Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

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As a Protestant, I held firmly to the belief that salvation was by faith alone. To explain passages like James 2, I said that, by saying faith alone is not enough to save us, what James meant was that real, strong faith produces good works and it is that kind of faith that saves us. Faith causes deeds. That was the bottom line for me. And it did seem that those who had the strongest faith did the most good for the world. This seemed to prove that I was right in my belief.

But in my statistics class my professors stressed time and again that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. In other words, just because as faith increases good works does the same, does not mean that faith causes that increase in good. I don’t know many people, if any, who would say that the increase in good works causes the increase in faith, but the relation between the two could reasonably be interpreted that way, as well.

But I don’t think that either one causes the increase the other. Rather it would seem that there is some sort of outside variable that is causing this correlation between faith and good works, as is common with most cases of correlation. That variable is God’s grace. This is the only thing that causes an increase in either. This is why it is possible, though uncommon, to see someone who has strong faith but few good works. God’s grace is the only thing that saves us, and it’s God’s grace that allows us to have faith and do good. Both are necessary responses to God’s grace. That is my new bottom line.

The Single Life

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…isn’t so bad.

People in my life desperately want me to have a boyfriend. My roommates, my friends, and most of my family. At times, it can be irritating that they think it’s so important for me to be in a romantic relationship (especially since I have a slightly different view than many of my friends about the purpose of relationships and how they should look). I know, though, that they just want me to be happy and think that this is a good way to achieve that, so I can deal with their expression of this wish for me most of the time. But I’ll be honest. I’m content being single at this stage of my life and I’m not really looking that hard for a guy to be romantically involved with. Here are my reasons.

1. I believe that the purpose of relationships is to find the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. In others words, dating is the search for your spouse. At this point in my life, I am in no rush to get married. Marriage is not even on my radar. So, I’m also in no hurry to start looking for my spouse. I have plenty of time to find them in the future, if God in fact plans for me to marry.

2. I am one busy gal. Full time nursing student with 2 part time jobs who is looking for ways to volunteer and help those in need while finding ways to grow in my faith. I barely have time to go on a single date, let alone begin a full-fledged relationship. If I started dating a guy,  I would not have the time to take care of and give the relationship what it needs. And that wouldn’t be fair to either one of us.

3. I enjoy the fact that right now it’s just me and God. When I have a decision to make, there’s only One other that needs to be consulted. It’s not me, God, and some other guy whose opinion now matters to me. I enjoy having this period of my life when I can really strengthen my faith and prepare myself for whatever God has in store for my future. Someday, maybe I’ll be strengthening the faith of the couple I’m a part of, but for now I’m content on my own.

Of course I’m by no means ruling out the option of dating. If God places a young man in my path who has similar values as me and there are mutual feelings, then by all means, I might give it a shot. But like I said, until then, I’m not looking that hard. I’m not going to go out of my way at this point in time to find that special someone. Someday I might, but not right now.

Providence

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Ever since I made the decision to convert to Catholicism, I’ve been trying to figure out where my career choice might lead me. As a nurse, I am going to encounter a lot of experiences that may challenge my moral beliefs, such as working with sexually active teens who want or need to discuss birth control options, or a single woman who just found out she is pregnant and is considering terminating the pregnancy. I’ve been trying to figure out how I would handle these types of situations and ways I can avoid them (though total avoidance will be impossible). I’ve been trying to think of places and areas I can work where that may not be a huge issue. I can only think of  two options at the moment.

One is to work in pediatrics, most likely in an area where they are chronically ill, or especially young. This is the only area of nursing I can think of in which the above dilemmas will likely never be an issue, or at least rarely. But while I would love and hope to work with kids, I’m going to need to be willing to work in whatever area I can find a job.

So, option number two comes in here. I could work in a Catholic hospital. I know that was a good option, but  I don’t know of any such hospitals near me. In fact, I had no idea where to find one anywhere. And then I had the answer dropped in my lap unexpectedly. While in Alabama last week, I was talking with a gentleman at the church that was hosting our group. He was telling me all about the Mobile area. He knew I was a nursing student and told me about the hospitals in the area. Turns out, one of the five in Mobile  is Catholic! This surprised me a little, as I had only seen one Catholic church in the area among 20+ churches of other denominations. I was elated. I had already fallen in love with the area and had always dreamed of moving south one day (I hate cold Minnesota weather). This seemed like it could be the perfect fit.

So, when I got home, I looked up the hospital, and let’s just say that I like what I saw. I could definitely see myself working there. I know that I still have a long way to go, and God may lead me in another direction, but this is where I want to work one day. I am so excited to have finally found the kind of place where I think I would be comfortable working.  And even if this doesn’t work out, at least I know hospitals that are Catholic at their core exist, even in unexpected places like the very Protestant southern states.

Music Monday

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This is absolutely my favorite Josh Groban song and he just recently made a video for it. This song reminds me very much of myself. So here it is. If I Walk Away.

Sweet Home Alabama

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I spent the past week in Mobile, Alabama working on a Habitat for Humanity build. We had a chance to explore the area on the first 2 days before we got down to work. This post is just some of my observations from the trip. I might expand some of these in later posts but this is the basics.

1. There are sooo many churches in the south. Baptist, Episcopal, and many other denominations and typically 3 or 4 of each in an area. We spent an hour trying to find the church we were staying at in Mobile and found at least 20 others in the general area. It was crazy. Only one of these was Catholic.

2. The churches in the south are great at serving others. They have lots of local programs to help those less fortunate, and those who have gotten into some trouble,  get on the right track. It’s something I don’t see enough of from churches in the Midwest, or at least not from most churches in my area.

3. There is a huge Catholic hospital (1 of 5 hospitals)  in Mobile. I want to work there someday.

4. A lot more work and detail goes into building homes than I expected.

5. I learned different portions of every stage of building, from framing the house to the final paint touch-ups just before the homeowners move in. It was so cool.

6. When you put 9 people together for a week and make them ride in a 15 passenger van for 20+ hours (twice in one week) odds are at least 2 will not see eye to eye. This often leads to tension.

7. Southerners are so friendly and the guys are gentlemen. I love it.

8. Accents are pretty cool. I want one.

7 Quick Takes Friday

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I haven’t been very good at keeping this up.

1.  Today at work a gentlemen noticed my cross necklace that I was wearing and asked me what I was. (He thought I was Methodist due to the style of the cross) And for the first time, I got to respond to that question with “I’m Catholic.” It was nice.

my necklace

I guess I can see it

2. I am finally almost done packing for my Habitat for Humanity trip down to Alabama. I don’t usually wait until the night before the early morning trip, but I did this time. And now I know why I don’t do that regularly.

3. My mother is a candidate for a valve replacement surgery that does not require her to be opened up. I don’t know how they do it, but they’ve found a way! Such a relief to not have to worry about open heart surgery.

4. I finally finished writing up my testimony for whyimcatholic.com after being asked to share it back in December. I’ll let you all know when I hear the date it will be going up!

5. I watched the Lord of the Ring trilogy for the first time ever, and I’m now hooked. I’ve actually watched the 1st and 2nd movies twice. I can’t believe it took me almost 10 years to discover this story!

6. My roommates are pranksters. I wasn’t expecting them home from break yet and I come home from work on Tuesday to find the Christmas tree gone but no one home. I figured someone had come home early. But they tried very hard to convince me they had not been in the house when I questioned them via text. And then they put a picture of an emo-ish Finnish rocker on the back of my bedroom door. Let’s just say that I jumped out of my skin when I turned around and saw a larger than life man standing behind me. It took me a minute to register that it was just a poster. They will get payback.

Creepy, no?

7. I had an interview for a summer nursing internship. I’m very excited about the possibility of spending my summer working alongside a nurse and getting to know what it’s really like working in this profession. I’ll find out by the end of March if I got it.