receptivity

Hello, long time no see… I know it’s been a while, but I’m back. Life has been crazy and hectic, but it’s good to be back with this blog and with you! Today I want to talk with you about something that has been on my mind A LOT lately, receptivity. We will touch on three topics relating to receptivity: community, race and the pandemic. You might be reading this and thinking, these are things I don’t want to talk about, hear about, etc. If that’s you, I especially encourage you to stick around. 

So let’s start with the first one, community. If you know me, you know that I have been a missionary for the past few years with a catholic organization, NET Ministries. It has been such a gift and joy to be a part of this ministry, but let me tell you it hasn’t been easy. When I first came to NET, I had just converted to catholicism. Not only was the faith new to me, but so was the idea of living in an intentional community. I come from a community (in California) that is so beautiful but can be very draining and toxic. I would bet that my community back home is quite similar to yours.. we would joke around and be sarcastic, we would live life and work to pay bills, we would take care of ourselves and others. It was a normal life. So what is so different about this intentional community that I am in now? Well here, we ask how each other is doing, we pray and pray for each other, we strive in more radical ways for virtue. Striving for virtue sounds beautiful, and it is… but remember when I said that living in this community hasn’t been easy? That’s why. Striving for virtue is hard, it can be painful and it can be frustrating! Why is this? It’s because it is stripping away your bad habits, your weaknesses, and it’s stretching you! It’s hard and it hurts because of the growing pains. I am a perfectionist, so I hate when people see my weaknesses. I am also a sinner so sometimes I fail to choose virtue, which is the beauty of an intentional community, because they are there to call me on and lead me to holiness… but, like I said, I hate when people see my weaknesses. So sometimes I fail to receive their help, I reject it. But we need to learn to get over ourselves and receive help from others, because God has placed them in our lives, so really, we are accepting God’s help!! This hasn’t been easy for me, it still isn’t… but that’s okay, it means I can still grow some more!! 

Another way in which failure to receive and be open has caused hurt in my heart is in the rejection and mistreatment of our brothers and sisters of color. I myself have black, hispanic, and asian relatives, roommates, friends and mentors… So it hurts me to see the senseless killings of people like George Floyd (46), Breonna Taylor (26), Atatiana Jefferson (28), and so many more. It blows me away to see racial injustice in our world today! How are there still people who justify racially motivated violence and discrimination? It seems so obvious to me that we are to love all people as our brothers and sisters, regardless of color, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean you have permission to mistreat them. But here’s the scary thing about racism… it’s not always obvious to us. You don’t have to always act outwardly to be racist. When you are walking down the street and a black man drives by with loud music, what are your thoughts? If you are walking down the street and you pass by a person of color, do you clench your bag? If you have been following the news and you have seen the BLM protests, how do you view it? Do you think, ‘all lives matter?’ Do you think about how you can help? My point to all this is, you don’t have to kill a person of color to be racist, a lot of times, it is much more common than we think. I think it stems from misunderstanding and miscommunication. For me, I am afraid to ask questions/say things like: How can I help? How has racism affected you? Should I say ‘black’ or ‘African American’? We are afraid of asking clarifying questions, thus causing more confusion which just aids the growth of ignorance. One way I fail in relating to the hispanic community is by speaking Spanish because [I’m afraid] I’m going to sound racist/like I am mocking them. Or asking them about their culture because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing! Guys, that IS NOT helpful. Embrace the awkward, get over yourself and try to understand others. If you are genuinely coming from a place of love- they will recognize that. We need to not be controlled by fear, the evil one wants to use that to separate us, but it’s a trap! Once we learn to understand we will be better able to receive each other in love!

And finally, the pandemic. We are at the 6th month mark of Covid restrictions here in America. We have been dealing with lockdowns, distancing and the dreaded face coverings! It has been a difficult time, dealing with the pandemic… And I think it relates very well with what we are talking about today. This pandemic has made it more evident that we are humans, that fail at loving others. But I have also seen that we all have the capability to love and care for others. I see A LOT of people who wear their face coverings properly, which hasn’t always been the case. At the beginning of this all, people occasionally wore their masks but now it’s almost like everyone has acknowledged their need and trained themselves to wear them. The definition of virtue is: a firm and habitual resolution toward the good. This pandemic has actually been a good lesson of virtue. I know that this pandemic isn’t ideal, but I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that we have taken this bad thing and allowed it to make us better. So let this be evidence that you are capable of good. You can overcome difficult things. You are strong.

Thank you so much for sticking around! Follow me on Instagram @paxetcaritas_  

DM me if you want to talk about anything you just read. Let me know if I misspoke or said something offensive, it wasn’t intended! Peace and Love be with you! God bless! 

-Jer

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