You Don’t Have To Be Interesting

At least not always. Interest can be subjective (what’s interesting for one may not be interesting for another) and is often temporary (what’s interesting now may not be interesting next year, or even tomorrow).

You do, however, have to be passionate.

The Insecurity Unmasked

I’ve written a few times about my struggle with insecurity (like my post on disliking my “program” like Ralph of Wreck-It-Ralph and my struggle to accept my dystonia). Well, I’m writing about it again. Insecurity gets the best of me when I let my guard down–when I think too much about how people will think of me (and make them as a source of my joy) or wish I have the things and experiences others have. When I read blogs of famous people or slowly-becoming famous people, I see the cool people they meet, events they attend to, clothes they wear (especially them fashion bloggers, a.k.a. Imelda Marcos’ disciples) and creative juices they have. Then I look at my life: the people I meet (almost the same everyday), the events I attend to (right now I shift from school to house to church), clothes I wear (I’ve run out of mix and match combinations with my available choices), and my “creative juices” (last month I thought about having my room painted white and my desk yellow. How’s that for “creative?”). I see monotonous repetition and ordinariness. Whenever a blank blog post is in front of me, I ask myself: “What interesting things can I write about today?” If I’ll be completely honest with myself (and I will), what that question really asks is this: “How can I be like other bloggers and post interesting stuff about my life to get more people to visit my blog, like my posts, and give me attention?” Narcissism at its finest. That’s why I could not blog the past few weeks. If I ask myself the first question, I couldn’t write anything because nothing “interesting” happened to me (well except for the fact that we moved to a new townhouse after 18 years of living in a small apartment unit).

The Turning Point

If God called you to do something for Him and you don’t do it, He’ll bug you until you make a choice about it. The past few weeks, God kept bugging me to blog. He knew (and I knew in my heart, too) that I could use my gift and love of writing to encourage others, inspire other people with His awesomeness, and just give Him the glory He deserves. Truth is, I always had the intention to write about meaningful things. God has been speaking to me the past few weeks in ways He hasn’t spoken to me ever in my life. He reminded me that He loves me with or without my performance, and that I should exert all my energy on knowing Him, loving Him, and loving others. He opened my eyes into seeing the needs of others and prioritizing them above my own (although I still falter at this point…a lot). He always, always whispers in my ear: “I’m your Father. I love you very much. Stay close to Me. I will never let you go.” Who wouldn’t fall in love with a God like that? Unfortunately for me, I focused my eyes on what I thought mattered: the things, activities, celebrities, clothes, and philosophies of this world. I needed to repent, and repent I did.

By asking myself “what interesting things can I write about today,” I am limiting myself to subjects that only a few can relate to. What if the things I find interesting don’t interest you (which is most likely the case)? God called me to write beyond interesting; He called me to write about my passions: Him, His Word, communication, intentional living, relationships, among others. I have a calling and a desire to experience an extraordinary God in my ordinary day-to-day activities and write about them. Earlier today, I accompanied my brother Josh to the hospital for a consultation and lab procedures because of his hoarse and recurring cough. I don’t really like going to hospitals even if they look and smell good because I don’t like seeing sick people. However, if you love someone, you’ll put their good above your own. My brother needed me, so I went.

After “stethoscoping” my brother, our pediatrician told us to have Joshua’s chest x-rayed and a CBC to check if he had either pneumonia or dengue. 😦 When she wrote down those two diagnoses, I felt nervous. For a while I somehow felt what it was like to be a mom. After having our laboratory papers verified, we headed to the radiology department. The procedure went quickly and easily. The CBC was the hard part…at least for me. If there’s one thing I hate next to a cockroach, it is a needle penetrating my skin–or anyone else’s skin. God had me watch my brother get his blood extracted, and I’m glad He did. Not only did it make me strong, but it made me feel closer to my brother because I was there with him. I hope he feels the same way too. (Chos ang drama)

Whenever you include God in the scenes of your life, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The impossible becomes possible. That’s way more exciting to read about and learn from than “interesting things” like fashion updates, parties, concerts, and events. Now I’m not saying that those things are unimportant and not worth blogging about, nor am I criticizing bloggers in these fields. As a matter of fact, I patronize them! Most of them are really passionate about what they do. What I’m saying is that, even if you’re not involved in high-profile activities or wear the lastest fashion, you can tell a story that moves and inspires people simply because you are uniquely you and, if Jesus is in you, you are capable of doing the impossible. “Great and mighty things which you don’t know,” God says in Jeremiah 33:3, are within your reach.

The Challenge

I praise God for lifting me out of my insecurity. I had to make that choice, but He awakened me and gave me the strength to make that choice. He can help you do the same, too. Perhaps you are living in the shadow of the Interesting Things. You honestly think that your story, your idea, your song, your recipe, your choreography, your novel, your message, or whatever it is God called you to make, is not worth reading, knowing, listening, and enjoying because it’s not “interesting” enough. It won’t have too many downloads or hits on YouTube. The truth is, not everyone gets to have a chance on fame. Fame is not the goal. I learned my lesson the hard way. You see, I love attention. I received too much attention one weekend, that when the attention was gone the following week, I felt insecure. If we focus on our eyes on fame, we focus our eyes on people, and when we do, we are seeking to be disappointed because people disappoint us. However, if we focus our eyes on Jesus and work within His will–in the realm of the impossible–we find ourselves whole, fulfilled, and joyful. I also experience this. I am at my happiest state when I am right with Jesus, even if doing His will is uncomfortable at times.

Lately I’ve been reading a book entitled The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How To Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo. Gallo praises the late Apple founder’s enthusiasm, energy, and passion for all things Apple not simply because they are his invention, but because his products make people’s lives better. Steve Jobs found fulfillment in making the world a better place. Today, we appreciate him for that. The very device I use to type this blog and publish it for the world to see is a 15-inch Macbook Pro. His passion for seeing other people’s lives dramatically improve with great products reaped great consequences not only for him, but for millions of people all over the world who work for or are adherents of the Mac, iTunes, iPhone, iPod, iPad, and the rest of Job’s brainchildren.

Here’s the challenge I have taken on myself which I now pass on to you: What’s your passion? If you have discovered it, fan its flames! If you have yet to find out what it is, don’t give up! Keep searching. Ask. Experiment. Collaborate. Fail. Get back up! If you think your story is too ordinary to be useful for inspiration, encouragement, and even life transformation, ask God to use it for His glory. Sometimes we take for granted the little things God tells us to do when in fact they are the very experiences that can significantly impact a life more than ten entries on events and giveaways. Perhaps you were finally able to forgive that friend of yours after years of bitterness and anger. Tell your story! Help others overcome unforgiveness! If one day, when you were bored, you decided to make a scrapbook of your life and realized that you had so many wonderful memories and learned a lot on life & love, tell us! Make the world a better place by helping people make sense and find beauty in the mundane things of life. For me, that is where extraordinariness really lies.

The next time I find myself asking, “What interesting things can I write about today,” I will step back, look up, and ask myself, “How can I make a difference in my world today? What am I passionate about?” Then I’ll go out there and work in the realm of the impossible with the power God has given me.

Now that’s interesting! May you do the same. 🙂

Unforgettable

Studying in universities for the past three years has taught me to think critically and creatively, manage my time well (albeit I’m still struggling with this), communicate clearly and effectively, and argue reasonably, among others. By God’s grace,I am more intelligent and skilled today than I was three years ago, but I’m still far from perfect. However, in spite of major improvements, there’s one skill I haven’t quite masted yet: remembering to bring everything you need to bring and actually bringing them.

I get frustrated at myself when I forget to bring something I badly need because I’m the type of person who prepares her things the night before school or an event. Clearly there’s something wrong with me, and while I don’t deny that the fault is mine to bear, sometimes I can’t help t blame my forgetfulness on my finiteness. Tao lang; nagkakamali ako. I get even more frustrated when I realize that I have more cases of forgetfulness in college than when I was in high school.

Strike one: first year, first semester in college: After sweating buckets in P.E. class, I took a shower in the gym bathroom. Ordinarily you use a towel to dry yourself after showering. In extraordinary cases when you forget to bring your towel (like I did), you have to resort to extraordinary measures. As for me, I “fanned” myself dry (as in fan my body with a paper fan till it’s dry and wipe it with tissue).

Strike two: again, I was a freshman, also in my first semester, after my P.E. class. When I took a shower this time, I had my towel with me. Forgetfulness 0, Jenny 1. Ordinarily, after you dry yourself, you dress up in new, clean clothes. However, when you fail to bring a clean shirt with you, again, you must have presence of mind and think of extraordinary measures to solve your dilemma. Now here’s where God (and theoretically, my Mom) entered the picture. During that school year, I had a personal locker. Weeks before the incident happened, my Mom told me to leave a shirt inside my locker for emergency or just-in-case cases. Obviously this was one of those cases. Hallelujah, I wasn’t going to walk around school wearing a used, sweaty shirt!! But….there’s a big but. The downside of the whole scenario, albeit having the problem resolved, is that the gym bathroom where I was is located on the west end of the school grounds, and my locker on the east. Only one thing had to be done, and that I did: I dressed up in new clothes except the shirt, ran straight to my locker, grabbed my clean shirt, and changed. Forgetfulness 1000, Jenny -100.

If I were to write the times I forgot to bring something or do something, or an important event, I would need a new blog or an entire book as thick as a Harry Potter book to finish. There is one more instance I must share because it’s recent and still fresh to my memory, and it is the very reason I prompted myself to post this entry. I’m already a sophomore, in my second semester, and until now I still haven’t learned my lesson on BRINGING YOUR STUFF DURING P.E. DAYS. (what’s with me and P.E. classes?!) Strike three: last Friday, I had P.E. class. I hurried to the restroom to dress down to my workout outfit. Ordinarily you need a SHIRT not just to dress yourself with after taking a shower, but also before taking a shower. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to reserve a locker to put an extra shirt in so that solution was out of the question. If there is one thing I have learned in these situations, it is this: you have to find a way to fix your mess. You can’t just say, “Oh well. That’s life. Who cares about P.E. anyway?” My Mom’s adage rebutted this faulty argument head-on: “Gawan mo ng paraan“.

MY MOM!!

It took me a while to come up with a solution and remember my Mom, but at least I did. Just this year, my Mom was hired by a new company whose office was located in Tektite [tech-tight] building, a 3-minute walk away from my school. Their company would have shirts in their stockroom because they have so many merchandises available. I called up my Mom and told her my dilemma. She was on her way to Eastwood Mall at that time, but she promised to work something out. I trusted my Mom’s word, but I also knew she was busy, so I began to nurse thoughts of giving up and just cutting my P.E. class. God had other plans. Mom called me up 2 minutes after our conversation (see how impatient I was!) and told me to pick up the shirt from her office and look for her officemate, Ms. Sab. Answered prayer! I set my legs on brisk walk mode with occasional runs since I carried two heavy bags on my shoulders (not the best running accessories, but if you don’t have a locker or a car, you have no choice). In twelve minutes I ran to Tektite, took the shirt, and ran back to school. By the time I got to school, obviously I was late for class (in fact I was already considered absent because I arrived past the 15-minute grace period), but as my Lolo always says, “Better late than never!”

While changing into my workout outfit, I aired my thanks to God out loud. God, in His goodness, answered back in the form of a reminder. The Holy Spirit put into my remembrance these verses:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”
– Isaiah 49:15-16 (NASB)

“Who do you think you are? You think you’re so smart. I am holy; I’m not like you or any other person. I don’t forget. Even if you excel in forgetting and many times, fail in obeying, I love you. I will never forget you. Ever.”

I was very humbled, to say the least. Who was I–who am I–that the God heaven and earth, the King of kings and the LORD of lords, the infinite God, would take the time and ache of working in someone like me? Why would the most important person and being that ever existed and ever will exist care for a person like me, who is virtually unimportant (if not for His saving and sanctifying grace)?

I am forever indebted and grateful to God for His kindness towards me, His grace when my flaws show, and His divine hand of providence that provides on time. Who knows? Maybe one of the reasons why my Mom transferred to her new company is so that, through this experience, I could exercise my presence of mindedness, rely on God’s provision, and be grateful for my Mom. 🙂 Guys and gals, when your Moms tell you to do something as simple as putting an extra shirt in your locker, HEED IT! Ephesians 6:1-3 rings true in my life: if I obey my parents, life would be well with me. 🙂

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I know I can’t blame my forgetfulness on my finiteness forever, but one thing I hold on to and glory in: my God won’t forget me, and as long asI yield to His leadership, He will make a way out and lead me to safety. In a world full of pain, disease, heart breaks, crises, and meltdowns, sometimes we just want to relinquish our responsibility (that is, of turning to or away from Jesus) and blame everything on God and people. We are all at fault, whether we like it or not. That’s why I find God so, so good, because even if it’s our fault that we sin and make mistakes, He still finds a way to cut through our hearts and whisper gently in our ears saying, “Come to Me. I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He remembers that we are dust and prone to evil, disease, ignorance, and forgetfulness. He finds ways to make us know Him, because only in Him can we find meaning and peace of mind (Psalm 103:14-18; Philippians 4:6-7).

“Unforgettable–that’s what you are….”
Romantic when Nat King Cole sung it in 1951,
But even more romantic when the Lover of my soul wrote it since time immemorial, and sang it to me the other day. 😉