Finding Myself Again

My goal, recently, was to try and stay off Facebook, texting, and etc. Originally, it was an attempt to protect myself and to give myself some more time to do things. After the first day I realized I needed it. I needed it to find myself again.

Somewhere I had lost myself amongst all of the expectations of others. After that one day things felt so good. I came to see I needed to make my own judgements and not rely on other people. My opinions on theological things needed to be my own. I needed to research and form my own conclusions. I also needed to reconnect with things I liked doing and discover new things about myself. I hadn’t played video games in a while. And I’m sure other things got neglected that I was unaware of.

My plan in theory aimed to limit my contact with others to where it was just work and necessary things. However, I have also come to realize that finding myself also includes being able to share ideas and things I learned with people who can appreciate it. A part of finding myself is realizing the need to talk to someone when you are excited about something and know that they can connect with it, or at least try.

I don’t think I’m done with my little break from social media and etc, but I have come to find something surprising. I have found that without the influences of others and forming my own judgements I think I lean to more traditional Catholic stance. In this break, I have allowed myself to explore areas that I may not have thought of if I was not set on finding myself outside of the other people around me.

Finding myself in this exercise is like turning off all the noise and just letting yourself be. Letting yourself not be enmeshed in others and just be inside yourself. Outside of people’s expectations, problems, and emotions. Be in your own skin and regain your sense of self. 

I think everyone should give it a try. But, remember part of finding yourself is also sharing your joy that you can’t help but tell someone about!

Is God to Blame?

The sun was slowly climbing out of bed to give light to the world. The colors of the Sun’s blanket as she slowly lumbered out bed painted the sky in brilliant hues of yellows, pinks, and reds. At the same time, a man climbed out of bed at the sound of his alarm and got ready to start his day. Once dressed, he proceeded to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. In the medicine cabinet, there was an organizer with a little compartment for each day. In the allotted compartments was medication, vitamins, and supplements all organized for each day for the week. Every day the man had to take pills of medication, vitamins, and supplements for a chronic health problem. To many, the idea of swallowing pills as if it is second nature is something to be envied because they themselves struggle with this ability. The irony is to the man they are lucky to not have needed to learn such a skill. Unlike him, God had planned for them to live a relatively healthy life.

This story is not uncommon. In fact, I myself struggle with my own health. In October, my medication for my illness had stopped working. From what I understand, this is a common problem. It is simply that the body has grown use to the medication, and thus, it has become ineffective. Since then, I was thrown back into a struggle that I hoped I had left behind for good. To this day, doctors and other professionals are still trying to find another medication that will help alleviate the worst of my symptoms. It’s a process of trial and error as not every medication will work the same for each person.

In the midst of the time since then, I was once again plagued with the internal struggle of wondering why God would give and plan my life to have this illness. This was a recurring thought as I struggled through each day at college. It was compounded by the carefree attitudes of my fellow devout catholic peers. Deep in my heart, I wished to be just like them and not know the heavy burden that laid upon my shoulders. Even today, such a desire exists, I am definitely not yet a saint. I graduated this spring with a bachelors in Theology. Thus, my peers and I went our separate ways, and some, like me, started a new chapter in life. Today, I see my peers going on mission trips, summer camps, and other ministry and theological orientated tasks, but instead of feeling great joy and pride in them, I find that I am frustrated because I could be doing those exact same things. I could be but instead I have to attend to my health. Such adventures are on hold until I am healthy again. This sadness and envy at my season in life is not holy, and I say these things to be truthful with my readers and I feel there is an advantage to my message by sharing it.

The thing I want you take away from this, and it took me longer than it should have to discern it, is we tend to think illnesses, and other misfortunes to be what God planned for us and this is an error. This was something I struggled with because of my own suffering, like I showed in the previous paragraphs. Usually, such a thing as suffering would not bother me, but the difference here is the sheer amount of suffering that caused me to really question how God could have planned this struggle for my life. I would tell myself that this will make me a better person, but at the end of the day it was not much of comfort. The truth is God did not originally plan for this to happen to me. God did not plan for me to suffer from poor health. What created this was the first sin by Adam and Eve. It took me too long to come to this conclusion, and I probably should be embarrassed. 

What the first sin by Adam and Eve destroyed was the harmony that God had created. The harmony within the body controlled by the soul’s spiritual faculties was broken. Spiritual faculties did not control it anymore. Thus emotions, mind, and fleshly urges were in disarray and were not controlled by Spiritual faculties anymore. It is from the fall of Adam and Eve that misfortunes and suffering are in life. It is not correct to think that God is to blame for one being sick. Original sin is to blame and God did not create original sin. Original sin and the consequences that arose were created by man, namely Adam and Eve. If you read Gensis, you can see that disorder is let loose into the world by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. I do not feel I am doing it justice, but the harmony and peace that God had created was destroyed by the first sin. This subsequently is why we now sin, and why we need abundant grace from God to attain salvation. What original sin created was a wound “in the natural powers proper to,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 405, human nature. God did not create disease, illness, misfortune, birth defects, cancer, or anything else. The world is fallen and broken because of sin. We suffer because of the effects of original sin. In the case that I am not doing this justice, I recommend you read the Catechism. It can be found online for free. 

The sense that this had not come from God has put peace in my heart. Suffering is beneficial, and, just like with Job, God does allow us to suffer, however this suffering is created by the fall of man. This is the truth of the matter. It was not correct for me to struggle with God over this issue as He did not create suffering. If it was not this suffering than it would be something else. 

This is what I want you to take away from this post,  God is not to blame for our suffering, but He is a place we can run to for security. It’s tragic that we assign, almost on instinct, blame to God when misfortunes come our way. It is damaging to our relationship to God and eats away at our trust in Him. You can blame God for allowing you a certain misfortune, however he did not originally intend for this to happen to you. What made this happen to you was original sin and not God. I hope that what I have written here you take to heart and that it might also bring you peace.

The Spectrum Between White and Black 

I am not certain how to hook you into reading this post, but I always found such things as a “hook” to be arbitrary in the grand scheme of things. In an intellectual book, I care not if the book has a good introduction only that the substance is profound and enlightening. Thus, since I can not come up with a good introduction on whim, I will put it to you plainly. Additionally, In any case, such a situation might be blessing as I believe the “hooks” I come up with to be cheesy. 

Well to be plain, I am in, and have been in, circumstances that have changed me and matured me, much like everyone else has had such experiences. Though currently, I have come to realization that sin and virtues are at times over simplified into simple categories of white and black, especially so, from what I have seen of Protestantism.  I can remember being a teenager and watching hour long sermon after hour long sermon. This activity was what I did for fun back then as I was attending a community college near where I lived. As such, most people at the community college were way older than me and there wasn’t much social bonds or activities to be found. Thus, being the weird 18 or 19 year old I was, I took to watching sermons and trying to answer my own questions about my religion. 

Distictly, I can remember the harsh sound of a preacher who criticized people for being what he called “people pleasers.” From the impression I got, and what I recall, he seemed to think it was a simple choice. He seem to portray it as a simple realization of standing up for yourself. These simplifications, from what I can remember, are very common. Another example, we say jealousy is bad and that we should not be jealous. There are much more examples I can give, but for the sake of brevity I shall stick to these two and clarify how sins should not entirely be looked at in simple terms. 

To clarify my first example, the problem with what the preacher called “people pleasing” is that it seemed to have a personal a opinion and bias to it. However, let’s say such a notion was clearly stated in the Bible to be wrong. The problem with the way he simply puts it, as a change that can happen that night and it’s easy, presents this idea of it not being a more deeper seated issue. Additionally, much like everything else people pleasing is not an entirely bad habit, unless you compromise your own values. I would say, a child should want to please his parents. That is not a desire that is wrong. You should want to please your supervisor at work and do a good job. This, again, is not a bad quality, unless you compromise your own beliefs and values. You should also want to please your wife or your husband. Additionally, should you not want to make a friend happy and make thier day? No, such is a good thing. However, this only explains half of my arguement. What the preacher also did not include was the psychology behind personalty types. The fact is some personalty types get joy from pleasing other. Again, such a thing is not necessarily bad until it is out of balance. Additionally, let’s say one does compromise thier values in a certain situation because they are pressured, guilted, or manipulated into it. In the strict black and white sense, this circumstance, in Protestant theology and opinion, means nothing to how guilty a person is to commiting a sin. The problem with this simple classification is the lack of compassion, forgiveness, and understanding in it’s overall message. It lacks the compassion to see that abuse may have shaped a person into being a people pleaser. And, more importantly, it lacks the sight to see that there will be a struggle because it could be related to trauma. It is not a simple switch with being flipped off because of some enlightening moment, but it is a process. This, from what I can remember, was not mention, and in good will, may have been an oversight. The problem I am addressing is not the preacher, but the black and white categories that sins, and more importantly emotions, are put into.

Not to beat a dead horse, however, I feel I can gain more understanding by discussing the problem with Jealousy. Typically, jealousy is always defined as evil, and yet we, when I was a Methodist, never talk about how God being jelous for his people when they made idols to worship is a good thing. Jealousy in the right context is good. If another man is kissing your wife then you should be jealous. It is the samething as what God felt when his people, who made a covenant with him, started worshiping idols. As you can see, jealousy is wrong when it is not in the right context. However, to expand one’s view beyound that, jealousy is wrong in certain circumstances, but there may be an unmet need associated with jealousy. Jealousy can be a result of more complicated problems that will take time to heal. This, in particular, I am coming to understand myself. Jealousy is not an evil thing  in the sense that everyone chooses to do it like one would with murder. Its a more complicated matter, and there should be compassion for it as well. Yet when we define sins into broad categories and don’t explore the situations, we pigeon whole something and never treat the root cause or figure out how to heal. Even worse, we define it wholly as a sin and do not see that in certain contexts it is not a sin.

To conclude, this rather more lengthy then intended post, things should be meditated on and be understood in a less black and white mindset. It leaves out key information and realistic ways to overcome sin in one’s life. In my opinion, this black and white simplification is at it’s worst when sins are thought to be all equal in value. I can remember as a child telling myself that my little white lie was the same thing as murder. This is unrealistic, and not to mention unbiblical. Additionally, from the perspective of black and white there is less compassion and no regard for circumstances. More importantly, it can be unrealistic. 

   

How to Love Your Enemy

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. This calling is not an easy thing to do at all. Though, this is something I am getting better at.

Now, before I begin, I want to say this is not a sure-fire way to learn to love your enemies. It may work for some people and for some it may not work. It may depend on the person’s disposition.

The way I have gotten a little better at loving my enemies is by praying for them and trying to understand why they did what they did. Loving is much easier when you forgive, and forgiveness is much easier to give once you have understanding. In understanding, you realize things aren’t black and white, and there is the shade of gray.

Now, forgiveness doesn’t have to be the first step. However, If you can simply pray for the person’s well-being and growth in the faith; you are likely going to develop good will for people. The practice may be very uncomfortable. From this uncomfortableness, you’ll grow and mature into it so that it becomes second nature to you to pray for people who have hurt you and hold malice for you. It is praying for them and wishing them well in my prayers that I have seemed to have formed the habit of loving my enemies. It helped me see beyond the black and white. And it helped me see beyond how what their actions affected me, and, also, how they might be just very confused or be in a bad situation themselves.

An essential point I want to mention is that this love is more of an act of will than emotion. It is something you will for. You may still hurt inside, but through your will you can want good for them and want what’s best for them.

It may take a while though. I may not hold malice for a girl at my university that slandered me and my reputation, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of her or wasn’t trying to avoid her. Though, my therapist told me I am not allowed to be around her physically or emotionally for my mental health.

Loving your enemies is definitely a process and something we have to work on. It’s definitely not something you’ll just wake up and have one day. You have to make a choice to start doing it and trying your best at it. You have to choose to love your enemy and from this choice you will grow more into that virtue with practice!

I want to wish all my followers a Happy good Friday and easter! I hope you have a great Holy Week!

Love

This week I meditated on the concept of love and my intrapersonal relationships came up in the meditation. I compared how the bible describes love and my love and my friend’s love in the relationship we have.

The concept of love in society is most depicted as a feeling and can often be depicted as conditional in the media. I tried to understand how there seems to be an imbalance between how we love and the way we are supposed to love. As I thought about it the more and about experiences with people I have had the more I find something is missing. What’s missing is that the majority don’t know what love actually is. They don’t see how love is choice and it should be unconditional. Love cannot be earned nor is it having your friends agree with you all the time. In the very essence of Love, love and truth coexist. Truth and love must co-exist because without a friend pointing out your problems you could never grow into a better person. A friend says these things and still loves you despite your decisions and your flaws. In the other side, you could take your friends truthful honest word as pointing out your flaws and not realizing that they love you despite them and taking great offense. Love is not conditional, it’s meant to be unconditional. Therefore, it should not matter what you go through or what mistake you made because love bears all things. “Bearing all things” is a choice someone makes. Therefore, you can choose to love someone enough to bear the terrible times. I think there is clear lack of understanding of this among people.

Perhaps, this perceived notion of love being a choice is what makes a person care too much about others. Perhaps, this is why there is unbalance between relationships and their level, because one chooses to love despite the mistakes and the troubles. Perhaps this why marriages fail because they both have to consider love a choice and something followed by action. Love has to have action as well, because actions prove the words someone spoke are true. From love actions flow from it, if the actions aren’t there then it isn’t love. Love is a verb, and actions communicate love. Actions are a key element to love, you can not have love if there are no actions.

I want to and re-focus again on the aspect of truth and love co-existing. To turly know someone you have to be real with them. In my eyes, it is not love to drag someone around especially if you don’t want to maintain the relationship with them. To me, it’s more in the sense of love to just be direct with them and get it over with and not dragging them through the mud. Therefore, communication has to be truthful. I think you guys are understanding what I am saying on thsi topic.

I also want to mention, I don’t want to limit love to just one area becasue you can love a total stranger. Love is doing what’s best for the person. Love is also where you put someone’s best interest before your onwn. There are so many aspects to love, but only some are more focused on in the secular world than the other facets to it.

In essence, Love is a concept that has been distorted by society and it also seems like only few actually achieve the level of love that we are suppose to. The more I think about it the more, I find that love is something everyone can improve on. It is a skill that I don’t think can stop growing. It was a really eye opening experience and helped me better understand love and how it doesn’t give up. It’s like God spoke to me about even if people don’t love like I do, I am doing the right thing by the way I love others. That’s not to say I am perfect at loving becasue i defiantely have areas i need to improve on, but that it’s a good thing i care so much about others.