Of Roses and Thorns

2014 has been an exceptional year for me: it flitted by so quickly and gave me a memorable past. I’ve had the achievements worth remembering- like the firsts of many firsts a college student experiences such as obtaining my driving license, my first legit internship, first beauty pageant participation, my first successful batch of rum-balls, winning a design competition, etc. Then there were the embarrassing moments, like getting pulled over for the first time, missing a few stair steps.…you get my drift. And of course, there’s the one thing that youth find the essence in life- the YOLO moments.

YOLO. You Only Live Once. The term irritated me when it first came in vogue. Me, being a word geek, intolerable towards texting language and misspellings; couldn’t bear to hear another ‘meaningless’ acronym coming into existence. But of course, there is a lot of meaning behind this, and it took me two years of college to actually get around comprehending it. It could have taken me longer, or less. And this is not to say that I am totally mature and fully understand it, but I’m definitely at a better place than I was, before.

How do I know this? And how was this possible? There’s only one answer to these two questions- the grace of God. I was able to positively (for the most part) experience whatever came my way, and understand whatever happened as God’s plan- learning to love him no matter what. And then I realized that I was learning to love well. Of course, I had loved my family all along- but the love for God, was starting to seem very different altogether. How do you love someone when He sends ‘bad’ occurrences your way? It’s like a camel walking through the eye of the needle. Difficult alright. But trust me, here’s where it dawned on me- that I could learn to love other people in my life, the same way. Unconditionally. No Matter What. Note, people, I might just be starting another acronym here. #NMW or however you say it!

So, as Catholics, what is our take on YOLO? Our Creed calls us to believe ‘in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting’. We do of course believe in the afterlife after the ‘judgment of the living and dead’. But that doesn’t mean we do not learn to live to the fullest. And that’s exactly what my host mother in Kansas, calls the young Catholic Spirit. At first, I presumed that it was the wise old woman in her who was able to identify my Catholic friends upon meeting them without knowing that they were Catholic. To her, young Catholics have always exhibited a ‘do-or-die’ spirit- they live passionately, love passionately like there were no tomorrow- and that’s always attractive, isn’t it? And this Spirit is what has allowed me to face my Roses and Thorns with equal tenacity- the good and bad things in life- and see God’s favour in both.

Most of the time, the control freak in me takes charge and there are days that I find my planner over-scribbled in. Ashamedly I say this, I like to hold the remote most of the time and I am a compulsive list-maker. And so yes, I do get upset when things do not go according to my way- and I’ve found that I hate surprises, especially surprises from God. Maybe you are like this, maybe you aren’t. However you approach an obstacle in life, let the young Catholic Spirit take charge. Let the Holy Spirit take charge, really. Worry about uncertainty in life is futile, as that’s how God works. Faith builds in us only through his Surprises. And if He never surprised us, then where’s the fun in that?

Now that we know that constant worry is futile, we might as well shut out the constantly reasoning voice in our head- not to say that reasoning is wrong, because it isn’t- that’s the human gift God gave us! But what I mean is more on the lines of what St. Teresa of Avila had to say to us, “This intellect is so wild that it doesn’t seem to be anything else than a frantic madman no one can tie down”. So what’s the solution, Saint Teresa?  “The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything. ”,says she.

Living out a YOLO moment, thus does not mean that we forget the purgatorial consequences of our actions, but to love and live like you’re not tied down to the world (Romans 12:2). Live as if it were your only chance to live it worthily, live in spite of the Thorns and not just for the Roses. You Only Live Once, so live for God.