This I Believe : Jaga Gavin

“A couple of years ago I was having a particularly difficult, overwhelming, world squishing you like a bug kind of day.  I got to the point where I was shouting at God in my head “why does it have to be so difficult, why am I doing all this work alone, why does no one else help, how can I keep going on?” I was having this intense prayer while walking up 35th St.  and something peculiar was happening on that street.  I saw a lady in slow motion; Our eyes connected, I could feel her anxiety and fear in the world, she was close to having no hope left.  Next I encountered a couple of guys having some cocktails laughing and enjoying the moment they had, and though it seemed like joy it felt empty. At the same time I was listening to my iPod and as I approached 7th Ave. the song “You’re Beautiful” by James Blundt came on.  I was still screaming my questions to God in my head, I turned left and saw a sea of thousands of people, and the chorus of the song came on.  But instead of the song singing “You’re beautiful” I heard, “They’re beautiful, they’re beautiful to me-it’s true.  I see their faces in this crowded place and I don’t know what to do because I’ll never be with them.” The moment I heard those words I understood Gods heart towards all these people, the weight of the world was lifted off of me and I was immediately grateful for being able to do what I do.  I have a profound opportunity to connect people to the love of God. I believe that I am a conduit which God’s love can be expressed and that I am in control of the on/off switch. I may have days in which everything is going perfect, and my switch will be on.  I may have days where the weight of the world is pressing me down and I am full of fear and anxiety, and I will feel like turning the switch off. But I will fight that response, because God’s love fought for me. I believe that God sees His children’s faces every day, many of them don’t know Him.  They are of every race, every culture, every faith, all levels of economic status, they hurt, sing, work, play, cry, laugh, live, and die. They are all beautiful. Through me choosing to be that conduit of God’s love, I can maybe, hopefully, possibly, connect people to their Heavenly Parent. This I believe.” Continue Reading

This I Believe : Love Is Never Wasted

By Victoria Roomet, the president of CARP from 2011 to 2013. 

It is torturous for me to think that we, relational human beings, could spend all of this time living together, breathing together, laughing together while we are alive, but then once someone dies, that is it‐ the end of our relationship. I couldn’t bring myself to believe that this was true as a child, so instead, I insisted on trying to maintain a relationship with my father even after he passed away when I was 7.

I prayed almost every night that I could have just one dream about him, to see what he was up to and how everything was going. The dream never really came, but I didn’t give up hope that we might be able to connect somehow.

I spent the summer before my senior year of college down in Washington DC to help out with events and projects within my church; the same church that my parents immersed their lives in after they joined in the 70s. I didn’t know so much about my dad’s early life in the church, but I’ve always heard incredible stories of family and bonds that were formed in those good ol’ days.  

While in DC, I went around with a team speaking to different communities, and it seemed every time I introduced myself, someone would approach me afterwards with tears in their eyes, a warm embrace, and love in their hearts because they learned I was my father’s daughter.

These experiences persisted as I found myself in new communities around the country. “You are Steve Roomet’s daughter?!” they would say, with such compassion.  This, of course, would be our first time meeting, but they felt such a strong connection to me, and, often would express a desire to take care of my brother and I.

In reflecting on these moments, I began to think: there must be something to the nature of love that can lead people to feel this way. Why would, pretty much, perfect strangers, feel so inclined to care for me, and why did I feel a parental concern for my wellbeing from them? It is almost as if the love that my dad created over 25 years ago finally found its way to me.

I was able to experience my dad’s love, which I longed for growing up, through each of those people who were affected by the love my dad gave to them. So, even though he died a long time ago, I realized, his love never did. I believe once love is given, it is never wasted. Love continues to live on long after we do and can reach destinations that we may never imagine.

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This I Believe : Wendy Fiala

I believe death is not the end. Nothing has ever felt more unnatural or against the grain as the idea that I will one day fade from existence. This belief is what allows me to freely talk about and explore the topic of death with inquisitiveness, not morbidity. With each year that my life continues to unfold, I guess at what percentage of life I have already experienced. As well as what the measurement of experience is? Is it the number of countries I’ve visited, or years I’ve spent in school, programs? My religion tells me it’s the amount of love I have experienced as well as given. And more than a nurtured ideology, this belief has made it’s way into my core. So much so that I view life as invaluable as the fleeting days allowed in the training room in the Hunger Games – a space where you attempt to learn as many survival skills and techniques as possible in the time you are given. I BELIEVE learning to love is to learn how to survive, because Love is the way I will live eternally. Yet one thing I have come to realize is that knowing truth and living and breathing truth are comparable to knowing that carbs create fat and succeeding at a carb-free diet (I would give up any meat for a year than skip bread and cheese for a month). How do I learn to love? I believe that, contrary to the staple in every Disney movie, there are no villains in life. I often hear “oh, I think people are mostly nice and you’re a nice person, but I’ve met some really evil people”. But I don’t really believe that. Because I simply believe that evil “people” do not exist. People are just people. We have the potential and the capacity to express every emotion imaginable; from the misplaced anger and total frustration one must feel and connect with in order to torture and kill, to the opposite extreme of loving someone so much that it physically hurts, in just knowing that we are capable of loving and being loved to such depths. And every emotion, no matter how intense, and powerful does not stand a chance in the face of sincere and divine love. In writing this, I am tempted to make another Disney reference, as I refer to the scene in Robin Hood when some woodland creature, maybe Maid Marian’s friend Clucky, the fat hen says “true love conquers all.” Maybe Disney did get it right sometimes. I believe the most substantial way to learn to love is to develop and exercise the skill of empathy- the ability to go beyond what I hear and my own concepts, what I imagine someone must be feeling…but instead to be them. To truly feel their experiences and their emotions as my own. The few times I have connected with another, I was almost immobilized from the power I then realized I can possess. I guess if I can accomplish no more truths, I would be content living from moment to moment in experiences like these.         Continue Reading

This I Believe : Ester Allen

I believe that God gave us passions so that we could love others.Growing up I felt very self conscious I felt like the one kid without natural talents, I danced like the whitest girl around. Singing would result in confused and pained faces from family and friends Art was not my thing and even drawing a stick figure posed a challenge. Sometimes finding those things is not so easy and our passions are not so clear, but when I finally looked for my passions by looking at my priorities. I found that while I can’t share love by singing a song, writing a rap or amazing you with my ballroom dancing skills, I can share my unique love by doing things that I love most. And lucky for you I love to cook, I love to do yoga and best of all I love to be here, I love the challenge of trying  to be someone for my brothers and sisters, i love pushing myself to try to say something somewhat meaningful, I love giggling with the girls and beating up the boys. This is my passion and I believe God gave it to me so I could share my love with you. Continue Reading

This I Believe : Raphael Fish

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year I believe in Santa Claus – the joy he brings to people throughout the world during that most wonderful time of the year; his bright-red suit and glowing frost-nipped cheeks exuding a jolly cheer. He is a man of universal appeal, spreading holiday spirit to people beyond boundaries of nationality, age, social class, and even religion. More than any of that, however, I believe in the benevolence behind Santa’s approach to giving. Growing up, I had everything I could ever need as a child – loving parents, a roof over my head, food on the table. My family was never well-off financially, but we managed. As a family of seven we lived in a cramped two bedroom apartment, all five kids sharing one of those two rooms. Every year, Christmas would present a challenge to my parents. With five kids and meager paychecks, their gift budget had limitations. For us kids, Christmas would come in eager anticipation then would often pass with disappointment upon our realization that Santa had given our friends bigger, better, more extravagant gifts that he had given to us. One Christmas early in my childhood stands out in particular.  Throughout the year, I had begun to develop basic writing skills. As the day approached I felt ready, for the first time in my life, to write my own letter to Santa instead of having to dictate one to my parents. Feeling the power of freedom, unabated by the usual considerations suggested by my parents – ‘be nice to Santa, he has millions of other kids to bring gifts to. Don’t ask him for too much’ – I loaded my wish list with all the things they had never let me include: the latest video game console, a dog, my own computer, a lifetime supply of chocolate chip cookies… This Christmas was going to be the best ever. Bright and early on Christmas morning I raced to the tree eager to see what had been left behind the night before. With high expectations, I found just a single small gift in my name. Upon opening the present, my dreams were crushed. Inside was a simple sweater and nothing more. For the next few months I refused to wear the sweater out of my childish disappointment. Despite my lack of gratitude, Santa returned the next year with presents under the tree, and the next year, and the next… And eventually it hit – I do nothing towards Santa to deserve the gifts he brings, yet he returns every year in the spirit of giving, simply to spread joy. This I believe – the true magic behind Santa is not the joy he brings just one day each year, but instead is something that I myself can strive to embody each and every day. I believe in giving without expecting anything in return and in acknowledging the gifts I do receive, the big and the small, showing gratitude for the love and care others are willing to share. Continue Reading