This I Believe : Hana Villafana

I believe we should always find a reason to smile and if we can’t, then we should be the reason to smile. Look at the world and what do you see? On one side I see a world full of self-absorbed men and women in constant competition over who has more money, more power and less body fat, but then I turn around and see men, women and children fighting to survive; no school, no work, nowhere to sleep, no food, no hope. It’s difficult to take a glance at our world, at my life and find a reason to smile. My whole life I felt controlled by my environment, whether it was the country I lived in, my family’s financial situation, the school I attended, or the people who crowded my life. I lived in if land. If I was skinnier I’d be happy. If my coworkers agreed with me I’d be happy. If my brothers’ health problems went away I’d be happy. If I had more money I’d be happy. If my husband spent more time with me I’d be happy. Recently I hit a rough patch in my marriage and I lost my biggest reason to smile. It finally hit me how dependent I was on other people to make me happy. People are always changing, so is the world and what makes us happy is also constantly changing. Once we find what we thought would make us happy, we realize that isn’t actually what we were looking for or there’s something more we desire. The search for happiness is never ending and that is why I don’t need to find happiness, I need to be happy, and be happy right now. Don’t look at life as a whole but look at all the details of life. We constantly look for how we can better our lives but I’d rather look at what is good right now, no matter how small it may be: I didn’t have to wait for the elevator this morning, I found the perfect dress in the first store I went to in less than 30 minutes, or someone gave me mochi ice cream just because today. But sometimes these small things to be grateful for don’t suffice to give me hope and that is when I look for a reason to believe in better things by changing myself. Instead of waiting for the world to give me a reason to smile, I’m going be the person I wish other people were. If far from perfect me can change for the better, than why can’t the rest of the world? This gives me a reason to hope, a reason to smile and no one can take this away from me. I’m not lost looking for happiness but I am happy and I give those around me a reason to smile, and that makes me the happiest of all.   Continue Reading

This I Believe : Cynthia Jones

This I believe—being able to love someone else comes as you learn to love yourself and embrace all the things that make you exactly who you are. Growing up, I never thought of myself as beautiful. For one thing, I have what you call the “Jones signature gap”, a family heirloom in the middle of my teeth, passed down from my mother. If you look at family photos taken every couple years since I was little, you’ll notice a common theme. I never smiled with my teeth showing. Ever since I can remember I’ve hated my teeth. Although I loved singing, I wouldn’t sing because I didn’t want people to see my gap. I wouldn’t laugh without covering my mouth. I wouldn’t even talk so much. Everything in society told me it was ugly. As regular visits to the dentist would never fail to remind me, it was a cosmetic issue that could to be ‘fixed’. Freshman year, I became consumed with trying to fit into this idea I had of beauty.  Following in the footsteps of my sister, I began counting calories, drinking nonfat, splenda starbucks lattes, and working out at a gym. I compared myself to anyone and everyone. Without even knowing how I had got there or what was really happening I found myself going down a slippery slope of constant dissatisfaction in who I was, until it finally resulted in bulimia. In a desperate effort to find who I was, I lost myself in the process. I stopped searching for myself and instead searched for how I could fit into the mold of what everyone else was, because, I didn’t like who I was. This was three years ago when I became so caught up in what I was not, who I was not, that it became impossible to think of anyone else, to love anyone else. I even lost sight of one of the things I want most in life—which is to be someone my little sisters can look up to. In trying to become that person for them, I learned to appreciate myself. I focused on being Cynthia and loving Cynthia. Today, I love the gap in my teeth because it makes me—me. These small insecurities should never stop me from loving the people I love most. I can never really love or believe in my sisters or in anyone, if I don’t first learn to love and believe in myself. I can’t give what I don’t have. This I believe, being able to love someone else comes as you learn to love yourself and embrace all the things that make you exactly who you are.   Continue Reading

This I Believe : Rex Moon

I believe that language has limitations.  I believe that I could waste hours scrutinizing each word, trying to ensure that every sentence perfectly encapsulates Rexton Shin-Kwon Moon, but that in the end of the day all you have are words on a page.  I believe that who I am is more than what I say about myself, that that which I truly believe in is not some concise, profound-sounding statement but an organic state of being.  I am not static, not perfect, not constant, and presenting a single idea as though it guides every millisecond of my being is as inaccurate to me as saying the sun never sets. I could write about how much I value being real, how growing up in a family that perceives itself to be in the public eye has taught me the value of seeing people for who they really are.  I could talk about how I’ve seen people hide behind titles and positions because they feel like they don’t get enough respect otherwise or because they somehow think that they are above being seen with the same lens as everyone else.  I could describe how that’s caused me to value a person’s essence, stripped of all boxes and preconceptions, how that has caused me to believe that there is no person above or below another, that we share one life together and have everything to give to one another. I could write that I believe in the pursuit of perfection, that for any given scenario,  I think there exists a best way to act, that for every question, there is a perfect answer, that for every idea, impulse, or desire there exists an ideal form of expression.  I could explain how I also believe that while I am imperfect, that perfection in any aspect of my life is practically unattainable, that does not necessitate that I abandon its pursuit.  I could discuss how I think people are only as good as their last accomplishment, how every job well done paves the way for a job better done, how it’s not about being perfect, but knowing you’re not and striving to be anyway. I could write about how I believe that it makes you the opposite of humble when you boast your own humility, that manners are important because people will judge you based on them, that we spend more time finding reasons to dislike other people than to love them.  But all of these things are just parts of who I am and none of them can possibly be used to describe me as a whole.  I believe that people are more than the words they use to describe themselves, that those words have to stem from good motives and need to be backed by action.  I believe that who I am has more to do with not what I say but what I do, how I live, how I think.  And that will never fit in 500 words. Continue Reading

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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