It’s only the second day of thew new year and already I can think tens of things to thank God for: good health of my family and friends. School resumes tomorrow (yes I’m thrilled). Allowance! (now you know why) My favorite sun-dried peanuts (sung song). The will to diet. Cool weather. Smell of roasted chicken. My happy, united family. Our family devotion earlier. My 1-hour nap earlier this afternoon. God’s assurance during our quiet time this morning: “You are safe in My arms. No matter what happens, you are safe.”
Those close to me know very well that I am a perfectionist (and if you’ve been following the blog you should have picked that up). In 2013, God demolished my wall of perfectionism. Part of it was my fault, part of it was His. At the start of last year, I already failed in my pursuit for discipline. In the two semesters that just passed I never made it to the dean’s list (even if I expected to make the cut). My idea of everyone in my family & extended families living to a old and gray age was dashed to the dust when my cousin, Trish, died at the age of 25, and a sister of one of my dear friends at 23. I was an erratic blogger, Gospel-sharer, and pseudo-discipler. The religious, philosophical, and ethical beliefs ingrained in my memory & heart have been challenged; some are still being tested, some were debunked, others were proven true. There’s the earthquake in Bohol and Yolanda’s unwelcome havoc in the Visayas. There’s also my hormones and romantic feels looking at the couples in school and telling me to join the bandwagon. The thing is, no one offered to ride the wagon with me. 😦 Chos! Hahahaha
2013 was the year where I learned a lot of things the hard way. I learned what grace truly means because I experienced being a wretch. I came to realize as I cried, searched for answers, groped in the dark, and shouted at God (He told me I could do that) that I have t truly experience my true state of wretchedness before I could fully enjoy grace. Everything I believed about God He shook, and when He did that I also realized that simply saying “may Your will be done, may Your kingdom come” does not suffice. Submission is key. Many times God showed me that I tried desperately and rather foolishly to control Him.
Lest I drown in pessimism, I must say that 2013 was also a year full of blessings not only for me, but also for my family, friends, and even for my country! Among the many blessings (both “good” and “bad”) I received last year were: our new house; new-found friends; tighter relationships with family and close friends; excellence in school requirements when I expected failures; 4-second appearance on a show on national TV (hahahaha); wonderful teaching experiences in Sunday school; my weight gain, this time NO LONGER accompanied by insecurity; real desire to help others; God’s looooooooooooooooooooonggggsuffering attitude towards me, and many, many more!
With my backpack full of lessons (and I have more empty backpacks to fill) and the very person of the God of Heaven and earth Himself, I am eager, excited, and encouraged to embark on a new, hopefully, more fruitful year. So here’s when the resolutions come in. For this year, I’m starting something new. I created a personal theme that would guide my actions and secondary goals for the year. Aside from grace, I crave for JOY. As I get to know my Lord and Savior, I learn that the key to His joy is to learn to be L.A.S.T.: Loving, Altruistic, Self-Controlled, and Thankful.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:36-39
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
These were the verses the Holy Spirit used to convince me that indeed, I should aim to be LAST. Because, as the Savior Himself said, “… many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19:30) Lasting joy belong to those who are willing to go last. I may never understand why or how that happens; I just know it does.
I hope you, too, will find a theme for yourself this year, or perhaps a renewed sense of vision, mission, or purpose. Forget what lies behind; reach forward to what lies ahead! 🙂 Our life here on earth won’t last for long, but our training here will, so make sure we make the most out of it!
May we have a faith-stretching, heart-strengthening, mind-opening, and spirit-soaring 2014! 🙂