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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Loving or Just Filling a Void?

When we are being kind to the one we love, what are the chances that we are merely repressed and scared to challenge circumstances and materialize our fear of isolation? When we are being patient and silent and opt to say the good words instead of the bad ones, what are the chances that we just hate changes and that we’d rather live peacefully with those we are not even at peace with? Could it be that we are merely preserving ourselves when we refuse to hurt them and try our best to prove that we are the real deal and always will be? Could it be that we are too scared of a broken relationship in the future that we’d rather have our partner be the antagonist so just in case, we won’t have anything else to think about but move on? When we try to be good to them, is it because we care or are we simply trying to keep them because they fill a void in our lives?

There is a thin line between loving others well and using them to fill an empty space in our souls. I use the phrase “love others well” because I believe we are all capable of loving; some people just don’t know how to do it well. I still fail sometimes yet since I came to know the Lord Jesus, I have learned that loving others is not enough – I should do it well. The love I give to them must be an outflow of God’s love for me. The popular way of loving though is the kind that sucks life out of somebody else, the kind that destroys rather than builds, the kind that kills rather than gives life.

We cannot give what we don’t have. The reason we are failing could be that we are drawing love out of an empty cistern. We have nothing more to give. We seem deprived of love ourselves yet we are disillusioned by the thought that we are heroes or heroines in somebody’s life, and have perhaps been possessed by the notion that our “love” is the drug they need. No pun intended.

To love well is to know what love really is. We could start with it being patient and kind according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. If you believe that it is otherwise, then perhaps this is not the thought you want to hear. When we love people, some may love us back, some may not but if we are to love well, the reciprocation should not be the motivation. We don’t love simply because it is exciting. We don’t love because we feel empty. We don’t love because life is a mess. We love because it is a God-given gift and privilege. We love because it is God’s command and it blesses others. We love for many good reasons and we love especially because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). He has so much love to give and he created our hearts to be capable of receiving it – we just need to open it up. 

Simply Because

Life is not always exciting. It is at times difficult, confusing, boring, plain, depressing, sad and disappointing. This is so if we are looking at events or the people that make them happen or even worse, the frailties of our very being, that weak part of ourselves we have been trying to deal with all our lives – wounds that run deep and date back to childhood. We are in constant watch of our tendencies, careful not to make any more mistake. Then sometimes, all we could do is sigh – simply because life has not turned out the way we want it.

But the truth is that there is a huge percent of life and destiny that we cannot control and we have the option to be grateful, to be hopeful, to feel blessed, to try harder and not grow tired of doing what is right, simply because it is the right thing to do, simply because God is pleased. We can choose this path simply because God is with us, simply because we have a personal relationship with Him and simply because He is much greater than Life itself.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Being Secured

Many people have spent most of their lives securing their world, building fences around their heart so that life is smooth-sailing. They spend much of their time every day making sure everything is in place and none will fall apart soon. Nothing wrong with protecting one’s self. In fact, this is one natural instinct of mankind - yet, if the act has placed an obstacle for God to intervene then such goal, however seemingly normal, is only rooted in fear, pride and disbelief.

Too much craving for control is synonymous to mistrust in what God could possibly do – not only to the circumstances of our lives, but to our hearts as well. It is saying NO to God’s invitation to come to him those who are weary and burdened and He will give them rest (Matt 11:28). It is saying NO to the Spirit of God whose presence could give peace, change minds, spark wisdom, inspire a thought and affirm one’s worth.  This world has placed so much emphasis on fa├žades and many have put up a pretty and happy front yet deep inside are longings, loneliness and confusion. We live in such a broken world that people try to make things happen to make their lives look normal.

I have watched Episode 1 of the series, the Desperate Housewives. One character there named Bree is a control freak, though everybody knows it except her. She’s also an alcoholic but she would just attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) sessions to prove that she was being a good parent.

Most people in the world are like Bree. They go through life controlling facades. They tend their gardens well; their house is clean and they are even known to be “good” neighbors. But inside their homes are broken lives and relationships. What Bree is guilty of is pride. She has shielded her heart from vulnerability – and if I may say from God’s desire to touch her life. I wonder if someone has ever told her about Christ – about His love that changed many lives for the better, including mine. The sad thing about people like her is their unawareness or denial of their problem.

We could only secure ourselves to the extent that we know best but life will always be uncertain. There will always be sink holes, confusing crossroads and sad events that seem useless. Yet until we relinquish the control of our lives to God, the giver of real security then none of these things will make sense. Until it all boils down to God and His plans, then everything will boil down to nothing and unless God alone is enough, then nothing will ever be enough.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Married Forever

I realized that to come to a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ is to pledge to stay delighted in Him despite any situation one is in. The essence of Christianity is not to devise one's own plans, manage one's own life outside the master plan of God and beg Him to bless them; the essence of Christianity is to be in constant communion with the Father by prayer, by reading His word and by living out His truths by grace through love whatever happens. It is to bask in who God is and allow one’s self to be a channel of His work in the world. Everything else falls secondary to what God wants so bad from us – our hearts, hearts that are generally committed to a lifetime of surrender to Him, a lifetime of commitment to be driven by His guidance.

When people reject Christianity, it may be that they don't want to be intimate with this God that appears to be unsafe because of his many surprises. The Lord is an adventurous God indeed. He takes people to roller coaster rides, to mountain hikes, to bungee jumping, to SCUBA diving and the like. He does not promise safety from bruises, cuts or falls but He promises that in the end, after all the adrenaline rush, one is eternally secure.

I cannot emphasize it enough that the essence of being a Christian is the relationship itself that which should go through thick and thin, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer. Yes, like that which requires the highest commitment mandated in Marriage. When we accept Jesus in our lives, we are married to Him - forever and ever. And if it is easier to understand the love expected to manifest between a husband and wife, then that is what I mean.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Playtime in My Generation

img source: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/70556379

img source: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/Philippines/Northen_Mindanao/Agusan_del_Norte/Butuan/photo1292028.htm

When I was a little girl, I often stayed outside to play with my brothers, my cousin and the neighbors - except my older sister who liked to stay indoors. We had our hands on anything that looked interesting: dead insects, broken things and weird plants. Our favorite afternoon game was “Bato Lata” or in Tagalog, “Tumbang Preso”. Nothing felt more glorious than making the tin can fly as far as possible by hitting it with our flip flops so we could make it to home base (works like Baseball). Those were our first tastes of victory – and they were very physical. At times, we hit each other's face, bumped each other’s head, stepped on others’ toes or elbowed each other’s nose. I learned a hard lesson about cheating through this game when my leg hit a log while trying to run outside of the game area. The injury was quite bad that I was brought to the hospital to have a minor operation. 

But injuries didn't stop me from playing hard, especially when it’s an exciting game like “Chinese Garter”. The goal is to jump over the garter as it is held higher as the player levels up. Being able to buy two pieces of “Chinese Garter”, instead of one, was always a dream come true for me. The sight of them in a box at the store outside my school made my heart tickle and motivated me to save money. I often played this game with my older sister and some of her classmates even though I often found it unfair for big girls to be playing against small ones. But when you have no choice and you badly want to play, size will not matter. This is one of the games that built my little dreams, my little victories and my desires to win. My scars will always tell those stories.

Some of my childhood mishaps left no evidence though. One was when I fell into a fishpond. My aunt’s house which was just a few blocks away from home had this famous fishpond that many of us kids often visited to catch some small fish with our hands. In my obsessive desire to do so, I leaned over too much that I fell into the pond.  It was just a small one– about 3 square feet and the water was shallow, I couldn't have drowned but the fall caused a commotion to the entire household. One had to be told to make me some hot chocolate milk, another to get a towel and another to tell my mom about it. I was instantly taken out of the water with weeds all over my head and was brought inside to have some hot chocolate milk.

In my generation, we were spending 95 % of our playtime outdoors and just 5 % with computer games. The 5 % had to be further divided among my three siblings and my cousin, Flor. We would sometimes fight to get a turn and tried hard to make Mario or Luigi stay alive so we wouldn’t be replaced. To help us decide who should go first, my father would make each of us pick a toothpick. Whoever got the longest one got to play first, followed by the second longest and so on.

The 95 % was spent on games that were at times risky - we played on the street and had to stay alert for vehicles passing. Our games were surely dirty – mud and dust would get mixed with our sweat and be all over our shirt. Our games were sometimes painful - would break our bones, cut our knees and bruise our arm. We were often hungry and thirsty but there was nothing like going home to a glass of ice cold water and fried bananas.

Even despite all these scars on my legs, I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything else. Though my playmates and I fought all the time, I wouldn't have it any other way. I likewise don't wish we had been richer so I could buy all the Chinese garter I wanted. Yes, we often had to make do with what we found: old junk stuff at the backyard and some mud and there were many things we could only dream about as kids: large doll houses, tree houses, bicycles, remote controlled helicopters, scooters and the list went on. We didn’t tap or click to be entertained. We didn’t need an ipad or an internet connection to be happy. We connected by simply being together. We simply had our physical selves, some guts, some dreams, and if I may add, some cans and flip flops– to have loads of fun.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

To Jody, My Husband

January 18, 2013

Jody my darling,

When I saw your facebook status that said “sighhhh”, my heart was torn. Nothing else would wear my spirit down but to imagine you sad and lonely somewhere – without me. I was tempted every so often to treat you as fragile but many things about you showed your strength as a man. Your desire to conquer the world and share it with me showed so much in small and great things we did together. There was wildness in you that I could only succumb to, delight in and be amazed by. You brought out the woman in me in ways you can never imagine. You have melted my heart many times and I delight in our simple joys. I admire your sharp memory of the things that draw a smile to my face and your effort to bring them to me: bread stuffed with Nutella, Japanese corn, prawns, pink things, books, a good back massage and many more my love. You just don’t know how happy I was watching you walk to our breakfast table yesterday with a piece of corn in your hand and a huge smile on your face.

I lived life alone for many years. I took care of myself under any circumstance and often did things my way. But with you, I realized that my way is not always God’s way or the best way. Through you, God has been telling me to let go and let Him and you. God told me my time alone is over and it’s alright to let you take care of me. To do so, I have felt, is one of the greatest things in life. Just so you know, I have been enjoying being treated like a Queen. With you, I started learning to work together and communicate, instead of lording it over and imposing. It’s been taking much effort but I am convinced this is the best way to go for me and us. You are right, “we are a good team”. The “me, myself and I” was gone when I married you. My “I” is now a “We”. What is mine is now yours and vice versa.

Thank you for your humble heart – saying you are sorry is not hard for you. Thank you for being strong in difficult circumstances and for choosing to lead us in a godly path. One day when we were both stressed out and nothing seemed to be going our way, my heart was warmed when you led us in prayer and to a state of surrender to God. I praise Him for giving me a partner who is sensitive to my emotions and who helps me worry less and trust Him more. I thank Him for giving me a husband who helps me value people more than my goals, who helps me see the bright side of things and to be spontaneously happy yet efficiently focused.

Now that we are on opposite sides of the world again, I can only hear my heart screaming for you, my soul longing for your warm, tender embrace. I make a sigh of loneliness and shed tears – yet ‘tis a hopeful kind because we will be together again. I’m excited to live life with you more – to laugh about the great things and face storms together – to climb mountains, to swim oceans, see new places and eat good food with you. I’m thrilled to be the mother to your kids and raise them with you, to hug you often, especially when you need it the most and to pray with and for you. I’m looking forward to blessing others with you, to welcome friends and family into our home and share the abundant blessings and grace God will surely shower us with.

For now, my love.. take care. Think of me when you need a massage or when you need an Advil. For now, I am sure God will take care of you by other means while I’m miles away.

I love you.

Your wife,