Disappointment is HisAppointment

Which hurts more: not getting what you expected to receive or getting something you did not want and expect to receive?

Last time (the post before the most recent post) I mentioned about my exemption in my Chemistry finals. Well, guess what?

I wasn’t  exempted after all.

When my professor showed me my real grade this afternoon, I was shocked, devastated (though I hid my feelings pretty well or else I would have bawled in front of him) and…regretful. I did not realize until I saw my grade that I was flunking chem (at least in my standards, which are pretty high). I cannot believe I performed poorly in my favorite science. Now I’m starting to think maybe chemistry and I never really had…well, chemistry. 😐

By the power vested in me by the Holy Spirit, I was able to keep my cool and saltwater intact in my tear ducts as my friends came up to me and made sure I was okay. Thankfully I did not complain, but at that time and even a few hours later when I got home, I was on the verge of complaining about my sudden misfortune and blaming my professor for misreading my grade. I am still thinking twice if I should take the finals because I need to reach my 93% cut-off mark or more in order to maintain or slightly improve my grade. The fact that I’m already in summer mode and that I still have 2 finals left to ace (although I’m surprisingly exempted–for real–from the other exam, which is Math).

When disappointments come my way, I am always reminded of these 3 Biblical principles:

  1. Your response is your responsibility – Whenever we face something difficult, we can respond in one of two ways: remain bitter and allow it to sink in our system or surrender your hurts and burdens to God and allow Him to work for you.
  2. Romans 8:28 – God is in control of my life no matter what happens
  3. What you sow is what you reap

The last point was the most difficult principle to accept because it involved my past mistakes. I knew that I slacked off this semester and cut several classes. I spent more time studying my Facebook wall than my chemistry lessons. I may blame about anything such as the professor’s teaching style and personality, but I would never win because I fought unprepared. The second semester was an avenue for hard work, and when judgement day came, I failed.

Whenever we face difficult and unexpected situations, we feel tempted to complain, nag and harbor bitterness so much so that we quit the task, subject or work. After what happened to me today, I realized that the only cure to this kind of struggle is surrender and humility. Letting go does not mean letting it flutter until you can’t see it anymore; letting go means loosening your grip on loose and lifeless living and taking hold of quality life. Let God, because the power and the values itself come from Him. “Without Me, You are nothing.”

When the negative expectations come your way, remember that God must be calling you to have an appointment with Him. God speaks to those who take time to listen. Are you going to meet with Him? 😀

The Duh?! Stuff

Robert Fulghum was right. All we ever needed to know we learned in kindergarten. At times when I commit stupid mistakes (which happens all the time. Not proud of them though), I get this idea that my mistakes are growing more difficult as I grow older. However when I analyze my mistakes and see the root causes (did I just say I analyze my mistakes? @_@), I don’t see a physics problem or a differential equation causing me to commit a heinous act. The cause is usually–if not, always–a failure to follow a kindergarten rule. The Duh?! stuff–the things ingrained in my memory that seemed to have been reformatted during life’s delinquent moments. Thus, following Mr. Fulghum’s footsteps, I created my own list of All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten list that would serve as a reminder for decision making–the Top 20 Duh?! Stuff.

  1. Knock before opening a door.

  2. Always say “Po” and “Opo” to a person older than you.

  3. The magic words are as magical as the days of Abraham and Isaac: thank you and please.

  4. Don’t pester your Mom and Dad to buy you stuff (even if they can afford it). It diminishes your cuteness factor by adding lines to the benefactors’ foreheads (or pimples,  depending on the genes)

  5.  Fighting is for babies, the wimps and the chickens. For the so-called “mature adults” that includes backbiting, gossiping, slandering via Facebook and YM statuses (patama ng patama, hindi naman niya mabababasa!)

  6. Ask permission if you want to use the things of others. Even if it’s just a Panda ballpen. Ask. For. The. Owner’s. Permission. PLEASE.

  7. Make sure you run with your shoe laces tied.

  8. Don’t hesitate to ask Dad and Mom for help and to tell them if you’re hurt in any way. Being a Daddy’s angel or a Momma’s boy is the best role to play. Ever. 🙂

  9. Pray to God everyday. He’s listening to you (no matter how old or young you are).

  10. STUDY FIRST BEFORE YOU PLAY OUTSIDE. Or inside if your DoTA, Farmville, Sims or Left 4 Dead apparatus and friends are inside a shop, or worse, your house.

  11. Make friends with the outsiders, the weird bunch and the geeks.

  12. Share your food with friends especially when they have little or no baon. (Kaso hindi. Minsan konti na nga baon niya, nakakailang tikim ka. Ang tikim isang kapiranggot lang, okay?)

  13. Don’t watch too near the TV, unless you want to undergo Lasik surgery or wear contacts by the age of 13.

  14. Obey Dad, Mom, teachers, Ate, Kuya, policeman (unless he’s unaware of the traffic rule you’re defending) and pastors. Enough said.

  15. Make sure you change your shirt when your back is sweaty so that you won’t get cough and/or colds. Spares Dad and Mom the worry and expenses for your medicines.

  16. Look to the left and to the right before you cross the street. God gave you 2 eyes. Use them.

  17. Eat your vegetables. (Meat and junk-food lovers have higher risks of heart disease and other major illnesses because they refused veggies when they were kids.)

  18. Fix your things the night before going to school so that you won’t have to ask paper all the time from your classmate who was responsible enough to fix his things the night before he went to school. Ouch.

  19. Sleep at 9:00 (or 9:30). checks time 10:50…@_@

  20. Never talk to strangers. Especially if they look, act and speak strangely nice and accommodating. There ain’t no prince charming to kiss you because you were either too foolish or too hungry that you ate a poison apple offered by a homely, conniving witch.

There are hundreds of other lessons that state the obvious. Mind sharing me your favorites? 🙂

Who’s Sitting At Your Heart’s Stool?

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!

Are You Smarter Than a Butterfly?

“He makes everything beautiful in His time….”

Next to childbirth, a butterfly’s metamorphosis is my most favorite natural process. It is a clear and factual example of ugly duckling-turned-swan–from a fat, ugly caterpillar to a fragile, attractive butterfly. I still cannot comprehend how such a fat creature can turn into something big. It encourages me with two things. First, thinning down is possible. The butterfly “exercised”; so must I. Second, something bad can turn into something good. A problem is a blessing in disguise. An enemy can be your best friend.

The most difficult stage of a butterfly’s life is the third stage–the stage where it has to fit itself–its former, stocky caterpillar self–into a 2-3 inch cocoon.Imagine the struggle it suffers day in and day out. What must the poor creature be thinking? Could it have thought about getting out of the cocoon in order to breathe and live normally again as a caterpillar? What if, halfway through the metamorphosis, it chose to give in to the struggle and give up the challenge? Would it ever emerge so beautifully as an intricate piece of gold embellished with various stones and gems?

Ponder on the last two questions for a while. Relate a butterfly’s metamorphosis to your own life. Notice how struggle applies to both situations. It’s a fact: life is a daily struggle. Life, as you grow older, gets less “spacious” and more difficult to live in. Just like a butterfly, you push side to side and wait. For a looooonnng time. Hoping. Imagining what life must be outside. In a spacious paradise. Where I could fly freely without being decapitated by a cocoon.

Another question: does the caterpillar know that one day, it would become a butterfly? I don’t think so. Actually, I can’t be so sure, but either way, it does not matter because insects cannot think. But we can. That’s what makes humans exceptional and spiritual. We have a soul. If you’re a child of God, you know the promise that awaits you in Paradise. You long for it so much–you wish you could break free from your earthly cocoon and fly freely in your Heavenly Home. Let’s emulate the butterfly’s ‘attitude’. Without knowing the beauty that it would soon possess after undergoing severe lock-up in a cocoon, it waited and suffered a little suffocation and loneliness. But hey, if God cares about a negligible butterfly, won’t He care much for you? You whom He created and loved. You whom He saved from the depths of hell. You whom He thought about since the beginning of time. “Will He not graciously give you all things for your enjoyment?”

So brother or sister, worry not when life seems to trap you in its suffocating cocoon. The Creator has not neglected nor forgotten you. Wait. Patiently suffer affliction. Persevere. Be hopeful for that promise. Because if you don’t, you would be outsmarted by an insect. And you wouldn’t want that, would you? :>

Beware of Joy-Stealers

Yesterday I experienced a little bit of the downside as a rookie in an ad/media agency: boredom, feeling of being so unproductive, unnoticed. I had no meaningful conversations with the people around me, only simple yes’s and no’s when needed.

My parents have to bring my uncle to the airport by 7 P.M. so my dad picked me up by 4. I was so bored (and quite sad) that I decided to leave at 3, vanishing from the scene. (But I asked permission from my superiors about my early dismissal)

Today is quite the opposite of yesterday’s dramatic scene. We had lunch at a delicious Vietnamese restaurant (though I did not order anything because I had pack lunch!) and finally, I had something productive to do. I also received free teenage magazines and piaya, a delicious Filipino snack. I had meaningful (more than yes’s and no’s) conversations with the people around me.

Today as I type this entry, I analyzed myself: feelings, emotions, reasons for sudden changes. What was the cause of it all? Hormones? The people around me? Those two things are beyond my control, but even they are not the sources of my sudden change of emotions. The problem lies within my character, perspective and object of joy. I am reminded of a very remarkable preaching by our senior pastor. Who is my god? Is it God, the Creator of the universe, myself or my job? “Anyone that can cause you worry or sadness, or the opposite, is your idol.” I realized I’ve made my job my idol–the god I worship. The job determined what I would feel, how I would act and respond to certain situations. If God was my god, I would respond joyfully even if I don’t get what I want.

If ever you feel downcast, anxious or depressed because of your job or ministry, check your heart. Maybe you’ve lost your joy because you focused your eyes on another idol and started going after it. Beware of joy-stealers. They add lines to the forehead and speed up the ageing process. :))