This book is meant to help teens and young adults survive in this sex-filled world of ours. Now, how many times have you read this sentence or read books with this intention? My guess is that if you care about God’s plan for you in terms of love and relationships, you most likely are sick of hearing this. I suppose you could say that my book has a similar aim, but I want to convince you that it’s not. Is this book intended for teens and young adults? Yes. Is this book about chastity and sex? Yes. Is this book a testimony? Yes. However, what I hope to offer my audience of readers is the following.
This novel will take inquirers on a journey through valleys and mountains of triumphs and defeats. All people who pick up this work of literature will find at least one thing that is relatable to their previous or present lives. The goal of this novel is to encourage and inspire all teens and young adults to never give up hope on recovering and living a chaste and pure relationship with the opposite sex. I want my words to extend empathy and sympathy to all men and women who have struggled or continue to struggle with purity and chastity. I want to be that voice of encouragement that leads them to Christ Jesus and His saving grace of redemption. Redemption from struggles, addictions, and pains that affect the multitudes of this earthly world. It is with great anticipation that my testimony of my struggles with pornography and broken hearts will enable individuals to rise from the depths of despair and lead others toward the light of freedom and peace.
Part 1: High School
Chapter 1: Every story has a beginning
This story of sorts begins the first day of high school, a day I will hardly forget. I have trouble recalling the entire day, but I remember the emotions of fear and anxiety all too well. The first thing I can remember is the car ride to my high school, the infamous Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I was sitting in the car, looking outside the window, worrying about everything you could think of, “I hope I don’t get lost when going between classes. I hope I make some friends and don’t have to sit alone at lunch. I hope people like me and think I’m cool.” To be honest, I was scared of this whole life change. Graduating from a small Catholic school in the suburbs and attending a high school of 800 students in the suburb-city area was terrifying to me.
The rest of the day is a blur of events with one constant thing that continued to carry on through the day, my heartbeat of anxiety. The beat of my heart seemed to be pounding within me the entirety of the first day. My lack of self-esteem didn’t help much either. Ever since I could remember, I was always easily discouraged and afraid of being laughed at or being scolded. My fear of being ridiculed for anything I did struck me with a paralyzing grip of anxiety, preventing me from being myself and enjoying life. This day in particular I was
overly preoccupied with impressing my fellow peers and teachers, but especially my peers. My worst fear would involve me being looked at as stupid or weird by students I didn’t even know. My greatest dream was to be liked and included for who I was and to tell you the truth I really don’t remember much else, only fear, anxiety, and well…more fear.
I consider this the genesis of my ultimate conversion and transformation into the young adult I am today. The initial culprit that attacked me was my insecurities about myself and my lack of self-confidence. Before high school these two enemies worked hand-in-hand, devising plan after plan to stricken my life with troubles and despair. I remember in middle school, I would spend hours in front of the mirror, fixing my hair with loads of hair gel, spiking my hair as solid as a rock and putting too much cologne on to scare away a skunk. I did these things primarily because I liked to look nice, but deeper within, I was unsatisfied with the way I looked. I considered myself too short for my age. I hated how I had to wear braces and to top it all off I had to wear glasses, which in my mind made me look like a dork.
These insecurities about myself only increased when I went to high school. I still had braces and I still wore glasses (mainly because I was scared to use contact lenses). I was afraid they would get lost in my eyes and I would never be able to find them. As I look back, I chuckle to myself, I was truly a scaredy cat.
After my first day of school, my latter days consisted of my paying attention to how people perceived me rather than what kind of grades I was making. I wanted to appear strong and athletic in front of my male peers and I wanted to appear smooth and suave in front of my female peers. I remember thinking on a constant basis how I could become cooler and more well-liked. Whether I knew it or not, I was becoming less and less myself and more and more what others wanted me to be.
Chapter 2: I become popular….well sort of
This cycle of self-doubt and fear continued throughout the first semester of my freshmen year. By early November, I had decided I would become a hermit of sorts and associate with as few people as possible. At the time I was having a difficult time making friends and well, enjoying life as a high schooler. It wasn’t until I beat a senior football player in arm wrestling that I started to become “popular”.
I was in art class, killing time, when a bunch of guys started arm-wrestling. I decided to join in and eventually found myself face to face with a senior football player. At this time, I was lifting weights heavily 5-6 days a week. I probably had almost ten pounds of muscle on my then 120 pound self. I eventually beat the senior in an arm wrestling match and I became an instant star. However, I must tell you all that I had beat the footballer’s weak arm (his right arm) and when we switched to the left arm, I was immediately crushed.
My fame from one small arm-wrestling match would eventually find its way to the office door of the wrestling coach, Coach Young, one of the toughest and intimidating men to
ever walk the high school hallways. One day he would find me and say to me, “Son, I heard about your arm wrestling match. I want you to be on my wrestling team. I’ll see you tomorrow at practice.” Without a choice, I was inducted into the sports realm and found my place in high school if you could call it a place or position.
The practices, matches, and tournaments of wrestling, were full of positive and negative memories, but more negative ones as I recall. Many of my memories come from the conversations that were said during practice and in the lockerroom. My idea of what was considered moral collided with the majority of my fellow teammates. The topics of sex and women would ultimately influence my judgement and eventually causing my mind to degrade women as mere objects of pleasure. It was here that my addiction to pornography would come to power over my self-will and conscious.
Chapter 3: Don’t drink the poison, it’ not worth it
Before high school, I had been exposed to an array of pornographic materials as early as the 4th grade. I remember going to my friend’s house and looking at his Dad’s Playboy magazines and watching movies with a multitude of sex scenes. Deep within my heart, I knew something wasn’t right, but my curiosity and excitement had overridden my moral compass. Plus, I would use my own made up theory that there’s always somebody that is doing worse things than me, so I really wasn’t doing anything wrong.
What I considered harmless fun would be the spark that would ignite my fuel for pleasure and self-gratification. However, it wasn’t until my introduction to the locker room environment that my addiction to pornography escalated. I remember talking to other guys about it and learning from them what this sex term and that sex term meant. I remember telling dirty jokes among my friends, causing an uproar of laughter, but what I ultimately remember were the websites that the guys would tell me to look up.
Up until then, I hadn’t had the guts to look up porn on the Internet, for fear that my parents would find out. By Christmas break, I had developed a system where I could look at pornogrphy without being caught and covering up the history on the computer. I thought myself pretty crafty and sly doing all of this under the parental guidance of my Mom and Dad. This undercover system worked throughout my freshmen year, but when my sophomore year approached my addiction to pornogaphy had tightened its grasp on me.
My sophomore year consisted more or less of the same things that came with freshmen year, with a few exceptions. My fear of what people thought of me was still at an all time high and my sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with life continued to dwindle into a blanket of depression (clinical depression, I would later discover). I no longer was alone, but had friends if you could call them that. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, I always seemed to be left with an emptiness inside my heart. I would come to the conclusion by early fall of my sophomore year that I live as a hermit again, except I would talk with people, but not really consider them my real friends. In addition to my despair of feeling alone, I desperately wanted a girlfriend.
As a sophomore in high school, I still hadn’t had found a girl I could consider my girlfriend. Mainly due to the fact of one familiar enemy of mine, my good pal fear. My fear of rejection and looking stupid in front of a girl I liked out weighed any fear I had within myself. Since my self-confidence and self-esteem had never been all too strong, I always chickened out when it came to the action of actually talking to girls in a conversation. I tended to avoid conversations with girls I was attractive to and if I did speak to them it was always in humor and never on a serious note.
Thus far in my high school career my attempts to woo a lady was minimal at best. I remember one time I talked to this one girl in my math class and had posed an invitation to her, asking her if she wanted to do something with a group of friends. Soon after class let out, I remember being shoved from behind against a locker. I would immediately find out that this girl I was talking to was someone else’s girlfriend. And well, that was the first and only attempt at asking a girl out at Catholic Memorial. I was so depressed and sad about the event that it just built upon my depression of how I could never get a girlfriend and how I wasn’t attractive to women. This notion of thought would be the main fuel for my addiction to pornography.
Chapter 4: Struggles and broken chains
By Christmas break of my sophomore year, I was truly a drug addict to pornograhy. Since last Christmas break I had since elevated to online pornography, but pictures no longer appealed to me. I was now into endless videos of pornography. I no longer considered pornography a fun thing to do when I was bored, but as an escape to my perceived life of hopelessness and despair. I had concluded that I would never meet the girl of my dreams and that I would never live a peaceful life….until maybe college. My addiction to pornography had me viewing porn sites almost every other day. Or as I would later deem it, the days I needed my “fix”. My fix to escape present reality and live a short time with women that actually “cared” about me since none of the other girls I was attracted to cared about me. I would consider this point in my life to be one of my lowest self-esteem moments that would continue to dwindle as a I continued to view pornography.
It wasn’t until second semester of my sophomore year that I started to question myself. In my Christian Morality class, I learned that pornography was a sin and that maturbation was just as bad. I learned that pornography degrades the dignity of women and that maturbation went against the gift of life and that both of these sins were mortal sins. This final point is what really got me questioning myself. I began to become fearful that if pornography and maturbation were mortal sins, I could find myself in hell if I didn’t repent my sins in Confession.
At first, I brushed it off. Who is to say that these sins can lead me into hell? To combat this I used my old philosophy of if someone else is doing something worse, what I’m doing must not really be all that bad. This way of thinking worked only for a short time. I couldn’t get over the fact that pornography brought down the dignity of women and that maturbation went again the gift of life and children. These two notions struck my heart like two daggers,
forcing me to come to terms with myself that I was really committing grave sin.
During Christmas break of my sophomore year, I had internally wanted to quit my addiction to pornography. Although I loved to escape from reality and enjoy the “feel good” emotions, I had begun taking notice of how empty and sad I was feeling after I looked at porn. At the time, I didn’t have an answer to what I was feeling within my conscious and heart, but I knew it wasn’t from God and that I might be committing an injustice against Him.
Taking my previous experiences of loneliness and loss with my newfound knowledge of Catholic Church doctrine, I decided to stop my addiction. This would have all been fine and dandy if it were not my pride holding me back. I was scared to death to admit I was wrong and had made a mistake. The thought of having to bring this addiction to light and make myself look bad, practically killed me inside.
Throughout the month of January, I wrestled within my heart the notion of whether to quit my addiction with or without the Church’s help. In my heart and mind I knew I would need to go to confession and confess my sins, but I was too prideful and scared to do so. There was no way that I would tell my sins to a priest, especially since I hadn’t been to confession since the 5th grade. Besides, my fear of telling a “stranger” my sins really bothered me. I was utterly ashamed of myself and my actions and there was no option of forgiveness for a person like me.
I decided to take things into my own hands. I began searching endlessly for self-help sites to rid my addiction. I probably tried at least 3 or 4 with all of them leaving me clean for barely a week before I fell again into pornography. However, God never gave up on me and He would be working through many individuals to help me on my way to redemption.
My path to freedom would begin with an invitation. One day, Michael, a close friend of mine, would invite me to a men’s conference sponsored by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, called “Men of Christ.” Michael recommended that I go because he saw me as a strong catholic individual. As he said this to me, I felt very embarrassed inside, thinking of my addiction to pornography. I thanked him and told him I would think about it. Later that day, I showed the pamphlet to my Dad and by the end of the night, both my Dad and I were signed up to go.
The day of the Conference was one of the most spectacular events in my life. I saw multitudes of Catholic men of all ages, who were searching for God and greater meaning in their lives. I listened to great speakers, witnessed the testimonies of great men, saw religious monks, friars, and diocesan priests. Above all I got to attend Mass with the then Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee. I honestly don’t remember much of the Mass, but I do remember the procession of priests and Archbishop Timothy Dolan. I remember thinking to myself when they all walked past me, “Wow! I feel such strength and faith in them. I want that too!” I was in such awe with these men and the men surrounding me. I experienced a feeling within my heart like none other. A warmness cradled with a solidness of confidence and faith. I knew then that I wanted to have this and I would do anything to obtain it.
Unknowingly, I would have my chance, when I found myself in line for Confession of all places. Again, with an invitation, my Dad asked me if I wanted to go to Confession with him. My fear and pride were at an all time high that day, but something within me pushed me out of my chair and I got in line with my father. While in line, I remember being so scared that my legs felt like jello and my hands were trembling. At times I wanted to turn back, but internally I pushed on. I was reminded of that great feeling of peace that I had experienced in Mass and how I desperately wanted that. I told myself that if I wanted that joy and peace, I would have to go to Confession. In a sense, I would have to sacrifice all that I knew, my fears, my pride, my anxieties, and offer them to the Lord.
Before I knew it, I was sitting in front of a priest. I told him that I hadn’t been to Confession in 5 years and that I would need a refresher on what to do. The priest was calm and collect. He gently went through the motions of the Confession. I remember feeling absolutely scared for my life as I told him the sins I had committed. After I finished, I flinched from within, awaiting the harsh rebukes, but I was surprised to meet only forgiveness and love. I was so overjoyed over this fact. I then said the Act of Contrition with the priest and left feeling a freedom I had never felt since childhood. I felt like a completely different person. I felt stronger, more confident, and self-aware of my relationship with Christ. From that day on (February 23, 2008) to be exact, I set my course destination towards Christ Jesus, with the intentions of finding more about my God of gods, my Eternal Savior.
Chapter 5 : Change is always good
My victory over pornography and low-self esteem would not stop at the Men of Christ Conference. By the end of the semester of my sophomore year at Catholic Memorial, I would transfer to another Catholic high school called Trinity Academy, located west of Waukesha, in the suburb of Pewaukee. In addition to my school change, I would change parish churches as well. I would switch from St. Joan of Arc in Nashotah to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in North Lake. Both of these changes would prove to be highly profitable for my social life, education, and faith formation.
During my years at Trinity Academy, I would spend more time in the chapel than I would in the hallways and classrooms. My freedom from the chains of my porn addiction left me with an endeavoring fascination with the Catholic faith. I started reading all I could about the Catholic Church and its traditions. I began having an active prayer life, praying in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Above all, I worked on my academics and moral integrity, with the determination that I would never allow myself to fall as deep as I did in the past.
The next two years of my high school career involved the Catholic faith as the center of my life, followed by working at a construction factory, exercising, muay thai boxing, student council, youth group, mission trips, and helping my family around the house. As far as relationships went, I quickly crashed and burned with any of the girls I went after and those I didn’t go after, I chose not to because of their life styles. Among all my activities, I was still becoming a depressed person whenever the idea of relationships with girls came up.
Part 2College Life
Chapter 6: Freshmen year, here I come!
College brought many new opportunities for me socially, academically, maturity wise, and of course in terms of relationships. It all started when I stepped on the campus of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. It was Move-Day in hot and humid August. I remember looking across the campus watching the female students moving into the dorm across from mine and instantly I thought, “Wow, look at these ladies. I bet some of them need a strong Catholic man to share their life with…..hmmmm, that must be me.”
It was quite difficult to transition into college life. During the months of September and October, I found myself missing home, my family, and places of familiarity. Although, I had already made some friends, I never felt like I really clicked with them. I again spent much time in prayer in the Adoration chapel, seeking solace and direction. Eventually, I would find a group of friends, girls I might add that I felt somewhat welcomed into. It was here that I would have a direction of some kind. As I look back, I don’t know if this was the direction God intended, but in the end He made it work for me!
One girl in particular, I took a liking to. For identity purposes let’s call her Abelia. Why I chose this name, well it’s Latin and I doubt many people have this name. Anyway, back to the story. I really liked Abelia and I would find things about her in casual conversation and through her friends. Once a week, I would write little love poems and leave them in her mailbox, which she greatly appreciated. However, this encounter would start another struggle of mine: a hopeless romantic who wanted a girlfriend based on pure emotional highs. So, I continued to do this for a few weeks, but then I decided I had waited long enough. Instead of asking her out on a date or telling her I liked her, I decided it was best to ask her to be my girlfriend after having her listen to Switchfoot’s “Your love is a song”. Yeah, hopeless romantic, right? I would think yes. I talked to her friends about it and they said it was too soon, after all it had only been 2 months since I had met Abelia!
After our conversation I made the rash decision to end it all together. Partly because I had no patience whatsoever to allow things to happen naturally and partly because I had noticed within myself that at times I wasn’t in control of myself, my emotions were controlling me. I was a bit concerned about this, especially at the end of the day. There were some days I would spend the afternoon with Abelia and our group of friends and I could hardly sleep at night, busy with daydreaming about our future together, during college, after college, and beyond. Not something I recommend doing since it totally breaks emotional chastity. On the other hand, there were other days I wouldn’t be able to see Abelia and I would fall into a storm of depression, “crying” myself to sleep (not literally). I knew there was something wrong going on here, so this ultimately helped me make the decision to end my dreams to be with Abelia.
Again, in defense to falling into more depression, I focused my attention on God, daily
Mass, and prayer. This again helped me cope with my failure with Abelia. Soon though, I would find a new group of friends, both guys and girls. This I know for sure was part of God’s plan since I have two close friends to come out of this encounter, Matt and Brian.
The group involved 2 guys and 4 girls, all freshmen. It was great to go out and do things together as a group. I really felt like we were a community, an aspect of college I was really hoping to have. In addition, there was another girl I found an interest in. Thus another change in direction, and off to the races with love and relationships.
In order to tell this experience, I will use the names of Kamara and Arista. Kamara was the girl I really liked and Arista would be another girl I would soon begin to like.
Now Kamara, I liked by pure physical attraction. Most of the things she did really annoyed me, but I got over it, telling myself that if we became boyfriend-girlfriend, she would change her habits. Mistake #2, people tend not to change dramatically in personality and mannerisms. So, I would often stop by her room with the hope that she was there. Most of the time she wasn’t. This alongside with other attempts to meet up with her always met with failure. This got me thinking that maybe God didn’t want me to be pursuing her and as the smart 19 year old that I was, I merely pushed this thought aside thinking how physically attractive she was, endeavoring to find ways to talk to her, outside our group settings.
Eventually though, I would come to terms with God, after many defeats to search out and meet her. Also, she really did annoy me most of the time I spent with her in our group of friends. Soon afterwards, I thought all was lost yet again, as all hopeless romantics sing out, until one night when our group learned how to swing dance.
It was the month of February and one of the Resident Assistants was hosting a swing dancing event. Up until then i had never swing damced before nor damced with a girl for that matter. That night though, I found myself dancing not with Kamara, but Arista, beginning a whole series of events.
Arista and I were great dancers together. To this day, I still consider her the best dancing partner I have ever had. We would do spins together, but we would also do aerials together, which was awesome until I dropped her…..gently I might add, but she will always argue against it if you ask her.
Our group of friends would swing dance almost every weekend. I enjoyed it alot, maybe a little too much. I would eventually become interested in Arista as well, but for a different reason. Yes, I was attracted to her, but I was becoming attached to her. Instead of wanting to dance with her for pure enjoyment. I was wanting to dance with her because of the emotional highs I would get when dancing. Fortunately, I targeted this problem early on. The instant I figured out that I was using her for my selfish purposes, I decided to temporarily end my swing dancing career.
Around the time I came to this discovery, it was close to Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. I decided that I would give up swing dancing. Whenever I told people this they
mostly laughed and thought I was silly. They would ask me why I was quitting swing dancing and I would respond to them by saying that I was giving up something I really liked. Yes, I will admit that I really liked swing dancing, especially since I had a talent for it, but more so I wanted to stop viewing Arista as an object and start viewing her as a person like a did before we ever started swing dancing together.
Fast forward to Easter and I was once again a free man. When I returned from school, I could confidently look at Arista as a person and sister in Christ. No longer did I view her as an object like before. Eventually, we would dance together again, but I no longer struggled to stay pure. I was in control of my emotions once again.
During Lent, I had discovered I had a problem with relationships and in this case physical touch. Did I know why this was happening to me? No, not at this time, but I would eventually find out that this incident, the two incident before, and the ones I will tell afterwards all stem to what I would consider scars from adoption. (Further information about this in chapter 12).
Chapter 7: I prefer the drink “Crush” instead of being crushed
As freshmen year came to a close and sophomore year approached itself, I still was searching to be in a relationship. My school year began with a training session for student leaders for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, otherwise known as FOCUS. Against my best attempts, I still had a crush on Kamara and to make things more difficult, she was part of the training session as well.
During that weekend, God did a great and painful thing for me. He crushed my crush like a sledgehammer against ice. There would eventually come the moment when I saw Kamara talking to her previous boyfriend from high school. Not to make things all sappy romantic, but when I saw the facial expressions on each of their faces, I knew they liked each other. It was there that I got the taste of true love: to wish the best for the other. In this case, wishing the best for Kamara would involve me to let go of Kamara and move on all with good intentions.
Chapter 8: A heart that sinks and rises
Sophomore year would present many opportunities for me to understand the concept of the true meaning of love. Unfortunately and at the same time fortunately, this was the strongest type of love and the most painful one, agape, or self-sacrificing love in Greek philosophy. Following the FOCUS training I would encounter two different individuals that would help me understand more about this type of love. The truth and the misconceptions of agape.
The next girl I would find myself pursuing was Clemency. Now Clemency was and still is an awesome friend of mine, but back then I really liked her. She had almost everything I was
looking for. She was intelligent, funny, faith-filled, and attractive, but there was always something that I detected was missing whenever I talked to her, but as the smart 19 year old man I was, I pushed this feeling aside and continued on.
Now, Clemency was on a dating fast and she would not be available to date for at least another year. When I discovered this, I was utterly disappointed, but I had a plan to fix all of this. I myself was on a dating fast as well, but as you can see I wasn’t really that faithful to it. My genius plan was to talk to Clemency in person and ask her if she wanted to break her dating fast to date me, especially since I thought I was finished with my dating fast. It all made sense in my head, but deep within my heart it didn’t feel alright. Mistake #3, people tend to over idealize situations in their head.
I decided to go to the Adoration chapel and pray for a bit, hoping that God would give me the green light to go forward with my plan. Well, after praying for a while, I wasn’t getting any response from the Lord. Frustrated with Him, I stomped out of the chapel en route to daily Mass up in the Abbey Church. I told the Lord that I was going to ask Clemency on a date and I wouldn’t stop unless He showed me a sign and a sign He would surely show me.
When I arrived at the Abbey Church, I realized that I had enough time to go to Confession before Mass started and so I got into line. In front of me, there was a girl with long dark brown hair, except that there were leaves in her hair since it was fall during this time. I gently nudged her and told her that she had leaves in her hair. With embarrassment, she thanked me and brushed the leaves out of her hair and faced forward in line. No later did she face forward, she turned around to me and asked me if I wanted to know a secret. I told her yes and her response was one of awe, wonder, and fear. She told me that it wasn’t right to force one’s will upon another for pure pleasure and selfishness. She continued to tell me how I shouldn’t place so much stress on being in a relationship, because there’s a danger of making that other person a god, expecting them to fulfill your desires and wants on an unrealistic basis. Finally, she concluded by telling me that in order to grow stronger in my faith and become ready for a dating relationship I must first follow the examples of Jesus and Mary and incorporate their lives into mine. After this, I said thank you in bewilderment and amazement, realizing that this was the Holy Spirit giving me the sign I needed to stop my future intentions with Clemency and to move on. I would never see that young woman with long dark brown hair again until the following year when I would meet her through a friend, but this time she was different. She had the same first and last name, but her physical appearance and voice was totally different. Weird, right, but definitely wicked sweet!
Chapter 9: I’ll take a “no” way before a “maybe”
After that incredible experience, I stayed on track by working hard on my studies, spending time with friends, attending daily Mass, and making time to pray with God. All things seemed to be going according to plan until the night I decided to pick up swing dancing again. During that night, I would meet Concordia, beginning a large scar of pain and grace
that would affect me the rest of sophomore year and into my junior year.
One night after 9:30pm Mass in St. Martin’s Chapel, I overheard some people talking about swing dancing in the old gym. Not since last spring had I swing danced. I was excited to hear about it and immediately made my way to the old gym. There I found my place dancing with multiple ladies throughout the night. At the very end of the event, I was about to leave for my dorm when someone caught my eye. Her name was Concordia, and she at the time was the most beautiful girl I had set my eyes on. Now when I say the most beautiful girl, I really meant it, she was physically attractive and also spiritually attractive when I prayed Liturgy of the Hours with her and some friends.
That night, I danced with her and eventually did the unthinkable. I asked her for her number!? Now this was very out of line for me since I was still shy when asking girls for their numbers. I ended up dancing, praying, and talking with her and her friends until midnight, which was another thing that was surprising of me back then. I went to bed that night, thinking to myself that she was the one.
The rest of my fall semester involved me becoming acquainted with her group of friends and spending a lot of time in the freshmen girls dorm of Memorial Hall. My fascination with her was incredibly strong, especially after I saw her praying, since I had always wanted to be with a girl who prayed. I eventually found myself to become a valued member of her posse, volunteering for her recycling project and doing little tasks for her. In my mind, I thought I was exercising agape love, sacrificing my will for the betterment of others. In this case, I would help her with recycling in her dorm, which I thought was a waste of time and doing meaningless tasks for her like talking to someone for her and ask them a question. All a while, I was praying to God about this and asking Him if what I was doing was according to His plan. I really liked Concordia, and for this reason, I didn’t want to mess it up. I was patient with her, never forced my will upon her, got to know her as a person, and I even planned to wait to ask her out on a date until at least 4 months when my dating fast ended.
I thought I was doing great and making great progress, but by the time November came by, I was having trouble keeping true to my plans for Concordia and my dating fast. After many discussions with my spiritual director, he suggested that I quit my dating fast right then and now. As I was still discerning the priesthood, I was afraid to cut it short, but my spiritual director told me that dating could help me further discern the priesthood. I took his advice with ease and quit my dating fast.
Later that night, I decided to tell Concordia how I felt toward her. I remember being so nervous and full of dispair. I found her in her dorm room and asked to speak with her in private. There I laid it out plain as day. I told her how I felt and waited for her response. Her response was one I will never forget. She told me that she really like me too, but she wasn’t ready for a dating relationship and that we could still be friends. Initially, I was disappointed to hear this response, but said okay. As a I walked back to my dorm, I had mixed feelings, “So she told me she likes me a lot, but she not ready for a dating relationship? Wouldn’t
you want to date someone if you really liked them?” These were the thoughts that were racing through my head. Mistake #4 Never tell someone maybe. It’s a yes or no answer.
Throughout the spring semester, I would continue to help her out with recycling and doing meaningless jobs for her in hopes that she would eventually be ready to date and go out with me. This all seemed like a perfect idea except that I began feeling like I was being used. I was doing all this work and receiving nothing in return. Concordia rarely did me any favors. I found myself getting frustrated on an occasional basis after doing something for her. I guess you could say I was experiencing the deepest form of love but in all the wrong paths. In my mind, I was sacrificing my time and effort to do things for Concordia that I did merely because it was important to her. I tried to do all of this without a thought about what was in it for me. However, even in agape love there is give and take from both parties and not merely just from one.
Eventually the day came when I couldn’t handle it any longer. I decided to ask Concordia again if she was ready to date. I had decided to do this because in my opinion she had been flirting with other guys and making it apparent that she do it only when I was there in the same room. She would often be looking at me from time to time, making suring I saw her flirting with the other guy. This made me really angry inside, especially since she told me she really liked me and now she was doing all of this stuff in front of me!?
So, one afternoon after daily Mass, I was able to meet up with her. All my previous attempts to meet with her ended up with her telling me she was too busy to meet, but this one afternoon she had a time slot I could fit into. When I met up with her, I asked her if she still liked me and her response was that she never really felt that way towards me! I was utterly filled with rage. I began to list the events in which she treated me better than the other guys and when she would ask me to do favors for her and her response to that was that she never was aware that she was doing such a thing. I took this as a blatant lie, but I just said okay, apologized and went on my way. She ended our conversation by telling me that we could still be friends. At this I told her, “Sure”, with feeling of anger and sadness.
For the next month, I decided to stop seeing her and stop spending time with her friends. The main reason why I spent time inMemorial Hall was to spend time with Concordia and now since I found the answer I was searching for, I had no need to associate with her. I really liked her friends because they were so good to me, but I couldn’t stand seeing Concodia without my emotions getting all out of hand.
I really enjoyed that month though. It was as if I had a weight taken off of me, unfortunately not all the weights were off. Whenever I saw Concordia across campus or heard her name, I would cringe with rage and sadness. This was a girl that I had given much of my free time with and what do I get in return? Nothing, but a broken heart. I was sad because I liked her so much and couldn’t be with her, but I was also angry that I had given so much time and effort for her wants and desires and received nothing in return. In my mind, this was not fair and I felt the need to be justified.
The following month, I got a call from Concordia, inviting me to do another favor for her. In
the phone call she told me that she hadn’t seen me much and that she missed me. I told her that I’ve just been real busy with school and hadn’t had much free time, which was all a llie. She understood and told me that she just wanted to see me more often and then ended the call. I was in utter disarray. I was wary of falling into another trap of hers, but I decided to give her another chance. I went and visited her the following day and expressed pleasantries, but deep inside my heart, it ached and hurt. I wanted to be her friend again, but I just couldn’t. Just talking to her made me experience extreme sadness inside. As we talked I kept my composure, but I soon ended the conversation and left. As if a yoke was being taken off my shoulder, I felt free again when I exited the dorm. I wanted to forgive her, but I just couldn’t do it after only a month.
Soon after this incident, I was attacked by a series of depression spells. I felt that I was utterly alone and that my heart was being impaled by a mass number of thorns and knives of cold steel. A couple of days I even skipped class because my depression was so bad. I had no will to do anything but stay in bed. I remember, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, nor see anyone for fear that I would have to put on the face that everything was okay with my life. All I wanted was answers and to feel at peace again.
Amidst all of this, I had also over-extended myself in responsibilities because I was a people pleaser and had a terrible time telling people no. In addition I had sleep deprivation, averaging maybe 5-6 of sleep a night for three straight months. I was tired and full of despair, looking for a way out. I wanted to leave Benedictine and go to another college. I had decided I no longer wanted to be an elementary teacher and instead become a personal fitness trainer, as I had started to work out to relieve my stress. I eventually convinced my parents to allow me to transfer colleges and thus by the end of the year I said goodbye to Benedictine.
Chapter 10 : Central College, my personal desert experience
My summer between Benedictine and my new institution Central College in Pella, Iowa. I visited a therapist and experimented with all sorts of medications that they recommended for me. My summer consisted of my struggles, physically with finding the correct medication and spiritually as I felt lost even though I was going another direction. I was still overcome with anger left behind from my experiences with Concordia while at the same time lost in my self-identity, not knowing who I was since I was a complete people pleaser my sophomore and freshmen years. Luckly as August approached an end I had high hopes for my junior year at Central.
If Benedictine was a conservative Catholic school, Central was the complete opposite showing itself off as a liberal secular institution. I quickly found out that I was in for a ride, the first few days of college, being exposed to opportunities for drugs, sex, and alcohol. Practically being sheltered from all these things as an adolescent, it was a big wake up call, introducing me to the real world college scene. Although, I would only stay one semester before transferring back to Benedictine, I would grow in my faith, deepen my self-identity, and leave Central a better man.
Now if being chaste and pure at Benedictine was difficult, doing the same at Central was on a complete different level of difficulty. Most the dorms at Central were co-ed by floor or by wing. This created, well, you’ve probably guessed it, many carnal temptations of the flesh. During my time there it was plain tough to stay pure and not settle among the masses. There were ample opportunities to hook up with someone, especially after parties. A commonality alongside the hook up lifestyle was sleeping with your girlfriend or boyfriend.
My only friend from Central actually had a girl spend the night with him just because she was lonely. I think this was quite common among the student body at Central and for many colleges across the nation. I guess you could say I was slowly sucuubing under the influence of the student body. Although I knew having sex before marriage and sharing a bed with a woman was wrong, my passions did me no favors. Eventually, it got to the point where it was my self-will against my emotions, winner take all. I had little support for my faith on campus and the nearest church was 2 miles away. I missed most daily Masses because of my time schedule and most of the Catholic students were Catholic in name only. Slowly but surely, my depression started to grow on me and take over my emotions and mindset and I would relapse back into pornography. However, I would soon rise out of it committing one of my greatest personal victories.
I had met a girl by the name of Isadora through a group of students I had become acquainted with. She instantly attracted me much like Concordia did, and thus I was immediately wary, being careful not to fall into the same trap. I knew from the beginning she was trouble, observing her choice of clothing, listening to her conversations, and just feeling within my heart that she had been affected by sin. However, with all this knowledge, I stupidly dismissed it, not solely because I was wanting a relationship with a girl, but I thought I could change her into a better person. Mistake #5 Avoid evangedating, it will only end in hurt feelings. I liked her personality and physical appearance, but she wasn’t that spiritual of a person and I could sense there were a lot of scars in her past, but being the smart 20 year old that I was, I decided to go after my goal and pursue Isadora.
Now something that you have to know about Isadora is that she comes from a broken family. Although, there was no divorce, her father had a difficult time keeping a job because he had a behavioral disorder he wouldn’t take medicine for. The father negatively brought his daughters self-esteem down in words and the mother was an overly controlling helicopter mom because of her childhood experiences. To top it all off, her ex-boyfriend was trying to win her back after breaking up with her 3 times already, but this time he was playing the illness card, telling her to take him back especially since he now had cancer.
Yep, and this was the girl I wanted to have. I don’t know what I was thinking…..actually I wasn’t thinking. I was at fault this time, but I decided to go after her anyway, knowing that she was probably not emotionally stable, giving me a better chance of winning her over. I began visiting her and spending time with her and her roommate. I flirted with her whenever I got the chance and consoled her when she had her bad days, which was most
of the time. This went on for about a month, but I eventually came to the conclusion that what I was doing was wrong. So, on a cold night in October, I decided to call her and tell her that I wasn’t going to see her as often because of personal reasons. She didn’t answer and I decided I would try again the next day, but just as soon as I hung up, I got a text message from her, asking me if she could come over to my room because her roommate and her were having a fight. I was thrilled to read this and without thinking I told her to come on over. My passions were definitely in control at the time.
She soon came over and we talked. We soon got to a humous topic where I grabbed her and I wrapped my arms around her and well, I never quite let go. We cuddled together on my bed and talked for almost 2 hours! According to my passions it was one of the greatest times of my life, however, my conscious soon caught up to knock me around in the head. After talking to Isadora, she eventually fell asleep on my chest. As I realized this I had two options. One, wake her up and walk her back to her dorm or two, don’t wake her up and spend the night with her in my bed. My passions and intellect battled each other in what seemed like an eternity, but only was a matter of minutes. I so wanted to just lay down and stop thinking about this all, but at the same time I wanted to preserve both her dignity and my own dignity for our future spouses in marriage. I decided to wake her up not because of the most moral reasons, but because I couldn’t fall asleep. Attributing to God’s grace, I was addicted to a sleeping pill that relaxed me because of anxiety. However that night I had yet to takey pill, thus preventing me to fall asleep no matter how hard I tried. So, I continued to wake her up and tell her she had to leave. She initially ignored me, but when I asked her a second time, she got the message and got up and I walked her over to her dorm. Little did I know that this good deed was not seen as such a gracious gesture from her perspective.
The next day she texted me and told me that last night was nothing and that we were just friends. I told her I agreed and said it was totally fine. However, beginning that day she began to distance herself from me, declining all invitations I offered her, and over hearing from people that she would become defensive whenever my name was brought up in conversation. I decided to give her a few days of space and then text her, asking her how she was doing and giving her words of encouragement. After a week or so of doing this she never responded to my texts or calls and she blocked me on Facebook. Acting as the guy I was, I didn’t want to give up so easily, not for the fact that I really liked her, but to leave on a good note with her.
One of the following days, I decided to give it one more try. If she didn’t respond, I could leave her with a clear conscience. I kind of overdid it though, my fault. I went by her room and asked her roommate when she would be back and I was told 8pm. So around that time, I went by her room and knocked but there was no answer. I decided to wait by her door to meet up with her since she never responded to my phone. Looking back, I see how this was kind of creepy, but in my mind, I thought I was being a loyal friend, showing my concern for her. Anyway, I decided to leave and come back later that night. Around 10pm I came back and I saw the light was on from underneath the door. I knocked on the door and I heard them laugh. I knocked again and told them to open up. The next thing I know, an RA is behind me telling me to leave immediately, warning me to not come back again
because “supposedly” I’m now a stalker because I sat outside her room earlier that night. I was so angry at the RA, but I decided to just leave, saying sarcastically, “whatever!”
This wasn’t the end though. After my evacuation from Scholte Hall, she was telling false stories about me, making me look like the bad guy, causing my friends to question me when they would see me. I told them they were all lies, but most of them were taking her side of the story. To combat this, I decided to stop seeing all those that were believing her lies instead of my truth. I would not see Isadora for the rest of the semester except for a couple of rare occasions, one of them being in the cafe. I saw her with a couple of friends, making fun of my Facebook posts (before she blocked me). I was a little mad, but ultimately I felt sorry for her and her friends. They were so oblivious to what they were missing in this life on earth, and I felt especially sad for Isadora, wondering if she will ever realize the favor I did for her that one night.
Part 3: I am the voice in the wilderness that offers hope against the struggles of man and woman.
Chapter 11: How to Conquer Pornography
So, now that you’ve read my testimony, I would like to give advice on how to conquer pornography with the assistance of our Mighty Father. As you probably know, pornography is one of the greatest struggles that teens and young adults face in this common era. Not only for males, but females as well. It’s difficult to go through a typical day without running into some kind of sex-filled agenda, i.e. music, movies, TV shows, and the Internet. Although many of this is not per say pornography, it eventually piles upon individuals, clouding their intellect and reason if they’re not careful, leading them to pornography itself and various other avenues. It is with great hope that my testimony not only gave you inspiration against this evil poison, but that my plan of attack in terms of advice and council will do so as well.
1) You have to include God in your fight
Now, I’m not saying that there hasn’t been a non-Christian believer who has conquered their addiction to pornography, but in my opinion I see it to be very unlikely if you don’t include God in your fight against pornography addiction. As, I briefly said in my testimony, I tried a few plans from the Internet to conquer my addiction, each ending in failure. I remember one time, I decided to write on a piece of paper vowing to myself that I wouldn’t look at porn. I then crumpled up the paper and went outside. I dug a little hole in my back lot line and sat down next to it. I said a little prayer to myself, lit the ball of paper on fire, and threw it in the hole. Afterwards, when there was nothing but ashes, I covered up the hole and went along with my day. Now, from the outside perspective, it would seem that this would work, but it wouldn’t work for me. No sooner than a week, was I back outside doing the same ritual because I had failed in my sobriety against pornogrpahy. It wasn’t until I truly included God into my life (Confession), that I was able to kill my addiction for good.
2) As a Catholic, I needed Confession
In the Catholic Church, Catholics believe that there are two primary methods in forgiving our sins. The first takes place during Mass, where our venial sins are forgiven. The second and more important one takes place during the Sacrament of Confession. This sacrament involves individuals who meet with a priest and confess their sins. Long story short, the priest is able to forgive the sins of the individual because the priest acts in the person of Christ, sealing the individual with God’s blessings and forgiveness.
In order to conquer my addiction, I needed to go to Confession. Not only for the fact that I needed the graces of the sacrament, but that I needed to tell somebody and get my guilt off my chest. Telling God in my prayers that I was sorry, wasn’t enough for me. I guess it didn’t do much for me because there was no humility involved. No one knew except for God and myself. There was no pain of losing my pride by telling others about my addiction. In my opinion, I think you need to tell people about it. Whether you’re a Catholic or a non-Catholic, I recommend that you go to Confession, but in addition, I highly advise that you tell at least another person, it could be a family member or a friend, but you need to share with another individual your addiction problem.
Not until my freshman year in college did I share with people my past addiction to pornography, but in doing so I felt stronger, even after I had defeated my addiction two years earlier. I guess you could say that bringing your addiction to light and sharing your past or current struggles without shame is a key component in conquering or staying sober from any addiction. You no longer are alone in your struggle, but are united as a team with one or two individuals and God Himself.
3) Be prepared for pain and future temptations
If someone asked me when was my most difficult time in my fight against pornography, I would have to say the first month of my sobriety. As with any addiction, it becomes a part of your life. In a sense, your life soon revolves around your addiction and your mind and body are just waiting to have another “fix”. If you research on the Internet, you can find multiple websites that talk about how pornography is like a chemical addiction. I would have to agree to this. Speaking from the male’s perspective, pornography soon becomes a drug, a highly addictive one I might add. Through research and talking to people, there are chemicals in the male brain that are wired to sexual stimulation. If you take this into account, every time a man views pornography and masturbates to it, he is releasing chemicals throughout his body that make him feel good. This is one of the contributing factors that becomes a great obstacle for anyone trying to break the habit of pornography.
I can remember some days I would feel really weak and feel as if my whole body was shaking. More than anything else, all I wanted to do was get my short fix of porn and masturbation and I would be fine for a few days. It was quite difficult in all honesty because when you’ve lived your life with porn off and on for 6 years and then suddenly go without it, your body and mind are spinning with a whole boatload of emotions and desires. In order to combat these pleasure seeking waves, I kept myself busy. I worked on homework, lifted weights, spent time with family and friends, and other various activities, everything that
excluded pornography or elements of pornography. Eventually, my body became accustomed to this new change of lifestyle and life without pornography became easier, however, just because my addiction was gone, occasions of temptation were not eliminated for me.
Speaking today as a senior in college, I will admit that I still struggle with the near occasions of sin in relation to pornography. One thing that I forgot to mention before is that it’s very helpful to find out what triggers your addiction. As for me, it’s depression. I can remember back in high school I really got involved with the whole online porngraphy addiction because of depression. As I said in previous chapters, I had confidence issues and low self-esteem. Combining these two issues with my desire to find a girlfriend and not finding anyone within my time frame, I looked to pornography as my escape to women “who would always say yes.”
Fast forwarding to today, my confidence levels have risen exponentially and my self-esteem is deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, but there are still times when I’ll get depressed about something and there’ll be that little voice egging me on to experience a short time of pleasure and excitement. When this happens, I attempt to busy myself with something else instead of sitting idly in front of the television. Most times, I’m successful in avoiding the temptation, but there are always a few occasions when I’ll relapse back into it, but when this happens I quickly rise up again and seek a priest for confession, vowing to stay sober once again.
4) Pornography is all a lie
In my opinion, pornography is truly a bunch of lies. Through personal research on the Internet, there are many articles speaking the truth about pornography. For instance, Porn stars are not really that happy and would not like to do this for a lifetime career. How would you feel if you had to become naked and have sex with strangers in front of a camera lense each and every day. I would think it would be quite demeaning for the individuals. The sexual act between a man and a woman is a sacred and beautiful act of love. In all reality it represents the love that God has for His people, an altruistic love of sorts, that is not selfish, and truly loves the other as a person and not an object for use.
Porn videos are all a show. The men and the women in these videos fake the entire scene. They don’t really love each other and when you take this into account, how sad it is that this sacred act is not being done in genuine love and respect. Those that participate in these videos are revealing their bodies for pleasure and money instead of an expression of love that brings peace to the heart. I believe that one way to combat addiction is through reason and the intellect. If you know porngraphy is a lie and you believe this deep in your heart, why would you view it in the first place? In my opinion, I believe many people become involved with pornography either by acting in it or viewing it because they are searching for love, a misconstrued vision of love I might add. People are looking for a love that is everlasting and fulfilling, a love that is only attainable by Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. His love will never fail you, nor disappoint. Keep Jesus and His Blessed Mother Mary close
to your heart and they will lead to a love that is ever flowing.
5) Pornography is a gateway to more hideous paths
As I spoke before on how effective reason and the intellect can be on conquering passions and addictions to pornography, I would like to further expound on this topic.
Now imagine a tree diagram with sex at the center of the tree truck. There are branches extending upwards this way and that, but the branches are sickly looking, expressing an aura of sadness and despair. On the left side of the truck there is a large branch called pornography. There are multitudes of branches extending out from pornography, soon becoming a tangled web of twigs and wilted leaves. These twigs and leaves are the injustices that stem directly from pornography or eventually relate themselves to misusement of sex and love. I won’t go into much detail about these related topics, but I want to get the word out and make people realize what is happening underneath the social scene of our world. By taking into account of what I will be sharing, I guarantee your addiction to pornography will be halted because reason will ultimately defeat passions/desires in the final end.
Women and children are tricked and kidnapped by evil men who promise them dream lives in America or elsewhere. Most of these women are never seen again, serving as sex slaves for wealthy evil men.
Teenage girls are tricked and kidnapped by online sexual predators and never seen again.
The gift of life is prevented by the use of contraceptives and abortion.
Many women are victims of rape and/or incest and are too afraid to speak about it.
Wives, girlfriends, and children are physically, verbally, and sexually abused by members of their family and their boyfriends.
In some countries women are limited to the number of children they may have.
In the Middle East, women are stripped of their dignity and treated as second class citizens by the male population.
Chapter 12: How to fix a broken heart
Speaking with many women and doing personal research, I have come to the conclusion that two of women’s greatest struggles are the controlment of their emotions and self-esteem and appearances. As a man, I do not consider myself an expert on women for the obvious reason that I’m not a woman. However, I do believe that my personal experiences can offer encouragement and advice to all women who struggle with self-image and emotional chastity. In the following texts, I hope to offer further insight into how I have struggled with both obstacles and how I fixed them.
After reading my testimony, you’ve probably guessed that I was a hopeless romantic who always wanted to be in a relationship and experience the emotional highs of love. Yes, I
was quite the lovesick fellow back then. I hope no one would consider me one today as I consider myself past that phase. Whether or not I’m past being a hopeless romantic, I want to offer my insights of how I dealt with all these experiences.
I believe my problem with self-esteem and emotions all stems before I could even remember. At six months of age, I was blessed to be adopted by my loving family in the United States and ever since then I have had a great life and wouldn’t have it any other way. However, beginning in college, I began to increasing have an interest in my adoptive past. I talked to my parents on a serious note, trying to find out as much information as I coud. I even called my adoption agency to find information. All my searching seemed to be futile as the only answer I got was that my birth mother was korean and that I was born at an Army base in Seoul, South Korea. This infuriated me to the brim. I was so mad that my birth mother left nothing for me. No medical records. No mailing address. Not even her name or the name of my birth father. Amongst all this rage, I felt a great sadness within me. A sadness like none I have ever experienced before. I felt sad as if I was abandoned and that no one loved me or wanted me. In my mind I knew this wasn’t true, but deep within my heart, I felt the total opposite. Slowly but surely, I developed a list of traits that I exercised throughout my high school and college career. Thus far, this is what I have come up with.
I felt lonely and had a sense of abandonment. I often felt left out even amongst a group of friends or family. I felt like no one understood what was going on within my mind and heart.
I had very low self-esteem. I had this idea that I was not good looking and that there was always room for improvement even though I was physically fit and clean cut.
I felt the need that I needed to work for people’s love and affection, rather than just accepting it.
I felt the need to always win the approval of others and if I disappointed someone it was the end of the world to me.
I valued the friendship of females more so than males. I felt like I always need to receive attention from females and my desire to do this never seemed to be quenched.
I would often wake up with a pain in my heart. A pain of betrayal even though there was no recent evidence to explain my emotions.
I felt sad and depressed that I didn’t know who I was and what my identity was. I often looked at others to figure out who I was rather than finding my identity within myself.
I was always scared of being alone. I would try to be around with people as much as possible.
I would often get attached to people and have my heart broken.
I see that all of these traits have influenced my past life, especially in terms of love and relationships. Looking back through my testimony, you probably can see glimpses of each one of these traits. Although I do not know the exact cause for these acts, I am confident in saying that they come from my experience of being adopted and being left with no
information to trace back my roots. However, I am no longer angry at my birth mother’s decision to do this. I know she probably had a good reason to do so. My guess is that I was born out of a not so good situation of events. My birth mother most likely wanted me to start my life on a clean slate and not be bothered by my past in Korea. This, I am greatly thankful for and I love my birth mother more each and every day.
Now in terms of how to fix a broken heart. I have this to say.
1) Make sure you know yourself
It is my belief that a relationship will last much longer if both parties know themselves on a clear extent. Now what do I mean by knowing yourself? Let me explain. If you know yourself, your confidence comes within you and not from others. You clearly know what your gifts and talents are, or at least what one of them are. You also know what your desires are. To be more specific you know what you’re desires are that God has placed within your heart. In my opinion these are the desires that make a difference in the world and give you joy, a sense of happiness and peace so great that all you can say is, “Wow! I could do this everyday and not get paid for it! I feel within myself that I was truly made to do this. This is my mission in life.” Those words in a nutshell are what I define as your desires.
In order to achieve this, there are two components one must follow. Prayer and Time. In order to know thyself to the fullest extent, it is recommend that you make time for prayer in your life. Not just the recitation of prayers, but conversational prayer or as I like to call it “informal chats” with God. You need to be disciplined and dedicated to your prayer life if you want to know yourself on a deeper level. Just as a friendship becomes stronger the more time you spend with that person, the same is true with God. The more time you spend with God, the deeper your relationship with Him will become. This is the golden ticket. It is during these times of prayer, you discover who you are. What do you like to do? What do you stand for? What are you afraid of? What things concern you? What makes you angry? These questions and many more are the type of questions that you need to be asking yourself and offering up to God, for healing, council, and encouragement. It is then, that your chances of a doomed relationship become slim because you no longer have to rely on the other person to know your own identity. This makes room for the two of you to pursue a relationship towards God and figuring out whether both of you click together.
2) Don’t evangedate!
I read on a blog post about how you should never evangedate. Now you’re probably thinking, “What in the world is evangedating?” Well, let me tell you. Evangedating is dating someone with the intentions of making them a better person and or making excuses for an immoral thing that he or she does, in hopes that you can change that. While, the idea seems to be very noble, I have not yet run into a success story about evangedating.
The danger of dating someone who is not quite the most moral person is that it prevents the two of you from ever growing in holiness and virtue. If one party resists morality or likes to ride the fence on living a good life, there are going to be problems. In my opinion, it is
most helpful if both parties are moral and want to grow in holiness together. There are no successes with one-sided relationships. In addition, dating is not merely for fun, but is the first step in finding that one special someone to spend your life with. Now, I’m not saying you should only date the absolute perfect person, because although that would be awesome there have only been two perfect beings thus far, Jesus and His mother Mary. What I am saying is that you should look deeper into the person you want to date. Yes, there needs to be feelings involved, but there also needs to be logic too. Is this person someone who’s going to push me to become a better person? Is he or she going to support me when I need help? Is this person going to be loyal and care about my needs? These are some of the questions that you should be thinking to yourself before you ask someone out and even during your dating relationship.
3) Be emotional chaste
Finally, it is highly recommended to be emotional chaste in your dating relationships. I’m not going to go into much detail about this, but there are tons of books and online sites that define emotional chastity and offer insights about the topic. What I am going to do is to briefly tell you what emotional chastity is and how to be emotionally chaste.
Basically, emotional chastity is keeping your emotions in check, making sure that your reason is right along side your emotions. For it is one to to say that I think this relationship is going well and a whole different thing to say that you feel that this relationship is going well. Remember, reason and feelings need to work together, not separately. To further define what emotional chastity is and is not, let me give you an example.
Let’s say I met this really nice girl in one of my classes. We got to talking and we hit it off with flying colors, plus she is quite the cutie. Then, after class, I walk to my next class, still thinking about her. I think about whether she likes me and what life would be like if we were together. My mind then wanders off to our future dates together, our future engagement, our marriage, and our children, and now I’m going to stop.
This is an overly dramatized version of how not to be emotionally chaste. It was fine that I was thinking about her after we had met, but once I crossed the line into dreamland, I was breaking the rules. Now, none of this is a sin as long as selfish desires don’t creep in, but there is a danger of investing your emotions into someone and being utterly disappointed when nothing happens between the two of you or if it doesn’t work out. Plus, when you start daydreaming like I did in the situation, it caused me to over idealize her, possibly blinding me of her major moral faults or preventing me from getting to know her as a person for who she is and not some made up version that was created in my mind.
Part 4: My Vocation Story Thus Far
I figured it would be appropriate to share my vocation story with you. I believe that sharing my vocational journey thus far will not only bring more understanding into my testimony, but
will aid others who are searching for God’s plan for them in spiritual terms. It is will great hope and admiration that my past journey to follow Christ will bring further insight into your life, enabling you to make connections and considerations within your mind, heart, and intellect.
My vocation story begins on a lawn mower the summer between my 8th grade graduation and my freshman year in high school. Yes, it’s quite odd that I would begin my journey in such a situation, but I guess God’s timing tends to be random when it collides with our world’s time and space continuum. Anyway, back to my story. So, one June afternoon, I was mowing the front lawn when all of a sudden, a thought occurred to me, “You know Levy, wouldn’t it be cool if you could do what your Dad does? No, no, no, not his occupational job, but his spiritual job of being a husband and father.” Up until then, I hadn’t given much thought of being a husband and father, nor given much insight into what my Dad did for my Mom, sister, and me. However, the more I pondered all of this, the more I began to get intrigued with the idea, and so, as well as a 14 year old teenager could contemplate about high things above video games, sports, and girls, I made the decision that someday I wanted to get married to a beautiful woman and have a family together.
My decision to get married seemed to come to a halt when I walked through those front doors of high school. I saw a multitude of gorgeous ladies walking the hallways and I instantly dropped the whole marriage thing, and was primarily concerned with the emotional highs of just having a girlfriend and staying stagnant in that cycle of life. Eventually, I began spending time with the wrong type of crowd, filling my head with garbage that reeked of degrading women for my selfish pleasures and amusement. This would eventually lead me into pornography for the next two years of high school.
After my conversion from pornography, I settled my attention of morality and studying Catholic Church doctrine and tradition. My junior year consisted of jumping around from focusing on my studies and spirituality and flirting with the girls at my new high school. This seemed to continue until yet another random day in my life when I decided to look into the priesthood one fall October morning.
I remember listening to Fr. Don’s homily during Wednesday Mass in the high school chapel. Among other things, he spoke a little bit about the priest shortage and the need for good Catholic young men to step up and accept God’s calling. When he said this, I found myself switching gears in my mind. Instead of thinking of how I really didn’t want to be at school that day, my attention was grabbed during Fr. Don’s homily. I felt this passion within my heart, urging me to listen and pay attention to his words. I felt this sense of duty like that of a soldier, stepping up to the front line and serving my country and my God. After the homily, I looked down the pew of students and thought to myself, “Well, if none of them will look into the priesthood, I matter as well give it a try.”
Beginning that day after Mass, I decided to give my full attention towards the priesthood. I was filled with passions of pride for my God and envisioned myself giving glory to Him through my actions and words as a priest. However, this was not the only reason I wanted
to become a priest. I decided to take on this endeavor, not only because I saw no one else at my school to take on this challenge, but I thought I needed to because in my mind I thought I owed God something. I was so very grateful for God’s saving grace to allow me to overcome my addiction to pornography that I would do anything in my power to repay Him. I wouldn’t find out until much later that God never needs to be repaid. He does good for us because He loves us and that is a reason in itself. I also thought after being unsuccessful at getting a girlfriend or even asking a girl on a date, I figured the priesthood was for me since all priests lived a single life.
When freshmen year at Benedictine came by, I found myself telling people I was majoring in theology and youth ministry. I wanted to become a theology teacher just like the one I had in high school, but at the same time I planned on entering the priesthood or the religious life after college. Deep in the back of my mind, I deeply wanted to get married, thinking of my decision to do so that one summer afternoon, but I was overcome with a false zeal to repay God for all His works He had done for me in the past. I finally decided during Christmas break of that year that I would begin a dating fast, allowing myself to complete zone in on God and the internal movements of the Spirit without being distracted by girls, dating, and relationships.
As second semester rolled by, I began researching about the priesthood and looking into religious orders. This would begin my journey within a journey of figuring out whether God was calling me to become a priest or a religious monk or friar. In between my failed attempts to find a girlfriend, I visited religious orders in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and even at the Benedictine Abbey on campus. From each of these visits I exited with newfound knowledge and experience. Although at the time I didn’t feel like I had made much progress, I would later look back and see the fruits of my efforts of discovery.
During my sophomore year at Benedictine, I decided to participate in a monthly discernment program at the University of Kansas called Samuel Group. The program was hosted by a recently formed religious order, the Apostles of the Interior LIfe, whom I would later form lasting friendships with. Traveling back and forth between KU and BC will forever indent positive memories within my mind. During the school year, I would learn so much about myself, figuring out who I was and what I stood for. For the first time, my desire to get married and have a family reignited itself, finding myself thinking about what I had always wanted to do within my heart. The only thing stopping though was my people pleasing self and the opinions of others.
Throughout my inquiry into the priesthood and the religious life, I met many people’s positive responses and words of encouragement. As it was then and is today, it’s not very common to find young men that want to become a priest or religious brother. I relished on these positive affirmations I was receiving and believed I was going in the right direction. However, there was always a part of me that would be crying out in the silence of prayer, trying to grab my attention.
As I attended Samuel Group, my desires for the priesthood was dwindling and my desires
for marriage were rising. In my heart, I wanted to be a husband and father. I wanted to first devote my life to Jesus Christ, but at the same time give my life to one woman. Many times during prayer, I envisioned myself waking up early and making my wife coffee and listening to her concerns during the night when I wanted was to sleep. In addition, I wanted to have children and spend time with them. Halfway during my sophomore year, I switched my studies from philosophy and changed them to elementary education. I had been inspired to do this for a while now, but just couldn’t see how I could be a priest or a religious and still devote my time to children and teaching. As I said that Samuel group helped me transition between spiritual vocations, it was actually my summer of teaching Totus Tuus in Kansas City that set me upon a different path.
For all those that don’t know, Totus Tuus, is a Catholic catechetical program that takes place during the summer. It is located in several states spanning from the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Appalachians. Most of the teachers include college students and seminarians. Throughout the summer, individuals will have opportunities to teach Bible camps to children and adolescents, host retreats for high schoolers, attend Mass, Confession, and Adoration, eat with parish families, and experience all aspects of priesthood, religious life, and marriage. It was here that my passion for children was fed, eventually becoming a mass inferno of love for God’s little ones of all races, backgrounds, and families. When I spent time teaching, eating, and playing with the children, I felt one of the greatest joys and senses of peace I had ever experienced before then. I couldn’t say for sure what vocation I was called to, but I knew most definitely that God’s mission for me involved the taking care of children.
By the end of my sophomore year, I was still at a standstill on what my vocation was or I guess you could I knew what my vocation was but I was too afraid to go after it. I would soon make even more big steps toward my spiritual vocation during my junior year in college. During this time, I would strengthen my relationship with God, form a deeper prayer life, spend a weekend at a seminary, and officially start saying no to people
When I transferred to Central, it was quite difficult to keep my spirituality strong. I no longer was able to attend daily Mass, praying in front of Jesus in the tabernacle involved a car, and I had little support for my Catholic faith on campus. During this time, I truly found out who I was and what I stood for. I conquered my biggest fear of living my life as a single person and received my self-confidence within myself rather than from other people.My vocational inquiry into the priesthood and religious life would officially end or at least be put on hold when I visited the seminary.
It was a warm October Saturday morning and I found myself riding with a FOCUS missionary from Des Moines and a few others en route to Conception Seminary College in Missouri. I was so excited to go. I had previously tried to visit Conception both my sophomore and freshman year, but all attempts failed, conflicting with other events on my schedule. My time at the seminary was completely joyful. I met so many other guys there, all of them searching for meaning in their lives. It was great to make new friends and rekindle old friendships. The most memorable moment was when I was alone in front of the
tabernacle. I remember kneeling before God and be upfront and honest with Him. I was like, “Lord, you know I will do anything that You ask of me. I have sacrificed my deepest desires to do Your will. I really want to meet the woman of my dreams and have a large family, but I can confidently say I’m open to the priesthood and religious life as well. I am no longer scared of giving my life up to You, because You never disappoint and only want what’s best for me. Lord, if I am to become a priest or religious, please tell me yes or later.” As I sat there waiting for His response, I suddenly felt a wave of peace come upon me with a small voice speaking to me. It said through my own voice, “Levy, you will never know 100% what your vocation is. I can only give you so many hints and signs, but ultimately, you’re going to have to take a leap of faith and go after what you believe is My plan for you. Do not be afraid of making a mistake or messing up My plan for you. Whether you know it or not, you have done a great job following my commandments and I appreciate every moment of it. I love you Levy and I will always love you no matter what.”
At this, a smile of complete joy overcame me, followed by a past experience I had had during the first months of my freshman year. One night while in Adoration, I was interrupted in prayer by a meek and humble voice. It was a fellow student from Benedictine. She wanted to ask me a question and I agreed to answer it. She said the following to me, “I see you in Adoration a lot and you seem like a very faith filled person. I want to ask you a question. Do you see me as a wife and mother or a religious sister?” I was utterly struck with surprise and thankfulness. We eventually found a pew in the church to talk. She told me her dilemma and I remember listening so intently to her voice and words. I hardly remember what I said to her except for one comment. After hearing her story, I said the following, “You know I could see you as either a wife and mother or a religious sister. You would be great at either one of your choosing, but my advice to you is that you just pick the one you want the most and go after it.” After my words, she thanked me and left walking with a sense of ease and grace. Fast forward to my date with God in the seminary chapel, I again hear my own words of advice and agree with myself, “God knows I’m not a selfish person and I’ve shown to Him that I’m not. I’m going to go after the married life with full force and not look back and if I’m completely wrong, which I believe I’m not, I would rather go after something with a full heart and find out it’s not for me than sitting idly, afraid to step out and take a risk.”
After my visit to the seminary, things started to really look up. I called Benedictine and asked about transferring, which I did, not losing any of the credits I had earned at Central and finding the room of my choice next door to two close friends of mine. In addition my ability to say no to people strengthened. When people asked me if I was looking into the priesthood, or commented that I would make a great religious monk, I would say no with a sense of confidence, not worrying about what they thought of me or if I had hurt their feelings. I did so because of a saying that my Dad told me long ago, “If everyone is happy and agrees with you, you’re not being yourself. It is only when some people agree with you and some people don’t that you are truly being the real you.” I took these words to heart and I continue to say this to myself when I get discouraged or have to say something that will make somebody disagree with me.
As I’m writing this, I still have the conviction to get married and have a family. At times, I lose hope in my cause because I can’t find the woman I’m looking for or that my talents within the Church are better than my talents with women. However, I always believe that God places desires in our heart that don’t necessarily match with all our greatest talents. I think He does so because He wants us to rely on Him and ask for His grace and assistance rather than just doing it ourselves. Plus, God’s time frame for my desires to get married always seem to be larger than my own time frame, so it’s always difficult to be patient and have trust, but I know God will provide.
I’m a believer in following your dreams and always having a dream, even though not all of them will come true. I believe that having dreams gives you direction and that direction brings you everlasting peace and joy. Here are a few of my dreams.
I hope to become an elementary teacher and inspire students of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
I hope to become a cross country and track & field coach, inspiring my athletes to become strong Catholic young men.
I hope to unwaveringly love my wife and setting an example for my children.
I hope to keep close ties with my family and my wife’s family in this world of distance and technology
I hope to travel to many places and make pilgrimages across the world.
I hope to be a youth minister of some type, advocating for chastity and purity.
I hope to become a deacon, serving alongside my parish priest, while at the same time, having the honor of teaching young boys how to altar serve.
I hope to use my talents and gifts that God has given me to my best ability, setting this world ablaze with God’s glory and majesty.