Beer me Lord

A note from Big Nugget:
I am grateful to share another post from my friend, Ricky Congo. His perspective is appreciated in a female-dominated space. To read his third contribution to my blog, click here
Comments and questions are welcomed. We want your thoughts too!

To learn about the “A friend of the Nuggets” project, click here.

While I was walking to grab a bite to eat, I overheard a gentleman talking to who I believed to be his friend.  Let’s be honest, I was eavesdropping.  But it was kind of a funny/interesting conversation and I couldn’t help myself.  He had been irritated because he was a self-proclaimed “beer nerd”. He felt that when he goes to grab a drink, he shouldn’t be teaching the bartender the intricacies of beer.  He went on a rant pleading that he shouldn’t have to explain what an IPA is, what has a certain amount of hops, or what alcohol percentage each beer contains.  In his eyes, these are facts that a bartender should know.

From an outsider looking in, I assumed it was much simpler than that.  In my eyes, I drink, get unintentionally hammered (or intentionally depending on the circumstance), have a great time, avoid death, hate myself in the morning and proceed to have the mother of all burritos.  Follow that up with aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, a 5-hour nap and waking up to extremely unhealthy inactivity the rest of the day.  Though such a simple process, I was completely wrong.

Where I am going with this is that we all have different beliefs and personal preferences.  We are all different and see many things differently.  I’m not as passionate about beer as the “beer connoisseur” that I passed by.  So, I completely understand that people aren’t going to have the same beliefs as my own.  Not everyone is going to agree with everything I have to say.  People believe what they believe and I’m certainly not going to try to change anyone’s mind.

In college, I practiced this tactic in person and even on social media before social media became a giant platform for everyone’s voice.  Not very effective then and because of social media, the world seems a lot more divided now.

I will tell you this right now, I am not perfect and nor will I ever be.  Far from it.  I just think that when you’re young, you want people to agree with you and believe the same things you do. There’s this weird belief that if you don’t agree on everything, you can’t be friends.

Back then, I wanted people to view the world the way I saw it and believe what I believed.  Not necessarily the best way to go about life, but hey, I will chalk that one up to maturity.  Not to say that I am anymore mature than I was then (just read the sarcasm in each of my entries).

However, everything I had believed then, I strongly believe even more now.  I haven’t changed my beliefs and don’t see an instance where I will change my beliefs.  I have really thought about this due to the fact that I am getting older, and one day I may get married and have children.  If and when that day comes, I want to be able to answer tough questions in which they may have with regards to religion, politics and life in general.  A wise person once said “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.  No idea who said it, nonetheless, they are wise.

Though my beliefs haven’t changed, my approach has changed, which is a good thing.  I listen more than I speak and I ask a lot of questions.  I think it’s important to learn, be curious and have the ability to respectfully disagree with tact.  That’s an important skill they don’t emphasize on the ol’ college campus.  I definitely don’t post my beliefs on social media anymore.  I just don’t want life to be one big ass argument.  It isn’t fun feeling defensive and confrontational all the time.  It wears you out really.

Now, to the nitty gritty…the difficult stuff if you will.  I am Catholic.  Born Catholic, raised Catholic and attend Catholic Mass every weekend. (Almost every weekend. I said I wasn’t perfect!).  As I got older, I wanted to know more because I had conflicting issues with some Catholic teachings and what I believed was right.

Naturally, I asked my dad what makes him Catholic? What made him decide that Catholicism was the end all be all religion of choice and not say… Buddhism, Islam, or Judaism?  His answer:  “I liked it and I could donate to the collection basket however much I wanted.”  I’m thinking ‘great, my dad is Catholic because he’s cheap’.  But then he went on: “It felt right and I didn’t resonate with any other religion.”

That was the answer I was looking for.  I feel great when I attend mass, I feel great when I pray, I feel great when I talk to God.  I have been without Him once before and I will just say that it is hard going through life without Him.

So, what could possibly be the problem? Well, there are three.  I am pro-choice, I support gay marriage, and I have had pre-marital sex.

I plan on having pre-marital sex with my next significant other.  Unless of course she decides that she doesn’t want to engage in sexual activity before marriage.  I will explain later.

For now, I will go through these issues one by one. I’ve really thought these through because believing these things made me question if I am actually Catholic and if I should continue to go to mass, which I will also get into later.

Let me emphasize that these are my beliefs because this is how I feel in my gut and in my heart.  This doesn’t necessarily mean I am right or wrong and I accept that God will decide my fate when the time comes.  I will also explain myself to Him, much like I do just about every single day.

I am pro-choice.  However, if I were to get a woman pregnant, I would undoubtedly want her to have the baby, as it is partly my child.  But it still isn’t my choice.  I would express my sentiments and then give her time to decide on what the best choice is for her and our situation.

Why?  First of all, it is not my body. I have zero right in telling her what she should and should not do with her body.  It doesn’t feel right to me to command someone to do something that they may not necessarily want to do.  I certainly couldn’t tell a victim of rape what to decide.  I will never be a woman, I will never fully understand how she feels, nor will I ever know what a pregnancy or labor is like.

For those that argue that it is killing, it very well might be.  We can talk about heart beats and what is scientifically defined as a human being.  However, in Catholicism, miracles happen frequently and I’m not so sure that miracles and science go hand in hand.  Jesus was born from Mary who never made love to Joseph.

From what I understand, having a child is one of the toughest things one can do.  What if you’ve never had sex and come to find out there’s a miracle baby inside of you?  Not to mention the outside pressures of those questioning the whole situation. I mean, Joseph may have even had doubts.  As an inexplicable phenomenon, which I am very thankful for, I respectfully still sway in the pro-choice direction.  Mary made the right decision based on what was in her heart and it was her decision only.

When you think about love, regardless of outside circumstances, please ask yourselves:  what really matters?  When you’re truly in love, more often than not, there isn’t anything else that really matters.  When you’re in love everything is perfect.  The sky is more blue, the grass is more green, the sun shines brightest.  Nothing feels like a burden.

God promotes love, God loves love. He loves the meaning, the feeling and the action of love.  If two people love each other, isn’t that all that matters?

I just feel like being gay shouldn’t prevent people from celebrating their love in its highest ceremony, which is marriage.  It is not fair for me to tell someone that they aren’t allotted the same rights as me because they are different.  If a couple is in love and happy, why shouldn’t they get married?  Who am I to say that they shouldn’t?  I am not gay and never will be.  So, I don’t know what it’s like or how it feels. In turn, I shouldn’t have a say in what a gay couple decides to do with their relationship.  It’s actually none of my business and I’ll leave it at that.

Now, one of the most interesting debates: pre-marital sex.  I struggle with this one because I really do see both sides of the spectrum.  I’m still torn actually, but I think if I met a woman that said we couldn’t sleep together, I would respect her wish and wait.  It’s hard to say when you’re not put in that situation.

There’s something wonderful about waiting, it is truly rewarding.  The purity of it all is genuine and wonderful and it exemplifies self-respect.  All of which are wonderful things in a relationship.  As an analogy people like to buy brand new cars and not used ones for obvious reasons. However, under that same token, people don’t want to buy a car that hasn’t been test-driven.

Sex is extremely important to a relationship, married or unmarried.  It is the single most fulfilling actions to ones well-being.  Having sexual chemistry as a couple is something that is often overlooked and thus can ruin a relationship.  It is something that can be really great, but it can also be awful.  It is known to relieve stress and also change moods from bad to good.

When you read about couples who divorce, a lot of times it has to do with either money or sex.  I feel like sex is something you could actually work through by doing it more and more.  Because when you really think about it, sex is like pizza, even when it’s bad it’s still kind of good.  Which is why I can see myself holding out, because ultimately if you really love each other, you can make the sex good.

I’d also like to point out that sex is the best when you are in love.  So, there you have it.  I’ve decided that it’s up to whomever I am dating and her personal preference.  That was easier than I thought.

As I debated these situations in my head, I’ve realized that 2 of the 3 don’t actually affect me directly.  So, I tend to take into account others feelings over mine, in all three situations actually.  But in only one of them (pre-marital sex), I am in control of that situation and my feelings.  I can technically not date someone who doesn’t want to sleep together, which I have come to find that I don’t actually mind.

When I thought more and more about these things, I began to question “am I really Catholic?” because these are very black and white topics in the Catholic Church.  The more and more I thought about it, the more I felt contradictory, hypocritical and not Catholic enough, even.  However, I still felt in my heart and in my gut that I was believing the correct things.

I asked my Catholic friends, including a couple priests, “What do I do?”, “Am I Catholic still?”, “Should I just not go to mass?”, “Should I not take communion?”, “I doubt I will ever change my views, does that matter?”.  Clearly sounding like a frantic lunatic who has no idea where his life is going, which it actually felt like.  No one really responded at first, I think because it is kind of a scary thought that whatever they say could sway me away from the church.

But after gathering his thoughts, my priest friend poetically stated, “Do not worry of the churches teachings, concentrate on your spirituality.  Continue to go to mass and continue to take communion.  This is between you and God.  It is your business only and everyone else has their own struggles”.

That put so much peace in my heart and confidence in myself.  Not to mention how much more confident I am in God, not that I wasn’t before, but the answers were articulated to me in such a way that I felt truly loved.  I love being Catholic.

Believe in your beliefs, whether beer or God. Only you know what’s in your heart and what you’re passionate about.

-Ricky Congo

Being Catholic and having some of the same questions (plus many more), I really appreciated Ricky’s perspective and experience. This is a picture from Little Nugget’s baptism. Found it fitting being that, like Josh and me, Little Nugget was born into the Catholic church. – Big Nugget

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