cell phone self-portrait

cell phone self-portrait
things are looking up

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Whether God Cares What I Think

I've always been taught that God listens to my prayers, and that the purpose of prayer (primarily) is to worship Him.  I use the male gender here to refer to that God because He is the God I was raised with.  However, I now believe that the gender of God, and the very idea of gender in terms of God, is arguable.  I will leave that discussion for another day.  Anyway, I am aware of other purposes for prayer, including (without cracking open my Bible, the following):  intercession (prayer of behalf of others), supplication (a request that a need be supplied), confession (the admission of sin and request for forgiveness), fortification (a request for strength to face certain circumstances), and rededication (a renewal of one's spiritual commitment).  I can think of other reasons but I'm not sure which "-ion" word would work here:  a request for blessings on an event or union, for example, or a request for healing.  My point in making this list is to show that God wants and expects my prayers.  The least he expects is my praise.  I have been taught, however, that he does not need my prayers.  He wants a relationship, but he does not need one.  Alternatively, I find that Christians often emphasize that salvation (a prayer for which I left off my earlier list) is about a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Doesn't a relationship imply that two partners relate to each other?  Even assuming that one party is superior to the other --- that one is subordinate, surely the greater one is aware that the lesser one has the same feelings, aspirations, sufferings, etc. that the other has faced.  (Does God suffer?)  Christ did. 

I am making my way, slowly, to my main point, which is that I don't agree with everything God is supposed to have done and said (according to the Bible).  I think some of those Old Testament acts apparently ordered by God were evil, (example: the destruction of entire cities, including women and children) and it is this that gives me pause.  I will come back to this.  My time for writing is up. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Biting My Nails, and Other Bad Habits

I'm 44 years old. Seriously --- it's so past time for me to stop chewing on my fingernails and cuticles. It's got me thinking about how hard it can be to stop any bad but persistent habit. We actually talked about this today in my College Skills class, along with a discussion of how our core beliefs contribute to our thinking patterns, which then contribute to our emotional patterns, which then contribute to our behavior patterns. Now I'm wondering what core beliefs it is that I keep going back to that keep me thinking and feeling in the same old ways, that then keep me doing my old nail-biting behavior. I'm going to try to see if I can trace the causal chain here, going backwards.

When I bite my nails, I'm using feeling anxious and/or irritated and embarrassed by the appearance of my nails (which, ironically, leads me to make them look worse by biting on them) --- so there we have the behavior and the feeling(s). My thoughts at those times usually go something like this: "I've got to stop biting my nails. They look terrible, and my cuticles are sore. Why do I do this? God, I am so anxious, and this is ridiculous. There's nothing to be anxious about (or, alternatively, there is something to be anxious about, and I'm dwelling on that.) Now, the big question is what are the core beliefs that keep me starting the cycle all over again and lead to the thinking and feeling patterns in the first place?

One of them must be, "I am an anxious person; I'm neurotic, that's just the way I am, and I will never be able to stop biting my nails."

There may be others, but this one is apparently relentless. I've got to target it and replace it with a new core belief, which I understand is possible. I've told my students it is, so it better be.

I'm considering some of the advice offered at a website on Changing Core Beliefs. I've provided the link in this post, in case somebody else wants to try it out.

I see that the first step is to "simply stop believing" in the false belief. Really? Can I do that? In order to do this, I have to make a shift in my point of view about the belief and, more importantly, stop judging the belief." This is what I'm going to start with. Join me if you have a bad habit to break and want to get to the heart of it and finally make a change. Let me know what you think.