Text-heavy post. But I reckon it’s worth the read. Especially for those who seek real love.
Last Saturday, my friends and I trooped over to World Trade Center for Real Love Revolution II, an afternoon of talks by Youth Ministry veteran Chris Stefanick and America’s Next Top Model finalist Leah Darrow. The first installment of this was held in SMX last year where we heard Jason Evert speak. We were all blown away with his talk and were, thus, all excited for the second part of Real Love Revolution! 🙂
Just a short note on the Real Love Revolution (from their Facebook page):
“Real Love Revolution is a movement by young people who have come to a clear realization that not everything the world labels as love is love in its real sense. Seeing that choosing to subscribe to a false version of love can be destructive, these young people have decided to work at spreading the true meaning of love by putting up events that not only help enlighten the minds of the youth but also aid them in appreciating and in celebrating genuine love, with all its joys and pains. In partnership with I Am S.T.R.O.N.G., RLR is now celebrating its fifth year carrying the constant tagline and challenge,”i Keep Love Real”.”
What I appreciate about this year’s Revolution is that there are two speakers who got to address both the male and female crowd. I’m sure the guys learned not just a thing or two but a whole lot from Chris, who is also a father to three girls, on how to be a real man. And the girls certainly oohh-ed and aahh-ed over how pretty Leah is (I know because I was fangirling), who, by the way, effectively channels modesty in her own demeanor.
The talks were awesome – the content was right on and the speakers were moving but never preachy. I was so tempted to bring out my notepad and pen and take down notes during the whole talk. 😛 I’m so awed with both Chris and Leah that I find myself typing up this post and sharing with you tidbits from that afternoon’s talks.
My biggest takeway for the afternoon, and what I will probably remember for the longest time, is this
Love is saying ‘let me put first what’s good for you and what I want from you second’.
I don’t think you’ll be sounding like a martyr when you say this. It’s just putting first what is better for the person you love and, in the process, learning how to love him/her more. Simplistically, guys this is about not pressuring your girlfriends to do anything she doesn’t want to do. On the flipside too, girls this is about dressing appropriately and modestly so as not to further tempt our boyfriends.
Second takeaway: In making moral decisions, use not your heart, but your brain.
Will the relationship be good for you? Does it help you and the other person become better Catholics? Is the person helping you to be a better person?
Girls (and also boys), it may feel like a thousand butterflies fluttering in your stomach and hormones being released that impair your reasoning, but if the guy does not bring you closer to God or help you be a better person, he IS NOT the right one for you.
Further, no matter how much it feels like love – so much that it will inevitably lead to marriage -, do not do IT. If he really loves you and intends to marry you, he will wait until both of you are married and bound in the eyes of God.
Chris shares some tips on the path to real love:
1. Don’t ask ‘how far is too far?’
Asking this is the first signal that you’re looking at it in the wrong perspective. It’s never about the rules or the boundaries but the desire to put first what is best for the other person and second what you want from that person.
2. Stay out of dumb situations.
Yes, this is completely true! Notice those ‘slippery when wet’ signs they put after mopping up the floor? It’s there for a reason. Sticky situations are meant to be avoided at all cost! They say, do not dialogue with the devil and run away instead; it’s a far wiser action. Girls and boys, especially those who are couples, avoid being in dark places and even those where there’s just the two of you. It would be better and advisable to stay in places with ample lighting (haha) and with a lot of people. Don’t invite temptation anymore thinking that you will be strong enough to fight it.
3. Keep your thoughts pure.
I’m being neither a purist nor a prude here. Our thoughts, however, largely influence our actions. Take care not to fill your mind and heart with impurity and garbage. This also applies to the books we read, movies we watch, songs we listen to and even the pictures we see. What fills our senses nurtures our heart and then influences our deeds.
Girls, it would be hard to act modestly with our boyfriends when we dream up of scenarios out of the romance novels. Boys, it would be doubly harder to see your girlfriend as a precious gem to be cherished after you’ve looked at a dozen or so inappropriately-clad girls in a magazine.
4. It’s the balance that counts. Stand up whenever you fall down.
The song goes, “I’m only human, born to make mistakes” and don’t we use this excuse all too often? Hmm, well it’s true that we will inevitably make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, pick yourself up and start again. Realize your mistakes, pray for forgiveness and, most importantly, go to confession. The grace afterwards will be stronger to enable you to stand up again.
I love, love Leah Darrow. Truly, the journey that she has endured so far is a beautiful testimony of getting out of the darkness of sin and bathing in the light of forgiveness. She is really beautiful, yes, but I bet that the inner happiness she has found now is giving her a glow that no cosmetic products can give. Not even Photoshop, yes.
I love that she is now a believer in modesty. The clothes we wear is a wonderful expression of our moods but not at the expense of other people, I hope. Girls, we can still look refined, sophisticated, stylish and feminine even when we cover up 80-90% of our bodies. Leah is right; what we wear is not the only message but it sends out one. In this world of mixed signals and miscommunication, let’s not let even our clothing send the wrong message. 🙂
The experiences that Leah has had in her life, including her stint in America’s Next Top Model, lends a sincerity and credibility to her testimony. It was simple and honest yet very powerful and moving.
One of the things she said which I really, really like is “never ever let people tell you that you can’t change.”
Never ever. Everyone can change for the better. It will not always be easy but God’s grace can make anything, even the seemingly impossible, to be possible. This goes out also to those who have experienced the pains of losing one’s purity and virginity. The physical may have been lost but the spiritual purity can still be regained by a sincere heart.
To end this post, I leave readers with Leah’s definition of love – something that she has borrowed from St. Thomas Aquinas.
“Love is desiring the greatest good for the beloved.”
Real love is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It is not meant to limit us humans. Instead, it is meant to enlarge our hearts so as to be able to learn how to love more until we eventually get to embrace the world. Think of it this way: you are riding a bicycle with training wheels and practicing everyday so that you can ride with person you love, sans the training wheels, on the day that you get married and not have to fall off balance.
Would you rather live in the now with an imitation love or train for real love?
For more information on Leah Darrow and Chris Stefanick, you may click on these links: