“Okay, Lord, I surrender…”

Several days ago, I was praying.

It was an ordinary day, nothing special happened to have spurred anything, but that night, in my prayers, I saw many things.

They were plans of how to get into medical school, ‘Become a PA then use that experience to…’ ‘Become an EMT and…’ ‘Volunteer and do this and…’ And. And. And.

Over and over again, scenarios ran through my mind, all these different routes in order to please, wow, astonish, fascinate, interest a group of people, I believed, would decide my fate.

All of these plans and more, for the sole purpose of making me seem more than what I am right now in the eyes of people who have never heard of me before…

Then a memory came. It was my sister. We were driving and she was listening to these very same ideas and her response was, “I think you’re not sticking to any of these plans is because you’re trying to do this all on your own. On your own strength.” she elaborated on the fact that none of these plans had a solid moral center. The moral center. In other words, none of these plans I had made, had God in mind.

Then each scenario faded away, and I was left in the emptiness of my mind. It was then I came to a conclusion: All my life, I was struggling, fighting, crawling my way through. Each milestone had to be drenched in my blood, sweat, and tears, so that way, I alone can claim it. And yet, it felt so hollow. My bachelor’s degree that sits on the wall before me, is just a piece of paper to my mind, a reminder that I owe money to businesses and that I’m still not in medical school.

Where was God in all that? I think a better question would be: Where did I put God in all of that?

I thanked God for laying my father to rest, and He lessened my pain. But I didn’t really plan out my future with God’s guidance, I merely said things like, “This is a good idea.I’ll do that.” and, “It’ll look good on my resume/application.” Not once had I really thought, “I think this is where God wants me to go.”

And I think that’s been my problem this entire time. Being the youngest out of 7 kids, you don’t get to claim a lot as your own, which became ingrained in one’s mind that ‘it has to be you, and only you. Otherwise, it wasn’t you who did it.’ (In all honesty, I don’t know why I thought like this, but this way of thinking stuck with me for some time.) So I’ve done something I never thought I’d do. I simply let go. In the middle of that night, on my knees, and before God (I’d like to think), I surrendered and placed my Cross before Him. My hopes, my fears, my victories, and even my defeats, I placed it all in His hands. And now, I feel… different. It’s strange, almost. But I definitely feel that something is different. So needless to say, I don’t know how or when something is going to happen, but whatever comes my way, I’ll leave it in God’s hands.

But I have to make sure that I do my upmost each and every day, trust God when he’s trying to tell me something in the middle of the fray, and trust that small voice that says, “Listen.” Otherwise, I’ll miss every opportunity.

It’s been several days now, and I am starting to tell when God is trying to tell me something and the repercussions of when I don’t listen. Heh, talk about your trial by fire.

I’m not usually one to go through life without some sort of plan for the future, but right now, the plan is: Surrender to God.

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Purpose

These last few days, I’ve been in somewhat of a haze. I was there, but at the same time, I wasn’t. My attention shifted and my mind zoned in and out of the present here and now, and then miles away. It was brought to my attention by my sister, heh, because I was supposed to pull out some chicken for us to eat, and I instead separated them and put it away, much to her disappointment.

I’ve always been one always aim to improve himself, and when this came to my focus, my mind instantly flooded with instances in which this claim might be true. Soon after, the causes of this.

We were driving to the stores at the time, and so she asked me questions to help me sort out what exactly it could be that I’m feeling, and one idea is that, I’m in some sort of an Emotional State of Depression.

Not the stereotypical “I hate ___.” or “There’s no point to living.” On the contrary, I love my life. But it’s a state of apathy, or lethargic that I’m in. I’m comfortable where I’m at, with nothing really important to wake up for, and nothing to strive for, my path to medical school is hidden from me, and I’m just moving in and out of each day.

It’s a horrible, soft, grey feeling. It’s not like I lost a limb or feeling something like a wall, it almost feels like I’m not feeling anything at all, like I’m becoming numb to the world, and to this life. Just thinking about it, angers me. I hate this feeling, because I’d rather feel something than nothing! And that’s what this is, an all-consuming, wave of numbing nothingness.

And what this feeling takes away above all things is Purpose.

Purpose is what causes us to wake up in the mornings, what inspires us to move forward, what we base the foundations of our lives upon. What drives our enthusiasm and what brings us hope to believe in faith. Purpose, the silent whisper that echos in the darkness, “Keep going.” What nearly every protagonist in every anime/manga/story has in order to conquer their inner and outer demons.

Purpose is the singular definition of our lives, it is integrated into every aspect of our being, even to where it becomes a part of a checklist in searching for a mate… Hmmm, that’s probably why this whole thing with Celena didn’t pan out, because I was still purposeless at the time, but that’s for another time.

No, Purpose is what I’m missing from my life. That drive that causes me to move forward, to strive and dig deep in any situation I come across, that which sparks the internal flame that burns within me, the name of the light I cast upon the darkness.

But before Purpose can be introduced into my life, I need to discover what it is that is my Purpose in this life.

And I think I have an idea. You see, I never completely thrown myself into the world of Medicine, I’ve shadowed a doctor, and volunteered for a couple of hours, but these were really just side things while my attention was focused on other things like school and work. My only medical hero is Dr. Giuseppe Moscatti, and I don’t even know his life, save for the saint DVD my mom bought. I never became passionate about doctors and medicine, fascinated, from time to time, but my enthusiasm never reached the point of “Passionate/Obsessed”. And maybe that’s where I should start, after all, I do want to be a doctor, I should learn about them and their paths, I might find some that have histories similar to mine.

Upon writing this entry, I’ve happened upon an article written by a man named Mark Manson, here.

And within it, I found these words resonating with me:

“When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what their values are.

And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.

Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. And to find them you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself.”

Maybe that’s why I’m feeling lost, because I haven’t found what’s more important to me than my own life, and not just my life, the lives of everyone around me. Wow, that’s pretty big. I’ve often placed the lives and well-beings of others above my own expense, but to value something even bigger than that, heh, it’s something I haven’t thought about before.

Well, in Mr. Manson’s article, it emphasizes that one can never discover one’s purpose by sitting in front of the TV, or by playing video games constantly, or by just ignoring it. No, you discover your purpose by going out there and actively looking for it, doing what you think is right, what you know is right, and what you’ve never done before.

It is going to take me a while to get myself out there. but I’d rather be out there stumbling and discovering than constantly in this one spot being slowly devoured by this numbing feeling, wondering where my life and passion went.

… Heh, all this talk of Purpose reminds me of The Matrix Reloaded, the scene where Agent Smith talks to Neo about Purpose.

A Catholic Journey

These last couple of days, I’ve been reflecting on somethings and one of them that keeps coming around is, “Why is being a Catholic important to me?” It’s a pretty interesting question, I was born and raised Catholic, but I want to choose it for myself, I’m well aware of the teachings and the ethics, and not only am I agreeing with them, but I’m also implementing them into my entire life, but in terms of finding a mate, or when/if someone asks me, “what’s the big deal/point of being Catholic?” I’m afraid that I’m not going to have an answer.

This particular journey is going to take a while, I’m going to have to have interesting conversations with people around me, maybe even consult a priest. But before I do any of those things, I need to sort out a few things in my own head and make sure that I’m certain on what I’m confused about. Otherwise, I’ll get nowhere.

So for now, I’ve got:

  • Why am I Catholic? Other than being born and raised
  • What makes Catholicism more important/better than the other religions?
  • What the hell am I confused about?

And that’s all I’ve got. Heh, this is going to be more interesting than I originally thought. I’m not even sure it’s religion that I’m confused about. But something is in the back of my mind, making it fuzzy. But for some reason, Catholicism keeps coming up…

I’m going to have to look into this.

Challenging the Universe

It was a warm afternoon. The sun was setting and the drive-in movie was going to start in half of an hour. David and Greggy have gone to pick up some food at the food stand, while Norm and I went to the local grocery store to pick up some sodas, Canada Dry, Sunkist, and Mountain Dew. And as we were walking back to our truck, there was a voice that cried out to us. “Hey man, you need help? Let me get some of those orange sodas!” I looked over my shoulder, there was another person sitting in their car just relaxing and waiting. I replied, “No thanks, man, we’re all good.” After we got back to our car, I whispered to Norm, “The hell is that guy’s problem?” Norm stood there and gave me a puzzled look, “Why not?” He asked me, “‘Why not’ what?” I replied. “Why not give that guy some sodas? He asked. Why must we always observe these things in a negative manner?” 

I listed several reasons as to why, but I couldn’t find anything for the last question. Soon enough, I asked him, “What made you think like this?” “I’m going to challenge the Universe.” He tells me. “I’m going to test whether or not that ‘being Good’ thing really works.” “You mean ‘Karma’, but you can’t do this for the sake of trying to get better things for you, that’s not how it works.” I explain to him. “Oh, I know, and trust me, that’s not why I’m saying this, I’m just going to challenge the Universe, see if I can change something, try to be positive and good towards other people. Why not give to that guy?” 

I reply, “That’s not challenging the Universe, that’s challenge yourself. Or if you will, challenging the Universe within yourself.” “Yeah yeah yeah, something like that.”

Moments later, I took 2 orange sodas and walked towards the man who called out to me, “You still want those sodas?” As I stretched out my hand, he starts sounding surprized, “Hey man, I didn’t think you’d do it, I was only playin’.” “It’s all good, man.” I say to him. And as I walked away, I didn’t feel the Universe changing or shifting to the challenge presented by my brother, but his words of changing the way one views things stuck with me.

It’s true, I took the guy’s random request as a problem with him, “Who is he to ask this of me? I paid for this, not him.” But how often are we asked by God and SO many others to give, I mean really, what are two soda cans to me? Heh, looking back, I feel pretty stupid being stingy for something as trivial as not sharing soda with someone else. Now, I’m thinking about what else I haven’t shared that are worth more than two cans…

Heh, ‘challenge the Universe’… I often tell the girls in response to them telling me that they’re bored, “There are two Universes, one, outside your window, and the other inside you. Pick one.” I’ll never know what would become of the guy who asked me, come to think of it, I didn’t even get a good look, thanks to the setting sun, but at least for me, this is something shifting in my Universe, I’m going to try to give more. Of what little I have in my possession, I need to learn to give freely, because in the end, “God giveth and taketh away” so who am I to horde for myself when God has given everything to me?

Sometimes, I wonder how hypocritical I am…

And this is my challenging the Universe. I will let go of these negative emotions, and give whenever someone asks it of me. Who knows? Maybe the next person asking me for something is Christ himself. Heh, if that’s a possibility, I better make sure I give freely to everyone, otherwise I’m in trouble. 

Picking up the Sword Again

After I said good night to my mother, she asked me if I still prayed the Rosary, to which I responded that I hadn’t due to my mind wandering to less than Holy places during the Rosary, and that the regular prayer is more intimate and helpful to me. But she suggested that I take it up again because it’s not about me, but it’s because God wants us to.

In my prayers, I’ve always asked to be a good man in God’s eyes, and when I wasn’t, to guide me back to being one through whatever means. And in one way or another, God provides me with an opportunity, sometimes, I’m wise enough to see it, other times, I’m not.

So after this hiatus, I think I will pray the Rosary tonight, I do need to find ways to follow Christ and become closer to Him. If I can just focus on that, and use all of my skills to maintain that focus, I should be able to not wonder into sinful things.

I’ve always liked the Rosary, and even though I have a necklace version of it, I have always maintained the idea that it’s a tool, not a piece of jewelry, utilized for strength, courage, need, balance, and overall faith-building… Heh, all of the things that I’d like present in my own life.

If I really think about it, I have a lot of things to pray for, in nearly all areas and levels in my life, and yet, at the same time, I would feel somewhat guilty praying for myself. I’m not praying for anything petty, like money or fame, I’ve prayed for forgiveness, strength, courage, wisdom, and not just for me, but for my family and friends as well.

Maybe tonight, this is what I should pray for: Clarity. The clarity to see my faults and to fix them, not just for my sake, but so that I can be the best man that I can be.

The Best Time to Plant a Tree

There’s a Chinese Proverb that goes, “The best time to plant a Tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is right now.” And that’s what my family and I did at the end of Easter: We planted two trees.

Dubbed “Salad Trees” one of them bears 6 different fruits and the other bears 4 different types of Peaches, and they’re just awesome! I cannot wait until they come to fruition. But what I loved best about this experience, is the gardening.

The digging up of the old trees, clearing the holes to place the new ones, the stretching of the roots, the spreading of the Peat Moss and gardening soil mix, and the eventual placing and planting of the tree. It took us several hours, of digging, and chopping, and pulling, with no small amount of sweat and effort, but the end results were more than satisfactory.

So I guess to put this into a larger prospective, Easter is about the Suffering, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, we had two fruitless trees, and we chopped them down and pulled them out at the roots in order to make room for two trees that do bear fruit, and although we didn’t do anything symbolizing crucifixion, I can’t help but feel that these trees help me see Christ in life. I know now that God can answer one’s prayers at any moment in time, even when one has forgotten that one had asked for it, and I learned this with a cute girl who worked at the Cashier.

Heh, I prayed for God to show me what my fate would be on this particular area in my life, and there she was, smiling and chatting with me small talk. Her name is Sam. But I digress.

In the end, this Easter has been very revealing, in terms of what I know, believe, and how to view my relationship with God. I can only hope that these experiences stay with me as I would like to learn from them as much as possible.

Three Days Forward, Two Days Back

Alright, so I’ve been a bit ill lately, so now I’ve gotta catch up on my AoM challenge!

Day 13: Perform a mind dump of everything you’re worried about. From the leaky dishwasher to your family member’s poor health — get it all out. Dwight D. Eisenhower did it, and it significantly helped him manage his stress. Just as your body needs to…cleanse itself of waste, so does your mind every once in a while. Getting all your stressors on paper may alleviate some of that pressure. Use David Allen’s GTD trigger list to help you out.

OK Worries! They are: Loans, Finding a Job, being rejected from Med school, going back to regular school, finding ways to pay for it, that “presence” coming back, making a permanent mistake with Marlena, making a permanent mistake with ANY girl, utterly failing at Life, dividing my family, losing the girls, giving into temptation, wasting my time and money on useless things, wasting my family’s time and money on useless things.

Day 14: Write a review of some form of entertainment you recently took in. Whether book or movie or TV show or Broadway play, write out what you liked and didn’t like about it. Was the acting/writing good? Could you follow the story? Is there anything you can take from it about life, or was it purely entertainment? This is often one of the most enjoyable entries to write, as it’s especially fun (and quite nostalgic) to go back and read these in the future. I can imagine that 10 years from now I will thoroughly appreciate my thoughts from this week on Roy Baumeister’sIs There Anything Good About Men?.

Ninja Warrior has returned! I’m so glad that it has! Nothing motivates me more to exercise than seeing someone put their body to the test! Although all of the contestants hardly ever make it to the finish, it’s inspiring seeing them try! And every time you see one of them fall, they always say the same thing, “I’m going to do better next time.” These athletes who’s levels I don’t think I’ll ever reach, fall and rise again and again. I always say to myself, ‘One day I’ll do that too’ And I still have that in the back of my mind, to become the grand Ninja master and achieve Total Victory!

Day 15: Come up with your own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors. There are innumerable great men from history who we can learn from today. When thinking about your life or pondering some question or problem, yes, go to actual mentors and friends, but also take in the advice of men of yore. Write out who you would have on your list and what you admire about them. Having trouble coming up with a list? The comments in the post should offer plenty of ideas.

Hmm… I suppose my Cabinet would consist of:

  • Jesus – The Son of God, what better moral teacher than that?
  • Goku – A man who trained for the sake of improving himself, not for bettering others
  • Bahamut – Another Motivator, King of Dragons with an ancient Wisdom
  • My Father – My par for what I think it takes to be a Good Man
  • Sun Tzu – Master Strategist of Life and War
  • Theodore Roosevelt – Took a bullet and didn’t leave until his speech was finished, another Good Man
  • Giuseppe Moscati – Italian Doctor and patron Saint of the Catholic church, my par for being a Good Doctor
  • Albert Einstein – A slow learner who changed the world
  • Robert Frost – To remind me to take the Road less traveled
  • My Mother – To remind me to be kind to others
  • My Sister – To remind me that nothing is impossible
  • Aristotle – Philosophy is where I treasure this guy
  • Marcus Aurelius – Roman Emperor who believed that we are all connected by one singular energy
  • My Brother-in-law – Another strong man who fills the room with laughter, he bears traits that I admire
  • Balian of Ibelin – “What man is a man who does not try to make the world better?”