Tag: Valentine

The Teenagers Purgatory And The Valentine Craze. 

The Teenagers Purgatory And The Valentine Craze. 

 

The teenagers purgatory and the Valentine craze… 

A friend of mine once remarked that the titles of my reflections could pass for Nollywood movie captions, and I went, “seriously?” I couldn’t really tell if it was a compliment or not, but you know me na? I eventually took it as a compliment sha.

Well, that’s by the way. Have you ever wondered why many teenagers totally love adventure? Or why they love trying new things, especially the dangerous ones they don’t even understand? Some say it’s youthful exuberance. Know what that means? Simply put, it’s an almost desperate desire to be heard and taken seriously. It has to do with the longing or the actual expression of self in an obvious manner. We just want to belong. And the average young person does almost anything and everything to belong. This is exuberance. 

I believe that the phase of youth is a purgatory of sorts. We get in there and undergo sub phases of purgation, where maturity, development and growth takes place, and hopefully, we get out of this purgatory better for it (some never really do). But the nature of this purgatory itself is what’s worrying. I wrote something about depression the other day and it struck some sensitive cords in some of my young friends. The purgatory of youth is such a confusing state  that without actual guidance, many never find their way out. They end up condemned to an eternal state of purgation, which is depressing. Phew! This isn’t a good thing. You see, someone once said that the only difference between purgatory and hell is that one has an end, and the other is eternal. So imagine being condemned to an eternal purgation of youth. I mean, what’s the point of purgatory if it doesn’t lead to heaven? Lord have mercy!

But there are a few things we could learn or unlearn to properly pass through the purgation of youth without ending up totally depressed and disillusioned about life itself. We are all familiar with this phase of youth that’s become a purgatory. Aren’t we? Remember the feeling of not wanting to pray, or go to Church, or do those fun things you loved as a much younger kid? Yea? That’s part of it. What about these long and terrible mood swings, uncertainty about the future, the overwhelming sexual fantasies and urges, and others? That’s right. 

It is from this terrible state of emptiness and boredom and lack of interest in many things that we begin to seek whatever is interesting and dangerous. Yes! That’s when our exuberant nature kicks in. The need to belong to a group, to be loved, recognised and appreciated, takes on new meaning. We begin to listen more to those who tell us we have blue sexy eyes, or become more attached to those who take us to exciting places to see new, sometimes inappropriate things, and so on. Pleasure soon takes center stage since it promises immediate fulfilment. 

So Valentine is here again and many young people are already getting overwhelmed with anticipation. WhatsApp and Facebook are agog with suggestive messages. I even saw a list titled “names of guys who would get girls pregnant this Valentine”, and I am like, “seriously?” Pregnancy is a serious thing brother. We can’t just make up lists that would give young people the impression that it’s a walk in the park. Seriously, some things should not be joked with, no matter how comic we feel. We do have a responsibility to lead our young people right. Fornication and condoms won’t create life’s goals, trust me. At best they’ll lead to broken hearts and aborted babies. Drunkenness and drug abuse won’t go against their nature and give you a destiny. They’ll rob you of the one you already have. Expensive gifts and vulgar poetry won’t take you to heaven. Don’t forget, narrow is the way.

So listen to me my dear young people. I know we love fun and fun places and fun people. But this Valentine, promise yourself you would not become a sex toy or someone’s plaything. Promise yourself you won’t take gifts that are overwhelmingly expensive. Some gifts are baits. They have long hooks attached to them, once you bite, you die (quite literally). Don’t be fooled by castles in the air. Anything without a foundation dies quickly. Valentines come and go, and people remain. You can avoid making a mistake just by refusing to be greedy. Don’t try to play smart. There’ll always be someone smarter. 

This phase too will pass away. We just have to really seek what matters, and chart the course of the kind of future we want for ourselves. The most important things aren’t that easy to come by. We need to work hard for them. Pleasure is not happiness. And some, in a bid to gain a fleeting moment of pleasure, have sacrificed an entire lifetime of happiness. Don’t become like those people! 

This Valentine, find those you truly care about. Surprise your abandoned granny in the village with a visit. Call a relative/friend you’ve not spoken to in ages. Buy a sleeping mat for the roadside beggar, and assist a younger sibling with that difficult homework. If you must go on a date, please do it for all the right reasons, and don’t, I repeat, DON’T sleep over. 

Happy Valentine! 

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2017.

Teenagers And Dating: The Dangers Of The Mountain Edge. 

Teenagers And Dating: The Dangers Of The Mountain Edge. 

 

As VALENTINE approaches, here is something I wrote that you might find useful:

*Teenagers and Dating: The dangers of the mountain edge!*

*Preamble!*

Teenagers love dating. Oh dear! I remember when I was much younger (forget the fact that I was in the minor seminary at the time), there was always something very fascinating about girls, especially the really pretty ones. I would unconsciously change my gait, become overly self conscious, and even stutter for words in their midst.

Yea! So I know why many teenagers feel like dating is a ‘rite of passage’ of some sorts. Who wouldn’t want to get to know a pretty lady better? Or get a cute guy to go out with them? Okay? But now I know better. And I know that teenage years can be most devastating for many of us if care is not taken.

A young lady in Year One in the University once asked me if it was okay to start dating a guy. She wanted to begin a steady relationship. I asked her if it was okay to stand on the edge of a mountain top, when it was obvious you could lose your balance? She said it was risky. And I told her it was equally risky to start a relationship that early as well. You could fall off the mountain edge and end up with too many broken pieces of your heart.

*This thing called dating…*

Many people use the word ‘dating’ so much, they can’t exactly tell what it means anymore. Let’s not drift too far away. Here’s what Wikipedia says: “Dating is a stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage. It can be a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by the couple.” There are those who frown at Wikipedia definitions. I don’t. I have reasons to believe that Wikipedia definitions are modern definitions, influenced by modern behavioural patterns.

*What about courtship?*

So while dating is basically about hanging out with someone  and going out for sights, picnics, movies etc, it’s usually with an aim of getting to know that someone better for whatever reasons; from good to the outright bizarre. Take note!

Courtship on the other hand is solely for the purpose of marriage. Understand? Here’s our friend Wiki on the matter again, “Courtship is the period in a couple’s relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. During courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement.” This definition presumes that there was already an existing relationship of sorts. This should be nothing short of friendship. It doesn’t necessarily mean sexual intimacy.

*Deepen friendship, not sexual intimacy…*

It’s quite cool to have a friend. A boyfriend, a girlfriend… That’s all good. But the emphasis should be on FRIEND not BOY or GIRL. So, rather than worry about how to get this one girl or this one guy out of the group, worry more about getting to know and enjoy companionship with this one guy or one girl (or more) within the group. Exclusion brings evil. “I have a cutie pie in my class and we go to the same church, sing in the same choir, stay in the same neighbourhood and all. So I get to see him and talk to him almost always. But I’m not satisfied with that. I want to go out with him to the bush behind the house, or pass the night in his room and so on.” I am asking for trouble. And I will find it in no time.

*Don’t date! But if you must…*

The general advice for teenagers is “DON’T DATE!” Truth is, you don’t want to be sexually active in a relationship. And that’s exactly where early dating could get you. You still have school and many other more important things to sort out. You’re not ready to be a mother or father yet. You’re not ready to make the marriage commitment either. You don’t even have the capacity to make such a commitment yet. So let it go and concentrate on self development and growth.

But if you’re stubborn, and you think you must date, then do so in public places and amidst friends. Do group dating. It’s so much more fun and so much safer. That way, you get to hang out with the guy or girl you like and still end up in one piece. A teenager in a relationship is like a ticking time bomb. Self control is still under construction. Hormones are developing and roaring hot. Libido is untamed and emotional maturity still far on the horizon. Why would you want to climb a mountain edge when you’re not sure of your balance? The last thing you want to do is get two teenagers alone in a secluded place for long periods at a time. Get the point

*Pay your own way!*

Many people don’t want to hear this at all. But truth is, some teenagers are too greedy. They agree to go on a date with someone they’ve never met because it could lead to free food, free smartphones, free bags and stilettos, and blah blah blah. Listen to me. If you must date as a teenager, and you go as a group, pay for your own food and drinks. That way, you won’t feel obliged to say ‘yes’ when your date begins to demand some funny things.

Why must you accept an expensive phone or dress when you know you’re not ready for what might follow? So kindly reject free seemingly harmless gifts till you know what you’re dealing with. Don’t throw up your hands and rejoice that you’ve caught a mugu (coward). You might end up being the mugu (coward). And then it’ll be too late. So, pay your own way. If you don’t have enough money, stay at home.

*Never, never stay the night!*

Even group dating has to be supervised. You would be amazed what harm young people could do to themselves without some adult supervision. This is where drugs like cannabis, cigars, alcohol and others usually come in. Above all, sexual molestation and or rape could follow. So when going out on a date, make sure the location is not known to the group alone. Tell someone else. If possible, go with someone slightly older, if you’re not comfortable with having a full grown adult around. Finally, get done and go back home. Don’t stay over in some hotel, or in some rich guy’s apartment claiming to be flexing. You might end up completely flexed. Next day, you might not recognise the road to your father’s compound.

*Finally…*

It’s okay to want to hang out with a pal. But for what? Sex? Don’t! Free gifts? Don’t! Adventure and fun? Don’t! To get to know them better? Yes! What’s okay to do is courtship. When you continue to hang out with friends in groups and develop healthy friendships and relationships with them, you’ll be clear headed enough to pursue other important things. Soon, you’ll be ready to climb the mountain edge and not worry about falling off.

God bless you as you strive daily to be better and better, Amen.

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2017.

Lent And Valentine – Matters Of The Heart

Lent And Valentine – Matters Of The Heart


LENT AND VALENTINE- MATTERS OF THE HEART
It is not a coincidence that Valentine Day and Ash Wednesday are coming on the same day. It is rather providential because it reminds us about the deep connection between love and the heart. The love celebrated on Valentine’s Day is a matter of the heart. The celebration of Valentine is often adorned with heart shaped symbols, cards and crafts. Interestingly, the symbol of Valentine is not just a heart, but a heart pierced by the cupid, the ancient god of love. This wounded heart depicts a broken heart.
Likewise, the Scriptural readings of Ash Wednesday remind us that true religion is also a matter of the heart. The prophet Joel called on the people to return to God with their whole heart (Joel 2:12); The Apostle Paul appealed to the hearts of the Corinthians to be reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus emphasised the role of the heart in a relationship with God. He teaches the importance of performing good works and religious obligations without showmanship. He says we should give alms, pray and fast in the secrecy of our hearts so that God who sees our hearts will reward us accordingly (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).
True religion requires an honest heart and a change of heart. This was the central message of the prophets for many centuries. At different points, people misunderstood religion as a demonstration of symbols and rituals and they gradually forgot the significance of those symbols and rituals. It became common for religious people to play to the gallery by displaying popular acts of piety that will make them appear deeply religious. The danger of acting to the gallery is the tendency to disconnect religion from a sincere heart and becomes an outward appearance that leaves the heart out.
One of the ways in which people of the Old Testament expressed grief, despair, sorrow as well as remorse and contrition was by tearing their garments. This symbolic act is a sign of penitence and repentance. Jacob expressed sorrow and despair by tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth to mourn for his beloved son Joseph (Genesis 37:34). When Ahab repented from going after idols, he expressed his remorse as he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh (1 Kings 21:7).
The symbolic action of tearing garments as a sign of repentance soon began to be abused by the people. The people began to dramatise this act without an iota of inward repentance. This was the reason why Joel challenged them by saying, “Tear your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). The prophet realised that it was easier for people to tear their garments than their hearts. Long time ago, David mentioned that the Lord is near to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18 and that a sacrifice which is acceptable to God was a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:7). 
Tearing of garment without repentance is similar to making a confession to God without an act of contrition that comes from the depth of the heart. Why will Prophet Joel ask the people of Israel to tear their hearts? The many love stories of heart breaks and tears are usually caused by someone else or any unpleasant situation and are hardly self-inflicted. True love comes with tears and wounds. Any one who ventures into an honest and wholehearted love must be willing to tear his heart and to experience discomfort and pains. I wonder why some people say love is wicked. Maybe because love makes a wise person appear as a foolish person, and makes a person with good sight appear as a blind person; maybe because love makes a miser unusually generous; maybe because it makes people restless and can cause anguish and pain. 
Surely, love is a matter of the heart – it gives the heart joy and causes pain to the heart. On Valentine Day we celebrate the power of selfless love. Here is a picture of what a Valentine heart looks like, It is:

“Patient and kind…it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing” (1 Corinthians 13: 4,7).

On Ash Wednesday we express our love for God through the spiritual exercises of prayers, almsgiving, and fasting. It is a time when we make sacrifices of subduing the pleasures of the flesh in order to purify the soul. Yes, Lent is a matter of the heart as it affords us the opportunity to renew our hearts. In his Lenten message for 2018 Pope Francis instructs us to guard our hearts against getting cold in the love of God and neighbour. Let us pray that during this holy season, God will enkindle in our heart the fire of his love.
I wish you a very fruitful Lenten season.

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Joel 2:12-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.
Source:

Fr. Gerald M. Musa.

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