As we head toward the end of July, the month in which we celebrate our independence as a nation, I keep reflecting on the idea of freedom…and how messed up our concept of it has become. Most of us would probably agree that if our founding fathers were to return to America today, they would be rather shocked and disgusted. Is this what they shed their blood for?!
Freedom has become gravely misunderstood these days as license – the right to do whatever the heck we feel like doing. Right and wrong are now defined by majority rule, and in many cases these days, by the minority rule of vocal special interest groups. The result has not been true freedom, but rather a society in bondage – to pornography, drugs, (prescription and recreational), alcohol, money, food, fashion, status…you name it.
In order to determine the health of any nation, we must look at the emotional and spiritual health of its citizens. They’re connected. We need to really understand this notion of freedom and how essential it is to proper emotional and spiritual functioning. The essence of God’s relationship to us is His profound reverence for our freedom. He never forces us to love Him. The mark of any truly healthy relationship, corporation or nation is the same- reverence for the freedom of each individual person in matters of conscience, relationship, religion and self-governance. We see that eroding under our feet today but it could not have happened if individuals were not first emotionally enslaved.
God created us with emotions and reason. Our emotions are naturally inclined to move us toward all that’s good, beautiful and true and away from what’s not. Reason, through an educated and well-formed conscience is meant to guide them. Too often in this “age of reason”, we invert that order and pursue things the world puts forth as valuable but that can never truly satisfy our hearts.
But what is actually “good” these days? We’ve gone so far as to redefine our vocabulary. Remember Michael Jackson using the word “bad”? It meant good. It got popular. I was pretty young and not particularly devout back then but I knew that meant trouble- BIG trouble. Sadly, I was right. We’re reaping the fruits of morality turned upside down in America. Small roots can grow large, and poisonous, trees.
Now as Catholics we have Holy Mother Church to guide us in our moral lives and decisions. We’re blessed with a Catechism with answers to practically every moral question we can ask…and not just answers, but truly thoughtful explanations of the why behind the rules. And yet, many baptized Catholics have fallen into the same bondage as the rest of society. Why?
Well clearly a lack of catechesis these last few decades and the influence of an unrelenting secular media have been strong factors in creating generations of people who simply don’t know or understand right and wrong. Our sound bite society appeals to our emotions and moves us quickly away from reason as they rush in the next catch phrase or pet cause before much thought is given to the last one. Evidence piles into mountains that the way of the world just isn’t working, and yet like lemmings off a cliff we march onward. What’s the deal?!
I believe at the heart of our problems is an emotionally wounded society. A society starving for true love and affirmation, betrayed by a liberal ethic that pulled mothers out of the home and reduced fathers to mere sperm donors with no rights before birth and mere financial obligation afterwards. In order for society to be free, the human person must be free – emotionally and spiritually. But wounds get in the way. Fear and loneliness are powerful allies that militate against true liberty. These provide fertile ground for the enemy of our souls to sow confusion and false values to make us “feel” better- temporarily- until we’re caught in his traps.
With all that being said though, I don’t feel hopeless. In 24 years in the therapist’s chair, I’ve seen a lot of chains broken. Healing does happen. Jesus is no less active delivering us from the wiles and snares of the devil than He was 2000 years ago. The human person is still basically good and simply looking for peace and happiness. As St. Augustine astutely observed: “Even as man falls into the arms of a prostitute, he’s searching for God.”
What are you looking for? What is your heart’s deepest desire? Are you getting closer to where you want to go or with each year do you drift further, reducing your dream to a smaller and smaller dot in the distance? You need to listen for that still small voice in your heart- in your emotions. That’s where God speaks. It’s not an endeavor of the intellect. It takes listening. It takes quiet- two things hard to achieve in this modern era of perpetual electronic connection. Your feelings are powerful allies if you learn how to get in touch with them and harness them.
Our specialty is understanding the emotional life, healing deep wounds and using the great gift of our emotions to experience true happiness and pay it forward in this hurting world. If you struggle with past hurts or don’t feel like you’re living the full and happy life you dreamed of before the world crushed your dreams, call us for a consultation. We’d love to show you a better way.
“When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.”
- Ep. 211 Navigating Family Stress at the Holidays - November 22, 2023
- Put up your dukes! The holidays are here. - November 15, 2023
- Ep. 210 What To Do When Your Feelings Don’t Seem to Make Sense - November 15, 2023
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