My final semester in my MBA revealed two sources of my life’s major frustrations – my desire to rush into things and my expectations.
This semester made me produce a capstone project, a research on a subject related to my field. It required me not just a huge chunk of my time but my attentiveness to the materials I read, instructions of my adviser and panel, and the deadline since we had to finish everything in eight weeks.
The capstone project is such a lot of work… and reading! I know I love reading, but not this kind. Haha! In fact, in that eight weeks, I finished reading two books that are in no way related to my project. That is how lazy I was on the project. Why don’t they just give me the degree?!
I could no longer remember the number of times I wanted to give up. I was ready to receive an ‘IP’ grade for this sem (in progress). I would just resign anyway, I said to myself. And I won’t be needing this degree for promotion anymore.
Yes, there was an agonizing period in that eight weeks where I wanted to give up my job altogether. It was further aggravated with how some people at work wouldn’t move a finger to do what they are supposed to do. Aaaargggh!!!
Then finally, I got a grip of myself again and realized that I was the one weighing down my own baggage. How silly of me to throw tantrums on this good life of mine.
From the circumstances I mentioned above and the experiences I refuse to mention due to lack of wisdom, I inferred that:
I wanted only the degree and not the process, which is impossible.
I was consumed by my expectations of others, which is a sure formula for total disaster.
It’s funny and annoying when I am rushing into one thing (graduate school) then the other areas of my life get in and join the haste. Suddenly, I also want to rush my career, dreams and other things. You know, if life has that option as Netflix where you can fast forward a film by ten seconds, I would have probably pushed that a couple of times until I see the closing billboard. But there is a supreme, divine reason why life’s not like that. And while we may never know, we need to keep the faith and obedience to God who designs the intricacies of his masterpiece.
I then reminded myself that,
we cannot forfeit the process if we want the promise, aka the prize.
If I wanted my master’s degree, I have to endure and get through with the required subjects and the final project. The same way if we wanted endurance and success, we have to train longer and work smarter. If we wanted the prize, we have to go through the PROCESS. No shortcuts.
It is likewise worth remembering that great things take time and forged through time. Gold is refined through fire and age-old wines have better flavor and finish. Whether it is our faith, goals or specific skill, great things will take time. We will fall and we shall rise up until perfected.
Lastly, I ask myself, ‘why do I rush?’ Maybe because I want to be certain I’ll get ‘there.’ It can also be because I want ‘that life’ more than ‘this life.’ But hey, I said to myself, life is what happens at the moment, it is not when we get there or achieve that. Life is right here, right now.
This reminds me of a conversation with one of our long-time managers in the office. I remember I interrupted her one afternoon just to hear her story on how she started working until she reached her current position and disposition. From how I saw her story, it was like there was a hand who put things and orchestrate circumstances for her – doors closing and opening as if on cue, people calling and arriving.
Then I asked how the seemingly perfect circumstances and people affected her views in life. She said and I quote, ‘Trust. Just trust. You are always where you are supposed to be.’
And that is the assurance I need to be reminded of again. God called me ‘here’ for a mission. And instead of whining on what the future will look like, I should be rolling up my sleeves to work, here.
And when we are done with ‘here,’ another interesting chapter will surely come next.
So there, let us not rush. God is in the details anyway. He works even it doesn’t seem so, He listens even when we think He could not hear, and He is already there wherever we are going. 💛
I started singing this song to myself when I was having stomach pains last year, when I still didn’t know I need a surgery to remove my gall bladder. I would hum in front of the mirror, while brushing my teeth and counting the number of pimples on my face, which by the way, I related to the health problems I was having. The more pimples I see, the more depressed I get. Yeah, I could be melodramatic when sick.
When I got out of the operating room alive, I forgot the song and the thought of dying, until before my flight to Indonesia earlier this year.
Before flying to Jakarta, I left home with both of my parents gazing at me through our gate. It dawned on me, ‘what if this was the last time we would see each other?’ The idea stuck to me the entire time I was in Indonesia.
On my domestic flight back to Jakarta while waiting for the plane, there had been a power interruption at the airport. ‘This must be a sign,’ I thought. I must be dying already or something.
I don’t know why I kept on entertaining such thoughts at that time. Maybe my cheesy-old school-young writer heart is looking for signs or for concrete feelings of what is it like to live the last days or last moments of one’s life.
Then during the holy week, a friend asked me if there is any concern she could pray for me. The question she popped at the middle of our conversation on why our Davids aka one true love (OTL) are taking so long to find us.
I told my friend to pray for my health because I was having unusual diastolic blood pressure. Then I blurted, ‘maybe I’ll die young and to minimize casualty, I wouldn’t meet my David.’ (🎵 there’s a boy here in town says he’ll love me forever who would have thought forever could be severed by
the sharp knife of a short life…)
I was just kidding.
My friend told me confidently, ‘hindi yan.’
There is really no way to tell when our time on earth is up. I wouldn’t call it dying because we don’t really die but we just pass from this life to the next. But if there’s one thing my recent thoughts are teaching me, it would be this: live today as if it’s the last.
And how do we really live today as if it’s the last? Here’s my humble attempt to answer and live just that:
Express love to people you love the most.
Be kind. (If you have to choose between being smart and kind precept)
Be generous not only with material things but with words and maybe with the like/heart button. Do not hold back compliments or a smile. A little thing goes a long way.
Do what matters. Don’t get stuck in a work that does not spark joy in your life (naks, Marie Kondo-ing not just our stuff but our life.)
Get started on that passion project you’ve always wanted to do!
Give your best shot in things you lay your hands to. Do it as if you work for the Lord.
Be brave, stop worrying and enjoy life. I have recently watched a video on YouTube about how the universe will end millions of trillion trillion trillion years from now. And there’s this one comment that went something like this, ‘This is how vast the universe can be and here I am worrying if my crush will like me back.’ Not that I resonate with his exact feelings, but it’s true. We hold back in doing things, we fear and we worry when we shouldn’t really be. J
We would fail on most days you know. On most nights we may find ourselves asking God of his mercy because we fell short. Some days we may get tired of living the rules and would just roll our eyes on people. But we have to keep.on.trying.
In the last funeral I’ve been to, relatives are wailing, stomping and fainting before the casket of their loved one. This is a familiar scene in the Philippines, I guess and I don’t dare judge these people on how they mourn and express the pain of losing someone so dear.
But I thought, ‘I’d never want my loved ones to mourn like that when I pass away.’ I want them to grieve with a trusting hope to Jesus Christ who has risen from the dead and promised us rooms in His kingdom. I want them to feel the pain of losing and at the same time embrace the joy of me departing to be with Christ.
As St. Paul wrote in the Scripture, ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain.’
I hope I didn’t scare you but pushed you to live life in the best way you can.
On November 2018, the Philippines through our corporation (along with other power companies) hosted an ASEAN meeting in Bohol, Philippines – the Heads of ASEAN Power Utilities/Authorities (HAPUA) Council, Working Committee and Working Groups meeting.
It was a significant event for power utilities in the ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) as it is an avenue for sharing best practices in the energy sector. It also pursues projects toward energy security and sustainability in South East Asia.
With just the sound of it, I really wanted to be part of this event that was supposed to take place in the first quarter of the year. However, when the member states have settled the date for the 2018 meeting, it landed exactly on the date of my flight going to Singapore to assist in and attend my sister’s school program.
Can you imagine my dismay when I learned I cannot be part of Philippine’s hosting of the HAPUA? I was waiting for my boss to tell me to stay and I would stay. Haha! But I thought, there must be a reason why I can’t join the meeting. Besides, family is of more weight than anything else.
Fast forward to February 2019, the HAPUA Secretariat called for a gathering in Indonesia to strengthen bonds among country secretariats. Since I was tasked to join the corporation’s international commitments last year, I joined our Corporate Communications manager, Maria, in attending the event. And this is where I got to know Yogyakarta who is most famous among locals as Jogja.
Where is Jogja?
Jogja is a city in the island of Java in Indonesia. It is said to be the country’s cultural capital and I must say it is indeed brimming with traditions and historical sites that have been efficiently preserved through the years.
I can also say that Indonesia is so rooted with its culture and history and this gives them the identity which is vital for a country to progress forward. This is evident in their heritage sites, way of simple living and their loyalty and use of their native language. I hope Filipinos can be as loyal and loving to our native/national language also. (You know, English is important in connecting to other nation but there is beauty in being so rooted in our own.)
One of our hosts said that when you visit Jogja, you have already visited half, if not most of what Indonesia is made of.
Also, our super jolly tour guide said that since Jogja is still ruled by monarchy (Sultan), equality is maintained in the city. This is seen through the similarity of houses. Fancy and big houses are discouraged so as to promote equal opportunity for all. What a city to live simply!
Jogja can be reached by an hour of plane ride from Jakarta, just like what we did or a 10-12 hour land trip from Jakarta.
Upon landing Adisucipto International Airport in Jogja, we were met by our guides who welcomed us with wide smiles, a bottle of water and pastries.
In the hotel, the receptionist was friendly enough and spoke about the city. I would probably engage in a long conversation with her if I wasn’t tired. But yeah, I had to get acquainted with my bed for a couple of days, eat dinner and prepare for the next day’s meeting.
The Bridge of HAPUA
The meeting started with the ASEAN anthem.
Leaders spoke about the challenges and growing need for effective communication among member states. This is where our role comes in – the country secretariat serves as the link or bridge among the states in order to arrive with effective programs and resolutions in securing and strengthening energy supply.
As the entire meeting was unfolding, there were a handful of thoughts in my mind. I thought ‘what am I doing here?!’ and felt like a new student in middle school. On one hand, I was also happy to be there because I know it will be a new learning field for me.
There had been more presentations and discussions in the afternoon. Maria for one discussed some developments in a project of the Working Group 4 which is chaired by the Philippines.
Getting exposed to such meetings, I have seen and appreciate the mutual respect that each state gives to everyone. Amazing ASEAN!
Cultural night is part of any ASEAN meeting. It is where delegates get to experience, taste and see the authenticity of the country host. As for this gathering, Indonesia prepared local dishes and fruits for us to taste; and good music for us to dance along with. And oh, they also made us wear the traditional Javanese clothes.
I thought that most food will be spicy, on the contrary, most are sweet. It has a distinct taste, like pasty or creamy but sweet. Such a delight that they also have the same tropical fruits I love like watermelon, papaya, mangees (mangosteen)and honey dew. What was new to me was the snake fruit which taste like langka but only crunchy.
Travel is an education of some sort. Likewise, when I travel, I realize how small I am in relation to how vast countries can be. I see how God can put something this vast in order and I find comfort that all is well.
Jogja up close
On the next day, we went to Central Java to explore Borobudur including the famous and grand temple, the community of Ngadi Harjo; the Pawon, home of the Luwak coffee; the Magical Plataran on the hills where we had a splendid lunch and conversations about flight schedules, time differences and power situations in our respective countries (haha!); and the Hamzah Batik to buy souvenirs and ‘Java finds.’
On our last night at Jogja, we went to the city’s busiest street – Malioboro. The street was full of stores – from Batik to shirts to souvenirs. Buskers or street performers are everywhere . This is where tourists or even locals can ride the local tricycle or tuktuk or horse carriages.
I realized that there is really a special feeling in buying with local currencies when you travel. I always feel a unique taste of freedom whenever I use foreign moneh! Hahaha!
Dinner was fun with our young tourist guides from Hocus Pocus Jogja. But I just wish they allowed me to pay for our food because I felt they went out just for us when they can be at the hotel resting. Hihi. Maybe, I can return the care when PH hosts again.
We are one, we are ASEAN. Indeed, my fellow secretariats and I are diverse and different and yet we are related and connected.
Flight back home
The last day could have allowed us to see more of the city. However, a professor of mine (from Graduate school) emailed us an exam that is due the next day, so I stayed at the hotel to write the essays. Thank you to The Alana hotel’s receptionist for giving me bond papers for the exam. Haha!
On our way to the airport, we dropped by to the Bakpia store where local delicacies are found and the grocery to buy last minute treats for our family and friends.
On board the flight back to Manila, Maria and I were the last ones to board (again! We were the last ones to board too going to Jakarta, our baggage were almost pulled out already. Lol). Our foreigner seatmate who was a retiree going to Manila asked us politely and funnily, ‘Is there a reason why you were late?’ hahaha! We said we took time eating. Then he told us the story of him finding the best mini-pizza meal at only 40,000 IDR. He was such a talker and a funny person. He asked me where I’m from and when I said Bulacan, he said he had a friend there. Apparently, he’s been to the Philippines for several times already. He even greeted us with ‘Maayong buntag!’ (Good morning in Cebuano). Too bad, I have to write some more essays on the plane so we have to cut short our conversation.
Remember how I felt regretful not to attend HAPUA in Bohol? Today I thought, maybe God wanted my first ASEAN to be something this beautiful and memorable. He is truly reasonable, gracious and generous.💛
I would like to thank Philippine Airlines’ roster of movies that I was able to watch for the first time Wonder and of course, listen to Bruce Springsteen. 🎵everybody’s got a hungry heart…
Upon arriving Manila, I went to my class.
The next day, I miss Indonesia already.
It’s true what they said there, I thought. Jogja istimewa – Yogyakarta is special!
Hahaha! I think I have to put this here. Not all HAPUA meetings look like this, especially since this one is arranged for the secretariats only. This was to improve bonds and discuss communication practices to make coordination easier among the states.
HAPUA meetings with the Council and Working Committees are way different. And that is something I have yet to experience soon 🙂
One day in grad school while waiting for our next professor, who by the way, took such a long time coming to class, two of my classmates and I came to the subject of my love life or the lack thereof. They were a lawyer and an accountant who seemed to have opposing views on my life. Lol. 😅
The lawyer, a father of three young, good looking children, told me that I should be out there getting a life, whatever that means. Probably he meant that I go out, meet people, go places and all the stuff that people my age chase. I doubt this formula on getting hitched, but let’s go further to the conversation.
He was kind of feeling sorry for me because he felt I have been in my shell for a loooong time. He thought I am missing so much.
Here comes, not exactly to my rescue, the accountant, a mother of three wonderful, grown teens. “She just can’t date anyone else,” she said. (haha) By this time, I am growing impatient for that professor to come. “She should of course have criteria on who to date,” the accountant further said.
“But”, she went on while turning to me, “you should not quickly judge who to date and not, from shallow reasons. Give chance to those whom you don’t feel attracted to but satisfies the criteria.”
In the end, while they seem to disagree on some things (I spared you the other details of the conversation), they agreed on one thing – ‘darating din yan.’ (The right person will come.)
I have understood the point of view of the accountant. She was right to say that singles should have a set of non-negotiable in looking for a lifetime partner. We can all agree on that, right?
However, the lawyer’s statements got me thinking. Am I really missing life?
Where else could I go from your love?
Where could I flee from your presence?
You are there if I ascend the heavens;
You are there if I descend to the depths.
Psalm 139: 7-8
I almost got convinced that I was missing so much. But I realized that no matter how tiny my shell was, granted I was in a shell, God is still God in there.
Then I was reminded of an almost-romance I had in the past while in my ‘shell.’ I smiled to myself and said, ‘God speaks to us in different ways. No matter the way, He makes sure He meets us wherever we are.’
And it’s true, wherever we are, whatever our language is, God is there, and He is teaching us what He will for us to learn. Wherever we are, whatever we do, we are assured that He works in us.
I have always believed that we are where we are supposed to be. Everything here is in order because God is sovereign, loving and wise.
Preserve your heart with all watchfulness,
for life proceeds from this.
If anyone thinks I am naïve to feelings. Here’s a story to tell.
At this time last year, I wanted something to turn out my way so badly. I wanted the circumstance to be ‘the moment’ and a person to be ‘the one.’ All because my best friend found hers and I was like, ‘hey Lord, I was next, right?’
Today, my prayers are with tears and praise saying, ‘Thank you Lord for not giving me what I wanted.’ Today also, I cringe at the thought of ending with that person. I was so focused on what I think he was made of and not the real stuff he really is. I was engrossed with my own selfish thoughts and wishes and have failed to seek or acknowledge God’s opinion and place in it.
It was ugly, but by the grace of God, it became a way for the Lord to teach me His ways. I learned how to seek God more fervently, to guard my heart and to put in place my non-negotiables. I learned to be obedient.
I saw that romance alone is not a sturdy foundation of a lasting relationship. Being made of sugar, it easily crumbles and melts. God taught me to love Him first and above all. And it is the sweetest thing ever – to open myself to the love that never fails.
I tell you, it was messy to tame the heart when it was running at a distance already. If God didn’t give me the understanding I need, I could have done something I will regret forever. (This is an exaggeration, but I want to tell, God gave me a picture of what could have happened) And so I urge all the ladies and gents out there waiting for their Boaz or Ruth, guard your hearts. Seek God first and all that we desire will soon find its way.
I will be turning 30 soon and I know people will be asking when will I get a boyfriend. To prevent me from saying I will get one when they come available at the grocery, I am leaving these words for them to find.
Before I turn 30, I want to assure everyone, including our lawyer above that I am living. Maybe not the way others live, maybe not the usual way of living but I am living albeit difficulties. I try to have decent sleep to make the most out of the next day. I eat healthy to live long. I grow my faith and go deep in Word. I try learning new things like playing the ukulele and improving my watercolor calligraphy skills. I listen to stories of strangers and learn from them. I read books, listen to music, watch films. I get my heart broken. I do things to honor my country. I meet new friends, sometimes. Haha. I flourish in my career. I devote time with people most dear. I bask in the love of God. I breathe in and out. I take one day at a time. I am living.
Before I turn 30, I want people around me to know that I am waiting for the ‘right person’ to love and that I am happy and will still be happy with or without the person. Please know that I am taking my time because this is a lifetime commitment that we are talking about and not just a pair of shoes.
Although, I don’t discount our free will and our ability to act / choose / decide for our lives, I wait on the prodding of the Lord for such life-changing decisions. I believe that marriage and raising children are vocations meant to give glory to Him.
Before I turn 30, I want you to know that I am in no rush – in love or in my career. I hold on to His promises that all things will be beautiful in His appointed time. 💛
Got a story on waiting? Share below! I’d love to know. 🌻
In 2015, my girlfriends and I visited the island paradise of El Nido in Palawan, Philippines. We were truly captivated by the beauty of the place that we took maybe a thousand photos of us in various angles, in several spots be it on the sand, in the ocean or basking under the glorious sunshine.
One of my friends who so love and adore the ocean would always shout before diving – “YOLO!” And off she goes, splash and she’s swallowed by the clear, gentle waves.
YOLO is an acronym that has become a famous mantra among the new generation. The mantra stands for – you only live once. It is supposed to be an encouragement to push you to do the scary, the bold and the beautiful. While I agree that life on earth is short and so we should be doing the things we think we ought to do, I don’t buy the idea that we only live once. As Christians and as believers, we live twice – one on earth and another one in eternity with God.
The original plan was really YOLO – you only live once in eternity with God and the angels. This plan includes complete bliss with singing and dancing in paradise and never having to experience pain and work. However, something happened along the way.
In their desire to be like God, our first parents Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be deceived by the serpent. Eve took the forbidden fruit after seeing that it was good to eat, pleasant to the eyes and ideal for gaining knowledge (Genesis 3:6). She gave some of it to her husband who also ate it. God was displeased and cast them out of Eden.
Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin and so death spread to all men (Romans 5:12). Man sinned and fell from the grace of God. What made the fall worse is that the things they were desiring were already given to them as we were created in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27).
The sin of Adam and Eve brought spiritual death to all of humanity and separated us from God. In this state, we can really say YOLO because people shall indeed live only once. Because when we physically die while being spiritually dead, death becomes permanent. As in dead, gone, forgotten, no coming back, no reconciliation.
But I’m sure we all know the greatest plot twist in history – for God so loved the world…
The First Christmas
In order to cover for the debt of sin, God sent Jesus Christ unto our midst to save us and allow us to reunite with God. Jesus gave Himself [as a sacrifice to atone] for our sins [to save and sanctify us] so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father (Galations 1:4).
Jesus, in all His glory came through the backdoor of humanity – in a manger in some dirty and smelly den of farm animals in Bethlehem, to save us. He came to pay the wages of our sins and return to us the gift of God – eternal life.
Imagine the horror of our stories if Jesus never came – the lives taken away by wars, extra judicial killings, injustice, greed, will all just come into waste.
I find myself at times worrying about these things. When will morality and values return to our government leaders? When is humanity going to stop killing, hurting and discriminating? What about the many lives lost because of someone’s lack of patience, values or charity?
But because Jesus came, we are assured that:
God’s grace will continue to pour upon us. This undeserved, unmerited favor will continue to speak through our hearts and push us to do good, no matter how sinful we become.
There is an eternal life after all this.
In the midst of the holiday rush, parties here and there, and buying of gifts everywhere, may we all remember and feel that this story of salvation and Jesus are the reason for the season.
We are throwing parties, we are giving gifts because we received first the gift of life through Jesus.
We are giving love and making it more felt this season because God loved us first.
I keep shoving these words at the back of my mind. Too early for a year-in-review post, I told myself. But sleep eluded me as if telling me to get these words off my chest. And so here I am, scribbling in the middle of the night.
This week, I received a sad news. After complying with heaps of requirements and an interview, I was not considered to a scholarship abroad that I applied for two months ago. I took the news over the phone with composure and maybe a half-expectant-to-the-result tone.
My friend asked me, ‘how do you feel?’ I said I felt sad and thought my efforts were all wasted (though alam kong wala namang sayang). It was for that endeavor that I visited my university a couple of times to get official records, spent a fortune to take the IELTS exam, and spent more fortune for the medical tests. Also, the process was exhausting physically and mentally because I had to go back and forth to the recommending agency to make sure I got all the requirements correctly including the number-of-word specific essays.
‘Wala namang sayang,’ my friend reiterated. [Nothing is ever wasted.]
That night I slept well. Or so I thought. In the wee hours just like as I am writing this, I was awaken by an urge to pee. After a quick trip to the toilet, I felt enveloped by a strange blanket of sadness and hurt. I started crying when it dawned on me that this year has been in fact a series of failures.
A series of unfortunate events
This year has been a year where I failed to guard my heart and allowed some reckless fellow to enter. Although it taught me a lot of lesson, it was difficult to move out of the mud.
It was also this year (along with 2017 probably) that I failed to take good care of my body which resulted in several trips to the emergency room and eventually on the operating table. The memory of everything about being in the OR still makes me shiver.
2018 was the year our office choral failed to win or even land a place in a prestigious national competition. This was after devoting all my evenings in practice, skipping a lot of sessions from my Bible class (which was difficult because this was in my goals list this year) and shelling out my own money for the costume.
And just last week during my 10-day vacation overseas, I failed to be more loving and patient to a family member. I am so ashamed for lacking with charity when this person gave the best for me all these years.
In tears, I looked at the manila paper I posted on my wall that says ‘Who am I?’ Instead of reading the bulleted statements I’ve written below, I listened to a song that just answers the question.
Who He says I am
I fully know that my failures don’t define me, and neither do my successes. Stripped off with my abilities, career, and even my sins, who I really am? Without my mistakes and achievements, what is left of me?
I was lost but He brought me in.
I was set free.
I was and still am a sinner, and yet He died for me.
I am a child of God.
This is what remains – being His child and His immeasurable love for me, no matter what the season and circumstance I am in. The same love He gives to you and everyone else. And with this love, we have already won a sweeping victory (Romans 8:37).
An honest observation I blurted in social media was taken in a bad light and regarded as an attack recently. And since it was social media, the other person took it to his own space and expressed tirades on me. The comments were awful; people were quick to judge. I so wanted to speak in my defense, to tell them that I am not even coming from a space of hate. I so wanted to throw all my learning and finesse out the window and wrestle in the muddle. I am glad I did not. I admit that my statement was reckless and irresponsible. There was still no excuse and I take accountability of what I said.
‘So, that’s how it feels to be on the other side,’ I said to myself. You know, the side on social media that people throw tomatoes at – for being reckless, mean, judgmental, fake and whatever.
I realized then that what happened was representative of what I also feel my current space is before the Lord. Days before, I was feeling and embracing my sinfulness. I feel like I am not living for others anymore. I feel like my life, including my prayer had been full of convenience. I could scroll my phone for an hour but could only devote 15 minutes for reading the Scripture. I have not been charitable enough to people around me, not giving even my smile which I used to graciously offer in the past.
So there, hello from the other side!
It is on this side where I tried silence and reflection once again. It’s on this side where I wrestle with my mistakes, thoughts and came with these three things.
I am not my mistakes and/or sins. (You are not your mistakes and/or sins)
We have to admit that we can be the most unforgiving, inconsiderate persons to ourselves. We sometimes let guilt eat us up even though we have been forgiven already. We tend to feel and embrace our unworthiness. Remember Peter, the leader of the 12? He made statements similar to this feeling. In Luke 5:8 when he saw their bountiful catch after they have worked all night and caught nothing before Jesus’ instruction, he said ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ Imperfect and sinful he may be, he was still used by God to build the Church.
My sins including my social media blunder made me feel ashamed to come before the Lord. But then I asked myself, ‘how long should I suffer being away from Him when I know He loves me immensely?’
That’s when I forgave myself and moved on. I went back to the Word which said that Christ died for me while I am still a sinner (Romans 5:8) and that nothing can separate me from Him (Romans 8:38). He is a God whose love is steadfast and unchanging (Deuteronomy 7:9).
My real life does not happen in social media. (Your life does not happen in social media)
Who am I cannot be shrink to fit in any of my social networking site. No photo for Instagram can capture who I really am. The 280 characters of Twitter are not enough to translate the entirety of my heart. You too are more than what you put online.
I believe I have said this already, but let me say it one more time so as to remind myself too. Our real lives are the ones that cannot be captured by our mobile camera to be posted online. Our real lives are the purest and rawest moments that happen in our days – the connection we make to our children (or to strangers), the naiveté in our faces, the shared laughter among our families during weekends, the messages we understand in silence. These are the things we should strive to have and remember.
My notes only said, Look inward.
I guess I am trying to reiterate Carl Jung when he said, ‘Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakes.’
It pays to always look inside, to have a heart check, to identify and purify our intentions. This is a sure way to avoid being reckless with what we say and what we react to. I believe pure intentions, thoughts and feelings only produce beautiful things. After all, we are all God-breathed. There’s always that magic in all of us.
I thank the Lord for putting me here, on the other side. It is in this side that I am reminded that I am always in need of His graces and mercy. The same grace and mercy I should extend to everyone, whichever side they may be.
I still find myself refusing to call her my ‘best friend.’ If there is a way to navigate away from dropping the ‘bomb’ label, I would do so. I would tell people about my ‘close friend’ or ‘a good friend of mine’. However, my stories give me away sometimes because friends would always catch me saying her name a few times over. ‘Sabi nga ni Madz, blah blah blah,” I would say or quote. Haha!
On her wedding day three months ago, a friend of ours asked me how we met. Of all the days to be asked about details, that day was the worst to do so because I was still high on anaesthesia. Lol. I got away with the question by answering, ‘in 2011, in a church community.’
Today, allow me to expound my answer to that question and to honor this friend who taught me a lot through the years.
People who are meant to be in your life will gravitate to you
Madz and I went to the same university during college. We probably met in a sea of 20,000 students but never got the chance to meet or at least hang out in the same table at the cafeteria.
In 2011, we met in a church community where we were both servants. We blossomed into friends and started hanging out. None of the things that we talked about then I can remember. What I remember is how our friendship deepened in the last few months of 2014. We were on different journeys but our heartbreaks and disappointments were parallel. It kept us together. We both made sense of the pain and figured out the trove of lessons that life was slapping us with.
If you’re dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough
Madz reminded me to dream big. She did this not by lecturing me on leadership and personal development but through her own attempts in finding her own formula for success. In a span of a year (I think) after quitting from engineering practice, Madz went from making and selling her own longganisa to establishing her own store for religious items. She was such a fast learner that her failures did not scathe her but challenged her even more.
While she was doing the entire thing, I on the other hand, contemplated on my own mess and dreams. I almost resigned from my job too thinking I could write full time and earn. Then I realized, my job does not only finance my art but I could write my stuff alongside with what I write at work. (Anoba te, swerte nga dahil you work by doing what you love. Haha)
With much prayers and hard work, we finally discovered where we’ll devote our energies into. Madz will pursue writing and business; I will pursue writing and public service (guys, passionate pala ako pagiging serbisyo publiko. Huhu). And we both have designed grand plans to reach our grand dreams.
Be cool and calm yet strong and determined
Someone wise said that for every dream we realize, a new one must take its place. But did you know that life also holds the same principle. For every problem/struggle overcame, comes bigger ones to conquer. My friend here is a testament to that.
Madz would call me when something seemingly unbearable is happening. She would tell me in tears and I would listen. Sometimes, her stories of struggles will highlight our dates. But in the midst of it all, she can still smile and laugh at herself which reminds me of a swan that traverses the river in grace yet paddles furiously beneath the water.
And this is what I like to honor her the most for – for exuding grace in the middle of a storm, for being so calm yet remaining resolute. A true testament that God’s grace and provision is more than enough.
All praises to Him who works in you, Madz. All glory for Him who is the author of our lives. 💛
It was always Jesus who brought us into new territories and it will always be Jesus who will bring us through.
We had dinner before she flew for Qatar and build her own family. We parted as if nothing major will happen in our friendship. As in, we may not see each other for years. I was looking for some drama in us such as ‘Will you miss me? Coz I will miss you.’ However, I could find none. Probably because we had enough of those. Haha! Also because, I am genuinely happy for her and I trust the universe that this is in order.
Putting an adage from primary school as a title to this blog is probably enough to merit less or no attention at all. You might dismiss it, knowing the subject all too well like a fellow maxim that stands at the cleaning corner of our primary school rooms, in bold letters and all glory ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness.’
However, I believe to the wisdom that early childhood education holds, albeit not reading Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten yet. I believe that we don’t need long and complicated rules to return to peace and order. Specifically, I believe in the power of honesty.
Honesty is gold
In a seemingly era of fake news and with the rampant use of Instagram stories that both mislead and pretend, finding honesty whether in your neighborhood or your own backyard is gold.
Now don’t go too hard on me for saying such things about Instagram stories. I don’t mean to say that all of us who use IG and FB stories are pretentious. What I try to point out is that these platforms sometimes get the better of us and shove us into showing inaccurate details of our imperfect lives. It gets us so occupied with how we are going to present ourselves and our lives well that we forget to live and be present at the moment. It makes us want to be watched, but are we really seen?
Honesty – that raw emotion or unadulterated expression or sincere opinion is rarely met, given or accepted.
Honesty is the value that thugs in our hearts whenever we are confronted with ugly feelings and truths that beg our attention. But we are too afraid at times to face them. Instead of confronting them, we forego our chances to speak up or let go of that friendship we’ve been holding onto for so long or endure watching injustice right in front our nose or be the better versions of ourselves.
Honesty is the value our friends and family demand whenever they seek our opinion from trivial matters like wardrobe to crucial subjects like politics. However sometimes, we are too afraid to tell the truth, that you’d prefer skirts and trousers for skinny Aunt Susan because her leggings just doesn’t work. We are too coward to stand up for a politician who has integrity and competence because hey, today’s prevalent opinion is this – ‘what the country needs is a shit-full of mouth to scare away law offenders.’
As we drown in a pool of fake news, information and stories, we oftentimes find ourselves clueless on what to believe. We overthink or not think at all, we romanticize or generalize, we give up or we wait for truth to come out. It is tiring and seems never ending.
But there is hope, there is something we can do. In the midst of lies, we can establish truth as our currency through honesty.
Ugly but Necessary
Honesty will be unpleasant but necessary. It can be the hard pill to swallow or the nightmare that you’ve been praying not to have each night. I actually thought of labeling it as ‘gentle honesty,’ but gentle may mean sugarcoating a truth to make it sound more appealing which destroys our purpose all together. So let us all agree to call it plain honesty.
Honesty can be brutal, but it will build us as a person. It can walk us through the dark alleys of our hearts and reveal who we really are. It will tell us what needs mending and changing. It will disturb our self-image but will eventually restore our truest form and make us brave to accept and love the person we find.
When we allow honesty to make and build us up, we also build our relationships and eventually we build our society on the foundation of truth.
So I’ll always hold on to this primary school wisdom, honesty is the best policy.
Last April, I dare not say I invented, but I started ‘Honesty Date’ with a friend in the office. It’s a no-holds-barred conversation over coffee which allowed openness. It was liberating having someone know about your circumstance and at the same time see the other person as s/he is.
Find a friend/family whom you can be all honest with especially on your thoughts and feelings. It is what helps me grow as a person. If you found him/her already, good! If you haven’t found the person yet, pray for it and be expectant to receive it. The teacher comes when the student is ready.
My life looks kind of grand from the outside. I have a stable job which allows me to earn reasonably and travel to places in the Philippines. My sister and I are finished sending our youngest sister through college and furnishing our small home with all we need. I am currently enrolled in an MBA program which happens at the convenience of our office on weekends. I have family and friends whom I engage with regularly, in flesh and maybe virtually at times.
One can infer these things on my Facebook feed I guess. There’s a photo of me and my classmates during our Brigada Eskwela, another photo on my official travel in Bohol and another photo which shows a lazy holiday with my light group playing Cashflow.
What I hate about social media is that we only get to share and see what’s beautiful and happy (though I’m more open and intimate with my friends on Instagram). We don’t get to share or read about failures or the shit people are in. We get to scroll through the highlights of our friends’ lives – the going to places, the eating in fancy restaurants and the life of bliss with their girlfriends or boyfriends or spouses. But we never see or rarely see the dark reels – the mess, the hopelessness and helplessness.
I for one did not share on Facebook for everyone to read that I had surgery. It was painful both physically and emotionally as I was not okay with admitting I became negligent in taking good care of my body. I did not share about how I laughed at someone’s distress on her missing newspaper that made her mad and hurl spiteful words at me. We’re enemies now, by the way and I never knew how to really love enemies until that happened.
If you think my life is perfect, think again. I get so-so days, you know, days when you feel like you’re just going with the flow or going in circles. Those are also the days when you feel you’re in a highly boring chapter of your life novel – the days when nothing exciting happens, no fast heartbeats, no tears of joy, no saving-the-galaxy action scenes.
Currently, I’m struggling with my singing. Lol. You see, I joined our corporation’s chorale to add up to their voices in preparation for a competition. The good news is, my voice is good, beautiful if I may brag. The conductor said so, my choir mates also did. The problem is I don’t know how to use it and how to place it.
If you think my life is perfect, think again. You don’t know how it’s like to be threatened to be put inside the piano or the AC unit each time you make mistakes in hitting notes. (hahaha!) Seriously, I don’t want to quit from this but I also can’t seem to make it right. Do you realize the pressure and the worry?
I am 10 sessions behind my Bible study, meaning, a good measure of readings await me. I still don’t know how to pay my aunt for my incurred hospital bills for my surgery (damn insurance won’t cover it all). My father spends my hard-earned money on cigarettes and useless checkups (since he won’t quit smoking). My titahood is coming into full swing that I have to ask friends what TTYL means. There are days when I want to cuddle or spend a movie with someone special but he hasn’t come around yet. There are days when I just want to pack everything up and transfer residence to Australia or New Zealand while my heart breaks for my own country. There are moments when a girl in the nearby office refuse to answer her telephone that I want to yell ‘pick up that damn phone, will yah?!’
If you think my life is perfect, think again. I lose my mind at times, I cry, I feel like a failure, I hate people in my mind, I judge, I get bored, I dream, I lack sleep, I have pimple breakouts, I get rejected, I get broke, I get mood swings, I get silent, I get loud, I get heartaches, I fall short, I feel lazy and mooooreeee.
We’ve all heard it too many times, ‘don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10.’ It might be a cliché, along with other sayings that tell us not to compare and to realize every journey’s uniqueness. But it rings a lot of truth in it.
Our journeys, capabilities and hearts are as distinct as our fingerprints. We will have different struggles, thoughts, emotions on particular issues and conditions. I don’t think there is a rubric or measurement that can be used to put us all and all of our life details into a single perspective.
Screw all the metrics used upon us since we were little. I think that the only metric that matters is that of God’s – do we love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind? Do we love our neighbors as we love ourselves? (Luke 10:27)
We have to see the magnitude of God’s creation and realize that His designs are all majestic yet different. Does He love anyone more or less? No!
Trust your ‘Now’
Whatever we are going through, wherever you are right now, let us all have faith that God puts us there for a reason. It may be to prune or strengthen or grow us. Whatever His reason may be, I am certain that it is for our benefit.
Trust that this is where you are supposed to be. Trust that this is your mission field and that you have something significant to contribute here. Trust that everything is in order, even in the midst of pain or loss, even when you are hurting or lacking. That my friend is the beauty of God’s wisdom and schemes, He has the ability to write straight with crooked lines. Did a person just walk out on you? Are you mourning? Were you cheated or rejected or defeated? Do you feel alone? Are you suffering? It all may look like ugly and messy, but have faith that God can turn all these into manifestations of His glory and for your good.
Own Your Life
Our real life happens not on our Facebook or Instagram feeds because I believe our real life cannot be captured and immortalized in a photo and garner approval or disapproval of the world. Our real life happens in the quiet of our souls, in the calmness of our hearts in every decision and in the peace we get in knowing our worth in Christ alone.
I hope you live and own your life, not the life that others expect you to have or the society or social media dictates you to lead. It may not be perfect, but it will be authentically yours.
You are beautiful, you are unique, and you have the right to be here. I am glad you are here. 💛