quality of life: gone or found?
Updated: Jan 23
Like most of the world...
I am grieving the loss of normalcy.
Unlike most of the world, I have the audacity to question, what really is normalcy? Call me crazy but I have never mastered a "normal" life before I was quarantined, saw riots and ugly political crap take over peoples ability to love, and witness a decline in participation in religion and even just mere belief in God.
I ask my theology class this question every year before we start an entire semester on Catholic Morality: what are you looking for in life? What’s the goal? (spoiler alert: this is not an original question, rather one taken from Jesus back in John’s Gospel).
Most of the students say happiness. Some, inarguably, say Love. Everything else is a subset of the two: “I just never want to be alone.” ... “I want to be married.” ... and of course, “I want to accept myself for who I am.”
So the term "quality of life."
Rightfully so, the question is answered based on their opinions of a good “quality of life.” Sometimes I think they just say answers like “happiness” because it’s “the right thing to say.”
One the universal scale of individual wants and successes, accomplished goals, dreams, and “never done that’s” ... one might have an argument with another over how to determine the quality of life of another. For example; Many people pity my singleness, many people envy it. Many people belittle my fitness goals, many people praise them. Many people question my beliefs, many people admire them.
So is my quality of life good or bad? Well... doesn’t matter cause, see, we just can’t win. Let’s just lay the foundation of life with Truth, and the unconditional truth of every human person is simple: you are loved.
Love is never getting what you want. Love is never, "let me risk my life." Love is not getting a job title. Love is not having a following. Love is not Perfectionism. Love is not people pleasing. Love is not earned in the right way of acting or "being." Love is not exhausting yourself. Love is not "proving" the other wrong. Love is never waiting for you, "out there," somewhere, in some thing or in some one.
Love is not a prize for being a good person. For all these definitions of “love” are utter darkness and internal chaos. They are dependent on you. Love, the real, true, authentic kind, the one that dignifies you, IS present right where you are. It is not back in the “life before pandemic” or in 2018, nor is it a “thing" to work for or a discovery you only find in the SwissAlps, it is an inner reality of the heart. An ability to will the good.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. Love is not proud, it is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrong-doings, it does not delight in evil. Love rejoices in what is true. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never fails. Just because you can't feel a high rush of emotions ... go on vacation.... eat at the top restaurants in town ... or have a certain something you yearn for does not, nor will it ever, mean you are unloved and incapable of love. Those things may have brought patience, kindess, and all the virtues necessary from the "Love is.." letter by St. Paul, but experiences are qualities of (the beauty of) life.
Qualities of love are learned. they are learned through suffering.
Love, God's entire essence, is a sacrifice for us. One He DIDNT have to make, but chose to because of how much He freakin’ loves us and didn’t want to give up on us and our silly ways of trying to be filled with love.
this is true light in the mind's darkness.
Remember: God’s only begotten son didn't restore Earth from sin and death, that’s not what we believe, rather He promised, and WON FOR US, access to something better, far surpassing this grubby life. A place new land called paradise. A life without burdens, worries, jobs, dependencies, hurts, unlove, and any illness or disease, since that's all that Earth offers us at one point... (it offered Him the same, too).
Jesus was sent on this Earth to remind us to look towards the Father For everything. I mean, that’s what The Father promises; everything. We just don’t always choose Him.
He didn’t choose to "win" earthly life by ending everyone else by His power, no, He sacrificed His own life to only come back and prove the Love that exists for us is greater than we imagine, and it’s brought about somewhere else. He knows Life tried to make a fool of Him, His power and excellence, so why give the people a reward here? Through His death, He destroys the influence of evil in the hearts of those who let Him into their hearts. He frees those fearful and enslaved by their fears. Because He Himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested. We are learning the hardest lesson of life; you are loved. Not because of what you feel, or what you do, say, or think, but because you were created to be loved eternally.
Patience, kindness, and all those other good things listed in love do NOT go away in any circumstance you are in! In fact, Your ability to participate in them has only gotten bigger. And when we have them, we have everything
So when I think about myself and my students sitting in class talking about what we are looking for, I find that I am a victim to those untrue statements of love (the ones I listed above). I fall for their traps DAILY and I have lived so many years stuck in my head, couldn't see past myself, exhausted from trying to prove myself.
And truthfully, I must say, I have been found in the year everything else was lost.
because Love was and is not lost. It’s name is God.
The time I “lived” before a pandemic was so mentally exhausting... trying to FIND patience, kindness, gentleness.... in someone, something, some place, event, job, or next chapter of life. But the love I always hoped to find was always free, right in my own soul by the small leaning into the Love of God. A world pandemic might have traumatic lasting effects on my brain or body. It might have given me the worst acne I have ever had in my life because of sweating in a mask, and working out in a mask, (painful zits at that). But it has never stolen the fact that I am loved, and can love. My dignity as The Father's daughter comes with a promise of love which is more true every day than it was before. That,
God reconciles Himself to us and He can’t UNDO that. We may not feel it, but He promised it and told His own Son, Jesus, to painfully die to prove it.
That Love is where we find our quality of life.