God · Life · Relationships

Just please tell me why

2015: A year of whys

A year of ________.

This practice started last 2014. Since then, I vowed to force (!!!!) myself to blog about how the previous year went and to summarize it with just one word.

In 2014, the word was pride-shattering. So before 2014 ended, I would respond with “pride-shattering” whenever people would ask me about how my 2014 was.

It has already been days since the start of 2016 and now that I think about it, the perfect word that would probably describe 2015 is WHY.

Why. It wasn’t just used a question. I guess all throughout 2015, I wasn’t just asking “Why?”. I have probably used “Why” as a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an adverb. It wasn’t just a question, it became my response to most of the situations in my life in 2015.

Why, why, why

I cannot even count the times that I have responded with the word “Why” in everything that has happened last year, whether in the Philippines, in the world, in the lives of other people, in the lives of the people I know, and even in my own life. For myself at least, this lengthy blog would have been insufficient if I were to list down all my whys in 2015.

Why are You making me do this?

Why on earth did my name appear in the list of accepted applicants in MIS?

Why did You spare my report from my professor’s cruelty? 

Why in the world did that work?

Why do they trust me so much with this?

Why am I even surviving at this job?

Why does it have to be so hard?

Why do they have to live so far from here?

Why is it taking me a long time to move on?

Why are You making us wait?

Why did my heart had to be broken? (and why is it that when hearts break, they don’t break even? ha ha)

Why am I so forgetful (but when it comes to forgetting the things and people that I should be forgetting, my mind decides to engrave the things and people that I will be better off not thinking about?)

Why should I be friends with him?

Why do they have to leave?

Why do I have to pray for him?

Why do You want me to talk to her?

Why can’t she get it?

Why are they so stubborn?

Why doesn’t she understand?

Why do we have to experience this crisis?

Why did I get to have grades this high, grades I sure didn’t deserve?

Why can’t they see the point?

And etc. etc.

The answers to most of these questions have not crossed my mind yet, and there are a number of reasons why.

Some of these are just passing questions that enter my mind and stay there for just mere 10 seconds or so. At best, these are stored in my mind for a day or two, and then will disintegrate in a week, except when I have written them down (which I don’t usually do, but when I do, I usually forget which paper or notebook I used).

Others are questions that, I am aware, are needing much attention that I haven’t been able to provide lately.

Most questions are, honestly, hard to “answer” because I know the answer, but the answer hurts, so I try to stall and convince myself that the answer is not yet known.

Why can’t I see it?

One of my commonly used why’s in 2015, which was carried over to the first few days of 2016 is: Why can’t I see it?

Could also mean, “Where is it?” or “How come it isn’t happening to me?”.

I am talking about the time of prayer and fasting that our church commits to annually. Hopefully, we do not just practice this just so we could twist the arm of God and in doing so, forcing him to do what we want Him to do for us. It’s not even making God feel guilty about the “difficult” effort that we are trying to exert as we deviate from our usual feast. I like how Joseph Bonifacio puts it, that fasting is willfully and joyfully depriving ourselves because of the joy that comes with the increased sensitivity, relationship, and knowledge of God.

People kept talking about breakthroughs, and how God is in the business of revealing Himself to His people through the breakthroughs that He allow to happen. It’s not just material or tangible breakthroughs, because again, more than receiving all these, the ultimate goal really is to have a fresher and deeper understanding of who God is.

Yes, I am believing for my grandma’s salvation and I want to see that happen, but what I want more is to be reminded that this salvation is very much possible, because God is the Savior.

Yes, I am looking forward to overcoming the financial difficulty that were are currently in and I want to see that happen really soon, but more than being able to pay the bills and to buy the things we want and need, what I wanted more is to be reminded that God is a promise-keeping Planner whose plans are not going to harm us.

Yes, I am claiming that the Philippines will one day bow down to Jesus  and I long to see that happen, but what I wanted more is to be reminded that God is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and Ruler of all nations.

But it seemed as if my desire was plunged into the “Why” pool again, since I was asking “Why (can’t I see it)?” again.

At least that was what I thought.

I call into existence things that do not exist

In the years that I have been walking with God, I’ve discovered that sometimes, God has this habit of choosing not to answer my questions outright. I would ask 5, 10, 20 questions, and in all those questions, He would simply provide 1 answer, and that single answer is enough to blow me away.

So when He does answer, I am left speechless, not because I am frustrated at His “laziness” to answer, but because I am knocked out of my foolish thinking that His “silence” means abandonment.

Me: Where?!?! Where is it????

Me: Wait, why can’t I see it?

Me: Abba…

Me: ….okay. It’s…it’s fine…I guess.

Him: I call to existence the things that do not exist. (Romans 4:17)

Day 5 of our Annual Prayer and Fasting, God spoke to me so loudly that I couldn’t help but weep at how faithful He is at His promise, that those who seek will find.

It was a buzzer-beater assurance that God sees our hearts, and when we delight ourselves in Him, He will gladly reveal Himself to us.

As of this writing, there are still plenty of items left unticked in my “list” of faith goals. I am not worried because I know that God is going to show off anyway, but more than seeing every item in this list come to pass, I am more excited to know and understand who God is. My knowledge of Him as a Healer if probably at 30% right now, so I’m excited to see it increase into 35 or 45, as He allows me to see healing happen in the people around me. etc. How much I know in Him being a provider is probably proportional to how often He is going to remind us that even if we are unable to buy certain things, we remain more valuable than sparrows. Etc.

It’s an all-encompassing thing, really. Because I find that when you know who God is, the list will no longer matter. All you are going to be caring about is to keep knowing who He is and then eventually come up with a new list: a list of things that you would like.

i.e.

For the year _____, I’d like to….

( ) Know more about how He lived while He walked on earth 2000 years ago

( ) Love the way He loves

( ) Understand what His stands are in unconventional topics

( ) Acquire His passion to serve

( ) Be as compassionate as He is

( ) Fight for my time with the Father

etc.

2016:_______

Of course, right now, I haven’t really figured out yet what my one-word summary of 2016 is going to be (’cause ya know, it’s still the start of the 1st quarter of 2016, so that would be crazy haha).

But even if it’s just a few days into 2016, God didn’t let my foolishness pass. My heart wasn’t right, and I was focusing on how to grab hold of my “breakthrough”, rather than fixing my eyes on Him and Him alone. So naturally, I needed to be rebuked. And I’m glad I got the rod.

So while I still don’t have a one-word to describe or guide my 2016, I can always trust that there is always one Name that will suffice (for this year and the years to come):  JESUS.

2016: JESUS

I may be unaware of what others are going through right now, but I am certain that in the same way that God spoke to me, He will also speak to you, person reading this. May your encounter with Him spur you into cultivating the same desires that He has caused me to have below:

When I tend to forget, let me remember that You can sharpen the memory of the forgetful.

When I remember stuff that I shouldn’t be remembering anymore, wipe out my memories that do not please You and replace them with memories that will glorify You.

When I choose to wallow in self-pity whenever I feel unloved and rejected, lead me to the Cross so I get to remember the greatest display of love and lavish pursuit for the fallen.

When I couldn’t forgive, remind me that I once was the object of Your wrath, but I am a sinner who has been forgiven much, a sinner only saved because of Your immense forgiveness.

When  I deliberately refuse to listen, let me be rebuked in the hardest way possible so that in the days to come, I’d choose obedience over stubbornness.

When I am reminded of my filth, assure me again of the incredible capability of Your blood to wash away the nastiest stains and make new a once good-for-nothing life.

When I become doubtful of my salvation, enable me to understand fully what the Bible says about grace for the undeserving and mercy for the unworthy, once and for all.

When failures overwhelm me, show me again that if victory has been made possible for the seemingly hopeless case such as my freedom, then “defeats” shouldn’t really bother me anymore.

When I get confused by twisted doctrines and false teachings, point me only to the truth of Your Word and grant me the wisdom to understand You the way You’d want to be understood.

When I begin to get cocky about my now-identity, shoot down my pride and blast my foolishness to look past the truth that I am because You are.

And when I question everything (again), cause me to be secured that there will be times that I will not get answers to my queries, and that’s okay. Because no matter how many questions my mind can conjure, You will always prove that You remain sufficient to satisfy my longing to understand.

Just please tell me why

…was what I used to cry out to God last year.

It’s already the 31st of January of 2016 and in a few minutes, it’ll be the 1st of February.

If I am to be honest, there were still 31+ times that I have uttered the word “why” this January.

But thank God for Romans 4:17.

It might take a few months, or years, or decades, before my whys get answered. I may also have to think about the possibility that I may never find the answers to all my whys. But as I rise after this painful rebuke that I just got, may I always be reminded of the truth in Romans 4:17.

And that always and forever, His “because I AM” will be sufficient to satisfy my “But why, God?”.

Family · God · Life · Relationships

Why I won’t say I love you on National ILY Day

National “I love you” day

If not for the countless I love you’s in my news feed, I would’ve missed that today is NATIONAL ‘I LOVE YOU’ DAY!!!!

My, how am I this forgetful!! One of the most important days ever and my memory fails me again!

Just kidding, I don’t really care if it’s National ILY day today or not. In my mind, I find the idea rubbish. I mean, why does it really have to take the calendar (or the pressure of their Facebook news feed) to force people to say I love you?

Although, maybe it might not be that rubbish at all. Because now, I am finally coerced — or encouraged to finish this post that I’ve written months ago.

Here you go.

You are “Pwede na”

Pwede na.

This is a recurring joke that after you graduate, you are “pwede na”.

Meaning, “not quite, but more or less acceptable”. For the purpose of this post, I will be referring to the term “pwede na” to mean a person who is already widely accepted to start considering entering into a relationship.

People who have transitioned from being a student to being a college graduate (and eventually, a young professional) will understand this. When other people refer to them as “pwede na”, they definitely understand what that entails. Coincidentally, I fit the the description of “pwede na”, if it means having graduated 2 years ago and applying everything I’ve learned from school in the workplace now (which, as petty as it may sound, signifies the end of my season as a student).

Being someone who has been constantly referred to as “pwede na”, I can personally say that this comes with discomfort. For one, I’ve never really been a fan of unnecessary labels such as “pwede na” because I don’t see the point. I don’t think it’s pressuring or degrading, I just don’t see why said label has to exist. Maybe you think otherwise, maybe you think I’m too uptight, and you may enlighten me on this but for the record, this is something I’m very confused about, so please bear with me.

Lately, I’ve discovered something interesting.

I found out that people actually assume that I am knowledgeable when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. They’d tend to ask my opinions about crushes, dating, and relationships. It’s not really something that I ask to know more about. And I have no clue on where they got the idea that I am Ms. Know-it-All when it comes to dating and relationships.

I don’t know if it comes with age, but people seem to think that because I’m “pwede na”, it’s perfectly okay for them to tell me who their crushes are. Or maybe because they treat me as their older sister already. It’s probably the latter. But the bottomline is, at times, I won’t even care, unless you have a crush on my siblings or my friends, then we may have a problem. (Ok, working on that. Being more compassionate — ongoing)

This is the usual scenario. Guy likes a certain girl. But because he doesn’t want to “awaken love until it so desires”, because he want to “guard” his heart, he decides to settle with just being “friends” with girl. He thinks, “I text my friends, so I’ll text Girl”. He justifies, “Girl is my friend. I better make sure she has eaten her dinner already”.

For one, I know that there’s nothing wrong with being friends with the opposite sex. If you’re a guy and you see the need to be friends with a girl, the Bible will not explicitly tell you that you’re sinning against God.

But, I mean, are you kidding me?

Do not awaken love until it so desires

Just a disclaimer, I do not claim to be an expert on love and relationships. In fact, I believe that I am quite the opposite. The following insights are just based on my very limited knowledge on the subject and is very reflective of my personality and behavior when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. Hence, expect that what will follow are musings of a novice, so to speak.

Do not awaken love until it so desires. 

You can bet that this verse will always find its way in every discussion about love and relationships.  And interestingly, this has also been continuously repeated all across the book of Song of Songs.

Honestly, I have probably read Song of Songs completely only for a few times, not because I find it uninteresting, but because I would usually feel uncomfortable reading it.

But in the very few times that I’ve read Song of Songs, I realized that I’ve always liked this particular verse mainly for this reason: IT IS DIRECT TO THE POINT.

Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up,
    until the time is ripe—and you’re ready (Song of Songs 2:7, MSG)

[Do] not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases (Song of Songs 2:7, ESV)

…not to awaken love until the time is right. (Song of Songs 2:7, NLT)

 

To be clear, this is not to say that I hate going on an adventure with God as I dive into what a certain verse really means. But verses like the one I cited above, verses that cut to the core because of its utter straightforwardness, verses like that really excite me!

Ok, sometimes they don’t, especially when those verses are supposed to tear down my pride. But generally, as much as I fancy studying “cryptic” verses, I also do enjoy unambiguous verses.

Your thought process are transitioning from “Hhhmmmm” to “What in the world is this girl talking about?!”. Please bear with me.

Maybe it will be better if we see it this way.

I see Song of Songs 2:7 as a caution, an all-or-nothing motion. Do not awaken love until God desires. Do not awaken the created if the Creator doesn’t want for it to be awakened yet. Do not disturb what is supposed to be sleeping.

Basically, respect what God has established. In simple terms, BACK OFF.

Ultimately, it will still boil down to who God is. And who He is is LOVE. Without God displaying to us what love is about, we will never even understand it in the first place.

 

Champion of Song of Songs 2:7

Before (or, okay fine, even at present), I would think that I have mastered Song of Songs 2:7 already.

My arrogant self would always remind God of how “flawless” I am and if there were a “Song of Songs 2:7 Awards Night”, I would’ve probably bagged 23 awards, one for every year of my existence. I even thought of suggesting to the world’s most prestigious dictionary-drafting bodies to include my name as synonymous to purity. And I have actually been invited to speak at various seminars to talk about guarding-of-heart.

Okay I made those last two up. But seeing that I was able to write those lines means that my (sometimes, okay, most-of-the-time) crooked mind is capable of coming up with such awful thoughts. And of course, because God is such a loving Father, He didn’t let my arrogance and cockiness pass. I was making ugly what he originally intended to be beautiful and naturally, He had to remove it from me.

I remember a conversation with one of my older brothers about the thought of a guy informing me of his intention to court me. And little did I know, I was in for one of the most pride-shattering rebukes I’ve ever had in my life.

 

Kuya R: Is there some dude I should be worried about? (Of course, being the big brother that he is, he has to ask this of his sister who just recently graduated from college)

Me: Of course, there isn’t! → notice that hint of cockiness. Go figure.

Kuya R: What if, right now, this certain someone whom you like decides to lay down his intentions of pursuing you?

Me: That’s impossible, kuya! I’m sure he’s not financially stable yet.

Kuya: No! If he’s already willing to lay down his life for you the way Jesus did, you bet he’s already ready.

Looking back, I now realize how dumb my answer was. But, okay, in my defense, I knew it really wasn’t just about financial stability, and my kuya understood that. Of course, I know that he is aware that I am a smart (although self-proclaimed) young lady who knows that being rich isn’t everything, and that a variety of (more important) factors should be considered too.

(Ladies, think of a man who is rich but is still annoyingly immature and selfish. Men, think of a “Miss Independent” woman who walks like a boss and talks like a boss but is a spoiled brat and a constant nagger at the same time? Cringe-worthy, right?)

(Okay, I know. There is that arrogance that is becoming evident again as I defend myself. So I’m gonna stop here and continue on with my point.)

Basically, I know that my Kuya has given me the benefit of the doubt, that in no way am I that shallow to think of financial stability as the sole factor in determining a spouse. But he also saw where I was going with my far from impressive answer, hence the need to shoot said answer with this rebuke: “He is ready when, by God’s grace, he understands what it means to lay down his life for you, the way Jesus did”.

Boom.

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t think of it that way. I used to think that it’s all about acquiring desirable values and rejecting horrible characteristics. I used to be convinced that if a person is already at this decent level of maturity, then he’s okay. Hindi pala ganun. I realized that, if I pursued that kind of logic and used these reasons as my basis, I’d probably be doomed.

But by God’s grace, I’m beginning to understand that ultimately, when someone is already willing to lay down his life for another person, everything else follows. When someone already understands what it means to be Christ-like and actually possesses a genuine desire to become just like Jesus, then he/she probably understands what the implications of a laid down life are.

Again, I am not an expert at this, and I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, so correct me if I’m wrong.

But this is what I think:

Laying down your life for someone means recognizing the other person’s worth and putting the other person’s needs over yours. (And addressing the other person’s needs is a delight rather than a burden)

Laying down your life for someone means being the person who will remind the other person of God’s love, faithfulness, and goodness every day. (And not ever getting tired of reminding, especially when the other person forgets.)

Laying down your life for someone means focusing all your energy into helping the other person become the person God wants him/her to be. (And choosing to be used by God in any way possible just so the other person gets to fulfill the calling that God has for him/her)

Laying down your life for someone means acknowledging the fact that only by Jesus can he/she be complete, and if it means dying to yourself so the other person can live out the plans God has for him/her, you’d willingly step aside.

I heard from one mentor, “My husband will always be number 2 next to God. And he is very much okay with that, because that is how it’s supposed to be”. And I agree.

Very much like what Jesus did, setting the standard on how to lay down one’s life by dying on the Cross for our sins because it meant being with us forever, making possible what we can never accomplish on our own: eternal life with Him.

He decided to lay down His life for me 2000 years ago, even if He knew that it would still take me 14 years of existence before I finally understand His love and say Yes to a life with Him.

This is why, I think, Jesus is and will always be the perfect example of how pursuing should be.

Plus pogi points for you, man!

To the man God has prepared for me, please know that whoever you are, I am convinced that you are the most awesome man I will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

Because although you haven’t really deployed your strategies of wooing me yet, you already are garnering pogi points from me this early. How do you even do that! Haha!

I know that because God is wise, He wouldn’t allow you to make a decision to pursue me when God clearly doesn’t want love between us to be awakened yet. Although, if you still managed to pull off a decision which eill eventually turn out to be stupid, I am thankful that God is a gracious and merciful God who will enable you to get back on track if you let Him (after painful, painful rebuking….so please, let’s think twice before disobeying God.). And, when you have allowed God to strip you off of your pride, I know that you will eventually figure out the right response. Finally, I just know that when God asks you, “Do you love Maine?” and you answer with “I will lay down my life for her”, you know what you are talking about. Of course, you can expect that everything I just said that is addressed to you will be applicable to me too. 🙂

It seems that you understand Song of Songs 2:7 quite clearly, and I know that that is only possible because of God’s wisdom.

So for that, I am grateful.

Thank you, for choosing not to pursue me yet. (because, maybe, you understand that the “pwede na” of other people doesn’t necessarily mean an “okay, go ahead” for God.)

Thank you, for understanding that “until it so desires” means so much more than finally receiving your diploma or landing a job after graduation or finally getting your beard to grow handsomely. That it means so much more than securing financial stability. That it means so much more than being able to go past the “youth” phase. That it means so much more than being able to finally attend events for singles. That it means so much more than learning how to drive a car.

Thank you, because you know better. 🙂

Thank you for loving God so much, that you are trusting Him when He tells you that He knows when the right time is to awaken love. You trust Him, because He authored love in the first place.

Finally, thank you for your desire to honor the current season God has placed the both of us in.

My prayer is that every day, we will always be convinced that because God, the author of the most wonderful love story ever written, is the same writer of our love story, we will delight in Him now and even more when we finally figure out that we are made for each other. 🙂

No “I love you” on National ILY Day

I recently had a conversation with my brother (who is seeing someone special right now) about how I am in awe of the people around me who are currently in a relationship.

I admitted to him that with the current state of my heart right now, I am not yet ready to say I love you, even though I see its tempting advantages.

I’ve seen how an “I love you” can turn an intense fight to an exchange of sweet messages. I’ve seen how an “I love you” drastically heals anxiety and stress. I’ve seen how an “I love you” can silence the nagger. I’ve seen how an “I love you” can make a singko less painful. I’ve seen how an “I love you” can make everything better.

But tragically, I’ve also seen how an I love you can eventually destroy a relationship, especially if those involved do not know what they are talking about in the first place.

This is probably why I am choosing not to say I love you, even though admittedly, there were situations that called for the release of these three heavy words.

Because the love that is genuine and eternal is the kind that is patient, is kind, is not proud, does not boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

This is the love that we all need, the life-laying kind. The kind that Jesus has shown years and years ago and continues to show until now.

And I am not ready to offer this kind of love to a man, and eventually say Yes to a lifetime with him. At least not yet.

I’m not yet ready to tell someone that by God’s grace, I will love him in the way Jesus loves him, while walking hand in hand as we do life together. Because at my present state, I still can’t reconcile how that is possible.

Until then, I choose to save my I love you. I will choose to refuse to say I love you today, on National ‘I love you’ Day, up until the day when I finally understand what it really means. You should too. Because if we don’t, if we keep using “I love you” loosely, it’s going to mess us up tremendously.