Tag Archives: stages

Relationships Are Not Easy

Image of Intimacy as a process

(Photo credit is unknown. :\ )

I see this saved draft in my blogsite, and decided to publish it.  I guess I forgot to jot down the source!!  But it’s still priceless.

The man on the right is John Paul the Second, a Pope who promoted a deeper and clearer understanding of sexuality’s proper practice in marriage, in single life, and in all vocations.  His most famous work was his lectures on the “Theology of the Body,” now published as a massive book.  Those quotes above him are paraphrases of what he said about man’s and woman’s vocation to each other when it comes to sexuality and dignifying it.

Sexuality is so tricky!  It makes us do wonderful things, or it can destroy our life and the life of others if its misused and squandered on lust.  The sad thing about the issue is that it’s normally not discussed in pop culture in a meaningful way.  See what is at the bottom of the pyramid?  Friendship.  Who would have thought that’s where it all starts with all that we see in movies and TV drama.  It’s more like, “Boy meets girl, he teases her, goes through some short time with getting to know her, and she’s immediately in love with him and they have sex after a few dates.”

But God asks us to take it to another level.  It’s the journey we need to enjoy, not the result.  In fact, according to this diagram, the enjoyment of the journey will make the explosion of deep intimate sex be even more meaningful, even more powerful to change life and deepen each person’s commitment to the other.

What do I know?  As I reflect on my own previous relationships, I realize to my chagrin that I have NEVER followed this process.  Hmm.  So it follows that my singleness may have been the product of not misfortune, but of immaturity.

Okay, God.  I’m ready to grow up now.  Help me be a better…..friend first, then lover.

Wanting To Not Just Do Something But Be Something

I read a deeply thought out article on vocation and discipleship by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, featured in The Tidings newspaper, titled “The Three Levels of Christian Discipleship”:

There are three major phases in our human and spiritual journey:

            -Essential discipleship: The struggle to get our lives together;

            -Generative discipleship: The struggle to give our lives away;

            -Radical discipleship: The struggle to give our deaths away.

In a nutshell, he explains that we all naturally hit a point in our life that makes us want independence.  A Christian approach would be that transition from dependency on parents and their faith, to growing intellectually in our faith to claim it as our own, and start living out our life responsibly by building up a home for ourselves.

The next transition calls the Christian to step away from fulfilling personal needs, and to look outside of the self.  Being helpful to strangers, increasing the amount of volunteering done, etc.

The final stage is when a Christian realizes that there needs to be a way that we live out our life so that when we do die, we leave behind a great gift.  Not so much an inheritance or a legacy, but an acceptance of all things that come with death: general helplessness like loss of intellect, loss of being able to speak up, feeling “in the way,” or feeling unworthy of all the attention and favors given by both strangers and beloved ones.   In a simple phrase, when a Christian accepts their death, they strive in their own capacity not to be a burden on others.

The 3 stages aren’t meant to be compartments to force one’s self to fit in, but more like general objectives.  Even better, they help frame the main questions we could ask of ourselves to enrich our life and gauge our journey in the faith.

On a personal note, I’m in the second stage.  I’m yearning to give my life away.  I ache for it.  The difficulty is that I never really completed the first stage, that whole process of finding a full-time job, a place to live, a woman to marry.

Or better yet, it’s not so much that I didn’t finish the first stage, but that I’ve decided to merge the first and second:  I want to make a career of giving my life away.  I want to be able to have a family and home while primary serving others.

And so the idealist in me lives on, continuing to search, continuing to hope.

 

Read full article by Rev. Ron: The three levels of Christian discipleship.

Find out more of Rev. Ron here: www.ronrolheiser.com

Image originally found: http://ignitionblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/adventist-leaders-invited-to-discipleship-and-habitudes-training/