Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Speaking of Cinderella....

Yesterday I was channel-surfing and guess what was showing on Disney channel? Cinderella! I haven't seen that cartoon for decades, and on the very day that I mentioned it in my blog, the cable network picked up my thoughts... I couldn't watch the entire time, though, as I was not as much of a mouse-lover as Disney's Cinderella was.

On the same day, too, our househelper/ angel of 11 years announced that she's moving on, getting married, leaving us... So maybe I will turn into Cinderella soon! There's no way we can find someone like her. Now, where's my broom? (I said "broom". Not "groom".)

Anyways, I would like to thank Amats and Daisy for my photos. In this shot taken outside the reception venue, bride and groom Melissa and Paul can be partially seen in the background. I still have to get a photo of the couple from other people's cameras for posting here.

Last Sunday, after having me as Slave for the Day (I'm exaggerating, they're not that demanding, and I'm not that kind...), Luigi and Miko kissed me goodbye. Before stepping out the door, 8-year old Luigi said, "Bye Tita Ella! I hope you get married soon!"

"Why did you say that?" I asked, taken by surprise.

"Because I want you to have a fun family!" my nephew said, beaming.

"But you're my fun family!" I insisted.

"Nooo, another family!" came the reply.

I was shaking my head as their family car backed up our narrow street. Kids say the weirdest things!

Mag-dilang anghel sana si Luis Gabriel. :-)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Girls Get It!

On normal days, I wear jeans, flip-flops, and T-shirts. One night, when my friends Paul and Melissa were to tie the knot, my fairy godmother and her assistants at the Lavender & Lace Salon decided to whip some magic powder, and I became... CinderELLA!

The very next day, I was back to work. As if nothing happened. And the people around me heaved a sigh of relief.

I have pictures to prove it though. Lingkod brothers and sisters, in formal wear.

Alternative Career 1: Tour Guide

I still have those days when I ask myself what I will be someday and believe me, the list grows longer the more I put my mind into it!

Yesterday I had the chance to play tour guide to some kids and an Australian priest around one of my favorite spots on earth - the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. We went on a walking tour from the Oblation, through the Admin building; and then the sprawling ampitheater; then we played cards and had a picnic at the lagoon (where they climbed trees and dipped their feet on the murky waters, totally without prodding from me); then we walked down University Avenue past the tennis court and the Engineering building to the UP chapel which boasts of the work of four national artists, and I pointed out to them Delaney Hall where, as a Christian Life Series participant of Christ's Youth in Action, I was baptized in the Spirit in 1993.

We resumed walking, past the dormitories, the Film Center, the Carillon, the UP Theater, and the Bahay ng Alumni, where I pointed out to them the Chocolate Kiss Cafe but could not afford to treat them there; and we walked further towards the famous fishball stand along Ylanan Road where we had chicken balls, squidballs, and fishballs; then we walked the rest of the way, with me telling them of news stories of corpses being found along the grassy lands that surrounded us, and I pointed out to them the track oval where I preferred to do my walking, then at last we reached Commonwealth Ave., where we took the jeepney ride home. It was a fun and simple way to celebrate Jobelle and Hyvy's respective birthdays.

I remembered how much I've missed U.P. I studied there for eight years of my life - from Business Economics to Law - and went back for Lingkod prayer meetings for several years afterwards, that there is a beautiful memory at every corner for me.

I wonder if I could go back to pursue Alternative Career No. 2: Creative Writing and No. 3: Music, major in Piano.

Maybe I should go back to work.

A Merry Month of May

I have been offline for a week, but guess what I've been busy with...

A conference in Cebu with Lingkod and CYA leaders...

A wedding in the barkada and Lingkod... and...

A picnic in UP with the Banal na Puso kids and Fr. Brian!

I need to sort out my inboxes first before I can write about all these.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Now Playing: Where Does the Time Go?

Had dinner with law school blockmates because Chip is in town from New York. It was very interesting to see where we’ve been scattered seven years after our graduation. We have a litigator who’s working in-house as a corporate lawyer and who feels like she’s missing out on the real practice of law. We have a tax lawyer who’s been in the same firm ever since she started working, but whom we all predicted would be good at tax anyway so bored or not, she’s kind of trapped as she found her niche early on. We have a corporate securities lawyer who misses law firm life, but wants to go on business. And we have an ex-corporate lawyer, ex-court attorney who is busy doing administrative work for a foundation, and who should have been voted as The Person Least Likely to End up in Her Present Job.

We’ve been through a lot in law school, and we know we’d always be there for each other no matter how diverse the paths that we’ve taken.

While driving home, I heard this on the radio. The song stuck. I’m having the other kind of LSS – the Last Song Syndrome. This one’s for A-’99, the coolest block to grace Malcolm Hall.

Where Does the Time Go?
Julia Fordham - (guest Vox John O'kane)
Lyrics Provided by

If I could have a pound for every moment I've spent worrying
On all the little things in life that frankly there's no hurrying
Then I would be a rich girl I wanna be a rich girl soon
But going at this rate I think that it might take
Till there's life on the moon...

Where does the time go? Does anyone know?
Where does the time go? Does anyone know?
Where does the time go? Does anyone know?

If I could have a sneak preview to all the earthly reasons
It takes to make the theme of time then I'd be a girl for all seasons
And I wouldn't have to worry I wouldn't have to worry oh no no no
It just seems kind of funny that there's some things I'll just never know

Like where does the time go? Does anyone know?
Where does the time go? Does anyone know?
Where does the time go? Does anyone know?

We were only just saying just the other day
How it's really amazing how the days just seem to slip away
And it's right before my very own eyes
Oh there's some things that we'll never, we'll never know, like

Where does the time go? Where does the time go? Does anyone know?
Tell me where does the time go? Tell me where does it go?
There's some things we'll never know

If I could have a pound for every moment I've spent worrying
On all the little things in life that frankly there's no hurrying
Then I would be a rich girl and I wanna be a rich girl soon
But going at this rate I think that it might take
Till there's life on the moon...

Oh where does the time go? Does anyone know?
Oh where does the time go? Does anyone know?
Oh tell me where does the time go?
Where does the time go?

I've been counting all my days, I've been counting all my nights
Tell me where does it go?
Where, where, where, where, where does it go?
The time go, the time go, the time go
Where, where, where, where does it go?
Does anyone know?

I've been counting all my days, I've been counting all my nights
Till I can be with you

Monday, May 22, 2006

Life in the Spirit for the Youth

Last Saturday, I felt God’s mighty presence at a little chapel on the other side of Commonwealth Avenue, called Banal na Puso Chapel. I was asked to give a sharing that would encourage the children to accept God’s healing love more concretely. I spent a sleepless night trying to come up with something inspiring to say. All I found was that that group of children inspired me, not the other way around.

They were members of the youth choir and the Legion of Mary. They spent almost the entire summer at the chapel – attending Bible study, serving at Mass, and even cleaning up the chapel afterwards. Those were things I did not spend a single minute on when I was their age. What could I say that could inspire them more?

Fr. Brian and Ate Sallie said I could share about how the Holy Spirit had worked in my life, specifically on areas where I had felt healing. Given what I had been going through in my spiritual life, that posed a huge challenge for me. I searched for a way to say with conviction that God wipes the tears from our eyes, because at the back of my mind I was thinking, “But kids, the tears would come back because healing is a very looong process, especially if we are stubborn....” That hardly sounded encouraging.

My time to speak came and I stood up, notes in hand, amidst the cheering of 10-19 year olds, most of whom were expecting I would be as lively as I had been during previous visits. It was not one of my greatest talks. I forgot many things in my outline, conscious as I was of the limited time and the even more limited attention span of my energetic audience. I said the prayer that had never failed me ever since my first talk several years back, “Lord, let me be Your messenger. Let the words that would come out of my mouth be Your words alone. Make me forget to say anything that You do not want me to say at this time.

I was glad to sit down afterwards and to observe the rest of the session. After eating our snacks and singing some more songs, Fr. Brian, Fr. Steve and Fr. Geoffrey prayed over the kids, numbering almost 40. I had been a renewed Christian for 13 years but it was my first time to witness the praying over session for kids, mostly in their pre-teens. While waiting for their turn, the little angels waited prayerfully and hopefully. They approached the priests with anticipation in their faces. They cried buckets of tears. And then the rain fell down on that humid morning. One child said afterwards that it must be God’s blessing raining down upon us.

After the prayover session, some kids shared their experiences. I translated for Fr. Brian and Fr. Geoffrey. It was heartwarming to listen to stories of love, of overwhelming feelings at being forgiven by their Heavenly Father, of belonging to Someone who had never let them down all their lives. One boy in particular said something that moved me. He was very small for an 11-year old, and the other kids often teased him for his height. He got the mike but had to move a few steps higher, closer to the altar, so that all of us could see him. He simply said that his cousins were blaming him for his grandmother’s illness. Tearfully, he said that while he was being prayed over, he asked God to transfer his grandma’s illness to him, so that she wouldn’t suffer anymore. I had to stop translating in mid-sentence because I fought back tears. What a selfless, innocent heart this boy had! And then he said that he forgave all those who had hurt him, even if they didn't forgive him for all the mischief he had done in the past.

One by one, the kids shared stories with similar themes. They knew about laying down their lives for their loved ones. They knew about forgiving those who had hurt them, even if they were not given the same treatment. They knew about hurt, persecution, and loss. Yet what shone through was the love and mercy of God. Some of them received the gifts of the Holy Spirit immediately, speaking in tongues and seeing visions. Another child, who seemed to be one of the naughtiest boys of them all, said that He heard God telling him in Tagalog, “Today is a new day. Forget the past. I’m giving you a chance to start over.” And he sobbed while telling his friends that he would change from then on, that he would become a better person.

It was way past lunchtime and yet once started, the kids couldn’t be stopped. Having had no sleep and no breakfast (except the coffee which the teenagers, my friends, prepared for me), my stomach should have been grumbling, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t want to leave, if only I could stay there and absorb more of that bond of love, shared between God and His children. Jesus truly showed me how to enter heaven, to be as simple- and single-hearted as the little children.

I got to talk to Fr. Steve afterwards and we were simply amazed, even if it was not our first time to conduct LSS, and agreed that God was truly at work there, and I added that I wished I could see the same phenomenon again, in teenagers, professionals, and adults. What happened took place because the children’s hearts were already open to the Holy Spirit. They already had a personal relationship with Jesus from attending all those activities at the Banal na Puso chapel.

Fr. Brian was so struck in what he saw and heard that he incorporated it into his homily the next day at our parish, across Commonwealth, where middle-class subdivision owners lived, where the LSS we conducted last year hardly had any parishioners as participants.

God truly meets us where we are at. Seeing how powerfully the Holy Spirit manifested Himself yesterday at the youth of BnP, I thought it must be because their hearts were turned to God completely. It didn’t matter that their sharers were flawed and groped for words. It didn’t matter that the sound system didn’t work properly (an old enemy trick which had already been proven ineffective anyway!). The Spirit could move freely, for there was space for Him in the hearts of the children.

Would that cynical grownups could rid our hearts of some baggage, maybe we could hear God speaking to us more clearly. And we could respond more freely.

My life in the Spirit has been continuously renewed by seeing God at work in the lives of others. I am thankful that it is God who is at work, and I am just a witness to His power and His love.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I am estopped from asserting some of my rights now, because previously I made representations that I was okay with everything. Now that I've realized that I'm not totally okay, I cannot take back my word and suddenly stop people dead on their tracks. It is no longer equitable for me to insist that I be heard. As far as my friends are concerned, it was as if I had already waived my rights.

Perhaps I’m talking Greek once again. Let me just explain the doctrine that I’m using, lest you think I misspelled a word in my first sentence.

Wikipedia states that “estoppel or estoppel in pais is … the principle by which a party who knows or should know the truth is absolutely precluded, both at law and in equity, from denying, or asserting the contrary of, any material fact which, by his words or conduct, affirmative or negative, intentionally or through culpable negligence, he has induced another, who was excusably ignorant of the true facts and who had a right to rely upon such words or conduct, to believe and act upon them thereby, as a consequence reasonably to be anticipated, changing his position in such a way that he would suffer injury if such denial or contrary assertion was allowed.” 28 Am Jur 2d Estoppel and Waiver § 28

Art. 1431 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides:

Through estoppel an admission or representation is rendered conclusive upon the person making it, and cannot be denied or disproved as against the person relying thereon."

3. And in ROBLETT INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION v. COURT OF APPEALS and CONTRACTORS EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, G. R. No. 116682 (January 2, 1997), the Supreme Court of the Philippines held:

Furthermore, estoppel in pais arises when one, by his acts, representations or admissions, or by his own silence when he ought to speak out, intentionally or through culpable negligence, induces another to believe certain facts to exist and such other rightfully relies and acts on such belief, so that he will be prejudiced if the former is permitted to deny the existence of such facts." [7] Panay Electric Co. v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 81939, 29 June 1989, 174 SCRA 500.

The rest of the world, however, has to stay “ignorant of the true facts” through my fault and my fault alone. I am estopped. My hands are tied. I have to forever hold my peace. I have to check my thoughts.

Maybe I should go back to clerking for the courts. I seem to be better at seeing justice be upheld for others than for my own heart.

As a result, this is now my psalm:

1: Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.
2: I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

4: More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?
5: O God, thou knowest my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from thee.
6: Let not those who hope in thee be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek thee be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
7: For it is for thy sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face.
8: I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother's sons.

For zeal for thy house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me.
10: When I humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
11: When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.
12: I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.
13: But as for me, my prayer is to thee, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of thy steadfast love answer me. With thy faithful help
14: rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.
15: Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.
16: Answer me, O LORD, for thy steadfast love is good; according to thy abundant mercy, turn to me.
17: Hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in distress, make haste to answer me.
18: Draw near to me, redeem me, set me free because of my enemies!
19: Thou knowest my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to thee.
20: Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
21: They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

29: But I am afflicted and in pain; let thy salvation, O God, set me on high!

30: I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31: This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32: Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33: For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
34: Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves therein.
35: For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; and his servants shall dwell there and possess it;
36: the children of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Now Playing: Empty Space

It was as if God could see right through me… I listened to this song as well as Stephen Curtis Chapman’s “I Will be Here” over and over today, like a broken record.

Empty Space
Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J.
Fr. Johnny Go, S.J.
Performed by
Bukas Palad in the album “God of Silence”; Originally recorded by Jose Mari Chan in Jesuit Music Ministry’s “Something More: Songs for Skeptics

There's an empty space in your distant gaze,
and you may look away, the void still stays.
There's a hollow part in your weary heart,
and though you try again, no smile can hide your pain.

Fear not the night within.
That's where My light begins,
so you may one day see My face.
Only I can fill your days.

There's a raging storm in your broken soul,
and how you wish away your troubled days.
There's an open door at your deepest core,
and though you lose your way you'll still come home someday.

Fear not the noise within,
that's where My voice begins,
so you may one day hear My song.
Only I can still your storms.

There's an empty room, there's a hidden wound:
this heart that burns for you, if only you knew.
You're the missing part in My yearning heart,
and I will stay around until the day you're found

May this, My whispered song,
lead you to come back home
till we're no longer far apart.
Then will your laughter fill My heart.


There are beautiful patterns in the world that we ought to repeat for the joy and light that they bring. On the other hand, there are also painful patterns that we would rather go through life without, but which decide to haunt us, surprise us, and repeatedly test us.

I have one such pattern that I’ve been living out in excruciating detail since I was a child. I have been repeating this scenario over and over again for decades now, involving different people yet resulting in the same painful relationships for me.

Psychologists and psycho-spiritual therapists could probably offer a proper name for what I’m going through, and they could even probably help me to avoid this pattern, but I haven’t succeeded in opening up to any of them. They could hold the key to the start of my healing process, but I have not gone to the experts yet on this one. I am afraid it just might open a Pandora’s box of memories.

The slight difference in my personal pattern is, now that I have a personal relationship with Christ, I know that He is working in my life and that I am not going around in circles anymore. He is taking me “from one degree of glory to another”, in the form of a spiral that is going higher and higher, bringing me closer to the Father.

Even with this knowledge, however, “it” happened again. I thought that I had gotten too old for this and that I had already learned the lesson. How I wish I had the power to put my life on freeze frame, just to buy some breathing space and allow me to think. I am only human, however, and so I have to make decisions everyday regarding my response to the situation. I have to live in this little drama again.

For as long as I can remember, I have always thought that this situation was asking me “to do the right thing”. Therefore, all this time, I have been trying to do just that, to consider other people’s feelings as priority, even if in the process I end up ignoring my own.

Sr. Susay, a gift in this time of confusion, offered an observation, and that is that I like to worry about the feelings of the people around me, thinking that I was responsible even for that, because I was programmed to never to wish evil or cause hurt or, que horror, to dare displease anyone. This process does not give value to my own heart. She asked me to try listening to my heart first, not judging or editing all the emotions that are going on there, and then trust that the Lord would take care of the rest.

I have always thought that it was selfish, immature, and utterly wrong to put my own hurts above other people’s, especially those whom I cared deeply for. But I will try a different approach now. Maybe this would put an end to this recurring nightmare. If all the world were a stage, then I had been saying the wrong lines for my part.

May this be the last pain that this surreal movie script makes me suffer, and these the last lines that I write about it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Quote for the Day, or the Year, or the Lifetime

"Other desires might clamour strongly and fiercely nearer the surface of her nature, but she knew now that down in the core of her own being she was so shaped that nothing could fit, fill, or satisfy her heart but He himself.

'Nothing else really matters,' she said to herself, 'only to love Him and to do what He tells me. I don't know quite why it should be so, but it is. All the time it is suffering to love and sorrow to love, but it is so lovely to love Him in spite of this, and if I should cease to do so, I should cease to exist.'"

-- Hannah Hurnard -- Hinds' Feet On High Places, p. 152

Happy Mothers' Day!  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Can't We be U.S. President?

David Letterman's Top Ten reasons why there couldn't be a Filipino-American U.S. President:

10. White House is not big enough for in-laws and extended relatives.

9. Not enough parking spaces at White House for 2 Honda Civics, Toyota Celica, 1985 Mercedes BenzDiesel, BMW and MPV (My Pinoy Van).

8. Dignitaries generally intimidated by eating with fingers at State dinners.

7 . Too many dining rooms in the White House--where will they put the Last Supper picture?

6 . White House walls not big enough to hold giant wooden spoon and fork.

5 . Secret Service Staff won't respond to "psssst, psssst."

4. Secret Service Staff uncomfortable driving presidential car with Rosary hanging on the rear view mirror or the statuette of Santo Nino on the dashboard.

3. No budget allocation to purchase karaoke machines in every White House room.

2 . State Dinners do not allow "Take Home"


1. AIR FORCE ONE does not allow overweight balikbayan boxes!

Hay I have to agree!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mission: Impossible

Mission:  Impossible

This is not a review of the film starring new dad Tom Cruise.  I find that I can’t write much about it that wouldn’t spoil the suspense of those who are planning to watch it.  It was entertaining stuff, genuinely Hollywood in every stunt and close-up, so go ahead and watch it.

It was while watching the movie yesterday that I had some reflections regarding people who go on mission, because I entered the movie house carrying some questions that my friends and I had been asking of God the past week.

Honestly, none of us have been commissioned to single-handedly save the world.  We are not highly-trained secret agents who can slide down skyscrapers while sharp-shooting enemy guards.  Our respective missions seem possible compared to what Tom Cruise, Keri Russell, and the other IMF agents had to go through in the film.  Yet, at some point we had felt the seeming impossibility of our tasks.  

I was struck by the second to the last sentence that was included in every summary of an Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent’s mission:  “Your mission, should you wish to accept it, is to--”, and it goes on to state in clear and unequivocal terms what the mission is, so that the agent can make a quick decision of whether or not to accept it.  Then, true to the top-secret nature of each mission they are called to do, the last sentence always says, “This message will self-destruct in five seconds”.

In this regard, I can say that IMF agents and God’s servants are given the same option, for we have all been called by something like– “Your mission, should you wish to accept it, is to lead the Music Ministry”.  IMF agents are not given so much time as we’ve had to discern, though.  They are even given less time to complain, procrastinate, or quit.  Once they’ve accepted the mission, they go at it with all their might, until they’ve completed what they’ve agreed to do.  They no longer ask, “Why me?”  At least, not in the movie.  

They know the costs of being IMF agents.  They can’t hold down normal relationships because in doing so, they put their lovedones’ safety at risk.  From the time of Superman, to Spiderman, to Ethan (Hunt), the leading ladies have always been favorite hostages of villains.  In order to hurt the heroes, their enemies go straight to the heart, and always hurt their particular beloved.  It makes sense, and so heroes have had to make tough choices, since time immemorial.  This is nothing new (but MI3 makes a big deal about this… ‘nuff said.).

Though not all missionaries or servants are called to give up special relationships, there are other costs of discipleship.  Persecution, frustration, and exhaustion are just some of the hardships that they go through. St. Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians presented one of the strangest resumes of all time:

23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.
27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.  (2 Co 11:23-30)

Yet, I dare say this – neither St. Paul nor I, nor any who consider themselves as servants of God, were forced into this.  We chose to stay and fulfill our mission.  Sometimes we have to be reminded of Scripture in order to stop complaining and being tempted to take back our commitment.  We knew there would be consequences.  We should be able to handle them more maturely.  Perhaps because I had been so confused lately, of consequences of my previous service (not the present one), I was reminded through a movie of what mission is all about.

Furthermore, and this should take away all arguments to the contrary, His followers should take the example of Jesus in today’s Gospel, from John 10.  He said:

17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. 8 This command I have received from my Father."

Friends, brothers and sisters, like St. Paul and like our Lord Jesus, we chose to accept our mission.  We were not forced into this.  Let us act with freedom and with gratitude for being called into our service.  Let us pray for one another, but keep fighting the good fight of faith.  For with the Lord, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I am holy. I am perfect. I am not!

Times like these, I can see concretely why the title of this blog is still “Lessons in Waiting”. I am far from done with learning to be patient. The worst subject of all is that which is entitled “Being Patient with Myself”.

We had bible sharing this morning at the office (one of the many blessings of working in Lingkod!). We reflected on the paralytic who was healed by Jesus through the perseverance of his four friends (from Mark 2:1-12). They brought him close to Jesus by opening up the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching, and lowering the paralytic’s mat from above. We were struck by Jesus’ instructions towards the paralytic, after telling him that his sins were forgiven - “rise, pick up your mat and go home”. We were even more struck at how the healed man’s obedience glorified the Lord, as he obeyed in full view of an amazed crowd. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this." (v. 12).

It was a good reminder that obedience to God, and following His instructions to the letter, would result in others being astounded and in Him being glorified. That is the mission of my life, to be an instrument so that others may see God’s glory. The hope I learned, after the session, was to try my best to live my life as a disciple in a way that would make the witnesses say that they had never seen anything like that.

My deeper reflection was that I was still hesitating to obey the Lord. I was the paralytic who was already healed through the love, prayers, support and encouragement of more than just four people, by being forgiven by the Lord Jesus and hearing His voice. I should have stopped acting like I was still paralyzed right then and there. I should have stood up, picked up my mat (something I was bound to for a very long time), and gone home, probably to preach the good news of salvation which I personally heard and experienced from the Lord.

Instead I still am sick and in need of people to carry me through storms that paralyze me. As I strive for holiness and perfection in this world, I find myself failing again and again. I am first to blame myself for falling.

Maybe for me getting up from paralyzing pain is not that easy, and I should learn to go through the process of healing. Last night was a first step towards it. Hope I learn not to aggravate the situation by poking on the wound, but to be still while the Lord takes the hurts away, one by one.

It has been a long time and I am tired of carrying this load. I thought I was over these issues, but they have the habit of coming back. This time, I hope to yield and be still before my God so I could hear His clear instructions. I know this pain is purposeful, for nothing is ever wasted in His service.

If only I were healed already! Oh impatient one, learn to wait….

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Closure

Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31b-32, NAB)

There was something that happened to me a few years ago that I tried to wipe out from my memory for it brought me so much anger, bitterness, and resentment. I felt I was unjustly treated and unfairly depicted. It challenged me to trust that the God who called me to give my life to Him knew the truth, and to hold on to that hope despite the many attacks on my confidence.

The only way to set things right, I believed, was to clarify the issues with the person involved, but I found the other party unwilling to cooperate. I had not stayed as angry at someone as I did then, for I thought my very motives for serving God were misinterpreted, and the very challenges that I enumerated before saying “yes” to God were highlighted.

I wrote pages after pages of anguished prayer to God then, asking Him to sustain me for I was ready to give up, and in fact I tried to. But He and my leaders would have none of it. I was asked to endure the pain for the sake of my brothers and sisters, and to trust that someday I would understand why I had to go through that period of doubt and despair.

At that time, I had to seek the truth in my heart. If I knew the truth then no lie could dispute that, even if I could not defend myself, for there was no venue to do so. Others helped in lifting me up so I was able to finish my term and to even forgive, without the other person explicitly asking me to.

Since then I had not thought much about that incident, as I did not want to be tempted to speak against others and thus compound the problem. But little did I know that my heart was yearning for the truth. I was only covering up the pain with busyness but it mattered to me, for my own healing and closure, that the other person would make peace with me.

So I praise and thank God tonight because He had heard my prayers. The other person, who is really Jesus’ disciple, asked that we talk about the events of the past that led to so much confusion and misunderstanding, not only for us but for the people around us as well. We both knew that we simply set the matter aside and attempted to move on, but could still feel the tension in the air between us.

Finally, we were able to sit down and talk. I asked my support group of sisters to intercede because I did not want to say anything that I didn’t need to say; neither did I want to hold anything back if it would be in the service of the truth.

Only by God’s grace could such honesty be possible! There were awkward moments, and times when we both had to hold back tears, but we were able to sift the truth from all the lies that caused the trouble in the first place. It was unbelievable to realize that we had hurt each other and our brothers and sisters based on those lies. We had human weaknesses and the Enemy abused them in order to make us believe the worst in each other; to sow doubt, dissent, disappointment, dissatisfaction, depression and despair. He did not succeed because we were able to survive, and so did the rest of the community, from that attack.

I had known this person for many years but I think that today, finally, we became friends. It was such a relief to be free from those ill-feelings that I had held on to for too long. The witnesses to our past rift and the recent peace process rejoiced with us at the goodness of the Lord, for even after we thought we had already learned our individual lessons, He allowed us to repair our broken relationship and made us realize the truth – that His love is bigger than all the petty concerns that we nitpicked on before. He made us see that those whom He called, and those who followed that call through prayer and service, He would never abandon.

Tomorrow is a new day. This experience made me see how God knows the deepest pains that I try to hide, and how He could set me free just by trusting in Him and obeying His commandments. God’s timing might seem late but it always is on time. His ways might be unfathomable but they are always perfect. I stand amazed at His mercy and goodness!