Category Archives: Reflections

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.

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? 

The God who speaks.

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It is probably the question most asked by Christians all around the world, throughout the centuries: Where is God when the whole world is falling apart? 

I’m studying the book of Hebrews for our New Testament Epistles Class, and I am learning to appreciate the beauty and message of this sermon-epistle.

If it is true that Hebrews was written as a sermon for the persecuted Christians in around AD 64, during Nero’s time, then we have a picture of what its purpose was. It is interesting that the writer-preacher of Hebrews thought that the way to to address the Christians’ discouragement and fear of death was to begin with, and focus on, the Supremacy of Jesus.

Truly, the basis for our courage and confidence is Jesus Christ’s supremacy, and the fact that through Him, God has spoken, and continues to speak.

OUR GOD IS THE GOD WHO SPEAKS. This is the writer-preacher’s message to his  ragtag, disheveled, immensely discouraged and fearful audience.

At a time when the believers may have thought God was absent and blind to their suffering, they are reminded that God still speaks. He has spoken through Jesus, and continues to speak through His written Word, and through the Comforter.

I am reminded of myself last year. I’ve been thinking of this for several days now – how I felt so… numb, especially in the second half of 2016. 2015 to early 2016 was painful, and the rest of 2016 just left me with a dull throbbing. I was mourning so many things — some family issues, heart issues, and the fact that I had to give up so many of what gave me joy, among other things.

I felt like just going through the motions. I felt like God was silent.

Truth be told, I wasn’t excited for the new year. I think… I was even a little afraid that I would be the same joyless machine devoid of motivation and purpose.

But God still speaks. He has spoken, and will continue to speak. He is present, and will always be.

Let me rest in that truth. Let me listen to His voice.

[Reflections on Hebrews 1:1-2:4]

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A good reference for the study of Hebrews, in case you’re interested:

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

True Love Pursues

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The Love Bridge at Penang Hill. December 2015.

We define God by what we think love is,” so Darin Hufford, author of “The Misunderstood God”, says.

Immediately, the word “pursuing” comes to mind, and I think of how God kept pursuing His people, no matter how many times they stumbled, or disregarded his Word, or even killed His messengers.

I think of how, even despite routine rejection, He keeps persevering, and of how He Himself came down to earth to pursue them.

And the picture of a father running after his toddler comes to mind. I see in my mind images of a father watching the child’s every move, on guard lest the kid stumble.

Of a father listening to his daughter’s ambitions and dreams, hopes and wishes. Of my dad listening to my hopes and wishes.

Of a mother wanting to ease her child’s pain.

Of a mother doing everything in her power to let her child have the best. Of my mom dreaming big things for us.

Of a man taking every moment possible to be with his love, to find every opportunity to learn every aspect about her, persevering to understand, to know, to really know who she is.

Of a woman looking forward to every moment with him, and marvelling at how wonderful he is.

I believe true love pursues.

No wonder I get hurt and confused when people who claim to love me, don’t pursue me.

 

But how do YOU define love? Let me know in the comments!

[ Wrote this 5 years ago! I first posted this at my other blog. Also, this is by no means an endorsement or promotion of the book “The Misunderstood God”. ]

Papers and my Calling

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It is past 11 pm and at least half of the ladies in our dorm are awake, including myself.

Behind me, I can hear my roommate typing furiously in her laptop, the sound of her keys competing with the noise created by my own typing, the sounds muffled only by the whirring of our loud ceiling fan (what a day it would be when our rooms finally get air-conditioning!).

Outside our room, at the common kitchen-dining area, others are focused on their own screens, their fingers moving steadily across black keyboards.

We all have papers to pass tomorrow, and we are working hard in an effort to beat our deadlines. Papers, papers, papers. I must have written a million words in the last year.

It can’t be just me — but sometimes, in moments like these, I tend to wonder… what is the point of all this?

And I am prompted to think about this at this moment, because today in chapel, the speaker (who is also a former Military Officer) spoke about Strategy and Tactical Plans. Strategic plans are the big plans, and Tactical Plans are the daily operations, the smaller plans.

His point: We can be wasting our time at tactical activities that do not contribute to the over-all strategic goals and plans. So it is in the military, and so it is in our spiritual lives. This presumes, of course, that you *know* your strategic goals and plans, because only then can you evaluate whether something does actually contribute to your goals.

In missionary-speak / Christianese , how do your daily activities, involvements, engagements and investments contribute to the fulfillment of God’s calling for you?

And right now I can’t help but think… how does writing this Biographical Study on Deborah from the book of Judges contribute to the fulfillment of my calling?

How does writing that Personal Conflict Style reflection paper contribute to the fulfillment of my calling?

Or reading 50 pages of Grudem? Or reflecting on Howard Hendricks’ teaching principles? Or going to my ministry area every week? Or meeting my accountability group?

Now in my case, these are easy to justify and defend. I’m in seminary, and am preparing my mind, heart and hands for the mission field. I can say this with certainty and confidence because by God’s sovereign grace, I believe I know a little bit about God’s specific calling for me.

But there are other activities I engage in that while not necessarily evil, may not actually be relevant nor helpful… Like devoting too much time watching Kpop. Or spending too much on shopping.

I’ve learned in the past that things/events like these that prompt me to think are actually gentle messages from God: affirming my calling, and prompting me to evaluate how I am stewarding my life to fulfill the calling He has given me.

So this is what I hope to keep thinking about throughout the week (and throughout the term):

-How am I showing gratefulness in the calling He has given me?

-Have I been stewarding my life in appropriate ways to fulfill the calling He has given me? In what ways must I repent of the ways I have squandered the gifts He has given me to steward?

 

Yes, God loves me.

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The Divine is reaching out to me.

There are those moments, when you are so desperately and acutely aware of your own hopelessness and inability to please God.

Why am I so love-starved? Why am I so forgetful?

You’d think that growing up in a Christian family, working in a missions org, and studying in a seminary where I read and study the Bible every day (something I never imagined I’d ever do, to be honest) would cause me to not forget the very basic, fundamental truth that God loves me no matter what.

Why am I so inclined to think that I am worthless, that the things I do are insignificant, that I do not have purpose? 

Have I (yet again) started believing lies?

It’s a self-destructive mindset, one that is a result of the fall — I know this much. This, I realize now more than ever, is one of the devastating results of sin. It hurts me too. My own sin hurts me.

And why do I almost always tend to believe that I have disappointed God? This is me right now: burning with the most miserable feeling of embarrassment at being a disappointment to God.

But then…

He reaches down and reminds me of nothing short of His… love.

He reached down last night, as I prayed and mulled over my shame and struggles.

He reached down this morning, in Theology class as we discussed and reflected on Propitiation and the Hypostatic Union of Jesus’ Two Natures (of all things!).

He reached down at Chapel Time today, when kuya Craig, one of the Professors, exhorted us, “We need to be reminded of this, and we need to hear this: ‘God loves you.'”

It is so simple, and so profound, and so true.

I may have failed people. It’s okay, God loves me.

I have hurt others. Still, God loves me.

I am not who I think I ought to be. It doesn’t matter, God loves me.

I believe I have disappointed God. That is not true, and God loves me.

The Divine is reaching out to me, and yes, He loves me.

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Kuya Craig at Chapel Time.