Fear And Future Wives (Plus A Few Cliffs and Heights)

Tell me I’m not the only guy who does this.

Maybe it’s just my normal level of weird… mental issues… but I can’t help but wonder where my future wife is in the instant I’m thinking about her.  Part of me is like: “Is she even out there?”  Another: “I’ve got to ask her what life was like on this specific day, when I meet her.”  And still another part: “Have I already met her? Did I miss a potential first meeting?!”

Honest to goodness, the last is probably the most, er, taxing.  Stressing.  Mind-boggling.  It makes one insane just thinking about it, but I can’t help dwelling on it occasionally.  It’s not easy to put out of my head.  No idea why.  And I’m not making excuses for myself either.
Now, another thing.  I have told myself that I’ve never felt a call to priesthood or a religious order.  That much, I think is true, thus far.  If things change, I will give a shout or something.  That constant question, right?
It all boils down to a matter of direction, something I have yet to figure out or learn to handle.  I believe that life is exactly that for many – scratch that, all – people.  Uncertainty and all that, is a part of human nature in this day and age.  The future is uncertain, and the past is, well… semi-clear, yada yada yada.

Callings are tricky things.  It’s a matter of leaping off the cliff.  Giving oneself in full commitment, as my older sister said during a car ride to a pre-college test.  That’s really the only moment where we understand what we were working towards.  We’ve already crossed the gap, and in hindsight, everything fell into place thanks to the awesome First Mover, with regards to our vocations.  Actually, just leave it at everything.  Yep, First Mover moves everything.
Going back to the analogy of peaks and seeing what we’ve accomplished, you know how people tell you not to look down, the higher you go?  Poppycock.  I think looking back at what you’ve achieved and understanding how it has changed you is vital to the future.  And yes, I advise looking down even if you’re on a mountain.  Unless that makes you sick, because someone far below will not appreciate that.
Then again, maybe people tell you not to look down because of fear.  However, the analogy still holds.  Being imperfect human beings, we have a lot of failings in our past that stick in our minds.  Looking back on those and seeing only those is grounds for failure.  We must not fail.
A lot of the time, people forget one thing about looking down/back.  There is beauty in the past and far below where you find yourself in your climb.  Maybe the fear goes to the forefront of their minds, maybe their eyes have been blurred by something that shades the glorious view from them.  Either way, I can understand the difficulty.

I find it easy to say: “Oh, I’m 16, I’ve got time.” Confession?  Yeah, I kind of lie about that feeling of having time.  I’m more anxious about it than I have any right to be.
I am concerned about my future, whether it be the near and present educational trials, or the far off peaks of marriage/ordination.  And when I find myself looking back from where I’ve come, I’m afraid.  Why?
That nagging feeling of a missed opportunity.  That question asking: “Was she – ?”
Yeah, I return to that specific feeling.  There are several others I could point out, but I started with this one, so I might as well end with it as well.  Spin around a few hundred times, and instead of finding a potential dancing partner, you’re likely to just end up dazed and confused.  Believe me, that’s what searching feels like.  This disorienting mess of mine.  And yet it is mine.  Hmm… that’s depressing.  Well, not really.  There are better things to be depressed about… no, wait, that came out wrong.
I’m the kind of guy who has scanned the room at least three times before I’m fully in it.  The kind of guy who wonders what a full-time profession will be like.  Someone who’s looking for something both tangible and yet intangible at the same time.  I feel like I’ve said that line before.  At least I’m consistent, I guess.
What I’m trying to say is… what am I saying?
I confessed my fear of missed opportunities, something about peaks…. how are these related?
They are, it’s just that my brain is not yet responding.  Give it a moment.

No, not a moment.  A Steubenville trip.
About 17 days after I started this (yeah, that’s a while), I went to the Franciscan University of Steubenville for a retreat, something that I will definitely write an extended blog post on.
It started in confession, where I had doubts about living up to being a future husband thanks to well… all my failures.  The priest in the confessional – oh, how I wish I could have remembered to ask for his name – told me that Satan’s last throw of the dice would be to plant a seed of doubt in my mind.  Very small, but enough to make me very, very afraid of the future.  It would make me question myself in an endless loop, with no resolution.  But God through Father showed me that – and he was very blunt about it – it was ridiculous.  No, not me or what I said, but what the devil keeps whispering to me.  So basically, there I was, looking back down the mountainside, not taking in the beauty, but fearing what lay in the past, what lay below.  But the priest pointed me heavenward.  Thus, by the Grace of God, I will see my vocation through to its fulfillment, because Jeremiah 29:11!

As for missed opportunities, I’ll move to Saturday.  It was FANTASTIC.  After a Friday confession, I could enjoy the entire rest of the weekend, renewed and strengthened in the spirit.  I still had the same fears, the same doubts, but I was ready to take them on, for I had been refreshed.  It came to the fore in Adoration.  The speakers kept telling us to let our worries drop aside, and it was in Adoration that I actually did.  It was exhilarating, and for some reason, I started laughing when I saw the monstrance.  It was crazy, because I never do that.  The reason that I began laughing was – after some probing – a sudden realization that all my problems were insignificant in the face of God RIGHT before me.  Everything became hilarious, and I was one of the many joyfully laughing that night.

Finally Sunday, there was a clarity and contentment in the fact that I was not alone.  A full circle.  I joined arms with Annie and Alex, and they joined arms with Teresa and Johnny, and on and on it went.  God was within me and around me in all my brothers and sisters.  I lived in the moment, just… at peace there.

On Friday, I faced my fears in confession, and began laying them down.  Saturday, I completed the latter step, and found my fears to be insignificant.  Sunday, I truly saw the gift I had been given in those people who surrounded me.  Why worry about missed opportunities and look back at the negative, when I had a glorious opportunity that I was living right then and there?

So bringing it back to my fears for the future wife, is it going to be easy to be content until the moment I know her?  Probably not, but I have found a great moment of clarity, and that was enough to keep me standing.  It is in God’s hands, and as I said in my last post, He will put her in my life at the right time.

With this, I, following the example of the speakers, encourage you to lay your fears and anxieties at the foot of the cross.  There are precious few moments of peace in this day and age, so don’t crush them under those things outside of your control.  Oh, and look up the serenity prayer.  That’s all I’ve got, people.  I’ll be praying for all of you.  Good night!

– M

Friendships and the Closing Circle

Another hiatus, another busy period of time.  Life gets in the way, people show up, and maybe you make a few friends who manage to distract you from the electronic universe.  That’s what I’m talking about today, after the long gap.  Yes, friendships, and their completions.

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in the P&G Resident Scholar Program, which, put simply, is kind of like an elaborate job shadow program.  I met some fantastic individuals, and received training alongside them for five days, at various P&G facilities.
In the end, as with all things, we each had to go our separate ways, but we’ve all somehow managed to keep in touch, at least this far.  Still, it’s not the same as it was when I was seeing them every day.  Sorry, I’m being Captain Obvious here.
On that note, I’ve heard that the best friendships are ones that can be picked up right where you’ve left off, no matter how long it’s been.  Perhaps we’ll be able to pick up in the future.  I know one of my friends from my shuttle joked about a reunion 10 years from now.  It’s always possible.

I will say, friendship is a fantastic gift.  The great thing about having friends is that they’re able to bring a part of you to the fore, and I said as much at the end of the week, when we were sharing our appreciations.  We praised the RSP for being a great training tool, but I think to each of us, at or near the front of our minds, were the bonds of friendship that we had developed with one another.  We’d been a close-knit group, having been pushed out of our comfort zones, in search of immediate common ground so as to battle the competitions we faced as forming teams.
Beyond brief reunions, I doubt I’ll ever see that group of people again, in person.  However, I am immensely thankful for the time I had with them, and yeah, a shout-out goes to the RSP Family, in case they ever read this.

It’s funny, the way God puts certain people in our lives at the right time.  Life is sort of like a series of stages.  A progression of stages.  That’s how I’d put it.  Every one that follows calls for a certain group of cast members.  Most likely, your stage crosses over with several others, like a sort of venn diagram.  The stages, in circle form, slowly revolve until each member has passed through the center, then it’s on to the next phase, as people move out.
It’s sad, true, but what can you do?

My heart, I confess, is heavy with the thought that in a little over a year’s time, I will be leaving my high school friends and various circles for a new area.  College.  This stage in life is brief, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t precious.

Now, we all have those friends that we know will in some way, shape, or form, will be with us to the end.  Maybe not through their physical presence, but a part of their spirit within us.  There are those friends, and still others who leave sooner than you thought they would.  No matter where you go, you will eventually run into those friends.  They just… drop away.  Sometimes they change so much that they become unrecognizable.
Is that good?  Depends.  If they become reforged into people of high moral character, then goodness, yes!
If not… well, I know a few that fit this other side of the coin.  I had hoped that all my friends would always stand fast in the face of adversity, but… that’s not always the way the pieces line up.

The thing that I can do for them is pray.  I never see them anymore, so that’s really all I can do.  Seek intercession, and ask others to – in turn – pray for me.  I am most certainly not a perfect man.  And on that note, I would hesitate to even call myself a good man.  That however, is something for another time.

What else can one say about friendship in simplest terms?  It’s never easy to step out of the circle, once you’ve become an integral part of it.  I always feel heavy-hearted when I hear the ending of The Jungle Book (audiobook version, Jim Weiss).  The jungle circle closes to Mowgli, and while his animal is always out there, his time with them is now firmly set in the past.  It’s a great analogy, and not always an unwelcome one, since it makes explanations easier, but it’s… sobering.  Each friend has their day.

So treasure the friendships you have.  They were put there at a specific time, for some reason.  Whether that reason be to learn from them, to further better yourself, to build up others, or a combination of many, don’t let them go lightly.
There is a time for mourning, and yet this is the morning.  After the break of dawn, with the sun still rising, there is still some time before it sets and the next day is borne forth.

#VanFam

– M

Thoughts of The Discontented Mind/Clarity Amidst The Clamor

Here I find myself once more, writing.  I’m doing that a lot now.

Today, on a gloomy looking Tuesday morning, I woke up thinking I had a test to complete.  And panicking over it.  Usually my nightmares are more realistic, involving a maniac with a blade to match my sword, but last night (from my relative point in time) was different.  Head is still spinning.
So let’s talk about school.  But not school.  In my post-school state.  Assignments were things that gave me a very realistic thing to work towards, and now they’re gone.  In short, this leaves me thinking: What to do now?

Let the games begin, some people might say.  Summer’s here, so we can all relax and do whatever the zombies we want.  To that I say, wait, wha -?!  Don’t get me wrong, I love being done until the fall.  It allows my brain to breathe and me to do things, but… I find myself without a clear direction at the moment.  That’s not ideal.  End of school was my near and present goal, but now, upon finding myself living in its aftermath, I’m not sure what to do.  There are endless activities to attend to, yes, but what to do with my day-to-day life?

Yeah, I’m kind of stuck in indecision.  Stuck in a rut, trying to decide what to do next.  I don’t want to be day in, day out, playing video games/watching TV shows/staying in the house for 12 hours before sleeping.  No.  That’s boring, and I firmly put down my foot against such atrocities, even though I will inevitably do all three on one day or other.  So… what to do there?  Um… give me a minute.

Direction and other things, it’s all very confusing.  So what do I propose as a course of action? Er…. I’ve got it.  Eureka!  *insert random words running along a similar train of thought*  The ever-fun and motivating thing called GOAL SETTING!  But seriously, I’m finding myself to be wandering aimlessly… at least more than normal.  I desire to enjoy my summer, so I need to get out of the slump before it’s gone.  And yes, trust me, summer will be gone before we know it.  So… I might as well make public some goals of mine!  Thus, motivation.

– Continue to write “the book”
See, that one is still devilishly tricky to figure out.  I consider myself a sort of… perfectionist, so any time I go back and read over my writings, I more often than not end up scrapping the project and leaving it to wither somewhere in the catacombs formed by my endless folders of dilapidated books.  And that was a mouthful.

– MOAR PRAYER TIME!
Seriously, I am not doing well in this area.  It’s something I myself desire to work on, and considering how free my brain is, I should be able to devote mental space (and lots of it) to prayer.

– Work on paperwork
Lots of upcoming activities, including the P&G Resident Scholar Program (which I’m super excited for) and earning my Freedom Award (with Trail Life, look it up) to prepare for.  There are essays, recommendation letters, the general write-ups and prework, etc. etc.

– Clean something
I have an organizational personality, so that basement of my family’s will be organized sooner or later.  Hopefully before I move out, so I can enjoy the fruits of my labor for a good year or two.

– Get outside… once it’s sunny
The weather is kinda gloomy as of late, and hopefully it’ll clear up soon.  I intend to go biking almost every day, just like I did near the end of last summer.

– Talk to old friends and make new ones
~I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations~
Heh, I keep saying this one, and so I must take my own advice.  Boldly go where no one has gone before, except for the fact that they have!  Yeah, I’m not great in social situations, but I must firmly plant myself outside my comfort zone, and… not overthink things?
Oh, and those lyrics come from the song “Riptide”, by Vance Joy.  Check it out.  Although, in my case, they should be modified to:
~I was scared of ALL the girls and starting conversations~
Er… allons-y?

– M