Heralds of Hope

The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life. The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep.

— Pope Francis, The Spirit of Saint Francis, p. 131

A Bruised and Dirty Church

I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk. 6:37).

— Pope Francis, The Spirit of Saint Francis, p. 125

The New Blessing

It seems to me that we often, almost sulkily, reject the good that God offers us because, at that moment, we expected some other good…. On every level of our life — in our religious experience, in our gastronomic, erotic, aesthetic, and social experience — we are always harking back to some occasion which seemed to us to reach perfection, setting that up as a norm, and depreciating all other occasions by comparison. But these other occasions, I now suspect, are often full of their own new blessing, if only we would lay ourselves open to it. God shows us a new facet of the glory, and we refuse to look at it because we’re still looking for the old one. And of course we don’t get that. You can’t, at the twentieth reading, get again the experience of reading Lycidas for the first time. But what you do get can be in its own way as good.

— C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, chapter 5

Last Year’s Blooms

And the joke, or tragedy, of it all is that these golden moments [of our past experience] which are so tormenting if we erect them into a norm, are entirely nourishing, wholesome, and enchanting if we are content to accept them for what they are, for memories. Properly bedded down in a past which we do not miserably try to conjure back, they will send up exquisite growths. Leave the bulbs alone, and the new flowers will come up. Grub them up and hope by fondling and sniffing, to get last year’s blooms, and you will get nothing. “Unless a seed die. . .”

— C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chapter 5

A Brass Ring

It turns out there is a brass ring, but you don’t have to compete for it. It’s yours already. The brass ring is your own deep humanity — and the relationship in which you feel treasured. No matter what you’ve been told, no matter what you’ve feared to be true, your search for love is not a race against time. It is not a hunt for a needle in the haystack. You are on a much greater journey than that. You are learning love by finding its source within you. Every insight you gain moves you closer to your goal of a wonderful life partner.

You can do this. You have the tools you need. You have the gifts that lie in the core of your heart, and you have learned to treasure their humanity and their promise. In the long run, it is the act of treasuring and the sense of being treasured that makes all the difference in the world. Trust in your gifts; they will lead you to love. It’s a promise.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 231

What’s Wrong with Playing Hard to Get

Playing hard to get might be a good way to temporarily hook someone who is uncomfortable with intimacy — if that’s what you’re looking for. The myth that we should play it cool has kept many a potential relationship from being born. Most of us err on the side of believing we have to play it cool. The truth is, if you’re too good at playing it cool, that’s probably the sign of a problem. And if you’re not skilled in this art, you’ll probably “white-knuckle” your desire until you can’t hold it in any longer, and then let it all out at the moment you’d least want to. (How many times has this happened to me?)

No, the research is quite clear on this: showing someone you’re interested is one of the best ways to spark attraction. Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, used speed-dating events as a vehicle to study romantic attraction. His research showed that playing hard to get is not the way to go. A key to sparking romantic attraction is to show someone that you’re interested in him in particular, not because of a generalized sense of need on your part. For example, Finkel suggests that you might convey the message “You are awesome, and I am so excited that I get to have this time with you” while also conveying the message “I have been around the block — and you’re the one that really interests me.” So, don’t hold back, let the next person you like know it — it’s an intimate and effective way to spark a new connection.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 134

Learning to Love Ourselves – With Help

We all need to be reminded that we have a song and that it is good and worthy of hearing. We don’t learn that lesson through willpower or through forced “positive thinking.” We learn it through intimacy….

Everyone’s heard the self-help platitude “You must love yourself before you can love anyone else.” This may sound wise, but it misses a great truth: if we want to experience true intimacy, we need to be taught to love aspects of ourselves — again and again — by the people around us. As much as most of us want to control our own destiny, the humbling truth is that sometimes the only way to learn self-love is by being loved — precisely in the parts of ourselves where we feel most unsure and tender. When we are loved in such a way, we feel freedom and relief and permission to love in a deeper way. No amount of positive self-talk can replicate this experience. It is a gift of intimacy, not of will-power. When we surround ourselves with people who honor our gifts and whose gifts we also honor, our lives blossom.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 72-73

Honoring the Cost of Our Gifts

Each of our gifts carries its own costs, and those costs are real. Someone who has a deep sense of loyalty usually has known the great pain of staying too long in a relationship that doesn’t serve him or her. Someone who sees through hypocrisy and can’t bear dishonesty knows the pain of being punished for speaking the truth. People with humility know the pain of being unseen. And people who bond deeply know the pain of separation in the keenest ways.

As we learn to understand and honor our gifts, we can lessen the pain these gifts carry in their wake. The more skilled we are at using our gifts in wise ways — and this is the work of a lifetime — the less burdensome they become. But to some degree, part of the wise stewardship of a gift is to accept the pain that comes with it. It is the price of the greatness within us. It is the cost of being human, of having a soul. Many of us flee our gifts because we dread paying the price of them. To become mature means learning to own and honor the cost of our gifts in this world.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 69

Learn to Bear Joy

One of our greatest life tasks is actually to learn to bear joy, and to let it influence our psychology in deeper and deeper ways. In actuality, there is a great cultural discomfort with joy, and our voracious pleasure seeking is often a mask for our fear of simple joy. Joy frightens us, it makes our defenses quake — it almost invites a superstitious fear of “the other shoe dropping.” We can bear joy for fleeting moments, but for most of us, self-appreciation all too quickly devolves into self-measurement.

In my work as a therapist I watch for these moments of inspiration and try not to let them pass. I encourage my clients to stay with their inspiring moment just a bit longer. When they do, something surprisingly deep will likely emerge….

You have similar gifts inside you, and the more you savor your small moments of inspiration, the better you will come to know them — and be changed by them.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 45

Living in the Present

Gratitude brings you back to now. Practicing gratitude helps you to be more present in your life. The more present you are, the less you feel like something is missing. Recently somebody posted this message on my Facebook page: “You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you take the time to water your own grass it will be just as green.” Practicing gratitude helps you to water your own grass. Gratitude helps you to make the most of everything as it happens. Gratitude teaches you that happiness is always now.

— Robert Holden and Louise Hay, Life Loves You, p. 160