An old friend used to tell me life is all about two things – to experience happiness and escape pain. While I don’t fully agree on what he said, it kept me pondering why we have the natural tendency to avoid hardships. Problems are always perceived equal to loneliness and hopelessness and much of our actions are geared towards avoiding adversity. But who escapes life unscathed, anyway? Yet, beautiful things arise from difficulties. There are treasures in trials. Here are some realizations I have towards meeting adversities:
- You discover things about yourself that only a problem can trigger. Like the fact that you are more resilient than you thought. You also realize you have more capacity to solve problems and you discover a higher level of intelligence you never knew existed. You somehow realize the vast greatness inside of you.
- You gain wisdom only a problem can unearth. So the next time you face another difficulty, you can look back and apply those nuggets of wisdom.
- You grow in character. Your attitude towards adversity improves to the point that when a problem approaches, you are somehow excited for it. You know breakthroughs normally comes after.
- You develop a life testimony that can encourage and motivate people who are in the same dilemma. You develop compassion for people because you have felt what they are feeling and experienced what they are going through.
- You are more prepared with the next level of assignment God has prepared for you.
- While you realize you are able to face difficulties more than ever, you also find out there are a lot of things beyond your control to which only God can solve. You learn to let go.
Everything that happens, God allows for a reason. We can never truly escape pain but take heart! Even through the trials, God is still good and has never stopped being faithful.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
-Romans 5:3-4, English Standard Version (ESV)
I, my father and two sisters would go in our home in Batangas every Friday night, and our 5-year old youngest brother, Miggy would always request for pasalubong without fail. His requests range from kiddie chocolates to toys and hero apparel depending on his mood and current cartoon show craze he’s in. Two weeks ago, his request was the “Cars” toys in various sizes and colors. The “kuripot” in me of course can’t afford to give him a pasalubong as expensive as that so I opted to buy a “Cars” school supplies that my sister and I bought in Divi. I thought he would like it since he loves drawing and coloring but I was wrong. When he received it, he frowned and complained endlessly and was even furious at me for not following his instructions. My younger sister Buchik has this conversation with Miggy:
Buchik: Hindi ka pa magpasalamat at binigyan ka ng pasalubong.
Miggy: Hindi talaga ako magpapasalamat dahil di naman binigay saken ang ibinilin ko.
This situation makes me think of how it reflects my heart most of time, too. I pray and ask for specific things and sometimes, God will give another. It is not because God is “kuripot” like me. No, he owns the universe. But Him, in His infinite wisdom knows the best gift to give us. It could be because what we ask for will be harmful for us or we’re not yet ready for the blessing. It is in those instances that we forget to be grateful. We sulk and wail like a child for what we don’t have that we miss out on appreciating what we have. What’s worse is when this leads to comparison. Comparison breeds discontentment. Discontentment steals happiness.
Oh, the wonders giving thanks can do. To give thanks in all circumstances and in every gift we receive. To shift focus from what we lack to the abundance we already experience. To be contented with what we have while working and praying for our dreams.
These things we already know but take for granted most of the time. May we maintain a grateful heart everyday of our lives.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” – James 1:17 NASB
Last election is probably the most divisive and toxic so far. It was that intense that I, someone who is not so much involved in politics before, found myself eroded by the campaign. I had sleepless nights because of anxiousness and research. I heard of friends unfriending and unfollowing each other in social media. My officemate told us he decided to unfollow her mother who is a rabid supporter of a certain candidate (but hopefully he is now friends in FB with his mom again). So much hate and negativity spread like wildfire, we became too consumed and fiery. I had my fair share of not so healthy debates with my own father and I tell you, debating with my father is like stating your case to a robot. He is programmed to think he alone is correct and would counter every argument you had with all his might. You never win. A cousin who is also a fervent supporter of one candidate would post irritating statements against a candidate I support that I was at the brink of replying to her posts. It took much, much pause and prayer. The struggle is real. I have somehow mastered the art of choosing your own battles. And to put relationships first.
One thing I realized though, through all these word war and circus-like politics is not so much to persuade other people to like your candidate or be against one, but to guard your own heart. Letting go of things that rob us of peace. Letting go of matters we have minimal control. Different people will always have differing preferences and opinions and that is the result of his environment, his upbringing, and the things he allowed himself to focus on. May kanya kanya tayong pinaglalaban dahil may kanya kanya tayong pinagdaanan. I maintained an open mind during the election campaign and I tried my best to understand people with different views. I discovered it is sometimes because we are too zealous to support the person that we are too blinded to see his weaknesses and all. That we rationalize his actions although we knew in the depths of our heart he might be really wrong in this area. No one is flawless, anyway. It can also go the other way. We are sometimes too occupied by the thought of hating a certain personality that his efforts, though laudable and impressive, may seem too “epal” or worthless to us. It really depends on what we focus on.
We live in a broken world. The enemy will always cause confusion and division. Personally, I refrain from posting statements that would further cement animosity. The least I can do for my country is to contribute to unity and nation-building. Respect opinions. Follow new rules and laws. Submit to authorities. Voice out constructive criticisms directly to persons concerned. Facebook posts can’t do so much. Take action. Refrain from sharing unverified news and fake information. And most importantly, throw your garbage in the garbage bag. (Emphasis on this because it is my pet peeve :D ) If there is no garbage bag available, put it in your pocket or bag until you see one.
We all want a better country. Progress is a collective effort. Let’s do our share. :)
I just realized my blog entries for the past years were mainly two – reflection of the past year and expectations for the new year. What happened to my promise to blog once a month? Hehe. My bad. Perhaps it was the work that took its toll on me. Perhaps it was lack of inspiration. Or simply put, it could just be plain laziness on my part. After all, you can always give time to things you prioritize, right? So here I am, struggling to pound the keyboard and contribute something worthwhile and worth reading in this web of online stuff. And hoping to keep that promise.
So for the month of May, I decided I will blog about – lessons and leanings for the first half of the year. (Just few days left and it’s the middle of the year already!)
Last two weeks ago I found myself crying, no bawling hard that I think it was my most intense crying time for years already (Last time I cried like that was when I’m still in SGV. Hehe) I have been working like a horse day in and day out even on weekends. The saddest part was, I wasn’t able to go home for the much anticipated birthday celebration of my lola which is like an annual reunion for our family. My only question during that time was “God,why?” He did not answer but gave me the needed strength and skills. You know how sometimes a few days can accelerate how mature you are better than months and months of “stress-free” life? Looking back, gems of wisdom are within those two weeks that I thought I’ve aged (not physically!) quite fast. I remembered the words of Rica Peralejo while contemplating on my recent struggle. It’s just amazing how God prepares you for another level of battle with words of comfort and encouragement like this one:
So here’s a little bike anatomy from a newbie, hehe. I have something to adjust my gears with on the left hand part of the handle bar and also the right. The left is for my front wheel, and right for my rear. Whenever I click, it changes something in my chains that gives a different resistance for pedaling my bike. Naturally the higher the resistance will mean the heavier or the more effort it requires to push the bike forward. It is especially harder on inclined ground, of course.
Nevertheless I noticed something. Lower resistance means lighter pedaling and at the onset I thought this was going to be my staple riding speed and yet I was wrong. As it appears, when the resistance is higher, there is more power in my over all performance on the bike and more distance is covered, as well as speed accelerates faster with a few heavy pushes. On the other hand, lighter resistance doesn’t get me very far even when I seemed to have been pedaling forever.
I marveled at the thought that even life is like that. The more challenging it is, it usually gives us much growth in such a short amount of time.
I actually remember a story I once read from a magazine, about this lady who went with her friend to ride a helicopter and found herself all tubed in the hospital in the same day. Apparently, something went wrong that the propeller hit her and almost chopped her body into pieces. From that point on, almost every part had to be reconstructed after ensuring that she’s out of the woods. And then she said that although it was a very depressing experience, her psychiatrist told her that her emotional growth has accelerated to a point that she is wiser than all women her age by about 10 years or more.
The moral of my biking thoughts and challenges in life is that hardships really can be painful to us, yet they really do good in helping us move forward faster in life. Of course it depends on the way we see things and how receptive me are of the good side that comes with the challenging experience, but if we are open to it, heavy pushes on the bike and in life can really get us very far.
Ahhhh. Such comfort. Those challenging weeks had me striving for excellence and realizing I can still give so much passion to my work that I thought was gone before. It had me to discover I am able to work under pressure with quality. It had me compare myself with the bests in the field of accountancy in a good way – and the beautiful discovery that I can solve problems I thought were wayyyy too difficult for my ability. Oh, how I belittled myself before. It had me looking forward for the day the “busy season” will end and I can rest with my family. It had me trust that this is part of something grander, that this is a preparation for something God wanted me to do. But more than the result, I appreciate how God molded my character through this painful process. How God aged me through a few weeks.
May this words bring comfort to you today.