Second Place - $750 Scholarship
Name: Seth Bland
School: Trinity High School,
Second Place Winning Essay
My Theology of the Body experience is unlike any other; my father was my teacher. At my school, Theology of the Body is integrated into the sophomore religion course. Before school started, my mother asked my father if he would drop the sophomore religion class. She had good intentions in mind: avoiding awkward moments and potential fights between the two of us. My father thought about this decision for a long time. I also thought about the situation for a while. Finally, I decided it would be selfish of me to make my father give up something he loves so much.
My father being the teacher made me reserved and reluctant to speak during our class conversations. Talking about sex and the importance of purity is not what any sixteen year old wants to be doing with his father every other day. My opposition during this class made me miss out on everything during the early part of the year. I did not listen nor pay attention.
During my freshman year, all I wanted to do was show to everybody that I was nothing like my father. I looked for parties and sexual relationships everywhere. I was leading a double life between my “party life” and the life I knew I should live; it was getting so hard to manage both that I didn’t know where to turn.
Theology of the Body was my wakeup call. As I opened myself to the truth, God grabbed me by the collar, shook me hard, and said, “Seth, this is not you at all! Snap out of it.” It took a while, but I eventually heard God’s message. When the class split between girls and guys, I started to open up. My father told the boys about his wilder teenage years, and I realized that he was not always the role model I know him to be today. He talked about his past life and how it affected him today. After that day, I realized how my choices now could affect my life drastically. I started to participate much more in classroom conversations. I started to take everything to heart and to let everything said sink in. My friends and I started talking about what we were learning in the classroom outside of school. What I was learning during that class was affecting my everyday life.
My eyes were open to the way the world treated sex and women. I stopped watching some of my favorite shows on MTV and stopped searching for parties and sex. I had new-found respect for women and started to view women as gifts and not just objects for sex. I stopped worrying about what people thought about me, and did not care that my dad was my teacher. He is an intelligent man and has so much to teach me. I just wanted to be me. I surrounded myself with better friends and that made life easier. When I have a genuine support group, every choice is easier to make. The people I surrounded myself with had the same core values as I. I could be with these friends and not have to worry about being myself. I finally felt like that was where I belonged. Our friendships were centered on God and that truly made all the difference.
As time went on, life seemed to get harder. Basketball season started, and my tight knit group of friends slowly went their own ways, whether it was college or their own sports. I was being bombarded daily with pressures from everywhere. I started relating my life more and more to Brian Butler, Theology of the Body spokesperson. I wanted to model my life after his. He was an athlete, just like I have been my whole life. In the videos, he always talked about how the hardest place for him to be was the locker room. I agreed with him because that was my weakest area, too. I reverted back to many things he would say and tried to apply them to my daily life. I would often find myself keeping quiet in the locker room, not wanting to engage in inappropriate conversations.
I have kept hold of the values that I learned in Theology of the Body about a year ago. After my own awakening, I vowed to myself that I would be a virgin until I married. I saw the importance of giving this gift to my future wife. I think for a new, married couple, this is the best gift they can give one another. I pray every night for my future wife. I pray that she will stay pure for me, as I am trying for her. I want us to share in this incredible gift from God for the first time together. Staying a virgin for her is the best thing I can do.
I often think about what my life would be like without Theology of the Body. I often wonder if I would still be wandering around, trying to be someone I am not. Though sometimes I have struggled, I have become a better person. I have learned a lot from my mistakes and Theology of the Body has helped me tremendously along the way. I thank God all the time for what I learned in that class. They truly have changed my views about everything. Not just sex and purity, but the kind of people I surround myself with. I would not change my past for anything, but I am looking forward to a brighter future.
I am now a junior and am thinking more and more about college every day. I plan to attend a four-year university and live on campus, away from home. I look forward to the challenges that I will face. The lessons that I learned will always be with me. I hope to go to college and be a role model for other people to follow. I’m going to stay pure and chaste for my future wife, and continue to pray for her daily. College will be the biggest challenge my young faith life will face, but with the help of God, anything is possible.