As I hear today’s first reading, a phrase keeps coming to mind, “tough love,” not “tender loving care.”

Every parent knows tough love is sometimes the best way to truly care for a child who is headed in the wrong direction. While it is hard for the child, it is certainly just as hard for the parent. Yet the heartache caused is a small cost when change comes about.

In his rules for the discernment of spirits during the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius notes that God works with those truly seeking him by encouraging, consoling and inspiring (tender loving care). On the other hand, for those caught up in a life of sin, God induces the sting of conscience, remorse, and agitation for change (tough love). Even for those truly seeking God, there may be areas of life in which sin does prevail.

Are there areas in my life where God is working for change through the sting of conscience, remorse, and agitation?
How might I change?

—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.