2012 Grand Prize Winner

  Name: Michael Buysse
Age: 18
School: Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern PA 

A New and Improved View Towards Women

            Going to an all male school had an influence on my image of women. Places such as the locker room and the lunch table can be exceedingly coarse, and women were not respected as they should be. Everyone wanted to fit in. I wanted to fit in. Therefore, I began to participate in the degrading talk towards women that occurred on a daily basis. With this participation came a different attitude towards life. I thought that since I’m young, I should have fun while I still can. After all, I did have my whole life to correct my mistakes. I told myself that pornography was okay and began to fall into sexual sin. As a result my relationships with God, my family, and others began to falter. I still had a deep longing for God and true love, but I was ignoring it. I was attempting to fill my capacity for God with finite things such as alcohol and girls I barely knew rather than the infinite.

            I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but failed to address it on my own. Instead, the issue was brought to my attention as I was picking my senior year classes. I saw the option to take Theology of the Body and knew what it was about through previous students.  Deep down I knew that so many things that I was doing were wrong but couldn’t admit it on my own. I wanted a change but was still telling myself that everything was okay, so I sought guidance and opted to take the course.

            Choosing to take Theology of the Body was truly a life altering decision.  All of the things that I felt deep down inside, but was scared to pay any attention to were fully realized. God created human in a state of original nakedness. “The man and the woman were both naked and yet were not ashamed” – Genesis 2. However, with the fall came shame. Shame can be defined as the distress and tension created by being treated, or treating another person as a mere object for use rather than as a gift to be honored and love. The key words here are “or treating another person.” I felt shame throughout much of my high school career but did not know why. I always viewed shame as something one feels when he is being treated poorly. Not until Theology of the Body, did I realize that it also comes from treating others poorly or as objects.
I had deliberately hardened myself in an attempt to ease the pain that came with my poor choices and adapt an “I don’t really care about anything” attitude. When I felt pain or shame, I felt like I was just being soft and needed to forget about it. Reading the definition of shame for the first time was a ground-breaking moment for me. It made me realize that everything that I was feeling was true and that I wasn’t just being “soft.” From that moment on, my life changed for the better.

            For a long time I had viewed women as objects, which is why I had felt so much shame. I learned that girls act scandalously in an attempt to receive attention. They are broken and want to be loved. I realized that as girls were seeking asylum, I was injuring them further. I was one of the ones breaking them. This made me want to cry, for I always pictured myself as the type of person that one could go to when seeking help. I was upset and wanted to punish myself. I was seriously beating myself up over what I had done and the fact that I was still tempted to continue my old ways. However, Theology of the Body saved me once again. I learned that we are all tempted to sin. This temptation is natural and we all desire passion and love. However, this desire must be moderated, and we must allow God to direct our desires in the right direction.
I felt less guilty about the temptations that I still had and realized that I just needed to be a man and control them. I needed to let God take over and exert the will power to follow his will. I stopped treating women poorly and using them as objects. I also learned that pornography also treats women as objects. It is using girls for one’s own satisfaction. However, I realized that stopping these things were more difficult than anticipated.

            As I began to form real, true relationships with people that I truly cared about and redevelop those relationships which had been blemished, I soon found that I no longer wanted to objectify women in any way. As the relationships that I had and still have with God and others began to thrive, the hole in my heart was filled and I no longer needed to attempt to fill it. I felt that if I viewed pornography or degraded women, I would be betraying the trust and integrity of those I deeply cared for. Thus, I no longer had the temptation to go back to my old ways. I had finally found the light.

            I now have an entirely new outlook on women. I know that as men we are protectors. We need to protect women from being hurt and treat them with the utmost care. They are one of the most beautiful things that God created and must not be taken advantage of. Their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and must not be invaded. If they are seeking attention in an unjust way, I now feel like I have a duty to help guide them to a better state of mind. I must show them that not all males are out there to hurt them and open my arms toward them to start a healthy friendship. Also, I now firmly believe that before starting a relationship with a lady, one must be friends first. Without friendship, there is no relationship.   

            Theology of the Body gave me the strength to live the life that I always wanted to live but couldn’t find. I find great joy out of places, which I wouldn’t have even stopped to notice about a year ago. Something as simple as holding the door for a woman may not have even crossed my mind in the past. Now I can’t wait for the opportunity! I thank God every night for giving me the opportunity to take Theology of the Body and for the greatness that has come out of it.