The Showroom

“Father, where are we going? I should be going back to my paper.”

Silently, He kept on walking until we reached a white bungalow surrounded by a vast  garden dotted with red and white carnations and  various colors of roses–my favorite flowers. Although I was glad He intervened in my hysteria over my paper that I cannot seem to write perfectly (which I always do), I was anxious about visiting another person’s showroom. Upon adopting a child, Father made him or her a showroom where He hammered away the nails, painted all the right, beautiful colors, exterminated all pests and embellished the entire house at the right places until perfection emanates from all its [showroom] angles.  Once He took me inside an extension room of twin brothers (they each had separate showrooms) where I learned how shallow my life was in my own little world back in “the real world” and how I was victimized by the world’s low expectations of me. I got mesmerized by the beautiful, exciting, disciplined and different lives on display across the red walls of the room that I vowed to step in the “rebelution” myself. Right now, though, all the passion and zeal contained in me two years ago slowly faded away as I encountered tough challenges. Maybe–just maybe–I wasn’t made to be that different at all. Father fumbled for the key in His  bag, and having found the right one, He unlocked the showroom and opened the door. “If I were you, I would forget about that paper for a while and enjoy this showroom. Leave your bag by the porch.” So He heard me after all. Although He did not intend to comfort me (or maybe He did because His tone was gentle),  for some reason His words brought consolation to my weary soul. I removed my heavy backpack and left it on the porch. I walked to the showroom frowning, but when I entered inside, I smiled. Make that beamed.

“This is my dream design!” The thick cement walls were painted white with a wooden design like old bungalows on a private beach. Vintage and femininity marked every item, painting, furniture piece, appliance and object that were neatly and correctly designated in different areas. A large, square colorful sketch on a canvas of my family of five–Dad, Mom, Josh and James–hung on the wall facing the door. “I always wanted a family painting in my house.” Below the gigantic picture were two pictures half the size of the first one which showed the beaming faces of my relatives from each parental side (the maternal side seemed smaller from afar, though, because we had to squeeze in all 20-plus of us while on the paternal side, we are only 11). I continued tinkering with accessories, toys and other objects that I had back at home which reminded me of my elementary and high school years: the glass plate I received in grade 4 for having the best-looking cubicle (only this time, the plate was marble and my name was engraved in Old English font) and the many 1st-place medals I won for Poetry Recitation, Storytelling, Singing with 3 other girls and memorizing and reciting five books of the Bible. My favorite part was the diploma display above all the other medals and certificates in a staircase style–the first one back in preschool was on the lowest stair, followed by the elementary diploma then the high school diploma. The empty case above the high school diploma inspired me all the more to work hard in college because I was only 3rd best in high school. After a minute passed, I walked to the adjacent area near the dining room where pictures attached in strings hung from the ceiling. Memories flooded my mind as I held each photograph: my firsthand experience in government under the Arroyo administration; the various retreats I’ve attended and enjoyed, my evolving style and physique (from “What was I thinking” to “I’m in my right mind now, thank you very much”); receiving my gadgets from my Dad; birthdays in hotels and fancy restaurants; roles in different plays, performing at the Araneta Coliseum during our church anniversary and so many other memories. After what seemed to be an hour or two of beholding this showroom–my showroom–I heard that deep yet gentle voice calling me from a not-so-distant room. I totally forgot about Father.

I followed the path of His voice and arrived at a small room. “Do you remember this, honey?” What He showed me awed me. I held a 3D and 4D LCD replica of my church’s previous architecture back when the main auditorium was smaller and was situated in the 4th floor. Inside the hall, it was dark, but light emanated from a stage where I saw a familiar man speaking.

“Oh, it’s Kuya Ryan! He used to be Jzone’s youth pastor.” His voice sounded exactly the same as if today was five years ago–February 25, 2006 to be exact. “I remember this very much Father! This was the time I became your daughter!” It was indeed a glorious time for Him and a comforting moment for me as I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart that day. Father hugged me tightly and at that moment all the stress, fear and anxiety I stuffed inside me vanished. Finally, I was free. I cried in His arms, mumbling sincere confessions and breathing deeply every once in a while. After a few minutes, I let go, wiped off my tears and smiled. I looked up to Him and saw that He did exactly the same. He cried when I cried. I couldn’t be any more joyful.

“I saw a while ago that you’ve enjoyed My design for you. But that’s not the best part.” He closed the windows and shut off the lights until the room was pitch black. He switched on the light and suddenly, stars appeared on the ceiling.

“The dark room!” I exclaimed. It was indeed wonderful. The pictures floating in midair seemed to be generated by some highly advanced computer software where the people in them moved. I watched the photos intently as they passed before me. Each passing scenario flashed a moment when I encouraged someone in one of many ways: staying up late to help a brother with his homework; nursing my Mom when she was sick; listened to a friend who was burdened with so many problems; or simply smiling to a child along the street.

“Don’t you ever dare say you are insignificant, child, because if it weren’t for you, these people would have missed out on the most important person in their lives: Me.”

“But Father, you were the one Who sought them out. I mean, You  died on the cross,not me.”

“But you let yourself be used by Me. I want people to be members of my team. You stepped outside your comfort zone and bravely shared My Word to broken people in spite your fear and own problems. You depended on Me every step of the way. And I commend you for that.” Immediately Father switched on the lights and the images disappeared. I looked past Him and saw an unpainted wooden door with  “Progress” written on it. “What is that room, Father?”

“That needs yet to be furnished. If you continue to trust Me, this showroom–and in the future, a house–would grow more beautiful than it already is.”

Wow. More beautiful. Anything far more beautiful than what I just saw exceeds the capacity of my imagination. “But why is the door different? I mean, it’s so shabby and holed.”

Father looked at the door, then at me. “Everything you saw a while ago and the things I plan to do in the future are all made with joy. Once the termites set in, they start corrupting.” I looked down and knew exactly what He was talking about. Why didn’t I think of that? Worry should have no place in my life.

Before I could even ask Him more questions, the house vibrated. I wished it didn’t, but I knew that we had work to do. This was Father’s workplace. “It’s time to go back now, my child. Do not be troubled. I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. I love you.”

“I love you too, Daddy.” The showroom faded into black and then into my room. I stopped my vibrating phone and looked at my word-free paper in front of me. Finally I can write a creative narrative of my life–perfect, just the way I like it. 🙂

 

Confessions Of A Glutton In Denial

Just like Goldilocks, I’ve had enough of porridge. Time to walk out in the woods. © Life.com

I have a confession to make: I am a glutton. Yeah, you heard that right. According to my colleague Dictionary, I eat and drink (but more of eat) excessively and voraciously. When you see me, I bet you’re going to say what everyone tells me when I tell them of my bulges: “You’re NOT FAT!” Okay, maybe I’m not (but I did gain 10 pounds last year! @_@). I’m not saying I’m fat; I’m saying that my love for food has taken a wrong turn–I gradually idolized food. In other words, I loved food more than I loved God.

At about this time last year, I was a health chick–disciplined and in perfect shape. I faithfully and accurately monitored every single calorie-filled bite that entered my mouth and utilized the energy it gave me through exercise. Actually, all my other habits were in line–studying, sleeping, meditating and writing. Discipline was my middle name. My planner dictated my actions and not the other way around. I was the adamant member of the family who rejected the white bread served at breakfast on a Saturday after I consumed all the wheat bread during school days. Even while watching TV when I’m supposed to relax, I lifted weights and performed a hundred or more crunches. For about five months I sustained this healthy, disciplined and self-controlled lifestyle (with God’s help, of course). Actually, all the power I had to fulfill these “hard things” came from God. I read and meditated on verses everyday and would even skip some TV shows just to have my quiet time with Him.

Then college came. As much as I would like to blame college per se for my degradation, I wouldn’t and couldn’t because I’m sick of playing the blame game. It’s my fault. I failed. I let my guard down. I thought I can easily say “NO” to the second temptation of buying that delicious, chocolate-filled bread from a favorite bakery of mine in Shang (a mall near my school) after trying it once. (NOTE: I am not against eating so-called “unhealthy” foods, but I do believe that I should limit my intake of such meals because they contain ingredients that may prove detrimental to my health in the long run) Some thoughts are just plain wrong and should be thrown out of the window. I found myself indulging in the delicious pastries almost every week. Soon, my other habits followed suit. I slept late, missed out on daily quiet times, watched more TV and movie premieres, exercised less and ditched writing. It was a slow, painful (emotionally, spiritually and even physically) and devastating ride downhill. Not a good picture. Far from my dream destination of toned muscles, a flat, chiseled stomach, fair skin tone under my eyes (not black) and DISCIPLINE.

Over the past few months, I’ve cried a lot over this issue of mine. Usually I asked forgiveness from my Father, vowed to never overeat and not exercise again, then perform the whole cycle all over again. Again and again I sin and gain more weight, baggage and awful consequences. I realized that I’ve been dwelling cozily in the place I thought I escaped: my comfort zone. All along I thought I was already stepping outside my comfort zone by loving others when I didn’t feel like it or holding my temper when I wanted to shout at people. Of course they were all done outside my comfort zones; but once I finished them and saw the chocolate cookies smirking at me from the table, I stepped back in the zone. (I became so intimate with food I imagined them performing human actions. Weird.)

This morning, God spoke to me through these verses:

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Since I did not have much time to write my thoughts on paper, I just memorized them.  I did not realize until now (well actually fifteen minutes ago) that God was telling me to GET OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE THIS INSTANT! The thing about God is that He does not like working in comfort zones. These places limit the dreams and visions He has for His kids. Comfort zones produce the world’s greatest losers. Where does God work then? Ever heard of a battlefield? He wants His authentic children-slash-warriors to bear arms, fill themselves with His Spirit and fight with His power, grace and love. The reason people lose their battles is that they fight them unarmed and unauthorized by the General i.e., Christ. I’m actually speaking to myself here and slapping my cheeks hard. Okay the last clause, not really. As the verses above said, whoever does not produce good fruit will be cut down and incinerated. I don’t find burning very appealing, do you?

I already asked God for forgiveness–for the nth time–but this time, I have to partner it with action. True repentance is evidenced by actions spurned out of love. As our senior pastor, Peter Tan-chi, said at the afternoon service last Sunday,

“If you really love Jesus, you would not have a hard time obeying Him.”

Amen.

Please do pray for me. The battle rages. The enemy shudders at my sudden dependence on God and resolution to combat his attacks with God’s Spirit, power and Sword (the Bible), but resolutions have to be backed up by correct A-C-T-I-O-N-S.

I want to end with this song by Toby Mac entitled “Get Back Up.”

I may be knocked down, but not out forever!