Saturday, January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Had I known these things, I could have saved myself from tons of disappointment, pain, and frustration. What a blissful life that could have been!
On second thought, if I had known them before, I would not have the opportunity of discovering them on my own. And it would feel like shortchanging myself because even though I wasn’t aware of it, I would have escaped from the experiences that could teach me valuable lessons.
But I didn’t know them, that’s the case. And from not knowing to knowing is a journey on its own. Now that I’m done with that phase of my life journey, I have some credibility to share with you three of the things I wish I knew when I was younger but am sort of glad I didn’t.
1. Expecting too much from people is about as good as smashing your heart into million pieces. While others try to lower their expectations, I prefer not to expect at all — from people outside of my intimate relationships, that is. Unguarded expectations are a poison in a category of its own. Let me prove my point. When I expect people to behave toward me in a certain way, I unknowingly put them in a box. And when they don’t act like I expect them to, I end up either keeping a tight rein on them or walking away frustrated. Both options can be a breeding ground for bitterness, anger, and rebellion — poisons that could eventually tarnish a relationship.
People fail, turn their back on their word, and are every bit capable of disappointing others. We are human that way. So to avoid frustrations, and therefore broken relationships, it’s wise to not expect from people too much or not at all. (Of course, this depends on the intimacy level of a relationship; married people, for instance, have every right to expect from their spouses.)
Basically, moderating our expectations is like giving people enough room to grow and learn at their own pace, or act according to what they think is right, providing of course that their perceived “right” is morally sound or justifiable.
Anyway, I learned that if there’s one person from whom we should expect, it’s the One who never fails.
2. Conforming to others’ definition of success can lead to your own failure. If I take other people’s standards of success, I wouldn’t measure up without a doubt. People define success mainly based on their own priorities and goals. Thus, a person whose priority is more about traveling the world and less about getting rich has a different view of success compared to the person whose priority is to be a millionaire by the age of 30.
Problem is, we often don’t have our own definition of success, so we measure ourselves against others’ standards, or worse, against the popular standards. When we think we fail by a large margin, we try to keep up, work ourselves until we bleed empty. Obviously, achieving others’ concept of success not only is far more difficult, it also takes away our joy.
Of course, we can meet others’ standards of success if we’re really serious about it, but we may still feel very empty at the end of the day. The reason being, we aren’t able to meet our deepest priorities and goals, which at this point might still be undefined.
The challenge: write our own definition of success, and it is this that we should strive to meet.
3. Identifying your talents – gifts as they’re often called – is like opening the door to your path. In other words, if you know your talents, and acknowledge them, you’re a step closer to determining which path you should take. They are our hints. If you’re good at baking, you could probably put up your own pastry shop. If you have strong writing skills, then you could be a writer. If you find joy in encouraging people, you may make a good counselor.
I’ve heard of lots of people who have no idea what they should do with their lives. Afraid of “wasting” their lives, they resort to doing things they have no interest in, or worse, they resent, thinking that they may someday “fit in” or finally find along the way what it is they should be doing. It’s sad that they fail to look at their clues, which have been there all along but they neglect to recognize.
Our goal is to search ourselves, know what we’re good at or what we enjoy doing, because only then can we find our gifts waiting to be unleashed. Most of the time, the gifts have already manifested; we only need to embrace them.
Remember, if God has given us gifts, He certainly has use for them. Question is, are we willing to let them be used? Opening the door to our path and stepping into it are two different things.
Friday, January 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
Hey Doubt, let me have a word with you.
You know you’re not welcome here, but you keep coming. Disguising yourself as intelligent, logical questions. That is clever! I admit, I didn’t recognize you until you were already causing a lot of damage. You do your job amazingly well, I must say. Just when Faith has finally taken root, trying to clean your mess, you would automatically turn your razor on and cut Faith off before it even blooms.
Remember that day? When I finally convinced myself Favor was coming, and suddenly you showed up and played with my mind with curious questions? Yes, you won! And I could imagine you jumping and dancing and laughing at me.
And your twin brother Fear? Yeah, he’s good at his job, too. You two strategize very well. You would come in first, and when you know the whole place is secure, Fear would follow after.
You kick out every one of my allies — Peace, Joy, Patience, Truth — every one. And as if that’s not enough, you even have to cover the entire place with darkness. Darkness all over — just how you like it. You think that one ray of light — even the tiniest — would be the start of your end.
Soon your entire troop would besiege my territory, too. Oh, how they like the darkness! Gloominess, Hopelessness, Pressure, Grumbling, and Discouragement would join their forces together, bombard me with ugly stuff, make the place as chaotic as chaotic could get.
Yeah, I know how all of you work. Fortunately for you, I acted cowardly and let you camp at my territory with such ease. Come to think of it, I didn’t even wage a war. I succumbed to your manipulation, even though I had the power over you.
But today’s a different story. You’ve been residing far too long in my territory, and now I realize it’s about time I evict you. No, demolish is more like it. And demolished you will be. Mark my word: No longer will I be subject to your maneuvering.
You don’t think I’m serious? Well, how about I uproot each of your sources of sustenance? Pull them out of the lot, no matter how deep into the earth they’ve grown. Everything that feeds you, especially Lies and Envy, will be eliminated from the territory. With the Scripture, I’ll build up a fence — a strong and tall fence — so that not one of you can enter again.
I’ll clean my entire territory and plant seeds of Faith and Hope. Grace will abundantly water them and help me grow them into flourishing, fruit-bearing trees. Faith and Hope will then cover the place, leave you no room to occupy.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s simple a demolition plan, yes? Na-ah. Don’t underestimate it. You know my Commander, right? Yeah, Him. He’s a war veteran, and you wouldn’t want to know what happened to His enemies, although I’m sure you’ve been briefed about that.
Don’t worry, I’m aware you’re more persistent than people give you credit for. You’re not going to throw in the towel that quick. In fact, I don’t think you will ever get tired of breaking into my place again. Your own commander trained you to never back down. I’m pretty certain just seeing my boldness to fight you makes you work doubly hard.
But hey, I’ll prepare for you. Remember, I have the power. So I will crush you into bits again and again and again. And even if you mutate into a different form, my Commander will enable me to recognize you. Of course, I’ll have my shield and fence ready so you can’t come closer to me again. Ever.
So this begins the demolition war. I’m telling you all this not to spill the plan and spoil the fun. I’m telling you this to warn you. I can’t wait to see you destroyed. You and your entire troop. Today I declare my freedom!
Oh, before I forget, let me tell you one more thing. The Scripture — it’s a double-edged sword. So beware of my Scripture-powered fence; just one touch and you’ll get immediately wounded, and die.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
The days are going pretty fast. You’ve met me at different points in this journey, and I know you will continue to do so even after it comes to a close.
During these four days — especially last night — you’ve allowed me to view my life in light of your will. It humbles me to think that you have woven me into your plans and are already preparing me for the works ever so subtly. So willingly, I set myself apart for your purpose. It’s you I will pursue.
This old hymn is the very cry of my heart. Please take my life — everything of me — and let it be used however you want to.
Take My Life and Let It Be
(Frances R. Havergal)
Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.
Saturday, January 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
A slew of things are begging to come out, wanting to get written here. But they would take a lot of space, not to mention a lot of time to organize them into coherent thoughts.
So I’ll make this brief.
Remember I said I was going to live by faith not by sight? I’m sure you heard me. I’m sure you saw my heart. That my heart was sincere.
So you gave me this song. It just popped into my head. I was thinking if it was a case of LSS (Last Song Syndrome), but this couldn’t be LSS because I haven’t heard this song for a while.
Nor could this be just a random song. I believe you purposely put it in my heart, and before I knew it, I was singing it. Not long after, I found myself looking for a video to sing along with.
Thank you, because through this song you’re reminding me that you’re indeed working. Although I “don’t know just how,” you’re putting things in place. You’re in control after all, and what you’re doing is more important than what I’m feeling or seeing (or unable to see).
This song tells me to trust you, giving me more hope in this seven-day faith journey, where I’m crying out to you all that my heart desires. And even after the journey, I’m feeling it’ll continue to speak to me — as an anthem of my waiting years.
Oh, how my soul sings!
Friday, January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m going through this not because almost everyone at my church is doing it. No. I have to remind myself over and over that I want to do this journey because I’d like to get intimate with you again, to meet you on a different level. I know for sure how this will help put some order in my life; I know because this journey has done it before.
I am perfectly aware what this will require of me. Even though I’ve done this several times over the years, I still got anxious when I thought about it a few days ago. Honestly.
This is no easy journey; it would make me physically weak. And true enough, I’m beginning to get weak. My stomach is growling, only stopping when I care to give in to its need. I feel my head getting heavy, my muscles trembling. I sense the call of my bed, the call you can’t ignore when you feel like resting, comfortably, undisturbed, blind to the world.
But I will continue on. I want us to talk, to meet you intimately. So I’m choosing to veer away from what will take my eyes off you.
I’ve longed for this. You and I alone.
You. And. I.
But even though I’ve wanted us to talk, I wonder if there are things left to talk about.
You’ve heard possibly every thing I wanted to tell you. Just this morning, I’ve verbalized every need, every concern. What else should I say? Are words even necessary? You know what my heart contains anyway. You can read right through it. Even the things I am not aware of, you know very well.
But maybe we don’t even have to talk. Maybe all we need is to look in each other’s eyes and let our hearts do the talking. Maybe all we need to do is to just enjoy each other’s company.
It benefits me more than it benefits you, I know. No, no. It benefits me, period. You can do without me, but I can’t do without you.
Your presence is what I need. Just your presence. It is where I want to stay. Indeed, it is one of my goals for this journey. I can be with thousands of people, be in thousands of places, but it’s still your presence that gives me lasting peace, perfect hope, and complete joy.
So I ask you to let me stay in your dwelling place, where I can be infinitely in your presence. In your presence, words are sometimes unnecessary. Even in the absence of language, you can meet me and I can meet you. Here, just the two of us—you filling me up, I basking in your love. Certainly, this is what this journey is about.