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XOXO: A Confession

We all have stories we won’t ever tell.

But, have you ever imagine how liberating it would be once we let that story out into the open?

It was February 26, 2009. A year after my college graduation. I had to miss my nephew’s first birthday. It was my flight to Doha, Qatar. I left my beloved Philippines and put all my hopes in the bag. Hope for the brighter future.

I boarded the plane. My flight was luckily upgraded to business class. It was a comfortable and fancy journey. A good start for my brand new start. It was like an affirmation of what awaits me.

After nine hours, I finally reached my destination. I was greeted by my brother at the airport. The weather was amazing. It was winter. There were flowers everywhere. We headed to a famous shopping mall. I bought the essentials; toiletries, food, etc. After dinner, we went to this Venice, Italy – like spot. We rode the gondola. It was fun.

We headed home just in time for sleeping. Reality sets in. My brother’s place was like a slum. Tenants had to share the toilet and kitchen outside the compound. We lived on the second floor. So we had to go out of our house if we want to cook or use the toilet. It is cold during winter. Taking a shower is a challenge. It is still clear to me when I washed my clothes for the very first time. Our family is not rich but I don’t do my laundry. The washing machine in our compound is not automatic. I had to manually rinse and dry my clothes. I was crying while doing my laundry. But, I told myself to get used to it because I would have to deal with it for quite a while until we transfer into a more decent house. Right there and then I knew my journey won’t be easy and I was not even close to the end.

I came to Qatar on a tourist visa that is valid for a month. I had a hard time finding a job since I had no working experience. All I wanted that time was to work in an office and decorate my little cubicle just like what I see in movies. I sent my CV to every possible company, I ask referals from people. A week before my visa expires, I received an offer letter from a luxury department store. I was offered a sales job. It means I would have to let go of my goal to work in an office and do paper works; I will fold and arrange clothes instead. It was a make or break decision. Decline the offer and go home or accept the offer and stay. I have always wanted to give back to my family. But, I can’t swallow my pride. I may not be the best one in school but I did great during my school years. I studied in a good school. People believed in me. I believed in myself. My hopes were high.

I sighed. I cried. I prayed. I signed the job offer.

April 4, 2009. I removed my shoes. The pain was unbearable. I can’t even feel my legs. It was a gruesome first day of work. I never wanted to come back. A year later, I was still standing on the same spot, greeting customers, assisting them while trying on shoes and clothes. It went on for another year. I swallowed the last bit of pride, it took all my self-esteem. But, not my tiny bit of hope. Two years later, I decided to pursue my goal again. I tried to enter the corporate world. Luckily, I got a job offer. I immediately resigned from my job in sales. To my dismay, I was scammed. The offer isn’t legit. The company just closed. I had no idea why did they have to offer me a job if they knew that they are closing. Oh well. I was crushed. I watched my dreams die right before my very eyes. With nowhere to go. I just cried out loud. I was jobless for 2 months then I was told that if I will not find a new employer, my visa will be cancelled and I would have to go home. I had nothing. I wasn’t even done paying my loan from the bank. I didn’t know what to do. I only knew one thing; I can’t go home. I prayed for wisdom, for opportunities, for help. Then I got a call, the department store manager gave me an option. They will not cancel my visa if I will decide to work for them again. I tried my best to escaped that work and now I am being asked to come back. Maybe that is where I was really supposed to be. Maybe I should forget about my goals and just accept my fate. So I did. Same story. Same hardships. It turned all my self esteem into dust. I continued working without any goal but just to support my family and survive. I can’t even count how many shoes I have removed from people’s feet or how many hours I spent standing even if my knees were trembling and my feet were in pain. I lost count of the times when I had to hide in the fitting room, talk to myself in the mirror just to remind her that there is more to life only if I will give it a try.

By God’s grace, I was able to continue working there for two more years. Those years were hard. I was too proud to admit to my friends the kind of work that I do. Whenever I go on vacation in the Philippines, I would tell them that I work in the sales and marketing department. Only few knew my real work. I had to hide the truth from many people because I just can’t tell them. I was too scared to be judged, to be looked down, to be compared, to receive pity. I remember some of my friends in Doha would often invite me to go out during weekends but I always say no. I would tell them I had prior commitments or I was busy but the truth was I work on Fridays. I only get a day off in the middle of the week because the store is usually busy during the weekend. I often get invited to church activities and I couldn’t go even if I wanted to. I would make up excuses. I kept that as a secret for years. I lived with a fear in my heart that soon they will find out.

It was year 2013 when I had courage to try again. A friend referred me to a contracting company. I applied as an admin assistant and I got in. I permanently left my sales job. I will never forget the things it taught me. It was truly a humbling experience. It humbled me so much. But at the same time, it destroyed me. I was scarred. It left me strong but broken. I started having inferiority complex. I was overwhelmed with insecurities, self-pity, and self doubt. I always think that I deserve less so I always sell myself short. I never ask for more thinking that I deserve less. It still affects me up to this time. I know I have to set myself free.

Yes,  my experience didn’t turn out the way I pictured it to be when I left for Doha. I have never met a strong person with an easy past. I lost a part of myself in the process. But, I gained so much more. I learned to be strong when it was my only option. I learned to survive when there is nothing left to do. I learned that the effect the past has on me isn’t something that I want to carry to my future; even to my present. I want to let go of it. I want to empty myself so I can be filled again with so much greater things.

I have a habit of comparing myself to others. It is tiring. I don’t want it anymore. It’s tiring to please the world. It’s tiring to live a life of proving yourself to the world. It’s tiring to want less than what you deserve because you set limits to what you can achieve. It’s tiring to be trapped in a shell when you are meant to experience the world.

We all have stories we won’t ever tell but sometimes, sharing it no matter how ashamed or afraid you are can result to a beautiful thing called freedom.

Today, I am free. I am loved in spite and despite.

What’s your story?

XOXO,

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,

 

Courage, Dear Heart

Dear heart

I know you have always wanted to do it. It’s about time that you brave life and do what you have been praying for.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Dear heart

I know you have been holding on for so long. It’s about time you let go.

It might hurt but things will start to feel better eventually.

Dear heart

I know you are tired. You have all the right to feel that way.

You deserve a break. Go take it.

Dear heart

I know you are scared. Who is not anyway?

But sometimes, you have to do it afraid.

Dear heart

I know you are broken. I understand. You have been through a lot. I don’t even know where you got all those strength from.

It’s okay. Don’t you know that broken crayons still color. Broken hearts still beat. God gave you life and He will sustain you wherever you go.

Dear heart

I know you still want to try. I think that’s brave.

But, is that you’ll ever do? Just try?

Dear heart

I know you’re not doing this for yourself. Oh yes, that is selfless.

But, isn’t it time to put your dreams first? Stop putting them on the back burner.

Dear heart

I know you can still hang on. But, it doesn’t mean you have to.

Stop making yourself believe that you can do it. Because it’s okay to admit that you can’t.

Dear heart

It is okay to quit. That’s the only way to be free.

Do not lose yourself in the process of chasing dreams that aren’t even for you.

Dear heart

Let your dreams die so you can start dreaming again.

Life failed you a lot of times. You failed at life a lot of times. But, it only made you better and stronger. And now that you are stronger, you can conquer more of the world. You can dream bigger dreams. You can aspire greater heights. You can jump into the unknown. You can jump higher. You can jump. Believe me, you can. Do not be afraid. Do not hold back. Just go for it. How many times did you promise that to yourself? Isn’t it time to give yourself what it deserves?

Trust God more. He knows what He is doing. You passed His test of resilience. It’s okay to tell Him that you cannot do it anymore. He will understand. He always does. He is a God who has big dreams for you. Do not confine yourself in the tiny little world that you are in. There is more to life. See it. Experience it. God knows you deserve better — the best even. Don’t chase dreams. Chase God who has dreams for you.

All this time, God is fighting battles with and for you. Isn’t it enough assurance that He will fight for you whichever path you choose?

Dear heart

You are the happiness that you are longing for. You are the joy that have been missing for so long. You are that one thing that can fill the emptiness that you are feeling. You are the dreams that you are afraid to pursue. You are the strength that you need. You are the courage you never thought you have. You are the love you never received. You are loved. Because you know why, dear heart? All this time, God is inside you.

Now, go and let God take you to paradise. Let God heal you. Let God fix everything that is broken. All those years of pain, dead dreams and heartaches, they’re worth it. It’s about time to be happy. Just do it afraid. God will carry you through.

Dear heart

I can’t wait for you to be whole again. Chase life. See you in wonderland.

Courage, dear heart. Courage.

p.s.

I will always be proud of you. I know God is, too.

Cheering you on,

Happiness

That Friday was one of the most exhausting Fridays I’ve had so far since 2016 started. I went straight to an activity right after a sleepover; which isn’t really a sleepover because I didn’t sleep. I was half awake the whole night trying to put myself to sleep while trapped inside a blanket between my sisters and the next thing I know, the alarm was coming off. It was 5:15 AM and whether I like it or not and whether I was asleep or not, I have to wake up. So, I did.

My day started from there. Spent almost a day in a community activity then went straight to attend another activity which lasted until 9:00 PM. In short, my energy level is close to zero. I just sat down on the floor the entire time while waiting for my friends to finish so we could all attend our friends’ exhibition. I remember falling asleep while waiting. Slept inside the cab and woke up realizing that we couldn’t make it to the exhibition because we don’t have enough time. We decided to just go to a friend’s house and to just stay there until we regain a little amount of energy to go home. We were all tired and quite sad because things didn’t go as planned. Our restless selves ended up inside our friend’s living room. Each of us seated on almost every chair in the room not even saying a word.Until a bright idea popped in our heads, the next thing we know, we were ordering pizza. Once the pizza came, we were on beast mode. That was stress eating at its finest. I don’t know what we’re up to that time. All I know is that we are happy. We are exhausted but we are happy. And in that moment, that is all that matters. The room slowly started to be filled with laughter. We’re actually laughing over silly things. We laughed until our stomachs hurt. We laugh at ourselves. We laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore. Nothing is better than that.

happiness-is-priceless-motivational-quote

Then we realized, we haven’t done that in a while. It feels so good to be able to do it again. We all managed to go to our friends’ exhibition the following day. A lot of expensive jewelries and watches were showcased in the exhibition. Some cost way too much. Do people actually buy stuff as expensive as that? Yes. Because some people just have too much. Then, we realized how expensive their happiness could be. And, are they even happy? They seem like they have everything but do they, really?  They can buy all these fancy stuff. They can buy literally everything they want. They can buy ten times, or even more, of the things that we want. It would take us a few months or even years to buy something that they can buy in a snap. What a wonderful life, we thought. But, are they really happy? Do they go home happy to their million dollar home and to their fancy things in the house, lay in their comfortable bed, but do they really sleep smiling? I don’t judge wealthy people but it makes me think, are they really happy? Will I be happy if I was able to get everything I want? Then, I remember that night with friends. The laughter echoes in my head as we boomerang-ed ourselves. I remember the joy on our faces when the doorbell rang and the pizza delivery man appeared right before our very eyes. The twinkle in our eyes the moment we opened the pizza box and smelled the pizza that is waiting for us; and the sound of satisfaction and relief the moment we finished everything. That very moment I thought to myself, all of us in that room doesn’t have everything in life, some are even struggling, but we are happy. Happiness is indeed priceless. I pray that everybody can get a taste of happiness; the most genuine kind. The kind of happiness that brings joy in our hearts. <3

Prayer:

Lord, teach us to find happiness in simple things; Laughing with friends, accomplishing a simple task at work, laughing at our silly selves, smiles from our family, eating our favorite food, having a restful sleep. May we be able to radiate joy to others because of the joy that you planted in our hearts. May we be contented with what we have instead of feeling sorry for what we don’t have. May we have more priceless moments with the people we love.  May we find the real joy and happiness in You; the only source of joy, the only one who can fill the emptiness in us. Amen.

 

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

Birthday Love Tank

I guess as we grow older, birthdays become ordinary. You don’t get that special feeling as the day approaches because you know that birthdays are not different than any other day. Unlike when we were kids, we don’t excitedly wake up and expect to get the present that we have been begging our parents for or to blow and have our favorite chocolate cake for breakfast. We don’t expect people to be extra nice to us because it is our birthday. We don’t look forward in wearing our birthday dress at school. We just don’t get too excited about it anymore. It lost all its magic. Period.

On the morning of my birthday, I woke up not realizing that it’s my birthday. I dragged myself out of bed and unwillingly walked towards the bathroom to take a bath. I still don’t remember that it was my birthday; until my housemate told me that there is something on our doorsteps and he thinks it is for me. To my surprise, friends dropped by our house and left some surprises on our doorsteps.

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That is when it sinks in: It’s my birthday! 🙂 What I thought would be an ordinary day became more and more special every minute. Greetings from friends all over the world flooded my social media accounts. I see my face every time I open Facebook. Everyone sending out their love for me in any possible way. I couldn’t help but feel loved. Because I am an adult now, I don’t get to have a birthday off so I just spent most of my day in the office replying to every birthday greeting that comes my way.

I went straight to the church the moment I got off from work. Our company driver offered me a ride. I solemnly celebrated the Holy Mass alone. I thanked God for all the love and blessings that I have received that day. My heart is at peace. There is no better way to celebrate my day than to have a date with the one who gave me life.

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After my birthday date with God, I accompanied a friend to hunt for the perfect shoes for her mission trip to Africa. We went to Souq (Market) and my friend kept on telling everyone we talk to that it is my birthday. I received tons of greeting from strangers. It was still a little bit hot that night. I grabbed the nearest carton and use it as a fan to ease the uncomfortable feeling that I have due to sweating. Before we left the store, one of the guys who works there handed me a cute little pink fan as a birthday present. For some reasons, i was extra appreciative on that day. I guess it’s a conscious effort to be happy. After finding the perfect pair of shoes, we went straight to the birthday dinner that my friends arranged for me. We already passed the stage of birthday surprises but friends still managed to surprise me in their smallest ways. We picked two of our friends from their house, when they got in the taxi they immediately handed me a bouquet of flowers and greeted me a happy birthday. When we got into the restaurant and handed the taxi driver the money for our taxi fare, he refused to get it. “You don’t need to pay because it’s your birthday. Happy Birthday. Have a nice life. God bless you!” he said. My heart melted. Faith to humanity restored! How can someone who earns a little give a portion of what he has to a stranger just because it is her birthday? My heart is smiling. I didn’t accept his gift but I made sure to let him know that I appreciate it a lot. “God bless you!”; I told him before we shut the taxi door close. I mean it. May God bless the selfless people.

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The birthday dinner was awesome as always. It wasn’t an extravagant celebration but sharing that moment with your family away from home made it extra special. We just talked about life, laughed at life over pinakbet, lechong kawali and sisig. I don’t know what did I do to deserve all the amazing people in my life. I must have done something right to deserve all the love. But, one thing is for sure, God loves me so He blessed me with everyone/everything I have in my life right now. I felt so loved; not just because it’s my birthday but because I truly am. I am God’s beloved. I am God’s masterpiece.

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Birthday 2015.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of life. May everything I do bring glory to you. Thank You, family and friends, for the love. <3

“I AM”

“Lord, in times of doubt, please assure me.” I uttered while Iying in bed last night. Just like the other days, I felt a little bit down and quite doubtful last night. I don’t know if I am just plain tired and unmotivated but little voices in my head are whispering some words of doubts; Telling me that the things on my plate right now are too much for me to handle. As much as I don’t want to, they won. In the middle of my battle with the little voices and while I was staring blankly at the ceiling, my alarm went off. “Prayer Time”, it says. I planned to click on the snooze button because I felt like I am not in the mood for prayer. My concentration wasn’t at its best at that moment. But then, I reminded myself about the commitment I made with the Lord and my prayer buddy. I managed to sit; reached for the cross on my bed side table that I usually hold whenever I pray and took a hold of Our Daily Bread. I remember someone telling us that when we pray, we should give God the time to talk to us, to answer our prayer/questions. “Talk to me God. Tell me what you want me to know.”, I said and I had a moment of silence before I proceeded with my prayer, I opened Our Daily Bread. I was literally in tears as I read the reading for that day.

Even when we question our ability to do what God asked us to do, He can be trusted. Our shortcomings are less important than God’s sufficiency. When we ask, “Who am I?” we can remember that God said “I AM”. – Jennifer Benson Schuldt

During the time that I was questioning my effectiveness and adequacy, God came in to the rescue. God reminded me of my faith that will help me to do everything that He asks me to do. Because He will go with me wherever He sends me. It is just very comforting to know that God is fighting my battles with me. Life says “You can’t!”; I say “Bring it on!”. His grace is sufficient. His embrace is all I need. God is truly enough for me.

I ended my prayer. I smiled to God and I knew He smiled back at me. 😀

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.

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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