La Salle

I had a chance to visit my Ninang/Dra. Laarni ‘Let’ Fajardo- Roque in De La Salle University- Manila.

Inside the chapel and etched in the main altar wall, I was struck by this beautiful quote from St. La Salle:  “Iniibig ko nang higit sa lahat ang kalooban ng Diyos para sa akin.” 

Gods will

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan. Together with Ninang/Dra. Let of PLM- Student Catholic Action and with Bro. Edward of our Light Group.

But what if God’s will for my life is not what I want? What if it involves discomfort, suffering and pain?

What if I don’t like it?

But, His will prevailed.

We are all living in a fast-paced, hard driven, “make it happen” world. Most of the time, I got distracted.

I find it difficult to see what He sees, hear the sound of His voice, and love and serve by the power of His Spirit within me.

I am still a work in progress.

Talking with Ninang Let today during my visit and also our sharing session with Bro. Edward during our Light Group, I’ve realized that:

We must migrate toward relationship with Him first and always! This is our only hope of real and lasting transformational change. Intimacy and presence is His power in you and through you.

We must examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate and reflect back to us the things that we may not be aware of. Once revealed, our love for Him should motivate us to take the steps He shows us to get healed.

We must look at our daily activities and check and see if the actions please the Father or grieve the Father. We should decide today to be “Father pleasers.” How we treat our spouses, how we love our children, how we give without having to receive, how we become absorbed with Him and others, rather than self all matter much to God.

Talk to Him often, but mostly listen. Jesus only did and said what the Father gave Him to do and say. Jesus is always our model. Sometimes Jesus would turn away the crowd, the noise, the ministry stuff, to get away with the Father. So must we. He loves to hear from you and He is big enough to listen to the gripes and complaints. He is also big enough to show you that the gripes and complaints are insignificant in light of His eternal plans for you. Take time to listen often, He will give you what you need more often than what you want.

Just love. God is love. Everything about Him oozes love. Love does not mean we ignore truth and justice. His perfect love always includes truth and justice. But how our hearts move towards truth and justice often reveals where we are in His love. Love seems to gravitate towards healing and restoration, rather than judgment. Love within you will cause you to not focus on self and you will pursue loving those who have hated and rejected you. You will pray for your enemies and you will begin relationships with those who are different than you. If anything you do is not founded on Love, then it is not founded on God.

Walk humbly before your God and with others. When I write, I am writing these things to myself as well. I thank God for my evolving development, but wow, I have a long way to go, just ask my wife Jude. The more I know, the more I don’t know and the more it keeps me pressed into Him.

No matter where you are in your life journey, God is constantly working in and through you. He is working daily in all of us.

And one day the time will come when that light bulb inside of us will click. That moment when it all makes sense. When we see and understand God’s plan for us and why certain relationships never worked out, and why others did. We will understand why our ultimate plan was not God’s.

And that moment may not be right now, and that is okay. To be honest it probably isn’t right now for a lot of us.

That is because we have to trust God and have faith that He will show us direction in our lives. That he will close doors that are not meant for us and will present us with new opportunities and open other doors that are indeed part of His plan.

Mock

Have you heard of smart-shaming? This Holy Tuesday, let us reflect on how we treat others.

“Ikaw na magaling!” and “Edi wow!” was a popular catch phrase among young people.

These are just some of the common Filipino responses when someone gives too much information specially in casual conversations.

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Do you have a friend who respond with “Ang lalim oh!” to people who give deep insights on on-going conversation?

Or respond with a “Dami nitong alam!” to people who give interesting information while getting engaged in a conversation?

What supposed to be just a casual exchange of ideas suddenly turns into one party getting shamed because of providing insights, opinions, beliefs and interesting facts.

A fellow blogger Cynthia Ap shared why should someone be stigmatized for thinking differently? Or for being more perceptive or well-informed? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t stupidity, ignorance and stubborn rejection of new ideas be frowned upon instead?

She added that Filipinos live in a world encompassed by love for ignorance. We celebrate mediocrity and lack of insight like they are grand things to be proud of. I have often told my non-Filipino friends, “Filipinos are genuinely warm and friendly but most are not very bright.”

Some of you might take offense but take a look around you. What does the common Filipino watch on TV?

What does the common Filipino post on social media?

What does he talk about in social gatherings?

What does the common Filipino read?

How many of us even read?

Take time to reflect on those questions.

Now, when someone navigates from these ordinariness, we look at his deviation in a negative light. That instead of encouraging him to continue his pursuit of knowledge and his sharing of new ideas on social media or in real conversations, we shame him with responses like, “Eh di wow. Ikaw na ang matalino.”, “Wow! Talino! Sorry ha, bobo lang kasi ako.”

Faced with such comebacks, one can no longer continue with the conversation. What else was one supposed to say? It is the same when a religious person tells you, “Because God said so” which can be translated to, “I don’t want to think anymore.” What else can be said?

Why? Why must we have this mentality?

Is it because we equate being smart with arrogance? Do we find their intelligence offensive in some way, especially when they show it?

She emphasised that what most Filipinos do is, since they are too lazy to widen their knowledge either in theory or in practice, they’ll discredit those who do.

Instead of being curious, they will attack those who are. This is sad and embarrassing at the same time.

Smart-shaming is an effect of anti-intellectualism where people mistrust intellects and intellectual pursuits.

Isaac Asimov once said: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

People who present a different way of thinking, and are perceived as a danger to normality are considered as outsiders with a little empathy to the rest of the population.

Hence, the birth of the idea that people who have a contradicting point of view are considered as elitists, arrogant, matapobre (anti-poor), and aloof.

One of the countries who values high-quality education among its people is the Philippines but ironically has an alarming increase rate of “smart-shaming.”

Why is this so? Filipino are not aware that smart-shaming is actually happening around us.

Smart-shaming continuously increase and happens every day due to lack of awareness among the public.

Sadly, the act of mocking smarter people than us is becoming a norm.

Whatever rationale or personal reasons people have behind it, smart-shaming has to be stopped.

Smart-shaming stops a person from pursuing intellectual growth fearing they might be mocked because of it. Knowledge and intelligence is power and people should not be teased because of the knowledge they have gained and learned.

Acknowledging their achievements will encourage not only the person to quench his/her thirst for knowledge but also would encourage others to be smarter.

Nowadays, information is readily available by just clicking on buttons in your computer screen. I personally cannot see why people stop learning when we have all the means to gather information. Life is, after all, a continuous process of learning.

As much as it stops intellectual growth, it also hinders people to express themselves freely.

Because of the fear that people will mock someone when their views and opinions opposes the other party, people tend to “just not talk”.

This causes a lot of great ideas and interesting opinions to be kept and slowly be forgotten.

The fear of being dubbed as a know-it-all hunt everyone.

But bear in mind it is better to be a know-it-all than to know nothing at all.

Balloon

Last Sunday, the Awesome Kids Ministry team taught the children about forgiving oneself.

They enjoyed a short skit and a balloon analogy about forgiveness.

For the craft activity, they made a hot air balloon artwork that reminded them that God sets us free and we must forgive ourselves.

Balloon

Forgiving yourself is far more challenging than forgiving someone else because you must live with yourself and your thoughts 24/7. Despite the challenge, emotionally healthy people must have the capacity to forgive themselves when they have made a mistake.

I was reminded of a sixty-five year-old taxi driver I met few years back. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a former OFW and shared my healing journey.

Like many others who learn of my concerns, he decided to open up about his life to see if I had any advice.

He’d been married for twenty-seven years, and had tried to commit suicide two years prior by overdosing on pills. His wife found his body and helped revive him. He was grateful he didn’t succeed in committing suicide, but said that, though he thinks his wife is a great person, he is not attracted to her. He said that ever since his suicide attempt he had been attracted to many of his passengers and one of these days would like to “take it to the next level.”

I didn’t really want to dwell on his attraction to his passengers, so much as try to get back to his childhood.

Many of the problems we have as adults have their roots in our upbringing. Come to find out, he had a very rough childhood. His parents were alcoholics, which drove him to seek aid and comfort from a male church leader he trusted.

This church leader tried to have an inappropriate relationship with him. So he was cut off emotionally from his parents, and spiritually from the religion that was supposed to sustain him during difficult times.

This sense of being isolated from his social world led him to make many bad choices, starting from a young age. These added up, until he felt like he couldn’t escape from the consequences.

He felt trapped in a prison of his own making, and that’s why he wanted to end his life. I told him that it must be really hard to carry all of these difficulties with him his whole life, but that it was time to forgive others and, more importantly, forgive himself.

I told him to write a letter to himself listing all the things he forgave himself for. Writing is very therapeutic, but it also helps to hear a message. So I wanted him to read the letter out loud to himself and process it aurally as well. Who knows if he ever followed my advice. Many hurting people know what to do, but don’t do what they know.

Sometimes our poor choices stack up, and churn the ground beneath our feet into quicksand.

We must remember to relax, breathe in, and not let our current situation rob us of the will to make changes. Don’t’ wallow in a temporary negativity—take action!

Don’t spend so much time going over the past that you allow it to define you.

Life is full of choices and every choice we make will either take us in a positive, life-giving direction or rob us of the opportunity to be a life-giving individual.

Forgiving ourselves does not let us off the hook, it does not justify what we have done, and it is not a sign of weakness.

Forgiveness is a choice that takes courage and strength.

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I understand that there is nothing to gain by holding myself in unforgiveness and there is everything to gain by releasing myself from unforgiveness and beginning the process of healing.

I want to move forward and make a positive difference in the future. I confess the ungodly accountability, self-abasement, and the vows I have made to never forgive myself. Because Jesus died for my sins, I choose to forgive myself–to no longer punish myself and be angry with myself.

I forgive myself for letting this hurt control me and for hurting others out of my hurt. I repent of this behavior and my attitude. I ask for Your forgiveness and healing.

God, help me to NEVER again retain unforgiveness of myself or others.

Thank you for loving me and for Your grace to move forward with You.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Relax

There comes a time in life where we have to decide what we believe about ourselves. Don’t let someone else’s opinion become your truth.

Most of the time you just got to give yourself a pep talk.

Before you want the world to believe in you, make sure you have started believing in yourself.

There were times I doubted myself but God’s relentless love was bigger than my fears.

Relax

God cannot bless who you pretend to be. You’re more beautiful than you think you are.

Bo Sanchez’s book “You’re Weird” reminded me not to be nasty with myself.

This life-changing book offers the solution: to give yourself permission to be you and to embrace your past, your pains, your personality, and your purpose.

I am God’s masterpiece.

Michaelangelo said that when he makes a marble statue, his role is to simply “liberate” the masterpiece that is trapped inside the stone.

We are like the marble, God is the sculptor, and He is creating a masterpiece out of us.

Bro. Bo said like a sculptor that gazes upon a block of marble. God sees your beauty, glory and wonder trapped inside you. God’s role is to liberate the masterpiece in you!

Some of the powerful lessons Bro. Bo shared in the book that empowered me everyday: when you help others, you should never forget to help yourself. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The goose is you. The golden egg is your service. Take care of you so that you can continue to serve.

When you help others, do it with a team. Don’t try to do everything by yourself or you’ll burn out. Give yourself the gift of limits and you’ll be able to give a bigger gift to the world.

On his final note Bro. Bo said:

Give yourself permission to be you.

Accept yourself the way Gof accepts you, care for yourself the way He cares for you, and delight in yourself the way He delights in you.

Relax in His love.

#BelievingInYourself