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The Comeback

“Thank you for flying with Qatar Airways. Local Time is 11:20 in the evening…”

The pilot said his final announcement in a very monotonous voice. No sign of excitement for making it alive after a nine hours direct flight from the Philippines to Qatar. This best describes my feelings at that very moment. My cousin who traveled with me brought my carry on luggage down and I dragged it out of the plane.

Arrivals  —   Transfers

<———             ———->

That sign welcomed us at the airport. It means my cousin and I had to part ways. My final destination is Doha while my cousin still have to wait for his flight bound to Oman. We stood under the sign and said our goodbyes then we turned our backs and went our separate ways. That’s it. The last person who makes me feel closer to home was out of my sight. Reality set in. I had to walk out of the airport alone. I am really back. Qatar and I have this love-hate relationship ever since. It has cradled me for the past nine years but it broke my heart countless times. But, I am here and I am back whether I like it or not. I stopped by a rest room to put on a red lipstick. I feel stronger when my lips are red. It hides whatever anxiety I am dealing with. The airport corridors were clear with people. My co-passengers are probably waiting for their luggages while I am walking alone on my way to the immigration. I appreciate that tiny moment of solitude. It helped me sink in the fact that I have to spend another year before I get to go home to my family again. I was staring blankly while walking until I reached the conveyor no. 3. I watched the luggages and boxes go round and round. I have been staring at the conveyor for a very long time and I didn’t get a sight of my boxes yet. I waited a little longer before I approached an airport officer to ask if the check-in baggages for flight QR 931 is in conveyor no. 3. Then he said, it’s in conveyor no. 8. I laughed at myself and started walking towards the right conveyor. My boxes were there enjoying their time circling around. I was the last one to get my baggages. I felt like I own the place. I took them out of the conveyor. I saw what my cousin wrote on my box before I left home. She wrote: #YourMomNeedsYou. Right there and then, I was reminded of my purpose. I am so ready to work harder and endure lonely days and nights again.

Okay, so I can no longer prolong my time. I pushed my cart out of the airport. In a big crowd, my eyes went looking for a familiar face. There he was, with shining eyes and a bouquet of flowers in his hand, greeted me with a big smile and wrapped me around his arms; the most comforting embrace. I told myself, “I am home.”. Being back doesn’t feel that bad anymore. The end of missing someone. And I am so proud on how we managed to endure two months of being away from each other. Thank You, Lord, for the grace.

The Bouquet

A bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken was waiting for me when we got home. This made my comeback even more real. Haha!  I came home to a messy (this is an understatement) house. I didn’t even know where I can sleep. I couldn’t stand seeing the house like that. It’s not very comforting especially when you are so tired. I put on new sheets and rested on the bed. I was so tired but I couldn’t get myself to sleep even though I was wide awake for the entire 9 hour flight. I got up and tried to declutter the house a bit. I tried to unpack some of my stuff. It was already six in the morning when I felt the need to go back to bed. I think I was able to sleep for two hours before I woke up chilling. I felt cold. Yes, I was right. I woke up with a high fever. Maybe I was just tired but I was sick for three days. Thank you for a very sweet welcome, Doha!

Well, being sick extended my vacation for three days. I never got the chance to enjoy it though because I was in bed feeling cold and sickly. I couldn’t even eat properly and catch up with people. After three days, I resumed to work. It’s not my favorite thing in the world. But, it is something that I will have to eventually face no matter how long I prolong it.

I have been here for two weeks now. I couldn’t believe it. A lot has happened over the past two weeks. I am back to dealing with lots of issues and anxieties. I have to face the same struggles at work. I have to keep moving forward no matter how much I miss home. I have to overcome challenges and inner battles. Did I mention that I have made Sesame Street’s “Elmo’s Song” viral in the office? I told them that that’s our happy song and when things get a little harder to bear in the office, just sing it and they will be happy. I can only hope that it’s effective because for me it is. (La la la la, Elmo’s world! La la  la la, Elmo’s world!). I have also tried singing that while stuck in traffic with windows down just in case someone on the road is having a bad day. I just love being a wounded healer.

My Life Verse on my desk

Until I came across the THE POWER OF NOW in the internet. It says, in our current situation, if we can do something about it, we have to do it now; if we can’t do anything about it, we have to let it go. I am still trying to figure out what to do. Sometimes life is just so confusing. I am still trying to sense where God is leading me. For now, I will just rest on God’s promise of a future full of hope. If I survived two weeks, I think I can survive more.

Will you pray the serenity prayer with me?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

In Christ,

 

This is How Letting Go Feels Like

“So, I uttered the serenity prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference…”over and over again until what seemed to be too difficult becomes, not easy, but less difficult.

Sometimes we are put in a confusing situation of choosing between letting go and trying harder. That is one of the hardest decisions we will ever have to face in this lifetime especially if both will cause your heart to break into pieces.

My life has been a series of letting go. Letting go of my pacifier when I was a kid. Letting go of my mother’s hand on my first day of school. Letting go of my comfort zone when I studied away from home for college. Letting go of my youth when I decided to work abroad right after graduation. Letting go of my pride for my first job. Letting go of my hope when my first business attempt failed. Letting go of my dreams when I realized that I don’t have one anymore. Letting go of everything that is beyond my control simply because it hurts. My hand is like a broken vessel where everything just slips away uncontrollably but not surprisingly because I know losing is a part of life and I am wired for it.

I am wired for it but I am tired of it.

Why can’t I just keep them?

I wish I could say that losing things, people, and other stuff taught me a reflective life meaning. But losing those just broke my heart over and over and over and over again. Losing those just made me ask if I am really meant to be happy. Losing those made me wonder how happiness feels like. Because I don’t know how it feels like anymore. But certainly, I know how letting go does.

Letting go feels like a long sleep where you are relieved but still feels tired.

Letting go feels like keeping tears from falling and finally releasing them. You feel lighter but the pain is still there deep down in your heart.

Letting go feels like flying back abroad after a short vacation in your home country. There is a physical pain in your heart, sometimes intolerable, but once you are done with it you will feel liberated and brave just by being able to do it. At the same time, it also excites you of what will happen next.

Letting go feels like having a butterfly riot in your stomach. The butterflies that used to give you a happy feeling now started to fight against each other.

Letting go feels the same or worse than dysmenorrhea. The pain is sometimes unbearable. You just curl up under your sheets and forget about the world outside the four corners of your room.

Letting go feels like a blessing and a curse.

No matter how I find words to describe how letting go feels like, nothing seems to be accurate.

Letting go is relieving but there is one thing I am certain of, letting go hurts.

Letting go is painful. Letting go is hard. But, letting go is inevitable. Letting go won’t kill you (even if it sometimes make you feel like dying) and we all know that what can’t kill you will only make you stronger. Stay alive for the ride.

Letting go made me realize how brave I am.

Letting go made me feel alive.

Letting go made me more prayerful.

Letting go allowed me to put my complete trust in the Lord.

By letting go, I have learned the meaning of full surrender.

As much as I want to keep a grasp of the things that I want to keep in my life, I just opened my hands and let them slip through them. And now, my open hands are ready to receive greater blessings from God who made me let go. The God who provided me grace and courage to let go of things that I badly want to keep. The God who gives and takes away.

I have read somewhere that God won’t give us things that somebody else is supposed to have. God takes away for a reason. It might be painful and hard to understand sometimes but God knows what He is doing. Let go, get out of the way, and let God do what needs to be done. Trust. Have faith. Surrender.

It is only in losing that we gain. We gain better understanding of ourselves. We gain a clearer view of how we want our lives to turn out. We gain more realizations of what deserves a spot in our lives. We gain more self-worth and self-love. We gain more strength and faith.

We only lose what we cling to. If letting go of things, people, and other stuff is the only way to keep them in my life, I am willing to go through the pain. The pain and the fear of uncertainty. The pain of longing for what was once constant in my life. The pain of seeing my high hopes stumble down and die. The pain of seeing my broken walls that seem to be irreparable. The pain of seeing myself that I can’t recognize anymore. The pain of seeing my future that used to be so clear becomes hazy. The pain of not recognizing happiness anymore. The pain of realizing that what was once a reality is now a memory. The pain of losing myself. The pain of missing things and people. The pain of feeling like I could never be the same again. The pain of dealing with anxieties. The pain of the aftershock of letting go. I realized that I don’t really fear letting go, it is the “what could have beens” that I fear. The act of letting go is painful enough, nobody wants to deal with what comes after that.

But then, there is God. A God who never lets go. A God who makes letting go bearable. A God who listens, answers, and saves. A God who empties us so we can be filled again. Let us trust the process.2017-05-09

My Spiritual Dryness Story

I have been too occupied with life the past weeks. I have been busy dealing with stress at work, planning an event, moving to a new house, dealing with life and all its occassional punches, attending activities in the community, dealing with distractions and harrassments, and the list goes on. I do not know if it is necessary, but it took most of my time and energy. These things became my first thoughts in the morning, my last thoughts at night and everything in between. And despite my best and constant effort, I would have to be honest, my prayer life deteriorated a bit. I felt so lost, unmotivated and weary. Yes, I still pray. I always try my best to have a few minutes of quiet time with God. It is a concious effort on my part because I don’t want to go faraway from Him, my source of strength, my Redeemer. But, the quality of my prayer is obviously at its lowest. It makes me sad. But, God is really good. During those weeks that I was busy dealing with the unnecessary things in life, God never failed to remind me to come to Him whenever I feel like I’m losing my track.

Test me, Oh Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I desire to walk continually in Your truth. – Psalm 26:3

The past weeks, though I lost my focus, have been a constant reminder of how important our prayer life is. Everywhere I go, whatever I do, God’s reminder is there. Like a silver lining finding its way for it to be seen to give me a glimpse of hope. I just really have to change my focus in order to see it.

It was our upper household. We had an activty about prayer. Each of us were asked to write our prayers for each day of the week then it will be distributed among us so we could all pray for each other. We are a community of intercessors after all. It is just good to know what others are praying for and it is always a previledge to pray for them. And knowing that they are praying for me too, makes me feel good. That is my most favorite thing about our community. You can be very certain that someone is always praying for you.

Days after, though unprepared and uncertain with the overall posture of my heart, I sent a household invitation to the sisters who are under my household headship. We watched “The War Room”. I have watched that movie a lot of times and I know it is a powerful tool to strengthen a drying spirit. It strengthened mine the first time I watched it and I prayed that it will do the same to my sisters. Very timely; I guess that is exactly what they needed at that time and though I have already seen it several times, that experience is still different. I stayed behind them as they watch the movie. I was silently praying for the movie to serve its purpose and for it to touch their hearts and to remind them of God’s grace, power and goodness. I guess, it did. Praise God.

Lord, teach us how to fight a good fight and help us to recognize the real enemy. – The War Room

But, I can still feel that my spirit is dry.

“Pray hardest when it is the hardest to pray.”, they said.

I have to admitt that it became a struggle. I had to conciously put myself into prayer mode. It makes me sad realizing that I have to put so much effort into praying. But, the important thing is I did not stop. God did not stop. I love our team work.

Then, we were called to attend a general teaching for our formation. It was jumpstarted with a powerful worship; Makahugas-Kaluluwa (Soul Cleansing) as what they described it. I was literally in tears the whole time. I didn’t even know why I was crying. It must be the Holy Spirit who is moving me into tears. To my surprise, the teaching is about Prayer and Intercession. That is not a coincidence. That is God speaking to me. That is God reminding me of what I am forgetting.

I praise God for using people as a bearer of His good news. That night I was reminded that I have to fully surrender myself to the Lord and admitt that I am completely dependent on Him. This battle of spiritual dryness is not for me but for Him. I am relying on God’s grace for me to step out of the deserted island that I am in. That He is my oasis. I am reminded that it is the perfect time for me to humble myself to the Lord.

“Gustung-gusto tayong i-bless ng Panginoon” (The Lord really wants to bless us.), the speaker said.

Who are we to stop God’s blessings?

We just have to ask and we will be heard.

Surrender to His will and we will be blessed.

“The prayer that God wants to answer is the prayer that asks for His will to happen.”

Though empowered, I still feel unworthy to come to Him. But, I know only God can help me.

You need to plead with God to do what only He can do, and you need to get out of the way and let Him do it. – Miss Clara, The War Room

So, I have decided to let God be in charge. Whenever I feel like He is asking me to do something, I would submitt to it even if sometimes I don’t understand why. I would say Yes to every invitation to be in fellowship with Him even if sometimes I find it hard to get dress and step out of the house. I don’t want to miss God’s blessing; it might be what I exactly need. You’ll never know until you open your heart to it. Even if I am struggling inside (and nobody knows), I kept my heart open. I just cooperated with God because I know that He will win this battle for me if I will only let Him.

I thank God for allowing me to go through a season of dryness.

I thank God for giving me the courage to admitt to myself that I am running dry. After all, being able to feel and acknowledge our dryness is a gift from God.

Let’s see it as God’s way of calling us to be closer to Him. To seek Him more than we ever did before. To desire Him with our whole heart. To pursue Him and to be available to be filled by His spirit. It is much worse if we do not recognize that we are becoming dry. I once read somewhere, I have come to realize that the real tragedy in the church is not spiritual famine: it is famine without hunger, dryness without thirst.” I couldn’t agree more.

I thank God for giving me the chance to actually feel my spiritual dryness without dwelling on it. I thank God  for the wisdom He has given me to fight it. I thank God for sending me angels on earth to enlightern and encourage me. I thank God for every pep talk that I had with people who saved me before I fall into self destruction and I thank myself for truly listening. I thank God for the time He has blessed me with to just feel it without getting exhausted by it. I thank God for reminding me that it is okay to rest but I shouldn’t stop. I thank God for the gift of prayer. But most of all, I thank God for guiding my every step to the Oasis that He is. After all, He is the only one who can refill me. Without Him, I am nothing. He is the only one who can cover our leakage that causes us to feel dry.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

I thank God for disturbing me. It is the only way to lead me back to Him, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

My prayer life has never been better. Even if I feel so burnt out at times, I still find myself being cradled by God in my solemn moments of prayer. He continuously teaches me to fully surrender to Him even if my stubborn heart tells me that this is not the way it should be. Humble obedience. My heart is still at peace that no matter how many times I feel dry, I will never run out of God’s love, grace and mercy.

“Lord, empty me so that I may be filled again. Less of me and more of you.” <3

Trusting You,

LOVE

Most days go by like any other day. But there are days – like Valentine’s Day- when people focus so much on looking happy. They focus so much on hearts, flowers, teddy bears, chocolates, cards and other surprises and sweet nothings just because it is heart’s day. The day when people expect the whole town to be painted in red. When everybody is pressured to look happiest showing off the bouquet of flowers which they received from their significant others on every social media account they have. When most single people feel a little pinch in their hearts whenever they look at their flowerless selves in the mirror and whenever they see happy couples anywhere.When supermarkets run out of chocolates and flowers to sell just because people think that is what that day is all about.

My friends and I went out to eat right after the mass; Restaurants are packed with people. It is good to see representations of love everywhere. Romantic love, love for family and in our case, love for friends. I remember a friend praying before we eat telling that God’s love is enough for us even if we are *chokes a little* single. Then I had a flashback of previous Valentine’s Days. I never really experienced anything romantic on any Valentine’s Day of my life. I never woke up with a bouquet of roses on my table; I never had a surprise Valentine date; I never received a box full of my favorite chocolates or got serenaded with heartwarming songs. I never got excited for Valentine’s Day but I never got sad either. Why would I be sad? Why would I feel sorry for myself? Every Valentine’s Day of my life, I am always surrounded with love from people who love me more than a lover can. Yes, I won’t be a hypocrite and deny the fact that sometimes I wonder how it feels like to experience stuff that other people experience on that day. Sometimes I daydream about waking up with little surprises from someone who loves me; I daydream about cuddling in bed watching RomComs or just keeping the TV open but not really caring about it because cuddling is enough. But, just because this isn’t happening doesn’t mean that my days are meaningless. I mean, I am okay with how I spend my Valentine’s Day. I still feel loved anyway. In fact, this year’s Valentines has been awesome because I have awesome people in my life that even if a hand drawn flower on a post it note and sweet candies are all I got, they are enough to paint a smile in my heart.

In our community, we call our significant others “GG” which stands for God’s Gift and I strongly believe that it is called God’s Gift for a reason. From its literal meaning; a gift from God. Back in 2006, I remember writing a blog post about solitude and how not having a boyfriend doesn’t affect me. Ten years later, here I am now, writing this and staying true to my words. As much as I would love to have one at this point in time, I can still enjoy my solitude. I still have no problem doing things for myself, on my own. I have no problem not receiving goodmorning/goodnight messages with all the romantic emoji’s. I have no problem not having someone to tell me i love you in the most random time of the day because I know that no matter what’s going on, I am loved. I still don’t think that it’s sad to celebrate Valentine’s Day with friends. It doesn’t make me less of a person just because of my relationship status. There are lonely days but it is not a lonely life. Love is not something we can wish from our fairy godmother and will be ours once she waves her magic wand. People nowadays focus so much on this. It bothers me how some people made romantic love as something that could make their existence complete. Don’t get me wrong, I also believe that love is a wonderful thing and everybody has the right to experience it; the butterflies in the stomach, the sleepless kilig nights and the natural glow of being in love. The joy of finding The One. The joy of receiving God’s gift. The gift that we prayed for.

But, what if despite our best effort and relentless prayer, we might not receive that precious gift? let alone end up with the man/woman of our dreams? Would that be okay? For this I pray; I pray that we can all let go of the part of us that forces romance to happen. I wish we can have fun like we used to in our favorite places without overthinking that maybe The One is just around the corner.I pray that we can silence the part of us that tells us that (romantic) love is all we need. I pray that we can learn to love ourselves instead of being too hard on ourselves because we don’t have that special someone until now. I pray that we can overcome pressure from people that tell us that we’re too old so we have to settle. I wish we can prove to everyone that being single is way better than being in a miserable relationship and I wish that by doing that, we fall in love slowly, deeply, passionately and gently with ourselves. I pray that we can ignore the little voices in our head that tell us that we are not enough or that something is wrong with us. I pray that we will be okay while waiting for God to deliver His gift. I pray that we will find joy, hope and patience in waiting because, I assure you, it will be worth it.

Love has become so underrated these days. Love slowly becomes a status symbol. I still believe that love is not measured by the butterflies in our stomach or the number  of roses we get on special days. Our relationship status on Facebook does not define us. Love is already planted in our hearts. We just have to let it bloom on its most perfect time; in God’s time. Love is not generic. Love comes in all forms. Let’s undo the times that we thought that love is everything. Let’s be the best version of ourselves while waiting for God’s best. Let God prune you and prepare you to be the right person someone deserves. And in the process of waiting, please know that you are also worth the wait.

perfectlove

BELATED HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! <3

Kenosis

Kenosis – ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

“Do you think I could be depressed and not know it?” I told my best friend.

“Maybe you’re just unhappy; not depressed. If you feel depressed, it’s okay to ask for help. I think it’s about time you address it.” She said.

I have been observing myself for a while now and I find it really, really strange whenever I, all of a sudden, burst into tears for no reason at all and it happens quite a lot lately. I admit, I am an overly dramatic person and crying out of the blue has always been my thing. I have been through this for so many times before and I got through this more than I could ever remember.

I spent a week trying to figure out what’s going on in my life. I think it is safe to say that my life is steady right now. No major problems at home or at work. I guess it is just my inner struggle that is causing me to feel this way. A struggle that I have been dealing with for so long and still haven’t found the specific reason why I am feeling what I am feeling. Maybe because I have never wanted something so much so I end up wanting so many things to happen in my life. Wanting everything all at once can be quite frustrating. We can’t have the best of everything. We can only have the best of what’s best for us and God will definitely give it to us.

One Thursday, at two in the afternoon after work, I decided to head straight to church to have a quiet moment with God while waiting for the 6:00 PM mass. Beating the extreme heat of the sun, I walked myself inside the main church. Life didn’t fail me. I went inside the church. No one else was there; just me. A quiet time with God is what I needed; a quiet time with God is what I got. I went directly in front, face to face with Jesus. I sat for a while to set the mood. I silently uttered the words “Lord, please allow me to have a quiet time with you, protect me from any distractions.” And He did. I had a solemn moment with God. I knelt down in front of Him and the moment my knees touched the ground, tears started running down my face. I just let it flow freely. My tears spoke for myself because I ran out of words. I cried and cried and cried until I had no more tears to cry. Then, I sat down again. Calmed myself and told God “Help me understand what’s going on because I am really struggling.” I just remained inside the church for a few minutes more staring blankly at nothing when I snapped back to reality and I was able to stand up and walk myself out of the parish to the adoration chapel.

The adoration chapel has always been a comfort zone to me. When I need some peace and quiet, it never fails to take me to a place where problems do not exist because in that place, I feel so much closer to God. Fortunately, on that day, when I went inside the adoration chapel, no one was there. The silence is deafening. The silence is beautiful. The silence allowed me to hear myself more and to hear what God is telling me. “God, talk to me please.” I looked to my right and found a bible sitting pretty on the shelf. I opened it to the book of Psalms. And Voila!

Psalm 6:6: “I am weary with my groaning; all night I soak my pillow with tears, I drench my couch with my weeping.”  – Yes, God. This is me every night.

Then, this.

Psalm 6:9: “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.”

Psalm 18:6: “In my distress, I call upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him; even to His ears.”

And, finally.

Psalm 62:6: “He is my rock and salvation; I shall not be moved.”Yes, at that very moment, a big chunk of negativity has been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t need any help. The best help will come from God.

I, for the nth time in my life, surrendered every burden and struggle I have to God. Prayed that I will be filled with less of me and more of Him and that everything will happen exactly the way He planned it.

As the people started coming inside the adoration chapel, I looked at them and I wonder what they are praying for. I just had an answered prayer and I prayed that they will too.

Psalm 39:7

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Today, I find it really hard to pray. It is not because I am losing faith after receiving a bad news. It is because I can’t find the right words for what I feel. It is because I know God knows what I want to say even before I say it or even if I don’t say it. Because He is a God who feels; a God who understands. Just like a kid, I cried to God and I know He listened. I know He comforted me on that very moment when I locked myself in the toilet during prayer time to freely let go of the tears that have been struggling to come out since morning. And yes, it somehow brought relief. But, it can’t hide the truth, my hope is crashing again just when I thought things are starting to get better.

I slept with a joyful heart last night. I felt like everything is falling into place; everything is going right. I saw my plans materialize right before my very eyes. But today, I saw them crashing one by one until everything starts to feel so uncertain. Everything is a blur. I don’t know if it is because of my tears but I know I don’t see things as clearly as I saw them yesterday. Isn’t it strange how one moment can change a million moments after it? How happiness can slip away from your grasp overnight. I didn’t see it coming. But, it is here and I have to deal with it.

I prayed to God. I told Him to turn my troubles into triumphs. To equip this child in me with the right armor so that I will become a warrior. To bring back the hope that I lost and to trust the power of God’s promise. To enable me to see things clearly and to help me to not be discouraged. To still stick with my plans and to put all my trust in God. Because God loves me. Because God knows what I want and God is more than willing to give it to me only if I will be still. I don’t want my disappointments to get in the way right now.  I don’t want to be my old self who gets discouraged so easily by unfortunate turn of events. I want to learn how to rejoice while it is still dark until I see the silver lining again. I want to have a thankful heart because God loves me enough to let me go through deep waters because He will be with me. My request has been made known to God and even without words, I know He hears my heart. My only hope is in Him and that is more than enough to get me through this.

Oh how great is our God for giving me sorrow so He can turn it into pleasure, for giving me worries so He can turn them into excitements, for giving me disappointments so He can turn them into joy and for giving me problems so He can carry me through them.

There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm. It is kinda stormy now but I am trying my best to remain calm because I know God’s love never fails and the more I panic, the more I will drown.

This is when pruning begins and I choose to remain.

Monsters In My Head (Under My Bed)

You are not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. Not cool enough. You’re not even close to the normal standards of the world. Yes. Go ahead. Be insecure. Feel bad about yourself. Feel sorry for yourself. You are nothing but a tiny lonely dot in this big world. Insignificant. Worthless.

Those are some of the words that I am dealing with each time the monsters in my head get too talkative and start poisoning my mind with negative thoughts which eventually get the best out of me; Because I always believe them. I never thought how much power our thoughts have over us. They can easily swing us from a sunshine and happiness factory to a loneliness producing machine. These monsters usually haunt me in the middle of a quiet night when i am all alone and trying to get a decent amount of sleep. I have always thought that they are under my bed but later I realized that they are inside my head following me everywhere I go; whispering louder than my conscience and the friendly voices until I get convinced that I am nothing but a tiny insignificant dot in this big world. The struggle starts and it is real.

I was never somebody’s first choice. I always have to prove myself to people. I have to prove that I am worth their time. I am worth their attention. I remember growing up, I get compared a lot with my cousins. “How come you never wear slippers? Look at your cousin, she has clean feet because she always wears her slipper. How come you are not close to your dad? Look at how close is your cousin to her dad.” Etcetera. Then, on our elementary graduation, I tried my best to be the class valedictorian but someone is always better than I am so I ended up being just the class salutatorian. It is not that my parents are pressuring me to be the best. My parents are the most understanding parents. It is just that I feel the need to achieve something grand; to do something with significance. To be the first at least once in my life.

Then, I grew up and went to high school. That was the time in my life when I achieved a lot. I was the school’s student council president, I was the school paper’s editor in chief, I have competed and won a series of news writing contests on different levels. I even made it to the National level. My teachers were so proud of me. They strongly believed that I will succeed and achieve more in college. And, for a time, I thought I would to.

Here comes college. This is the time when you will start putting your life in perspective. This is the time when you’ll really start building your dreams. The preparation stage for your future career. This is when you will realize that there are hundreds, thousands or even more people who are better than you. Suddenly, I realized that all my achievements in high school don’t matter anymore. I was the average college student. I am the kind of student teachers don’t know exist unless I make my presence known. I have only made it to the honor’s list a few times but I never really excelled in college. I am just the student who studies to pass not to be on the honor roll. I wouldn’t even pass algebra and statistics if I hadn’t been seated beside one of the top students in our class. The monsters in my head told me I should stop trying to achieve some thing and just be okay with the fact that at least I don’t have any failing grades. So, I graduated college. I am just glad I did. No special awards, no recognition, just a single tiny dot in the crowd of students who can’t wait to conquer the “real world” and start building their career.

 Going out into the real world and stepping out of your comfort zone are not easy. It requires a lot of wisdom and courage. You can’t just apply to any available job just for the sake of experience because each step that you will take is a step towards where you want to be. But, you can’t be choosy especially when you are trying to land your first job. After a series of job applications, I have finally decided to give in to my family’s plan to send me to Qatar and work there instead of using all my energy and money looking for a job that will not pay me enough. A year after graduation, I just found myself taking the flight to Doha, Qatar with all my dreams and high hopes in the bag. My life has never been the same since then.

The “real world” is truly harsh. I won’t elaborate on that but my first few years in Doha was not a walk in the park. It destroyed my self esteem. The monsters followed me even if I flew oceans away from them. “Settle for this job because you can’t do better than this. Accept harsh treatment from people because that’s what you deserve. Sell yourself short because you have nothing better to offer.” So, I settled. I have been settling for years and to be honest, I kinda forgot how to believe in myself anymore. I am not even a work in progress. I’m stagnant. Not moving on; not moving forward; not moving at all.

I have been dealing with these monsters in my head for a while now. They leave me restless. They leave me insecure. They leave me frustrated. They leave me struggling.

Then I thought, maybe someday I will be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough and cool enough. Maybe someday the standards of the world won’t apply to me. Maybe someday these monsters in my head will leave me alone. Maybe someday I won’t settle. Maybe someday I will be somebody’s first choice. Maybe someday I won’t have to prove myself anymore. Maybe someday I will find the significance of the tiny place I occupy in this great big world. Maybe someday I will know to whom I belong.

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I BELONG TO GOD. I AM GOD’S BELOVED.

And, someday I will befriend these monsters in my head.

The Prayer

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God what’s in my heart.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God I hate this part.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God to take charge.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

My heart went numb.

God froze my heart.

I don’t feel a thing.

No pain. No heartache.

Yes, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I thanked God for protecting my heart.

But…

Again, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God I hate this part.

Then, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

I told God to make me feel again.

Then, suddenly, I heard a loud crack.

My heart is breaking again and again.

Then, I look up and saw God.

He was smiling at me.

“Be brave, my child.” He said.

So, I prayed.

I prayed really hard.

“God, You are my refuge, my hope, my strength.”

Your love is enough for me.

So, I prayed.

I smiled.

I know God knows what’s in my heart.

Exit

Exit: noun. A way out. I had this conversation with a friend a while ago. He told me “sabi nila minsan gagaan if i-try bitawan yung nagpapabigat.” (They said, sometimes, it will be lighter if we will let go of the things that are weighing us down.). Then, we found ourselves talking about exits. This is what I told him, “We have this thing called emergency exit…this exit is for those who want to go out for a while to rest even if they are still far from the final exit. We also have the fire exit… this is for those who need to go out even if they don’t want to yet just because it’s not healthy for them to stay inside. Lastly, the final exit. You can’t avoid this one because this is the end of the road. It’s not important whether you win or lose; what’s important is you reached this point which means you didn’t give up. That still makes you a winner.”

I guess most of us are caught in the middle most of the time. Torn between decisions that could either make or break us. Torn between two lovers. Torn between someone who loves us and someone we love. Torn between pursuing and just admiring from afar. Torn between wants and needs. Torn between staying in a job we hate and passing that resignation letter. Torn between whether to keep going or give up. The line is endless. People will constantly be torn in between things because that’s what life is about; it’s about making decisions, about taking chances, about choosing what is best for us.

“Sa bawat isang bagay na pinipili mo, meron kang libo-libong bagay na tinatalikuran.” (In every single thing that you choose, you have thousand things to abandon.) This is why we should be wise in making our choices because we can’t undo things once it’s done. The only thing left for us to do is to face the consequences of our decisions. But, the truth is, there is no right or wrong decision, we just have to make a decision and make it right. Do whatever it takes to make it right. It’s either you win or you learn.

I am not a risky person. I always play it safe. I always settle. I always think that what I have is exactly what I deserve. Maybe that’s why I don’t always get what I want. That sucks. Yeah, it does.

But, until when should we really fight for what we want? When should we give up? When should we head to the exit? Which exit should we take? Emergency exits are everywhere. It’s an unlimited lifeline. When things get harder to bear, you don’t necessarily have to let go or to stop. Rest is a must. It allows you to think clearer. To think about your next steps until you’re ready to go inside again. Do whatever it takes to win. But, when it really gets too tiring without any sight of the silver lining and you are so exhausted in finding the right way out to the point that you are losing yourself along the way, I guess it’s time to take the fire exit before you get burned. Burns cause permanent scars. Scars are good, though. They remind you that you fought a good fight. A scarred soldier fought the hardest. Good job. Not getting what you want doesn’t mean you lost the battle, sometimes, losing means winning. You’ve just won yourself back. You have learned how to acknowledge defeat by knowing when to stop. Then, here comes  the final exit. This is where it all ends. This is the finished line. This is the sign that you made it. That even if you took the fire exit, it still lead you here. Pat yourself at the back. You were great in there. If you’re lucky enough, sometimes, life lets you go out of the final exit with the prize in your hand. Hold it with pride. You deserve it. Enjoy it. Take care of it. But, really, just the fact that you made it through every agonizing part of the journey and you made it at this point, you’ve already won. Not all winners have trophies, some only have lessons. Take the final exit. Go out with pride. Proceed to the next journey. After all, every exit is an entrance to somewhere else. You’ll never know what the next journey will bring. Maybe you never get what you wanted because you are meant to get something better. Something that you deserve and who deserves you too. Something that will make all the scars, rejections and pain worth it. By that time, I assure you, you will never have to let go.

So, to you, my friend, keep going. The road may still be long but keep going. As what you’ve said, don’t lose a battle without a fight. See you at the end of the line.

That Place Called Qatar

“Kapag nagkapera ka eh gusto mo na lang gumawa ng pera tapos marerealize mo eight years na ang lumipas.” – Anthony to Mace, That Thing Called Tadhana The Movie

(When you make money, you’ll want to make more of it. Then, you’ll realize, it has been eight years.)

In my case, six years. I celebrated my 6th year anniversary in Qatar last February 26. I can’t believe it has been six years since I left my country with high hopes for a greener pasture and a brighter future. It is more than the years I spent in college. I don’t even know how it passed. It’s like I just woke up one day and I am not as young as I was before. Here I am now. Living on my own, paying my own bills and working hard to get what I want. Yeah, total independence. It’s funny how we rush into growing up believing that it is more fun and fulfilling not knowing that growing up means stepping out of your comfort zone and dealing with every cruel things this world has to offer.

“Aren’t we supposed to be great by this time?” Mace to Anthony. After watching this romantic comedy film, that line got me thinking. Am I really supposed to be great by now? Am I supposed to be successful? Am I supposed to be living the dream? What is greatness anyway? What is success? And yeah, what are my dreams? Or…do I even have one?

Six Years ago, I remember the first time I left. I had a bag full of dreams which I carried with me. The 30 kg baggage allowance isn’t even enough to bring all of them. But, I carried them all in my heart and they survived the 9-hour flight from Manila to Doha. At that time, I felt like I can conquer the world. The independence is quite liberating. It makes you believe that you can do everything you want. But, I was wrong. It wasn’t a walk in the park. It wasn’t as easy as I believed it would be. In fact, it was harder than I thought. My first year was filled with problems. The struggle in finding a fulfilling job, frustrations, homesickness all rolled into one. The succeeding years didn’t get any better. I still have to deal with same problems plus more. The struggle in staying in a job that I hate, frustrations, homesickness, money, family and relationship issues. Things are just falling apart one by one. I have told myself for so many times that I don’t want to do it anymore. Every time I will go home for an annual leave, I always tell myself that I will not be coming back. But, every time, I always find myself inside the plane going back to the place that I ought to forget. With tears in my eyes, I always watch the Philippine lights until they disappear from my sight.

It has been six years now. It’s amazing how I got this far. I don’t know how but I am glad I made it this far. I have always thought that I put my life into waste by staying here. I guess I became too busy making money to buy superficial happiness without noticing how time flies. I was too busy making money that I can’t enjoy. I was too busy making money not for myself but for those who are counting on me. It was a fulfillment for me to give back to my parents. But, as time goes by, I realize that I am losing my dreams. I don’t know how to dream anymore. I always imagine how my life would turn out if I didn’t take that flight to Qatar; if I didn’t agree to come here; if I gave up on my first year; if I didn’t do the things I did. Would I be happier? That will always be a mystery. Because this is where I am now, this is where I’m supposed to be, this is where God intended me to be. Yes, I spent six years of my life here. I still don’t own a house or a car or anything grand. I still fall short sometimes. I don’t have a career that I can proudly tell the world about. I haven’t done anything extraordinary. All I have are experiences, insecurities, learnings, realizations, triumphs and failures.

A friend once told me, “If I will be miserable, I should at least be miserable in a place that I like.” Friends always ask me why I keep on coming back if I don’t really want to. Why am I staying here if I can choose to go back home anytime? It’s true. It’s so easy to take the last flight out. To turn my back on this country and just leave everything behind and to never look back again. But, then I thought, Qatar made me stronger in every sense of the word. Qatar taught me many lessons, sometimes the hard way, that I will never forget. Qatar might have been tough on me but Qatar lead me to where I am supposed to be, to the people that, one way or the other, changed me. Qatar made me who I am.

I don’t know how long I would stay here. Maybe a year or two. Maybe another six years. I don’t really know. Would I do it differently if I could go back and rewrite the past? Maybe not… hmmm? On a second thought, maybe a few minor revisions would be helpful.

Are we really supposed to be great by this time? We are already great. We just haven’t realized it yet.

By the time I wave good bye to Qatar, God knows when, it will be bittersweet. But, just like before, I will  carry all my fulfilled, unfulfilled and even my forgotten dreams in my heart as I take that last flight out. With tears in my eyes, I will watch the Qatar lights as they disappear from my sight. I can’t wait for that day. Oh, I just realized, I never stopped dreaming. Because going back home for good has always been my dream.

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