Tim Lucchesi talks about the identity crisis that we are all facing in today’s world. He shares concrete steps that we can take for us to start our journey in truly knowing ourselves and as the children of God.
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Printable Study Guide PDF
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Reflective Study Guide Questions
“Endowed with “a spiritual and immortal” soul, the human person is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake.”From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude.”Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1703
- Tim mentions that our society has created a culture where people are defined by their finances. When have you allowed this to define your self-worth? What are some small steps you can take to overcome this idea that your worth is somehow more or less based on how much money you make?
- Things that are shared on social media are often filtered and create a false narrative. It’s important that we don’t compare our lives to what we see there, but we know that’s difficult. What are ways that you can remember that what you’re seeing there is filtered, may not be entirely true, or may be masking what’s really going on in someone’s life? How can you remember that some are showing their highlight reel and not their deepest struggles like you may be experiencing and thinking about?
- How else do you compare yourself to others? Do you see how doing so devalues your dignity?
- To be humble is not to say, “I’m no good.” It’s to say, “I am good because God made me to be good.” God chose to make you out of love. Consider writing on a post-it note: God made me to be good. Put the note somewhere you’ll see it every day throughout the day. And if you’re having a difficult time believing it, pray and ask God to help you believe.
- St. John Paul II said that those who suffered were closest to Christ. How might this be true in your life?
- What are three things you’re grateful for today?
Text: Healing from Feeling Worthless
Hi. I’m Tim Lucchesi from Chaste Love, and today I’m going to talk about why you matter, and how you can know and come to really understand and believe that. But first, let’s pray.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Heavenly Father, we come before You humbly today and ask You to open our hearts to the truth that is our value and Your love for us. We ask for the intercession of Your mother, Mary, as we pray. Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
The Identity Crisis
So, we’re all sinners. It’s a pleasant thought to start on, right, “We’re all sinners.” But it’s true, and acknowledging that can be so liberating. Once we begin to acknowledge the fact that we sin, we can better understand, we can begin at least, to better understand who we are, and better understand who God is. So, yeah, as a result of The Fall, we’re all sinners. And sin has some consequences in our lives, which is something a lot of us don’t want to talk about, but it’s true. And one of those consequences is not knowing who we are. And I mean really knowing who we are.
We have an identity crisis in our culture, in our world, in humanity. And that identity crisis, it portrays itself… it presents itself in two different failures of selfdefinition. The first one: We have commodified the human person. We’ve put a dollar sign, or a monetary value, on an individual. We even have a term when we refer to how much money someone has, we refer to it as their net worth. “How much is that person worth? How much am I worth?” And we say this entirely based on finances. So we do that based on your income, or how much money you contribute to something, or your possessions, whatever you own, and therefore “Oh, I can afford these things financially,” and we end up defining ourselves by that.
The second failure of self-identification, or self-definition, is: Masking through experience. So we, in a world of social media, we’re posting pictures all the time, and we’re talking about what we do, and we’re sharing videos, and we’re looking at what everybody else is doing. Whereas back in the day, “back in the day,” not that many years ago, if someone went on vacation they’d have to take a camera, take a bunch of pictures, bring them home, get them developed, bring them over in an album or a big stack, and go “Hey, look what I did. Isn’t this interesting?” And you’d say “Yes.” And what you’d mean is “Not really.” And then you’d move on with your life.
But nowadays, someone can be on vacation and you see their filtered, selected pictures, and you get to see this false narrative of what their life is. They’re on vacation, they’re at the beach, they’re in the mountains, they’re doing… But, for all you know, five minutes before they took that picture they were arguing with everyone, and five minutes after, diarrhea. These things are not the things we present of ourselves, and understandably so. I’m not suggesting that we put all of our full selves on social media – In fact, I’d advise against it, I’d advise against it – But we have to acknowledge that we share limited portions and filtered portions of ourselves with the rest of the world, and we see those filters, those filtered portions of selves from other people.
So we begin to define ourselves, as a result of things like this, by our experiences. We say “Oh, I got to go see this.” “I got to go do this.” “That person got to…” And, therefore, we think that experience determines value, and it doesn’t. So, just to clarify, the identity crisis can be summed up as: Defining yourself by money or some other material thing, and comparing yourself to others, and that’s it, both of which devalue the human person. They devalue who you are.
We are all God’s Children
So, not too long ago, I was sitting and holding my son when he was a newborn, and I was rocking him. And he was just… Oh, he was so small, and he was sleeping. And I, out of nowhere, I just said “I love you, and I will always love you. You never have to do anything to earn my love. I will always, always love you, and without limit, because you are my son.” And in that moment it just… *snap* it hit me. That’s what God says to all of us every moment of every day. God says “You are… you are a creature, a creation of Mine, and then in baptism you became a son or daughter of Mine, and you don’t need to earn My love.” In fact, in Psalm 149 it says For the Lord takes delight in His people; honors the poor with victory. The Lord delights in you. The Lord takes great delight in your very existence.
Three Things To Understand Our Value
But here’s where it gets to be difficult. A lot of times we say “Oh, God loves you,” as if that’s enough, and in a sense it should be, but it’s not for some reason. Now, why is that? Well, it’s largely because of the difference between the temporal and the eternal. As a person, I can see things, I can hear things, I can touch things, I… I’m aware of things, but in a very limited scope. God, on the other hand, is eternal, and therefore understands the true good, is the true good. But by being able to understand all that is, was, and ever will be, God has a healthier perspective. God has a more thorough perspective. And my limited perspective can make it difficult for me to trust God, especially when I’ve been lied to by unhealthy marketing, social standards, any number of other things. So it’s really easy to fall into this habit of not knowing our value.
Now that we understand the identity crisis, let’s talk about three things we can do to begin to understand our own value. So, first and foremost: Humility. The word “humilitas” is related to the Latin word “humus,” which means “earth,” as in “down to earth,” as in knowing truth. Thomas Aquinas once said “Humilitas veritas,” meaning “humility is truth.” Now, I’m not talking about that false humility stuff, where we go “Aw shucks, I’m not good enough.” That’s just pride. That’s just, often, false humility; pride disguising itself as humility. It’s not humility.
Humility is knowing who you are, and let’s use me as an example. I know a lot of things about myself, obviously. I know that I will never have a full head of hair again. I’m okay with that. I know that I will never play a professional sport. I’m on what they call the “wrong side of thirty” and, frankly, some mornings I understand that. I am very good at certain things. I’m very bad at other things. These are truths. But to be humble is not to say “I’m no good,” it’s to say “I am good, because God made me to be good.”
God didn’t need to make you. God didn’t need to make me. God chose to make you out of love. You aren’t incidental, you aren’t a side-effect. Your existence is a deliberate choice made by God, and continually made by God every moment of every day. That’s how much you’re loved. You are never not being loved into existence, which is just a wordy way of saying you are literally being loved into existence every moment of every day. Even when you don’t feel it, your existence is contingent upon your being loved.
Meditation On Suffering
Second: We need to meditate more often on suffering. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Ninth Station of the Cross: Jesus falls the third time. Now let’s think about this for a moment. He’s on the ground, He’s tired, He’s beaten, He’s bloody, He’s yearning for relief. But relief will not come. His friends have abandoned Him, the crowd is spitting and cursing and screaming at Him, and He knows that if He can muster up just enough strength to get up off the ground, there will be no relief. His reward for persevering is the cross.
Now, I think a lot of us have felt that way before, where we feel like even if we persevere, all we’re heading towards is more pain. But there’s a beauty in that. In a lot of religions, pain is considered a bad thing. It’s dismissed as “We need to avoid it.” Catholicism is very clear: suffering for the sake of God is always a good thing. Suffering for no point, that’s just worthless, that’s just agony. But suffering for God is beautiful. Suffering with God is beautiful.
Recently, a priest-friend said to me that his least favorite term in all of medicine is “quality of life,” and that’s because all life has quality inherent to it. When he was pope, John Paul II, St. John Paul II, he would give his most important prayers to the sick and suffering, and say that he needed them to pray, he needed them, because, through their suffering, they were closer to Christ than he was. Now think about this for a second: This is a man who some refer to as St. John Paul the Great. This is a man who was canonized very quickly. This is a man who is held up as a phenomenal saint, by me as well. And this is a man who would walk through a building he’s never been in and could, behind closed doors, sense the presence of the Eucharist. This is a man who… those who knew him said “He didn’t take time for prayer; he lived in prayer, and took time out of prayer to care for us.” Now, this man that I’ve just described said to those who were suffering “In your suffering, you are closer to Jesus than I am.” Wow. Wow. The beauty of suffering for and with Christ.
Reshape Your Perception
Third: Reshape your perception. Let’s take a minute. Put yourself in the place of the apostles after the crucifixion. In fact, let’s go with a scripture first. I’m going to read it real quick. Gospel of John chapter 20, verse 19 says On the evening of the first day of the week, when the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Now, the first half of that scripture verse is all about: They’re terrified, they’re locking the door, they’re hiding in the upper room where they had the Last Supper a few days ago. They don’t know what’s going on, even though Jesus clearly told them “I’ll be back.” Not in like a terminator way, but He did. If you read through the scripture, He told them. But they still just… *whistle* right over their head, like it is for most of us, and they were terrified.
And these are the early saints and martyrs of the church, some of the great saints and martyrs of the church, and yet they were struggling with some of the same fears and loneliness and abandonment that a lot of us feel. So if they can feel that, and these are the great saints or some of the great saints of the early church, that means that you, in your struggles, can still be a saint. You, in your struggles, can still be a saint.
Now, how do we begin to do this? Jesus appears to them in the room. And I’ve found that a great way to go, to have that moment where you finally begin to give yourself fully to God, is to learn gratitude. And you may be good at gratitude – I most of my life have not been. So what I did was I learned something after watching a TED talk, and I revised this Oprah-approved program and whatever. And I started doing this thing every day where I do three things. 1: I pray. Sometimes that prayer is just little snippets of prayer as a part of my day, sometimes it’s rocking a child to sleep – like “Dear God, please help me.” This is just *Shh* *Shh* “Put the kid to sleep, help the…” *Shh*. “Oh, mama Mary, you’re a better parent than I am.” That sort of thing. Sometimes it’s just a pure desperation prayer, other times I’m front of the Blessed Sacrament, it’s any number of things. But I pray every day.
2: I exercise. Now, for some people they think exercise and they think real intense. No, no, no. A walk around the block is exercise for me. But the third thing, and this is where it gets very important: To begin to reshape my mentality, every night, my wife and I do what we call “ten things.” We each list five things, going back and forth, from that day for which we are thankful. Now, there’s some days where this is very difficult, but that’s why we need to do it, because there are things in every day for which we are grateful. And the guy on the TED talk I watched that one time, he was talking neuroscience, blah, blah, blah, rewiring the brain in 21 days. But the truth is that I have learned to see things in a positive light, I’ve learned to not beat myself up as much, and I’ve learned to not let other people beat me up, to not let their words affect me in a negative way. Gratitude has helped me to see with clarity God’s perception of my life.
Jesus Died For You
I just want to close out real quick and say that C. S. Lewis once said “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” Think about that. Often, we think “Oh, Jesus died for our sins.” Yes, He did. Jesus died for you. For you. That’s how much you are worth. So if we can begin to learn gratitude, if we can begin to learn humility, and if we can meditate regularly on the beauty of suffering, we can begin to see how God sees us. We can undo this identity crisis, break free of it, and learn to love ourselves just a fraction of how God loves us. God loves you, God died for you, God desires an intimate relationship with you and wants to lead you on an epic adventure, the likes of which you have never dreamed of.
All glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
About Tim Lucchesi
Tim Lucchesi is the Director of Chaste Love; a ministry dedicated to sharing the truth about the dignity of every person. He is to husband Jess and father of two children: a toddler named Evelyn an infant son named Maximilian. After working in parish and regional youth ministry for six years, Tim felt God calling him to be a stay-at-home dad and create Chaste Love ministry with his wife. In addition God and family, the great loves of Tim’s life are cheesecake, science fiction, St. John Paul II, superhero movies and the virtue of chastity.