk about X, however, because as long as that’s an issue, there’s a chance we’re going to end up going through this again.” Returning to the scene of the accident allows you to learn from the past and avoid repeating it.

For more information on how to keep your emotions on track, check out Broken Gods! And tune in to More2Life on EWTN Global Catholic Radio, SiriusXM 139—Monday-Friday 10am E/9am C!

More2Life Hacks—Bouncing Back from Tough Times in Marriage

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the various problems we all experience in marriage Sometimes, we can get so focused on the problems that we think things will never be different.   Here are three More2Life Hacks that will help you bounce back from tough times in your marriage and re-experience the love and joy you crave!

1. Check your Commitment–Happy couples know that recovering from marital struggles starts with being even more committed to their vows than they are to each other.  What do I mean?  At various points, even the happiest husbands and wives become frustrated with each other and can feel like their spouse is undeserving of their commitment.  But where less happy couples use this as a justification for withdrawing their love and entertaining thoughts of divorce, happy couples remind themselves that their commitment is to their marriage, itself, even more than to their feelings for their spouse.  This allows couples to not catastrophize their problems and, instead, get to work on the problems.  Research shows that couples who make this greater commitment to their marriage bounce back from problems more quickly and are happier overall, than couples who regularly allow tough times to call their overall commitment to each other into question.

2. Re-Engage Through Care-taking–Every couple gets stuck in arguments from time to time–even for extended periods.  But happy couples know that sometimes they have to disengage from the fight and find little ways to remind each other of their love for each other BEFORE re-engaging the discussion.  While struggling couples either adopt a “fight til we die” approach or simply give up the fight from exhaustion, happier couples adopt a pattern that allows them to alternate between arguing, intentionally stepping away to build rapport, and then re-engaging the discussion from a more secure base.  If you’re going through a rough patch, don’t stop talking about it altogether, but take breaks where you intentionally choose to do little things that remind each other that your relationship–and your commitment to loving each other– is bigger than this present problem.

3. Seek Help–Happy couples know that when a problem starts to feel overwhelming, it’s time to seek new resources.  When you feel tempted to stop working on a problem–or stop working on your marriage altogether–see that as a sign that it’s time to get help.  Read a new book together that offers new ideas for improving your relationship. Go on a Marriage Encounter or Retrouvaille weekend.  Or seek professional marital therapy.  Research shows that most struggling couples wait 4-6 years before seeking professional assistance but that just makes problems grow.  Seek help early to get the new skills you need to reclaim the peace and joy in your marriage.

For more tips on how to make your marriage thrive, check out “For better…Forever! A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage.” AND spend time with us every weekday at 10am ET by tuning in to More2Life on EWTN Global Catholic Radio.

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission

Not Listening! Three More2Life Hacks for How to Get Your Feelings Heard

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Sometimes it feels almost impossible to get your family, friends, or significant other to listen to your feelings and meet your needs. Here are three More2Life hacks, inspired by my book, God Help Me, These People Are Driving Me Nuts! that will help you effectively communicate your needs and start living a happier, healthier life!

1.  Don’t Bury the Lede–When writers don’t start with the juiciest parts of the story, it’s called “Burying the lede.”  Often, in our attempt to either be polite or give people all the facts, we talk around things rather than stating our needs and feelings up front, then we get offended when people’s attention wanders or they miss the point.  When communicating, state your need or feeling up front.  For instance, “I’d really like to get some time together, when are you available this week?” or “I was really frustrated with the way thus and such turned out. Let’s talk about how to do that better next time.”  If you really want people to listen, don’t start with “Once upon a time” and get to your point around chapter three.  Start with your point.  Let any additional context come out in the conversation.

2. End With A Plan–When you talk with someone about your needs or solving a problem, don’t ever end the conversation without clear follow-up points. Too often, we feel like venting is the same thing as problem solving.  Clients tell me all the time, “we talked about that problem a lot.”  But when I say, “Great, and what did you decide to do about it.” I’m met with stunned silence.  When people say, “I talked to him about that.” What they usually mean is, “I complained about that.” Complaining isn’t communicating, venting isn’t problem-solving.  If a problem or need is important enough to talk about, don’t leave the conversation without know who is going to follow up with what, and when you are are going to check in with each other about it.  If you want to feel listened to, always end with a plan.
3. When Words Don’t Work, Don’t Use More Words–When someone doesn’t want to listen to you, when they ignore your needs or refuse to deal with a problem, continuing to talk about it is not only fruitless, it is counterproductive.  If someone doesn’t want to deal with a problem, one of the best ways to delay it is to simply agree to talk about it more without ever agreeing to do anything.  If you have spoken to someone about your concerns a few times without getting any result, stop using words.  Take action.  Ask yourself what steps you will need to take to address the problem or meet the need on your own, then do it.  If the other person complains, firmly, but gently, point out that you tried to enlist their help but they refused to talk about it, so you had no choice but to handle it. Then explain that next time, if they want a say in the solution, they should help you make a plan when you come to them in the first place.  Don’t get caught up in the game of talking something to death so nothing ever has to change.  When words don’t work, take action.

For more tips and tricks on how to improve your communication and relationships, tune in to More2Life, Monday-Friday 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network.

More2Life Hack: 3 Tips for Staying Close Through Conflict

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Today on More2Life radio, we looked at ways husbands and wives can grow closer not just in spite of conflict.  Here are three things happy couples know about managing conflict…gracefully.

 

  • Avoid catastrophizing conflict–couples in happy marriages argue as often as couples in unhappy marriages.  The difference between happy and unhappy couples is not how often they argue, but how they manage their conflict.
  • Keep Calm in Conflict–The most important thing in conflict is self-regulation.  Use the 60-40 rule. Pay 60% attention to how you’re reacting and 40% to what they are saying.  If you feel your emotional temperature rising to the point that you are showing outward signs of disgust (eye-rolling, disgusted sighing, refusing to look at them, speaking over each other) get control of yourself or take a break until you are calm.  If you can’t have the conversation respectfully, don’t have it at all.  Or, if this is a long term problem get help from a trained marriage therapist who can teach you how to have respectful disagreements
  • Be Caretakers Through Conflict–Smart couples know that even in conflict, taking care of your partner is job #1.  Find little ways to reassure each other, to reassure your spouse that their concerns are important to you, that you are grateful for them working through this with you, and that even though you don’t see eye to eye, you still love each other. 

For more tips on staying close through marital conflict, check out When Divorce is Not An Option:  How To Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love and For Better Forever: A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage.  And don’t forget to tune in to More2Life radio each weekday at 10am E/9am C on a Catholic radio station near you or SiriusXM Channel 130.

“They Did What?!?” Simple Steps to Making Peace with People Who Hurt Us

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Image via shutterstock. Used with permission

Image via shutterstock. Used with permission

Life is filled with people who frustrate, irritate and otherwise infuriate us. Whether it comes to managing conflict in our own households or facing political battles and culture wars, there seems to be no end to the ways other people can inflame us.

And yet, in the face of all this discord, we’re reminded of Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the peacemakers’” (Mt 5:9). Pope Francis has asserted that practicing this beatitude is the “identity card of a Christian.” Refusing to add fuel to the metaphorical fires burning in our world is a hallmark of the call to follow Christ.

Even so, it can be hard to know where to start. I like to remind my clients that the key to authentic peacemaking is practicing the art of charitable interpretation. The art of charitable interpretation is not the same as excusing another’s bad behavior, and it involves much more than simply “assuming the best” about another person.  READ THE REST

Meeting Your Needs AND Your Wants–A Godly Guide to Personal Fulfillment

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“That’s not a need!  That’s a want!”

How often have you heard this?  How often have you said it?

We throw the words “need” and “want”around but do we really know what they mean?  Somehow, by labeling something a “want” many people–parents and spouses in particular–feel that they have a right to deny someone something.  Or, if we think something is a want and not a need, then we will often feel guilty even having it much less expressing it.

What is a need?  What is  a want.

Needs Defined:

A need refers to anything that sustains my overall well-being and fosters the full development of my physical, psychological, spiritual, or relational health.  In Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), Pope Paul VI argued that all individuals have a God-given right to receive everything they need to develop fully as persons.  As St. Irenaeus put it, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”  In fact, as I argue in Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart, properly understood, all our needs and our wants ultimately point us back to God.

Now, that said, no one has an unlimited, completely unfettered right to meet their needs however they want whenever they want regardless of how it affects everyone else.

Which brings us to wants.

Wants Defined:

want represents the way we would prefer to meet a need.  If a need is the “what” we want, a want represents the “how” and “when” I wish I could get what I want.

A want is not a lesser need that may be ignored.  A want is a legitimate, though sometimes flawed,  attempt to express and meet a need.  Wants can be flawed in two ways.  First, they might not actually meet the need they represent.  For instance if I need more peace in my life, but I express that as “I want a divorce” the want (divorce) may actually–depending on the circumstances–actually make it harder to meet my need (greater peace in my life).

A second way a want could be flawed is if it prevents the people in my life from getting their needs met.  The Church teaches that each person has a God-given right to meet every single one of their needs.  We all have a divine right to receive everything we need to sustain and see to the full development of our physical, psychological, spiritual, and relational well-being BUT we also have an obligation to meet those needs in a manner that respects other people’s right to do the same.

If what I say I want could potentially conflict with meeting my needs or cause me to jeopardize someone else’s ability to meet their needs, that doesn’t mean I lose and don’t get to have my need met.  It means I have to identify the true need and explore alternative ways to meet it.

Step 1: Identifying the Need Behind the Want

If something you want seems somehow ridiculous, or impossible, don’t dismiss it.  Ask yourself instead, “How do I imagine I would benefit if I got that?”  The answer to this question is your true need.  The thing you are really trying to address by expressing the original want.  Here are few, silly, for instances just to illustrate how the process works.

“I want a T.V. in every room of my house!”
“Well, how do I imagine I’d benefit if I had a TV in every house?”
“As silly as it sounds, I’d really like to have the noise to distract myself from all the things I worry about constantly.”
NEED:   Inner-peace.  Obviously a TV in every room won’t fulfill that need so that want is flawed, but just ignoring the want would not make the need for inner peace go away.

“I want to win the lottery and win 60 million dollars”
“And how do I imagine I’d benefit if I had all that money?”
“I’d finally be able to stop worrying about paying all my bills.”
NEED:  A budget and/or a more effective financial plan.  Simply dismissing the lottery wish as a pipe dream (which it is) doesn’t identify or address the underlying need which will still demand to be met after we’ve been disabused of the fantasy of limitless wealth.

So, step one, when you have a want that is hard to fulfill, is to not dismiss it take it seriously, and imagine the benefit you would hope to achieve by pursuing that silly, selfish, or conflicted want. If you get stuck, again, don’t dismiss the want.  Bring it before God.  Tell him that you know that what you want is probably very practical, but ask him to help you identify the need that want is attempting to express and teach you to meet it in godly ways.

Step 2: Brainstorm alternatives

Now that you’ve identified the need, it’s time to brainstorm alternative ways to meet it.  To use our examples above, how might you learn new tools to silence the inner-worrier?  Prayer?  A more effective plan for getting it all under control.  Some time to reflect on past times you’ve successfully managed a mountain of responsibilities with God’s grace?  Alternatively, maybe it’s time to get some new tools or professional help?

Same with the need for a better budget or financial plan.  Can I make a better budget?  Do I need to talk with a financial planner? Or at least read some new books on budgeting and money management to get some good ideas?  Maybe I don’t feel that I want to, but to address the need for peace expressed by my desire to just ignore it all, maybe it’s just time to bite the bullet.

The point is, it does little good to dismiss a concern on the grounds that it is “just a want.”  There really is no such thing.  Every want is an attempt–albeit often flawed–to meet a deeper need that will most likely rebel against me or the people who love me if I ignore it or allow it to be ignored for too long.

Embrace both your needs and your wants.  Don’t dismiss them, but do reflect on them.  Bring them to God. And get whatever help you need to brainstorm a plan for identifying healthy, alternative ways to meet the needs behind even your silly wants.  It might turn out that they weren’t so silly after all.

For more information on how to meet your needs, especially when they seem to be in conflict with other people or other needs, check out Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart. or contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Tele-Counseling Practice to learn about how a faithful counselor can help you do a better job of getting your needs met in your marriage, family, or personal life.

 

Challenging the Atheist Narrative: Study Says Religious Faith Prevents Violence

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For the study, 555 Palestinian adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 were presented with a classic “trolley dilemma” that involved a Palestinian man being killed to save the lives of five children who were either Jewish-Israeli or Muslim-Palestinian. The participants responded from their own perspective and then again from Allah’s perspective. 

The results showed that although Muslim-Palestinian participants valued their own group’s lives over Jewish-Israeli lives, they believed that Allah preferred them to value the lives of members of both groups more equally. In fact, thinking from Allah’s perspective decreased the bias toward their own group by almost 30 percent.

“Our findings are important because one precursor to violence is when people believe that the lives of members of their group are more important than the lives of members of another group,” said Dr. Jeremy Ginges, associate professor of psychology at the New School for Social Research.

“Here, we show that religious belief — even amidst a conflict centered on religious differences — can lead people to apply universal moral principles similarly to believers and non-believers alike.”

“Beliefs about God seem to encourage an application of universal moral rules to believers and non-believers alike, even in a conflict zone,” added Nichole Argo, a research scientist in engineering and public policy and social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. “Thus, it does not seem to be beliefs about God that lead to outgroup aggression.”  READ MORE