In our society, we spend our energy seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. At a deeper level, Matthew Kelly explains, “The human person has a natural thirst for happiness, and we do the things we do because we believe they will make us happy. People do not wake up in the morning and ask themselves, “How can I make myself miserable today?” Believe it or not, every decision we make, we are trying to make ourselves happier. From the decision to shower in the morning to whether or not to ask that girl out, you are always making a decision for happiness – consciously or unconsciously. Unfortunately sometimes our search for happiness stops at the cheaper version…pleasure, and pleasure does not equal happiness. Why?
There is a huge difference between happiness and pleasure. Happiness is often delayed gratification. When you’re cleaning up you might not feel gratified, but once you’re done and your house is sparkling clean, you feel happy.
Do more chips or bacon (yum) make us happier? No. Sure, these things might be pleasurable, but after a while and in excess they lose their appeal. True Happiness is about decisions that pay off more in the long run; for example, putting others first. Although you might not feel instant gratification, that decision really pays off.
I’m not saying pleasure is bad. I’m all for binge watching shows and eating ice cream. Just make sure that you’re balancing out pleasure with happiness. Watch that Cupcake Wars episode but make sure to also go the park to play with your nephew 🙂
While pleasure tends to be self-focused, happiness often involves others.
A couple of weeks ago we visited a “Family Open Studios” event. We made posters and my sister and I both made one that said “When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” At the moment this seemed to be a beautiful quote…
Today, though, I realized that there is one person who we should let to hold our pen when writing the story of out life: God. There is a song that I love from my favorite Christian artist, Francesca Battistelli, called “Write Your Story” about this point exactly. The chorus goes like this (chorus thanks to: http://myktis.com/):
I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark
Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart
Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart
Our life is in God’s hands; He has a plan and purpose for each of us:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
Lord make me an instrument of Your peace: Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to me consoled, as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love. For it’s in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, And it’s in dying that that we are born into eternal life. Amen.
“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we will become a thing. If we love nothing, we will become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others” – St. Clare of Assisi
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
At a faith based summer camp one of the speakers shared his story with us. I’ve changed the names, but wanted to allow his story to touch you, the way that it touched me. At the heart of his story is the message that we must hold tight and stay in relationship with God especially when times are tough. For our strength comes from God.
It all started when Dave began attending a youth group lead by a priest from his parish. Dave met a girl there, Elizabeth, who he liked because she had something that most of the other girls did not. She was a modest girl and her purity shown bright. They developed a relationship, went to prom and all that kind of stuff, but they were mostly friends. They respected the purity of each other. Dave was a bit worried since Elizabeth was going off to college in Ohio and he was staying in California. One day, she told him that she would like to meet him at a park. When Dave arrived, he sat down in her VW. It had been sort of an awkward relationship for a while and now he was worried. Elizabeth shard that she wanted to start hanging out with another guy. Hurt, Dave out of the car and walked away. After Elizabeth ended the relationship, Dave left feeling depressed. He stopped going to mass with his family. Rather than turning to God, Dave turned his back on God. He didn’t even think to ask for help. The loss of Elizabeth, and the letting go of God impacted him in many unfortunate ways. He got drunk; got into a bad relationship and ended up spending more time thinking about the exterior of a girl’s body than her real self. He was having a spiritual death experience. At times he still went to mass, but he did not receive communion because he was not right with the Lord. He was at least honest that he was not in a relationship with God. One time when he should have been studying, he went out drinking with his brother. One guy kinda pushed his brother as he walked past a couple of times and that started a fight. The next morning Dave had lots of stitches on his head. Now, there was a bad movie coming out and he was watching the news. He saw a crowd in front of the theader and one particular girl stood out. She was holding up a sign that said, “Jesus is my best friend.” Dave was touched by this girl and amazingly in response to the message, wanted to change his life around so he turned to God for help in making his life right. Dave was done doing it his way. Soon after, his girlfriend and her mom told Dave to come to confession with them. When he got to the front of the line, he noticed the priest was one that he knew from youth group. He kind of started freaking out but ending up going to confession with him and worked up the courage to break his bad relationship. About 10 days later, he received a letter in the mail. It was from Elizabeth and she said that if I wanted he could start writing her again. They started writing back and forth over the following year. He’s kept all the letters and they’re worth more to him now than his car. Dave didn’t know at this time, but Elizabeth was saying a nine day novena for her vocation. At the end, there was supposed to be a sign. Red roses meant marriage, white meant religious. Dave sent her 12 red roses and you can probably figure out the rest.
Hello, and welcome to my new blog. As some of you know, I used to have a blog called “The Vocations Kid.” But, since I am now a teenager (turning 14 in March!) I thought I would like to start a blog for other teens. It’s rough being a teen, and being a Christian teen is even harder! I will be writing (from a teens perspective) on lots of different topics. I hope you will enjoy and learn something new. Welcome!