Sunday, July 14, 2013

The 'It' Factor

    You know those people who just have ‘it’?   Everyone wants to be around them.  They are magnanimous: joyful, confident, and generous.  They are happy to be themselves.  I want to be like that.  But the pursuit is frustrating and fascinating; ‘it’ seems always attainable but just out of reach. 

     I've tried to acquire ‘it’ by imitation (because joy, confidence, and generosity are great qualities).  I've tried to acquire ‘it’ by pursuing originality (because I know that I am created uniquely to be me).  But I am left restless, still wanting whatever ‘it’ is.  

Finding 'it' is part elusive, part frantic.  Yes, just like this.
     'It' is not just being funny, or kind, or a good listener, or generous, or happy, though these are good and imitable.  Pope John Paul II said that we are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures.  I think we are also not the sum of our gifts and successes.  We are the sum of our Father's love for us.  

     No, what these people have, this ‘it’, is the deep peace resulting from the struggle and beauty of allowing the light of Christ to shine in their darkness, healing and revealing their true selves.  These people have had an encounter with one who knows them and wants them in all their fullness.  They have the better part which will not be taken from them. 

     Allowing Christ’s light to shine into darkness is uncomfortable and unnerving because what will be revealed is not yet known.  But equally – actually more - uncomfortable and unnerving is darkness; the restless strive to ‘create myself’ through an endless game of imitation and originality.  So let there be light. 

     Once I am convinced that darkness is scarier than light, it begins.  We walk through my soul.  As I watch Jesus teach me about each thing we see along the way, it becomes easier and easier to trust Him.  He brings clarity, peace, and simplicity to what was confused, unknown, and tainted.  My idea of finding 'it' through imitation and originality fades in the light of the glory of His new creation.  And I am not alone in aching for light to shine.  

At the beginning I said there were Personalities in God.  I will go further now.  There are no real personalities anywhere else.  Until you have given up yourself to Him you will not have a real self.  Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ.  How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.                                                                                              - C.S. Lewis

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  
John 1:5

Monday, July 1, 2013

The 'Accidental Facebook Like'

    A month ago, I got a new phone.  In figuring out nuances of the phone, I have managed to ‘like’ pictures I intended only to scroll through, ‘favorite’ tweets I meant to ‘collapse’, send three text messages when I only wanted to send one, and commit other delightful social media faux-pas at the most opportune times. 

    For my reason or another, I’ll take a gamble that you too have been in the “accidentally-liking/friending/commenting-and-hurrying-to-undo” boat.  We want to ‘undo’ it because a) we actually don’t like the item or b) we don’t want the person to know we were looking.  Either way, it’s awkward to ‘undo’ because What if they already saw it? or What if they think I’m rude?

So what’s behind the freak-out moment of the ‘accidental like’? 

“If we have no peace, it is because we've forgotten that we belong to each other.”  Mother Teresa

    There’s a freak-out moment with the ‘accidental like’ because it reminds me that even if I’m behind a screen, I am not anonymous and neither are you.  We are real, and belong to one another.  But shoot, that shouldn't be such a surprise.  I think we deserve more.  

    The antidote is tough to find, but I know what it's not.  It’s not “go on a mission to humanize the internet by commenting/liking/reacting to everything I see”; that’s annoying and means nothing.  And it’s not “get off of social media because it’s not real life”; social media is real, and can be good.  St. Augustine said ‘abstinence is easier than perfect moderation’; in this case, he means it is easier for me to cut out all social media, but better to learn to use it well and manage my time.  

I need to remember it’s YOU on the other side and act accordingly.  

The following are so insightful.  I loved reading them, and if you've made it this far, then you might too. 

2.  XKCD's comic 'The Pace of Modern Life'
3.  Pope Benedict XVI on The Year of Faith, which runs from 2012-2013 (excerpt below)

 “Among the most striking experiences of the last decades is finding doors closed.  The bolted door of my house, the place of my intimate life, my dreams, hopes, sufferings and moments of happiness, is locked against others. And it is not simply a matter of the physical house; it is also the whole area of my life, of my heart. All the time there are fewer who can cross that threshold. The security of reinforced doors protects the insecurity of a life which is becoming more fragile and less open to the riches of the life and the love of others.

The image of an open door has always been a symbol of light, friendship, happiness, liberty, and trust.  How we need to recover them."