Monday, February 29, 2016

Good decision making requires aligning my will with what I believe is God's will for me.

Decision making is a skill which all humans must master if they are to have a good life. The ability to make good decisions is first taught and modeled by parents, and then by the culture we grow up in which is made up of, after our parents and immediate family, media, school, friends, and church.

Our current American culture is very materialistic and we are bombarded by thousands of advertisements per day stimulating us to buy the seller's goods, services, and ideas. President George W. Bush told us that the answer to terrorism is to go shopping to keep our economy strong. The message that material acquisitions will make us happy is so pervasive that we don't even notice it any more and like a fish in water. advertising seems to be the very mental and spiritual environment that we swim in. The idea that shopping, acquiring material objects and services, is the antidote to our fears is insane and reminds me of the Old Testament story in Exodus of the golden calf which the Israelites had turned into an idol.

32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b]Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
President Bush is our modern day Aaron and we have become corrupt just like the Israelites in our confused modern day wandering through life. Our decisions are encouraged to be made based upon material desires and we have condemned ourselves to insatiable appetites because assuaging material desires is very short lived. Does anyone who pursues material riches ever have enough?
We are coming to end of the month of February during which we have been focused on decision making. We make hundreds of decisions a day mostly unconscious and mostly habitual: what to eat, when to get up, errands we have to run, chores to get done, etc. Every now and then we are confronted with major decisions: whether to get married or divorced, take a job or quit, stay or move, buy or hold off large purchases etc. It is these major decisions that sometimes snap us out of our somnolence and we find ourselves anxious and/or perplexed about what we should choose. At these times, our conscious decision making skills are put to the test and we must consider what we value, what really matters to us?
 I have learned to put what I believe is God's will first in my life, and then my preferences, and then consider the preferences of others and everything seems to fall into place. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me discern God's will for me and my brothers and sisters. I have been convinced by my therapist, after many years of therapy, that God really wants me to be happy and to have a high quality life something I never felt truly worthy of before. My job was to make other people happy and to overlook my own well being, in fact, to even sacrifice it. I have learned, with the help of my therapist, Steve Klausz, that sacrifice is not what God wanted for me, it was my mistaken belief brought about by my own conditioning and less than optimal decision making.
As St. Paul has said in his letter to the Corinthians, "If God is with you, who can be against you?" Indeed! Aligning my will with what I believe is God's will for me has made all the difference and I have faith that such a skill will make all the difference in your life too. In doing what I have come to believe is God's will for me and the world brings me great joy and peace.
As human beings we can be very stubborn and proud and in our defensiveness, to protect our egos, we demand and insist we are right even when we are wrong and lacking the knowledge about the whole situation. As it says in A Course In Miracles, "Would you rather be right or be happy?"

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