Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, December 5, 2016

This I Believe: Life is About Love by Terry Barkley (H3) Final Installment

   I would like to say that this philosophy class shook my world and changed my world view. I didn't quite know what to expect going into this class at the beginning of the semester. Would I like it? Would I expand my mind? Would I be enlightened on the meaning of life? Would my faith in God be questioned? Well, I liked class but not for the reasons I thought I would. I enjoyed thinking about different ways to live life and the benefits and disadvantages of each. I enjoyed hearing different views on personal beliefs, political views, and general philosophy. The class did not necessarily shatter my beliefs and worldview but more so strengthened my own views by forcing me to consider others and think about how the best way to live life. I have discovered that knowing one's own personal philosophy shapes the way one lives life. On the first day of class, I was asked, "Why are you here?" I replied, "Well in a general sense, I am here to love God and love people." So, this is what I believe.
Love is the Way
   I think that it is very easy to become apathetic to the world. There is legitimately so much sadness, anger, and devastation in the world that it is easy to shut off all emotion so that we don't feel the hurt of these things. There are days when I walk around campus feeling like a zombie. There's plenty of excuses one can make to not be loving: I didn't get enough sleep, I haven't had my coffee, I'm stressed out-- the list goes on. Many relationships in life fall apart not because of some scandalous situation one would watch on a lifetime movie but because people become apathetic toward each other. We think that if we show our emotions on our sleeves then we are at risk to be hurt, and we are right. To love is to put ourselves at risk of having our hearts broken-- by romantic partners, and even friends and family. Here is the thing, though: to risk heart break and love anyway is better than to have no emotion at all. We shut all our emotions down so that we don't have to feel the bad ones, but that is no way to live life. It is better to feel everything at once than nothing at all. We were not created to live zombie lives. We were made to wonder, create, interact, cry, laugh, and love. We were made to feel the entire scope of human emotion. Helen Keller is quoted saying, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  I personally feel much better about life when I am expressing my passion. We were all made with unique and specific interests, and I believe part of our purpose on Earth is to pursue those passions! Now, when we are feeling our emotions improperly, some of us choose to hate. Hate is a thing that will consume us. A famous analogy used to describe hate is that it is like drinking poison in hopes that the other person will die. I believe that love is the best way to live life. Don’t love in search for love in return, just love regardless. Love God. Love your family. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Love your significant other. Love outcasts. Love yourself. Just love, love, love. One of my favorite pastors, Pete Wilson, once said that love is not something that you can use up; it just increases the more you give it. So, let’s choose love.

Love the Creator
Personally, when I think of love, I think of God. I deeply believe in a higher power that sent His son to Earth to die for each of our wrong-doings. With that being said, if you are a non-believer, this section can still somewhat apply to your life if you replace ‘God’ with ‘the cosmos’ or ‘the universe’. I think it is important to appreciate and love God for creating the world that we live in, the people in it, and us ourselves. According to 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Woah. So if the creator of everything is love itself, then shouldn’t we strive to be loving? Doesn’t that mean that we were designed by love, out of love, and to love? I only have to look at creation to realize that it was made by a loving God that made such beautiful things for our enjoyment. The very fact that I am gifted with life and I have the opportunity to have faith, hope, and joy gives me reason to love my creator. I know in philosophy it can be considered silly to believe so surely in something that is not proven, but I have clearly seen the evidence of life change personally and in others’ lives. I have heard that still, small voice that comforts, teaches, and loves. I have seen hopeless people turn into hopeful people. I have seen people give up their shame in exchange for grace. I have seen people defeat their fear in exchange for faith. I’ve seen people give up sorrow for joy. I’ve personally stepped out in faith to go to the Dominican Republic, a third world country, to help the people there because of my faith and love of God. I believe the evidence is all around. can It is clear that we are designed to love God and similarly love His people. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Love People
Loving other people is one of the most fulfilling things have ever done. I first got involved volunteering at my church, Crosspoint, by welcoming newcomers and handing out programs. I later was asked to volunteer in the kid’s ministry. I was nervous about being in charge of fragile children, but I took a step of faith. I fell in love with caring for and teaching the sweet little ones. I later even became a professional babysitter at a daycare! Loving people can often be rewarding and reveal strengths we didn’t even know we had. I started volunteering occasionally in the youth ministry and service projects. I had the privilege to volunteer for a nursing home, a pregnancy center, a help center, roadside litter pickup, and more. I say all of this not to brag about how good of a person I am but rather to give a personal testimony that helping people really helps yourself. By loving on all those people, I felt a sense of fulfillment-- a sense that that was what I was made to do. I have always felt a longing to go to foreign places, meet different people, learn from them, love them, and tell them of God. I had that amazing opportunity last summer when I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with my church for a week.

It was scary for me because I had never been away from my mom for a week. I had never flown on a plane. I’d never left the country. But I stepped out in faith for the purpose of loving God and loving people.

We spent a majority of the time at a local church where we played with the local children while their parents were at work. In the Dominican, children are often left alone all day, and the church serves as a refuge for them.
We fed the kids everyday at the church's nutrition center. Most people in the Dominican only eat one meal a day.

We taught the kids a bible story everyday with the help of translators, songs, and arts and crafts.

The sweet little ones would sit on our van when it was time for us "Americanos" to leave the church everyday. They were so thankful and sweet to us. It was amazing to see people who were so grateful and joyful even though they had so little.

The Dominican is located on the same island as Haiti, and historically the two groups hate each other.  usually the church has two separate services to prevent fighting. Because of unfortunate circumstances, one pastor was not able to come. Moise combined the Haitian and Dominican services. He preached in Creole, a Dominican translated to Spanish, and an American translated to English. The message was about community and how even though we are all different in color, origin, economic status, and more, we can all come together as one body through what we did have in common: the love of God. We took communion together. At the end, we visited with each other, saying "God bless you" in the the native tongue of the person we were addressing. It was truly beautiful to see cultures that technically should hate each other choose to love each other. That message remains my favorite.

The American worship
(yes that is a purple Hannah Montana guitar)

The Haitian worship

The Dominican worship

The pastor of the church, Moise, spoke three languages: Creole, Spanish, and English. He taught himself all three. He dedicates his life to the God, the church, and his community. He was the most Christ-like person I have ever had the privilege of getting to know and learn from.

This was an intern for the church. He aspires to be a pastor when he gets older.

This is Renee, one of our amazing translators on the trip. He was so welcoming and kind. He truly was dedicating to improving his home land.

We painted the church as a gift for Pastor Moise for the church's 10 year anniversary.

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

This was my best friend on the trip, Jennifer. She clung onto me from the very first day of bible study, and we had a great time together from braiding hair, blowing bubbles, painting faces, coloring, eating, and learning about God's love.

1 John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

   Love Yourself
So, in my original personal philosophy statement from the first day of class, I would tack on one more category to love. It is very important to love oneself. Self-love enables you to love others better and to love God better. Self-love cultivates a healthy life where passions flourish. Too often we find ourselves hating on ourselves and what we naturally gravitate to. If you can appreciate the gifts, passions, and traits that make you unique, life will be much happier. We were made uniquely with our specific interests, passions and traits for a reason. We need all types of jobs, hobbies, and creators in the world to make a functioning society. We were made differently for a purpose and we should embrace it and do our best at what we love and enjoy. Too many people settle for a life that is good enough instead of pursuing our passions just to fit into society's perfect box. The bottom line is we should be pursuing a life that is fruitful for ourselves and for the world. If your passion is ice cream, go make the best dang ice cream shop that the world has ever seen. I'll assure you that you and the world will be much happier than if you decide to throw away your passions for a boring office job just because it’s easier. Appreciate yourself  and who you were made to be. We often think lowly of ourselves because we are our own worst critics when we should be the our own #1 fans. In today’s society it is hard to accomplish self-love with advertisements bombarding every media, trying to convince you that there is something about you that needs to be fixed. In the tv series The Mindy Project, Mindy feels bad about her weight gain after pregnancy, and a friend brings over a beauty expert to help. The beauty expert tells Mindy to stand in front of a mirror and describe herself. Mindy stands in front of the mirror while insulting and degrading herself. The expert then asks Mindy, “If the person in the mirror was your best friend would you be as mean to her as you’re being to yourself?” and Mindy replied no. The expert then said, “Well I have news for you: you are talking to your best friend.”
This is an ideal I think we should all adopt. We will always have ourselves as company throughout life, so we might as well treat ourselves how we should treat everyone else in life-- with love and respect. Often times, the root of bullying and hatred towards others stems from self-loathing. So, it is much easier to love others once you can love yourself. Think, the God of the cosmos created each of us and loved us enough to die for us. We are quite literally made out of the same material as the stars. We are all deserving of love. Choose to love yourself.
Star stuff by Carl Sagan.png

Closing Thoughts: Love as a Verb
I think it is normal in life to have trouble loving at least one of the three categories I have laid out. What I’ve found to be true in my life, though, is that once you can consciously and purposefully love one of the categories, the others easily follow suite. How can you not love yourself when you love a God that made you in His perfect image? How can you hate people when they were made in a God you love’s perfect image? How can you hate yourself when you are apart of the human race that you love? How can you hate other people when you love yourself and you yourself are a part of the people? Love is something that just spreads and spreads and never runs out, so once you start loving the process is bound to continue. We can’t just say we love God, people, and ourselves for it to count for something. Love isn’t just a feeling; it is an action. In other words, love is not just a noun, it is also a verb. What good is love if you just let it sit stagnant inside of you? Pray to God, help people, and care for yourself. Love doesn’t reach its true potential to help you, people, or God if you don’t put it into action. I want my life to be about putting love into action.

My comments:
Word count: 2,548

My edited first installment  is included in this installment.


  1. Love is a verb, indeed. My view is that anyone who is better able to express and enact love in the world by virtue of their commitment to a loving god (and to loving a god) should be applauded and thanked for their service. A crucial attendant view, though, must also be acknowledged: there are some loving souls among us, many in fact, who actively express and enact love for others and for humanity in spite of their disbelief in any gods. It's not what you believe, but how your belief OR disbelief informs and motivates what you do.

    1. I very much agree with you that there are many people that are outstanding at loving while not believing in any higher power. I think the decision to love, however we decide to come to it, is admirable.

  2. Wow. I LOVE your post. It is nice to know that there are people out there that haven’t “given up” on humanity. You are an inspiration just by how much you seem to appreciate every little thing in life. What an incredible experience it must have been to go to the Dominican and help young children out, showing them light and giving them nurture and love. I find your view on the metaphorical sense of God and the universe and love itself quite captivating. Using this class to challenge and reconfirm your beliefs is a great way of evolving as a person. I also liked how you were describing love and its infinite potential, tying into the idea of a universal and unconditional love. The idea of hating someone or even just having anger towards the world is a waste of time and energy, and is also emotionally draining. So why not love and accept everyone while pursuing your passions? This can easily become a way of life if people would stop fighting it with greed, selfishness, and overindulgence.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. One thing that caught my attention was how you mentioned that when you think of love, you think of God. Although I don't share this belief with you, I do love the idea of it. If everything God made is out of love, why can't we as human beings exhibit this? Especially since we are the most capable of doing so. Hopefully we'll get there one day!

  4. I never thought about how self love could help you love others and God, but now that I think about it that's totally true.