Padovano’s Definations of Religious Experience
It wasn’t a specific day or date that I can remember, but more or less a time period that I spent a majority of my time “thinking my life out”. It was during my freshman year of college, I was going through a major transition. Moving away from home, not just to school, but across the entire country from Virginia to California. I was facing the reality that actions I took then could drastically impact the rest of my life. I spent a lot of time trying to picture my future, trying to figure out what was going to happen to me in the future. Where was I going to be? What was I going to be doing? Was I going to end up marrying my boyfriend, Matt? Would I be happy? Was I going to be a Mother? Would I be successful? I wanted to know it all. I tried to evaluate everything, like my reasons for coming out to USF, was ROTC right for me, could I do it? There were weeks when I questioned everything I did. I rethought all aspects of every dimension of my life. I contemplated each of my decisions that could possible determine things in my life’s path. I was looking for the meaning for everything I did everything, I chose and the reason why God had put me where I was. I got very agitated with myself and frustrated because deep down I knew that God was in charge of what was to happen to me. I knew that He would take care of me, and He would put me where He wanted me to be. In all honesty, I believe this was when I realized that it was time to allow God to take over, no more of this “questioning” my destiny or meaning of my life. I allowed God to take over, completely and I handed him back his job- my future and my life. I would have to say that at this same time I was also going through a stage of unpredictability and incomprehension of my life and the future that I would live. I wanted to know exactly what was going to happen to me within the next few years, I wanted to know where I would be and with whom, doing what, etc. I needed to not only realize that God was inevitably in charge of my life, but also that life was intended to be a mystery and we were not supposed to know everything.
There was a long period of time during my senior year of high school when each morning I awoke to the question of “What will today be like? Who will I talk to, who will I sit next to, who will I associate with?” This was a particularly difficult time for me. For years I had the same close group of friends, but after our junior year a lot of things changed. They all became very involved with smoking weed, drinking alcohol and partying a lot. They even skipped class and left school on a daily basis. To me, this was unacceptable and I knew that it was not part of my character. Instead of going along with the crowd, I risked my friendship with all of them. It was hard at first, to realize that I now had no real “close” friends. Granted, I did have friends, but they were more or less acquaintances, they weren’t the friends I had hung out with on a daily basis for years. I felt very alone, and it really bothered me. I got depressed easily and on a daily basis. Often I would sit in my classes and wonder why I had become such a loser. Deep down I knew that I really wasn’t a loser that I was infact very strong for staying true to myself. I felt very out of place almost all the time. I didn’t go to the cafeteria for lunch because I didn’t fit in at any of the lunch tables. Instead I would go to the senior lounge and work on my homework or write letters to my cousin. I dreaded doing the traditional senior things, like the senior class picture or senior skip day, even prom. They meant feeling very out of place. At the senior class picture I ended up sitting with acquaintances, for senior skip day I just hung out at home and rested. For prom however, things were a bit different. By then I had found a really good group of friends and I really enjoyed myself. Prom night was one of the best memories I have of high school, I had a wonderful night, I was very happy. I was so glad to have been able to hang out with a group of people who had the same values and beliefs as I did. As it turns out, these are the friends I hang out with when I come home from college, and oddly enough I feel like I have known them my whole life, they know me better than any of my other friends ever did and they are just like me.
I am the Queen of Commitment. I have commitments in every possible aspect of my life. To myself, I have commitments to always pursue success, to pursue my own happiness, to maintain my health, as well as always trying to do my best. I have commitments to my friends, to always be there for them, to enjoy life with them as well as help them through the hard times that come their way. I have commitments to my family to be a caring, loving and kind daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin and niece. I have a commitment to my boyfriend, Matt to be there for him always, as well as to be faithful to him. I have a commitment to my nursing to be attentive, understanding and caring to my patients, to be as knowledgeable as possible in my field as well as being communicative to the patients, their families, the doctors and the other nurses. I have a commitment to the United States Army to defend and protect this country as a solider and to care for and attend to wounded and sick soldiers and their families as an Army Nurse. I have a commitment to USF to attend my classes, attend my early morning physical fitness sessions while being an honest, respectful and hardworking student. I have a commitment to God, to love him, to love others and to be as good a person as I can be. I believe that I am religious in a formal way. I have given myself to God and I talk to him on a constant basis.
The feeling I have for my boyfriend is very reverent. I have the utmost respect for him and such strong feelings of love for him. I know I can trust him with the most precious values I hold. Other things that I consider very reverent include early morning sunrises along the beach or sitting on a mountain in Colorado during the summer time, watching the sunset. Above all, God has the most reverence in my life. He is the Creator of all, He is the giver of life, and it is He who has made such beauty exist in mine. God loves all beings and He takes care of even those who do wrong. He is the one and only being that I feel knows all and understands all about me. He is my best friend.
It was Easter night, we were all sitting down at the dinner table. It was years ago, 5 years infact. But I can remember it like it was yesterday. We were almost done eating, and for some reason both Mom and Dad had been acting rather weird the entire meal. Finally Dad spoke up, he said he had something to tell us, something he and Mom wanted to talk to us about. At that moment, I knew it was something bad. The way he said those words hit me so hard. I was right. He continued to talk about him not being happy, and things not working out between the two of them. I specifically remember him saying that he and Mom would still be friends, they would talk and they may even end up dating one another again. All I felt that night was complete shock. For years I was the only one amongst all my friends whose parents were still together, and I never thought that would change. My parents fought, but I never thought it was bad, I thought it was normal.
As I look back on it now I wonder why? Why couldn’t they have worked things out then? Now things are so much worse. Things between my parents now are worse than they ever were when they were married. As I watch them constantly fight over who has the kids when and who owes whom however much money, I think to myself and I am amazed. I am shocked at how immature two grown adults who once loved each other so deeply, deeply enough to have three children and be married for over 20 years can act. It saddens me to watch them tear each other down and it absolutely tears me up inside to have them shred each other to pieces verbally. Not only to each other but also to my brother, my sister and I. Through their mistakes I have learned a great deal about marriage, commitment and relationships. I realize now how great an impact my parents have had on me. Through their divorce a lot of bad took place, but there was also some good. My brother and sister and I are all very close now, we consider each other best friends. I use what I have learned from my parents relationship to help me with my relationships, what to do or not do, what to say or not say and how to best express my feelings with out hurting or upsetting the other person. I have learned how to better deal with my anger, my feelings and my emotions. I have made a commitment to myself to never hurt someone the way my parents have hurt and continue to hurt each other. I have also made a commitment to myself that should I one day decide to get married it will be for life, and my husband will make the same commitment as well as a commitment to each other to always work things out, before they really become an issue. Life is too short to be unhappy.
My Personal Creed
I. They were unhappy. They fought, and were angry often. Life was full of stress and tension in our home. I didn’t know it, I didn’t realize. I was used to it, I thought it was normal.
II. They were unhappy. They still fought. They were angry a lot. Life was full of stress and tension in our home. I could recognize it now, I could see that it was not normal.
III. They were unhappy. They didn’t fight much. There was a lot of silence. Life was full of stress, sadness and tension in our home. Then he went, and she cried all the time. We were quiet, we didn’t know what to do or what to say.
IV. They were still unhappy. They fought a lot, about small, unimportant things. Life was full of name-calling, bad-mouthing and picking sides. We were sad and angry.
V. They will always be unhappy because they won’t ever stop fighting, over stupid things. Life is full of choices and decisions. Life is a big lesson. I am happy, I do not fight over silly things. Life is too short to waste time being unhappy and hurting myself and others.