How to Love Yourself (and Others)

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In my post titled, “Is it Wrong to Love Yourself?” I made the point that we should love ourselves. In fact, we need to love ourselves so that we can properly love others.

I’m going to share two simple, fun steps that will help you to truly love yourself and others. These steps are just a starting point, but after a couple months of adhering to them, you’ll see major positive changes in your life. You’ll find strength, confidence and happiness. You’ll also have a deeper understanding of the joys of loving others. You’ll give love not only because God commands it, but also because you’ll have risen a deep desire to do so!

These two steps may seem so small and so simple that they can be overlooked, but they’re the most important things you can do to learn to love yourself and, ultimately, to love your neighbor as yourself. Keep this steps in mind and practice them constantly. You’ll see amazing results.

1. Accept yourself as you are.

When you do something wrong, forgive yourself. Don’t be angry. When you do something right, applaud yourself. We all know we have an inner voice. It’s the voice we use to think, to judge ourselves, to pray. Unfortunately, that voice can really bring us down. It can say, “I’m not strong enough to overcome this temptation,” or “I’m not good enough.”

Fortunately, you are that voice, you control that voice. Step one is to make sure you maintain control over that voice, and only think positively. When you find yourself lacking courage or strength, don’t be angry with yourself. Instead, realize what you learned and move on. Don’t brood over your failures. And when you do something good, when you realize you’ve grown, thank God for that.

2. Thank God for making you the way you are.

Thank the Creator for creating you with the ability to forgive yourself and the ability to obey him. Thank God for making you who you are. If you’re going through difficult times, thanking God may be difficult, but it will become easier after a couple months of talking positively to yourself. Even when it is difficult, dig deep to find a few things you’re thankful for each day.

Loving yourself is to take yourself as God created you. In Paul’s words, “By God’s grace, I am who I am.” As time moves on, as you practice these steps, you’ll find they begin to happen naturally. You’ll find yourself excited even by little successes and largely unaffected by failures, and you’ll find yourself thanking God often.

The best part about growing in your ability to accept yourself as you are is that you’ll also grow in your ability to accept others as they are! All of our faults boil down into the same brew called sin. When you can love yourself amidst your own sins, you can love others amidst their sins. That is what Jesus Christ does, he forgives us. He loves us as we are.

Prayer for the Broken Hearted

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Lord, my heart beats with a rhythm of angst
at the loss of one I love.

Please send a guardian angel to tend to my wounds.

I understand you always do what is good and just,
what is ultimately best for me.

You know I am in pain, you have felt my pain,
and only you know the reason for it.
Only you can see the good that will come from it.

Lord, please give me the strength and faith
to trust that your plan for me is good.

I am yours, always. Amen.

Reflection

If you’ve lost a loved one to death, spend time reflecting on three happy memories the two of you shared.

If you’ve lost a loved one to divorce or a break-up, spend time reflecting on three happy memories you had without the person who broke your heart.

Thank God for the good times and good memories.

Other Prayers for the Broken Hearted

A Prayer for Peace and the Broken Heart

Prayer for Healing a Broken Heart

Novena Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Is it Wrong to Love Yourself?

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In the faith community these days, there is a whole bunch of talk about loving others. And that’s a fantastic thing to talk about! However, there is a shorter step that we must climb first. To many, the step is almost taboo. The idea of loving oneself can seem selfish or even sinful. In actuality, it is neither sinful nor selfish. It is good, and it is necessary.

Should we love ourselves?

Love is good, right?

Well, that pretty much answers the question then. We should love ourselves.

Scripture doesn’t say, “You shall love your neighbor.” It says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

We’re taught not to have pride and to be humble. Many people think this means to not love yourself, but the reality is that love is 100% good. Because of this, it cannot present characteristics such as pride and lack of humility. Pride and lack of humility come from a lack of love.

Speaking of characteristics, let’s take a look at the characteristics of love famously written by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

This writing is often used as a guide on how we should love others, but it is also the way we should love ourselves. In Christ, we are one body. Therefore, by loving ourselves, we naturally love others. Loving ourselves lets us experience the power of both giving and receiving love first hand. It opens us up to love. It strengthens us in our ability to give love, and to receive love from others.

Paul gives these characteristics of love, but many of them may seem out of reach or difficult to achieve. That short paragraph contains a ton of requirements. It provides an address for a location, but it doesn’t offer much of a map. That’s what I’m here for – and hopefully the Holy Spirit is working through me!

It is overwhelming to try and achieve all of the characteristics of love at once. Instead, I’m going to give you two super simple (and even fun) steps that will send you soaring in the right direction. After a couple months of adhering to these steps, you’ll see major positive changes in your life. You’ll find strength, confidence and happiness. You’ll also have a deeper understanding of the joys of loving others. You’ll give love not only because God commands it, but also because you’ll have risen a deep desire to do so!

Click here to read part two, How to Love Yourself (and Others)

Love is Easy to Find! Here’s How…

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I am blogging here today to tell you that love is easy to find.

I’m a person who once thought it couldn’t be found. I thought I had to just stumble upon it or something. Consequently, I thought most people weren’t very loving.

In my past, I spent many nights unable to sleep because I was so lonely. I felt anxiety when I would have to go to a social gathering. I was always worried about the people who didn’t understand me.

My more recent past struggles put me in a very beneficial mindset. First of all, I had to learn to not care what others thought about me. I had to realize it was pointless to waste even a second of thought on the idea that someone might misunderstand me. I realized, if someone dislikes me, it’s because they misunderstand me. And if they misunderstand me, it’s their loss because they’re losing a good person who would be an awesome friend.

After I got used to fearlessly putting my neck out – it took some practice – I thought back to my Interpersonal Communications class in college. There, I read “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis, and I learned about the highest form of love, Agape, which includes things like forgiveness and the giving of one’s life.

I had been working on loving my family in the form of Agape for a couple years. True Agape love isn’t always easy, and it can take years of practice. Of course, there’s a good chance we’ll never be able to practice true Agape because we’re humans, but we can give it our best and come close!

Moving to California – away from my parents and sister – really taught me to appreciate them. I thought I already appreciated them, but moving away made my appreciation and love even stronger. Moving away also left a space to be filled.

If I had still believed what I used to, that love is something we just stumble upon, I would be suffering right now. But when I moved, I knew love wasn’t just a chance happening. I knew I had to seek it out.

Now that I’ve found love, I can say, it’s easy to find.

First, you have to find people. It doesn’t matter who. Then, you give them part of your life; maybe an hour, maybe a week.

When giving time, realize you’re not just giving time, you’re giving part of your life. You’re giving love in a way very much like the love Jesus Christ gave us. Jesus suffered and gave his life for us. You will be giving a part of your life for another human being. When you give love to one of God’s beings, you’re giving love to God. When you give love to God, you’re giving love to all of us.

See how easy it is? Try it! It’s even easier when you do it rather than think about it.

At this point, you may be thinking, “I am giving love, but I’m not receiving love.” Unfortunately, not every person you give love to will give it back, but most will. You will find yourself receiving plenty of gratitude. So much gratitude that you’ll be giving gratitude because you’ll be thankful for the thanks you’ve been given, and for the opportunity you’ve had to love. Basically, you’ll feel super awesome!

If you want to add icing to the cake, converse with those you’re working for and with. Ask them questions, be curious. Learn about them. Learn from them. Those will be the people who really express their love for you, and they’re the people you’ll love most.

Now, for those of you who read the title and thought it meant Eros (that passion between a man and a woman) love is easy to find, I apologize. Eros love takes more of a commitment to a single person, and therefore is a little more difficult to find. However, if you start out by giving love (the Agape kind), two things will happen for you: a) you’ll be less lonely and those cravings for Eros love won’t be as strong, b) you’ll be around good people more often which means  you’ll be more likely to find a good person to fall in love with!

All in all, love really is easy to find! You may be thinking, “damn, that doesn’t seem easy!” Well, it doesn’t seem easy, but I promise it is. Just make sure you take baby steps. Check local newspapers, Craigslist and church groups for an organization that could use your help. Then, call or shoot them an e-mail. Or just help out grandparents or neighbors! More than likely, they’ll be stoked to have you. Tell them how much time you can give each week. Then, take it from there.

You don’t have to be lonely anymore. You can find true happiness, love. I promise it’s easy if you just do it.

Student’s Prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas

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Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent of being exact
in my explanations and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

What’s so great about retreats? And how to get the most out of them.

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I’m not a big retreat person because retreats always seemed cheesy and overly sentimental to me. I’m usually not into the sentimental, “feely” kind of religion. I subscribe to my dad’s philosophy on religion: “emotion isn’t devotion.” I like that phrase because I know that emotions fade. In order to be a strong, lifetime Catholic, my faith cannot be based on emotion. It must be devotion.

That said, it’s been quite some time since I’ve felt as good as I did last weekend when I went to my first retreat in several years.

For the past year of my life, I worked in the marketing department of a property owners association. I’m not going to bore you with details. Simply put, I was surrounded by unloving, uncaring people.

After a solid year of struggle and pain, I finally received my parents’ blessing in moving to California. When I came, though, I wasn’t going to mess around. I got right down to business; applying for jobs, meeting fellow musicians and volunteering. The plan was (and still is) to not pass up an opportunity.

One opportunity that jumped out at me right away was the retreat. I knew I needed to meet people because I am terrible at being alone.

Basically, the retreat rocked. And I think some of that rock-ness had to do with the mindset I had when going into it. I’m going to share my mindset and my experience in hopes that you will a) be encouraged to attend a retreat b) be able to use the retreat to its fullest extent.

Retreat Details:

  • Ages 18-49, Young Adult Retreat
  • Started Friday at 6pm
  • Ended with Sunday mass at 5:30pm
  • About 20-30 Attendees (Including Retreat Leaders)

As I said before, I was alone going into the retreat. I knew not a soul my own age. So, my primary purpose was to meet people.

I believe having this purpose is what helped bring me to the level of all the other awesome people at the retreat. I was ready to get to know people, ask about their lives, laugh with them, pray with them. It was primarily about the people.

By the end of the retreat, I had fulfilled my purpose by means of the getting-to-know-you conversations at meals, wise and interesting small group discussions, and the talks given by retreat leaders followed by large group discussions.

I really felt loved and equal with these people when I realized I wasn’t going to be the only one asking questions in our getting-to-know-you conversations. Usually I do most of the listening and question asking. This time, the  conversations were very balanced, and they were more enjoyable than a big bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.

When it came to the small group discussions, things panned out similarly to the meal conversations. Everybody had a chance to give input, and almost everybody gave their full attention to the person talking.

My second and third reasons for being on the retreat were to learn and grow. The seeds in my brain were given a brilliant light to sprout beneath during the large group discussions. And the plants of knowledge and faith were nurtured by prayer.

I didn’t talk a whole lot at the large group discussions. But I pay very close attention to the anecdotes and ideas of those who did. What happened was, even though I already knew most of the information that was taught during the talks, I was able to receive the information from another person’s perspective during the discussions. That is when I really learned new things. I saw several ideas and teachings in a different light, expanding my mind to new levels.

One of the greatest features of the retreat was the exposition of Jesus Christ. He was available on the altar for adoration during every hour of the retreat. Morning and evening prayers were said. We were even taught about other forms of prayer including meditation and a form I never heard of before called Lectio Divina (we’ll talk more about that later).

By the end of the retreat, I had fulfilled every one of my wishes – and more! I met, interacted with and learned from a diverse group of super awesome, super caring, super loving people. That part blew my mind and more than restored my faith in humanity. Further, and more importantly, I got to pray with Jesus Christ, himself, and those awesome people I mentioned a second ago!

I will remember that retreat forever, and I can’t wait to meet up with my new friends again.