The Online Boldness Dilemma

When we are reading, we pay attention to the bold words. I’m sure you just did it.

Why do we do this?

As children, we were taught to spot differences.

Differences demonstrate distinction.

When reading textbooks, the bold words became the most important words. They were the words to know for the upcoming exam. The bold words were set apart from the normal text. They were sturdy. They were the culmination of the definition. All of the normal print words, essentially fit into this singular entity.

As I watch people post online and throughout social media, I see a common theme. I see people expressing their opinions on hundreds of topics. I see people putting themselves out there and pressing forth for issues. I see people striving to be BOLD.

However, in these Facebook posts, Instagram messages, and tweets I do not see boldness.

I see rash judgment. 

I see conformity. 

I see hatred. 

“But Nick is that not a little harsh?”

“Nick, many of these are nobles causes.”

“Nick, not everyone acts in that way!”

I am not attacking the entire internet.

I am not attacking the people posting.

Nor, am I attacking the messages.

However, I am expressing the way in which our society deals with the desire to be bold. 

Bold (defined as) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

1.I see rash judgment

To be bold means to take a leap. To take a stand on a matter. To be bold means to hold solid ground. The first problem I see is rash judgment. I see people posting things, sharing things, retweeting things that took them no more than 21 seconds to read. I genuinely believe these people assume they are being bold. I genuinely believe that these people posting such things want to better the world. However, I do think as a society we have a problem. We have confused boldness with volume. Both the physical volume of information as well as the volume in which it is heard. We have equated people’s CAPITAL LETTERS to unwavering morality. As a society, we are losing the ability to reflect and contemplate. We have lost the meaning of taking time to think about the issues we present. We have lost the ability to absorb without the dopamine rush to regurgitate. In order to fix this problem we have to take a moment and let the wisdom brew. We must talk to both sides of the argument. We must talk FACE to FACE with people expressing different opinions: not just behind computer screens. Then we can proceed with the knowledge and understanding to be bold.

2. I see conformity

Though rash judgment is a major problem, it stems from the desire to conform and be accepted. I for one, have definitely fallen victim to this issue. As social beings, it is our desire to be liked and appreciated. As much as we want to be different, we find comfort in similarity. However, to conform is to not be bold. In conforming there is no risk undertaken. Hence, though it may appear on the surface (through use of strong language) that one is being a risk taker; it is quite the contrary.  Many times online posts are a piercing cry for acceptance. This idea can also be viewed in another light. It also relates to those individuals that are drawn to the “anti” side. The arguments that do not contribute to the majority. In this cry, there is rarely an understanding of the presenting issue. Rather, there is a burning desire to be heard and seen. This is a hope to make noise so loud that others MUST take notice. This too is not boldness, but rather a product of not being loved or appreciated enough by a community. Before we present an issue through social media, we must be sure our words are not just mimicry.

3.I see hatred

I see people shouting out to the world about the importance of x issue just to spark fires. These are not little camp fires to warm the cold toes of friends and family, these are fires to burn and destroy. All over the internet, I watch as people stir the pot. They stir it not to make great soup, but to feel like they are contributing to the meal. These individuals did not make the soup. They do not understand the substance of the soup. Rather, they are like the little kid that wants to stir the cake mix in order to act as though they are contributing. This to them may feel like boldness, but in reality it is pride. In order to be bold, we must ask ourselves if what we post is contributing to the advancement of truth. Is the material we are posting going to possibly lead to the expansion of knowledge and wisdom of mankind. Stirring the pot is useless, but adding to the substance of the soup is where the real boldness of flavor rests.

Friends, I want to encourage you to be the bold word. In order to do this we must acquire a deep knowledge of the material we present and reflect on it. We must ask ourselves whether or not we are arguing for the truth or just acceptance. We need to assess whether or not our words give the soup flavor or are so filled with bitterness that the entire meal is destroyed.

Let us be courageous and take risk in expressing our beliefs. Belief is the bold word, live in such a way that you become the definition.

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God Wrecked Me 

I’m a Christian man.
I pray. I’ve never missed a Sunday. I love people. I love God.

Yet, for some reason in my heart I never believed that I heard His voice.

In my prayers I felt distance. In my Church I felt distracted. I love people but how can I love more? I love God but how can I love God more?

Gosh I wanted to hear God. I would hear stories of saints and sinners literally hearing God speak to them. It got me pumped. I want. I want. I want that.

But God had different plans for me. As He does for you.

In the wake of the hardest time of my life, this past year, God put me on a path that I didn’t understand at all. I was angry. I was frustrated. I felt hopeless.

I had dreams and plans that I saw. I could taste them. I worked so hard. It was all PERFECT.

But they didn’t happen. No matter how hard I tried. They didn’t happen. 

I prayed. And felt nothing.

I felt abandoned. 

Yet, during the past two months I believe I have heard God.

God truly did give me what I wanted.

A relationship with Him.

In order to do that He had to wreck me. 

By disrupting my plans He showed me my pride. He showed me my fear. He showed me my lack of trust.

One day I felt myself surrender to His will. I don’t know how to describe it to you, but in that moment I heard God.

I had enough.

It wasn’t about me anymore. In that moment I became His instrument.

All our lives we are taught to work work work.

Strive for greatness.

EXCEL.

Yet in order to fully unleash my potential, I needed to give up. I needed to give my self to my Lord and watch Him fill me with the courage and zeal to take the next step. The joy and stillness to rest in His loving care.

To remind myself that God’s got the whole world in His hands.

Friends, I encourage you today to kick back. Forget about your desire to succeed. Listen to the voice in your heart screaming at you to let go and recapture the faith.

Life is a beautiful field filled with land mines. When we hit one it’s not the end. But the beginning of a new you and a new friendship with God.

 

A Poem: What to Do Next

 

 

next. 

when I heard

I was not at a loss for words

I had a lot to say

I had a lot to feel

But I was at a loss

What to do. next.

the walls were mocking me to punch them

my tongue was putting on his sneakers,

to run a marathon of dirty words

my ears were socks,

soaking up all the puddles of media and soot filled gun shots.

But I was at a loss

What to do. next.

so i got my pain

and wrote on an index card.

over and over.

over and over.

fear is what they seek 

courage is what they fear. 

fear is what they seek

courage is what they fear

fear is what they seek 

courage is what they fear…

until I put down my pen

and my pain

walked outside

seeing the lost in the heavenly clouds

and holding my chin up for them

and my chest up for those in the past

and my hands out in courageous service

because the world can be better

if you know what to do next.

By Nicholas Bellacicco

I’m Confident.

I lack something.

And that is confidence.

To those that know me personally this may not seem so true.

But I can assure you that it is.

Making decisions (even the small ones) weighs me down.

Being in new places throw me off and scares me.

Not doing the right thing because I am uncomfortable. 

Feeling like a failure no matter what I try. 

I’m sure a lot of you have felt similar feelings.

The statement that has been weighing on my heart the last few weeks has been:

CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST.

Now before I get any further I want to make a clarification. I am speaking about confidence not cockiness.

I view the distinction as….

Cockiness is excessive trust in oneself. 

Confidence rests in the trust of another. 

And that trust is in Christ.

How do we become confident in Christ?

Well, for one we don’t ever hold back. We follow the moral framework laid out for us in the Bible. We become saints of service and love and truth and joy and awesomeness.

We don’t allow the desire for cockiness (pride) or fear prevent us from whole heartedly doing the impossible for Christ. We just simply tie our sneakers and run after it.

I know this message is short but lets just keep it simple.

Are you confident in the plans God has for your life?

If you are, then start walking into the room with that glow. Start talking to people with that light. Start right now, strutting like this world is not going to weigh you down because the King of Kings has your back.

Confidence in Christ my friends.

Say it over and over again

Till you start believing it. 

Self-hate ain’t great 

I talk to myself. 

No, not out loud. 

Hmmm wait. Maybe sometimes. 

But what I mean by this is that we all talk to ourselves. Everyday. In our minds. 

We hear our own voice more than we hear the voices of others. It is constant. 

When we get up in the morning. While showering. While eating breakfast. While studying. While getting ready for bed. 

Our thoughts are our voices. 

Today, I realized something. 

My self-talk is horrible. 

If I were to add up all the positive thoughts about myself, my situations, my day I would have a pretty small number. 

Whereas the negative talk would fill a room. 

“Get up now. You are gonna be late. Why do you always do this.”

“You are never going to learn this material. Why are you even doing this in the first place?”

“You procrastinated again. Are you serious? What is wrong with you?”

“No. Don’t wear that it looks stupid on you.”

Maybe it is just me. But I can bet there are many of us whose thoughts about oneself are more negative than positive. 

When I look back on my childhood this was definitely not the case. My thoughts were something like this:

“If I practice I can totally be a professional soccer player.”

“I like waking up in the morning. Dad makes good breakfast.” 

“I like taking breaks from my homework. I know I will get it done later.” 

It is very interesting to me that as a child my self talk was mostly positive. I saw opportunity rather than failure. My motivation was new possibility not new failure. 

Christ says it in the Bible. We need to be like children. We need that type of faith in ourselves and in Our Lord. Negative self talk is only pushing us from Him. 

When I was on the playground in elementary school. I had to jump off the ledge and reach for the monkey bars. The only way I did this was to remind myself: You can do this. You are capable.”

Friends, I am asking you today this question. How can you make a leap of faith when you don’t even trust yourself to jump?

Today, my internal dialogue becomes different. My you cants will become you wills. My self hatred will become self confidence. My view of failure will become a view of opportunity. 

Try it out. Let’s make the jump together. 

It’s So Lit.

When I was about four years old I had these dope light up sneakers.

No joke. They were awesome.

I remember jumping up and down, dancing, doing whatever I could to see the lights.

If you didn’t move they did not light up. I never wanted the lights to stop.

 

Today, I was reminded of my first memory of being afraid. The topic of fear has been on my mind a lot as I start this new chapter of my life (attending medical school).

I remember being outside at my grandmother’s house in the Bronx, NY. It was a beautiful sunny summer day; however, I needed to go inside in the house. The only way to get inside was to go through the basement.

The basement was pitch black. I am talking black hole black.  It was ominous to say the least. As a four year old it was basically the set for a horror movie.

I had no idea where the light switch was down there….

So, naturally I did what any other toddler would do/ (maybe I still do in my dark basement at home as a 22 year old)…..

I RAN

 

I started sprinting through the basement and up the steep stairs to try to make it into the house without being murdered by all the monsters. I was breathing heavy. My legs were hurting. But I can attest that in that moment I was faster than Usain Bolt.

 

Once I was a few steps up I noticed something that took away my fear.

 

My feet were lighting the way.

 

This is exactly how Christ acts in our lives.

There are a lot of Bible verses about the theme of light.

For example….

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light sines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1: 4-5

“The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

 

These verses are awesome at explaining something.

With Christ we find clarity.

 

Follow Him and His word and your staircase is lit up.

Follow Him and darkness will be defeated.

Follow Him and hope will flourish, fear will die. 

 

When I was climbing the stairs I did not see the light unless I was moving my feet.  I believe the same goes for our relationships with Christ. If we sit around hoping God will do the miraculous for us we will be disappointed. Christ did not call us to a life of inaction but rather a life of crazy and ridiculous faith.

He called us to a life of prayer, fasting, love, humility, joy, and peace.

This is a choice we must make. Each virtue/act of faith/ act of service is a new step forward up the faith walk staircase.

Each one of us was called to run through the basement of fear. We are not called to sit in the corner of the basement hiding our faces. We are called to move our feet and let His light guide us home.

 

So, remember…

The love of Christ is lighting your steps.

Keep moving those feet in love to keep seeing His light.

Don’t ever be afraid of the world’s darkness because with Him….

 

IT’S LIT. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throw Me in the Furnace 

I’m struggling with something. 

And to be honest I never thought I was. 

In today’s society being a male comes with a lot of expectations. 

One of which is never being afraid. I have told myself my whole life that I am invincible, but deep down I know that is not the case. 

I was given a wake up call. Quite literally, the last few weeks. 

For about two weeks now, I have had numerous nightmares a night. Sometimes waking up in cold sweats. Sometimes trying to catch my breath. Sometimes immediately calling people I care about to calm me down. While I do hate nightmares, I am grateful because they have reminded me that I am not okay. My subconscious mind is restless and the dirtiness is rising to the surface. 

So what should I do now? Pray for courage. 

In Daniel 3 we see three men going against the King’s orders of worshipping the idol. They tell the King that if they are thrown in the furnace so be it. This is a Bible story that has always stuck with me since I was young. I think it has to do with the boldness. The ultimate trust. The three men’s ability to speak from their hearts. 

I think the coolest part of this whole story is not when the men say that God will save them, but rather that they will still love and serve the Lord even if He does not. 

Mic drop* 

How rad is that? They are so accepting of God’s will that courage naturally follows. They don’t have to ask for courage. It is right there waiting. 

I want me some of that. 

For courage to flow so easily from my mouth and my deeds. 

This isn’t to say I have no courage. I believe there have been moments in my life when I did not know where the courage came from. When I acted so quickly and without thought to do what is right. The point is I want that in every moment of my life. In order for that to happen courage needs to become a habit. 

This habit begins and ends with our relationship with the Lord. 

That was the part I was missing. I thought courage came from myself. Society has told me that all along. 

If you want to be courageous.

You need to be tough. 

You need to look fiere. 

You need to be physically strong. 

Friends, today I remind you that courage is a gift from God. A gift that only comes from our relationship with Him. 

Today I am asking God for courage to live my life according to His will. To not care what the people of the world tell me to do, say, or think. 

But to say back, “Throw me in the furnace. I am not afraid, for Christ is always with me.”

A message to that person I kinda sorta know but don’t really know because we haven’t been introduced but like we both know each other and what not

Everyone knows these people. The people we see on campus all the time, at the store, in line at Starbucks ALL THE TIME. Yet, they are strangers. But, are they really? I always have trouble in situations when dealing with “strangers”.

The extroverted side of me (so 99% of it) wants to say something.

The extroverted side of me wants a new friend. 

The extroverted side of me wants to put an end to this mutual awkwardness. 

 

However, I usually don’t do anything about it. The 1 percent holds me back.

 

That 1 percent is scared that the individual is not as observant as me. 

That 1 percent is scared that maybe the person will think I am weird. 

That 1 percent is scared that I won’t know what to say.

Basically, my lack of action is all derived from fear.

I remember reading an interview with JK Rowling. She was asked about her favorite virtue. JK Rowling said that it was courage. If you read the Harry Potter series or watched the movies you know that courage is embedded throughout the entire work. At first I was really confused as to why JK Rowling picked this virtue. Lately, it started to make some sense.

After thinking about it, courage is truly one of the most beautiful virtues. Why? Because it is an agent for change.

Courage DOES.

It is an active virtue. It is a virtue that attacks fear head on and says…

“YOU DON’T CONTROL ME.” 

It is a funny thing to think about how we all start out as strangers. Even to our own parents…we come into the world as a stranger. Over time we begin to meet new people and build relationships. Our friends were once just another kid in our class. Our professors were once just heartless lecturers. Our romantic interests were just dreams.

I write this letter as an encouragement to anyone out there to talk to a stranger today. Do not let your fear prevent you from finding a best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, mentor, etc.

By acting on the virtue of courage we are building relationships. By our interactions with others on our campus, community, and the world we are showing love to one another. Through introducing ourselves we are saying, “I notice your existence.” By talking with a stranger you are saying, “Let me hear your story.”

In the era of the smart phone it is so easy to look down, to look away, and to fake a call.

Today, I encourage you all to slip your phone in your jean pocket, take a breath to fill your lungs, turn towards the person you kinda sorta know, and say….

“Hi I’m___________.”

Now, the story begins. 

I.Just.Don’t.Know.

Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Are these people good for me? Are these people bad for me? What is a friend? Am I a good friend? Do I tell my friends I love them enough? Why am I so mean to those I love? What is love? If God is love, why don’t I love Him enough? Do I love anyone enough? Where am I going? Why am I here? Is my calling really my calling? Am I deceiving myself? Do people like me? Is my hair messed up? Did I say the right thing to her? Did I speak from my heart or my brain? Who am I? Did I just say that? Did I just think that? Why don’t I care enough? Why am I so tired? Am I lonely? Am I afraid? Why am I afraid if He is right here? Is He right here? Yes, He is, but why are you questioning? Why is this class so hard? Why am I so stressed? Did I make him upset? Did I pray today? Did I pray at all the last week? If God is my #1 priority why do I give Him the least time? Am I a hypocrite? Am I a Pharisee? If, I’m not hot….I must be lukewarm? Did I leave the iron on? Why is my room such a mess? Why am I such a mess? When do I intervene when I see wrong? Why is he doing that he knows better? Who am I to judge? Why didn’t I cry…I should have cried? Am I hurting? Is it okay to be hurting? Do I show my family enough love? Do I just follow the motions? Am I selfish? Am I jealous of others? Does the good I do outweigh the bad? Am I bad? What good do I do? Do I act when I should? Do I care about the poor? What is heaven like? Will I get there one day? When I see my life before my eyes will I cry? Of sadness? Of happiness? Of anger? Why is it so hot in this room? How many hours of sleep are necessary? Will I ever get married? What will she be like? Will I have kids? Boys? Girls? Maybe, I will be sterile? Maybe, my wife will be sterile? Will I adopt? Do I care to much about being in a romantic relationship? Does that count as lust? Does that count as pride? Am I humble? Do I have a relationship with God? Do I read the Bible enough? Am I a hypocrite? Why can’t I cry? What do I even need to look for in a potential spouse? Are my prayers heard? Why is this seat so uncomfortable? What will I get on my Anatomy test Tuesday? Why does my heart race when I am taking a test? Why am I so nervous? Why do my hands shake when I ask her out? Gosh, why are my palms so sweaty? Why am I scared of people? Why am I so afraid of connecting? Am I afraid of people?  If I am an extrovert why do I want to sleep all day? Do I love myself enough? Is it humble to say that? Why can’t I help him? How can I help her get through this moment? Did I call today? Why didn’t you call today? Why did you ignore that call? Why did you go out of your way to avoid them? Do they know that I love them? Does the stranger know that I love him/her? Why did I act like that in high school? Why didn’t I have courage to stand up against the crowd? How can I love strangers? How can I love enemies? Do I have enemies? How can I love God? What is my purpose? What is my will for myself? No, what is God’s will for me? Where am I going? Why am I here? Who am I?

“Although I guess if I knew tomorrow
I guess I wouldn’t need faith
I guess if I never fell, I guess I wouldn’t need grace
I guess if I knew His plans, I guess He wouldn’t be God
So maybe I don’t know, maybe I don’t know
Maybe I don’t know, maybe I don’t know
But maybe that’s okay”-Jon Bellion

Why.I.Keep.Going.

It’s that time of the year again.  What time?  The time of the year when every pre-med out there questions his or her life choices.  Our brains becomes flooded with statements like…

“What are you doing to yourself?” 

“You are tired. Kick your feet up and just take a nice long nap.  Forget about the tests.”

“Are you sure you are cut-out for this pre-med thing?”

“Why do you even want to be a doctor anyway?”

Though these thoughts usually come from the sleep-deprived irrational brain, there is some rational questions that arise…

Why keep going?  Why not stop?  Why not do something else with your life?

Most of the time we tend to silence these scary thoughts and pretend they never happened.  We are pre-med.  We cannot show weakness.

So what do we do?

  • Drink gallons upon gallons of coffee.
  • Study for 1,000,000 hours
  • More Coffee
  • Maybe sleep?  Nope.
  • Study another 1,000,000,000 hours…
  • And eventually
  • Make it into medical school!
  • And then…
  •  DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN

Something else besides the prestige and the financial stability must be motivating us to keep going?

What is it?  

Here are a few reasons why I keep going.  I hope it resonates with all the pre-meds out there.

I keep going for…

That older woman in the free clinic.  She tells me she doesn’t sleep more than 4 hours a night.  I ask why.  She tells me that she can’t sleep because her husband had lung cancer .  At night, when he coughed, she feared he would die.  He passed away years ago she tells me…but she still wakes up.

I keep going for…

That ten year old girl who wears a surgical mask anytime she goes out in public.  She can go into anaphylactic shock for air-borne milk allergen exposure.

I keep going for…

The woman with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Her husband, sitting beside her, just had a stroke.  His whole left side is paralyzed.  She jokes about her upcoming death.  He tries to forget by watching TV nonstop.  He clicks the remote with his right hand.

I keep going for…

 

That little kid with Crohn’s Disease who takes more pills than I can count.

I keep going for…

My Grandpa, an engineer and man who loved working with his hands, who is now unable to move or speak because of Parkinson’s disease.

I keep going for…

The man in the nursing home who does not remember me after a few minutes.

I hope…

That through my studies, I will gain the critical thinking skills necessary to make the correct diagnoses.

I hope…

That through my studies, I will gain the patience to listen to each and every symptom.

I pray…

That through my studies, I will gain the strength to carry on even when I feel like I can go on no further.

Why do we keep going?

For the privilege to make a difference in the lives of our future patients and their families.