Hello world! There have been so many thoughts going through my head lately and posts I’ve wanted to write. But obviously that hasn’t happened. I’d like to spend more time writing deeper things, but you know what? You gotta start somewhere. Here are 7 random things about life lately. Join in with all the fun people today.
1. Life has both been a whirlwind and super slow since graduating in May. Being back here blogging reminded me of this scene in Mulan:
On the one hand, I had my first day of work 4 days after getting home and jumped right into real adult life. That felt crazy fast. On the other hand, that’s mostly what I’ve done since May: drive to work, work, go home, eat, sleep, repeat. Compared to college life and everything I was doing, real life can actually be quite boring. I’m working on finding ways to spice it up and do new fun things . . .
2. Speaking of finding new things, now that I’ve moved (as of almost 2 weeks ago), I feel like I can finally do that. My sister and I found a place between our workplaces and are close to feeling mostly moved in. It’s both weird and super awesome to have our own place. And SO nice to have a commute of about 40 minutes compared to over 2 hours.
3. One of my favorite parts of the apartment? My bed. It’s probably the single thing I spent the most $$ on, which I think is worth it. Here’s a little sneak peak complete with my messy Craig’s listed corner desk, $7 Ikea lamp, and wrinkled pillowcases for a little extra pizzazz:
4. Another fun thing about being an adult is cooking. Tonight I’m going to make a polenta + veggie + cheese casserole. I’ve never made polenta before, so we’ll see how that goes. Anyone have fun squash recipes or others appropriate for fall?
5. We all know how crazy the world is, so I’m taking this opportunity to remind you there’s still good stuff out there. Remember that. Just take a look at the sunset! I took this the other night stopped at a red light after picking up a tree from Craig’s List, which is pretty awesome if you ask me. We can choose to focus on the bad stuff or look for the good. Focusing on good stuff (even though we do have to deal with crap too) really makes life better. Also, who wouldn’t be happy with an awesome new tree in your car?
6. I don’t know if this quote is legit or not, but I found it recently, and love it: “Teach us to give and not count the cost” Words to ponder from St. Ignatius.
7. On an interesting note, I really like this article from earlier this week: The New Culture of Life. It’s about the growing trend of people who are feminist and/or non-religious within the pro-life movement. I find the reaction to this quite interesting. What do you think? I’m a big fan of a consistent life ethic, regardless of other beliefs we might disagree on, and am looking forward to doing more with that soon.
What have you been up to lately? Are you proud of me for not mentioning the election or politics here? That was hard! I have much to say on the topic, but will save it for later😉
What if I told you that there was so much more to be learned from Mother Teresa’s life than helping the poor?
As a Catholic, there are thousands of people we recognize as possessing heroic virtue, so it might be hard to pick a favorite saint. But Mother Teresa, whom I affectionately call Mama T, is hands down one of my favorites. Let me tell you why.
At first I admired her for giving up everything to help the poor. Who wants to walk the streets helping people who kind of (really!) don’t like you (at first)? Probably most of us wouldn’t jump on that opportunity.
It’s admirable and beautiful what Mama T did to help the poor, and I think most of us could make a greater effort to alleviate the suffering of those living in material poverty. That’s the easy to agree with message that so many people fell in love with Mama T for.
But there’s so much more to her. Here are some of the reasons (beyond helping the poor) Mama T is my homegirl:
She teaches us to trust God with absolutely reckless abandon.
I use those words literally because to most people, how the Missionaries of Charity live is totally reckless. When I spent a spring break with them, I learned that they never ask for what they need or want. Instead, they’ll pray for God to provide. And guess what? He always does – even if it’s not how we imagined. The soup kitchen I helped them run for a week was overflowing with food to share. And they had never put donation bins in churches or asked for people to contribute. They got up around 4am, didn’t have furniture in their chapel, hand washed their sari’s, got through each day helping others tirelessly, traveled around their city to help all sorts of people, AND were able to stay awake for an hour of adoration. We can’t all do this, obviously. But it was a good example of what can happen when we lean on God.
This story is another illustration of how Mama T trusted God (and shows us to!), which I try to remember. I’ve gone back to that story so many times. Her example is such a good reminder that God will never lead us to such deep waters that he can’t carry us across.
She showed me that being Catholic doesn’t mean you have a perfect relationship with God.
It might be scandalizing to some people to know that Mama T felt unloved by God for the majority of her adult life. To me, it’s comforting. It’s proof that being a good person doesn’t come from special spiritual super powers. Yes, she had to have a lot of grace to do what she did. But just like her, I can choose to do what is good and contribute something beautiful to the world even if it stinks sometimes. People we admire have struggles and feel alone sometimes. How awesome to know what we’re all capable of.
She helped me understand that loving is about giving.
Much like the quotable Fulton Sheen, Mama T had some mic drop moments talking about giving. Reading her words have been part of my understanding of Theology of the Body – that life isn’t about getting and having. It’s about being and giving.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
During my mission trip, one of the sisters was experiencing severe pain in her foot. It apparently was getting worse as she was getting older. But we didn’t find out until well into the week, when it came up in conversation. Her response? “You don’t get old until you stop loving Jesus!” She just kept on giving.
She taught me that feeling unloved is a crisis unparalleled by material want.
To much of the Western world, being without a house and food sounds like one of the most horrible things that could happen to you. It is surely a sad thing. At some point, I thought how nice it would be to go to places like the slums of Calcutta and alleviate the suffering there. But having a bit more life behind me now (ha!), I get this. Material want can be fixed. And it should be, by people who have things. Want for love is so different. Whether it’s a broken relationship, a rough upbringing, or something else that’s cause for a feeling of alienation, there’s not as easy a fix. It’s complicated and messy and I hope that throughout my life I can help some people feel a little more cared for.
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
She showed me that you don’t have to go to Calcutta to change the world.
If you love Mama T, you probably thought about going to India for a hot second. Am I right? I did. Would it be awesome to see and experience her work? Of course. Yes. It would! I’ve found mission trips to be enriching and wonderful experiences. They’re great. But I think they also run the risk of us failing to see the people around us right here in our neighborhoods who need a helping hand. Mama T issues a challenge to us, which I hope to spend my life working on:
It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.
Are we up for the challenge?
“I Thirst” written beside every crucifix in their buildings serves as a reminder to spend our lives satiating God’s thirst for souls by bringing his love to the world.
You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty.
We’ve heard her words. We love her. Now let’s find our Calcuttas. Where is yours?
What’s more lighthearted and joyful to talk about than politics nowadays?
Lots of things, Laura. LOTS of things.
But talk about it we shall. It’s been hard to figure out this election cycle, so here’s how I’m approaching it.
The first thing I consider when voting for a candidate for any position is whether or not they respect the dignity of the human person. If the person in question supports direct attacks on human life, they automatically don’t get my vote. I don’t care if they have a stellar economic vision if they can’t respect everyone’s right to life. #SorryNotSorry
If the candidate passes that basic test, I will look at their stance on a variety on social issues. Then I will move to economic strategies, foreign policy, and the list goes on. But let’s be real. Most politicians don’t get that far in my process.
Because this is my process, Hillary Clinton never was and never will be someone I vote for (barring a major conversion). She is in favor of abortion on demand and shares Planned Parenthood’s worldview that some people are not as important as others. She’s also a criminal, so there’s that. Not voting for her was an easy decision.
Now the harder part. Long before the candidates were official, I seriously wondered if Trump running for president was a joke. I mean, what filthy rich business honcho runs for president? Apparently he does.
When I realized he would be the republican nominee, I lost what little faith I had in our political system. And I decided to eventually drop my affiliation with the republican party. The two party system doesn’t make sense to me at this point in history, because I think it divides us against each other when we need to work on electing people who will unite as many people as possible. Even though this means I won’t be able to vote for republican candidates in future primaries as a Californian, I’m just not willing to be affiliated with a group of people I don’t belong with.
The obvious decision would be to vote for Trump then, right?
Not for me.
I understand the reasoning some people are using to justify voting for Trump:
they’re sticking it to the establishment (by voting for the establishment…wut? I’m really not sure how someone like Trump isn’t part of this alleged establishment.)
they like that he’s not a career politician (which makes him a great politician. How is this a good qualification for being President?)
they hate Hillary so much they’d vote for the other person regardless of who it is because the republican is going to be more moral than the democrat (This is just bad logic because being republican doesn’t make you a saint.)
he is unabashedly not politically correct (Have you noticed this was more before he had advisers? His changing his voice makes me think he’s too easily manipulated.)
they think he will follow through on his promise to elect good people to SCOTUS (Good luck with that)
they agree with his stances (in which case, let’s talk about those)
or he’s the “lesser” of two evils in this case (debatable)
I just don’t buy it. So I’m not voting for Trump. I’m not voting for Trump because it’s never okay to do something bad for a good result. Ever. It’s not because I’m naive enough to think a perfect candidate exists. But I cannot in good conscience violate my conscience by voting for either of our major candidates.
I will not endorse deporting people who allegedly don’t belong here.
I will not endorse building a wall to keep people out.
I will not endorse nuking people nonchalantly.
I will not endorse killing the innocent wives and families of terrorists.
I will not endorse flipflopping on the issues most important to me.
Even if endorsing these things meant changing SCOTUS to be more in favor of my moral beliefs, I won’t vote for someone so reprehensibly against what I stand for to get one good thing.
It’s hard. I get it.
Many people I know are deciding what to do. Some will not vote. And some, like me, will write in a candidate as a protest vote. I’m not sure who yet (feel free to recommend people in the comments), but that’s what I’m doing.
Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear how you vote. Tell me I’m wrong, tell me who you’re voting for, let me hear it!
Over the last couple weeks, in a renewed zeal for sharing my thoughts, I’ve sat down and written a couple posts. They came easily, and I enjoyed the distant but familiar joy of sharing what’s on my mind. But they didn’t make it to your screen. I was too incredulous at the dumbness of the world that my words would probably definitely be regretted.
The world hasn’t really calmed down since then, but I’m here, finally ready to take this thing head on.
Since graduating and beginning life in the real world a couple months ago, I’ve been thinking about my place in all this craziness. That may never be crystal clear. But I do clearly know that I can’t be silent right now. I’m not one to ever be silent about things that matter. But lately it’s been too overwhelming to comprehend. We all know it.
I’m going to start writing again anyway.
If there’s ever a time we needed person to person dialogue, this is it.
We need to discuss things that matter. We need to remember each other’s humanity when we disagree. We need to challenge ourselves and people we can reach to build the future we hope for.
I’m starting small, and not making any promises. But I am back (with a prettier blog!). And I’m here to tackle our culture, current events, and life as a Catholic in a world increasingly against me. What’s next? A whole lot of fun breaking down the issues and getting to the heart of the issues we’re all struggling with.
Welcome to the ride! If there’s anything you want to discuss, contact me anytime. You can bet there are fun things in the works already😉
Job, transportation, housing, and so much more are what we as young adults have to figure out after leaving the comfort of a college campus. When I first heard people use the term “adulting”, it seemed pretty weird. But now that I’m in the throes of figuring out post college life, it seems to accurately describe my feeling toward transitioning into a full-fledged member of society.
Not long ago, it felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff. Since then I accepted a job offer, graduated from college, and road tripped half way across the U.S. with my family to get home. In the few days between getting home and when work training starts, it’s been crunch time figuring out a new car, financing said car, public transportation to work, insurance, and eventually moving out of my family home (to name a few things). It’s a LOT all at once, and can be overwhelming. But I’m also so, so grateful to have a job.
With this whirlwind transition going on, there hasn’t been much time to think about all the other components of young adult life. You know, forming a new community and whatnot. Adulting is hard, sometimes. There are lots of transitions. And there’s stuff I haven’t begun to deal with yet since graduation was just a week ago. There’s so much I want to do. It’s such an exciting time! But right now I’m focusing on figuring out the basics.
To keep myself sane, I’ve been taking it one step at a time. It can’t all happen at once. [Even if I do have a million tabs open at once trying to put it all together…]
And you know what? It’ll all happen in time. I think that’s an important thing to remember in figuring out all this stuff. We don’t have to have all the answers now, thank goodness!
Here are some reminders for this time:
Be patient. If you have everything all perfectly laid out, it probably won’t happen that way (ask me how I know, ha!).
Learn to trust God. He’s got your back, even when everything else seems uncertain.
Be smart with money. I think it’s a major disservice to young people that so many of us don’t know much about handling money. But I do consider myself in a good position because of the years of hard work put into earning my way through college. I took out far less in loans than many college students, have great credit, and a full time job. But I still have to be smart and make concrete goals – a work in progress! Having goals and good advice in this area I think can help alleviate a lot of worries that go into adulting.
Give, give, give. As a single young person, there’s nobody depending on me and nobody I’m depending on (in the same way as being a child). Because of that, it’s easy to become self centered. Use this time to give back in ways you couldn’t do later in life. After all, we can only find ourselves in service to others. Donate the time, talent, and treasure that you can!
Do things you enjoy off the internet. Like to hike or draw or crochet or read? Do it! When things get stressful, slow down your mind in healthy ways that relax you. Spend time with people. Try new recipes. Paint a room. Finish a book. Try a new coffee shop in town. Go to a dance class. Thrift shop. Sew. Play an instrument. Get a little beauty into your life!
It can be a little unsettling figuring life out. And I’m smack dab in the middle of it right now! But it helps to know I don’t have to have all the answers right now. Life as an adult is just beginning for me, and it’s exciting thinking about all the possibilities. Imagine what’s possible when we make the most of our young adult years and work to become the people God made us to be!
Thanks to Rachel and Lindsay for having me host NAS this week! Share your pro tips for adulting in the comment section or the link-up, and let’s help each other out.
Link up next week with Lindsay to revisit the topic of love languages. Here’s the prompt:
Love languages apply to more than just romance; they help you learn how to make people feel appreciated and cared for in all of your relationships. What is your love language? (Take the quiz at 5lovelanguages.com.) How have you learned to speak someone else’s love language? Do you find it easier to speak some languages than others; if so, which ones? How have you shown or received love in multiple languages?
It feels like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.
Being just over a week away from graduation is something that always seemed way in the future. But now it’s right here. I am an adult who will soon have a degree and job.
My future is still not quite crystal clear, which is something I didn’t expect. At first when job leads became unsure, I insisted on looking at specifically Catholic or pro-life jobs. When nothing was happening with those leads, I expanded to non-profits in general and applied there. It’s been frustrating not knowing what the future will be like.
I’ve been praying about it and was grilling God a couple weeks ago questioning whether I was supposed to even work with Catholic or pro-life organizations. Were my standards too high? If nothing’s happening with those leads, am I not supposed to work in those areas? Why in the world would I have spent the last 5 years working in those fields only to be rejected to continue full time? Was I being doomed to work in a meaningless cubicle away from the work I’m passionate about?
So naturally, I gave God an ultimatum of sorts and said “Okay, but if you want me in those other places, show me. Open the door and I will walk through it, even if I don’t love it.”
Daring God is not the most intelligent or mature thing I’ve done, but it also gave him just enough room in this adventure.
I continued my job search online widening my horizons. It was rather discouraging. Those business jobs unrelated to missions of helping people are the jobs that are often highly competitive and driven by profit and dirty business. That’s not what drives me, so it’s difficult to bring myself to apply to those jobs. But wouldn’t you know? I think God’s got something up his sleeve because other leads started developing. And my applications for jobs at non Catholic/life-related jobs were rejected.
So maybe that was the point – to get to the place where I gave up my plans and started looking at what I don’t want to do.
After all, one thing taking Catholic Social Thought has taught me is that it’s not the specifics of our work that make it meaningful. It’s our co-participation with God in his plan to develop creation. It’s our dignity as creatures made in his image that gives our work meaning.
Who knows where God is calling me? Not this girl. I’ve been surprised, disappointed, discouraged, but also hopeful at different times during this process. Figurative doors have been slammed in my face. It has not been fun. It’s not something I wanted to do. And it’s certainly not over. But more than anything, getting to this point in life has taught me that the best things often happen when my plans don’t work out.
Recently I was absentmindedly humming Here I Am Lord, and this line stuck with me when I realized how applicable it is to senior year: “I will go, Lord, if you lead me.”
And for the first time in my life, I’m realizing that I actually mean that. God does not abandon us, EVER. Things like this that test us make us stronger. Bring on the fire! We can choose to lean into the change and let ourselves be molded, or we can crumble under the pressure. I choose to make the most of this. I choose to not be passive about finding what God has in store. I choose to find joy in this, even when it stinks. And I choose to allow God to unfold the masterpiece of my life.
Trust in God is one of the most horribly painful but awesome things ever. And it’s born from a place of realizing the gifts in life (basically everything) while developing an attitude of thanksgiving. It goes like authenticity to trust to gratitude.
That will never be easy to accept, but it has gotten easier. God’s got a plan and I’m out to find it. Are you?
Potty talk isn’t generally acceptable in most social circles, but it’s been all the rage with Target’s recent statement of policy. This statement (which is not new) tells us that Target will “welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity”. So naturally, people are losing their ever-loving minds.
First off, let’s chat about the big picture of these bathroom laws. Yes, I 100% disagree with Target’s policy. It’s playing a political game and siding with a liberal agenda. I don’t think we should have to think about politics or controversial issues when buying shoes or milk. This is corporate personhood taken WAY too far.
Additionally, we don’t have a grasp of what this new concept of “gender identity” means. The best I can understand it is a type of body or gender dysphoria (unease or dissatisfaction with the way things are) or dysmorphia (obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance). It’s a problem to accept this as normal behavior. This is a very real struggle and we should be seeking ways to help people become the best version of the person they were born as – not run away from that person by becoming someone else.
There’s also the concern of safety. I don’t want men walking through bathrooms when I’m peeing. It’s bad enough when you make awkward eye contact through those gaping cracks in the stalls with another woman. Can I get an amen? This opens doors for creepers to have easier access to victims. However, I’ve seen people argue that we should be watching our kids already. And then there’s the point that criminals don’t really care about laws. So while this argument has merit, I think it’s hard to argue without statistics and facts to back it up. There are lots of stories, though, that we shouldn’t ignore.
Okay, but I’m still not boycotting them. Why?
Boycotting is fairly ineffective. Imagine Target executives sitting around and discussing the issue. Do they care about a bunch of (what they think are) haters? Not really. Nope. A bunch of Christians whining isn’t going to make them cry. Unless you’ve got the whole country mad, boycotting just doesn’t work.
This is not new. Target has been known to be a flaming liberal company for quite some time. Why do you care about them now?
I don’t even shop there often, so boycotting wouldn’t take much of anything away. Maybe I’ll go someplace else if I can, but I barely shop at target to begin with.
It reinforces the “ew” factor of Christians against people dealing with gender/LGBT issues. Instead of creating dialogue, it just confirms the liberal view that we just.can’t.even. when it comes to these issues. You know what? Yeah, it’s wrong to say you can change gender. God made us male and female for a reason. But reacting with this much of an ick factor isn’t doing much for our cause. Let’s talk about it and come up with a solution together.
But my biggest reason is that I want to be consistent in what I stand up for and support. If I’m going to boycott Target, guess who else I have to boycott? Pretty much everyone.
Walmart executives should probably pay some jail time for the number of people who’ve been hurt through their manipulation of suppliers to lower safety standards. Do you know that chocolate and cell phone batteries are usually made possible through the work of slave children? How do you feel about that? What about sweatshops in China?
If you dig deep enough, there’s going to be something morally objectionable that almost all companies support.
So when you claim that your conscience is offended by these bathroom laws, I get it. Mine is too. But your conscience should also be taken aback by other issues. It is wildly inconsistent to scream BOYCOTT to the bathrooms but silently enable slave owners. It’s so easy to whine on social media but not let these issues permeate our beings and radically change how we live.
The liberal agenda is dumb. I don’t feel super comfortable peeing in public anymore knowing anything could happen. But we’ve got to pull ourselves together and be logical. Don’t cave to the hysteria of tolerance. Don’t just throw your hands up and not care. There’s too much at stake.
But remember that there are real people involved, and people better darn well know us by our love. Sometimes life calls for tough love. It calls for courage to go against the tide. It calls for so much more than a boycott. It calls for a consistent ethic in who and what we support. So let’s examine who we give our business to and make sure that our money is always where our mouth is.
It’s a funny thing to be at such an uncertain part of life when I was so certain this wouldn’t happen. But you know, God like to laugh when we make plans, right?
With graduation in just under six weeks, I don’t know yet where I’ll work or live. This might not seem unusual to you, but for me – I’m a planner and a doer. Summer plans until now have always ended up providential with the help of hard work and perfectly timed generosity. Networks have been built. Relationships maintained. The people I’ve worked with are important to me, and it’s so wonderful to keep in contact with everyone I can.
But things haven’t gone how I expected.
That’s okay. I know it is. I know there’s a plan (SOMEWHERE, RIGHT?!) that is better than mine. But it’s very strange to be asked what my post-graduation plans are and truly not have an answer. “But you’re the kind of person I’d expect to know!” people have said. You and me both, honey.
Sometimes it feels like a little bit of a failure. Earning my degree has not always been fun. I would have given up SO many times if I were that kind of a person. But sheer determination, the grace of God, and lots of coffee have gotten me here. So did I really work that hard to graduate without a clear path?
But that’s not true. I know my path. My path is holiness. It’s the call each of us has. And right now I’m waiting for God to open the right door. But in the meantime I’m knocking on ALL the doors to see which one cracks open. Which means lots of resumes and cover letter drafts on my laptop.
This all has been a reminder to me that I’m not really the one in control. And letting things go does wonders for ones sanity. How many times do I need that reminder? A lot, apparently. Things might not end up like I planned. But they still could. And I’d really like to know NOW. But this story keeps coming to mind:
“When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at ‘the house of the dying’ in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life.
On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, ‘And what can I do for you?’ Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. ‘What do you want me to pray for?’ she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: ‘Pray that I have clarity.’ She said firmly, ‘No, I will not do that.’ When he asked her why, she said, ‘Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, ‘I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’”
And that’s the challenge. Do I get frustrated? Yes. Does that mean I give up? No. It means I learn to punch doubt in the face and trust better. Isn’t that funny? It’s my word of the year. I’m sure many college seniors can relate that it’s easier said than done, but I’m just going to keep knocking and waiting.
If you’ve been around Catholic circles in the last 20 years, you might have heard some serious fangirling over St. John Paul II. He was allegedly the “coolest saint ever“. He even fished, wore hipster glasses at some point, acted, and oh, gave us Theology of the Body.
If you haven’t heard of it before, “Theology of the Body” (TOB) started as a series of talks that was later compiled into a book . . . which has now been explained so normal people can understand it (even Cosmopolitan). JPII used these talks to reflect on and teach us the purpose of our lives. No big deal, right? You know, it’s just our place in the cosmos and the answer to the question we all ask: “Why do I exist?”
Intrigued? Good. Me too. So I read this introduction and my mind was blown. The main point?
God created us in his image so we can reflect his love in our lives and ultimately be united to him in heaven.
His love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. (I mean, obviously the Trinity isn’t going to be breaking up anytime soon.)
He created us to learn to love like he does.
He created us male and female to show us that we can reflect the love of the Trinity, a communion of loving persons, as evidenced by the way our bodies were designed. He created us to give of ourselves unconditionally and accept others unconditionally, just like he does, doing our best to see the dignity of each other made in the image of God.
This communion of loving persons many people are called to is the family. But some people misunderstand TOB and think it only applies to marriage. This is false, because TOB teaches us about everyone’s call to love. Some people are called to love through marriage and family life. Others through a religious community or consecrated single life. This post isn’t about marriage and relationships. It’s about how we live out this call to holiness, to give of ourselves unconditionally, as people who are unmarried.
Essentially, TOB teaches us to love others by giving instead of grasping, by seeking to see people more like God does: with the unique dignity of being made in his image as a gift to the world. That’s possible, and dare I say, demanded of us as Christians at all stages in life.
JPII teaches us that “man . . . cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”. This central message is insanely simple, but radical at the same time: Give. It’s implications are countless.
For people who aren’t bound by marriage or religious vows to continually give of themselves to the same person/group of people, we have the unique privilege of giving ourselves more fully to the people we encounter everyday.
“The married person puts their spouse first,” said Janet Smith. “The celibate puts God first. When you’re single, the next person who crosses your path is the person you put first. That’s who Christ is asking you to give yourself to. That’s how you love him.”
What might this look like in our lives?
1. Give the gift of your time to a cause you believe in.
Cultivate a spirit of selfless giving by volunteering to build homes, go on mission trips, serve at a soup kitchen, cuddle babies at your local NICU, babysit for tired parents . . . figure out where your passions and schedule meet with other people’s needs.
2. Give the gift of your skills and talents to people who can use them.
Good at math? Tutor. Love to paint? Host a painting & wine night for friends who need a little community. Master chef? Make meals for people recovering from a big life event. Our abilities are meant to be shared freely and generously.
3. Give the gift of your prayers. Always.
Sometimes the most we can do is pray. What I do for this is post on social media every Sunday asking people to comment/message/like the status and I’ll remember their intentions throughout the week. I write these intentions down in a journal (when I’m on top of it) and refer to it throughout the week in prayer. When I’m on top of my game enough to offer things up for people, that happens too. My goal is to visit those intentions each night. This has been a huge way to not only connect with people, but offer more of my time and effort for them.
4. Die to yourself (aka. don’t always treat yo’self).
For example, we could bring the brownies to share at work instead of finishing them on the couch while binge-watching Netflix. Fasting every once in a while might be your jam, or offering other things for people. It sure doesn’t fit with pop culture, but it teaches us to be more selfless which is what TOB is all about.
5. Push yourself to see the dignity in everyone.
That coworker who gets on your nerves? She’s made in God’s image. Crazy driver who flips you off? God’s image. It’s easier sometimes to see the dignity in the homeless and poor than the people we live with or are closest to. So before you entertain nasty thoughts about people or snap back to a rude comment, STOP and challenge yourself to see their dignity as a child of God. They are a unique and unrepeatable gift to the world, even when they aren’t acting like it.
6. Be grateful.
You know what’s hard? Being grateful. There’s so much we have to have and do. Mmkay. You seriously don’t need to have the newest iPhone. Relax and count your blessings. After reading this book, I started writing down things I was grateful for each day. It’s made such a difference. It teaches me to see the gifts in the little things. Seriously, try it out. Notice the little things. Unless you’re a naked starving hobo living in a cardboard box, you’ve got at least a few things to thank God for.
7. Go the extra mile.
As unmarried people, we can give more of our time than pretty much anybody else. Yes, there are jobs and commitments. Life is busy. But life is always busy. And we have time for things when we make time for them. So make time for loving people! Go out of your way to have coffee with a friend, start a book club, or organize a local event. Remember that even when people don’t seem like they deserve it, do something nice for them anyway. It will change your life (and theirs!).
That’s it. TOB is about finding our purpose in life through selflessly loving. It’s harder than it sounds. But I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t all keep fangirling over this if it wasn’t worth it. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s in those moments when you think of other people, do thoughtful things, and respect the dignity of people unconditionally that we are most fulfilled. Not to mention that’s when we’re best living our mission to love.
“We’re all made to be a gift. And we become that gift by using our bodies to serve, teach, comfort, correct, feed, clothe, shelter, heal, encourage, lead, suffer, sacrifice, and pray for others, helping them through it all to become more the men and women God calls them to be.”
And my main man Fulton Sheen (as always) has a few words on the topic of when we meet Jesus face to face:
“He will look at our hands to see if they have been scarred from giving, our feet to see the calluses from travel to preach His Gospel, and our side to see if we have loved to a point of sacrifice. Woe to us who come down from Calvary with hands unscarred and white.”
Ever thought of TOB like this? How can you apply it to you life? Tell me what you think by commenting below or linking up with the Not Alone Series here!
As someone who tries to keep up on current events, much of what I read makes me stop and question the state of our world. I used to routinely express my disgust by posting snarky Facebook posts and ranting about whatever the latest story was. But that takes away my peace. That was lots of fun, but I’m trying hard to not do that anymore.
I still get mad about the stories . . .
The bills that are passed (or not).
The misrepresentations of my faith.
I still rant in my head, or sometimes with friends. But I generally try to not post rants online because I don’t think it helps people understand my beliefs. I don’t think it opens the door to conversation. And I know complaining about things I can’t change isn’t helpful.
But that’s led to me not addressing a lot of current events. And I’m not okay with that. We’re supposed to be in the world. Not of it, completely. But as a Catholic wanting to spice things up and show people the awesomeness I’ve found in my faith, I can’t do that by keeping quiet.
So things are going to change! The plan is to use this space to share how I approach different issues in light of my Catholic faith. I want to think through how to respond to the issues we’re facing. Will you join me? Ask questions that come up, and always feel free to contact me if you’re not comfortable commenting publicly.
Today I’m talking about allowing people who claim to identify as opposite the gender they were born as use the bathroom of the gender they choose.
Many states have “gotten with the times” and passed bills that allow people who are genetically male or female from birth to use whichever designated public restroom they choose. If they were born genetically male, they can use restrooms reserved for women. If they were born genetically female, they can use the restrooms reserved for men. They just have to “identify” as the opposite gender. I’ve also seen this apply to locker rooms and changing rooms.
To some people these are duh bills.
But I just don’t buy it.
Why? Because I don’t think people’s feeling are what we should base laws on.
“I was born a man but now identify as a woman. It hurts my feelings if you don’t let me use the women’s locker/changing/bathroom.”
Their feelings may legitimately be hurt. And it’s not that I don’t care about their feelings. But do we stop to ask, “hey, what is this person actually going through?” What does it even mean to “identify” as the opposite gender? We don’t have extensive research on the science of a person who claims to be transgender. So why should we acquiesce to a single group of people’s desires while potentially putting everyone else at risk?
We can’t blindly accept this without seriously considering the consequences.
“But would the man’s statement have made the previously “alarmed” individuals suddenly comfortable with his presence? Would the man’s body have looked any different to the young girls as he undressed had he merely professed to be a woman? Would such a statement eliminate the dignitary, emotional, and psychological harms a woman suffers by having her unclothed body viewed by a man against her will? Of course not.”
“[it’s] nothing short of negligent to instate policies that elevate the emotional comfort of a relative few over the physical safety of a large group of vulnerable people.”
And that’s where I’m at. I don’t think this conversation has to get to a philosophical or religious level, because it seems so obvious the abuse that can result from it. Do I have the perfect solution? No. Maybe we should think about making unisex restrooms. And we definitely need to have research done on what it means to be “transgender”. Because right now anyone can decide to identify as whatever gender they want. And that doesn’t seem like a reasonable foundation for our laws.
How do you answer this? What is your thought process?