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Thoughts on Forgiveness

September 30, 2013

ImageI went to a wedding this weekend and the priest at the ceremony shared a version of this nugget in his homily….

In marriage it’s important to forgive vs. say sorry. When you say “I’m Sorry,” you are keeping the power in your hands. You are determining how you feel and not letting the person wronged have a decision in the matter. To ask forgiveness is to put the ball in their court, it’s an invitation to share how you feel, how you were hurt. To ask for forgiveness still acknowledges you did something to not meet expectations (in whatever regard) but isn’t as one-sided as sorry. Asking for forgiveness requires vulnerability, patience and the fear that it might not be granted. Usually sorry comes with a big “but” afterwards, keeping the grace within ourselves.

Of course, this all hinges on the idea that you are genuine in your request, and that you aren’t doing it to just go through the cycle of forgiving/moving on.

If we want true community and acknowledgement of stories, experiences and learning from mistakes how often are we asking for forgiveness?

Now granting it is a whole other novel….

Reflections on Cambiando Vidas

February 17, 2013

In December, I spent a week with fraternity and sorority students in the Dominican Republic. We prepared for the trip for a few months before but no level of work beforehand could have prepared me for the experience we (I) had.

The 13 students I went with wrote beautiful reflections of their experience and prompted me to draft my own reflection of the journey we took. Here is a sample of their words first to share some basics about our time together:

The moment we landed, we passed through the aisle of people watching us as we left the airport. On the bus ride, men would pull themselves into the bus to sell us something. The first night we had dinner with the family and went to a festival with so many unfamiliar faces in literally the middle of nowhere. When we returned to our motel, we found a Dominican policeman armed with a rifle standing outside. The first day on the job site, we ate a chicken that had been killed that morning, and that I typically would never even be able to stomach. In all of these unfamiliar situations, I learned more and more about the culture and people of the Dominican Republic, but I also learned a lot about myself.

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Our first morning on the jobsite tested my limits—passing cement cinder blocks, learning how to build the walls up with mezcla, standing on a very unsteady scaffold while very scared of heights… The day proved to be a test in other ways as well. I found myself feeling sad that a family could live in a house such as Elena and Kiko’s, that the kids didn’t have anything to play with except an old tennis ball and a hula-hoop, and that they lived off of what they could: chickens that pecked around the yard, rice from the fields, and fruit. As the week progressed, though, these feelings of soreness and sadness quickly dissipated.

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Have you ever had an experience when you feel your most absolute, truest, authentic self? When you can feel pure happiness seeping through your skin? When the scream of excitement from a child makes you want to cry because it is so pure? When you pour so much of yourself into something that you do not know how you could ever describe it? I have never wanted more in my life than to be able to articulate and bottle up the experience I had in the Dominican Republic with Cambiando Vidas – and I have never been more at a loss for words. Which is a difficult place to find myself. To hear students talk about personal history, feelings and well, diarrhea has never made me so excited for the potential they have and it’s never made me sadder that this is isolated to so few.

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Early in the semester when our Fraternity and Sorority Life area was a crazy town, we entertained the idea of cancelling the trip due to lack of planning. If we had cancelled it I can’t imagine how one decision could affect so many lives. Where would Keiko and Elana sleep? Where would Jadolin and Kimberley do their homework? Would they be seeking shelter during hurricane season at a local school because their home was unfit to protect them?  While we worked harder than my wildest expectations and built a home in less than one week. I learned more than how to make concreto or dig a ditch. I thought about feeling guilty that I had such an impactful experience over the students but then I read their reflections and knew it wasn’t just me. We all learned about being human, about the word community. It is not simply a group of people living next to each other or claiming the same town or group name; but instead, the process of us coming together, bringing the best version of ourselves to show up, to create, and to heal. Through this process of showing up, simply as we are, we can begin to belong, relate, connect and dwell in possibility.

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He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

November 4, 2012

I went to church today for the first time in a long time. And despite my uncertainty about my faith or religious path, the message the Priest shared today in his homily caught my attention.

Our fraternity and sorority community has had a busy semester at Clemson. We’ve accomplished a great deal as a community; however, I feel our success has been marred by a number of incidents namely, instances of hazing, student death, alcoholism and other risk management issues. So while at church today, I was struck by a piece of the sermon that, to me, made sense among the crazy.

Amidst talk of loving thy neighbor and God, our Priest told the story of the origin of a Neil Diamond (well really, The Hollies) song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” While many versions of the story exist (Vietnam, Scottish tales, Boys Town, etc.) the basic premiss remains the same:

“Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger (wounded), but he seemed almost as big as she herself, when someone remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: ‘He’s na heavy. He’s mi brither.'”

The Hollies wrote a song about this tale that goes on to flush out the story in song lyrics:

His welfare is of my concern No burden is he to bear We’ll get there
For I know He would not encumber me He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If we are pursuing brotherhood and sisterhood as a mission of our organizations and a core value for many, why are we standing by when risky behavior is exhibited or poor choices about to be made? I’m not just talking about at a fraternity/sorority planned event. This goes for personal life choices these people are making. If I am my sister’s keeper, the weight or burden of helping her become better should be a non-issue.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

What will it take for us to exhibit song-worthy behavior (and no I’m not talking about some Asher Roth or Luke Bryan song about partying/sorority girls)? How have you acted as your brothers or sisters keeper, no matter what the weight is?

Christina

The Bigger Picture

July 17, 2012

I’ve been derelict in my posts. There’s nothing I can really equate it to except, ooopsies? And life happens? But I’ve noticed that I’ve missed reflecting, making connections, sharing random YouTube videos. So here’s my new promise to myself to keep it up!

An old student I worked with at USD just added me on Facebook and as I stalked her page after accepting (duh) I stumbled across the below video. It’s about space, or more specifically, Earth (do you even capitalize “earth”??). While it talks about the decreased funding of NASA – don’t get caught up in that. I’m thinking about this video from the lens of how often to we forget about the bigger picture? We get isolated in our departments, divisions, universities even, and forget about Earth. It’s remarkable how many initiatives spawned after the mission to the Moon.

Check it out –

Thankful for this reminder that we are more than separate colors on a map or departments on a list. What can we discover – what dreams can we dream? Let’s not forget to keep thinking about earth amidst the everyday.

It is the act of discovery that empowers nations and the world…

 

Move.

December 8, 2011

I was reminded of this video this evening and wanted to share with you the simple message of “Move.” (Thanks Dan!).

 

The Move video is a series of three, one minute videos that capture three words – Move, Learn, Eat. I hope as you watch this (extremely handsome) man travel the world you become inspired to do, dare and discover what lies beyond your comfort zone and what you can experience when you move. I’m talking about something easier than traveling around the world but more audacious than being OK with the status quo. How can you “Move” in your personal life to spark a passion and change from within?

 

Thinking About: The Help

August 22, 2011

You is kind, you is smart, you is important. — Abilene from The Help

How often do we tell ourselves and others this?

Dating…I Mean Job Searching Symptoms

July 11, 2011

I’m convinced that job searching and dating are one in the same. If my theory is correct – how can we use self-help/dating advice/romantic comedies as case studies for staying sane during the search process?

First let’s break down some symptoms of daters (according to moi) and align them with a type of job searcher.

  1. Obsession. You meet Mr. Right (or right now?), go on 1, if you’re lucky 2 dates and realize ok, he is the one. I need to date this guy, short-term, long-term, I don’t care. You are religiously (ok obsessively) checking your voicemail, Facebook, Twitter, texts, and wait I should dig out my old pager in case he pages me, right?? It’s not weird to be Googling everyone in your life to see if you’ve written about me or anyone else you could  be dating, right? What if I gave him the wrong number – I should probably call AT&T to make sure my vmail is working, could you call my cell just to check? Come on. Please???
  2. Meh. You don’t date that often, but you aren’t opposed to it. I mean, you are getting older and still don’t have a steady boyfriend? Enter McDreamy. We met and hey, you are pretty hot. OK actually, lots of people would kill to date you. Everyone who is anyone in our circle of friends knows who you are. We dated, you want to see me more. I’m pretty jazzed that you want to keep seeing me. But then you ask me to travel with you. So I do – we go far away from my home and I realize. Shit. I don’t really want to hang out with you anymore. You’re kind of cocky, you have a nice face, but where is the substance dude? You ask me to move with you – to take this to the next level. My friends tell me, are you crazy how could you say no?? But inside, I’m just kind of meh. I don’t really think I would change my life for you. Sorry toots.
  3. I’ll just stay at home with my cat(s). You just got out of a relationship (or maybe you were dating a few people at once and decided to call it quits). You can date whomever you want because hey, you’re cute, smart, funny. But somehow lately, you’ve been having the worst luck in the romance department. If it’s not one thing with a guy, it’s another. So instead, I’ll just stay at home with my cats. Those few times I go out, I may be interested in you, but you really have to be perfect for me to pursue you. Pur-fect. I’m perfectly content being alone and will pick and choose who and when I date.
  4. OMG. YOU HAVE TO MEET MY FRIEND – YOU WILL LOVE HIM! I just know you two will be perfect for each other. He is the full package. You might have to move to date him – but you are meant to be. I know Sally who knows Jeff who has a cousin that is bff’s with him. I once planned a party with him so I don’t know him that well but he seemed cool over the phone and e-mail. Plus, you haven’t been on a date in a while, so come on give him a try!

Seriously, think about it. The Placement Exchange is easily the student affairs version of Speed Dating or Match.com. Review my profile and let’s chat via e-mail and meet up to see if there is chemistry. I’ve had many a friend exhibit symptom #1 in dating and job searching and drive themselves bonkers. This also goes for searching for postings. How many times have you logged onto to your Facebook/online dating profile to see if someone has sent you a message and alternatively, how many times a day do you refresh higheredjobs.com? If it gets posted today, it will still be there tomorrow – promise.

My dating/job search life is a mix of Symptom #2  & #4. I’d like a job and maybe even got offered a job, but it just wasn’t right. Lots of friends and colleagues have been “introducing” or setting up blind dates and while I am SO grateful – I know myself best and need to trust my instincts! I know there will be the right guy/job and I am hoping there will be the one that changes the “meh” to “hell yes!”

These symptoms are a sample of the dating/job search process I’ve seen happen within myself, friends and colleagues. Other symptoms you’ve seen? I just know that if this process is anything like dating, then I need to make my self available for a lifestyle change, keep an open mind, and remember not to settle! More thoughts on dating and searching to come…

p.s. I recognize I used “him” as the dating subject – this can definitely apply to all types of dating preferences!