When you leave the Philippines

I wonder if being away is all worth it.

They say it is. Nobody would tell you otherwise.

Nobody would tell you that despite the world-class infrastructures and majestic buildings, your eyes will long for the nipa huts and houses made of yero humbly standing beside each other.

Nobody would tell you that you will long more for pandesal with reno you almost curse before than cheese croissants or French toast surprisingly not appealing to you.

Nobody would tell you that being surrounded and stucked in the transit lines will be missed when you are sitting alone in a spacious bus. No familiar faces around, not even that barker who shouts “Cubao! Balintawak!” then comes in front of you to ask, “Saan ka ate?”

Nobody would tell you that somehow you will look for the delay in the services filled with laughter and warm greetings from the employees. Nobody would tell you that you will no longer be entertained in the middle of fast-paced transactions lest you use your mobile phone as everyone else does.

Nobody would tell you that you will have to introduce and explain yourself, your roots, and your origins for countless times. Even more, nobody warned you the urge to fight for your race as you will be discriminated along with your country and your countrymen.

Nobody has the courage to convince you that your education and skills will be downstrucked and belittled. Nobody would tell you that your ability to speak English in a decent manner is not and will never be enough to understand their rudeness towards you.

The praises and kind words you used to hear will often be replaced with shouts of madness and frustrations. Your values and beliefs will be diluted, downplayed, hence destroyed.

Nobody would ever tell you that.

Nobody would tell you that you will have to face and go through your circumstances alone. You will not be able to visit your Lola or even drop by to say hi to your former teachers; not be able to contact your friends straight away and rant to them in person.

Nobody would tell you that the pictures of your quick tour will never surpass the image of a family welcoming you home and right in front of you. Nobody would tell you that you will have to enclose your sufferings in your thoughts and tears and speak to your loved ones as if everything is okay.

Nobody would tell you that you will have to pretend that you have savings in your bank account when you have none. Nobody would tell you that you need to strategize on how to pay the expensive rent while on the other hand try to give something special to all your loved ones down to your little inaanak and pamangkin.

Amidst the luxury, freedom and opportunities, nobody would tell you the struggle of being in a foreign land.

Dealt with every day, every hour, every minute you spent away from home.

Nobody would tell you that you will come to a point asking if this is all worth it.

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You are not an accident

This phrase can be found on the 22nd page of The Purpose Driven Life. And this phrase, for most of the people I talked with, has become so overused – to the extent that it became ordinary and boring.

I usually nod my head to agree with even if sometimes I don’t feel like I am genuinely convinced (Am I the only one here?). The fact that most of the pastors and preachers highlight it during baby dedications, baptisms and salvation seminars has somewhat turned the statement a cliché over the years.

Not experiencing major breakthroughs or not having a grand, life-changing testimony like those who were previously slaves of worldly treasures have caused me to miss how huge it is that I’m no accident. I grew up in a family serving God, my parents are not divorced, I wasn’t a drug addict, I don’t have vices, and I don’t suffer from an incurable disease. In short, God has blessed us with a comfortable life. I didn’t mean to say that I am asking God to let me suffer from this kind of struggles. But because I look at it the wrong way, I can’t appreciate the impact of no-accidental-living and it was crystal clear that I don’t understand what it all means…

… Not until when God rebuked me.

GOD IS BEFORE ALL THINGS

As it is my birth month (and for some reason, it seems there are so many August celebrants I personally know), I thought this post could be very timely – especially for those who are feeling down and neglected. Anyhow, when could be the best day to realize that you are not an accident but on the same date when you were born?

In the past, my parents would always tell that they didn’t plan to have me, and the moment they knew I was already in my mother’s womb, they’d kept on wishing for a baby boy. However, God had other plans. For them, I came too soon, but the timing was God’s.

It could be a fun story for us but many hurting people feel as if their parents or somebody else didn’t plan to have or keep them. Let me tell you that even if nobody wanted you or kept you, Someone out there has planned your life way before your parents or your employer or your ex conceived you.

He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. 
-Colossians 1:17

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
-Psalm 139:13

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;
-Jeremiah 1:5

You exist not for someone to have you, but you exist because God wanted to have you. The Creator wanted to place you amongst His creations. And there’s no reason why He won’t care for you. You are so precious in His eyes that even your hairs are numbered.

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
-Luke 12:7

So if this life has been planned by God in advance, and if He really cares, how come some have been hurting more than they deserve?

GOD KNOWS ALL THINGS

Others can make you feel like you are just an accident in their life for they didn’t want to preserve you. I should know because I for one have been rejected from certain things which I dreamt of, but, I understand this is incomparable to the pain of mothers who had their miscarriages, to the helpless parents who were left by their sons, to the innocent ones the courts declared guilty, to the dying poor whose rights were not honored. Then I observed these are the times when I keep on asking God if He is really just.

This world might be unfair, but God is always, always, fair enough to His children who seek His Will. I can not perfectly answer why you are experiencing that undeserved pain, but at the very least I can assure you that He is in control and He knows what He is doing. There will be instances where the only witness in your situation is the One who’s all-knowing and you have to trust God that He will do the right thing. Let Him take over.

We always have this practice of praying together as a family every New Year’s Eve. And I always have my personal routine too. After praying I make sure I go to a place where I am all alone, talk as if God’s beside me, write in my diary, and pray for my Year Verse. For 2016, God gave me this on top of His promises:

I will fight for you, you only need to be still.
– Exodus 14:14

It’s so tempting to get back to the people who hurt us intentionally. But in Christ we only have one choice – we are to overcome evil by doing good.

Don’t let the negligence of others make you feel like your existence’s just a coincidence. And please don’t ever think that you are not worth the fight. You can check out my previous post where I shared how amazing that Jesus thinks you are worth fighting for and you are worth dying for (5 reasons why your worst days become the best days of your life).

Just because someone else neglected you doesn’t mean you are not worthy to be kept and treasured. I repeat, you live in this world not for someone to have you, but to fulfill God’s wonderful plans.

GOD CAN DO ALL THINGS

You are no accident and your current circumstances are no accident as well. Now why do you think God requested us to be still? Personally, my answer is that, in the battlefield of loss and rejection, He doesn’t want us to fight – God wants us to surrender.

I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
– Jeremiah 32:27

The majestic power of God is displayed in your lowest of lows. You are celebrating your day because you are to live it. You are to live it because of a divine purpose. And you don’t need to show people that you are always that strong man or woman. Show them instead how strong your God is. Remember He himself will fight for you. He said that. And God is not a human, that he should lie.

5 reasons why your worst days become the best days of your life

You’ve come here the worst time.

While I was hardly finishing my tasks that day, one of our managers told me things could have been better if I moved to this country months before or after, but NOT during these days.

I just smirked.

He’s not the only person who told me that anyway. My sister who’s been here for three years tried to explained how difficult it is for a young lady to work overseas in the face of crisis. It won’t be as easy as you think, she argued. My parents, who were shocked when I told them that I would be resigning, tried to convince me up to the last minute to stay – because it’s reasonable to. I have a stable job in a government agency, salary’s okay, my experiences revealed multiple truths on local politics which enlightened me and encouraged me to do better, those personalities I was dealing with molded my character day in day out, not to mention that it was overall comfortable and convenient – our office is just a 10-minute drive from home, I get free breakfast, snack and lunch during seminars or events, I get to visit new places during trainings, I seldom host events, I write still, and the list goes on.

What’s pulling them back however – at least in my mind – is the fact that their youngest daughter who never thought of moving abroad would suddenly leave them with empty hands and without the slightest hint of idea what to do next. The only thing I was certain back then was I could not go on. I could barely go on. The outstanding and lone movement I could think about that point was my displacement.

For me, it’s the worst feeling.

Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re literally having the worst days of your life. You felt like you are a failure, a defeat in yourself, or circumstances keep on pushing you away and it’s as if there’s nothing left for you but to leave in silence and walk away.

Undeniably we tend to be ungrateful for our so-called ‘dark days’.

The worst days of your life might be heartbreaking at first – although we don’t really know when and how it begins – but these hopeless days, ironically, help you regain your footing and will lead you to the path where some of the best discoveries in life awaits.

1. You are now back to square one. 

The last thing we humans do when facing hardships is to look at ourselves. More often than not, we try to reason out and look at our current situation as a product of circumstances or the people around us and not as a product of our own choices.

If you feel like it’s your worst time, maybe you have really reached a dead-end for a particular aspect in your life. When I say dead-end, it’s like there’s nothing you can do but to wait and let it pass. Unless you accept this fact, you won’t have a time to look at yourself and afterwards look for yourself.

This is why the season of waiting is somewhat refreshing. When you start to stop (that’s so contradicting), you see yourself away from the spotlight, the labels, achievements, or any bragging rights you could ever think of because you have that resurfacing feeling of ‘nothing to be proud of’, ‘feeling empty’, or simply ‘broken’. You almost questioned your purpose in living and why things are not going how you envisioned it. Indeed it could break your spirit, but brokenness is essential in seeing your true self.

Starting from the beginning helps you reconfigure yourself.

2. You realize your weaknesses.

You start to improve your relationship with yourself when times are tough. Truly it’s a humbling experience. Isn’t it when someone asks your strong points, say during a job interview or a conversation with your colleagues, you could easily think of things you would want to say? And when it’s about your ‘points of improvement’, you could easily think of things you would NOT want to say. Why? We all try to hide our weaknesses, and normally, we only reveal those traits which we feel are somewhat okay to tell others.

Your worst days expose particular areas in your life which you will soon reconsider and act upon, depending on your choice. Through trials and challenges one’s character is tested. You might learn that there’s inconsistency in your words and actions, or you might find your lack of commitment to long-term goals. It may simply be a kind of trait or your treatment with your family, or even the way you deal with stress or handle decision-making.

No matter what it is, such days take your self-awareness to the next level where you can’t deny the pressing need to work on certain areas in your life, to grow up as you grow old. Although you may not really start changing because you feel weak, at the very least you’ll see your working canvas.

3. You get to know who your real friends are.

This is my favorite part. You will see who has the genuine concern for you during the lowest points in your life. When my spirit was crushed, I have discovered who my lifelong friends are. These are the people who choose to stay after seeing unlovely sides of me.

4. You try to be still, despite not being strong.

There’s a difference between being still and being strong. I would like to argue that during your worst days you could not remain strong. You are down on your knees and then somebody tells you to “Be strong!” There were several attempts but you know you just fail. I know that feeling.

‘Still’ defined in the dictionary means to stay or remain. In other words, don’t be moved. Whatever phase you are going through, and if you can’t do nothing about it, just hang in there. I will tell you why.

5. You will be found.

Your worst days are worst because you seemed so lost. You don’t know where to go or what to do next. You are not even sure how to move forward or if you really can.

Well you don’t have to do it alone. Somebody out there looks for you. You try to search for yourself, yet the last discovery reveals that someone loves you and your whole being at all times.

Whenever you feel like you’re all alone, or you are being rejected, look at the Cross. Feel it. Feel it even more. And you will be found.

Yes, it may be the worst time. Admittedly, there are some days I still think I could not go on. But hold on self.

Somebody thinks I am worth fighting for. Somebody thinks I am worth dying for.

And that’s the best part of it.

Enjoy the good times while you can, but when times are hard realize that both come from God.

-Ecclesiastes 7:14