Religion Magazine

How to Take Charge of What Matters to You

By Albert Wagner @albertwagner4

Do you ever do something and have a feeling deep down that is just isn't right and you shouldn't be doing it?
 It could be something simple like enjoying yourself when you know you have work to do.  It could also be a nagging feeling, like going to the doctor or a project you put off. 
You might not especially like that voice.  It can feel intrusive.
For some people it is even more telling than that, but the point is this feeling is NOT an accident.  A Christian would tell you that feeling telling you to do what is right is the Holy Spirit, also known as conscience.
This post looks at why you should listen to the inner voice telling you to do what is right.
First things first.
Way back at the beginning of the Bible it says man was created in God's image (Genesis 1:26).  Whatever is meant by this it is generally agreed that God is about love.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.   - First Epistle Of John 4:8
It goes without saying that if you love someone you want what is best for them.  This does not always mean a fleeting good feeling, but a more joyous, long lasting happy.
This all implies that God wants what is best for you.  After all he created you, ultimately out of nothing, when he could have chosen not to.
What If You Don't Listen To The Voice?
Now we should at least be cognizant of the fact that God loves us.
He loves us so much he gave us the free will to do what is wrong and saved us, knowing we would choose to make bad decisions.  (Wow)
When you are aware of what is right and you choose to take another path that is easier it can lead to cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.
A key belief is subconsciously humans do not want dissonance.  This brings up the question of what effects can this have on a person.
1.  They could hide things from other people
  * Eventually, this can lead to lying to cover up their tracks. Have you heard of Watergate?
2.  They could put things off that are good for them
   *  These are the things that can hurt you in the long term.  It might be something like going to the doctor or a home project.
3. They might miss out on something that could benefit them
   *  Have you heard the phrase,  "good for the soul"?  Sometimes what is painful on the outside is good for the soul, which might be part of God's plan for time on earth.
4. They could have regrets
  *  This goes along with number 2 above.
It could be said following your conscience is a process.  The less developed a conscience is the more it follows what the id wants, similar to an infant.  For instance a dog spits out food it does not want, rather than the more developed reaction of chewing and swallowing.
Spiritual development is similar in the sense a more developed spirit does not just do what it wants on the surface.  This development might be one reason God has spirits in a physical body to begin with.
As St. Peter is quoted in Acts Of The Apostles 5:29, "We must obey God rather than men."  This implies a closer listening to that inner voice mentioned above.
These posts try to get people to think about the root of the their problems, and not just associations.
So, what are some things you can do to lessen dissonance?
A previous post in this blog discussed what sin is and isn't;postID=1715468761434278847;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=117;src=link
The takeaway was that sin was more than just breaking a law, but has a deeper spiritual essence in the context of a relationship with God.  Thus, if your dissonance is breaking a rule you might want to think of the larger context of why you are doing something.  Does immediate pleasure overtake possible problems for you down the road, for example?The Magic Elixir To Remedy The Situation
 Fortunately, God knew all of this a long time ago and gave guidance in the Bible.  indeed, following the Holy Spirit might not always be pleasant, but there is a reason to follow its' "suggestions."  The reason is the way of Jesus is less burdensome.  In the Gospels St. Matthew states,
 "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."    - Matthew 11:30
What Jesus is saying is not that his path will be easy.  He is saying his path is less painful than the alternative.  In other words, listening to that inner voice and following it will ultimately lead to less pain for you in the long term.
Some examples of this phenomena are obvious, like substance abuse.  It might be more painful in the short term to address the issue, but in the long term you will benefit in numerous ways.
Listening to that inner voice might be the more difficult choice in the short term, but God is trying to tell you something. 
What does your conscience tell you to do today?
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