Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Life and love

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I've been trying to go to Mass daily over the past weeks. Somehow, I feel very strongly that I need to focus less on the material aspects of this life and get more in touch with my spiritual self. Before Mass, I always try to say the Rosary in the church. I try to read at least three chapters of the Word and make time to converse with God daily. Still, a part of me feels that in order for me to become more connected with my spiritual self, I need to be able to open up to the vulnerability of intimacy and love. Something I experienced a lot of stress surrounding over the course of my life because of the nature of what I have been through. Some reading may be familiar with my life’s story and testimony. I hope to be able to share this a bit more personally as I become more comfortable with this medium. I will only say that I suffered extended abuse throughout childhood and a traumatic brain injury as an adolescent that left me comatose for three months and paralyzed due to muscular atrophy for another at least six months. I am still sort of, relearning how to walk, seventeen years later. I had a flashback a while ago. I was thinking a bit today about all of the times that I have hurt myself because, having no other outlet with which to direct the feelings, I internalized the anger and fear I felt. Because it was what I was essentially taught, I had very little value for my life and for what I actually wanted in life. Thinking about this kind of made me weep because I realize the cause of these lies and why I felt the way I felt. There is a reason for everything we do. No one is perfect. We need to be able to recognize our ability to affect others in both positive and negative ways. And that life affects us. I guess this realization of the way I used to treat myself and in seeing the reason why I treated myself the way I did has created in me a drive to improve. I want to show myself the love that I know I deserve. The greatest commandment of Torah: To love with all the mind and heart, the Lord, our God. The second is like it. To love others as you love yourself. Thinking about this, it seems reasonable to assume that it is difficult to love others if you don’t love yourself. So, I suppose this is a reason I have decided to go to Mass on a more than once a week basis. I’ve started going to the gym two or three times a week. A couple of days ago, when I was there, a really cool guy who used to be a kick boxer came over when I was hitting the punching bag and showed me how to hit it in a bit more of a controlled manner. Before this, I would just unload all of my tension into the bag, swinging my arms. With his advice, I was able to spend in total about half an hour to an hour on the bag. Such a powerful way to release repressed anger and feelings that have been buried. I feel it’s necessary to express these negative feelings. We cannot simply repress them. Because when we do that, they affect upon us in less clear ways. It’s not a bad thing to feel and to hurt. I am not ashamed to feel my feelings because they’re a reaction of what I have been through. It has allowed me to see myself with love and to start to treat others with love and respect. It has allowed me to think before I speak or do things. We’re all troubled with impulses. It has allowed me to rejoice in my sufferings and what I have been through. It has allowed me to praise who I am today. It has allowed me to find happiness and joy in myself. But the scars still exist. God is the God of the living and not of the dead. I heard an homily a couple of weeks ago at a cathedral in Toronto that reflected over this truth. The priest offered that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive in God even though they cease living. This is because Jesus is the life and the resurrection. Jesus is the life giver. Jesus proved this in His ministry on earth by raising Lazarus and healing people’s illnesses. He proved God’s love for us in that while He was permitted to be among us, He did the work of God by healing that, which was broken and hurting. More than that, God was prepared to sacrifice His Son because He was in love with us so that we could be reconciled to Him. He proved this after His ministry on earth through the Apostles and disciples through whom He bestowed His Holy Spirit. Peter and Paul even raised people from the dead. Through these followers of the Way, many more were healed and the works of God were continued. I believe in the resurrection for us, in these times, as well. That while we have Christ in us, we are new beings. Reflecting over the fact that I used to hurt myself makes me sad because I am beginning to see what Christ saw in me. I am beginning to see at what cost He purchased my soul. I am beginning to see that I am worthy, absolutely because my God loves me. I spent the weekend in Niagara Falls. I spent it with a good friend from Edmonton. Being there encouraged my understanding that there is more to the world than that which simply existed in my own home, growing up. Even though there was a lot hindering my moving forward, I am feeling loved and happy now, on returning. And I believe that I deserve to be happy. I want to always remember God’s great promises. While we wait on the Lord, our strength will be renewed. "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when they have stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Even in suffering and unpleasant seasons, we are not alone. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Brothers and sisters, you are very loved and when we wait for God, it is so worth it. Because God has planned for us sights no one on Earth has ever seen. God has planned for us sounds no ear has ever heard, and smells, no nose has ever smelled. That is certainly to say the least. Keep faith in your secured futures. Changes are coming. Everyone has been through so much. Regardless of your religion, race or history, we all hurt in the same way. Though our reactions differ and greatly do they differ, we were all children at one point, longing for our mothers to hold us and comfort us. We need to empathize with our brother. Don’t forget the awe and beauty of this world. I see people standing next to gulls and walking through flocks of pigeons like nothing is happening. If you remove the common place occurrence that this is, and mind you, the peskiness of these animals and just step back and view these scenes for the magic they actually are, you’d be surprised. This applies to everything. Just think of the joy and majesty of creation that went into their forming. Think back, remember, as a child, viewing the world for the first time. There is so much more to life than what we believe. This entire world is a testimony to the awesome love and power and glory of God Almighty. Everything we have done as a world is magnificent. I remember during the time I spent on Grimsey Island in Iceland, I was reflecting a lot. I was taking a lot in visually. In spite of the incredible beauty of the island and the genuine warmth of the people there, there was not much to see. The thought was welcomed in my mind that life can flourish anywhere. All it takes is more than one person. The warmth and love I was shown in my time on this quaint and unique little island, with a population of no more than 100 in the summer, kindled something genuine and irreplaceable for me. I just remember walking through the little streets, observing the trampolines for the children, the tiny church in the middle of the island, the little community restaurant where after a certain time, the locals would show up and start conversing and drinking. Having fun, like people should be allowed to. I remember walking through the schoolyard, reflecting on how many children had grown through it, down by the harbor, a hopscotch design painted into the pavement, a lone lighthouse on the far end of the island. I just think sometimes that it’s remarkably beautiful that we can do this for ourselves. I think it’s amazing the communities we can develop and foster and nourish through the love we have for each other. Love builds up. Only love builds up. Anyways, I wasn’t sleeping much on that trip and I tend to think like that when I don’t sleep. Everyone deserves love and life. Be yourself. The human life is not dispensable. Keep things in perspective. Jesus gives me hope in that I have sinned but He has called me to return to Him and His love. He knows why we sin. And that gives me hope. We all just need to understand to have empathy. Don’t forget the way your hearts have been touched deeply in your lives. And seek out these experiences. Remember, we are all human beings. We all suffer greatly. This can be a matter which unites us greatly as a community. It doesn’t have to tear us apart. I think it’s important to remember, all the time that after the trial, however big it is, things will get better if we keep faith. We just have to overcome and fight it straight on. Keeping faith in the Christ the whole time. “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21). So, I’m trying something new. Last entry I posted here, I mentioned a list of gratitude that I have been keeping since I began my trauma recovery at the beginning of 2015. I’ve scarcely missed a day in keeping an entry. And indeed has it helped my overall outlook and thought process. But now, I intend to be grateful and to be vocal about that gratitude. As it says in Psalm 100:4-5, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Because in vocalizing your thoughts, they have the potential to become reality. Today, the thing I’m most grateful for is the vitality of the human soul, mine in particular that it has the ability to change at any point in life and to see the beauty around me. Anyone can live in the past, caught up in past sin, but it takes something stronger for a soul to overcome and strive for better. I’m also grateful for others’ abilities to change their perspectives almost so freely and willingly when one has chosen and taken the step towards repentance. Praise God for the human spirit! I am thankful for the grace and love of God and for the fact that He has offered me this life. I am amazed and humbled in the presence of the graces He has generously and abundantly showered upon me. I am very grateful to Him for each breath that I take. There is so much beauty, so much light and so much love in this world. Let’s begin to choose to see that. Today, I am grateful that even though a part of me has died, with all of the trauma I have been forced to endure, I’m very much alive. And I know, now that I love myself and deserve good things. Jesus has given me new life. Life seriously deserves a high five.

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