No, you are not worth it

Relationships between men and women can be so frustrating, but I’ve come to the conclusion again (but in a deeper way) that really, only God is worth it. I remind myself that only when we love God first and foremost can we truly love another in the way that they deserve:

Only God is worth my desires, my heart
Only he is worth my attention, my time
No woman is worth my heart

I’m tired of being the white knight in shining armor
I’m tired of saving damsels in distress
I have very strong armor and a sharp sword
Yet I want to be seen for who I am under the armor
I don’t want to be used for what I can give
I want to be seen, appreciated for who I am

No, under the armor I’m not perfect
I have many scars
But God sees me for who I am
He understands me, appreciates me for who I am
No I’m not worth it either, but God makes me worthy
I don’t need to be seen, but I want be
I’m tired of the fakeness, yet I have all that is real and true
No, you are not worth it, but for me, if it is meant to be, he will make you worthy

Why you are not worth it

In this world today women feel over entitled. Feminism has destroyed relationships between men and women. Some evidence of this is the MGTOW movement; for the record I don’t entirely agree with the whole movement but have a listen to RIP Traditional Relationships – A Rude awakening. If we are merely looking on a worldly secular level, it makes no sense at all to get married. Why the hell would I want to get married if it is about mutual use instead free, self-giving love?

I talk to both men and women: they say they would want to believe in a love that is real, unselfish, self-giving, loyal, faithful, total, free, in other words a divine, Godly love, but they believe it is a fantasy. I believe, in part, they think it is a fantasy because they don’t experience this kind of love -a pure love- in their daily life: none in their “family”, none in their “community”, and not even among “friends” and sometimes not even in church! It seems an indictment on how far away people and society are from God, not having that kind of self-giving, loving relationship with God, thus they don’t have it in their personal daily relationships. Mere words are not going to convince people that this kind of love exists, it seems only by personal experience and testimony that people may be convinced.

No, marriage isn’t about “what’s in it for me?” or let’s have a contract: “i do this, you do that”. Marriage isn’t about just passing on your genes nor savage “survival of the fittest”. It’s not about “disney damsels, ponies and butterflies”. It can be about mutual emotional consolation, but it can’t be the only purpose. We in this society can be so selfish. It’s not about F-ing around but giving a good F, actually caring for the world, the future generation – imagine: for love of God and for someone outside ourselves.

Why marriage and relationships are worth it

I believe in marriage for many reasons, one reason is children benefit most from marriage. Without men to be fathers and women to be mothers, children become abandoned, who feel like orphans and in some real sense are actual orphans who do not know God, thus do not have a deep, unselfish relationship with him, thus recreating the dysfunctional cycle of fake-love in all their personal relationships.

I refuse to give up: I will fight for the homeless, orphaned, and abandoned because they are worth it. Building a society based on an authentic, life-giving love it worth it because it is what God wants: to love us as we are yet push us to grow, not for his benefit, but for our own benefit. Sure, loving on this higher level of Godly love is not always easy, but who wants a cheap “love” – real men are created for real love, which can be hard, but definitely worth it. Our bodies of man and woman, with our sexual organs, show we are made to be a mutual gift – we are not God, we cannot give what we don’t have – we have to be open to receiving the love of God, to give as he does.

 

Leave a comment

a poem about stars and saints

Funny from my window before the morning sun rises, I see one star in the sky..

Like the saints, even through the darkness it shines bright

We on earth only see a glimpse of the actual reality happening to the stars right now [because the light we see now is actually lightyears away]..

From all eternity, in the heavens, isn’t there a plan unfolding for each of us? As the morning sun rises the star fades away yet by eyes of faith we know, there is a place in heaven already reserved for us [if we of course will it].. should we decide to meet the day?

Happy all Saints day ūüôā

Leave a comment

Time, Treasure, Talent (Revision 14)

See the life manual for more context. Our time, treasure, and talent should be about giving life i.e. creating memories and building relationships with God and others.

Resources to create memories and building relationships with God and others (This is woefully scarce; I have many more resources yet to organize here; come back later for more):

Leave a comment

How to love while suffering (Revision 2)

Anything supernatural I’ll have to preface by stating that I am by no means an expert, at the same time I like to describe myself as an imperfect¬†practitioner but at least trying to arrive at a solution.

In one sense, one can describe love in two ways:

  • Natural Love – love on a natural level, the kind of love a parent might have for a child or the kind among friends, getting value out of a relationship
  • Divine Love – love on a supernatural level, the kind of love the Jesus has for each one of us, the kind of love of saints, loving those who have harmed you

Loving while suffering I would say is a bit supernatural, divine love. Divine love is love without a price tag – it is when you love without self-interest. Agape love. It seems true love is unfair as the initiator not only expects nothing in return, he is often left hanging, even suffering while the beloved may be ungrateful, disinterested, self-absorbed. This is often how we treat Jesus.

So how do we love while suffering? Consider a few points:

  • Try to see things in the eyes of Jesus e.g.:
    • Imagine Jesus asking you: “Do you love me enough to share my suffering with you?”
    • Jesus understands your suffering, he consoles us when we let him. At least as a friend, we can accept the suffering as a gift to Jesus, keeping in mind the greater good of the human family
  • Suffering in love in a sense is like a mother giving birth to a child; in the midst of the suffering we can’t always appreciate the meaning of this suffering until there is a birth of something good
  • Some might think suffering is evil, but God allows evil for a greater good – that we may be virtuous yet even better – that we may love freely and more beautifully with deeper meaning and value
  • Why can’t God just take away all the suffering? Why can’t he just give us everything like dropping manna from the sky? He could but he wants us to possess and share his inheritance like he does – from within himself
    • How about we give, not just externally or when it is easy, but how about we give from within ourself, how about we love by giving from within?
  • Consider some thoughts by C.S. Lewis, sometimes our hearts need to be broken, for our own good
  • It can be a joy, not necessarily feeling happy, but some level of contentment as you can derive peace from participating in meaningful love

 

 

Leave a comment

God is love, but Love is not God

The word “Love” is perhaps the most abused word and I find that I should make a few notes:

  • “Love” has many different meanings (to dive deeper, see Deus Caritas Est¬†[“God is Love”]¬†and Caritas in Veritate [“Charity in Truth”])
  • Very often I talk about “Love” and “God” so much and I notice there may be a tendency to sometimes love the idea of “Love” [i.e. “God”] than the person of “Love” [i.e. Jesus]
  • God does [through Jesus] come down to our level [and it is good], but we have to remember and give respect to God by trying to rise up to Him (we need a deeper sense of transcendence):
    • Don’t dehumanize Jesus by stealing his teaching and philosophy (e.g. new age religion, “neo-paganism”), but not have a real relationship with the person of Jesus (Christianity is not primarily about ethics)
    • One can’t experience the divine without going deeply into Jesus as a human; scripture is one definite place where you can learn about the person of Jesus – you can’t love what you don’t know
    • Too often it seems we implicitly have a narcissistic attitude (“What’s in it for me?”) and design our lives accordingly. We can tend to control and design our own idea of God instead of having a relationship with God (e.g. lack of prayer); often in prayer we need to remain silent, at least for us to connect our heart to God:
      • God does not need prayer, it is we who need to pray to God (of course God wants us to pray, to love him, to give him time, to be grateful, to make him part of our lives)
      • In prayer, let the power of God take hold of you, don’t always try to rationalize
      • We by ourselves probably are of little effect, yet it seems the power of prayer in part is because God praying through us

If you are wondering where some of this content is coming from, these are some notes [combined with my own] from attending a retreat with Father Antoninus Wall O.P.¬†(short bio). Other perhaps lesser-known facts: (1) Pope John Paul (now saint) was his peer/classmate when they were studying in Rome. (2) his stories are amazing e.g. teaching to Mother Teresa’s congregation.

Leave a comment

What is Christmas?

About 2000 years ago, God who is love and out of love manifested himself to reveal himself as love. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. He altered the path of humanity, gave us dignity, showed us how to love, and through mercy gave us an opportunity to be saved from eternal misery. He gave us purpose and meaning to our lives; every moment of our being on earth is sustained by him. As with any birthday we celebrate the person’s meaning in our life and show gratitude for all that he is. Since Jesus is a gift to us we want to be gifts and give gifts to others, an example set in the 4th century by a bishop by the name of Nicholas who became a saint, who became a legend.
Most of us know the story of Christmas and what it means for us today, but what did the first one mean to Mary and Joseph? For Joseph was it one of happiness and cheer? Was it one with lots of family, friends, and relatives? Was it one of restful leisure?
Consider Joseph:
  • Imagine being married and your spouse mentions that they are with child but not your own; would you still trust your spouse?
  • Joseph by dream does know Mary carried the son¬†of God, but¬†would not his faith be tested?
  • Knowing that he is to be father of the Son of God, would there not be such a worry of being responsible to protect both the mother and son of God?
  • Joseph wouldn‚Äôt be in the¬†presence¬†of many friends nor family (who would have believed if he mentioned that Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit?) He kept it secret to protect Mary and he was too busy anyway, providing all accommodations for his pregnant wife and doing all possible to keep safe the son of God amid the dangers of night travel
  • With only a star for guidance, would he not feel like a failure at not being able to find an inn for Mary and Jesus, but only a stable.¬†Out of humility Joseph, to the best of his ability, did his duty..¬†from a humble stable, joy was born
I’m not suggesting that Christmas not be about enjoying time with happiness, cheer, family, friends, and relatives. Joseph reminds us that Advent can be a time to trust God more, a time to be more faithful, even a time where faith can be tested, a time of responsibility, a time to do our duty before God. For those whose Christmas is a time away from family or away from home (such as orphans and the homeless), remember that one might not have much to offer yet one can use their suffering as a gift.
Leave a comment

What is time?

What is 10/28/2014, how about 28-10-2014? The earth can rotate around, orbit the sun two thousand or so times, yet is it not funny how we call this time?

If life is but a blink in eternity, whose eyes see that a billion rotations mean nothing except: the love in our hearts and the mind to inform our will that affect the actions we put forth to affect our eternal destination

So yes, borrowing from CS Lewis, and observing of my own eyes, when we involve ourselves with things eternal, this is actually when we are present in time as eternity is where the real present is.

Hopefully 2014 reminds us of the gift of Jesus because of Mary two thousand and fourteen years ago, that we may choose to be present in time, this day

Leave a comment

Courage and Magnanimity

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

Leave a comment

Meaningfulness matters more than Happiness

As a Christian, I found this article about a Jewish Holocaust survivor enlightening; while the article didn’t really speak of suffering specifically, I think it is pretty applicable:

A Psychiatrist Who Survived The Holocaust Explains Why Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents.

Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished — but he, prisoner number 119104, had lived. In his bestselling 1946 book,¬†Man’s Search for Meaning, which he wrote in nine days about his experiences in the camps, Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life. When he was a¬†high school student, one of his science teachers declared to the class, “Life is nothing more than a combustion process, a process of oxidation.” Frankl jumped out of his chair and responded, “Sir, if this is so, then what can be the meaning of life?”

As he saw in the camps, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Frankl wrote in¬†Man’s Search for Meaning, “the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl worked as a therapist in the camps, and in his book, he gives the example of two suicidal inmates he encountered there. Like many others in the camps, these two men were hopeless and thought that there was nothing more to expect from life, nothing to live for. “In both cases,” Frankl writes, “it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them.” For one man, it was his young child, who was then living in a foreign country. For the other, a scientist, it was a series of books that he needed to finish. Frankl writes:

This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”

In 1991, the Library of Congress and Book-of-the-Month Club listed¬†Man’s Search for Meaning¬†as¬†one of the 10 most influential books¬†in the United States. It has sold millions of copies worldwide. Now, over twenty years later, the book’s ethos — its emphasis on meaning, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than the self — seems to be at odds with our culture, which is more interested in the pursuit of individual happiness than in the search for meaning. “To the European,” Frankl wrote, “it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to ‘be happy.’ But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.'”

girls dancing shadow silhouette happyFlickr/Christian HaughenEven though American happiness levels are at a four-year high, 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose.

According to Gallup, the happiness levels of Americans are at a four-year high — as is, it seems, the number of best-selling books with the word “happiness” in their titles. At this writing,¬†Gallup¬†also reports that nearly 60 percent all Americans today feel happy, without a lot of stress or worry. On the other hand, according to the¬†Center for Disease Control, about 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Forty percent either do not think their lives have a clear sense of purpose or are neutral about whether their lives have purpose. Nearly a quarter of Americans feel neutral or do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful. Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to¬†recent research. “It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.”

***

This is why some researchers are cautioning against the pursuit of mere happiness. In a¬†new study, which will be published this year in a forthcoming issue of the¬†Journal of Positive Psychology, psychological scientists asked nearly 400 Americans aged 18 to 78 whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy. Examining their self-reported attitudes toward meaning, happiness, and many other variables — like stress levels, spending patterns, and having children — over a month-long period, the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”

“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,” the authors write.

How do the happy life and the meaningful life differ? Happiness, they found, is about feeling good. Specifically, the researchers found that people who are happy tend to think that life is easy, they are in good physical health, and they are able to buy the things that they need and want. While not having enough money decreases how happy and meaningful you consider your life to be, it has a much greater impact on happiness. The happy life is also defined by a lack of stress or worry.

Most importantly from a social perspective, the pursuit of happiness is associated with selfish behavior‚ÄĒbeing, as mentioned, a “taker” rather than a “giver.”

The pursuit of happiness is associated with selfish behavior‚ÄĒbeing, as mentioned, a “taker” rather than a “giver.”

The psychologists give an evolutionary explanation for this: happiness is about drive reduction. If you have a need or a desire — like hunger — you satisfy it, and that makes you happy. People become happy, in other words, when they get what they want. Humans, then, are not the only ones who can feel happy. Animals have needs and drives, too, and when those drives are satisfied, animals also feel happy, the researchers point out.

“Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others,” explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of the study, in a recent presentation at the University of Pennsylvania. In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need. “If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need,” the researchers, which include Stanford University’s Jennifer Aaker and Emily Garbinsky, write.

What sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans, according to Roy Baumeister, the lead researcher of the study and author, with John Tierney, of the recent book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Baumeister, a social psychologists at Florida State University, was named an ISI highly cited scientific researcher in 2003.

The study participants reported deriving meaning from giving a part of themselves away to others and making a sacrifice on behalf of the overall group. In the words of Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, in the meaningful life “you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.” For instance, having more meaning in one’s life was associated with activities like buying presents for others, taking care of kids, and arguing. People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people. Having children, for example, is associated with the meaningful life and requires self-sacrifice, but it has been famously associated with low happiness among parents, including the ones in this study. In fact, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, research shows that¬†parents are less happy interacting with their children¬†than they are exercising, eating, and watching television.

“Partly what we do as human beings is to take care of others and contribute to others. This makes life meaningful but it does not necessarily make us happy,” Baumeister told me in an interview.

Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment — which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.

Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future. “Thinking beyond the present moment, into the past or future, was a sign of the relatively meaningful but unhappy life,” the researchers write. “Happiness is not generally found in contemplating the past or future.” That is, people who thought more about the present were happier, but people who spent more time thinking about the future or about past struggles and sufferings felt more meaning in their lives, though they were less happy.

Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life.

Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life.

Another study from 2011 confirmed this, finding that people who have meaning in their lives, in the form of a clearly defined purpose, rate their satisfaction with life higher even when they were feeling bad than those who did not have a clearly defined purpose. “If there is meaning in life at all,” Frankl wrote, “then there must be meaning in suffering.”

***

Which brings us back to Frankl’s life and, specifically, a decisive experience he had before he was sent to the concentration camps. It was an incident that emphasizes the difference between the pursuit of meaning and the pursuit of happiness in life.

In his early adulthood, before he and his family were taken away to the camps, Frankl had established himself as one of the leading psychiatrists in Vienna and the world. As a 16-year-old boy, for example, he struck up a correspondence with Sigmund Freud and one day sent Freud a two-page paper he had written. Freud, impressed by Frankl’s talent, sent the paper to the¬†International Journal of Psychoanalysis¬†for publication. “I hope you don’t object,” Freud wrote the teenager.

While he was in medical school, Frankl distinguished himself even further. Not only did he¬†establish suicide-prevention centers for teenagers¬†— a precursor to his work in the camps — but he was also developing his signature contribution to the field of clinical psychology: logotherapy, which is meant to help people overcome depression and achieve well-being by finding their unique meaning in life. By 1941, his theories had received international attention and he was working as the chief of neurology at Vienna’s Rothschild Hospital, where he risked his life and career by making false diagnoses of mentally ill patients so that they would not, per Nazi orders, be euthanized.

That was the same year when he had a decision to make, a decision that would change his life. With his career on the rise and the threat of the Nazis looming over him, Frankl had applied for a visa to America, which he was granted in 1941. By then, the Nazis had already started rounding up the Jews and taking them away to concentration camps, focusing on the elderly first. Frankl knew that it would only be time before the Nazis came to take his parents away. He also knew that once they did, he had a responsibility to be there with his parents to help them through the trauma of adjusting to camp life. On the other hand, as a newly married man with his visa in hand, he was tempted to leave for America and flee to safety, where he could distinguish himself even further in his field.

As Anna S. Redsand¬†recounts¬†in her biography of Frankl, he was at a loss for what to do, so he set out for St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna to clear his head. Listening to the organ music, he repeatedly asked himself, “Should I leave my parents behind?… Should I say goodbye and leave them to their fate?” Where did his responsibility lie? He was looking for a “hint from heaven.”

When he returned home, he found it. A piece of marble was lying on the table. His father explained that it was from the rubble of one of the nearby synagogues that the Nazis had destroyed. The marble contained the fragment of one of the Ten Commandments — the one about honoring your father and your mother. With that, Frankl decided to stay in Vienna and forgo whatever opportunities for safety and career advancement awaited him in the United States. He decided to put aside his individual pursuits to serve his family and, later, other inmates in the camps.

The wisdom that Frankl derived from his experiences there, in the middle of unimaginable human suffering, is just as relevant now as it was then: “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”

Baumeister and his colleagues would agree that the pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

Leave a comment