Countless times over the years, I’ve thought to myself, “If only I could go back and do things differently.” And that’s why nearly two decades later, I’m writing this letter to my twenty-something self: not because I can undo past mistakes, but because right now there is a young twenty-something man facing his own unplanned pregnancy (or could in the near future) longing for someone to give him solid, strong, Godly advice. If that’s you, it’s my hope that this letter will help you.
I am one of the freshmen fortunate enough to have landed a job my first semester of college. I started working at the bakery two weeks before school started, and I love the job! One day, as I was sweeping the flour-and-crumb-covered floor, my joy poured out of me in a silent prayer of thanksgiving.
Five minutes later, as if God was saying, “let’s see how sincere you really are.” I was sent to the most dreaded place in the bakery – the dish room.
Saint John Paul II wrote “It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman.” If you can keep this in mind, you’ll never have a bad date.
This doesn’t mean you’ll never have an awkward date or that every first date will lead to a second date. Trust me. One of my dates involved me getting sick in the middle of a restaurant called “Thai-Tanic.” The date was about as successful as the ship they named the restaurant after.
Q: How do you keep your marriage and faith related? In other words, what things do you and your husband (Brian) do every day to lead each other closer to Christ?
Fall… it’s that time of year best known for its pumpkin spiced lattes, orange leaves, and crisp, cool air. It’s also that time of year when stores start selling Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving napkins, and Christmas trees… all at the same time. While the holiday season is definitely exciting, it can also be a distracting season…
Well, no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, here are three tips on how to jump-start your spiritual life, get back on those steps, and persevere on the path leading to the narrow gate of Heaven.
Whenever you begin to feel the temptation to sin and you don’t have those accountable people around, have an alternative activity that is your “go to.” You’ll have to do it right away. When you’re tempted to look at someone and judge them, think to yourself, “They are a child of God.” It’s important to train or condition yourself to avoid sin, so you might have to start by making a conscious effort to think that about every single person you see. Maybe you are a musician, and you grab your guitar or your drumsticks.
Everyone seemed to have it all figured out… everyone but me. I began questioning my entire career path (about five times a day), and I felt like I couldn’t keep up academically since there was now a much higher standard. I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew me. I found myself grasping for an identity.
Most of my first month, I was stressed out, anxious about the future, and addicted to microwavable pizza.
Yes, as you grow up, many of your friends will reject truth. You can’t control that. They will make bad decisions, especially with their bodies, and blame the “moment” or drunkenness or “freedom.” All are lies to make themselves feel better. They will sacrifice their bodies and dignity on altars of conformity and public opinion. Don’t be like them. Pray for them. Love them – but don’t emulate them. They are seeking a love that you already have and know – a love from the Father. Exemplify that love by the way that you love and respect yourself.
Life is messy. We’ve got so much to worry about, so many things to juggle at once. And all the while an intimidating little beast called “the future” keeps knocking at our door, reminding us of all the things we’ve got to do right… or else.
I think somewhere along the way, we all lose sight of what matters. We become more intrigued by the words on a screen than by the words in our Bible. We become more concerned about the relationships we have with people around us than with the One who created us.
How many of you are uncomfortable with the idea of living with a new roommate, or even living away from home? I went to college 12-hours from home, and I was royally homesick for a full semester. But, I stuck it out, and listened to God. When I was open to learn why, He was able to show me why He called me there, and give me the necessary grace to grow more comfortable in my surroundings.
It’s funny how fast it happened, and it’s even funnier how I was convinced that I wasn’t leading a double life, although I clearly was. I would drink with my party friends on Friday night, and then wake up to meet one of my “good friends” for Mass, breakfast, and studying. I would always drink just to the point where I would start to feel guilty, and then I would stop. I would visualize the Confession line in my brain, and weigh each choice against whether or not it would land me in that line.
When I did speak to some people about depression I was met with a mixed response; well-meaning people said some non-productive things. One friend, who is a faithful Christian, told me that, “It was a spiritual problem and I didn’t need a diagnosis.” I felt even weaker, “He’s right,” I thought, “If I had a better prayer life and closer relationship with God, I wouldn’t feel the way that I do.” Those feelings were what caused me to stay quiet.
If you are a sinner like me, you sin all the time. This calls for continuous conversion or continually turning your heart away from sin and toward God. St. John Paul The Great says “We ourselves are to be converted anew every day.” So here are three simple steps to help your continual growth and conversion toward Christ.
When you wake up, you look at your floor, strewn with t-shirts, phone numbers of friends, and your journal. You remember the moments that challenged you, the resolutions you made to make changes in your life: to delete the songs on your computer, to change who you hang out with, and to basically be the Mother Theresa of the tenth grade.
That’s when desolation hit. Prayer became pretty challenging, reading Scripture felt like doing homework, every single thought distracted me and I felt an overall darkness. This lasted for about 4 months and after recognizing my “dark night” I knew what I had to do for a “bright morning.”
Now, as a senior in college I am not a princess or a wedding cake maker. As I grew up I realized that I could not continue to plan my life around things that could change. I decided it made sense to anchor my life in the one thing that would never change, the one thing that would continually satisfy me – seeking the will of God the Father and living my life asking for His help and direction.
Or, maybe for some of you they don’t and you’ve been able to keep a solid Lenten journey? Regardless, there’s always room for growth, depth… and some Lenten punches of improvement.
Here are some practical suggestions to help you in the remaining time of Lent.
I know you guys lead busy lives. Our culture, your teachers, parents, friends, yourself – there is pressure from every direction to boost your resume and increase your chances of getting into the very best college. The result of this pressure is an overwhelming schedule that includes: school, homework, time with the Lord, family, a social life, part time jobs, clubs, honor society, athletics, volunteer work and oh yeah… sleep.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure not only to participate in most, or all, of these things, but to do them all perfectly. You are expected as a freshman in high school to juggle a schedule that is four times what it should be.
This is a problem in our culture, but the bigger problem is – it has become the norm. Anything less than this business is perceived as laziness.
It can be hard to pray sometimes. For me especially, I often find myself distracted and my mind wanders away from my conversation with God. Because of my tendency to do this, I like to give my prayer a nice structure that I can follow. It helps me to focus on God and give Him my undivided attention for however long I pray.