Monday, March 4, 2013

Self-Evaluation Unit II

I explored how people of different faiths view suffering, forgiveness and reconciliation and used the HOPE-based model for spiritual assessment.  That model leads to identification of one of three core dynamics based on expressed needs: self-worth, reconciliation or meaning.
When a loss of belonging or experiences of shame, guilt and self-blame were evident in a patient's story, I found that affirmation was appreciated and helpful. The virtue of humility has been a key for me in coming to believe in myself despite my own struggles with self-blame.  Because growth in true humility and developing a healthy sense of self have played such an important role of my own faith journey, I am especially attuned to people with self worth as a core spiritual dynamic.  When a patient is in need of affirmation, I intuitively use words and gestures to help them feel understood and valued.  Support for a patient who has this core need comes naturally to me.
I discovered that a sense of confusion and a rambling narrative is often a clue that a patient is struggling to make meaning and needs direction.  In ministering to a patient whose core dynamic is a need for meaning and direction, I began to look for the “fruits of the spirit” in their way of talking about various aspects of a situation or dilemma.  Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are signs that have helped me to discern what is of the spirit and what is ego-driven or illusion in my own life.  I am becoming more adept at encouraging patients to use this method themselves to make better choices and find the next best step to take in their own lives.  

When a patient is repeatedly blaming others and avoiding acceptance of personal responsibility, I know that the best pastoral response is to confront them with the truth, but I am concerned about not being too heavy-handed about this.  I believe it is more effective if the truth can be discovered from within rather than imposed by someone else.   I am working on developing a pastoral practice of helping patients to tell their own truth and access their own personal agency in order to forgive and move on.  If a patient is unable to do this for themselves, then I work on fostering a spirit of trust and openness so that I can tell them the truth as I see it with respect and compassion.  Sadly sometimes peoples eyes and ears are just closed to the truth they most need to hear.  This reminds me of Jesus saying, "Let those among you with ears to hear listen."