Not my Season

This is not my season.

This is how I try to describe what I have been feeling recently. Amidst all the victories and joyful testimonies of people around me, I find myself sulking over the seemingly “barrenness” of my life. I am on a plateau of emotions, of activity and of spirituality.

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I am tempted to say that I am waiting for that next “emotional wind” to carry me to a place of joy but I am certain that life is not like that. Trends or any tangibles must not define us. Our happiness must not be dependent on the latest craze or any momentary reason. It must come from within us.

Are you in the same rut too?

If we share the same sentiments, join me in unraveling the painful reality of our situation.

A short story

There was a time when I found myself wading in the mud of depressing emotions. I confided to a friend and I was advised to thoroughly assess my situation in writing, but I have to do it with full honesty. This is because there are times we are not being honest with ourselves because we don’t want to face the ugliness of our situation. We’d rather feel sad and depressed than face our darkest realities.

So I wrote down on a journal all the things that are bothering me that time. At first I felt uneasy. I really don’t know how to begin. Yet, clinging to the “rule” that I must be honest, things started to unfold. As I write down all my angst and my pain, my fear and doubts and all my questions, slowly my pain subsides.

It was not magical, but spiritual. God has been with me as I unload my emotions. It was more like a prayer sans the pretension and formalities. It was a heartbreaking moment with me and my Creator only that the heartbreaking part was also a healing session.

At first I was afraid to write down all my pain and questions, especially my angst, thinking that it is too unchristian to harbor such bitterness in the presence of the Almighty. But then I was reminded, God knows the depths of my heart whether or not I present my case before Him. He is not offended by our honesty. There is no amount of mess that can overwhelm Him.

The ugly reality

Now that I am on the same situation again, I tried to search within me. Why am I sad? Why am I too anxious over things I can’t even understand? Why am I constantly telling myself again that it is not my season? Here are the things that I have discovered. And perhaps, in one way or another, these are true to your situation too. Brace yourself!

  • I have been putting extra burden on myself with an unhealthy view of people around me. Instead of celebrating their victories, I tend to look on them with envy and bitterness. I hate to admit I often think of myself as ‘can-do-all’ person, and whenever I realize that I cannot and others step up for my incapacity, I sulk.
  • I try to catch up with other people’s pace. I want to prove myself. I still have episodes when I regret over my past mistakes and rehearse what should have happened if I pursued the path other than what I am taking right now. I think of my “what ifs” and wonder how it would be different from now.
  • I have also been harboring discouragement over what’s happening with my life and ministry lately. It seems that I no longer can deliver well compared before. My mind wanders; I am often worried about how time runs too fast and I can’t cope up. The weight of all the tasks I have carelessly accepted before are all dawning on me now.
  • I feel too incapacitated to help others, as I myself am drained of words to encourage them. Though before I felt like I was called to be an encourager to people who are in pain, now it seems like I am kicked off the encouragement department.
  • I know the importance of rest, but I often take rest days to catch up with things I cannot do when I am at work. This is no rest at all, but just a diversion from the usual routine, yet same amount of activity. No wonder I still feel tired even after weekends.
  • I lie to myself. I convince myself that I am still alright when in fact I am not just bruised but broken. And when people care less about me because they look at me as strong, I become upset. Sometimes, I feel pretentious, but I can’t help myself being such.
  • You may add your own self-assessment of your situation. Be brutally honest. It would be painful, but it would be great experience, promise!

A testimony

You may believe me or not, but honestly as I am writing this, I felt a bit relieved. My problems did not magically disappear but at least, the heaviness somewhat wore off. This is actually different from how I write blogs before, but it pays to do something different once in a while.

Perhaps the period where we are right now, if you are emotionally wounded like me, is a testament that in a Christian’s life, not all the time is bliss. This is life telling us that as Jesus faced difficult times while on earth, we should not expect less. However, the encouragement at the end of the day is to “take heart, I [Jesus] have overcome the world”. While we may face day to day realities of anxiety and unexplainable sadness, Jesus got us covered with love and grace. We are not forgotten, we are not forsaken. At least this truth is more than a consolation and a soothing balm for our wounded soul. This truth is our hope.

If you are reading this and we happen to be on the same boat, join me in praying that joy may overtake us very soon. Keep the faith aflame!

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Go Back to “Bethel”

God met with Jacob at Bethel when he was still a needy person. And now that Jacob is already full to the brim, God commanded him to go back to Bethel.

Bethel is the place where Jacob first encountered the Lord. It was the place where he was given a dream and a promise. The place was originally called Luz, but Jacob renamed it Bethel because for him, it is where God resides – “house of God”. It was a special place, a refuge, a safe haven.

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Jacob landed on Bethel as he was fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau whom he deceived. He was so broken then, fearful, helpless and without anything to go on living. But it was during that most trying time, when everything has been stripped away from him, that God made him a promise – “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

And in response, Jacob promised:

“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

A few years passed and God has been faithful to His part of the promise. Jacob’s wealth has increased tremendously and he became a father to a huge household. Moreover, he has once again earned the trust and the forgiveness of his brother Esau. And true enough, God has brought him back to Bethel, with all of God’s promises fulfilled!

God met with Jacob at Bethel when he was still a needy person. And now that Jacob is already full to the brim, God commanded him to go back to Bethel. It is as if God wants him to look back on how things went in his life. God wants him to go back to his first altar, to where his faith begun.

Surprisingly for Jacob, he demanded his household to purify themselves and to give him their pagan idols to be buried in the ground. And as Jacob went to worship the Lord in Bethel, God once again confirmed His promises – and for the second time Jacob was blessed with the name Israel – a name change signifying that he is no longer identified with his past sins and mistakes.

If you are a Christian, like Jacob, we all have our “Bethel” where we first encountered the Lord. Our Bethel can be a place or even a person. While we all know that God is everywhere, Bethel is a special because you know you commune closer with God there.

Are you in a moment of loss and despair? Why not go back to your Bethel and take refuge there? If life’s anxieties has brought you to your knees, rest your case to God and find relief in Him. Or perhaps everything in your life is going well right now. Still, God will be pleased to meet you at Bethel. It doesn’t matter whatever season you are in, Bethel is where the God of the universe meets with the vulnerable you.

As you return to Bethel, think of the things you might need to bury: your pains? Your regrets? Maybe your achievements? Anything that takes off your focus from God can be a pagan idol that might need to be buried on the ground.

Go back to Bethel. God is waiting for you there. He will gladly refresh you with His promises to never leave you, and will remind you that you are no longer the same fearful, broken and helpless person you used to be. You are no longer “Jacob”, but “Israel”.

 

Add Life to your Years

To age is way different from being mature.

Guess what? Tatanda na naman tayo ng isang taon pa. Oo isang taon ulit. Ang bilis ano? Dati ang umo-occupy lang ng isipan natin ay kung paano gagawin ang mga homework ng terror nating high school teacher, o kung kagaya kitang mabait, iniisip online game na lalaruin pagkatapos ng uwian. O di kaya naman ang itsura ng crush mo na dino-drowing mo pa sa likod ng notebook na may mukha ng mayor niyo sa cover.

Add Life to your YearsNgayon, ang dami-dami na nating iniisip. Sa sobrang dami, mahirap na ngang isakatuparan ang iba e. Naaalala ko pa na ang mga topics namin ng mga kaibigan ko few years back ay umiikot lang halos sa adolescence stage na pinagdadaanan namin. Ngayon pati ang inflation, politika at showbiz, bukod pa sa mga trabaho namin at planong bumuo ng sariling pamilya ay napag-uusapan na rin. Idagdag mo pa ang walang kamatayang ice breaker tuwing magkakasama ang dating magkakaklase: sino-sino na ang mga nabuntis sa batch natin?

Yet to age is way different from being mature. Age deals with the years in our life; maturity is the life in our years. Yet they have to coincide at some point. They have to meet along the way.

Tumatanda na nga tayo. At kung sasabihin mo sa aking kalabaw lang ang tumatanda, ano ka exempted? We age, whether obvious sa itsura o pigura, o kung mapalad ka’t nabiyayaan ng baby face, still we really cannot deny the fact that we age. And with age come tons of responsibilities we need to embrace and carry through.

Yet to age is way different from being mature. Age deals with the years in our life; maturity is the life in our years. Yet they have to coincide at some point. They have to meet along the way.

Medyo may kaunting panghihinayang lang ako sa tinakbo ng karera ko sa buhay a few seasons back and I reaped the consequences of my decisions then. Yet I know that in God’s panoramic perspective, there are really no accidents. I am part of something bigger, sabi nga ni Nick Fury. “That it’s brave to ask ‘what if,’ [that] I think it’s braver to ask ‘what is’” sabi naman ni pareng Popoy. Until now, I am picking myself up, but I am learning in the process.

Di pa huli ang lahat para sa atin, at least yan ang sabi ng imaginary friend ko. It doesn’t matter kung nasa kalendaryo pa ang edad mo o wala na, at least nasa bingo card pa rin. And that’s what matters – may bilang ka, at pwede pang pagbuhulin ang iyong edad at ang iyong pinagkatandaan.

Quote 2Discover your purpose, live your passion, find your niche.

And this is what makes the New Year more exciting! It gives us a glimmer of motivation to add life to our years! Gusto mong umakyat ng bundok? Then go! Nauuso na ang mga mountain hiking groups. You want to travel the world, or the country at least? Madami nang promo fares. If you want to be an advocate of financial literacy, or responsible parenting, or you just want to have a voice in the world of internet, then blogosphere is readily available. At kung maisipan mong maging ganap na blogger at single, unattached ka, you might as well consider joining our P.S.A. group – ibang kalidad!

Let’s add life to our years. Lagyan natin ng konting palabok ang buhay by escaping the usual routine we are so familiar with. Ako nga gusto kong mas maging active pa sa pagbibisikleta ko. Gusto ko ding umakyat sa bundok with friends. Mas maraming books ang gusto kong mabasa this year. And the weirdest thing na bina-bargain ko pa sa kunsensya ko ay ang sumakay sa bus papunta sa isang malayong lugar na unfamiliar para lang maglagalag pagkatapos ay uuwi na ulit. Bottom line is, let us all age gracefully!

Pagbigyan niyo na rin ako. Dala lang din marahil nang nasa Quarter-life crisis na ako. 🙂 Promise, makaka-move on din ako sa pagtatanong kung sino-sino pa ba sa mga ka-batch ko ang nanay at tatay na.

Why is Life so Unfair?

Whenever unfair situations in life brings us down, Jesus will lift us up.

It was a fine morning. I woke up early full of expectations that the day will be full of surprises. I went to school earlier than the usual. I did my assignment all by myself. For personal reasons, I deliberately entered the classroom late. everything was fine, until…

I entered the classroom and I saw some of my classmates checking their respective assignments (which was supposed to be done by their seatmates). But that’s not all! One of my classmates borrowed my treasured work and copied it, in a hurry, so as not to be noticed by our professor (Sigh! If she only knew how I value my work, but I guess she’s already insensitive to that, having done that for how many years I think). Adding to my frustration, while our professor is discussing the correct answers, some of my classmates are still doing their supposedly homework and takes no heed of the authority in front of them.

Life is so unfair, isn’t it? These unfair incidences in life makes me realize how the world has gone corrupt these days, and how far people have strayed away from God. However, as I’ve checked the Scriptures regarding life’s unfairness, here are the points God showed me:

1. God’s plan for life was marred by sin. Sin, the most detestable thing to God, spoiled everything in God’s wonderful plan. Supposedly, we are entitled for a life of abundance and consistent fellowship with the Creator, but sin ruined everything. Imagine the kind of life we’ll enjoy if all our needs are met because our Creator is just beside us (literally). But we cant blame them (Adam and Eve of course) for we ourselves are also sinners, and our sins are increments to the scars of God’s wonderful plan for our lives.

2. We are not of this world. Paul told about it, as well as the author of the book of Hebrews. Life here on earth is just temporary, and is fleeting. We are not really for ephemeral realm, but rather for an eternal dwelling place. Life here on earth is just a preparation on where we’ll spend our eternity. God allows frustrating things to happen to test us on how dependent are we to the One who has the power to save us from eternal damnation. Life here on earth is nothing as compared to the eternal life God has prepared for us.

Troubles may be too little or too big to handle, but rest assured, Jesus had overcame them, and we too will overcome!

3. Jesus Himself told about troubles and frustrations in this world. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” This is one of the most assuring verses in the Bible. It says that Jesus has acknowledged the life would not be complete if troubles will not take its place. These troubles may be too little or too big to handle, but rest assured, Jesus had overcame them, and we too will overcome!

4. Sometimes (or most of the time) we deliberately disobey God, thus making our lives miserable. Disobedience (and partial obedience) deserves punishment. God is just, and He will do whatever He has said. As His special creation, we are to reflect His holiness. “Be holy for I am holy”, says the Lord. And if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God — Hebrews 10:26-27

5. The whole world is under the control of the evil one. This is the truth that is really hard to accept. John has said it in 1 John 5:19. If Satan is already the one taking hold of the whole world, what should we expect? Shall we expect fairness? Shall we expect happiness? Shall we expect justice? Definitely no. So we should be doubly careful, for the end of all things is near. Let us be clear-minded and be more serious in our prayers — 1 Peter 4:7

However, Jesus left us with a hope. He is our refuge and our strength. Whenever unfair situations in life brings us down, Jesus will lift us up. Above all, He promised us that when He returns, all the miseries and frustrations we have due to unfairness of life will soon come to an end.