Really, have you ever noticed how many times in a conversation, there will be a lull-and to fill that silence, you start compaining. *lull in conversation* "So, such-and-such person drives me crazy! Honestly, this is ridiculous!"~Sound familiar? Yeah, I'm betting most people (definitely myself included) will take part in this activity. Let's face it: We live in a broken world. Honestly, if you think you ever have it tough, let me tell you: You don't. I know, I know. It can be so tempting to throw "pity parties;" trust me, I've thrown myself plenty of those! But really, how satisfying is it to dwell upon all of the things that have gone wrong with our lives?
A few months back, I was discussing this issue with some dear friends of mine. We decided that, whenever we would start complaining about something, we would turn that occasion into a moment of praise and thanksgiving. "I have to go write a paper....but God is so good! He will help me on this paper!" After a while, my friends and I noticed how there was so much more joy in the conversation, when we focused --not on complaining, and pointing out the negative things in life--but on thankfulness and joy in God's amazing works! Every Wednesday, I go to volunteer at Unity Kitchen, in downtown Steubenville. This woman, Pastor Toni, is in charge--and she ALWAYS talks about the need to praise God continually! It is such a fulfilling life, when you spend it praising God! Here at Steubenville, I live in such an enriching environment. Honestly, there is so much joy on campus-because so many people have such a complete dependence on God, and take such joy in His goodness! Going around campus, it is so much fun to eavesdrop on conversations that randomly take place as different people see each other.
"Praise God! I found my (insert item here)!"
"What a beautiful day-God is so good!" ~"All the time!" chimes in a person nearby.
A life of joy and love. Love. Love is so beautiful, so necessary! As I journey through life, God is constantly showing me just HOW necessary love is! For example, on Tuesdays, I go to a nearby homeless shelter to chill out with the people there. Talking to these individuals is so impactful; it helps me to see just how MUCH we need to love others with a deep love of Christ! This past Tuesday, I spent a lot of time talking to one young man, in his twenties, about life. He has faced so many broken relationships, and his mother has not talked to him for four months. When he was 2 years old, he witnessed his grandma commiting suicide. I stood there, listening to this man, loving him as my brother in Christ. Trying to show him, through being there for him, that SOMEONE CARES! There was another man whom I hung out with a lot this past Tuesday. This guy is probably in his late twenties or so. And he lives a very immoral life. Let's just say, he does not have a clear view of his true sexuality. Well, this guy has had a ton of painful experiences in his life, too. His ex-wife refuses to let him see his four children, which breaks his heart. He has been rejected by his very mother. He has so much emptiness in his life, so much sorrow--so he has gone to lengths to try and fill his emptiness in various ways. I just sat there, listening. Being there. When I gave him a hug at the end of my stay at the shelter, I said a prayer that he would find true peace and love. It's everywhere. People NEED to be loved!
Awkward Starfish Loves You!!!!!!!
At swing dancing last Sunday, a bunch of us were demonstrating the various "awkward" hand motions. Awkward Turtle. Awkward Yoda. Awkward Llama. Awkward Snail. You get the idea! And then one of my friends reaches out her hand with fingers spread out, puts it on someone's shoulder, and slightly squeezes, saying "Awkward Starfish loves you!" Well, its definitely spread. Last night in the Caf, we were all parting ways, giving each other Awkward Starfishes. And this random student who I don't know looks at me and said "Oh my gosh, where did that come from? My roommate did that to me earlier!" It was hilarious! The love is spreading around! My friend Maria (the one who introduced all of us to the Starfish) and I were discussing about how this is practically an apostolate. We can offer each starfish that we give for a soul in Purgatory-we can say a quick prayer for the souls who need prayers! We can let all of our actions be filled with love and prayers!
It is so important to bring that love and joy of Christ everywhere you go. So you may not have the opportunity to go into 3rd world countries and love the people there, and help them to know God. So you may not have the opportunity to go hang out with homeless people and show them love. But do you know what? God gives you countless opportunities, EVERY DAY to love those around you! How can you love people in 3rd world countries if you can't love your roommate? How can you love homeless people in a shelter if you can't love your classmates?
Let Love reign triumphant in your life! Always EMBRACE those opportunities each and every day-be that Sacrifice of Love in situations that are large and small-so that all people may be loved! Go beyond all comfort zones; don't just see others as "people." That word is so vague, so impersonal! See others as your BROTHERS and SISTERS! God put each and every person in our lives for a reason; we are not strangers, but we are all interconnected in His love. So let our actions flow forth from our great love for Him who first loved us! Go out, and be a Sacrifice of Love!
Awkward Starfish Loves You!!!!!!!