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Religion Column: Temperature check

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

“Mommy, my tummy hurts,” said eight-year-old Alex, as he looked up with sorrow filled eyes at his mother. “Well,” she exclaimed, “go and get the thermometer from the closet and we’ll see if you’re running a temperature.” Alex did as he was told and gathered the all-telling instrument. Sitting quietly on the edge of the kitchen chair, he waited for the device to announce the results.
Breaking the quiet with an ear-splitting BEEP, the mother soon retrieved the irritant and announced, “You are running a slight fever; but not enough to put you to bed. In any case, we will keep an eye on you. You will spend the rest of the day helping me around the house. When we get the chores done, you may have time to take a nap.” This was not the reaction he had so expectantly sought.
Alex figured a tummy-ache would at least be enough for some compassionate sympathy and an excuse to be relieved of household chores. Alas, it was not to be. He had put himself in a tight corner and failed to obtain the freedoms, which were so earnestly sought. His Mom was a pretty sharp cookie, as she loved this kid, but knew that this behavior was really a way to get attention; regardless of the type.
We all have a strong desire to be noticed. Consider the author Eric Fromm, who in his groundbreaking effort “The Art of Loving,” identified three ego states. To put it in common parlance, “It’s where we are coming from, baby.” These are the parent, the adult and the child.
Fromm’s supposition is that, regardless of our point in life, we all have these three characteristics in our actions and viewpoints. The parent is the demanding. The adult is the pragmatic; “give me just the facts.” The child is the emotional and creative. Each “ego state” interacts both within and without and each of us has highly variable degrees of each; which vacillates from one moment to the next. When we speak, or when we think, we are using one of the “states.” Telling ourselves, or another, “Sit down, right now!” is our parent. Expressing, in a monotone, “You need to sit down” is our adult. Lastly, using our child ego state, we plead, “Pleeze sit down?”
When we have not reached our quotient for attention, our behavior may become different than the norm. We, when feeling unappreciated, may defer to our child; or in anger to our parent. We soon discover that the effective way to resolve our conflicts, and receive constructive attention, is through the adult part of our minds. Our spiritual well-being is no different than our emotional well-being. Here, we are fraught with the same, seeming neurotic, forces which face us in our difficult earthly world. We may come to our Creator with the same lament as Alex and his “tummy ache;” seeking some of His attention.
However, God knows us better than ourselves, He too is regularly asking for us to take our spiritual temperatures. Not with some gadget, but in regular prayer and quietly listening to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. In such a manner we receive the direct attention of God, through Jesus Christ. We may not always get what we want, but we shall always get what we need; and herein lies the cure.

The tawny crazy ant, also known as Nylanderia fulva, is a non-native ant species that has been found in the southern United States, including Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, and Pearl River counties in Mississippi.