THE STORYBOARD CALLED LIFE

Love Stories – Episode 8: Storge the 2nd

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the ninth (?!) post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, and 5 here, 6 here and 7 here.

I honestly only planned on having 8 but the series kept evolving as I kept going. We only have a few weeks to go 😥 

Thanks to everyone who entered the This Is Love competition. Kev and I have been “judging” based on specific criteria. We’ll announce a winner soon 😉


Storge

Storge is the familial love of a parent and child, siblings, kin. You would think that the Bible would just talk about all the nice aspects of storge. But apparently, the New Testament uses the negative from of storge, astorgos, twice. Astorgos meaning devoid of natural affection, without affection to kin, no understanding, no mercy, no love. In 2 Timothy 3:3, St Paul uses it to mourn people who lack natural love for their families. This implies then that love for family is a natural thing, not easy, but natural.

But why is loving family so important?

On one hand, the family is the first place a child is educated. They say (I don’t know who they are but they seem smart) that the formative years for a child are the most important because what they learn during the first few years impact on them for the rest of their lives. Families teach love, support, discipline and have a massive impact on self-esteem. But can’t friends serve that purpose?

Why is family so important?

When you have a friend or group of friends that you’re close with, you could say you consider them family #fam #squad But you never say about your family that they’re friends. It’s like the status of “family” is elevated in comparison to status of friendships.

Why is it so important for children to know/search for their biological parents if they were adopted?

So many questions, but really no answers from me. Maybe we can talk about it in a future post.

In a way, I think the state of families is the state of society. The family is a microcosm of society where the values being taught to children represent the changing values of society. So I think it’s interesting when people criticise young people – who is teaching them? It’s usually the people that are complaining.

Last remarks: in Romans 12:10, St Paul talks about an interesting idea of  philostorgos, which translates to “to be devoted.” The word combines philos and storge and means “to cherish one’s kindred.” Devote yourself to your family, blood or not. The love you show will ripple and reflect and create a better society.

 


4 Cheat Codes to be the Best Dad Ever! *

*I am just poking fun at click bait type titles – this story is legit. Before you start reading the story,  I want to tell you that the Dad of this story is the husband of the writer of one of the earlier stories. Some love stories still have happy endings 🙂

 

Precious cargo secured safely in the back.  Check. The engine of my car is revving loudly as I delicately drift my car through traffic, pushing the car to its limits. The dance between my car and Sydney traffic continues for another 20 minutes before we arrive.

Me: “Quick, help, my wife is about to have our baby!”

What I actually said: “Subba limu carrni haffa du wappa!”

Wife: What?!?

At this point, the triage nurse calmly walks over and asks my wife Kim some questions.  I can barely hear them over my laboured breathing from the short run.

Triage Nurse: “Oh that’s okay, you’re in the early stages.  Let’s head to the maternity ward and get your wife settled in”

17 laborious hours later, my wife and I became parents to a little man whom we would call Carter.

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To say that this was an emotional experience is really doing an injustice to the words emotional and experience.  It was as if I had finished reading a chapter in one book, and started reading a chapter in another book.  No number of books, videos, or advice from family and friends could’ve prepared me to comprehend what I was about to go through.  If anything, it left me asking a lot more questions.

I’m a Dad!  We made this little guy!  I must take care of him now.  How do I take care of him now?  Are we ready?  How is there not a test for this?  How do I set it to silent mode? Will I ever sleep again?

Looking back at this, two and a half years later, I must say I’ve felt like my wife and I have done an alright job so far.  But no matter how much I think I know, life continues to keep me on my toes and continues to show me where I can improve.  All in the quest to be a better husband, father, son, brother, friend.

If you’ve unlocked the new parent achievement, are expecting or even just thinking about having kids, then I would like to share with you some wonderfully golden and crunchy nuggets of practical wisdom/ cheat sheet/ life hacks I have learned and will hopefully help you on this amazing journey.

1. Get Involved

Just because you didn’t bear the child from your hips doesn’t mean you cannot have a deep connection with them. Get your hands dirty, both literally and figuratively.  I’ve always believed in the adage that you learn best by doing.  So pay attention in the birth classes, watch your friends, whatever it takes.  Failing that, 99% sure there is a Youtube video that can answer your question.

The feedings, the burping, the changing diapers… these things you’ll figure out.  But whether it’s your turn or hers, always make sure you’re there and present in the moment.  You don’t want to miss out on anything small or big that may happen, and it’s also good to provide support when needed.

As your child gets older, they’ll need more involvement from you.   Yep, of course, you’re going to have to learn the theme song to Paw Patrol.  If you don’t already, you’re going to have to love playing with hot wheels and Barbie.  And if you haven’t already picked a side, you’re going to have to choose between BATMAN… and superman.

Let’s be honest guys … we don’t ever really grow up.  So think of this as a chance to play with toys and sit down and watch a mind-numbing amount of TV again.  The missus can’t get mad… cos you’re spending time with your kids!

Just remember, however you choose to get involved, you need to give them 100% of your attention.  Keep your phone in another room.  Schedule to do your work in half an hour.  Just don’t be distracted when you’re with your children.

Chances are they’ll wander off to play on their own after 10 minutes with you anyway.

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2. Ask for help

From the dawn of time, parents have been under pressure to raise their kids right, feed them, clothe them educate them.   And the modern parent also has to balance looming deadlines, bills, and the fun other pressures life likes to throw your way. All of this can get overwhelming.

I’d like to think people knew this already, but it’s okay to ask for help.

From who though can we ask?

Family and friends – For me, this would be my first port of call.  I know that I have a number of great people in my corner, all of whom would give me the shirt off their back if I needed it (not that It’d fit me but that’s beside the point).  In turn, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer them the same if they ever needed it.

Church/ Religious community/ Humanitarian/ Goodwill services – Watching people care for complete strangers is very moving, and we find it droves amongst these groups and organisations. A lot are equipped and experienced to help individuals, even whole families in times of need, from providing affordable clothing to providing shelter for displaced families.

So many times, I see people who ask for help and think that they’ve failed or that they’re useless.  Even worse is when people don’t reach out at all.  They tend to feel stuck or that their problems are spiralling out of control. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of courage.  Courage to know your limits, putting your ego aside and reaching out to better your situation.

N.B. As an aside, if you do need help and are unsure who to get in touch with, please feel free to contact Candice or me!

3. Look after your relationships

With the number of tasks we’re meant to be juggling as parents/adults, it’s very easy for our stress levels to rise and to let our emotions simmer or boil.  From there, anything can trigger it.  Then something happens, and instinctively we react in an angry manner.

We don’t mean to hurt the ones we love, but once something is said, there isn’t much that can be done to take the sting out of a situation like that.

Say Sorry.  Hug ’em and kiss ’em.

Going forward, begin to practice patience and learn to be mindful of your actions.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you’re about to make a lot of noise, stop. Take a step back and count down from 5.  This gives your mind time to switch to the logical thought process side of your brain.

Also, like above, it’s important to make time for you people you love. Make this time quality time. Get off the black mirrors, the phones, the tablets, the TV. Sometimes the things that don’t really matter in the end, or even tomorrow, become our priorities and we unintentionally neglect what is important.  Your loved ones will understand that the catch ups aren’t frequent if the effort is there.

4. I did it my way.

However far you’ve made it with your kid, I applaud you.  Reading back, I’m not sure if I’ve created a guide for help, or created a cause for further concern.  All I know is, my son and wife still love me and I love them so much!  Everything I do, every decision I make centres around their happiness and wellbeing.

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To all Dad’s out there.  Stay strong.  Heed my advice, or don’t.  That’s the beauty of this journey.  You’ll figure it out, as long as your actions all come from a place of love.

Peas and all the best.

Do it, Dad.

 


Best Frenemies

Anyone who has grown up with siblings would agree that there is unconditional love between siblings. No matter the misunderstanding and fights which can sometimes turn violent or passive between my siblings and I, there is a bond that makes it special and separates it from my relationship that I have with my friends and my parents. There is something profound about growing up with my siblings, too. I am the eldest of nine children. They’ve seen me at my best and my worst. Yet, I’ve never had to question whether they like me or not. I know they love me, as much I love them.

The older I’ve gotten, the closer I’ve become to all my siblings. Everyone teaches me something new every day. The unconditional love and support that we have for one another is one I know I cannot find in any other relationship in my life. These days, I’ll come across a person that may be difficult and I automatically think, “This is an annoying thing one of my sisters would do” and I react with peace knowing I’m able to love them, too. I won’t lie, it isn’t easy. But living with this thought has given me peace most days. Kindness and forgiveness truly are the heart of unconditional love between my siblings and me.

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I’m close to one sister, the sister just after me. We’re two years apart so we’ve been by each other through everything. After World Youth Day (Catholic youth gathering) in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I was in love with the Catholic Church and all it had to offer. I began devoting my time to youth ministry. During this time, I noticed that my sister and I became distant. One day, she said to me, “I just don’t believe in the Catholic teachings anymore. I don’t want to go church from now on.” I’d never felt more distant to her than that moment.

I started to think, “When did she start feeling like this” and “Why now”. I was so busy feeling upset that I didn’t have time to think about what she was going through. My sister was someone who was an instrument of my faith growing up. I thought she was just trying to hurt me.  I felt betrayed. I became mad. I became defensive. I questioned her. I fought her. She fought me back. I kept thinking, “She’s so jealous of my relationship with God”. I was leading people to Christ through youth ministry at the time but I felt like a fraud if I couldn’t do that at home.

My heart was heavy. I went to visit my priest one day and I poured my heart out. He said to me, “Before you pray for her heart, pray for your own heart”. Those words cut like a knife. I realised I was thinking about myself. I never once stopped and thought why I was getting so defensive. I didn’t think to consider her feelings or why she may be feeling this way or what even led to her decisions. She opened her heart to me and I silenced her whenever she spoke. I realised she never asked me to fix her or lead her back to her faith. She was asking me to just listen to her and be there for her.

Fast forward four years. She hasn’t changed her stance on what she believes when it comes to the Catholic Church and I’ve realised that that’s okay. What has changed is our relationship and who I have become as a person. We talk every day. We listen to each other. We still clash when it comes to how we view the world and religious views. But in the end, even if we still disagree, we come to an understanding without anger getting in the way. Isn’t that such a beautiful thing? My sister is kind and giving and thoughtful. She’s great at whatever she does. I’ve learnt so much from her over the years and if anything, she helped me grow within my own faith.

I learnt over the recent years, how to let things go when I don’t agree. To love and appreciate the truth, and that everyone forms an opinion based on their personal experiences. We grow constantly and evolve as people every day. The greatest gift you can give to your family, friends and loved ones is yourself and your time. Choosing to listen to one another and genuinely give others your undivided attention even when you don’t agree, is an act of love.

My siblings and I still find ourselves fighting over just about anything, even down to who my parents like the most. I still believe I’m my dad’s favourite (my gut feeling just tells me so lol) But one thing I know is, every day I’m choosing to love my sisters and brothers even when it’s tough. My friendship with my siblings challenges me each day, teaches me to be better and helps me grow daily as a person. I’ve learned we just should stretch out our patience the same way we do in school and at the gym. No pain, no gain.


Vulnerable

Some people love to make others feel good. Others only reciprocate an equal amount of love as what they receive. Others love to feel loved. In my experience, love is more than an emotional feeling, love is in action.

I experienced emotional abuse at the hands of my father. I think this is the root of my mental health battles. I would spend weeks without speaking to my father and yet would still get yelled at. When I stood up to him, he would throw things, hit things, threaten to hit me and or manipulate me. If my mum stood up for me, she too would end up copping it. I still remember times my mum would go to her room and my dad would be yelling through a door banging on the door nearly breaking it down.

I never believed this was his personality, but a reflection of his own father. I understood his pain and internal conflict. When he was not angry, we would get along, we would talk, take walks and go to sporting events. I had learned that his childhood had been one of abuse and in his adulthood, working for justice in Chile, he had seen and done things that still haunted him.

I was the one asking my abuser for forgiveness. I could rationalise his actions due to my own shortcomings and felt like I needed to work harder because I knew his love for me. When I needed him the most he would back me up, no question asked. When I failed in my goals he would hold me to a higher standard ensuring that I knew that I could do better. It was a tightrope of emotion but I learned one thing. His words didn’t make me feel loved, but his actions did. Love in action is what counts.

My mum and I have always had a relationship that has been special. She was the one that would play with me, stay up helping me with my homework and understood me no matter what. Her love for me was not only unconditional but fierce. She taught me that true love is a constant struggle and had to be built and, like any great historical monument, maintained with a high level of care and commitment. She had shortcomings that made us clash often, but if I’m true to myself I had my own shortcomings. I realise now that every mother and son have these moments, but it’s what happens between the heated moments that counts.

As a young adult, I searched for love but I had built defences to protect myself to a point that I was unrecognisable to even myself. I didn’t know how to love myself because I had associated love with recognition or admiration. I feared being abandoned and being hurt. It became easier to believe the love I longed for was impractical and a waste of time and effort.

I have several friends who are like family who helped me bring down my defences and learn what real love is. I was able to be open to the arrival of my wife Aimee who knows and practises love every day. She has shown me a love centred on what’s best for me. She has assured me time and time again that she isn’t going anywhere. That if I am truly remorseful, she could forgive anything of me. I still struggle to comprehend that someone would choose to not only live with me but also choose to love me. Her constant, gentle, fierce love drowns out my insecurities. Aimee knows that my past still affects my present and she uses these opportunities to understand me and my story better.  This to me is love.

Love seems to be more and more an ancient relic of love stories past. My parents weren’t perfect but they did give me glimpses of what perfect love could be. Love that is built to last and love which is the most difficult to build but that can survive anything. I look at my wife and daughter and strive to build that same type of love.

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As a father, I will be asked to lead our family in a way that my family is worthy. Part of that will be teaching my daughter, Magdalena, the traits of love and forgiveness. Show her an active love which she can recognise as an unselfish love. A love that is completely unique to her. Love stories are the epic stories we all love to hear about, but what storytellers often fail to tell us is that comes it takes a lot of hard work to keep love epic. It is not backing down from hurt or hardship but trusting that the pain will only make you stronger. It is an unselfish love which goes beyond what you yourself can get out of loving someone and I hope that this is something Aimee and I can teach Magdalena.

 


I was 21 when he proposed to me. That’s ten years ago now and it feels like a lifetime. I don’t think I knew at the time. Before we got married, I remember asking this question to friends and family. I was desperate to know the answer, to be affirmed that I was making the right decision. I searched my heart and prayed constantly for answers. But honestly, in that moment, it’s hard to say whether I knew he was the one. 

I knew that he was someone I wanted to be around because he treated his mum like a Queen and loved his family so much, both qualities familiar in my household and what I wanted in my very own. But was he the one?

While we were dating, it was a pretty solid relationship, no breaks, no massive fights and we resolved issues as much as we could accept. We respected each other a lot and deeply. But was he the one?

Loving him was easy and I don’t think I was ever afraid of it. It was organic and it grew. He was my first love. But was he the one?

When we were preparing for marriage with our priest, it was clear that we were making a commitment to each other. We had to choose to love each other every single day, both with the good and the bad. I guess at the time I knew I could do that. I entered marriage with the faith in God that marriage was his plan for us and a commitment to love him until I die, no matter what.

I can’t pinpoint a moment but it’s only now looking back that I can say that there were qualities that stood out – his love for his family, and out respect and love for each other.


PreviewShe opened up to me and shared that she was raped when she was a young girl. My internal thoughts were saying, “I wish it wasn’t true” and “Is there a way this can be erased?”

Check out the next instalment of Love Stories, “Agape”, on Wednesday 5 July at 3 pm AEST

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Written by Candice

June 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories

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