Tag Archives: teen

“Are you meditating?”

Back when I was about 15 years old, I happened to be sitting against a wall by myself after school one day, waiting for my mom to pick me up.  I didn’t much feel like socializing that day, so I decided to take advantage of the down time and start praying a rosary.

I didn’t want to make a scene or draw attention to myself (…and when you’re in high school you feel like everyone is staring out you no matter what you do), so I shifted my eyes down slightly toward the concrete and tried to hold my rosary in my lap so as not to be “showy”.  But somewhere in the middle of the tension pulling me at one end to mentally escape my high school campus and on the other to remain aware of my surroundings so as not to look like a weirdo, I didn’t notice that someone I knew was standing next to me.

I guess I didn’t pull off my prayerful nonchalance as well as I’d hoped, because I was startled mid Hail-Mary by a familiar female voice asking, “Are you meditating?”

It was an honest question and I knew right away that she was not at all asking because she thought it was weird.  But as startled as I was by the abrupt question, I was even more surprised by the answer forming around my lips:

“Well…um—Yes,” I replied.  But silently I finished the newly developed thought to myself: “…I guess I am meditating”

She nodded and kept on walking, and that’s really the end of the memory.  I have no recollection of anything else I did that day—before or after that brief exchange.

The reason that story sticks with me to this day is because, prior to that moment, if someone had asked me hypothetically what the rosary is (or what we as Christians are called to in prayer), I would have told them in so many words that we are to meditate on the life of Christ.  I may have even used the word, “meditation.”  But it wasn’t until I was actually called out and asked by name, smack in the middle of my prayer: “Is that meditation?” that it actually hit me.  What I am supposed to be doing with the rosary is meditating. 

I think what kept me from grasping that concept up until that point was a false understanding of what mediation is.  When I heard, “meditation,” I always pictured a Yoga class full of a bunch of women chanting with their hands pressed together, surrounded by burning candles.  As I understood it, meditation was what you did when you wanted to “clear your head,” and essentially empty yourself of your emotions, desires, and thoughts.   But that’s no way to enter into a conversation, and it’s certainly no way to seek a deeper understanding of who you are as a person.

In order for meditation to mean anything, you have to have a subject on which it I worth meditating.  And what better a subject than the One to whom we owe our very life?  Surely He understands our thoughts and our deepest longings; and desires to use those for His greater glory and our eternal happiness.  If our meditation doesn’t lead us to seek true and lasting happiness, it’s a wasted effort.

CCC 2705: Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the “today” of God is written.

CCC 2708: Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

6 things I wish I understood before I started dating

Like many girls my age, I have my share of cringe-worthy regrets when it comes to dating.  Here are 6 things I wish I understood before I started dating:

1.  Take it one day at a time

There’s no rush to be in a relationship.  In fact, there’s no rush to even date anyone.  Take the time to foster friendships.  Relationships work better when they are able to grow organically anyway.

2.   Don’t waste your time dating someone you can’t see yourself marrying.

This might sound crazy to some people.  For most of us, marriage isn’t even on our mind when we’re dating someone because it just seems so far off in the future.  I’m not saying you should be planning the wedding with every guy you date, but the question should always be in the back of your mind.  “Is this someone who will ever truly be able to take care of me?” If the answer is no, run.  Run fast.

3.   Don’t waste kisses.

No one wants the amount of people that have kissed them to be large enough to form their own club (no one with a maturity level above a 12-year-old’s, anyway).  Kisses should be special.  A guy should feel honored that he got to kiss you—lucky him!  Sadly though, I’ve realized that today it’s easy to forget that.

4.   Break-up?  Time to rip the band-aid off!

…or as my uncle put it, “flush the toilet.”  The point is this: it’s called a “break-up” for a reason.  You need a clean break.  If you’re the one who did the breaking up, don’t call “to see if they’re okay.”  They’re not; and they’re not gonna be unless you let them heal by themselves.  Give it time.  It may not seem like things will ever get better but I promise, they will.

5.   You can’t go backwards.

Whenever two people break up, it seems like someone (if not both) always has the bright idea to try and “stay friends.”  However, relationships don’t work that way.  You can’t go backwards.  Someone always ends up getting hurt.  Most people have to learn this the hard way because no matter what people close to them say, they don’t want to listen. I really wish I would’ve understood this better when I was younger.  I don’t think it’s fair to hurt someone like that, no matter how good your intentions are.  It accomplishes nothing but giving someone false hope and ultimately hurts you both when the one finally realizes the truth.  I don’t think a real friend does that.

6.   Never settle for less than you deserve.

This is by far the most important thing I learned in dating.  After a while, it gets exhausting making excuses for why someone keeps letting you down.  It may be no fault of their own, but the bottom line is that they can’t give you what you need.  But we stay because it’s comfortable, and because the thought of letting go is painful.  But, in the wise words of my father,“why hold onto pennies when there is gold out there to be found?”

"No Regrets"

I’m not sure if this is unique to my generation or not, but I’ve found that it is really unpopular to admit to having regrets.  I remember the last semester I was in high school, we were having a discussion in English class about the book Tuesdays with Morrie.  I said to my teacher, and to my whole class, that I don’t see anything wrong with having regrets.

My teacher and most of my classmates looked at me as if I had just said a curse word.

To most people, the word “regret” has a very negative connotation.  In the world of Facebook and MySpace, countless teens post as their statuses or headlines “No Regrets”.  We hear songs on the radio like Angels and Airwaves’ Rite of Spring, or even Rascal Flatts’ Here, all about the past heartaches, mistakes, pain, and poor choices.  But the resolve at the end is always the same: “No Regrets”…  “I wouldn’t change a thing”, etc.

Well, let me be counter-cultural for a moment and say that I am not afraid of having regrets.  There are things in my past I wish I could change.  And I think it’s harder to admit that than it is to slap a headline on your MySpace that says, “No Regrets”.  I really believe that, if everyone was truly honest with themselves, we’d all admit to having regrets.

The arguments for the “No Regrets” claim are out there.  “But Mary,” you may say, “If I hadn’t done x, y, or z….I would never have learned [insert valuable life lesson here]”.  That may be true.  But I think it’s very dangerous to start thinking of past mistakes as positive events.  For example, if someone gets drunk and gets into a car accident that injures or kills someone else, they will have (hopefully) learned to not drink and drive…but it would have been better had they learned that without actually making such a terrible mistake.

It is healthy to realize that we have messed up in the past.  What is unhealthy is pretending our past is perfect because it “made us who we are today”.  Regret is the realization that we have done something wrong, and knowing that if we had the opportunity to go back, we would have done things differently.

I regret any decisions I have made that caused myself unnecessary pain.  More importantly, I regret every time one of my actions ever caused someone else pain.

However, as I’ve said many times before, we cannot change the past.  We should not dwell on our past mistakes but rather learn from them.  And we can take away lessons from a mistake in our past while still acknowledging it as one.

High School Revisited

“Brothers and sisters:
I declare and testify in the Lord
that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,
in the futility of their minds;
that is not how you learned Christ,
assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,
as truth is in Jesus,
that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,
corrupted through deceitful desires,
and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new self,
created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

-Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

The above passage from Ephesians just happened to be the second reading from this past Sunday’s mass.  It was one of those masses that, for me, it just felt like God was speaking directly to me with the readings He chose.  Because this weekend I realized something.

I’ve gotten so used to the community I’m surrounded by in all my classes, and my amazing friends at home, not to mention my family who are always there to build me up, that I sometimes forget that, in the grand scheme of things, the way I live my life is sort of weird.

High school often kept me conscious of this fact (as high school is generally quite good at poking at the insecurities of anyone).  Don’t get me wrong, I had a really great high school experience (probably just about as good as they come).  I had amazing friends and we did a lot of the normal high school things—like go to football games, dances, and laugh about stuff that no one else outside of our group would find funny.  But I still sometimes felt like a loser because I didn’t do some of the other things that most people considered normal for a highschooler—like drink, party, hook-up, or even freak dance at the dances.

I often struggled with this in high school.  It was tough being different.  I remember asking myself on several occasions if maybe I was being just a little too uptight (maybe you’re thinking right now that I was being a bit too uptight).  “What’s the big deal?”  I’d think,  “Everyone else is doing it.  It’s not even that bad compared to X, Y, or Z.”  Unfortunately, that little voice inside of my head wasn’t usually satisfied with comparative, or relativistic, morality.  Maybe it’s not that bad compared to something else, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.  Today, I praise God for giving me the strength to stand my ground in high school (…most of the time anyways.  I won’t claim that I never made mistakes.) —even though it may have made me feel like somewhat of a loser on certain occasions.

Well that’s all fine and good …but isn’t insecurity and caring about what other people think supposed to go away after high school?  I guess I never REALLY believed that it would.  I just hoped.

Sadly, it doesn’t.  I still constantly feel God calling me to look like a fool for Him in new and terrifying ways.  Whether that be in telling someone that He loves them, or admitting my failures and apologizing to someone I’ve hurt when it sounds so much more satisfying to give into stubborn pride and come up with all sorts of ways to justify my actions with sarcastic comments.  Sometimes it’s tough to “put on the new self,” as God calls us to do in Ephesians.  Sometimes the “old self” just sounds so much more comfortable.  But we need to always strive to be growing as people.  And sometimes to grow isn’t all that comfortable.