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

Do This Right Now.

Hey.

Can you do something for me right now?

Yes, this very instant.

I want you to think of a memory.

A memory that makes you laugh out loud.

Dig deep. Everyone has at least one.

Not figuratively lol. Literally laugh out loud.

A memory that makes you want to spit up the coffee that you are drinking.

Because it just never gets old.

And laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

Let that memory fill all your cracks and bruises of the past week.

Let it fill your lungs with new air and your heart with new love.

Keep laughing.

Even when it feels weird.

Laugh obnoxiously.

Laugh like you do not have a care in the world.

(Insert Memory Here)

 

 

What you just did was something amazing.

You shifted your mindset.

You told your hurting self to go away for just a moment and you jumped into a pool of pure joy.

You dove into yourself, but not the way anxiety and fear wants you to do.

You didn’t fight your past, but rather you found your past worth fighting for.

Worth remembering.

 

Why do we not do this everyday?

Every hour?

Whenever we feel the world try to crush us by it’s weight?

Well. We should.

 

Because laughter fills us with joy. And joy overcomes pain.

If you are around people and they seem confused by this…tell them what you are laughing at. Tell them your memory. Let them participate in the laughter.

Let us remember today to laugh out loud together. Because laughter unites us all. Laughter is freedom in a worrisome world.

God and the Sandy Man Bun Angel

It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

My girlfriend and I had just been hanging out on the beach for about an hour before it started to rain. We ran back to my car, but the sky cleared right away.

That is Florida for you in a nutshell.

So, we decided to go on a walk.

The Florida island that we were on has a really well-known street. It is lined with bars, restaurants, mini golf, you name it. We even walked passed what seemed to be a pirate convention. Interesting to say the least. We walked all the way down the street and then all at once we were blown away.

In the sky there was a GIANT rainbow.

Never before in my life have I seen a rainbow end to end.

I could clearly see one end of the rainbow landing in the water and the other end landing just off into the distance.

I was speechless.

We were speechless.

Up ahead of me I saw a man approaching.

He looked like he had been lost at sea for years. He was about 45 years old. No shoes. Feet with bleeding wounds. Ripped up wet t-shirt. Hands and nails covered in muck. His hair tied up in a sandy man bun under a cowboy hat. His beard touched his chest. His hair, a mix of light brown,white, and grey.

He smiled at my girlfriend and I and said a few kind words.

And just like that he was gone.

Something about him made me want to talk more.

A while later I saw him again, as we were making our way back up the street.

After coming up to us and making small talk he asked me a question,

“You are a man of God, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I replied.

 

He responded,

“I knew that…God told me so.”

My first instinct in the past would be to judge this man. To look at him and think what is he smoking? God told you so? Are you sure about that? But for some reason this time I fought that instinct. I did not let his appearance or apparent bag of alcohol and cigarettes stop me from listening and asking questions.

I started asking him about his faith and his life.

Let us call him Josh.

Josh told me that he sleeps on the beach. He never leaves the island. His father lives on the island but he chooses to sleep out near the water. He told me that God has given him this earth as his home. He told me how people view him as indigent but that is not the case. He told me that he is a believer but he drinks and smokes a lot. He said that everyday he has his four beers and 20 cigarettes. He calls his beers his “Spirit water.” He told me that his Church is when he gets together with two or three friends.

He told me that on the beach…

“God drinks his wine, while I drink my beers….and we laugh together.”

 

“You always remember, God has a great sense of humor.”

Josh then started asking me all about my life. He asked me what my goals were and what I wanted to be. The whole time he talked with me he touched my shoulder. He grasped my hands. I could feel how invested he was in the conversation. Once again, I fought my instinct. This man was covered in dirt and who knows what. Yet, that did not matter to me in the moment. There was a form of comfort as he patted my shoulders and shook my hand.

I told Josh that I was going to medical school and that I wanted to be a physician to help others.

This is where it got interesting.

Josh didn’t ask me where I go. Josh didn’t ask me how it was going. Josh didn’t ask me about my grades.

Josh asked me if I really meant it. 

 

“So are you going to go all the way or like just for a few years and then not do it.”

 

The first thing Josh wanted to know was if I was committed.

I immediately responded,

“I am going to finish. I want to be a doctor. I want to help others.”

We said our goodbyes and while driving home it all started to click.

The past two months of medical school have been the most difficult months of my life. There would be nights I felt helpless, uncertain if this was right for me. There have been tears. There has been fear. There has been regret. Moments, where I questioned God’s will for me. This week was the hardest yet. With so many tests and the anxiety building up like Tetris bricks….I did not know how I was going to do it.

But I made it.

And on September 23rd, 2017 at 4 o’clock God sent me a rainbow in the sky. To remind me that the worst is over and the best is yet to come. God sent me an angel with a sandy man bun. To ask me if I was ready to keep fighting in the journey. To ask me if I was committed. To remind me that God has a sense of humor and it is time I start laughing again.

 

 

 

The Struggle Ship

So, I

I have just….LIVED.

However, in light of the all the positive vibes portrayed on my social media and daily conversation, college has also been a struggle ship.

What do I mean by this?

Well, “Hop on the struggle bus” is a common expression. However, I don’t really think a bus will do. To me struggling involves a lot of different components. I think a ship works better.

When I struggle…

  1. I feel like I am lost at sea.
  2. I feel like I do not always have control of my ship. 
  3. I feel fatigue (think dehydration).
  4. I feel alone.

Furthermore, in college I’ve been on the ship for a variety of different reasons.

1.Grades- Am I lost?

My sophomore year first semester, I had a hard time adjusting to the workload. Freshman year my GPA was great so sophomore year I shouldn’t sweat it, right? Wrong. I took on so much all at once and my GPA suffered.

This struggle was a big moment in my life because it started causing me to pose questions about my career path? Was ______ what I wanted to do? What is my purpose? Am I lost?

2. Faith- Who is in control?

Throughout my undergraduate experience, I have had a problem with the concept of control. In college a lot of things become out of your control—even small things. One example is being in the library without a car, walking out, and seeing that it is pouring rain. Another example, is being far from home when a family member is experiencing health issues. As a young adult, the need for control is so strong. We have grown up in an era that does not “go with flow.” Everything must go according to plan.

This struggle caused me to ask myself, “Am I really ever in control? If not me, than who is in control?”

3. Dehydration- What is draining my zeal?

Water is important (obviously) and being dehydrated can do some not so great things to a person. One of the main symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. In college, I have had moments of extreme fatigue. It was not necessarily laziness or sleep deprivation, but rather a numbness to strive for greatness. I felt as though I had nothing in which to fuel me. I was like a car running out of gasoline. I was a writer with writer’s block.

This struggle caused me to ask myself, “Why am I so mentally tired? What is draining the life out of me?”

4. Alone- Who is your refuge?

Being alone feels like the apocalypse to me. If anyone is a fan of Myers Briggs I am an ENFP. This being said, sometimes (a lot of the time) in college I will feel all alone on the struggle ship. My first reaction is to destroy this feeling of loneliness with talking to girls. My mind tells me, “Find a girlfriend Nick, and everything will be all good.” These thoughts of my need to seek refuge in another have caused me to struggle with finding my own personal identity. Whenever I felt alone, I would change who I was in order to befriend/impress another. The desire for acceptance was weighing me down. Through this struggle I became even more distant to myself…hence causing me to feel more alone (an endless cycle).

This struggle caused me to ask myself, “Who will never leave you? Are you truly alone on the ship?

_____________________________________________

How do I exit the ship kind Sir? 

     Today, I am reminded that though I am on the struggle ship, I am not the captain. Though it may feel like I am in control God is guiding me to the island. My struggle ship experience has shaped my character and has allowed me to consider myself a sailor for Christ.

     Throughout college, when I felt lost, I found my true passion. Whenever I felt as though I had no control, I reminded myself to TRUST in Jesus and His plan for me. Whenever I felt the zeal drain out of me, I realized I was not filling myself up with the love of the Holy Spirit but rather the pleasures of the world. Lastly, whenever I felt desperately alone, I understood that I needed Him now more than ever before.

     Christ is not the captain of the ship.

He is the wind guiding you to Paradise. The only way you can guide the ship is to allow the wind to take you where He wills.

This is much easier said than done. When you are a dehydrated, alone, and lost sailor it is so hard to just go with the flow.

I am reminded of the quote, “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”

So friends.

Hold the helm firmly. 

Brave the sea. 

Listen to the wind. 

Keep the faith. 

     In the rustle of the sail, you will forget you are on the struggle ship but come to understand that you are on the journey that leads you home.

Don’t Be A Gollum

A few days ago I was having a conversation with one of my friends. He was opening up to me about a lot of stuff going on in his life. I respect nothing more than when someone is vulnerable with me about a pain or struggle in their life. While this was going on, I caught myself checking my email on my phone. I have been waiting to hear from medical schools the last few months. The habit of checking my email has been burnt into my mind. I realized what I was doing and slipped my phone in my back pocket. However, throughout the rest of my conversation, the phone in my pocket felt like an alarm that needed to be silenced. The only way to do that was to check it. CHECK IT. CHECK IT. CHECKKKKKKK IT!

 

I felt like Gollum in dire need of the ring.

 

This isn’t an “anti-technology” post. Just to be clear. There are so many great uses for technology. I would not be able to write this blog if it were not for technology.

Technology is not the problem. I am the problem.

Most of the time, when I check my phone it is to ESCAPE.

Escape from what?

Lots of things. When I am in a line I check my phone to escape talking to people. When I am bored I check my phone to escape the feeling of boredom. When I am alone, I check my phone to feel less lonely. Oh how much I use my silver rectangle as a crutch!

Now to make this about Jesus…..

Technology becomes a problem when we depend on it rather than on Christ.

Technology becomes a problem when we are so focused on the screen we don’t look into the eyes of our neighbor.

Technology becomes a problem when our reality becomes distorted.

This semester one of my professors made a great comparison to the Bible story of the Good Samaritan. He pointed out that we pass by hurting men and women on the road as we walk through campus.

How so?

Next time you walk around your college campus, high school hallway, or even the supermarket—what do you see? Well, for me I see everyone staring at the glowing rectangle in their hands.

My teacher posed the question….

“How many times have you passed by a hurting neighbor but you were so focused on your phone that you did not notice?”

There are certain moments in my life where I just want to cry. I wanted to cry because his statement held so much truth yet I know myself…and it is so.hard.to. stop.

Technology can create an addiction. In some ways it has for me. To say that it has not is lying.

Friends, it is time we start realizing the power that is behind technology. By understanding that it is a powerful tool that is reshaping society allows us to see both the good and the bad uses.

As I stated above, when one’s dependence is on anything earthly they will be unsatisfied. Today, I pray that instead of focusing on the three inch by three inch light we focus our eyes on the Light of the World. He is our dependence.

Don’t let the ring of technology turn you into a Gollum.

I promise you this…

The next time you are surrounded by the people you love: friends, family, or even strangers—put your phone away. Look them in the eyes. Listen with all your might.

And.

The Gollum in you will be SILENCED. 

 

Pool Noodle

Days ago, I had a huge lab examination for anatomy class. Like any typical college student I procrastinated. You would think after four years I would learn. Nah, it obviously makes life more exciting. However, it was about 1 in the morning and I was exhausted. I had stayed up really REALLY late almost every night the week before and gotten up really REALLY early.

Why?

Cause college.

Anyway, at that point I still had a lot to memorize for anatomy, but I knew I could not absorb anything. I was dead tired. I laid down in my bed and set my alarm to 5:30am.

I had no choice. Wake up or do bad on the test. As a pre-med student, I would wake up. However, because I had gotten so little sleep I knew waking up would be nearly impossible. I would be fighting a battle against my flesh that I was not expecting to win. Getting up when you are exhausted is like going into a battle and the only weapon to your name is a pool noodle. I am sure you will confuse the enemy, but after a few seconds you are toast.

So, I sat in bed and thought, “I can’t do this. Only God can do this.”

I prayed fervently for a few minutes asking God to help me get up on time the next morning. I prayed that God give me the strength and courage to get out of bed and tackle the day. Towards the end of my prayer, I fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up. I had forgotten of my prayer the night before. What time was it? I felt so great. Was I supposed to get up early? All of the “just woke up” thoughts were flooding my mind. I was delirious. Quickly, I sat in bed thinking. Surely I missed my alarm and got a great (but way to long) night of sleep. Now, how am I supposed to learn all this material in such a short time?

My thoughts were immediately interrupted by the sound of my alarm.

What was going on?

I jumped out of bed to shut it off and looked at the alarm.

5:30am

I had woken up a minute before the alarm went off. I felt way to amazing. It was unreal.

When I was in the shower I continued to think about how refreshed I felt.

I never. ever. ever. felt that great. My pool noodle this morning had turned into excalibur.

Immediately, I remembered my prayer from the night.

“Wow,” I thought. “God is so good!”

I then had a smile on my face that nothing was going to take away.

God is always with me.

God hears my prayers.

God understands.

God He….He listens. 

However, a few seconds later a few doubts started roaring in my mind.

The human body can do crazy things.

Maybe, you just trained yourself to wake up at that time. 

Maybe, you just weren’t that tired. 

Maybe, you ended your sleep cycle at the perfect time.

Maybe, it was a coincidence. 

The smile that was on my face began to fade. Why was I having these doubts?

This experience reminded me that it is not about having the doubts but if we listen to them. If we treat them as important.

I remember reading a quote from St. Pio. He discussed the idea of having thoughts as being at a train station. Everyone is going to see the doubts and fears like trains at a train station. However, the difference is whether or not you hop on the train.

Friends, today I encourage you to understand that doubts are not a defect in your faith. We will all have them. However, it is important to decide not to hop on the trains but rather remain in the train station. One day a train will come that will lead us to paradise.

In conclusion, it is very easy to discount the workings of our Creator. The devil is active in the world trying to worry us and lead us away from Christ with doubts and deception. It is important to remember that the way in which we look at a situation determines everything. Faith is not going to be easy. Sometimes, it may feel like all we have is a pool noodle to fight against the doubts we have about ourselves.

I remind you that what you may see as a pool noodle may very well be an excalibur in disguise.

 

 

 

 

Love BEARS All Things

Getting back from a run, I walked down into my basement to grab a cold gatorade.  As I opened the fridge, I saw an art project attached to the fridge with a magnet.  It was of a bear holding a vibrant red heart that said,

“Love Bears All Things.”

I was surprisingly taken a back by this piece of elementary school artwork.  I continued to stare at this bear, which was held together by a glue stick from my little brother’s pre-K class.  However, now the art ignited a fire in my heart.  Pondering the words that rested at the center of the heart and the bear, I was reminded of all the events that have been going on at Baylor.

A raging sea of mixed emotions have been scattered all over social media.

People are angry.

People are hurt.

People are scared.

Knowing all this, I chose not to say anything.  I felt that by the grace of God Baylor would find her peace.  However, after seeing this small reminder on the fridge my heart filled with joy.  I recollected on all Baylor has done for me the last past three years.  I was reminded of how Baylor has taught me the treasure that is Love.

Baylor has shown me that Love DOES Bear All things.

Everything that happened to these young women is disgraceful.  I have a younger sister going into her freshman year next year.  I love her more than anything.  To even think about someone taking advantage or mistreating her tears my heart apart.  I cannot only imagine the pain these women are going through, but also the pain of their fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings etc.  To all the women that went through such a traumatic experience at Baylor,  I pray that you find comfort.  Speaking for all of Baylor nation, we apologize not for certain things, but for EVERYTHING.

Due to what has taken place, the Baylor I know and love is being viewed as a place that does not demonstrate love.  Quite frankly, Baylor is seen as a failure.  I agree whole heartedly that mistakes were made and people are now hurt forever.  It is sickening.  However, now is the time to make amends and to be better.  Now is the time to show the world that Baylor University knows what it means to LOVE.

Living in Connecticut,  the people in my community only know the “social media Baylor.”  They do not know the treasure that awaits in Waco,TX.  They do not know that Baylor University taught a young freshman boy from Stamford, CT what it means to love.  When I say Baylor “taught” I mean ALL of Baylor.  The custodians, the professors, the students, the cafeteria workers, the administrators…everyone.

In order to show the world what I mean here are a few personal examples as to how Baylor University taught me LOVE.

Baylor taught me Love when…

I had missed my flight because my plane out of Waco was canceled.  All my new freshman friends had already left for summer.  The next morning I went outside with my bags.  I was cold.  It was raining.  It was 6:00am and I was waiting outside my dorm.  The bus was supposed to come at 6:15am.  It was now 7:00 am.  I still sat there.  The rain was beginning to soak my clothes, but if I went inside I might miss the bus.  It was now 8:00 am.  The bus never came.  A cafeteria worker took notice of me.  She came outside, gave me a water bottle, and a hot pastry.  She offered to drive me to Dallas.  I thanked her and still waited.  A few minutes later, a Baylor student pulled up in her car.  She looked at me and asked if I was okay.  I told her the story and she said she would drive me to Dallas.  I asked her where she was headed.  She was headed the opposite way.  She insisted but I politely said thank you.  The cold was not so cold anymore.

Baylor taught me Love when…

It was the first few weeks of freshman year.  I was stressed.  I had a science test the next morning.  I was a nervous pre-med student.  It was 1:00am.  I was tired and sick of the workload.  College was not fun.  Trying to grab my bike off the rack, I could not get it out.  It was stuck.  Trying harder and harder, eventually I gave up.  Outside the library was desolate.  Picking up my biology book, I was about to throw it on the ground.  I wanted to let all this anger out.  Out of nowhere, I heard a small voice behind me.  A girl asked, “Do you need any help?”  Just like that my bike was free and the stranger was gone.

Baylor taught me Love when…

I walk into Hospice each week.  I watch the sick and dying patients smile, laugh, and joke with all of the Baylor student volunteers.

Baylor taught me Love when…

I witness dozens of Baylor students excited to get up at 5:30am on Friday morning to serve the poor breakfast and to converse with them.

Baylor taught me Love when…

That professor invited my class to have dinner at his home.  That professor that takes the time to help me pursue my dream.  That professor that hands me his umbrella as it begins to rain.

In conclusion, in light of everything that has occurred, it is time for Baylor nation to bear all things through love.

Love the women that have been hurt.

Love every student that walks onto our campus.

Love your friends…and your enemies.

Most important of all, love He who gives us peace in the most heart aching moments.

Love is the answer Baylor nation.

1 Corinthians 13:7 

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