While my professor wrote motion problems as calculus applications on the board, I struggled in a war between priorities and whims in my seat. Seriously. Last week, right after we watched Unknown (another movie premiere), my Mom showed me the ticket to this awesome movie:
I was eager to see this movie because of Natalie Portman, an actress I so dearly admire and respect. She’s got brains (Harvard alum and Hebrew-Japanese student, thank you very much), beauty, talent and a big heart for people and animals (she’s been a vegan since childhood). Since Thursday evening, I was looking forward to this premiere. Then Monday came.
My professor in Filipino 2 unexpectedly required us to submit the 3rd chapter of our research this Thursday. She usually gives us a week to do it, but since the semester has only less than a month before it officially ends (and summer comes in! WOOHOO!), she rushed the deadline. Then there’s the debate on Monday. Although I could really squeeze in the premiere in my schedule, my heart, soul and mind told me that it’s not a good idea (this is one of those rare moments when those 3 elements agreed on one thing. Hallelujah) The words “priorities” and “love” played in my mind the entire time as I meditated on what to do. Should I text my Mom that I would attend the premiere and my Dad to meet with me in Ayala or go home immediately after class? As I mentioned earlier, I struggled. Do you know that feeling when you want to do something you know you shouldn’t do even if you can foresee the negative consequences that would result if you push through with that bad decision? The situation is as complicated and complex as my previous sentence. 🙂 Anyway, I think I brought home the point. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this tug-of-war. Although no longer living, the Apostle Paul knew and experienced exactly what I was talking about when he wrote the following words (Romans 7:21-24):
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!”
Not only am I wretched and held prisoner–I am a fool, too. As my math professor scribbled derivatives of functions on the whiteboard, I addressed my dilemma on paper by constructing the following table (in spite knowing the right thing that I should do).
Now that I think of it, I realize that this work of art is not so foolish a masterpiece after all. As I pondered on reality and truth, I realized that at that time as I struggled and desired “earthly things,” I loved activities and fun more than I loved God and other people. The left column manifested the black swan in me–selfish, greedy (in a subtle way) and proud (because I wanted to take control of my life…again). Had I obeyed my feelings instead of my feelings obeying me (well, God), then I stored earthly treasures, acted selfishly and contradicted my own words to my brothers and to myself: Know your priorities and ACT on them!
By God’s grace, power and Holy Spirit, I turned down the premiere. I knew that the best thing to do at that time was to act by faith and not by sight. By doing what is right even when I didn’t feel like doing it, I became the real me.
An hour and a half after this struggle in Math class (I usually struggle in Math class with or without a “black swan” temptaion. HAHA), I arrived home. I decided to knock on my grandmother’s house first before knocking on ours. Mama opened the door, greeted me cheerfully and announced a piece of news that took me off guard:
“Andyan si Daddy mo, may sakit.” (Your Dad is there at home, he is sick)
Oh. My. Goodness. Just think if I texted my Dad during Math class (thus causing me to sin) and told him if we could meet in Ayala before the movie started. If I were in my Dad’s shoes, I would be disappointed because my daughter texted me only when she wanted something. This news further exposed my selfish attitude. 😐 Thankfully, there’s grace. Thankfully, there is no condemnation for me. I am forgiven and loved. 🙂
I grabbed the opportunity to serve my Dad and my brother who was also stricken with fever and headache. Later that afternoon as I sat in the couch, I read a book entitled The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay. Again, God struck my heart. Though the “pinch line” (as in the painful pinch mothers gave their naughty children) hurt, I was encouraged too:
“God does not demand of me that I accomplish great things. He does demand of me that I strive for excellence in my relationships.”
Whenever I triumph over sin and temptation or do a hard thing for God, I think that God was extremely happy over my achievement. Well He is happy since everything I do for Him is not in vain, but His joy is made more complete when I value my relationship with Him and with others above things, tasks, money, time and even my achievements. All this world needs is love. We are made for relationships. The best way to successfully murder a man physically and spiritually is to alienate him from all forms of human contact. Relationships are necessary for man to truly live.
So whenever you face a similar, less difficult or more difficult “black swan temptation” like I did, ask yourself: “Is this decision rooted out of love? Who am I showing my love to when I make this decision final?” Because whether you like it or not, you are always showing “love” to something or someone: whether God or money or yourself. I’m reminded of the video I saw in my Sunday School class a few weeks ago about who sits at my heart’s stool. Is it me, money, fun, activities or JESUS? Remember that elementary principle about matter because it also applies here: Matter cannot occupy the same space (heart) at the same time. 🙂
And now, the video!