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How to Get Back to Happy
by Madi Wade

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When the sun is shining, and the palm trees blow in the wind, all I can do is smile. The warmth from the sun hitting my face to darken my freckles is such an amazing feeling. But what do I do when these things happen, and I don’t smile? Everything on the outside aligns, but the connection isn’t made to the inside.

Well, I take a step back and figure out why the connections aren’t happening. I try to find out why the usual things that make me happy, aren’t making me happy. Nine times out of ten, with God I can figure out the issue to solve it. But on the rare occasion when there just isn’t an explanation, I start to question God. And this can be dangerous, for many reasons. One question leads to another and at the end of the day you are left with unanswered questions and a load of doubt in your head. Doubt can and will, slowly make us go crazy. The uncertainty that creeps into our mind comes straight from a place of darkness, not from God. This darkness grows as we question God and question everything that makes us happy. We cannot let evil work its ways into our lives, only GOD.

I recently had an experience where I started to disconnect from everyone and the things I enjoyed. This happened because I was experiencing stress from family and school work. I slowly started to become unhappy with the things that used to make me happy, without even noticing. My friends, school, youth group, even my favorite foods couldn’t put a smile on my face. Then I started to question God and became angry with myself for not ever being happy. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t finding pure joy anymore. After about three weeks of this, I finally said enough is enough. I took a break from the superficial things in life. I started becoming more proactive and talking to people who are helping me find joy again. In those three weeks, I questioned God regularly and thought I just failed at everything in life. But, after letting the negativity go in my life, the positive things and people started to come back.

God knows what we struggle with, and he will never give us more than we can bear. In times of doubt, with ourselves and God, we must disconnect from the earthly things and focus on the ultimate goal-heaven.  There is no place we can go where His love won’t find us. No place we can hide that He won’t see. HE sees it all, through the eyes of love. We must remember this and continue to the next day with joy and a mindset for the future. We always need to enjoy the sunshine!

 

-xo Madi Wade

The Strength of Fortitude
by Tracy Gaboyau

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Last month, I attended a retreat at the University of North Florida called the senior day of reflection. The retreat was hosted by my Catholic diocese to gather up seniors in my area and help them in the college process. Throughout the day college students from both FSU and UNF came in and informed us that while maintaining your faith in college is difficult, it is 100% manageable. Towards the end of the retreat, we had a priest come in to celebrate Mass and offer reconciliation, which I gladly took advantage of. After reconciliation, however, Father Mike explained something to me that might relate to many young faithful all over the world. Father Mike said: “you seem to know what the right thing is, but have trouble with carrying it out, I want you to pray for strength, pray for fortitude.”

The Catholic church defines the virtue of fortitude as “the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life”. In other words, fortitude is having the courage and strength to know what the right thing is, and do it.

Many times, we know what the right thing is, but it becomes incredibly difficult to choose it over the easier thing. We must remember, though, that being kind, giving, and respectful is ten times harder than being evil, rude, and impolite. It is easier to roll your eyes or curse out an ignorant person than it is to remain kind and forgiving, even when you know you are correct, but the easier route is not the route God calls us to. He even told us in 2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Our lives as Christians aren’t meant to be easy; they are meant to be tough, demanding, and exhausting. And in return, we get the ultimate reward: eternal life with Jesus.

Similarly, anyone can simply say “I’m sorry,” or “I won’t do it again,” even both my 9 and 7-year-old brothers can do it, but it takes real strength, true fortitude, to not commit that sin again.

For many of us, the virtue of fortitude can act as the angel on our right shoulder that is constantly encouraging and pushing us to do the right thing, to do what Jesus would do. So, brother and sister in Christ, I encourage you all, just as Father Mike has encouraged me, to pray for the virtue of fortitude. Let’s challenge ourselves to overcome different forms of adversity and resist everyday temptations.

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