The God of My Even Ifs

Even if nothing is going as planned, you are still God.

Even if the world is spinning and there is no one who lends a hand, you are still God.

Even if it’s only you and me, you are still God.

Even if I have to deal with my heartache and messes, you are still God.

Even if I make so many mistakes, you are still the God who loves me.

Even if I don’t know what is next, I fully trust that you do.

And so in the midst of my heart break and disappointment, I hold on to the truth that I am loved by you and I know that all is well, not will be, but is well.

Hashtag Blessed

It’s engagement season once again (when is it ever not) and yesterday, my baby brother and I got into a passionate argument about one of social media’s most popular hashtags, blessed. 

We couldn’t help but roll our eyes over the latest child of God who got engaged to the man of her dreams in the best way possible and crediting it to her surrendering this desire to God. Again, nothing wrong with that but excuse me to think that God is God no matter what. God is not a puppet who will do what we please if we only do things right. Just because you surrendered all your dreams to God and did all the “right” things (and let me just say, we can never be truly right with God without Jesus, period) doesn’t mean you will get to marry the man of your dreams in a church filled with Christians.

Sometimes, you surrender to God and life doesn’t initially turn out the way that we want. I think this mentality, especially on social media, is a way of making others people feel less than because they don’t do things the way you do. It’s a holier than holy approach to dating and leaves church girls thinking that they deserve the better men because they have been “pure”. It’s an unspoken standard. The good church girl gets the guy because she’s “holy, pure” instead of simply acknowledging the fact that God is good and without our help, he blesses us with good things.

So what happens to those who refuse to make the same choices? Do they deserve the bottom of the pit? There’s no one solution to life and that includes relationships.

As a disclaimer, I used to be this annoying person on Facebook. Out of the enthusiasm of my youth, I was always the first one to post about how good my God was and while there was nothing wrong with it, there might have been a few screws loose about the theology behind it. I used to proclaim that He was good because I thought I was. I thought I deserved better treatment because I was hello, better than everyone.

While I think these people mean well (you know, believing the best), I couldn’t help but feel that they post mightier than mightier things simply because they think they are mightier above all because they did everything to the core. Like a rule book if you may say.

You see, the reality is, and I would like to begin with this is this: God is good no matter what. Whether or not we are good, clean, or whatnot, God is good and will bless us because of who He is and not because of what I have done.

I guess all this post is trying to say is this: you are loved even if you haven’t done things perfectly. You are cared for, you are not forgotten and God has given you new life and new opportunities every day. You are not counted out and you deserve a story of redemption as well. Don’t let your past count you out, fight for what God has given you and overcome.

This post is a highly sensitive topic for me and can’t wait to write more about it.

Today.

 

It’s a beautiful spring day in Los Angeles today and as I write those words, I couldn’t help but pinch myself because I am actually in Downtown Los Angeles and have been roaming around LA for about two months now.

It has also been two months since I hugged my family or even spent time listening to my dad’s cheesy music while I complain about how awful work is. One part of me relishes in the fact that I have so much free time in my hands without having to worry about deadlines or odd bosses but another part of me misses home. And by home, I don’t mean Manila, I mean home as in being with my brother and parents on a lazy Saturday while wondering if we should order pizza or not.

I am 28 years old and have never been apart from my parents except for this year. The transition has been quite difficult albeit a temporary one. For most people, I grew up sheltered and spoiled but to me, it was just another way of life. Being away from them, even for just a small amount of time, has made me grow more appreciative of them. My dad has always worked so hard in order to give my brother and I the best of the best and in a way, I felt guilty for wanting more than the life my dad worked so hard to give us.

Truth be told, I would have been happy with my life. It was hectic, I could never make ends meet, and I didn’t have as much freedom as I wanted but I was pretty much content with the life I had. I loved my family, loved our home, and I guess loved the fact that I didn’t have to make decisions for myself. It was a pampered (but not easy) life but I’ve made a decision and here I am, typing this up while I wait for life to unfold.

For most of you who have packed your bags and traveled to other cities, the revelations may be quite startling and this may be the reason why people travel: to discover who they are while at the same time appreciating home more. These past two months have been raw and defining.

For the first time in forever, my older sister asked me why I was so mad and angry at the world all the time. I wish I had answers but I didn’t. My childhood wasn’t perfect but my parents gave what they had. It was my only ideals of how the world should be that may have created my inner demons or the pressure of the world I was in, but there is no time for excuses now.

My husband says I should take it a day at a time and simply relax into the days. In all honesty, I have no idea how to relax. I have always been uptight and on the go so this whole new relaxing thing and spending days reading, catching buses, writing, working out, and exploring is a totally new ball game.

It’s as if I am shedding who I used to be and not only is it disarming but also scary. My old life was pristine and this one is so messy and uncertain and yet I am here now. And though my faith is shaking, my beliefs are still there. It may be taken into a new dimension but I know God doesn’t love me any less.

It’s a new adventure and a new undertaking. I may not know what tomorrow brings but I have faith that God will follow through and at this moment, my own spring is coming forth.

Of buses and buildings

As I was riding the bus today while I loaded up my iBook shelf, I couldn’t help but feel like my life has changed just a little bit.

Okay, maybe that’s underestimating it. It’s safe to say that since I got married: life has never quite been the same. Prior to getting married, people have always counseled me about the importance of understanding that life changes drastically once you tie the knot and for as reason I can’t seem to comprehend, I never once thought of it that way.

These days, I’m more of a wife more than anything. My days are filled up with making sure I don’t make decisions without consulting or even telling my husband about it. And for an independent woman, that is absolutely disarming. You see, I grew up not owning up to anyone (yes, even my parents), I’ve always been hardheaded and a little too persistent for my own good. It’s my way or the highway dear sir and it never quite occurred to me that you absolutely cannot act that way if you wish your marriage to work.

So here I am for the first time ever twiddling my thumbs wondering what’s next while trying to learn how to knit, to cook, and not blow up the washing machine while watching The Mindy Project for the nth time. It’s a different life and for once, there’s no deadlines.

Relaxation is a strange thing but it’s easy to get used to. And so is writing with no valid conclusion because it turns out well, in life you never know quite what the conclusion is so for now this is just a semi colon that serves as a pause for what’s next.

 

 

I was in the middle of an emotional breakdown towards the end of 2016.

It took me about three tries before I got to an opening sentence that was real and authentic. For ten years, I have submerged myself in an industry that was trained to see and highlight only the good. It didn’t matter what the issue was as long as the “good angle” was exposed to the world. I have always loved the storytelling angle of Public Relations but just like all things, I felt extremely deflated.

If you were kind enough to read through my blog entries in the previous year, you could sense the tension in between the words and the slight cry for help. I was ultimately ALWAYS on the edge. I was on a schedule that was inhumane and I absolutely detested the commute home. My optimistic nature was long gone and my husband felt the brunt of my anger, my temper, and my frustration. It was the biggest transition of my life and for the longest time, I felt like I couldn’t adapt.

I just didn’t like where I was, what I was doing, and who I was becoming. 

And the worst thing about it was I was doing my best to hide my frustration because it was wrong to feel negative emotions because I was supposed to feel #blessed. I refused to rant about my job, the processes, and life in general because that wasn’t something that I was supposed to do. For years, I have been trapped into how I should be, what I should do, and where I should be without realizing that I was blessed with this wonderful gift called freedom which meant that anytime that I didn’t like where I was, I could easily move towards another season.

However, out of fear and complacency, I chose to stay where I was and in the process of it lost myself, my beliefs, and even did things that I would have not done if I was in another state of mind. My time in one of the country’s most prestigious public relations agencies didn’t better me, it made me bitter. I resented where I was, who I was working with, and just turned into someone I didn’t like to be.

Just like Moana, it was as if the entire world was teaching me to just step out and do something instead of constantly complaining. I thought I didn’t have that luxury but I did, it included sacrifices but those sacrifices amounted to a peace that I haven’t had in awhile. Having peace doesn’t mean that all is well all the time, in fact it has been more challenging than easy and sometimes I just want to run back home but this is the life I chose for now and just like Moana, I should go and ride the waves until I get to where I am supposed to be.

It’s comforting to know that no matter what seasons change and soon, the leaves will turn and spring will come.

 

 

“Love doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been hard or that it won’t be. It just means that I found a stillness and bravery in myself with you. You make me brave and I will love you always and forever.” – Haley James Scott, One Tree Hill.

One of my favorite things to check on a daily basis is the On This Day app on Facebook. It’s not the most productive use of my time but it’s entertaining to see how much life has changed in just a year, more so in five.

I adore seeing how idealistically optimistic and cheery I was. There are days when I root for my younger self as if admiring her for believing the best in people and the world, in general.

There were days when I was engulfed by darkness and those posts from my former self pushed me to keep going. There were also days when I felt guilty because the bright little miss sunshine no longer was.

But today, as I see the sun is slowly peeking through, I find a sense of calm within me. My bright and optimistic self is still within me but she was held by anchor that superseded the bad times. She still firmly believed that there was good in the world but she was held secure by the realization that no matter how challenging life was, God is still good.

She no longer waited for circumstances to change but instead she praised God right where she was and in this darkness, she found joy that could no longer be replaced.

 

Sozo

Of the many interesting and relatable stories in the Bible, a favorite of mine is the story of the woman by the well. It’s tucked away safely in the 4th chapter of John and in a few lines, the story exemplifies why Jesus came and who He came for: the messy, the distraught, the broken, and the hopeless.

When all things are well: when we are whole, without blemish (at least when we think we are), when our circumstances are neat and tidy, it is so easy to know and proclaim that truth of who Jesus is. However, it is when we are in the dark that we understand the depth of that love. In church today, Pastor Paul spoke about the definition of the word “save” in Greek, it is defined as the act of restoration, to be made whole, and to be made well.

Christmas is often a time of family gatherings, togetherness, and gift giving. In the Philippines especially, this season is regarded as sacred and is the best time to reconcile with loved ones. But just like the rest of the world, the season can be a reminder of what we don’t have, what we’ve lost, or what has not yet come. The season can either bring you great joy or despair depending on the current season of your life.

However, tonight, I was reminded by an old favorite Christmas carol of the truth of the season and what we are truly celebrating. In a note shared quickly with friends during the service, I was reminded that Jesus came into this dark world in order to bring light and to save us.

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” – Colossians 1:13-14

“O, Holy Night” shared with us “the thrill of hope that came in the morning”. Morning doesn’t have to be literal, we can be in the darkest moment of our lives and the only way that we can witness the break of dawn is if Jesus comes to save us. This year could have brought you the darkest moments of your life but that doesn’t mean that all is without hope.

We know and it has been proven many times that God operates differently than the world. Joseph and Mary only expected a simple life, one without fuss or complications. I’m sure during their day they had plans of their own. And yet God interrupted their plans in the most insane way possible to bring forth the biggest responsibility of all: to raise the Messiah who will save the world.

We all had plans at the beginning of 2016 and I’m sure that right now, as we celebrate Christmas (or at least try to), we can see that life is nothing like what we expected and in this we find disappointment. We must always remember, however, that God works in ways we never quite expect. What may seem like a dead end situation could only be a gateway to the great life He has prepared and intended for us.

The woman by the well believed that she was hopeless so she settled for relationships that didn’t bring her satisfaction as the living water would. She thought she was broken beyond repair and yet the King of the world, the one who had every right to turn her away sought her out, sat down beside her, and uplifted her. The world was ashamed of that woman and yet in her darkest moment, Jesus came, touched her, and told her that she would never be the same again.

She was restored, healed, and made well all because of the Savior who chose to pick her up in the middle of her darkness. Jesus came into the world in a manger, the filthiest of all places, to remind us that He is not afraid of the messiest parts of our lives. In fact, this is what He came for and there’s nothing in our lives that He cannot touch including the messiest, darkest, and most hurtful places of our lives. Jesus meets us where we are, He meets us where we have tripped, scraped our knees, and hurt and in meeting us there, He picks us up again and reminds us that we were worth coming to Earth for. He reminds us that we are not rejected by Him and even if the ones closest to us have failed, He will never fail us.

That is the true meaning of Christmas: to know that we are loved, no matter what and situations are never hopeless. Sometimes in this dark and dreary world, the only hand we have is Jesus and ultimately, that is enough.

May your Christmas bring good cheer and love but most importantly, may it connect you to the One who loves you most and may you be reminded that no matter what happens externally, God loves you, He is with you, and the best is yet to come.

Where Feet May Fail

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

I have always been known as a young, independent woman who has always made decisions for myself and no one else. Because of this stubbornness, I have been known as selfish and impulsive but to me it’s always been me going after what I want because if I don’t, I won’t get there.

I am my own worst critic and from the moment I earned a scholarship in college, I’ve been my own version of supergirl. No matter what the cost, I aimed to become the best, have the best, and always be the one to win.

I made my own vision board at age 16 and didn’t look back since then. It’s true that I may have not won all specifically but I always had a plan. It was all going as planned up until this year.

This year, I got everything I wished for far earlier than expected and still I found myself in a huge, giant emotional mess. There was a void in my heart that could no longer be filled by achievements, applause, and being “the best.” I was miserable on a daily basis and always cried for a way out.

My life has always been carefully calculated with plans A to Z but then I realized that no matter how closely I stuck to the plan, God’s will for me will prevail.

I’ve never chosen anything uncomfortable for myself. It’s always been the easy way, having the best of both worlds, and instant gratification. I worked my butt off but I liked getting results immediately. I was a rat in the race and I wanted out.

In the deepest recesses of my heart, all I want is a quiet life where I can dedicate the best parts of myself to the ones I love the most. And sometimes, giving the best parts of myself means sacrificing for a future that I was ultimately dreamed of.

God is fine tuning my heart but taking away things that used to matter and stripping me of anything that doesn’t ultimately please him. My former self is being slowly stripped away and while the change is uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I see 2017 as a year of transition and as I step into the unknown, I trust God’a heart for He never has failed. My heart is alive with the possibilities and I seek Him above all, knowing that’s He’s already been in the future and all is well.

And yes, I finally got rid of the vision board.

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