Dear Warrior, let’s journey together

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To my Warrior,

We have found each other.

The mere thought still fills me with a sense of unbelievable wonder and delight.

And you, my dear warrior — you are a sky full of stars, an ocean of deep wonders, a mountain of marvels.

You are a lover and slave of the High King of heavens and earth, a servant of people, a friend to many.

You are an encourager, supporter, and pursuer of my heart.

The road is still long.

There will still be storms to brave, and depths to journey, perhaps through dark tunnels, and even through barren heights when the sun will be high and unforgiving.

But we are together now.

Somehow, that brings me comfort and strength in this new journey.

With the King’s blessing on us, and with family and community cheering us on, I still promise to fight for you, and with you.

Fighting with you,

Your Warrior Princess

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KILIGology: Thinking Straight While Kinikilig

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“He seems like a really nice guy.”

It was a Saturday night, and my friends and I had just met with My Special Friend, a guy I’d been getting to know in the last few months. Things were getting serious, and my friends had risen to the occasion to meet him and get to know him, a.k.a. grill him in a nice way, a.k.a. ask him some hard questions.

I was happy with how the night turned out. My friends delivered and really did ask him some serious, hard questions, and in my opinion, Guy delivered as well – he seemed really honest. Guy also said some really kilig-inducing stuff, stuff that made me feel na napakahaba ng hair ko. My kilig levels were off the charts.

Then Guy left, and my friends and I jumped into “deliberation” (like a panel, lol). As my friends and I continued talking, however, I felt the kilig slowly wearing off. While my friends were really, genuinely happy for me, they also raised some significant, legitimate questions about the Guy.

I’ve been thinking really hard about this, because as my closest friends know, in the past, whenever I felt kilig, all reason and logic fled me. This has then resulted to embarrassingly bad decisions, which then led to painful, painful heartbreaks.

But did it really have to? Did my kilig and my ability to be objective have to be mutually exclusive? In other words, hindi ba talaga pwedeng Utak AT Puso?

My musings, compounded with past conversations I’ve had with my Counselor, have led me to some things.

I MUST ACKNOWLEDGE MY kilig.

There is no point in denying this, or playing it down. It is a lesson I learned the hard way: honesty, especially to myself, is important.

I MUST IDENTIFY THE ROOT OF MY kilig.

This is the lengthy part. Bear with me as I explain this.

Identifying what made me feel kilig is important, so that I could identify which of my core emotional needs is/are being met.

When I think about it, the reason for my kilig was actually a sum total of Guy’s efforts and attitude towards me (his consistent respectful communication, his gifts, time spent with me, etc.).

But also, there were certain specific moments na kinilig ako. Like that night with me and my friends, when he said that “Sarah is worth the effort.”

On a scale of 1-10, my kilig level shot up to 15.

Now, back to emotional needs. We all have emotional needs, and when these needs are met, we feel “positive” emotions – contentment, happiness, kilig, etc. (While these needs are valid and legitimate, sometimes we don’t meet these needs in healthy, or legitimate ways. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

Two of my high emotional needs are (1) for me to feel that I am worthy… of friendship, of achievements, and of pursuit, and (2) to be thought worthy of someone I admired and respected. So when Guy, who I admired and respected, said that he thought I was worthy, I was on cloud nine.

It was important for me to identify this, because I am reminded that these needs could actually be met through other legitimate ways. This is why even without My Special Friend, or any guy for that matter, pursuing me, I can still be contented and fulfilled. Already, this thought lifts off whatever pressure I might feel to be in a relationship.

A more important reminder and realization, however, is that ultimately, my emotional needs will never be completely, fully met by My Special Friend, no matter how awesome he is. And I shouldn’t expect him to; it is an unfair expectation to put on him.

This is strongly tied to my faith — my needs are already met ultimately by God.

As I realized and was reminded of these, I felt myself getting calm and assured. And wonder of wonders — I found myself able to think clearly, while still feeling kilig! With the pressure lifted off, I was able to feel kilig and just enjoy it, and just be thankful for My Special Friend.

Of course, all this takes work and time, and you will feel emotionally exhausted in the end, especially if you are not used to thinking of these things.

But that’s why the next point is important.

I MUST INCLUDE OTHERS IN THIS JOURNEY.

Other people can help me think objectively, and remind me to be honest to myself. This is another very important lesson I learned in the most painful way. And it’s not just them grounding me in reality; it’s also having people to rejoice with, and yes, to feel kilig with.

For me, this includes a small group of close friends, my parents, and some older, wiser people I trust.

So can someone feel kilig and still be objective and think straight? I think yes! But it will take honesty to yourself and others, courage to face your own thoughts and emotions, and humility to let others journey with you.

Go ahead  — feel the kilig! And think objectively. Utak at Puso.

I can’t write.

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I’m in a slump.

I’m in a writing slump.

I’m in a creative writing slump.

I’m not particularly sure why, although I have my suspicions.

See, even writing that last sentence was difficult.

I used to write like crazy. I have always loved words, and they naturally flowed from my lips, my pen, or my fingers. When something momentous happened, my go-to would be my journal. Or my blog site.

What happened to me?

Like I said, I have my suspicions.

There are things going through my head right now. So many things to be done, and so many distractions. Often, these things weigh so heavily on my mind and heart, and the temptation to just ignore them and turn away and do something mindless is great. Often, I have succumbed to that temptation.

Or is it the fact that two years in seminary, writing all those gazillion papers, tired me out?

Possible. But I do have a bigger suspicion.

Two years ago, I met with a professional counselor. I’d been going through some really heavy stuff, I was one messed up girl, and I knew I needed help.

My sessions ran through half the year of 2015, and ended around the first quarter of 2016. The sessions helped immensely, and really allowed me to take a deeper, honest look at myself, and have a deeper appreciation of how God created me.

One thing my counselor and I worked on was acknowledging, and expressing, my emotions. She taught me some exercises and practices that allowed me to do so. I quickly realized that while these exercises and practices were very helpful, they were also very exhausting. Thinking, and processing my emotions, exhausted me, and sapped me of the energy to write.

But I finally realized recently that not writing was wounding my heart more. I was going against something I was meant to be doing.

I want out of this slump.

This blog post is one of my efforts in trying. Sigh.

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Dear Future Warrior

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To My Future Warrior,

I am waiting for you.

I know you’ve already been through countless battles, that you’ve braved countless storms, and journeyed through what may have seemed as endless days of scorching heat and wintry nights.

I weep for your wounds, and grieve for what you’ve lost. If I could heal them all, I would!

Still, I believe that journey was necessary. Your wounds and the things you’ve lost — they were necessary to build you, mold you, and help you empathize… with me.

Because, my dear Warrior, when you find me, I will not be the hapless, helpless Princess of old. When you find me, I would have come from my own battles…

I too, have braved storms, and have journeyed to the depths, through dark tunnels, and through barren heights when the sun was high and unforgiving. I too, have looked at the stars and wondered: Is this all there is?

I too, have been wounded, and have lost.

I, too, am a Warrior.

So fight valiantly, my dear Warrior. Be strong, and do not lose courage, as I do the same.

When we find each other, I promise, with all the strength and courage and hope I could muster, that I will take your hand and make a home with you wherever we journey, to the ends of the earth.

I promise to fight for you, and with you.

Fighting and Waiting,

Your Future Warrior Princess

My Heart, Redeemed

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A couple of years ago, I made a declaration: I’m okay being single forever. I still believe that, by the way. I still believe that I have an ultimate, greater purpose than simply getting married.

One broken heart and a few jilted suitors later, I’ve come to learn several things. And since Valentine’s Day is approaching, I’ve decided to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve been taught.

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I can be Secure in my Singleness and Still long for Marriage

When I decided that I’m okay being single forever, the most common response I got from people in my community was, “So you don’t want to get married anymore?”

The question baffled me, because nowhere had I written, nor had I ever said, that I don’t want to get married anymore. What just happened was: whereas in the past I viewed singleness as a completely undesirable option, and that a life of perpetual singleness was an unbearable fate, I now realize that being single forever could be meaningful and joyful and completely wonderful!

It was the most liberating realization – it lifted a great deal of pressure and reoriented my thinking of the future. I celebrated it as a step of growth towards being more secure in my identity and God’s ultimate purpose for me.

But it got me thinking: Do people in my community really think that being okay with singleness means rejecting marriage? Because I’m not. In fact, I do long for it. I do think about, dream about it, wish for it. I am, however, secure in my singleness too, much more than in the past. Security and longing are not mutually exclusive concepts.

My Response to Men Partly Reflects what I Believe About My Own Identity

In the great, emotional turmoil that accompanied and followed my heartbreak, in one of my lowest points, I wallowed in great self-pity and insecurity. I’ll spare you the sordid details, but suffice it to say that he hurt me deeply. I hurt him deeply too, that much I know (and acknowledge) now.

Now, in the present, with my heart more healed, my head more level, and my eyes finally dry, I see now that the way I related and responded to him (and to other men in the past) came out of certain deeply-rooted beliefs about myself. I believed I could never measure up. I believed I was not enough. I believed I was not worthy to be pursued.

Lies, all lies. But I believed them, and I brought them into my relationship with him.

My Community Must be Part of My Love-life Journey

I know it now: one of the reasons why my relationship with him was toxic was because I hadn’t really been completely honest with my accountability group and certain trusted people from my community.

Proud person that I was, I believed the lie that I didn’t have to be transparent with them. It was one of the first things I repented of, and which I vowed never to repeat again. I failed to realize that these people have been put in my life to journey with me.

In the last several years, I desperately prayed for God to give me the grace to learn whatever He was teaching me. I didn’t want to waste all this pain and not gain anything from it. I wanted my heart redeemed. 

God has indeed been faithful in showing me kindness, and showing me things I had never seen before. He used my heartbreak, and other succeeding events, to show how proud, insecure and manipulative my own heart is. Truly, the heart is deceitful above all things.

And He used men to redeem my view of men! (I won’t lie – there was a period when I truly hated disliked men.) Truly, God is close to the broken-hearted, and He has been such a good Father to me.

As I grow and reflect in my identity in God, my prayer and desire is to image God in the way I relate to men and women around me.

What have YOU learned in your relationships? 

Lola at Midnight (A Case Study)

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There have been so many deaths – too many deaths – in my community recently. It seems like we were just recovering from news of someone’s death when we hear of another dreaded event.

It is because of this, and for other personal reasons, that I am so interested and invested in my Eschatology class. One of our tasks is to come up with a case study, and lead the class in a discussion. This week, it was our group’s turn.

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LOLA AT MIDNIGHT

1998. Eight year old Mary trudges behind her mother as men carry the make-shift coffin up the hill to the Catholic cemetery. They had just had the funeral service at the Catholic church. Everyone is wearing white shirts and tops, including the ten children who joined the procession. Before the coffin is laid to rest, the adults carry the children over the coffin.

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When the funeral ends, Mary walks back home with her family, purposely looking straight ahead and resisting the urge to look back, just as her parents taught her. Do that, and her lola will visit her. She also resists the urge to pick the flowers and leaves along the way. Do that, and someone else in the family might prematurely die. So she walks resolutely forward. Back home, she proceeds to change out of her clothes.

“All clothes in one pile on the floor immediately,” mother reminds the family, just as Mary throws her clothes on top of the bed. When mother sees this, she scolds Mary. “Do you want your lola to visit you?”

Two weeks later. It is the 9th day after the burial, and Mary sleeps with her sisters. Suddenly, Mary jerks awake. Her eyes instantly shoot to the clock positioned above the door. It is past midnight.

The door then opens, and Mary waits, expecting her tita to enter. “Maybe she’d just gone to the toilet,” Mary thinks.

But a white, translucent figure enters in. The first thing Mary notices is the face of this white figure, and she recognizes it. It is her lola! It is unmistakably her lola, with her short hair, and wearing the same clothes they had buried her in. And she is hovering about ten inches above the floor.

Lola proceeds to the couch near the bed, and Mary realizes that her tita is on the couch, sleeping soundly. The figure leans over her tita, and Mary finally shuts her eyes. The next thing Mary knows it that it is morning.

Two days later, the same thing happens to her cousin.

Seven years later, Mary becomes a Christian. She never experiences the same thing. She still cannot interpret these events, and now that she is in IGSL, she hopes that more light would be shed on this matter.

What would you tell Mary? How would you explain the presence or appearances of the “soul” of the dead persons that can still be seen by their loved ones?

The God who identified with me.

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“At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him.” -Heb. 2:8

When I think of all the problems, wars and troubles happening in the world and in the country today, I tend to lose hope. To be more specific, when I think of the… things happening in our government and country today, I am so tempted to face palm myself to kingdom come, or host my own pity party, or scream at the top of my lungs.

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I think of all the injustices of the world, and at times I am just rendered speechless. Systemic evil is so real, so overwhelming. (Then I look at my own heart, and I know that my tendency to do evil is so real, and many times this evil is so overwhelming.)

The reality of everything “not yet” in subjection to Christ is so true, so stark. The coming of Christ, and of everything being put to right, seems like a far-fetched dream.

The believers to whom the author of Hebrews was writing to probably felt this way. They probably felt worse, what with the actual threat of losing their lives. The world being put to right seemed like a fantasy.

But the author of Hebrews talks of, and focuses on, Jesus who identified and represented us, who became our Champion.[1] He, too, faced many troubles. He experienced, first hand, how evil the world could be.

He became like me, to save me.

It is a most fascinating, most wondrous thought — Jesus became like me! He became like me who had to sleep and eat, who got hungry, who got exhausted, and became prone to the elements, and potentially got sick. At some point, he probably lost his voice from speaking too long to the crowds.

He felt emotions, and wasn’t ashamed to express them! He felt love, joy, and anger, and grief. He was tempted.

He identified with me. The world is going crazy — he understands. The world seems to be falling apart — he knows. The world has so many injustices — he grieves.

[Reflections on Hebrews 2:5-18]

 

[1] William L. Lane, Hebrews: A Call to Commitment (Vancouver, British Columbia: Regent College).