When you can’t find JOY

For God is with us, even in times of brokenness, of solitude, of sadness. In fact, He is closer than ever.

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Since my last post about sadness, I felt a prod from the heart to re-watch Inside Out. For me, Inside Out is not just another good-to-see animated movie – it speaks to the heart and establishes a fact that our emotions, be it joy, anger, disgust, fear and sadness are part of who we really are. We are wired by God with different personalities, and that includes our sometimes complex emotions.

The portion where my tears welled up while watching the movie is the moment when Joy finally recognizes that Sadness is also a part of Riley (the character depicting all of us) – that Riley cannot always deny the surging pain and frustration inside her. Life is not everyday bliss. We have to embrace the fact that inside all of us resides our version of sadness, and fear, disgust and anger. OK, I also cried too when Bingbong, Riley’s imaginary friend, disappeared like dust. It gave me the same chills like how half of the Avengers turned into dust in that great “Thanos Snap”

When you can't find Joy

While I am preparing for a message outline for church, I had a chance to read the book of Job in one sweep. Yes, all 42 chapters in one sitting. I want to see the big picture how a righteous man, who fears and Lord and is full of integrity – descriptions coming directly from God himself (verses Job 1:8, 2:3), fared when all else were taken before him. I want to see how he managed his emotions amidst his depressing situation. Here are the things that I discovered when you cannot seem to find JOY.

  1. Accept the fact that even in becoming a Christian, you will still face sufferings.

This is a hard truth to digest. Many are convinced with the idea that one you accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, life’s challenges will soon be gone. This is a shallow foundation to stand upon, and is obviously not true. If Jesus, the author of salvation, was not spared from sufferings, what makes us think we will be exempted? Isn’t the Bible clear in saying that “a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). We are not exempted. Job was a righteous person, but He did suffer. No one is like Job. He was God’s “trophy” back then, but still, he mourned, and wept and lost a lot of things. So we are not exempt from life’s bitter servings. By accepting this fact, you will have a better understanding of life.

  1. People will mistreat, accuse or misunderstand you. Yes, even your closest friends.

Job, coated with boils, blisters and wounds, was accompanied by his closest friends. But their presence didn’t even soothe the pain he felt, but instead added insult to the wounds that he has, when he was accused of sins he didn’t even commit. God has punished him for an unconfessed sin, they say. Surely God has a reason for all his misfortunes, as God’s justice is always in effect. But Job clung to his innocence, and claimed he didn’t do anything wrong deserving of his sufferings. They had a heated argument – which did not help the person in pain. This is so disheartening, yet this is a fact. There will be people who will not empathize with you. There will be people who will not understand you. But you have the choice not to wear the sandals they are forcing you to wear. As long as you know you are walking within the circle of God’s will, though people do not understand what you’re going through, just tell yourself, “bakit ako matatakot?”

  1. Cling onto hope – it will keep you strong.

Job was very resilient. But it doesn’t mean he is beyond breaking. And one good observation in his narrative is the hope he has in his Savior. In Job 19:25-27 it says:

25 I know that my redeemer lives,

    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,

    yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him

    with my own eyes—I, and not another.

    How my heart yearns within me!

It is no different with the Apostle Paul’s “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. This is more than positive thinking. Realize that there is no better time and place to exercise your faith than the time when all hope seems lost and all help seems gone. Job was looking forward to the day of his redemption – which may come physically to relieve him of his ordeal, or soon when he joins his Creator in heaven, which for him is a better deal! If you find that all joy is gone within you, cling onto hope – it will help you through. It will strengthen you.

  1. Cry onto God. He is not intimidated with that.

I had a personal encounter with extreme sadness. Maybe some other time I’ll share my story. But to give a short piece of account, I suffered from depressing thoughts never I have expected to have. I confided to a mature friend and I was advised to jot down my thoughts – all of it, no holds barred. Being a writer, I wrote my thoughts in an orderly, somehow artistic and carefully-worded manner. But I was rebuked. I am not writing to impress but to express. That time, I am writing not for people, but for myself. So there has to be no more inhibitions, no more censorship, no need to be careful.

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Somewhere within the premises of Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain

After jotting down all my thoughts, I realized, with tears flowing down my cheeks, that I was too tired and exhausted then. I had too many angst against people, against my situation, against my past decisions. It all welled up until it became too heavy to bear. I was caught off-guard by the excesses of life that I allowed my heart to carry. That exercise helped me unload some weight. I encourage you to do that as well.

But that was not all. I went to a solitary place to literally cry out everything. I went to Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain and there I confessed, questioned, and groaned unto God. It was a great experience, much like a spiritual detoxification.

Job did exactly just that. He cried unto God. He was so down and depressed that he already want to die. He was brutally honest –living with such losses, with boils and wounds and blisters and sores all over your body, being scorned by people around him, and being falsely accused by his “close friends” – for him, death would be a great bargain!

After jotting down all my thoughts, I realized, with tears flowing down my cheeks, that I was too tired and exhausted then. I had too many angst against people, against my situation, against my past decisions. It all welled up until it became too heavy to bear.

God is never overwhelmed by the weight of our prayers. He is not overwhelmed by our emotions. We can always be honest with Him. In fact, we can never hide anything from Him! He knows our thoughts, He knows our ways, He knows the deepest parts of our heart. He formed us and we are His. So cry unto Him. People might not understand what you are going through but trust me, He understands.

  1. Remember: it’s OK to not be OK

If you are feeling down and low, it’s OK. It doesn’t make you less of a human when you get sad at times. When you feel frustrated over something, don’t brush your tears away immediately, don’t hide your pain. It is not a sign of weakness when you cry for something that makes you sad. What’s weak is when you deny it and shrug it off as if it’s nothing when it is really something. When joy is not around, embrace sadness for a time, and when you have already cried your heart out, get up and walk again. Pursue joy once more. Life is not a competition who is the emotionally strongest – for we can all be emotionally secure in the Lord. Life is best lived in a community, where we can all share our joys and sadness and grow in the likeness of our God.

At the end of their heated discourse, Job prayed for his friends, they were forgiven. Whatever Job lost was restored, in double portions. This is because he was standing on a solid foundation. He went through a very challenging ordeal. He was tested by fire, but he came our refined. All because he acknowledged that he was not OK and God was fine with it. God is looking for broken people. He is not impressed by strength. So if you are not OK, let God deal with you. He will see you through.


Just prior to writing this blog, I revisited the story of Elijah (1 Kings 18-19). He was a very powerful and anointed prophet. He won the battle at Mount Carmel where he defeated numerous ministers of the false god Baal. He was a very accomplished person. But when his life was threatened, all signs of strength quickly fade. The man who prayed for fire and rain now prays for his life. Obviously he was shocked, devastated, depressed and afraid. But God assured him – he was not alone.

For God is with us, even in times of brokenness, of solitude, of sadness. In fact, He is closer than ever.

Often we long for answers in the form of a storm, an earthquake, or a fire. We long to see God working in mighty ways that will take our breath away. While it is true that God is a mighty God and He can always reveal Himself in mighty ways, like in the case of Elijah, He may also reveal Himself in subtle ways like a whisper. Yes, a sweet, soft, almost unnoticeable whisper. Let us not despair the silent moments of our lives. Let us not despair the times when our sadness seem to take the best of us. Let us not despair our moments of solitude, moments when joy seem to be absent. For God is with us, even in times of brokenness, of solitude, of sadness. In fact, He is closer than ever.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

 

Sadness and Sepia Moments

When you are at your lowest, you are most vulnerable. You are easily convinced by the voice that says you are worthless, good for nothing.

Have you ever experienced a time when everything around you seems dull and lifeless, the gloom so real and overwhelming that you can feel how it embraces you and convinces you that he is your friend willing to follow you wherever you go? You look around and see everyone around you wearing a smile, but unfortunately for you, you can’t seem to find any reason to wear one. You did not intend to succumb to the embrace of gloominess but you can’t shrug it off as well. You see yourself a victim.

Sadness and Sepia Moments (1)

Happiness is relative. Some people find happiness in simple pleasures such as having a new toy, gaining social media attention, finishing another book or the just the scent of fresh flowers. Some are hard to please – they are constantly chasing for material things, prestige, or new relationships. While the things that make us happy vary, we can all agree that the satisfaction brought about by these things is fleeting. Happiness doesn’t last. One day you’re OK and the next day, you begin to sulk.

I have my share of my lowest days. I call these days sepia moments, just like the feeling imbibed by just looking at old pictures. When you are at your lowest, you are most vulnerable. You are easily convinced by the voice that says you are worthless, good for nothing. Your worries seem insurmountable and you feel defeated. Even simple problems turn gargantuan.

On one of my shower ruminations, I have thought of three reasons for occasional sadness that I feel. Again, these are personal insights but I think these may also apply to anyone.

  1. Whenever I obsess myself with the accomplishments of people on social media.

Yes, social media envy sometimes gets the best of me. It starts with a simple peek at one’s post, liking one’s vacation or one’s recent purchase. Then another post pops up with news of job promotion or an engagement. Posts and tweets pile up and soon I find myself envious with my “friends;” highlight reel. I emphasized the word friends because most of these people I get envious of are not really my friends in real life! But why do I feel so affected with whatever happens to them when they don’t even care about what happens with my life? I guess this is the irony of social media friendships, as Dave Ramsey notes: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” And it is a sad reality to accept.

But why do I feel so affected with whatever happens to them when they don’t even care about what happens with my life? I guess this is the irony of social media friendships

  1. Whenever I measure my worth based on what people say, think about me.

I am a people-pleaser, and I am very much aware of that. I can’t sleep well if I know I have offended or have not responded to someone who asks for favor, especially if within my capacity to help. I tend to think over and over of things I might have done wrong, or words I shouldn’t have said. This is emotional torture, I think. But the pain doubles when someone has told me something I least expect to hear. I end up feeling unloved and unimportant. I sulk over things that I know are not true. I measure my worth based on what they think or say about me, which are not necessarily true. During my high school years I believed I am up to no good just because a classmate had told me so. I carried the weight for a couple of years until it shaped my motivations and view of self. It’s all by God’s grace I was delivered from that unnecessary weight.

  1. Whenever there are unconfessed sin that I try to rationalize or hide.

The weight of sin carried from day to day is enough reason for me to get anxious and depressed. I have heard a teaching that if there are sins that you keep to yourself, sins you choose not to expose in the open, chances are, you’re gonna repeat the same sin over and over. Sin takes us on hold us until we share it with a trusted person who will pray for us and with us and challenge us to overcome it. How often I find myself bugged down by my struggles just because I am too proud to share my weakness with my friends. But as soon as I share my issues with my trusted friends, not only do I find myself co-laborers with the weight I’m bearing, I also find people who makes me realize that I am not supposed to walk this life alone.

  1. When I choose not to spend significant time with God

I am often victimized by this seemingly harmless neglect. I used to tell myself: “just this one time”. One skip, followed by another, and soon I find myself losing touch with the Source. If you identify yourself as a Jesus-follower, you know what I am saying. Spending time with God is our lifeline for joy and spiritual sustenance. Sever your connections with God’s word and your joy will soon fade. I know because I have been in that situation – a couple of times. One painful rebuke I have read from Jim Cymbala’s book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:

“If we don’t want to experience God’s closeness here on earth, why would we want to go to heaven anyway? He is the center of everything there. If we don’t enjoy being in his presence here and now, then heaven would not be heaven for us. Why would he send anyone there who doesn’t long for Him passionately here on earth?”

The key here is not just to read the Bible and ticking a checklist on your reading plan. Neither it is about uttering a hurried prayer then you’re done. The point is cultivating a relationship with your Maker through meaningful spiritual conversations and yielding to His will. No wonder because of my continued “just this one time” moments, I often end up as a wilted plant.

These things may also be true to you. Perhaps the things I have mentioned are also the reasons why you feel sad and gloomy and lifeless at times. Or you could add more to the list. But I don’t want to end up with just diagnosing the causes of my gloominess. I don’t want to be overcome by sadness that all I can see is the rain and not the rainbow after the rain.

I have two important disclaimers here:

First, the sadness or gloominess I am speaking of doesn’t necessarily mean clinical anxiety or depression. I may have described similarities but it is not my intention (yet) to cross over the topic of depression. Perhaps in the near future, when I have gathered much information about the subject matter.

Sadness
© walmart.com

Second, the sadness I am speaking of is viewed in the lens of spiritual context. And the causes I have cited are detrimental to one’s spiritual health. However, being the reflective type of person, I recognize that there is a kind of sadness that makes us appreciate life even more. One that is best portrayed in the animated film Inside Out. There is a form of sadness that makes us more human, gives us a moment to slow down a notch, and think about our life well. Let me quote Sadness, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”

If not for God’s grace, perhaps gloom has devoured me completely. But thankfully, in the deepest, darkest and messiest point of my life, rescue is still available and joy awaits. Lasting JOY – not just mere happiness, which is temporal and fleeting. Joy that freely given to those whose lives are surrendered to Jesus.

Broken to be Made Whole Again: My #NFYC2018 Reflection

Brokenness. It was the overarching theme of the #NFYC2018, at least for me. All throughout the convention God has been telling me that I must be willing to be broken to be made whole again. But what does it mean? Am I not yet a Christian, already made whole by the saving grace of Jesus?

Broken to be Made Whole AgainI tried to understand what God has been revealing to me for the past four days of convention. I intentionally had a lot of moments alone to process what is in store for me. My life has been in a hustle these past few months and the whole convention period is a spiritual and physical retreat for me. But receiving a message about being broken is not something I expected. Indeed, it was an unconventional convention.

Writing for the Lord

During one of the sessions, Ptr. Nolan Galido has spoken about embracing the breaking principle. Drawing inspiration from the story of the young boy with five loaves and two fishes, he shared that we must be broken so our resources will be multiplied for the needs of others. The loaves and the fishes were obviously not enough for a multitude of 5000 but when broken and offered to Jesus, a miracle happened right before their very eyes.

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One of the gems inside the NFYC Kit
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CCT’s majestic view from our room

 

I asked myself then, what is it that I have that has be broken and multiplied? I don’t have much of a talent, not much of resources, not much of influence. All I have is my desire to write a book and draw people to the Lord with my writings. I felt a thud in my heart. I offered my dreams unto Jesus and surrendered my desire.

As soon as the convention’s over, one of my writing platforms, my Facebook page, has been compromised. For one, I know I’ve been so gullible, and for another, I think God is teaching me a lesson. It has become a source of distraction for me, if not a source of social media ego food source. At first it was hard to admit that I have been so distracted, but little did I realize that I have been enjoying too much the likes and the comments and all the engagements my page brings. I have to be corrected, and be broken.

opening night
Opening night

But I believe God has restored my passion to write more! And now with a clearer purpose! I now know that I am called to write and disciple the next generation with what I write. I am more energized and more determined to be directed by the Lord as He leads me to where He wants me to. Maybe my page will be restored, maybe not. But God has miraculously caused me not to fret because of what I lost, because He has multiplied my reasons to write.

Brokenness as a Bridge

During the session of house to house evangelism, I really can’t remember how I felt. Yes, there was excitement, there was an edgy feeling, but more than that, I can’t shrug off what Kuya Jomer Gallana said before we were commissioned to evangelize: “If Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to you, then sharing Jesus is the best thing you can do to others”. It was more than just a motivational instruction to share the gospel – it is plainly the truth.

Is getting to know Jesus really the best thing that has ever happened to me? No doubt. Then by all means, sharing Jesus has to be the most exhilarating thing that I have to do. I felt that with the housewife we get to share the gospel with, same with the construction workers. My partner and I came to their homes as total strangers. There was in fact no common ground. But there’s one thing we talked about which every one of us had something to share – that is how broken we are because of sin.

Yes sin, the reason why we are all broken and the common ground of all men. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We have presented the gospel. They responded. All because of our brokenness, and we all need to be made whole. If I am not broken, they would not listen to me. But because I am a sinner just like everybody else, the message has been heard.

We are treasures in jars of clay. What makes up the façade is nothing compared to what we hold inside. People see us and they can identify with our mess, with our brokenness, but also they see what emanates from within – the radiating glory of Jesus Christ. We may be broken, but made whole. And we are called to minister to those who are broken around us.

Dying to Ourselves

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24

As Ptr. Val Chaves speaks about the necessity of pruning as we abide in the Lord, I was reminded of that verse. Something has to “die”, something has to be given up, so that multiplication can take place. Yes, one can do things on his own and make a productive result, but exponential growth is only possible when we embrace the way God has designed how multiplication has to take place: that we are to die to ourselves and let Him live in us.

Again, another facet of being broken.

I am an overly sensitive person. I often think less of myself, I feel like unimportant. I envy people who can do more, give more, and still remain energized and satisfied. Unlike me who resolves to self-pity even for no apparent reason and often feels tired. While I know my identity in the Lord is secured, my melancholic-phlegmatic personality often takes the lead, which something I really hate. Ika nga, “para akong walang bait sa sarili”.

If I have to die to myself, this is the first thing that I want to bury badly. This dead branch in me has to be pruned, so that fruits will grow and leaves will flourish. Ptr. Val encouraged us to “sow the seed of His promises in the soil of your needs”. Honestly I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to start. I have been a Christian for years but still can’t get pass through my inhibitions. I want to die to my “fears and doubts and self-reliance” and live for God. And God just assured me that time, “let Me break you first”.

“Why the breaking, Lord?”

Broken to be Made Whole

I was very much expectant during the last night; expectant and in full abandon. God has been breaking me since the beginning and it would be foolishness on my part to let the moment pass. I want to be filled with the Spirit. No, I want the overflow of the Spirit.

Ptr. Asaph Shavindran is very anointed speaker. I say this not because many were slain and prophesied as he laid hands on them, but because it is very evident in his countenance and the Holy Spirit really came to those who sought after Him. But what struck me the most during his brief speaking was the fact that we have been neglecting the Person of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. He is a Person, He is God, but we fail to notice Him, much more remember Him.

I sought after the Holy Spirit like I’ve never done before, and He did not let me down. It was the best moment of my life – not because of the experience, but because I know the Triune God is really in communion with a broken sinner like me, affirming His love and acceptance, His forgiveness and grace.

Maybe this is His answer to my question, “why the breaking, Lord?” He wants me to realize how broken I am without Him. He wants me to know how broken I am apart from Him. And ironically, my brokenness is what caused Him to die on the cross, because He wants to make me whole. As confusing this broken-made whole-broken to minister to the broken-thing, nothing could be clearer to me. That there is a God who loves me in spite of my brokenness, and wants to use me for His glory.

Oh Lord, I am ready for more. Let me multiply for Your glory.

 

 

Availability, Not Ability

Doing the ministry of the Lord is not about ability. It is about a heart of servanthood, which is evidenced by availability.

When we talk of ministry, you will find out that availability counts more than the ability. In fact, even Jesus, the greatest leader and influencer of all time, chose people not because of what they can do but on their willingness to submit to God’s agenda and schedule. He could have chosen the Pharisees, the spiritual leaders of the time, to mobilize the Good News. They have the influence, prominence and the eloquence to carry out His divine mission. But Jesus turned the world upside down with his ragtag team of ill-tempered, proud, doubtful and cunning disciples. Again, ability counts less, availability matters.

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Yet the world looks after people with obvious gifts and prominent influence. We often follow those whose star shines the brightest. We admire them from a distance. We want them on our team. We think we can do more when we get the best and the brightest turn our steering wheel. While there’s nothing wrong with this, often this leads to frustration and defeat. We can’t always have the best people work for us.  They are often busy in their own domain that they might not have time the capacity to give you their full attention and own wholeheartedly your vision. They might not always be available.

But we have around us those whose star flickers unnoticeable. They may not stand out but they are there. We just fail to notice them, but they are waiting for their turn to take part in something worthwhile, something great. These “average-gifted” individuals fuel the team’s productivity, and bring the most contribution to the table. They are present most of the time, and are willing to sacrifice for your vision. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

There is wisdom when Paul said “God chooses the weak to shame the strong”. The famous, the influential, the strong, the intelligent – the best out there, are busy being the best in their respective domains that they don’t have time to work with others, to work for others, to be there for others. But invest in people who are always around you, no matter how “weak” they seem, and see how God do some wonders through their efforts. These people, like the disciples of old, have the potential to turn the world upside down.

Doing the ministry of the Lord is not about ability. It is about a heart of servanthood, which is evidenced by availability.

 

Life Choices that Defines Us

We all have a choice whether to push through with our dreams or stay where we are

Natutunan natin sa klase natin sa Economics nung high school na dahil sa scarcity of resources, kailangan natin ng matalinong pagpapasya kung paano ia-allocate ang limited resources natin sa mga wants and needs natin, gaya nang tanong na kung ang baon ba ay para ba sa lunch at pamasahe o para sa DotA (Ragnarok nung higs chool days ko) at barkada.

Natutunan din natin sa makabagbag-damdaming kanta ni KZ Tandingan kung gaano kahirap mamili between mahal mo o mahal ka. Hindi naman kasi tinuro sa school na may mga ganyan palang choices sa buhay.

Sa pagharap din natin sa buhay empleyado, palagi rin tayong humaharap sa choice na gigising ka ba sa higaan para pumasok o mag-extend nang another five minutes sa pagtulog (na alam naman nating kasinungalingan kasi umaabot hanggang 15 minutes minimum extension). Hitting either the stop alarm and snooze button is a hard decision to make. Alam kong alam mo yan.

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Life is a series of choices. May mga choices na mahirap pag-isipan, may mga choices din na pine-present sa ating harapan pero parang wala rin naman tayong choice. May mga choices na kapag nagkamali ka, it’s a matter of life and death, of happiness or heartache, of winning someone or losing them away. Ang hirap ano?

Yet of all the choices na hinaharap natin, isa na yata sa pinakamahirap ay kapag may option ka na to be complacent. Yung pwede kang pumili kung gagawin mo na siya ngayon o some other time na lang. Alam mo kung bakit mahirap? Kasi minsan we have this tendency to delay the hard work at the expense of delaying the fruits of our hard work. Yes, may mga taong output-oriented, sobrang productive, yung tipong tatapusin na ngayon yung task na para sa susunod na dalawang araw. Nandyan lang sila sa tabi-tabi, lurking beneath the shadows. Pero kung hindi ka task-and-output person, siguradong nandun ka category ng mga taong ang motto ay “bakit ko tatapusin ngayon, kung pwede ko namang gawin bukas?”

One Day or Day One, Mamili Ka!

Pero ikaw, kung may gusto kang mangyari sa buhay mo, kung may pangarap kang gustong makamit, what are you doing now? We all have a choice whether to push through with our dreams or stay where we are. Either we will continue dreaming about that “one day” or begin with our “day one” towards the accomplishment of our goals. Meron kang choices at hand and your choices reveal much about your priorities, life values and how much you believe in the beauty of your dreams.

I often remind myself, “believe that God has placed your dream in your heart for His greater purpose”. Oo English yun kapag pinapaalala ko sa sarili ko. Haha! Kaya naman kapag gusto ko nang sumuko sa mga pangarap ko, kailangan kong ipaunawa sa sarili ko din na everything will be worth it. Lahat ng pagod, lahat ng sacrifices, lahat ng hard work.

I believe God honors the dreams of His people. He anoints the dreams of His people. He blesses them, lalo na kung para sa glory ni Lord ang lahat ng mga pangarap natin. Pero mas naniniwala ako na God is very much willing to bless those who don’t just dream dreams, but who works towards the fulfillment of their dreams. Yung mga taong nagsimula na sa “Day One”, kaysa naman sa mga taong “One Day” ang mentality.

Borrowing from the line of Heneral Luna, “mamili ka!”

I thank you, bow.

 

Ahon! My Top 10 Activities to Release Stress

Are you caught up in the web of stressful circumstances? Yung tipong lahat na lang yata ng mga kapaguran na available sa mundo sinasalo mo? Yung di ka na makaahon sa dami ng trabaho, yung pressure ng overlapping commitments sinasakal ka na masyado, o kaya naman yung mga polo mo naghuhumiyaw na sa sobrang sikip na nila para sayo? Nakaka-stress ano?

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As stated in my previous post, may mga outlets ako to release stress and tension. Kapag di ko na kaya ang bigat, kapag pakiramdam ko lunod na lunod na ako, may mga go-to places and people ako para maging “shock absorber” (sorry na, peeps!). Dahil lahat naman tayo kailangang mag-unload from time to time para hindi sumabog di ba?

Here are some of my stress-relievers.

  1. Biking

What I love about biking is that you can go places as far as your legs can handle. Kapag masakit na at parang hindi na kaya, uwian na. Haha! It is cheap and healthy activity, pinawisan ka na, nag-enjoy ka pa! Since I am from Marikina, common destinations namin ng mga friends ko pag nagbi-bike ay sa Rizal (Binangonan-Morong-Tanay or San Mateo-Rodriguez), UP or even within Marikina loop, bilang napaka-bike friendly ng bayan kong sinta.

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  1. Hiking

When schedule allows me to, I join hiking activities para naman medyo malayo sa stressful work. Iba rin kasi ang yung feeling na nasa summit ka ng bundok, dinadama ang masarap na simoy ng hangin tapos nakaharap ka either sa dagat or sa mga pamayanan. It changes perspective. Yung sobra kang naka-focus sa sarili mong mga problema, tapos mare-realize mo na mas malaki pa rin si Lord talaga si Lord kaysa mga problema mo.

  1. Vitamin Sea

Again, when schedule allows me to, masaya din na magpunta sa tabing dagat para magtampisaw, o kahit na pakiramdaman mo lang ang simoy ng maalat na hangin habang kinakausap ang sarili na kunwari gumagawa ka ng music video. Aminin mo, kakaibang ligaya ang dulot ng paglalakad sa tabing-dagat, binabalik ang lahat ng masasayang ala-ala ng buhay mo na para kang bida sa telenovela habang panandalian mong nakakalimutan na may babalikan ka pang ga-bundok na trabaho sa opisina. Pero at least, di ba. Masaya ka.img_0402

  1. Pet Cafes

Medyo may kaunting gastos pero masaya. Try mong pumunta sa Barkin’ Blends near Sta. Lucia or sa Bengal Brew + Wolf and Bear sa Cubao. If you are a pet lover, surely mae-enjoy mo itong trip na to. Makipaglaro ka sa mga aso. Kumustahin mo sila. Amuyin mo sila. Ikwento mo sa kanila ang mga officemates mong chini-chismis ka, ang boss mo na mahilig magbigay ng trabaho kapag pauwi ka na, o kaya naman yung ex mo na sa sobrang pagka-pet lover, ipinagpalit ka na lang sa pet. May therapeutic effect din kasi ang pakikipaglaro sa mga hayop, pero word of caution, wag makikipag-relasyon sa hayop kasi may damaging effect sa emotions. Hahaha! Sorry na, ang bad ko dun. 🙂

 

  1. Blogging

Just like now, kaya ako nagsulat ng post na ito kasi alam mo na, stressed ako. Isulat mo ang anumang nararamdaman mo. Isulat mo ang gusto mong sabihin. Type lang nang type. Nakakatulong mag-release ng tension kapag hinahayaan mong ang mga daliri mo ay tumitipa ng keyboard. Mas madiin at mas malakas ang hampas sa keyboard, mas satisfying! Haha! It doesn’t matter kung may magbabasa man ng post mo o wala, may magco-comment man o wala. Basta naisulat mo ang gusto mong sabihin. Pero be careful sa anumang isusulat mo, be a responsible blogger. Wag mag-spread ng fake news. Lagot ka kay Mocha.

  1. Read books

Pumunta ka sa mga book fairs, sa mga book sale mga bookstores, even sa mga libraries. If you are a reader, you’ll agree with me na sobrang satisfying ang makaamoy ng libro. Yung halimuyak na nakakapagpa-kalma sa pagod mong isipan. Tapos damhin mo yung bawat page, yung texture ng papel, ganun. Pero syempre basahin mo rin. Hahaha! Highlight words na nakapagbigay ng impact sayo. It’s always fun to learn and discover new things.img_2227

  1. Watch movie

Given na to. Kapag lunod na lunod ka na sa trabaho, it’s not a bad thing kung gusto mong manood ng movie. Lalo na for me who loves superhero movies, nakaka-alis ng stress ang panonood ng movie. Pero dahil common na nga siya, lagyan mo na lang ng kaunting challenge ang panonood mo: minsan kong sinubukan na manood nang mag-isa, manood ng sad movie tapos pigilan ang sarili mo na umiyak, at manood ng movie tapos magbaon ng pandesal at palaman. Sa susunod nga, gusto kong i-try magbaon ng kanin at ulam. Hahaha!

  1. Play games

Di ako gamer pero effective na pang-divert ng attention ang mobile games. I installed Wordscapes para naman kapag pagod na ako kakaisip ng numbers, letters and words naman. Ang saya di ba. Nag-install din ako ng Idle Poring. Since hindi na kaya ng schedule ko ang maglaro pa ng Ragnarok, which I really loved playing nung bata pa ako, dun na lang ako sa Idle Poring. Pareho din naman ng sounds and ng characters, iba nga lang ng gameplay at interface. Pero pwede na rin, perfect game for busy person like me. Sabi nga ng kapatid ko enjoy na enjoy akong pinapanood yung character ko na tumatakbo all throughout the game. Kanya-kanyang trip yan!

  1. Run to your accountability partners

It’s always good to have friends to watch your back. Yung sasaluhin ka nila sa panahong bigat na bigat ka na. I am blessed to have friends from church, from PSA and from MYA na alam kong nasasandalan ko for encouragement and prayers. Appreciate your circle of friends. Isama na rin natin ang family natin. After a tiring day, it’s relaxing to know that we have friends and family na uuwian natin. Yung hindi tayo ico-condemn. Yung hindi tayo ipagpapalit sa 30 pieces of silver. Yung ililibre tayo ng burger o kaya ng pizza o kaya ng BFF fries.

  1. Go to Prayer Mountain

Kapag talaga hindi ko na kaya, I go to Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain. Di kalayuan sa Marikina pero safe haven ko siya. I pour out to the Lord all my burdens, my concerns pati lahat ng kapaguran ko sa buhay. Para siyang isang electrical outlet for me to plug myself into, para di ako tuluyang ma-drain. Nakakagaan kapag alam mong iniyak mo na ang lahat sa Lord, isinigaw mo lahat ng prayers mo at kahit mapagod ka kakaiyak at kakasumbong sa Kanya, alam mong nakikinig Siya. Wag ka lang matutulog sa loob ng prayer cell. Kasi naman parang sobrang sarap matulog sa loob. Haha!

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When you feel like sobrang nakakapagod na at di mo na kaya, don’t lose hope. Kapit lang. It takes a clear mind and a fresh perspective para hindi ka ma-overwhelm ng mga challenges mo sa buhay, ahem, I am speaking to myself. Haha! Mabuti na lang may provision si Lord ng mga outlets for me, para hindi na lang ako basta mag-collapse sa kalsada.

And I also thank God kasi He is always available to hear my prayers and my cries. Hindi ko naman kailangan umakyat pa ng Prayer Mountain just for the Lord to hear me. He hears me even when I am in bed, shedding tears kasi… huhuhu, “Lord, pagod na po ako, payakap naman po”. Try niyo, it is comforting, and it develops an intimate relationship with your Creator.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

I was reminded by the words of Director Phil Coulson of Marvel’s Agents of Shield. In one episode, Season 1 yata ng AoS, sabi niya:

“The world is full of evil and lies and pain and death, and you can’t hide from it. You can only face it. The question is, when you do, how do you respond? Who do you become?”

Ikaw, in the face of your challenges and stress, who do you become?

PS. Baka naman may iba ka pang stress-relieving activities, share mo naman with me 🙂

Line Busy?

Have you ever felt like there’s no one who listens? No one who pays attention? Have you ever felt like there’s no one who cares? Maybe you’ve been calling on a busy line. Maybe you’ve been looking after someone who isn’t really there.

I bet you know the feeling na binagsakan ka ng telepono. Nakakasama ng loob, sa totoo lang. Yung feeling na lahat ng self-confidence na binuo mo sa kabuuan ng existence mo, biglang babagsak kasabay ng pagbagsak niya ng handle ng telepono… ang sakit kaya! Nakakabingi, nakakaiyak, nakakapanghina.

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Ok, ang OA ko. Haha! Bilang isang taong may pusong mamon, hindi ko lang kasi gusto yung pakiramdam na parang hindi interesado sayo ang kausap mo. Equally painful din yung alam mo na kaya naman niyang sagutin ang linya pero hindi niya pini-pick up ang telepono. Kumbaga sa social media lingo, hindi ka lang na-seenzone, na-mark-as-read-zone ka, ni hindi man lang siya nag-bother na pansinin ang nais mong sabihin. #sadlayp

There was a passage in 1 Kings 18 na pumukaw ng attention ko. It was actually a familiar story- the contest on Mt. Carmel between prophet Elijah and the priests of Baal. You may read the whole account through this link.

Balik tayo sa attention-grabbing verse na sinasabi ko:

29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

The priests of Baal went on to call upon their god for a display of power, but they received none. Wala silang narinig ni kaluskos mula sa kanilang dios-diosan. Walang sagot, walang Baal na pumansin sa kanila. They even went as far as hurting themselves to receive attention from their non-existent god, and then again, no response. Busy much, perhaps?, taunts Elijah.

Ang hirap kung hindi ka pinapansin ng diyos na binigyan mo ng devotion ano? I wonder how painful it was for the priests of Baal na mapahiya sa harapan ng mga Israelites. Sa isang tao nga lang na mapahiya ka ang sakit-sakit na 😦

In contrast, when it was Elijah’s turn to call upon his God, it went like this:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 

There was, obviously a contrasting response between Baal and the God of Elijah. It was a contrast of power and powerlessness, of existence and nonexistence, of attentiveness and inattentiveness, of divinity and the lack thereof. There is no more need to ask who is the true and living God – the Lord already drew the line. Tapos ang laban. May nanalo na.

Total dependence on these Baals will blind you to your need of the One true source of satisfaction. Baals keep us preoccupied and takes our attention away from God

Have you ever been dependent onto something, say a job, a dream, a relationship, or some material possession*, thinking that it will keep you full and satisfied, but at the end of the day you just end up still feeling empty? Maybe it has become a Baal to you. And like the Baals of the Old Testament times, kahit anong tawag mo sa kanila for comfort and refuge, it will always disappoint you. Total dependence on these Baals will blind you to your need of the One true source of satisfaction. Baals keep us preoccupied and takes our attention away from God.

* Don’t get me wrong. These things are necessary for our daily sustenance. These things are not bad in itself. But when it becomes a Baal to us – something that we depend on too much more than the Lord, then it becomes a distraction, a heavy burden for us to bear.

Have you ever felt like there’s no one who listens? No one who pays attention? Have you ever felt like there’s no one who cares? Maybe you’ve been calling on a busy line. Maybe you’ve been looking after someone who isn’t really there. Subukan mong tumawag kay Lord. Wala namang tumatawag sa Kanya na hindi Niya sinagot. Hindi naman busy ang linya Niya. Hindi naman Siya namimili ng mga kakausapin Niya. Tawag ka lang sa Kanya. He’s waiting, in fact. And like what He did when Elijah called Him, He will respond to you. Bakit ko nasabi? Kasi ipinangako Niya yun.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ – Jeremiah 33:3

You may have friends who deserted you, family members who don’t treat you well, or people dear to your heart who failed you. You may have tried to catch the attention of people around you but no one seems to take notice. People may fail us from time to time but the Lord will not. Call upon Him. His lines are not busy. He has great things in store for you.

Promise, hindi ka Niya babagsakan ng linya.