Back to Normal?

With all the talk of a COVID-19 vaccine, questions of returning back to normal start to come to my mind.

Things like:

Going to a packed movie theater.

A professional baseball game.

Even just standing in an awkwardly crowded elevator.

At first all these things sound great. These are experiences we have missed out on for almost a year. I know; however, that getting back into the swing of things may not be so easy for some people. A lot of uncertainity (rightfully so) was built upon being close to or near large groups of people. Going back to normal is going to take some getting used.

I remember something similar happening to me during my first two years of medical school. Due to the constant workload and studying, I would sit in my apartment studying for almost the whole day. This was what was required to learn the material. When I went to visit my now wife, I would have to take a plane from Florida to Texas. I remember the feeling of being on the plane with so many people. It was a weird experience for me after being so isolated studying for so long to now walking around an airport.

It took some adjusting.

From what I have witnessed, I know there are many people struggling with loneliness right now more than ever before. From nursing homes preventing visitors to individuals with anxiety disorders stuck at home, this pandemic has brought on many other struggles.

Therefore, when we do get somewhat “back to normal” let us remember to be on the lookout for those that need us. We have all experienced this pandemic differently. Some of us have lost family members. Others have lost successful careers. And others will have to learn to adjust to living in a bustling world.

In due time, when COVID-19 is behind us, I do not want to go back to normal.

I want to go to better.

A world where we are constantly grateful for the ability to celebrate the holidays together.

A world where we choose to visit and hug our grandparents.

A world where we recognize the struggles of others and seek to love them through it.

Back to normal?

Together let us focus on better.

Love Through The Chaos

I think it is safe to say that 2020 has been a year of chaos in many respects. Uncertainty has lingered through the air for most of the year. We are running from a virus that we cannot see, yet its effects are devastating. We have all been impacted this year. Some of us have lost a family member or a friend to COVID-19. Others have become consumed with anxiety with no where to go due to isolation. Some of us had big plans for 2020 that had to get pushed off to another year.

There is chaos in our midst. Real chaos. And with chaos comes confusion, fear, and anxiety.

However, like the light from a lighthouse bursting through the fog, there is love.

I know I have seen it first hand. The chaos surrounding us, only makes the love that much more apparent.

I’ve seen videos of loved ones going out of there way to find a safe way to see one another.

I’ve seen friends calling more to check in on one another.

I’ve seen the family unit grow stronger as they are stuck under the same roof.

These small acts hold so much weight. When we are forced to find creative solutions to love; the effort is memorable. The sacrifice shown to us by others leaves an imprint in our minds that does not seem to fade.

COVID-19 is invisible, yet we see the impact.

Love itself is invisible, yet we see the impact.

I hear everyone saying lets just move on to 2021 and get over 2020. I don’t agree. In this chaotic year where everything seems to be falling apart, we have learned the impact of loving others deeply.

The truth is clear.

When we love, we carry on.

Spam Thoughts

I was driving back home from a day of working in the hospital. The 45 minute commute is a time where I can relax and focus on the tasks ahead of me. All of a sudden, I get a call. My radio lights up with a number that is from the surrounding area.

Oh, maybe I need to get this.

I answer the phone and I am told I’m missing out on a great deal to update my healthcare insurance. SPAM.

Other times, the calls get a bit more sneaky. On these calls I am told if I don’t comply with what is requested the government will arrest me. SPAM. 

And other times, I answer and all I hear is dead silence. SPAM. 

These calls can be frustrating but most of all distracting. 

While spam calls are one of the most annoying daily events, right after an itch on the middle of your back you can’t reach, they teach a pretty valuable lesson.

A lot of times we have thoughts that are just like spam calls.

Thoughts that tell us things like:

you aren’t loved……you can’t get that grade……you are doing everything wrong……you won’t ever find peace……nothing matters….life will always be hard….etc.

The list goes on and on. 

For many people, these constant spam thoughts make it hard to live a joy-filled life.

What are we to do with these spam thoughts? Well, exactly what we do with the spam calls. Do not allow them to catch you in their spider web.

If we start answering these spam thoughts and having discussions with them, we begin to get caught in their trap.

Our emotions are sent up and down by the thoughts. We become confused and lose sight of our goals.

When the thoughts come, you will hear what they say, however you must immediately hang them up.

Do not question the thoughts.

Do not ask yourself why you are having such thoughts.

You must realize that these spam thoughts are just obstacles trying to derail you from your mission on this earth. God placed you here to remain focused and at peace. Do not allow spam thoughts to take your focus away from you.

In this life we will face much trouble trying to live a life of love. Allow yourself to rest in the presence of God, and the only way to do this is to focus on Him.

Recognize the spam in your mind, sharpen your focus like a sword, and live the life God has laid out for you.

“You Are So Calm”

“I recommend calm, and calm all the time.” St. Pio

Being calm is a gift from God.

I have witnessed people who remain calm in the craziest of situations. It amazes me how someone can remain calm when all hope is lost.

When I think of calmness I picture many different people.

The surgeon who remains calm when something goes wrong. 

I think of a paramedic, as they continue chest compressions. 

I envision a brother holding back his temper. 

I see a mother remaing at peace when her newly licensed son is driving her around. 

Calmness, to me, is so powerful because it is a virtue I pray for constantly. 

 

Here’s a little story…

 

Recently, I was in the Emergency Room. I was observing a physician for the day who received a call to check on a patient. We were in the patient’s room listening to his complaints trying our best to figure out what was causing the symptoms. The room had three physicians in it, the wife of the patient, and the patient’s daughter.

It had been a LONG day. The emergency room felt like a sauna. I was hungry. I was feeling extremely anxious. My head was spinning. My to-do list was scrolling along in my brain like an instagram feed. I felt every negative feeling possible in this moment.

I was stuck in my head in complete distress when all of a sudden someone started talking to me.

The daughter of the patient with utmost sincerity and said,

 

“You are so calm.”

 

I thanked her for the compliment and soon we left the patient so they could begin tests.

Calm? Me? What? Was she joking? Am I being punked?

This story is a testament that God is working in you even when you do not notice it yourself.

In that situation I felt everything but calmness; however, this was exactly what the patient’s family was able to see.

Is there a certain virtue or quality you are praying about receiving? Is there a part of yourself you wish would begin to bloom?

I encourage you to keep pursuing the goal, even when you feel like you have nothing to show for it.

In the midst of it all, you may be suprised at how much of that quality you actually demonstrate.

“Never be in a hurry, do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

-St. Frances de Sales

 

Faith is not Feelings

Yesterday I read the quote,

“It wasn’t nails that held Jesus to the cross but love.”

The truth is: God loves you with an infinite love. He died for you. He died for you. Let me repeat that: God died for you.

Most days the truth is hard to swallow. We may strive in our hearts to believe the truth of the Gospels, yet a lot of the time you may feel nothing. 

It’s ok to not feel a flutter in your chest when you contemplate the love of God.

You do not have to feel in order to believe.

What matters is constant perseverance.

Repeat to yourself the truths that will set you free.

Jesus died for me.

God loves.

I trust in Him.

I will not be afraid.

I will persevere.

I will never give up.

No matter what lies attack you on a daily basis, we must continue to call upon the truth even if it if they feel fake.

I want to remind you today just how much God loves you. It is so great that it is incomprehensible.

Feelings do not equal faith.

Faith is greater than your feelings.

Faith is freedom.

 

 

Calm in the Chaos

The theme of my life right now is calm in the chaos. 

We live in a world that constantly puts us on edge.

Text messages, homework, tests, emails, to-do-lists, etc.

It is difficult to stay calm when pulled in a million different directions.

Yet, we are called to calmness.

One of my favorite quotes by St. Padre Pio is

“I recommended calm and calm all the time.”

In order to hear the voice of God and do His will, we must be calm.

Trying to live a life on the narrow path while being pulled in a million directions is about as easy as doing math homework in a crowded subway. Sure, it can be done, but eventually, you are going to miss a calculation and end up with a very wrong answer.

Christ leads us to calmness through His words.

He reminds us that in Him we have the rest we need.

I encourage you all today to continue seeking a calm attitude.

You are called to remain calm in the chaos like Peter walking to Christ on the water.

All you must do is have faith.

 

trust creates saints

Trust in the midst of adversity is what creates a saint. 

Trust is a gift and a choice.

It cannot be formed without a constant breaking of oneself.

I find trust to be one of the most fascinating/difficult ideals. 

Alongside with its brother humility, it is fundamental to the life of the Christian.

The deepest trust is the gateway for the grace of faith.

Trusting though magnificent, is extremely difficult.

In the past it felt easy. I proclaimed to God how much I trust in Him. Yet, when adversity came I watched my knees shake and allowed myself to become paralyzed. This was not trust at all.

I think we all have fallen victim to this at times.

We proclaim our trust in God, yet our actions speak otherwise.

We are like Peter before he walked out to Christ on the water. As the trials come we shout to God how much we trust Him, yet we never step out of the boat.

Why is trust so difficult?

We live in a world where we always feel like someone is out to get us. In our social media/email generation we can never turn parts of our life off. I know for me, I always feel like I am forgetting something. As students too, we are primed from a young age to be sure we never forget any assignment or else we will get in trouble. This has instilled in us the habit of wanting to control ever single aspect of life.

We have become a generation of trusting by looking in not by looking outside ourselves. 

Recently I took some board exams for medical school. In the middle of the studying, I could feel another test occurring in my soul.

A test of trust. 

These exams determine a lot. They can really help or hurt me in my process to residency programs (what type of doctor I can be.)

Throughout the process of intense studying, I didn’t really have anyone to rely on. Sure, I had my family and my fiancee. But come test day, it was God, me, and the computer screen. And deep down I knew that truth.

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you felt fully alone?

These moments, where control is impossible, is the moment for trust.

Trust is unique because it is only built in our souls when times of struggle come.

Struggle and suffering is the concrete that builds the brick wall of trust.

Trust is built in trial; therefore, we must not waste our trials with anxiety and distress.

This does not mean you must not feel anxious, scared, upset, sad etc. You will of course feel these emotions. You are in fact human. To be immune to feeling these emotions you would cease to be human. However, the choice to remain paralyzed is ours. The choice to choose trust is written on our souls.

How can we show Christ how much we trust in Him?

When the storms are rough, we do not run away, rather we run into the rain. 

When the tears fill our eyes, we carry on and let them water our trust. 

When anxiety consumes us, we move our quivering limbs step by step. 

To trust in Christ is to show our Lord how much we love Him.

To trust is to acknowledge that Christ is the Truth.

It is that simple.

Trust is a prayer which the world can witness daily.

It is cracking the egg from the inside only to witness the beauty of a new life.

It is time we crack the shell of control and become saints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rewind Kind of Mind

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.

-St. Mother Teresa.

Lately, a lot of my posts have focused on not allowing the past to impact your future. The idea of letting go and moving on is so fascinating mostly because it is so difficult. 

 

robert downey jr sigh GIF

Recently, I just took one of the biggest tests in my medical school career.

9 hours and 400 questions later I walked out of the testing center feeling like I had been wandering through a desert. I was super thirsty because I was dehydrating myself (barely any pee breaks). I was hungry. My eye sight was all blurry from staring at a bright screen all day. Most of all….I felt lost.

desert GIF

My mind started doing that rewind thing it likes to do. A feature that I am sure many of you can resonate with.

What was that question again? *Quickly Googles topic and face palms*

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Right. Wrong. 

My rewind mind took over and I started googling my little heart out…only to be hit a whole lot of wrong choices.

DANG IT. DANG IT. DANG IT.

So naturally I started mentally screaming at myself.

“Why did you pick that you KNEW that was wrong….gosh come on you just reviewed that…..WHY…”

The test was over but my mind and body had not realized it. I was struggling so hard to break the vicious cycle that my rewind mind was salivating towards.

Just look up onnnnne more. Come on

will smith rewind GIF

In that moment there is a choice, a choice that I am still working on, to allow yesterday to not stay in yesterday and to begin to live in the present.

I read a quote from St. Faustina this morning that talked about her desire to live in present. In the present moment that is where we find God. It seems like common sense to recognize that we cannot change our past nor control every aspect of our future. Yet, the human condition makes it appear that we can. This is a daily choice we must strive to make.

It is time to not turn back the clock.

Friends, I encourage you today to live out the quote St. Teresa once said. Yesterday is gone. GONE. Tomorrow has yet to come. We have ONLY TODAY.

 

It is time for you to begin. 

 

He will take care of it.

Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:62

 

Choices are a part of life. They can free us or they can enslave us. Choices can bring us peace or anxiety. What we choose ends up shaping our mind and hearts. Our habits are formed by our minute by minute choices.

At first this seems pretty frightening.

We often ask ourselves, “Why can’t I change my choices, why am I so stuck.?”

The beauty of Christianity rests in the mercy of Jesus Christ.

His mercy overcomes our past choices and allows us to put our hand to the plow and never look back.

Life is very good at making us turn around.

We check everything…. think over all our past mistakes….ruminate on our interior struggles….

Christ tells us that we cannot be fit for the Kingdom of God if we look back, because through this decision we are allowing the fear to become our focus.

By focusing on fear we are paralyzing ourselves. Our God-given gifts cannot be utilized. Instead of doing good we become idle.

If we are to be fit for the Kingdom, we must trust that by focusing on Christ everything will be taken care of.

By no means is this an easy task, but it is a necessary one, if we are to grow closer to holiness.

I encourage you to set your hands on the plow today.

Whatever the plow is for you.

It may be your responsibility as a father or mother, a student, a member of the military, a  priest, a teacher; whatever it is…

Fulfill your obligations with love.

Grip the plow tight until your knuckles turn white.

Strive to glorify God through every minute of your life.

When you feel the temptation to look back in any form.

Move forward and trust that Christ will take care of it.

Because He will.

He will.

He will.

He will.

I am going to keep repeating it until it breaks through the barriers we have set up in our minds.

If we have confidence in Christ miracles will happen. 

If we trust in Christ our lives, though difficult, will have an interior peace. 

If we keep our hands on the plow, we will bring the light of Christ to a very dim world. 

 

When you hug God

You walk towards Him.

He reaches out His arms to embrace you.

You lunge forward and hug Him with every ounce of your being.

Your fears melt. You are eternally safe.

Yet, you feel a sharp pinch on the side of your head.

You notice a thorn from His crown is hitting you.

You feel a pain in your side.

You feel just a bit of the lance which pierced Him.

Your feet resting on top of His, begin to sting.

At the touch of the nails driven into His feet.

Your hands holding His become red.

The burn of the nails in His hands, melts into yours.

The tighter you hug the more of His pain you feel.

You begin to know God and His love.

Yet, you call it suffering?

My friend, this is a gift.

To walk the way of the cross with God.