“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
One of my favorite things in the world is reading, followed closely by learning; but they’re basically the same thing in my mind. One of my greatest joys is feeling useful. I’ve never really considered myself to have a heart for service, but the more I serve, the more joyful I become. My goal then, is to be useful while reading a learning. This leads me to my passion for literacy.
Growing up, my parents always read to me. I think I learned more things from plots than I ever did in grade school. Occasionally I’ll be able to share some piece of trivia just because I read it in a book. I believe that reading is learning. The more we read the more we know about cultures, about the world, about virtues, and most importantly about humanity and the way minds and characters and personalities function in a society.
Unfortunately, there’s so many children who haven’t had the blessing of parents who read to them. It’s statistically proven that kids who read score better on tests and achieve better grades and are brighter overall. The power of literacy is amazing. As a society I think it’s our duty to educate our children because one day they’ll be in charge. What better way to accomplish this than through reading. Reading is all about using the imagination but it can also be very analytical and therefore works with any type of learner. If we simply encourage kids to read, or read out loud with them, or even read ourselves it will make us smarter and ultimately it will better our world.
Because for any philanthropist, the end goal is always a better world, and for me that world is achieved through books. And through books we can imagine any great number of worlds.
“Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.”
We’ve all heard the phrase Emotional Chastity and maybe we have some idea of what it means but how often do we actually say that we’re emotionally chaste? How do we practice emotional chastity and how is it at work in our lives?
I spent a good 2 months of my summer exploring the concept of emotional chastity in my own relationship and in my heart. First of all, it’s important to realize that emotional chastity is not excuse not to be vulnerable. Vulnerability and authenticity are the values that drive relationships and meaningful conversations. Emotional Chastity is simply sharing the right things with the right people.
For example, if you get on Facebook and share how much a certain guy has broken your heart and how torn you are and how unstable and grief-stricken you are that would be unchaste. It’s important to share those feelings, but Facebook isn’t a proper outlet- 85% of your friends on Facebook don’t need to connect that deeply with you. On the other hand if you develop feelings for someone while you’re already pursuing a romantic relationship with another person you SHOULD tell your significant other about those feelings. To repress them or not share them with that person would be unchaste. So, basically, your emotional state, just like your physical attentions should be shared with the right people.
How does this play into our lives outside of social media and romance? I dated a guy for a year and a half up until this summer. Part of the reason I believe things didn’t work out was that he (and probably me) didn’t practice emotional chastity. He worked at a summer camp based in Christianity and was surrounded by good, valuable Christian people. Being a very open, trusting and vulnerable person, my boyfriend shared the most intimate details of his emotions with these girls at camp. Because he was so busy working we spoke for maybe a few minutes a day and none of that was used as an opportunity to deepen our emotional relationship. From there, our relationship slipped, it probably would have happened eventually anyway, but our lack of emotional chastity spurred that on.
Fast forward to school beginning again. You’ll never a more vulnerable person that a 20 year old girl who has recently been dumped by an incredible guy. This girl being me, I confided in my roommates and also my guy friends (I’ve always gotten along with guys better). Of course because I was being so vulnerable and emotional to my guy friends, I began to think about their emotions, to ask about their emotions. Now, I’m in a place where I’ve told a guy I would date him and he responded the same. But, we’re not dating and if we would, it wouldn’t be for a long time. Because we are incredibly good friends, I still am emotionally very open with him but now I’m beginning to realize I’m becoming emotionally attached (which is okay for many aspects of our friendship). It’s important to remind myself that just like my body, my deepest emotions are reserved for my husband. My vulnerability will build beautiful friendships but sharing my emotions to the core will build a beautiful marriage.
“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.”
I’ve been pretty focused on the idea of Restlessness lately. There’s so much drama that goes on in any place that’s teeming with 20-somethings that I spend a lot of time praying for peace: in myself, my relationships, and the hearts of others. In my search for peace I began to feel that my life was static (we’re all a little hypocritical). So anyway, this brings me to St. Augustine who said:
“Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
There’s a crazy series of events that then led me to know there is a reason this quote has been on my heart.
- I was thinking about this quote pretty seriously.
- In a car ride with a close friend of mine this quote came up (mostly because I’d been thinking about it)
- In my 1am holy hour that night, I was thinking about it even more.
- During the holy hour, the book I was reading mentioned it.
- The next morning, during morning prayer, the first song we sang was Audrey Assad’s Restless.
If that’s not crazy or miraculous or divine intervention then I certainly don’t know what is. So, obviously, this is super important but how does it apply to me? I think that in all my thinking about peace I was searching for something that the earth will never be able to provide me. My friend in the car mentioned to me as we were talking that we are always going to be restless until we get to heaven.
The answer to our search for peace isn’t as simple as focusing all my desires on the Lord and making him the center of my world (all good things). Resting in the Lord is something that only happens when we get to Heaven. Restlessness is good. Adventure and living out my vocation is good. Moving forward and trusting in God’s eternal plan is good. So, instead of focusing on how I can reach inner peace, I need to embrace my discomfort. I need to live out my restlessness until I can finally reach my eternal reward and tell Christ that I did great empowering things in His name and that I wasn’t comfortable. And then, Christ will fold me in his arms and give me rest.
“Let all that you do be done in love.”
About two months ago I went on an incredible journey to Haiti to serve and to love and to give of myself in a very real way. I spent a week working in the missions of the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order). Every morning we would run an all boys camp. We fed the boys breakfast, ran several stations of activities, fed them lunch and then sent them home with hugs and love. In the afternoons we would go to either a Children’s Home for sick babies or the House of the Dying. At the Children’s home, we would hold the sick babies or play with them if they were well enough. There was a few older orphans that liked to play (read: destroy) our hair and eat our candy. We sometimes would help with meals and diaper changes but mostly we just loved those babies that didn’t have anyone to hold them. At the Home for the Dying there was a variety of ages. I spent most of my time with two little girls I thought to be about 6 and 8 but later learned were 8 and 13. Many of the women we visited enjoyed having their nails painted or would braid our hair. Sometimes our tasks were as simple as to pray. In every experience, love was ever present and overwhelming from the Haitians.
As lessons in love I learned many many things from the Haitians. I’m sure there will be multiple posts about this trip, each about a different life lesson. But most importantly, I learned how powerful love is. I learned what it meant to give of myself and to serve. But I also learned that the greatest act of service will always be overshadowed by the love I feel in return. I expected to spend nights in tears when I was on mission but I always spent my reflection time smiling and feeling uplifted.
Look for much more to come about this incredible adventure!