Europe lends itself to really great pictures and wonderful backgrounds! Here are a couple of photos that tell a story… Guess which ones were posed and which ones were taken because the opportunity presented itself?
Over the past few months as a resource of the Christian Life Community Formation Institute, I’ve been conducting retreats for the students of Meralco Foundation Institute, a post-secondary vocational-technical school. The 5 Things I Learned (at least the ones I’m sharing today) aren’t spiritual – but focus more on being a Child of God as God intended His Children to be.
1. Strength can be found at any age.
Each person has a story – one of pain, of disappointment, of mistakes, of sadness, of regret. Despite their past and even their present challenges, the young people I met at the retreats exhibited great fortitude. They had the ability to laugh and joke and be responsible amidst all the things they had going on in their lives.
The strength I mentioned earlier is a survival tactic-a burying of the self, a disregarding of one’s emotions, an acceptance of things that are not fair…we deserve better than just to survive. We deserve to thrive! Inner strength should be rooted in something life-giving…not a running away from life. But no one teaches us how to face challenges well…it’s something incidental, we just learn how to on the fly. Ideally we’d learn it from our parents – our first role models, because ideally they’d be whole human beings, but that is often not the case.
2. Expectations, our own or those of others for us both encourage us to greatness and limit our greatness.
When we are children, the people who raise us (whether its our parents or grandparents or aunt/uncle) set (knowing or unknowingly) expectations for us to meet: get good grades, don’t get into trouble, become a lawyer, doctor, whatever, be a good daughter/son… its common to live life in pursuit of fulfilling other’s hopes and dreams for us. Sometimes its the dream we have for ourselves too – that’s GREAT! But sometimes its not…and then expectations become limiting.
Expectations will always be there, but we have to learn how to manage those expectations.
3. Insecurities = hurting yourself and others.
The students were teenagers or just a tad bit older. They liked teasing and joking. But you can see in how they treated one another that they were seeking to fill something inside themselves. One girl was so self-depreciating about her drawing abilities that she actually didn’t show her work to the class as I had instructed. (When I took a look at the drawing, it was good). A young man on the other hand was so quick to quip questioning the sincerity of each of his classmates’ statements.
How do we deal with deeply rooted pain? How do we get rid of our insecurities? Is it enough to just overwrite them? No, you have to rewrite each one.
4. It’s sad that we are so used to life being difficult.
In one session, a young man reminded his class to be sensitive with their jokes and teasing because although funny it could also be hurting someone. A while later, a classmate responded saying that those who were being teased, shouldn’t take things seriously. That it’s all in good fun and that later in life they’ll encounter worse.
It pained me to hear this young man say that ‘there are worse things out there,’ as if the not so good that is happening now is a sort of training or preparation for the worse things later on. HOW SAD! I actually cried before going to bed because of this. I think its because of this expectation of the worst that we find that we are incapable of enjoying happiness and peace! Our insecurities sabotage our balance, our peace, our happiness. What do we do then?
5. We have to invest in teaching everyone especially the young how to lead good lives.
Before this of course, we have to commit and invest in our own personal development in all aspects of our life – self, family, studies/career, love, finances, community. Personally, I’m lucky to have had really great mentors