Soul-Searching

Today, I finally found the word to describe what I had been doing for the past 2 weeks – “soul-searching”. Instead of wanting to get home early to get a good rest, I seemed to be letting my feet take me wherever it felt like going. And when it did, I would walk slowly observing everything around me and waiting for something that would catch my attention. Last week I’ve spent most of my time at home. So I guess this week all I wanted to do was to be out there, looking for answers and discovering new things.

Because of a recent event, I reached a point where I felt like I no longer knew what to do. And in not knowing what to do, I decided to take a step back and take myself out of the situation.  As selfish as it may sound, I decided to focus on myself and my needs. Caring about other people had always been first on my list, but this time I just stopped focusing on the needs of some people and instead focused on what I needed.

Not knowing what to do is a very difficult feeling to endure for a person like me who always knew or at least found a way on how to go about things. But in this situation, I found myself completely relying on God. I found myself at His mercy. I know that this is going to be quite a long process, but I believe and hope that this will bear fruit. As I continue my soul-searching, I pray that I would let things fall into place and just keep my faith in Him.

 Jeremiah 17: 9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct,  according to what their deeds deserve.'”

The Unexpected Attendance

Today, I made a second attempt to go to confession. But when I arrived at the chapel, I was just in time for the 5:45 pm mass and ended up attending that. Instead of worrying that I was not able to carry out my plan, I welcomed the unexpected turn of events. When I attended mass on Sundays, I was usually with the choir so I usually focused on singing and on the gospel and homily. But today, with no thoughts floating in my mind I was able to make my observations and listen intently to God’s word.

In the homily, the priest talked about gathering things. I thought to myself, “This was probably the reason I was here. I had to listen to this.” My thoughts for the past few days were about the CLP participants and about a stubborn person I couldn’t get through. As much as I had appreciated the presence of the few participants and members we had this past 2 Sundays, I knew we had to have more. It wasn’t just a matter of number, but it was more about the objective of the program. We were doing this because we wanted to reach out to single men and women and bring them closer to Christ. Also, there was this person that I had been dealing with and I got to a point where I got so tired of her stubbornness. I just couldn’t figure out why she wanted to settle for a less happy life without Christ in it. My patience with her had worn out. I know I still care for her, but maybe this time I had to do something different. Again, it wasn’t about me anymore. I also thought about what was good for her.

The priest talked about his own experience. He is currently organizing a fundraising event to send the youth of his diocese to the World Youth Day this year. With the number of registered participants so far, they still haven’t raised enough money to reach their target. For the past few weeks, because summer is finally here, a lot of the staff for this event went on their vacations so the priest felt a bit worried about the outcome of the program.

But in today’s gospel, the priest emphasized to have faith in the Lord. He firmly believed that God will do something about it. He will not let us down. The priest believed that on the day of their event, there will be millions of participants that day. In the same way, my faith in the Lord has been re-affirmed. I believe that there is no reason to worry anymore. God will provide the participants that we need for this CLP and no matter how many they are, our team would be able to handle it. As for that person, I know that God will find a way to speak to her and open her heart for understanding. I know that I will once again have the chance to see God’s grace and power in action.

John 21:11-12 “So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come, have breakfast.’ And none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they realized it was the Lord.”

In Spite Of

Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving me the chance to appreciate everything around me. Thank you for making me feel secure in spite of my shortcomings.

In times of struggle and uncertainty, please help me and all of us continue to find Your light. Please keep us from relying on our own knowledge and make us trust only in Your truth.

Let Your will be done in Your most perfect time.

Amen.

How Or Why? Method vs. Purpose

Growing up, I’ve always felt nervous and anxious whenever I stood in front of a crowd. Whether it was because I had to give a presentation, sing, read a speech or even when I had to face my parents’ friends whenever they would introduce me to them and remind them that I was the small kid that used to run around, my heart would start beating fast and I would just be at loss for words. Well of course when I gave presentations, I had my index card handy but I would still miss out some details. In singing, I think I would do well, but it wouldn’t really be the best and people would know that I lacked confidence. There was no way that I could forget to say anything when I read a speech but people would also notice the lack of emotions in the way I spoke.

Whenever I was in those situations, there were probably a million thoughts running through my head. What if my grammar was wrong? What if the teacher doesn’t like my presentation? What if I lack some details? What if they ask me questions and I am not able to answer them? What if there was something wrong with the way I spoke? Are they going to tell me that my voice isn’t loud enough again? Am I going to look stupid? Oh no my hand is shaking again! What if I forget the lyrics? What if I hit the wrong note? I don’t want to talk to these people and get asked the same questions over and over again! What if I don’t give them a good answer? Do I really have to entertain them?

Can you imagine how dreadful these things are to me? They aren’t just dreadful, they’re terrifying! And after doing them, I wouldn’t feel very satisfied because I knew I could have done better. I could have been more confident. But instead of thinking about the positive, I always thought about the negative things that could happen. It took me such a long time to overcome this attitude. At present, I can’t say that I am completely confident in everything that I do, but over the years I have learned the most important thing whenever I had to do these activities.

Do I focus on the how or the why?

When I was a kid, I kept looking at how I did things that I’ve already forgotten the reason or purpose of doing them. So when I finally learned this concept, I was amazed at how confident I became whenever I had to be in front of a crowd. Yes, I still got nervous. I never really got rid of that “shaky hands” habit. As much as I had wanted to get rid of it, I think it’s my body’s automatic response unfortunately. But this time, I only cared about what the people would get out of what I do instead of thinking about the impression that I made on them. This time, it’s not about me; it’s about doing something good for other people. Oftentimes we are so focused on making things perfect that we lose sight of its purpose.

Today’s gospel and reflection on Didache was all about that. I am able to serve the Lord as a member of a church choir, a member of a church organization (Singles for Christ) and in my personal ways such as doing this blog. I say that I am serving the Lord but sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of it. In the past, there were times when I got really annoyed because the members were not attending the practices regularly and so we don’t sing well during mass. But then I am reminded that more than singing well, what’s important is that these members are learning the true purpose of service. In Singles for Christ, we do our best to show everyone that we uphold the values of a true Christian. But there might be some who take so much pride that they jump into conclusion and judge people who do not do the same as inferior. Now is that right? Sometimes we focus too much on the technical aspect that we forget that these things should not just be in theory; they must be practiced. The act of judging people isn’t a Christian-like thing to do at all, right?

In whatever we do, especially in service, let us never forget the purpose of our dealings. Let us never forget to put God in everything that we do. Let us always be humble and selfless in all our actions.

Luke 24:15-16 “And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.”

Change

If you want change in your life, you have to try to do things differently. If you want to learn new things then go and do what you’ve never done before.

Most of us desire change especially when we get bored or frustrated with our old routine. Unfortunately, sometimes we need to make drastic changes that it becomes really difficult for us to initiate or continue them. Then we end up going back to where we started- our comfort zone. When this happens, we think that it is better to stay where we are because we’ve gotten used to it rather than go through the difficulty of getting used to something new.

Being around people like these is difficult especially when it’s a family member. Sometimes you think they’re getting better but the next thing you know they are back in their old ways. And you find yourself not knowing what to do anymore.

But I guess the best thing to do is to leave it to God. Let us remind ourselves that things happen for a reason and God is always there for us.

Deeply In Love

Today, my bus ride to work was extra special. Instead of saying a short prayer and simply reading the reflection for the day, which I already did when I woke up this morning, and instead of having endless thoughts about every aspect of my life, I continued to read the book that I was reading yesterday. And since there were only a few pages left to read and the bus ride was really long, finally I was able to finish the book.

Usually when I really like a book, I would manage to finish it in less than a week depending on how many pages it has and how busy I was. I would normally be so excited to get to the end that it didn’t even matter if I didn’t get enough sleep that night as long as I had satisfied my craving to get to the next chapter. Even if it wasn’t a story, let’s say a self-help book or an inspirational one which I have grown to love by the way, I would still get excited in getting to the end so that I could absorb all the lessons and apply it right away to my life.

But you see, this book that I just finished today was a book that I bought and started reading last year – November 3, 2010. If you’re wondering why I know the exact date, well it’s because I wrote it on the cover page. 🙂 (It has become my habit to do that whenever I buy a new book so I would know how long it took me to finish one.) For me, this is strange. Well, I actually have plenty of very good and valid reasons for not finishing this book within a week’s time, but today, that didn’t even cross my mind. It wasn’t so much about finishing the book; it was more about what I had read and what I had learned from it.

I realized that the process of reading a book is like the development of a relationship. The speed of which you read a book or enter a relationship determines the outcome. When you start reading a book, especially when it has a very good story, you just want to rush to the next chapter so that you could satisfy the excitement that you have in knowing what would happen next. You read non-stop until you reach the end of a story. Yes, you are happy and satisfied with what you read. But if I ask you about the details, would you be able to recall them? You’ll probably remember the story as a whole but what about those specific parts or lines that aroused your emotions?

Initially, when you become attracted to the opposite sex, there is this air of mystery around them that makes you curious. Who is he? Where does she come from? I want to know what he is like. I want to know what she likes. You make the effort to learn more about them and become excited as you discover how much you have in common or how happy you feel when you are with that person. Soon you find yourself spending more and more time with that person trying to dig for more information and because your feelings are growing stronger, one thing leads to another. You become a couple. You discover more about each other and become comfortable. And before you know it, you start to take each other for granted. Why? Because you feel like there’s nothing more to talk about since you already know everything about the person- their past relationships, their family, how they grew up, their hobbies, etc. And suddenly you just find yourself facing that which you have been struggling to avoid…the end.

It took me a little over 5 months to finish this 248-page book. Yes, I’m not really good at memorizing so don’t even try to ask me what my favorite lines were in the first 2 or 3 chapters of the book. But you know what? In those 20-something pages that I’ve read yesterday and today, I was able to cherish every word that I came across. It was as if every page was speaking right to me. When I felt a little bit distracted, I took my time to read that sentence again so that I would be able to understand and absorb it. If I had finished this book 5 months ago, I would have just told myself, “That was a good read! I learned so much.” Yeah, I learned, but I wouldn’t go back to that book again because I’ve finished it. I would of course take the lesson I got from it and apply it to my life, but I wouldn’t be able to share specific lines with people. It wouldn’t stick to my mind permanently. I would find myself talking to people about it but wouldn’t remember where I got them from.

And now, even if I’ve finished the book, my excitement has not faded. In fact, I feel like I want to keep going back to those pages and read them over and over again! Isn’t it amazing how you can feel overjoyed with such a little thing? Just like in a relationship. When you rush things, it’s easy to forget what you’ve been through with that person and you eventually get tired of each other as fast as you had fallen for each other. But when things develop gradually, when you control your emotions and let everything fall into place and let God be the author of your relationship, you cherish every moment that you spend with that person.

Every second and every minute is so special that you just find yourself wanting to remember everything that had happened. Before you know it, you’d have already spent months courting that person (or in the girl’s case, being courted by the guy). Yet it seems as if it’s only been weeks and you still find yourself wanting to know more about that person because there is so much more to discover. Instead of wanting to be in a relationship right away, you find yourself just enjoying everything and being thankful for the time that you spend with that person because in your heart, you have turned everything over to God. You have acknowledged His presence and have learned that He holds the blueprint of your life.

It has been a while since I’ve written a very long post for this blog. The things that have taken place in the past few days have been an amazing journey for me. It has given me the time to rejoice and reconnect with my first love – My Prince. I am deeply in love with Him again. And I hope that whoever is reading this, will feel the same way too, because I assure you, it’s the best feeling in the world. So have faith, be patient, and know that God is forever faithful. 🙂

Reunited and Renewed

After 3 long days of staying at home, I finally went to the mall today. Woohooo!!! 🙂 I had been planning all this in my head since the week started and I was finally able to carry them out. So first I went to this nail salon because I wanted to get my nails done. There were some people scheduled before me so I had to be put in the waiting list and I was told that they would just text me when there’s an available slot. So while waiting, I went ahead and did the “boring” stuff. It’s almost the end of the month so I paid all the bills first. Afterwards, I went to a bookstore and bought this book that my friend said would be a really good read. I’m sure it’s gonna come up in this blog one of these days once I start reading it.

Next I walked around the mall and suddenly remembered that I was interested in buying a netbook so I went to some stores to look at their prices. One of the sales guy approached me and so I started asking him about the details because I don’t really understand what the specs are all about. The guy seemed disappointed when I told him that I would just come back…well what can I do, I had no money to buy it at the time. Haha! Anyway, when I got tired of walking, I went to Starbucks to have a nice grande Dark Mocha Frappuccino with Cinnamon Swirl. Yum! Normally when I go to a restaurant or coffee shop alone, I would get anxious and finish my food or drink right away and have no more purpose of staying long in that place. But this time, I made sure that I don’t finish my food or coffee quickly so that I would have a reason to stay.

So while I was at Starbucks, I decided to read a book that I have been wanting to finish for the longest time. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it in the early part of my blog this year. It’s called “Authentic Beauty” by Leslie Ludy. As I started to read the book and remember what it was all about, once again I was instantly reunited with my Prince. With the relaxing ambiance at the coffee shop because of the soft music in the background and with only a few customers around, I felt comfortable. I didn’t need to worry about my coffee or food because I was already hooked. As I rediscovered my relationship with my Prince with every turn of the page, I thought to myself, “This was what I have been missing all along.” After being busy for the past few months, I have finally made time for Him and Him alone again.

I would love to go on and on talking about how good the book is but I would recommend that you just buy and read it and experience it for yourself. But I would like to share with you some things from the book that struck me and those that made me examine my current situation and realize what I needed to do in order for me to regain my undivided attention to my Prince. 🙂

“When we are passionately in love with our Prince, we put Him above all else–not just in theory, but also practically, in every moment of our day-to-day lives…Our longing are not for people’s approval but only for more and more of Him.”

“Someone once told me that I could determine the primary focus of my life by where my thoughts went each night as I lay in bed, drifting off to sleep.”

“It was so easy to delight in Him during my time of prayer, Bible study, and journaling, but throughout the rest of my day it was all too easy to become distracted and self-focused.”

“Please show me how to have that too, I asked my Prince with a heart full of desire. Faithfully and gently, He began to show me how to walk through the day with Him rather than just walking through the day representing Him.”

“It is fear that keeps us from changing the world. It is fear that keeps our mouths shut when we know we need to speak. It is fear that keeps us sitting when we know we need to stand. And it is fear that keeps us from giving everything when we wonder if we will ever get it back…We are locked within a cage of trepidation, but our Prince provides us with the key that finally frees us from the tyranny of social approval, the despotism of evil foreboding, and the dictatorship of insecurity–He provides us with Himself.”

1Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances.”

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