The Advent Season

For most people, this simply means that Christmas is almost here. For Christians, it is the time when we prepare for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is there something special that we need to do while waiting for Christmas? Although employees tend to slow down in their work during this season, people are generally still busy preparing lots of lists – the grocery list for the Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner), a shopping list of gifts to give to children (especially to inaanaks or what you would call in English, god son/god daughter) and Christmas cards, a wishlist for the gift exchange (a great way to get gifts from people even if you’re no longer a kid!), a list of activities (a.k.a. program) for the Christmas party and of course, that special wishlist for Santa Claus. So as you can see, we really still spend a lot of time, effort, and money even if we call it the “Holiday Season” not to mention the planning and the expenses involved for those who like to go on out-of-town trips during this time.

But more than all of that party stuff, how do we really celebrate this Advent Season? How do we prepare for the birth of Jesus? So I read this misalette I got from today’s Mass and here’s what it said:

“We prepare by responding to God’s words and by exercising discipline. Let us not squander this time of preparation by engaging in activities that distract us from our focus. It is time to return to God. It is a time to show that God is in full control of our life, and that we can say no ‘no’ to the world, which entices us to violate God’s commands…As Christmas time draws near, we are again being lured towards consumerism and commercialism. We are tempted to satisfy our appetites at different Christmas parties. Consumer goods will be dangled at very low prices. With the little bonuses we receive, we might be tempted to spend beyond our means…Prepare rigorously. Exercise discipline. Pray. To welcome Christ in our midst, let us make Advent a season of discipline and prayer.”  – Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM (Sambuhay, November 27, 2011)

I’ve been so busy thinking about a lot of things lately and I was actually surprised to find out that it’s already the first Sunday of Advent! Today’s mass definitely gave me a wake-up call. I must regain my focus. I must exercise discipline. And more than anything else, I must REALLY pray. I pray that I won’t let my activities get in the way of my preparation for the coming of our Lord. I pray that I won’t let consumerism get the best of me. I pray that I can make people feel the warmth of Christmas not just through gifts but also because they see Jesus in me.

Rant

For the past few weeks I have been trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Was I simply tired because I wasn’t getting enough sleep and it was making me cranky? Is there an underlying issue that I am trying to deny? Or is there something more?

Being the person who always needs an answer to everything, well almost always, I became restless. Everyday, the thoughts of wanting to know what was happening in me really bothered me. Sure I was able to get up in the morning, take my meals, and commute safely to and from work. When I was in the office, I accomplished what I had to do. But everything felt really heavy. It wasn’t normal. I was trying to dig into the root of the problem. So this feeling went on for days and eventually weeks. I found temporary happiness in the company of some friends who made me laugh. But then many times something would always trigger the “crankiness” in me. It would either be a comment, a joke, or anything that would remind me of something unpleasant. I found myself reacting very negatively and would soon feel really bad. I’ve been very sensitive and it made me very uncomfortable even if I couldn’t help it.

Eventually I found myself in a situation where everything and everyone was happy around me and I also knew it within myself but for some reason, I could not feel what other people felt. And that even bothered me more. What was wrong with me? This couldn’t just be stress from lack of sleep. I tried to dig deeper but there were no past issues that I did not resolve. My thoughts drove me crazy. I wished I would just wake up one day and feel that the burden was gone but that didn’t happen. I wanted to isolate myself from the world, retreat to some place peaceful and quiet, just so I could have more time to just relax. Maybe that would help ease the pain. Maybe I would be able to figure out more quickly what was happening to me.

Suddenly it hit me. I was being put to the test. This was more than my physical condition and my past. It was about what was happening at present and how much it was challenging my personality. It was about the things I have decided to ignore and let go but now it was getting the best of me. Maybe it’s a signal that I should not have let it pass. I should have been more of myself so that it won’t reach this point. Should I have said something? Or should I have just kept quiet and not have said too much?

I got to a point where I couldn’t understand why my being nice and trusting in others was being taken advantage of. Let’s just say that I let things pass because I was okay then. But now that I have my very busy schedule and I was trying to keep my focus, I could no longer be patient with those who keep bringing back the past. I feel like everyone is now demanding too much from me because they have gotten used to it. And now they think I’m weird because I can no longer give them what they want. And I am just too tired to even explain what I’m going through. Do I really have to explain? So then the thought of people not understanding what I’m going through bothers me again. And some demand an explanation. It’s not fair, really. But I guess I really can’t do anything about that. Maybe they really don’t know me that well to even understand. Or maybe they are not willing to understand because they just want to believe in what they assume.

Last night, another realization made me happy. When I thought that everything was going wrong in my life, there is one place that is safe from all those negative feelings. A place where I am free to express myself and be surrounded by people who have the same frame of mind. A place where I don’t feel the pressure of doing my best because I already love what I’m doing. A place where I can forget everything that makes me feel bad and focus on just one thing. And more than anything else, it was a place where I felt that Jesus was with me and that He was in every person around me.

Maybe another reason why I haven’t been blogging was because I didn’t want to talk about my negative feelings. After all, this was supposed to be a source of inspiration and not a venue for personal ranting. But you see, one cannot say that he or she is inspired or has been enlightened if one has not gone through a problem. Right now, I am still in the healing process. I am still trying to cope up with the sources of pressure and stress and I am struggling to be very patient with things that can easily irritate me. But I believe that as long as I trust in Him, I will get through this.

He will guide me and strengthen me. He is forever patient with me. He is my Savior. He will never let me down.

Reflection Prayer for the Week

Dear Lord,

Though my time to rest is limited, please help me get through each day with patience and understanding. Help me focus on just You. Please help me to see You in everyone.

Amen.

Finally!

After a very long break from blogging, because of technical issues and my hectic schedule, here I am blogging again!!! 🙂

I knew that stopping meant I would no longer accomplish my goal of posting everyday this year; I guess I got to a point where I was too tired to do anything else after a week of sleeping late. Initially, I had to stop because I was having trouble with the internet connection. My schedule did not permit me to have enough time to find other resources. Even reading the daily reflection became difficult.

But just the other day, on my way to work, I felt that it was time for some inspiration to get through that day. And surprisingly, it turned out really well! I was able to do my work with enthusiasm. And just last night, I discovered that I can email from my phone again! The feeling was just fantastic!

I’m not sure if I can go back to daily blogging, but because of what happened, truly I can say that God knows the right time to take away and return things.

Amen.

“A Channel of God’s Help”

“Lord, make me more sensitive to Your promptings in my life. I offer myself to be used as a channel of Your help for other people.” – Didache

Left Out? Not.

After reading the reflection from Didache, I found myself relating well to it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve encountered several situations where I would feel left out. My father was really strict then and he usually didn’t allow me to go out with my friends on a weekend. If I wanted to spend time with them after school, I had to have a good excuse when I got home and not tell him where I’ve really been. And of course, I always made sure that I got home early so it wouldn’t be too obvious. Since I usually wasn’t allowed to go out on a weekend, my friends eventually learned to not invite me if they were going somewhere. They figured that the answer would always be a no. Even if I couldn’t do anything about it, I really felt disappointed. On the occasions that they talked about what they did over the weekend, I would feel really left out.

Now that I’m older and can pretty much do whatever I want, I still encounter the same situation but in a different way. When you’re new in a group or in a community and everybody else has already formed their “groups”, people can’t help but be exclusive. It usually takes time for me to warm up to people so they usually don’t get the accurate impression of me when we first meet. On the other hand, now that I’ve involved myself in a lot of activities, there are times when I would have to spend more time in a group of people over the others for a period of time. When I go back to those other groups, I have the tendency to feel left out because I’ve already missed on so much.

But instead of dwelling on the feelings of disappointment, over the years I have also learned how to rationalize. I learned that even if I wanted to blame other people for being insensitive, I really do not have any control over them. They won’t change unless the desire comes from within. So I learned how to make adjustments. The good thing is, I learned how to be a flexible person. Of course there are times when I still feel disappointed but I am able to show that I’m okay.

Aside from rationalizing, it’s a great help to know that God will always be there for me no matter what. Unlike human beings, I don’t need to make a really good impression just so God would love and accept me. His love doesn’t depend on whether or not I’ve done great things in my life. He loves me just the way I am. But humans are social beings. While we live here on earth, we can’t always lose ourselves in our own “world”. Societies exist for a reason. We must also love our brothers and sisters. For the Word of God says that whatever we do to others, we would have also done to Him. We must treat them the way we want to be treated. In loving others, we learn to love God more.

Confused?

Several times you would be faced with temptations. And when you know that it is wrong to entertain them, you would try to avoid them. But then there are other times when things aren’t necessarily bad for you but you also try to avoid them because you are afraid of making a mistake. You make sure that you wait for God’s answer before you proceed. After all, you are fully aware that the best is yet to come “in God’s time”.

These things that are not necessarily bad are the things that make it hard for a person to make a decision. We can argue that there is such a thing called free will. We can argue that we are human beings and we are not perfect. In making mistakes we gain experience. In gaining experience, we learn our lessons. And so of course, once we’ve made our mistakes, we want to make sure that we don’t commit the same one again. A friend reminded me earlier that God loves us just the same whatever happens, whether we are the best in everything or not. It’s really nice to be assured of God’s love but on the other hand, there is this situation when you’re waiting for the right time and you become anxious. Because after waiting for a long time, you realize that the feelings are becoming stronger and you become confused whether this is already a sign that it is time or you’re simply starting to become impatient.

Very confusing isn’t it? So what should you do in those complicated situations? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to this. My friend also told me that, “God is not a god of formula.” There are simply no shortcuts. There’s no single answer to a question. Our lives are designed uniquely depending on the plan that God has for us and the decisions that we make along the way. In my opinion, the best thing to do is to just take the risk of making a decision. I’m pretty sure things will fall into place. After all, God will always make a way, right?

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