Not-So Instant Messaging

August 21, 2014

 

Last night I was IMing with a friend of mine, and after one particular text I heard nothing back. Texting silence. It was awful. I scrolled through our texts and reread the last one I sent to see if perhaps I said something offensive without knowing it. After a few seconds, which felt like an eternity, the panic set in.

 

What had I done? Where was my reply? I knew it was childish to react in such a way, but I didn’t care. My mind raced with all the possibilities of what could have gone wrong. Maybe I text too many times, too fast and too furiously and my friend got annoyed? Or maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to their needs? It could have been a million different things. And I must have played through about a hundred of them in my mind.

 

Then I began to pray. My prayers went something like this, “Please let my friend not be mad at me.” It was a simple prayer, but it was honest and true. Then I remembered something that I had read a while back on patience that helped a lot. It was something I found on a pinterest board that said, “Patience is not the ability to wait, but to keep a good attitude while waiting.” I was worrying so much about what my friend was thinking of me, me, me, that I forgot to think about what he was going through, and that is always a very bad thing. So I turned towards praying for him, and began to feel much better. I changed my prayer to “Please let everything be okay for him and his family.”

 

I think that happens a lot today. People especially in their teens, 20s, 30s and 40s expect the instant reply. And if it doesn’t come, thoughts immediately go to—what did I do wrong, or on occasion, is everything ok? I’m going to try harder in those moments to pray for the person I am texting instead of sending out a million text bombs to their phone.

 

Have you had an experience like mine? How did you handle it?

Where Has the Summer Gone?

August 18, 2014

 

With my summer vacation in the rear-view mirror, it feels as if the season is already over…even though there are still weeks left. Perhaps the fact that I spend eight hours a day in a chilly office environment doesn’t help the fact that my mind thinks that fall is pretty much here.

 

But the truth is, the summer isn’t over.

 

Sure, back to school sales may be going on: but school hasn’t started yet. Even though it may be a bit cooler, it’s still humid outside; and people are still in a state of relaxation. However, I think many people would admit that summer seems to have gone pretty quick this year. There is something special about summer, maybe its from all those years when we were given time off from school to spend the days freely as we chose.

 

I remember youthful days spent in swimming pools with friends; reading books outside under trees; driving around suburban streets with the windows down and music blaring without anywhere to go; and the sound of the ice cream truck playing.

 

Yes, the days of my youth are gone, but the days of summer are still here. Different kinds of memories are made, but they are special all the same. The same summer sun shines down on us; the same God smiles at us. All we have to do is relax, smile back, and know that God is with us.

Bringing Down My Average

August 11, 2014

 

We had a special issue come out for the three new bishops. It was akin to the last game of the season, or the final night of a play, a major exam or a “so important your job depends on it” presentation at work.”

 

I did all my research. I prepped as much as I could. I worked like I never worked before. When the issue came and I looked through it, I was full of joy and accomplishment—until I saw it—a massive error that leapt off the page into my eyes, stabbing me in the heart and soul.

 

How could this have happened, I thought to myself? There were things in place to stop just this sort of error from happening. I thought back through the process, and thought about how I could have done such a thing, until I came to the realization that it didn’t matter—it was there and there was nothing that could be done about it.

 

I cried, not so much for myself but for the person involved whom I felt would be forever immortalized in the paper improperly.

 

Why did God let me work so hard only to let this happen? What good could possibly come out of this?

 

Right now, I don’t have the answers, only questions. But I trust in Jesus and right now, that’s enough for me.

 

Have you had an experience that didn’t make sense to you at the time, but you realized later on was God working in your life?

Broken But Beautiful

July 29, 2014

My nieces love searching for sea glass. I had never heard of such a thing until last year until they showed me the sparkling glass they found in the sand along the shoreline. It was beautiful. It looked so delicate and shiny sitting there among the seashells.

It wasn’t until I got back up to where we were camped out on the beach that my brother informed me that sea glass is generally made of broken beer bottles. How could something so beautiful come from broken beer bottles, of all things?! But it is the truth. The smooth, shining pieces of green, clear, and even blue glass we held in our hands were most likely from bottles broken and destroyed by the ocean.

It made me love the sea glass even more.

 

Necklace made of sea glass.

Necklace made of sea glass.

 

Knowing that it came from such an ordinary, yet rough place and also knowing how it got tossed around in the ocean until it came to the shoreline smooth and beautiful made me smile. It made me think of how God sometimes uses problems, difficulties, and troubles to smooth us out, make us tough, and, in many ways, make us beautiful as well. I know, it may sound like a silly cliché, but I feel like its true.

Just look around at the people you know. How many of them have been through difficulties in their life? Are they the ones that you turn to for advice and guidance? Are they the ones you look up to and admire? I know in my own life they are the ones that I look up to. Sure, perhaps once they were broken, but now they are stronger for it.

What do you think? Do you think that going through difficulties makes people stronger?

Spreading Emotions Socially

July 28, 2014

This weekend I read an article that said people are more likely to write about feeling depressed if one of their friends writes about feeling that way on Facebook. On the flip side, if a friend writes about feeling happy, friends are more likely to write about that emotion in their status on Facebook.

The findings totally made sense to me. If you are listening to a friend who is going through a hard time—either online or in person—you are likely to think about the things in your life that are similar as well. I think its how we relate to each other. It also makes me know which friends I want to reach out to. Online especially, it is easy to see who is always posting religious posts, or angry posts, sad posts or happy posts. On any given day, I know who I need to read, or follow.

What am I putting out there? Do I think about what kind of message I am putting out for others? Generally no. If I think of something random, I post it. Oftentimes without thinking about what I am posting.

But we have so much we can do! We can influence people for the good! And bring people closer to God in small ways.

Maybe, like Pope Francis says, I should, like all the Church, “be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way. The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.” (Pope Francis’ message on World Communication Day 2014)

What do you think? Do you feel that you lead others to Christ through what you post online?

Writer’s Block and Burnout

July 16, 2014

You may have noticed that I have not written a post in a while. It isn’t for lack of wanting. Every day I come into work, I look at my computer screen and ponder what I could write about, and every day, the page remains blank. The reason is because I’m going through a period of spiritual burnout.

There are days when this frustrates me to no end, and other days where I realize that I just have to ride the wave and know that “This, too, shall pass.” Of course, it’s easier to tell myself those things than to believe them. Times like this make me question my faith more than when things are going smoothly, and honestly, I appreciate them for what they are, even though they are difficult to go through.

It’s easy to believe in God when things are going well in my life. It’s harder to believe and hold onto hope when I’m feeling down in the dumps. But those are exactly the times when we need to do just that. And not just for us, but for others as well.

There is a quote that I love from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” I love this quote because it shows that with all the troubles we go through, God is teaching us compassion so we can share what we learn with others who may go through the same things. How beautiful is that?

Even though things are tough right now, I’m going to try to push forward so one day I can help someone who is struggling push forward as well. What do you think? Have you had an experience that helped you help someone else? Please share!

My Best Friend is An Atheist

June 30, 2014

 

I’ve known my best friend for more than ten years. We’ve worked together, gone on vacations together, and spend nearly every weekend we can together. We like the same movies and music, and television shows and books.

 

There is one big difference, though: My friend is an atheist.

 

While we don’t sit around and talk about religion, faith and beliefs all the time, it does come up. Thankfully, we both listen to each other respectfully—if we didn’t, we wouldn’t last long as best friends.

 

I do know, however, that sometimes I will get questions from her that I don’t have the answers to—questions such as how God could allow evil in the world, for instance.

 

Our differences in a very real way help me to examine my faith more deeply. When she asks me questions I don’t have the answers to it makes me think about why I believe what I do that much more.

 

I hope in some way my faith makes a positive impact on her as well. I pray for her like I do for all my friends, atheist, Jewish, Catholic and other religions. Is my friendship with her different than my friendship with, say, my spiritual Catholic friend? Absolutely, but different doesn’t mean bad or lesser.    

 

Henri Nouwen wrote in “Out of Solitude,” “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

 

How do you feel about having friends with different beliefs? Do you find it difficult at times? 

Thank You, Readers

June 25, 2014

 

“Footprints on the Journey” won second place in the category for “Best Online Blog-Individual” from the Catholic Press Association at an awards dinner held in North Carolina June 20.

 

photo

 

I wanted to thank you all for visiting this blog and sharing your own faith journey with me through your continual reading and comments.

 

When I think about my own faith journey, a quote from “The Lord of the Rings” comes to mind. J.R.R. Tolkien writes, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

 

In many ways this blog keeps me grounded in my faith, and for that I am grateful to you, dear readers, as well. The more I write, the more I grow in my faith. I hope that all of you on the other side of this screen feel that these posts help you as well.

 

Let’s keep going and, like Tolkien says, who knows where we might end up!

 

Thank you again for reading.

Singing a New Song

June 18, 2014

 

There is a great song that’s been out for a while now by the band Avicii called “Wake Me Up.” I love the beat of the song and the lyrics. However, there is one part of the chorus that sounds good, but I don’t know if I would want to live that way. The lyrics say, “Wake me up when it’s all over. When I’m wiser and I’m older.”

 

Sounds like a good deal in some respects, right? To wake up whenever hardships, disappointments, rejections, illnesses and troubles are over? I thought so. At least at first. Then I realized that it is those moments that really form our identities as a person, and I wouldn’t want to give them up, even though they are so difficult to get through.

 

St. Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 1:4 when he says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” How beautiful is that? Sure, no one asks for troubles to be given to them, but with them sometimes come great blessings…like personal courage and empathy for others, for example.

 

I’m still going to sing along when this song is played on the radio because I love it, but for me, at least, I’m going to try to be awake through all that life has to offer…good and bad and in between.

 

Has there been a song that you identify with in some way? Please share!

Trying to Believe

June 16, 2014

Do you ever find a particular Bible verse floating through your head? Today, I’ve had the quote: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24) rolling around in my head, always coming back to the front of my mind.

 

I find the quote itself confusing, and have spent a great deal of time thinking about why I would be focusing on this particular saying. I find myself asking a lot of questions from this one sentence…that comes from the mouth of a father whose son is possessed by unclean spirits. He tells Jesus (basically knowing that Jesus can get the spirits out of his child), “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

 

How could he say such two dynamically opposite things?   How can he believe and yet not believe at the same time?

 

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is how my faith goes as well. There are days where I can feel God’s presence in my life so much it’s as if I was wrapped up in it. Then there are other days where God feels so far away it becomes hard to pray, to believe, to have faith. I know that those are the days that I need God the most.

 

I think this is a beautiful prayer to say when faced with doubt or uncertainty in life. It shows that we are human, and that we can both believe in God, and yet, at the same time, feel incredulous or unsure about Him. I know that I do, especially when I feel uncertain about the way my life is going.

 

I hope that when those times do come, this quote comes back to my mind. Have you had a particular Bible verse in your head at any point in your life? Please share. 


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