Some people are worth letting go of…

Letting Go Quote

I came across this quote and realized how much this applies to me.

I care about people — my family, relatives, friends, co-workers — especially when much time is spent together, whether at work or at leisurely activities — and especially when life is shared. Sometimes I think I care too much.

Being a very imperfect person, it is not too difficult for me to forgive others their flaws. On the other hand, breach of trust is an issue that is very challenging for me to forgive.

So when relationships have to end (this is excluding my husband and immediate family) — when the time comes where I need to let go of people, no matter the closeness developed — I am deeply hurt. It takes a while for me to recover, often times spiraling down into depression — until I finally realize that I don’t need to keep this person who has deeply offended me in my life.

I am sure they hardly spare a thought for me — so it’s best that I also stop thinking of them and move on. However, our memories don’t simply forget. It is inevitable for us to remember the people, the circumstances, and the feelings associated with them. The point is to let go every time — EVERY TIME.

Like anything that involves our growth and development as a person, it is a process. And I want to celebrate each success — each time I am able to let go of a person I don’t need in my life — every person who just pulls me down. They are not worth it. They are not worth the pain I suffered — so it won’t happen again.

Letting go of people will also open up more space in my heart to let other people in. Love doesn’t stop. Caring doesn’t stop. I just need to learn to discern better.

 

Advertisements

Skin Diary

Tattoo

I finally got my first tattoo last year, at 48 years old. Another item to tick off my bucket list.

I tagged my husband and sister along on this adventure, in one of the best tattoo shops in KL https://www.borneoink.com, which also happened to be within walking distance from her work place – very convenient!

After years of imagining and planning for it (I saved many designs from the web), I decided on this simple heart with “family” written inside. It’s a very common design, but the significance is deep. Family, my immediate family, is my life and inspiration.

The love we have for each other is etched deep in my heart, and now, in my skin. Just like a diary, whenever I look at this tiny tattoo on my arm, I will always remember that day – the excitement, the intimacy of having my husband and sister watching as I smiled through the whole painless (a 2 out of 10 for me — high tolerance for pain) process. It was an adventure we shared as a family.

So this is my first entry in my Skin Diary. I hope to add many more.

Photo credit – https://www.instagram.com/rsmdoftherock/” Rex S. Dela Peña (my husband and photography enthusiast)

I was never alone…

Southern Luzon Medical Center

It has been a week today since my first ever surgery. I had a laparoscopy cholecystectomy done last March 24 to remove my gall bladder because of the many stones that resided in it and caused me many hours of pain. Many may say it’s a very common procedure for a minor organ and that I’m making too much of a deal of it. Like I told my hubby, it’s still my bladder and it’s still my body. There is nothing common about it. I only have one of each!

I had about a week to prepare myself physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought I was doing pretty well in that I was still able to function around the house and do my baking and deliveries. Well, not really. I did break down the day after my surgeon told me that I had to go through the surgery. I was tearing apart at the seams as my fears surfaced and almost engulfed me. I was losing my bladder! It’s major!

Many friends and family members sent their support and prayers through text messages and e-mail. I read and re-read my Facebook messages and thanked God for His love expressed in tangible ways. These were the messages I reviewed in my mind when I was wheeled to the operating room. And as I was laid down on the bed with the many green and blue-masked figures hovering around me, the bright OR lights reminding me of the many ER episodes I’ve seen, I listened calmly to the soft buzz and beeps of the various machines I was hooked up to. I thought I was calm until one of the nurses read my blood pressure to me: 120/90. That’s high! I’m cool with my normal 110/70.

I realized then that the surgery may be postponed if my BP didn’t cooperate. That was when I suddenly felt Christ’s comforting presence in me. I thanked him for the treatment I was about to receive and silently prayed for my anesthesiologist, surgeon and nurses. And then I blacked out.

I woke up to the voice of my able anesthesiologist and my sweet hubby. Since I was just beginning to regain my consciousness, I could only manage a “thumbs up”, with my heavy eyes and parched mouth still shut. I also realized that I survived the surgery and that I was never alone. Jesus was with me the whole time.

I look back now and still fight back the tears whenever I remember that special moment before I lost consciousness. That was the moment when I felt so much fear yet so much peace and comfort afterwards. I am also filled with gratitude for the love and support of our church family who visited me in the hospital and stayed to care for me. That was love in action. I will never forget that. And to my hubby, a big kiss and hug for his loving care and sacrifice.

I was never alone. I know that now.

The Love of a Husband

LoveThe past few months have had me witnessing the relationship dynamics between husbands and wives. And the past couple of days allowed me to see and feel the inner pain and unhappiness of a good friend because of her strained relationship with her husband. She is not the type to brood and she would rather keep busy and chat with friends instead of dwelling on her inner turmoil.

I know that they love each other. But many times, other less important issues get in the way and simply blow the love off. In their case, their faith is being challenged by a menagerie of religious views and doctrines from all directions. While her husband stubbornly insists on a few selected church doctrines and following espoused views to the letter, my friend simply but determinedly holds fast to the truth of God’s love. She admits to being simple in her faith and not being “bright enough” to argue with her husband on religious dogma. And she strives to live by the biblical scripture on 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the “love chapter”.

I may be a tad simplistic, but I do hold fast to the truth that love always comes first. When minor (or major) disagreements come up, I believe in holding the issue up against the barometer of love. In the end, the issues fade against the power of love. It’s that simple, yet that profound.

WW-JAM

WW-JAM? What will Jesus ask me? What will he ask me when I come before his presence, face-to-face, in the fullness of his kingdom?

I’ve always pondered upon this question, especially when I come across fellow Christians who spend most of their time and energy arguing and nit-picking about the peripheral issues that beset Christianity. Sometimes it upsets me that more time is spent debating over the merits of having a “structured church” or a “non-structured church”, than in learning to love God and our neighbors more. After all, isn’t this the core of Jesus Christ’s message and command to humanity? Isn’t it, in fact, the core of his being? Jesus Christ is love!

The New Living Translation of the Bible’s concordance defines love as such: “the ultimate expression of God’s loyalty, purity, and mercy extended toward his people – to be reflected in human relationships of brotherly concern, marital fidelity, and adoration of God.” In 1 John 4:8, “But anyone who does not love does not know God – for God is love.”

An aunt of mine recently reminded me of the importance of my “core”. She said that if the “core” is strong and “in-place”, then I’ll be okay. She was also referring to the core of my relationship with my husband. I believe that, that “core” is love — God’s love. How can we go wrong with that? God’s very being, his love, is the most stable and solid foundation for all our relationships and all that matters in life. To some, this is a very simplistic view. But really, how simple is it to love? How many of us can actually say that we love the way Jesus Christ loves us? The very “simplicity” of this life principle belies the depth of its mystery.

Perhaps many of my friends and readers will have noticed that I talk and write a lot about love.  My reason for this is that God’s love is my ultimate character barometer. Before I think, say, or act, I always need to ask myself this: Do my thoughts, speech or actions spring from love or not? Does my pre-occupation with the correctness or paganism of structured Christian denominations stem from my love for God and others, or from my feelings of self-righteousness and my judgment of other people’s hearts and intentions?

Isn’t it true that the moment love exits, judgment sets in? It is very easy to judge others but so difficult to see and recognize our own faults, sins, and limitations. It is also so much easier to judge others rather than love them. We need to pray daily (and every second) for God’s love to permeate our whole being and flow out of ourselves toward him and our brothers and sisters. When we do this, we will begin to find it more difficult to judge others because we are intimately aware of what Jesus Christ wants us to do and the sin of judgment he wants us to completely let go of.

So what will Jesus ask me? Will  he ask me what church I attend? Will it matter to him that I go to a “structured” or “non-structured” denomination? Will Jesus ask me if I faithfully followed the Acts 2:43-47 “model of a house church” or chose to worship him with fellow believers in a denominational congregation “set up by man”? Will it really matter to God in the overall scheme of things? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”

God is the only one true god, creator and ruler of all things, awesome and almighty, perfect in wisdom and knowledge, our sovereign judge and ruler, our faithful, merciful, gracious and loving God. With this glorious perspective and reminder of who God is, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8), nit-picking on peripheral issues would not befit the Eternal God!

So I continue to strive and learn more about Jesus Christ through his word in scripture, and continue to ask myself questions in the light of his truth and love. What will Jesus ask me? I guess I’ll just have to wait for my face-to-face moment with him. In the mean time, I will love.

The Call To Love And Obey

When my husband and I were called to serve in the ministry of the Worldwide Church of God eight years ago, I did not accept it wholeheartedly. In my mind and heart I reasoned that I did not get my education and corporate job experiences to become a pastor’s wife. It was not a “job” I looked forward to nor the “ministry” or mission I was sure God had intended for me.

I was wrong. This calling into the ministry was, in fact, the field where God would reveal His personal mission for me. And Mr. Sidney (then WCG’s Regional Director) voiced it out when he said to me: “The only expectation from you as a pastor’s wife is to love God and to love and support your husband. Your ministry will flow out of that love.” Those words have had the greatest impact on me starting out as a reluctant pastor’s wife and have given me unbelievable comfort and assurance that God will work it all out.

God has given us all a mission in this life we need to do regardless of our age, health condition, status in life, preferences, abilities, talents or gifts. Maybe we are not all called to a high-profile or front-end mission like leading the church in worship singing, or speaking to large groups, or writing Christian bestsellers, or being sent out into the mission field, or even holding a high and influential position in a church or organization. But we are called to a universal and Christ-commanded mission. There are no exceptions to this mission and we have no excuses.

It is a mission we cannot say “no” to if we claim to be Christ’s servants and followers. It is a lifetime mission that is the root from which all our other missions spring forth, and it is perhaps, the most difficult mission for all of us to do. It is the mission and call to love and obey.

It was obedience that led Christ to the cross (Philippians 2:8 – Christ “humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!”) and it was love that kept him there – love for the Father and love for each one of us. If we claim to be Jesus Christ’s followers, then as chapter 2 of Philippians reminds us, our attitude should be the same as his, nothing less.

Three whole chapters of 1 John (3-5) talk about love, what it really means and what it entails. Many times we are strongly reminded to love our brethren precisely because it is very difficult to do so. It is not in our nature to love the way Christ loves us. That’s why we need to get on our knees every single day and ask God to shed his love abroad in our hearts. And we need to ask God to make us obey him (I John 5:3 – “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome). And what is his command? To “believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” (I John 3:23)

There will always be people who don’t like us and it may make our task in ministry or anywhere else more difficult and challenging. But that’s okay. In the same way, there will always be people we don’t exactly like or want to hang out with based on personality differences, and that’s okay too. But it is not okay for us to not love each other. It is against God’s very nature and command for us and we sin when we don’t love.

I John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” Can we honestly say that we love our sister beside us, in front of us or behind us? Can we honestly say that we esteem them more highly than ourselves and that their interests are more important than ours (Philippians 2:3-4)?

Those are strong words. If we truly want to please God, then we need to obey him – and we need to love him and those whom he loves. No amount of ministry work, no amount of praise from people and no amount of sacrifice can ever please God if it is not rooted in love and obedience. I can continue convincing myself of all the “I shoulds”: I should read more chapters of my Bible everyday, I should evangelize more people, I should write more articles, I should spend 10 hours everyday “doing ministry”, etc., but if they are not rooted in love and obedience, they are useless to God. (Read or cite examples from 1 Corinthians 13.)

So the next question we need to ask ourselves is this: Is it enough that only God knows? Is it enough that he knows and sees our struggle inside to love and obey him in everything we do? Is it enough that God knows our sacrifice and no one else?

For those of us who are homemakers, maybe our husbands or children will never notice that our house or bathroom is always clean and tidy, or that there is always cooked food on the table, or that there are always clean and pressed clothes to wear, or that our homes are running efficiently. If this is our God-given mission at this time, is it enough that only God knows?

For those of us whose God-given mission is to pray for others constantly as prayer warriors (although we are all commanded to pray), whose knees are scarred from hours of praying and whose hearts bleed for those who suffer – is it enough that only God knows?

For those of us whose names are often forgotten in the mission fields of China, Africa, Vietnam and other parts of the world, is it enough that God knows?

Can we deny ourselves the recognition and praise from others? Is it enough that God knows and that he has promised to reward us?

Let us not be discouraged. Most of us will never have a highly visible mission or ministry. Most of us may just need to exercise God’s love within a physically “smaller” field – within our families, our neighborhood, our circle of friends or the people God sends to us to mentor one-on-one and minister to. Most of us may be full-time homemakers for the rest of our borrowed lives and may never get the chance to be “recognized” in public. But all of us will need to carry out the same mission – the mandate to love and obey.

And as we do so, God will lead us to more opportunities to serve him in ways that will even surprise us. And he will always lead us to a mission or mission field that is best suited to the personality, talents and gifts he has generously bestowed upon us. It is always a perfect match, whether we recognize it or not. God is never wrong. We need to be patient, though, because it may take time. And God will always encourage us when we need it most.

To end, I have always asked God why he has placed me where I am and why he has given me the tasks and responsibilities I have. And many times I would feel that I am not “doing enough” for him or that what he has asked me to do is too much for me. But every time a young person is baptized at SEP and I am allowed the privilege of serving and praying for that soul and witnessing his/her salvation, I am reminded of my purpose and mission in this life. I may see the same footage/video over and over of a young person being submerged in the water, but I am always moved to tears by God’s mercy and grace upon me and every soul saved. I am overwhelmed by God’s love for each and every young person and I am humbled by the privilege God gives me to participate in HIS great work. It is HIS work after all, and HIS mission. I only need to surrender to him by loving and obeying him – and he will do the rest. He will carry out his mission through me according to his perfect will.

May our Lord and Master lead us everyday into his love, obedience and his mission for each of us,