Family · God · Life · Relationships

You weren’t before, but you are now.

In my defense

I think this is the first time that I will be blogging to defend myself.

I blog to remember. I blog to share. Very rarely do I blog about my vulnerabilities, but I still do, because the ultimate mandate of my blog is to show people that even with my mistakes and weaknesses, God is glorified.

I never thought I’d come to a point where I have to blog to explain myself.

I have been occupied with a lot of things lately, mostly with work and school. I have always wanted to explain myself regarding this particular area but the drive to get this over with wasn’t that strong. Because if it were, I would’ve probably finished this the minute I realized that I needed to do this. The demands of work and school shouldn’t have been an excuse, because I had lots of idle times (in a jeepney, while walking, etc) which I didn’t really utilize (unlike before, much of the writings here in this blog were products of my idle times). Probably because I just know that this will require me to admit (again) that I am vulnerable and capable of weakness, and I didn’t like that, which is why I stalled.

But I just know that I need to do this.

I hate explaining, but I will do my best to explain, because the receiving end of this explanation is worth it. You will get my point at the end of this post.

Not a skeptic

I wouldn’t describe myself as a radical skeptic, but there are certain things that I find worth questioning.

For example, I don’t believe that bacon is the best thing in the world. Those who think otherwise have never experienced the goodness that is found in cheese (but if they have indeed tasted cheese already, yet they remain unimpressed, I think there might be something wrong with their heads).

The continuous increase in the number of people who are still engrossed with AlDub is something I still don’t understand.

It baffles me why there are those who find dancing in a crowd full of sweaty people fun. It confuses me even more why they’d prefer dancing to Tiesto on speakers in full volume on a rainy night over a soft bed, a nice cup of tea, and a good book.

And, as a necessary prelude to my defense statement, I have always been wary about people wanting to be friends with me.

Okay, maybe a skeptic

I am an overthinker. And I am gullible.

I tend to be boring to most. (But a few select people find me bearable. Buti nalang!)

I also hate not knowing, so if it’s possible to know the reason/s behind a person’s actions or why a situation happened, you bet you’d find me probing into any piece of information I have that will help me reach a conclusion, and eventually, satisfy my desire of finally knowing why.

And, okay, to make this easier, I’ll now start admitting that maybe I actually am a skeptic. And most of the time, I tend to be suspicious of why people choose to talk to me or to befriend me.

I’m known to many people as an introvert, a person who generally hates being in a crowd. Although I cringe at the sight of many people, I am capable of talking to and hanging out with selected people .

These are only few of the reasons why it blows my mind that there are actually people who want to be friends with me. I wouldn’t even want to be friends with me. (Although, I need you to spare me your “Oh stop it! You are awesome!” attempts to make me think otherwise. I’m not fishing for compliments. I am fully aware that I can be the most boring person you will ever meet if I’m not comfortable with you. So I really won’t believe you if you tell me that I’m not. So save it. Haha.)

But, apparently, there are people crazy enough to want to be friends with me. Most of them are ladies.

It is necessary for me to establish the above truths first before I formally start explaining why I find it difficult to befriend guys.

What is it with me and XYs?

I’d understand your distrustful outlook with guys if you only had sisters. But you have 2 brothers!

Me: Easy. My brothers had a 23-year headstart. And it’s not like they have a choice. Whether they like it or not, they need to put up with me.

It is easy for you to remain friends with your highschool friends and it has been 6 years since you left highschool. And you find them awesome! How is that possible?

Me: They wouldn’t be using the word “easy” to describe their friendship with me. I am probably one of the most difficult people they have ever gotten the misfortune to handle. But you’re right, I have awesome brothers in my HS friends. Although it took them more than 10 years to realize that they are actually capable of loving an annoying brat like me.

Those are just 2 of the many questions people would throw at me regarding my preference to keep my circle of friends guy-free. Some valid, some utterly judgmental, some pointless. But they all have one thing in common: They all have forced me to think about why the opposite sex makes me want to roll my eyes on a regular basis.

In my limited interaction with guys, I found some interesting generalizations. Now before you guys stage a “Down with Charmaine!” protest against me, I want to emphasize that these are just generalizations which may or may not be factual. These are only based on my modest observations (which are, again, very limited because hello, I couldn’t even last an hour alone with a guy other than my 2 brothers). –> Or could I? 🙂 (Isaiah 43:18)

  • I found guys to be less patient than girls. (Proven untrue by my Kuya, who is one of the most patient people I know. Wait okay, so  Kuya’s not counted? Let me get back to you, then.)
  • Guys almost always have a hidden agenda in befriending girls who are way out of their circles. (Again, hasty generalization. Pls don’t kill me.)
  • In my (sometimes unfair and unforgiving) opinion, guys only talk to girls for 3 reasons: 1) They think you’re pretty/they like you; 2) They think your sister/friend is pretty and; 3) They need to know where they can get the readings for next week/when the deadline for your paper in class is.

Basically, I have hints of skepticism in me and only few people have managed (or were allowed) to penetrate the wall I’ve carefully constructed. And not many of them are guys. Either I don’t allow them to, or they give up too easily (I can be very masungit if I’m really uncomfortable around you). It’s usually the former.

A lot has changed since I became a Christian in 2007. I’ve had well-meaning kuyas who rebuke my stubbornness by patiently explaining to me why I need to have guy friends. But I only understood their point recently. It has been 3 years since I’ve loosened up my game face. Although I can humbly say that by God’s grace, I am improving.

What have I learned so far?

Sometimes I still don’t see the point of being friends with guys.

But the men God has so wisely placed in my life keep disproving the qualms of the skeptic in me.

Let me start my conclusion by admitting this: This isn’t really my defense statement. Not anymore.

At least that’s what I think now. I initially wanted this post to be the supplementary argument to my “In my defense” plea.

But in the process of writing this, I realized that I really have been stalling for quite some time now. I have this tendency of asking questions about stuff so I’d know more about stuff. But if the questions are about me, I’d always be quick to deviate.

I hate questions about me, because these would force me to really think about how to explain the answer I have arrived at to people who may not be as patient as my God and my family. God knows that in my heart, I never really abandoned my love for astronomy. My family understands why I have acquired a distaste for meat. My friends are aware that I’m not really interested in politics despite having obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science.

But to explain all these to another person who I haven’t known for years? To explain all these to a person whose level of patience is different from my family’s and old friends’? To explain all these without being judged? To explain all these (while wide-eyed and excited) to a person, only to find out that your explanation isn’t worth his/her time after all?

These are what makes it difficult for me to explain.

This is what a friend is

I want to define what a friend is for me, but this is getting too long already and I can feel my laziness kicking in. To compensate, let me just leave these here:

I believe you are a friend when you do not force me to change my eating habits. (I’m a vegetarian, please don’t flaunt that grilled steak in front of me or things might get ugly)

I believe you are a friend when you see the importance of being away from each other at times. (I appreciate it when we spend time, but there will be times that we need to back off of each other, and that should be okay.)

I believe you are a friend when you allow yourself to be used by God to show me that although I am a work in progress, His grace is sufficient.

I believe you are a friend when you remind me of who God is and who He can be in our lives.

I believe you are a friend when you value the same things I value.

I believe you are a friend when we are unafraid to disagree with each other. (This means that we are not afraid to challenge each other’s ideas, leading eventually to educating the other and showing the other person what he or she might have missed.)

I believe you are a friend when you do not let my stubbornness pass. 

I believe you are a friend when you do not tolerate my sins.

I believe you are a friend when I am the second person (the first Person would be?) you talk to when there’s something wrong with me, or when I did or said something wrong. (Be it something between my front teeth, a harsh comment on a situation, or an unfair treatment to another person. Please inform me if I’m wrong.)

I believe you are a friend when you let me do for you the items preceding this.

Finally, I believe that you are a friend when, despite my idiosyncrasies, you choose to stay with me, because instead of seeing Charmaine, you see God’s love and redemption transforming a seemingly hopeless case. And because that is such a beautiful thing to see, that in itself draws you near. (Bonus na lang yung realization na medyo interesting din pala ako hehe).

So to conclude this already long text, let me end with this:

You are worth explaining to, and I’m sorry I made you think you weren’t.

Yes, you are my friend. You weren’t before, but you are now.

God · Life

My Ignite 2013 highlights

10. The bus rides

At first, I didn’t like the idea of riding a rented bus going to and from Cuneta Astrodome because my introvert self obviously dreaded crowds and unknown people. But because I am left with no choice, I decided to sign up and mannnn was I proven wrong.  I definitely am thankful that I agreed to register for a Metroeast bus! I enjoyed those hours of waiting (in the main hall and at Cuneta before the gates were opened) and singing and games and food. I appreciate the last day the most because it was then that we shared what God has revealed to us the past 2 days of Ignite 2013. I am most thankful for everyone who were in Bus 1! Going to Cuneta and going from Cuneta were fun because of you guys!

Bus 1 people
Bus 1 people.
(c) Ben Marin.

9. The brilliant opening number

This gave me goosebumps not just because it was Yeng Constantino, Quest and Juddah Paolo who opened the event, but mainly because everyone present was convinced that the Holy Spirit was definitely at work . Personally, I just wanted to cry that time because: 1) God is just so awesome that these “celebrities” have now decided to follow Him and 2) I really don’t know, I’m just in awe of what God was doing that time, and early in the conference at that. I loved their declarations, most especially Yeng’s because hers was spoken in Tagalog. It was just really powerful, I’m at loss for words.

Yeng Constantino, Quest and Juddah Paolo opened Ignite 2013 with a powerful number.  (c) Ignite PH Facebook
Yeng Constantino, Quest and Juddah Paolo opened Ignite 2013 with a powerful number.
(c) Ignite PH Facebook

8. The halftime shows

The halftime shows happened on Day 2 and Day 3 of Ignite. On Day 2, the halftime show hosts Jek and Rica introduced a very familiar segment and then wordplayed it into Igshowtime. This featured artists who showcased their talents and then talked about how Jesus changed their lives. Among the artists were Rachelle Ann Go, Quest, Yeng Constantino and Christian Baustista. Day 3’s halftime show involved a little of campus rivalry when campus missionaries and even students battled it out in Kinect Wars. Winners of the Kinect Wars were then asked to deliver a pickup line about Ignite. Little did we know that we were in for a treat as the master pickup line thrower Boy Pickup himself walked up to the stage, driving the crowd wild. Overall, I pretty much enjoyed the halftime shows.

Okay if it wasn't obvious, my favorite part of the halftime show was when Christian Bautista sang. Haha!
Okay if it wasn’t obvious, my favorite part of the halftime show was when Christian Bautista sang. Haha!

7. The witty videos

One thing that I didn’t like about riding  a local church-registered bus is that I have no choice but to abide by the call time (i.e. Gates at Cuneta will open 2pm; we were supposed to in the Main Hall at 9am. WOW right?). I eventually managed to appreciate this early call time because of what I said in reason # 10. Anyway, the reason why we needed to leave early was of course, to arrive at Cuneta early, giving the delegates in G1 a chance to find good seats. This meant that the delgates from areas except G1 were also to arrive early, even with (almost) sure seats. This also meant hours of waiting inside the venue. I do not like waiting, so I really appreciate the efforts of those who made the videos that were shown while the program ahsn’t started yet. I especially like the technical-script-turned-videos. It was just so funny. Kudos, Media team!

Some of the sequences of videos showed in Ignite 2013. The one in the lower right is my favorite. (c) Ignite PH and Ben Marin
Some of the sequences of videos showed in Ignite 2013. The one in the lower right is my favorite.
(c) Ignite PH and Ben Marin

6. Wonderful fellowship with friends

Ignite 2013 was also a time of fellowship with friends from all over the world. It’s too bad I wasn’t able to take pictures but I’m really thankful to have met people from Cambodia and Thailand whom I would really love to see again. I really like the part when we were asked to take a picture with those people whom we consider to be your partners in your walk with God . I also like the part when we had to text those who stepped out in faith to mentor us (our Ananias) and thank them for their willingness to share Jesus to us. It just goes to show that the heart of discipleship really is relationship. I love our church!

#dontstandalone. Life is fun with these people around!
#dontstandalone. Life is fun with these people around!

5.  University of the Philippines delegates

I cannot even describe the feeling that I had seeing all those people from different UP campuses. I would religiously chant “U-nibersidad ng Pilipinas! Matatapang, matatalino!” and cheer as loud as I can when I see a glimpse of my campus in the videos shown. We are called Iskolar ng and para sa bayan. Well, I’m sure all those who attended Ignite 2013 who are from UP willl agree that more than being an Iskolar ng and para sa bayan, we are Iskolars for Jesus. People think that UP students do not have and do not need God because we are the master of our ourselves, that our intellect makes us inferior to no one and that we don’t need saving. From what I’ve seen during the 3 days of Ignite 2013, I can say that even UP students, as arrogant as we can be and as people think we are, need Jesus. I saw in those 3 days how we consider everything a loss compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus. We don’t just need Him, we WANT Him. With every hand  lifted up, we humbly surrendered to the lordship of Jesus. And, after what we’ve learned in Ignite 2013, I’m just really excited because I know that the number of UP students who attended this year will double, triple and quadruple in Ignite 2015. Come on now!

Every student in every UP campus in the UP system will soon bow down to Jesus.
Every student in every UP campus in the UP system will soon bow down to Jesus.

4. The speakers

The speakers shared really powerful messages that are also very timely! I’ll share some of my notes in the preaching in another post soon. You can listen to the podcasts here: http://ignite.ph/sessions/

speaker1
(c) Ignite PH
(c) Ignite PH
(c) Ignite PH
(c) Ignite PH
(c) Ignite PH

3. “Every nation, every campus”

Day 3 marked Ignite’s Campus Night wherein the delegates were to wear their campus shirts, jackets, etc to show school pride. I liked how crazy it got during Campus Night because everyone was just to excited to show campus spirit. Although every school was loud that night, unhealthy campus rivalry was a no-show because clearly, everyone was just so consumed with worshiping Jesus that it didn’t matter whether you’re a blue, green, yellow or maroon. Because at the end of the day, we weren’t there to show off our campuses, we were there to glorify God. This was best exemplified when the UP delegates started chanting the infamous “Go USTe!” of UST and the UST delegates in turn, cheered UP as they shouted UP’s “U-nibersidad ng Pilipinas!”. I didn’t hear anything from the Blue Eagles and the Green Archers though. Maybe in 2015?

Campus night was so festive. I'd love to go back to that scene again!
Campus night was so festive. I’d love to go back to that scene again!

2. Worship

POWERFUL WORSHIP TIME! Just thinking about those 9,600 delegates, with their hands lifted up, shamelessly worshiping Jesus is making me tear up right now. Every praise, every shout, every dance, every cry…God deserves all of it! This priceless moment of worshiping God with all these young people is proof that the future is bright, that the next generation will rise to make His name even more famous.

That's right. 9, 600 delegates. Every hand lifted up as a sign of surrender.
That’s right. 9, 600 delegates. Every hand lifted up as a sign of surrender.

1. JESUS

Only one name was lifted up during those 3 days.

More than the timely messages. More than the powerful worship time we had. More than the fellowship with friends. It was that wonderful encounter with Jesus that I loved the most.

I have attended Every Nation World Conference 2007 and 2010, Campus Harvest 2008 and Ignite 2011 and I’m thankful that with God, there is no familiarity. It was a whole new experience, so different from the previous conferences that I attended. Thank You God, that I can always be excited because with You, all things are new.

My prayer is that all the 9,600 plus delegates will just answer the call of God to reach out to every student in every campus so that soon, every nation will know Him and will bow down to Him. Lord, I pray that nothing and no one will hinder us from knowing you as the fire within continues to burn.

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Photos are taken from my camera, Ignite PH and Ben Marin.