Today I got to go to STOP class. How wonderful uh? For those of you who do not know what it is, well…I was caught speeding and got to go to a class to “refresh my memory” of the traffic laws that govern our streets and highways. The class was for eight hours and wasn’t that bad. Of course, leave it to me to allow myself to let the Lord turn it into a spiritual experience. Thus, my column for the week stems from the 25 people who were at STOP class with me today. It was quite an experience.
Within ten minutes I had heard the “f word,” the Lord’s name taken in vain five times and countless stories and choices that brought on deserving as well as tragic consequences. Before the instructor even introduced the class, I was already disturbingly fascinated of the world I was in. The room was a replica of our culture. Most people in the room didn’t care about why they were there. Some admitted drinking and drug problems, marital and relationship problems, and most people in that roomed looked like they lived their lives in quiet desperation. I wanted to yell out loud to all of them…I care about you! There is a better way! You were made for something more!
I didn’t yell those things, even though I wanted to. But I did all I could do and felt called to do in the moment, and I prayed. I clutched my rosary and prayed for all the people in that room who were crying out for a better life.
As I continue to talk to young people this summer and as I listened to mostly young men and women in STOP class today, it seems to me to be a conversation focused on identity. Why are we making the decisions that we do, when we drink, do drugs, participate in unhealthy sexual relationships, treat others like objects, do anything to be popular, and make ourselves the most important things in our lives? We do all these things and more because it simply comes down to the fact that we don’t know who we are. If we truly knew who we were, we would be tempted to worship one another. If we truly knew who we were no one would every consider taking advantage of someone else or using them for their own pleasure. If we truly knew who we were we would safeguard and protect our bodies and souls from anything that could destroy them.
My friends, most people don’t know who they are, and the path to finding our true selves is not made to be difficult. A great theologian said, “to know who we are, we must know where we came from.” All of us must stop and recognize who made us and where we came from. If every struggling young person I get to listen to or the members of my STOP class this morning stopped to recognize where they came from and who made them, their lives and our world would be a lot different.
My friends, we come from God. He created us in His own image and likeness. He created us for Himself, to love Him, know Him, and follow in His way. But it’s like we are living as if we were created by Hollywood, MTV, or even some trashy magazine. We reflect the people or things we follow. Who are you reflecting in your life? We were made to reflect Jesus! We were made to reflect Him, to experience His love, and share Him with the world. Not to reflect something we don’t truly understand.
Even though we all are surrounded by an identity crisis, I am very much encouraged. Because in many conversation and moments, I find young people stopping and looking back to where they came from, and who they came from, and their lives are truly changed. May the Lord be praised…
Stop to reclaim your true identity in the one who made you and start to live that life that you were made for…
God Bless You,