What the BIG GUY TRULY wants for our lives and other things I learned about faith

You know, I’ve been on this train ride to nowhere for the longest time. I don’t know why I chose a train for this metaphor though. It could be 4×4 Jeep or a mustang for all I care, but that’s not the point. I’ve been lost in life for what seems like forever and I’ve been going on and on about how it feels like an eternal quarter life crisis, and I don’t know how to get back on track or perhaps which path to choose in order to get to where I need to be.

Ya ever felt like this at one point in your life? Good for those who never did. I for one, feel really, really stuck in this monumental crisis since I entered my twenties and I’ve been praying for answers or guidance, buying self help and inspirational books, talking to friends about it, however, I just keep on making the wrong decisions over and over.

Then I came across this book that has been sitting on my shelf for over a few months. It was dusty yet I was drawn to it more than a fly could ever be drawn to a poop on the street. Okay that’s not a good comparison, but you get what I mean. I never felt the need to read it until over a few days ago. It’s John Ortberg‘s “WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE?“. I got it in one of the bookstores here in Cebu that sells religious and inspirational books, OMFLIT.

I think I only needed to read the first few pages before I had the clarity I needed all this time. This book opened up my eyes as well as my mind to see the bigger picture that a lot of us fail to see.

You wanna know what the real answer to the question: What does God want for my life is? It’s this: God’s primary will for your life is not the circumstances you inhabit; it’s the person you become.  – Could I emphasize that more?

They say life is made of up of the choices that we make and in making these decisions, we face challenges, anxiety and responsibility which are all important ingredients for us to grow and mature, and that is what God’s will for our lives. He wants us to grow into mature individuals and to liken His image. Simple isn’t it? It all boils down to the basic rule of God.

It said in the book that it doesn’t matter who we marry, where to send our kids to school, which job to choose. We think very shallow and narrow this way. We fail to widen our perspective. Again, it’s not about the circumstances. God has given us FREE WILL (which btw is also one of the most basic things and foundation of our religion that we all learned in grade school!), and He did so we CAN MAKE the decisions for ourselves. If you ask for a sign from God, it’s as if you’re putting Him in charge of your life. It’s as if He is making the decision for us. What you want to do is to trust that whatever you decide for yourself, He will be there to go through it with you.

I remember this particular conversation I had with Dr. Dy, the only doctor that I can talk to about religion, among our many conversations on life. He said that in certain circumstances that we cannot decide for ourselves anymore and we eventually leave it up to Him, which a lot of us do, saying, “Lord Kayo na po ang bahala.“, doesn’t that give Him the power to decide for us? Then where is free will in that? Of course it’s different if you have decided on it and you’re surrendering to God whatever comes after that crucial moment in your life, saying “Kayo na po ang bahala!” and it’s different when you say it with an intention to actually wait for Him to say, “Sige anak, choose Payless noodles over Lucky Me Pancit Canton.” – Ang babaw pala naman ng pinagdadasal. Yan tayo eh! Kidding aside, it really got me thinking, THAT IS WEIRDLY AND CONFUSINGLY TRUE, ISN’T IT??!!!!!!!!

To cut it short, He wants us to decide for us. He wants us to make all the decisions, right or wrong, because either way, we LEARN and GROW.

The moment I read the first chapter, it felt as if my mind opened into a whole new world. It’s as if I’ve been living small when I could have been seeing it in this perspective all along. Then again, it’s never too late.

BIG PICTURE.

This was constantly brought up in my conversations with Doc. You know ever since I talked to him about faith and religion, it’s as if I’ve been able to open the closed doors in my mind.

He once told me that when we human beings don’t see things in a bigger picture. We are all so focused on being successful that sometimes, our only goal in life is to actually get that triwizard cup at the end of the maze and then what? Sit on your golden throne in glory? Sorry for the Harry Potter reference. Big fan here. So anyway, when we are faced with challenges, we fail to see that ALL (as in LAHAT haha) that’s happening in your life is a piece of the puzzle that when put together, becomes the big picture that is God’s plan for each one of us, like way before we were born.

I’ve also been reading Mark Manson‘s, “The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck“. In chapter 3, which happens to be my favorite because it’s the one I could relate to the most, “YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL“. He said that he finds it contradictory that we are part of a culture that wants to make us believe that we are ALL destined to be extraordinary. If that’s so, if everyone is EXTRAORDINARY then who the f*ck is EXTRAORDINARY still?! It’s as if to say that when everyone wants an aisle seat on a plane, then all our planes should have completely aisle seats alone. Anyway, my hands are itching to write about this on a different entry because I’m getting out of point here, but see, most of the time, we fail to see the bigger picture of things.

So anyway, here are some things this MD friend told me that got me thinking and pondering:

  1. It’s okay to question God – not in the way that You question His being or that you blame Him for the bad things that happen in your life, but on things that you want clarity with. Perhaps you want to know the reason behind you being put in a certain situation. Maybe you want to know what good will Cancer bring into your life.
  2. Does committing suicide give you a ticket straight to hell? – If this is so, then God must not be a merciful and forgiving God after all. Isn’t true that He died on the cross to save us all? So, are those who committed crimes and were not sorry for them or are those who killed themselves exempted?
  3. Is everything on the Bible true? – It has been passed on from generation to generation, are you sure that 101% of the book is translated correctly?
  4. BIG PICTURE – When you see the bigger picture of life, you see your purpose in this world and it wouldn’t matter if you die rich and successful or the opposite, what matters in the end isn’t the mundane problems we are all currently facing. It’s what comes after this life and how prepared you are for it today.

I know these all sound confusing, and you may have your own opinion on these things. I myself am not sure I can wrap my brain around all these, but to quote Dr. Dy, “the moment we finally get to understand the vast infinity that is God, then He wouldn’t be God anymore“. We are humans and our brains, although powerful can never be at par with God’s. We are never meant to understand everything about God, that’s why we only have our faith to rely on in this world. 🙂

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How I think I’m able to manage my depression

I don’t think I have been vocal about my mental health issues on this blog. I may have been writing stuff on my struggles, but not once did I ever admit that I am depressed.

Back in college when we tackled mental health in Psychiatric Nursing, it was not a secret that most people don’t seek for medical attention for conditions concerning the psychological functioning of the brain. It used to be a taboo in our society and seeking for psychistric help will not make a good impression on others especially if you have a reputation to protect.

But long are those days when we cannot speak about depression and more broadly, mental health. I graduated in college in 2011. 7 years later, here I am, braving the online world and openly admitting that I have been through depression myself and still not sure if I have overcome it or continuing to battle it.

One thing anyone should know about depression is that it is as serious as cancer and it affects our bodies just the same as cancer cripples the lungs, bone, liver etc. It is an illness and it should be treated with professional help.

Over the period of 7 years, from 2011 to the present, I witnessed people go through depression. I have friends who have come to me and tell me they’re depressed. I have read news on people committing suicide because of depression. I myself became depressed which may have been due to what I can call the eternal quarter life crisis.

To add to a directionless life I was treading, there was social media. Of course, there are other much profound causes of depression such as problems at work, with partners, with finances, with bullies, but If I could name 1 major factor that leads to depression “these days”, I would definitely say, SOCIAL MEDIA.

People seeing their peers having the time of their lives mislead their brains into thinking that they have it all and that they are living THE life, and that one wrong action no one should ever do, but they do still, is to COMPARE.

That, my friends is one simple recipe for disaster. I know this because I’ve been there and I have definitely done that.

Good thing though, we now have evolved into a society that embraces negativity in such a way that helps motivate and encourage positivity despite these struggles. We have accepted depression as a serious condition that we should also give as much attention as we give to those with toothache or cancer. We have also learned to recognize symptoms of depression and how to extend support to those who need it. And as many as those celebrities who have come forward to admit that they have been sexually harrassed, or who have come out of the closet to say that they have HIV or are gay, are those who have also bravely come into the light to say that they have been battling or battled depression.

One good thing that this coming out into the open resulted to is that more and more have been aware. More have been encouraged, more have been helped, and more are inspired to do the same.

So even though I am going through a lot of these issues myself, I won’t let them overpower me. I want to fight it just as much as we want to fight poverty, injustice, and all things evil. I want to keep fighting for my friends who are also going through the same thing. I want to keep fighting because this world has still so much good in it. I want to keep fighting because I have family and friends who love me deeply and I have a God who empowers me and holds my hand tightly through it all.

I have not sought for any professional help mainly because of financial reasons, but should I find someone who can charge reasonably, I would definitely go for it! Although over the past years, I have learned to cope and get by through prayer.

Our brain is such a powerful tool. Many have achieved and invented remarkable things that have been put to good use because of it, but sadly there have also been downsides to having such an organ, but it isn’t a secret that we are in control of it and we can make it work to our advantage.

I know I have a long way to go to overcome this, but what works for me now is PRAYER. Some may not think that this can help, but here I am still, never giving up, because I believe in a God of overflowing mercy, kindness and love and that is where I hold on to. Apart from reading self help books and articles, talking to really great friends like JANNINA, who has a brain of a genius, at the end of day, I talk to Him alone. I know that He is out there, and He won’t give up on me.

And that is how I am able to manage my depression and I’m proud of how far I have come since.

Hope this helps and lights up something you can hold on to! If you are suffering from depression, there are hotlines in the country that you can call. There are Psychiatrists in the country that you can trust to help you. You are not alone in this fight. You can get through this and remember to count all your blessings and love yourself. Life is beautiful and we have a God whom you can ALWAYS count on. Never give up!

Xoxo,


Life Lately / 5

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I can’t believe 2015’s over in just a few hours. It’s been a scary, depressing but amazing year for me and I wouldn’t have been able to make it through without the people who helped me and the exciting new things I’ve got to try!

For this Life Lately entry, I’m listing down the things, experiences and people I’m really, really, really grateful for in 2015.

  • THINGS:
    • Film Cameras: This year, I’ve added a few more cameras to my collection, all of which I’ve used except for the Minolta weathermatic camera. So If I remember everything correctly, I got:
      • Yashica Electro 35G rangefinder in sexy red 🙂
      • Polaroid Land Camera 230 which is the most old school camera I’ve ever held in my hands in this lifetime
      • Olympus AM-100 Point and Shoot – didn’t think I’d enjoy using one!
      • Minolta Weathermatic underwater camera
      • Yashicaflex TLR – still trying to figure out which one it isIMG_20151204_220732
      • Olympus Pen EE-S – a half frame camera I never thought I’ll ever find IMG_20151219_152911
    • I also got myself a cheap film scanner. It’s not the best but it has been quite useful.
    • I’m also grateful to finally have started investing for my own life insurance. I would never have been confident in getting one without my former colleague’s help, Ma’am Donna and of course, my sister.
    • Adult coloring books and my own Daykeeper. Not so long ago, I saw a bunch of these adult coloring books online and I’ve been curious since it was on the bestselling list of the Book Depository, so when the fad finally arrived in the RPH, I jumped into the bandwagon, hoping to de-stress and unwind. My officemates also got me another one, coz my wrinkles might have given me away. 😛 Kidding aside, it was very thoughtful of them. I also got my own Daykeeper. Last year, I didn’t get to order in time so I made sure I ordered extra early this year!
    • IMG_20151217_182002
    • Hammock – How could I not be thankful for these cheap hammocks we got in Taytay? I could stay behind our house for hours just looking at the stars at night on these precious little hammocks. 000027
  • TRAVELS/EXPERIENCES:
    • This year, I got to travel more with my family and some friends and first time with B. To be honest, I would never have been able to do so when I was working in the hospital so I have to say, my current job really has its perks.
      • To start things off, this is not exactly far from us since we’re from Rizal, but my family visited the beautiful Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo. My father got the idea from my sister who just went there with her then boyfriend the day before. LOL. We had an amazing time. My heart exploded having seen so many lovely works of art in one place in 2 hours. I didn’t want to go home, but I’m glad it’s so near, I could go back when I want to, and also I need to make sure that my films are properly loaded! 10974402_10206310924117774_833056609924935684_o
      • We went to Pagudpud for the first time and visited a few of the landmarks in the region that we haven’t been to yet:
      • We stayed at the farthest resort in Pagudpud, Pannzian and it was magnificent. The food was great and the place is relaxing. There was no WIFI, no cell service and no TVs, so it was just us and the beach!PIC20150515220112
  • We also got to try the Sand Dune activities in Paoay for the first time! It was unforgettable! 000027
    • We also visited Cape Bojeador and got to try fresh seafood streetfood. I still cannot forget getting a piece of fresh grilled squid for P10. No wonder everyone’s stopping by the road to try them and the rest of their seafood choices. They were dirt cheap, but super fresh and yummy! I’d go back to Ilocos just to hoard these! 000011
  • In May, my sister planned another trip up north, to Bagac, Bataan. It was another first for our family and we got to stay at the beautiful Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. The moment we got there, I can’t express how we were so in awe of the reconstructed ancient houses in the whole resort. Even the hotel rooms looked as if they were literally transported from the past. It’s definitely one place I want to visit again, especially in Summer.11222305_10152807686751895_8834770626067608159_n
  • Also in May, my officemates and I went on a quick weekend getaway to Laiya, Batangas and I’m glad B was able to come with me. It was our first trip together and I was very happy it turned out pretty amazing. We stayed at the beautiful Blue Coral Resort000024
  • In June, B and I got to watch the UP Samaskom’s LIVE AIDS. I have to say it was one of the craziest and funniest shows I’ve seen in my life and we’re lucky because it was their 30th year and the it was directed by Tuesday Vargas herself!
  • B and I also got to visit UP’s Chocolate Kiss Cafe twice this year and these were 2 of our most memorable dates. 🙂 new000034
  • We also got to visit the beautiful Monasterio de Tarlac which is situated in one of the mountains in San Jose, Tarlac. We also squeezed in a bit of biking with our parents in the equally peaceful Tarlac Recreational Park before capping the night off at a karting place called KCT nearby. Did I also say that this was back in my birthday? image-9c0643ac995f80d759e09cd354f04222339391237d049ef3d3d49490a60776ba-V-01image-a791d6fe0d19bfff9d8524201f7f939b138041b024c7ca6e006719a86f7792a3-V-01
  • A few days after, we had a chance to visit Padre Pio’s shrine in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. The place was flocked by so many devotees and I’m glad to be part of that, being a devotee myself. new000025
  • Just a few days ago, we had the chance to visit the beautiful Laresio Resort situated in the Alligator Lake itself in Laguna. I’m really thankful it turned out well since it was a vacation that we, the kids, planned for our whole little clan. We got to try their resort attractions like their giant slides, vine swing, cliff diving and kayaking. It was also our first trip with my tito’s girlfriend whom he got back together with, years after it didn’t work out (I assume) between them when they were in college. Isn’t that crazy beautiful? image-a72c966c7092288cc66fb1ee3e20f7f3e1128dfa67cb431f583f24c41dcfa807-V-01
  • To cap things off this year, we got to drive around Clark, Pampanga and do a bit of shopping before finally ending the day back in KCT, this time with our brother. It was so nice to be back! FB_IMG_1451411875760-01
  • PEOPLE:
    • Lastly, above all of these, what I’m more grateful for are the people I’ve shared these moments with, this year. Without them, I don’t really know where I’d be now:
      • My family – They’ll always be the one I would want to come home to, travel with and spend amazing quality time with. They’re forever going to be the people I’ll love unconditionally. I’ll always be thankful for them for the strength, faith, love and profound happiness in my life right now.image-7d0f997e861b12b0d4cea667952fc51ac228c04f8eb68e4e613cf344cc2f9e72-V-01
      • Brianne – He’s beyond the best friend and partner I never imagined I could have. Apart from my family, he’s one of the reasons why I have never given up on life, no matter how ugly it has been. He’s been with me through the most trying times and through my worst days and he has seen the worst version of me. Thank you for holding on.
      • A few of my friends – I’m really grateful for those who stuck with me. I’m a mess and I’m to blame for losing the ones I’ve had, but I never thought that there’d be people who would stay despite my personal issues and I want to thank you all for that. Thank you for listening and just for making me feel that I’m not alone. I specifically want to thank 4 of them, Joey, Juci, Ina and Ma’am Donna for taking me out this year. Having spent time with you all was a breath of fresh air!
      • I’m also grateful for my officemates who have been really helpful and thoughtful and for making me laugh from time to time. Life in the office (and the constant changes in the office) wouldn’t have been bearable without them.
      • I’m also thankful for manang. She has been my dinner mate for the past year and we’ve been bonding over a lot of telenovelas, even though she’s a Kapuso and I’m a Kapamilya. 😛

This year has been really ugly, but looking at the bright side, I didn’t think it would be this beautiful still. Looking back at all of these things, it truly is a miracle that I have so many reasons to feel grateful for.

I’ve been through the worst this year and I don’t think I could ever go this low in life, but despite all these, never have I felt abandoned by God, not once. Even at the brink of giving up, I felt Him there and He always gave me a reason to hold on. So thank you Lord, for 2015. It was the most meaningful year yet and even though I’ve never been the best me this year, I hope I could make it right someday.

Here’s to another beautiful year!

P.S. I’m also thankful for:

seeing this:image-cfaed3c45744dd13dfb8b195d5a877453391d4daeea190f7139ab4255e59f08a-V-01

and this:

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I’m being patient, am I not?

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I was looking for a good article to read on patience and why it is recognized as a virtue. The second one I came across online was this article on Christianity TodayIt’s pretty long and seeing that it comes in 7 pages/parts, I’m thinking of skipping the middle and just read the beginning and the end. Ooops! You’re probably going to think, why the heck am I even writing an entry on patience then?

Well, you’ll know. Just be patient. 😛

I like how they defined patience. It says that patience is enduring discomfort without complaint. Easy enough, but I reckon, it takes a lot of that endurance and self control/discipline to ever be patient in this lifetime.

Then they enumerated 3 types of impatience or patience, whichever way you want to look at it:

  1. when facing a nuisance
  2. when bored
  3. when facing great difficulty (physically or psychologically)
  4. when waiting for something important to come or simply waiting for something to happen

The fourth one, I thought I’d add because there are things we’re impatient about that don’t necessarily fall in any of the first 3 categories.

So lately, I’ve been really observing and trying to see how I’ve been or not been patient in certain circumstances in my life. I’ve been dealing with all 4 types (of things that make me go oh crazy impatient) every day, and sometimes, it bugs me when I or the people around me just lose it. I really hate it when my father loses patience when driving, but who can blame him when traffic has become a major, major issue in the metro today, and that’s even way before Christmas season came.

Then there’s the fact that I see life as a race and it doesn’t help that I often feel tired thinking and waiting for something to happen in my life, when I obviously am not doing anything about it. I also have been praying for something for the longest time now and I don’t know if God will ever grant it. So, you see, my patience has been tested countless times. There are even things I won’t even tell people and sometimes, it hurts to think that we can’t always get what we want, but knowing that something else must probably have been laid for us makes me hopeful still.

So apart from the really petty things like waiting for an online seller or a resort staff to respond (which can be completely irritating and terrifying at the same time) to my inquiries and requests for updates, there are far scarier and greater things I often lose patience with.

One thing I learned from all of these is that although, it may take great self-control for you to not lose yourself in all the things you’ve been waiting or praying for, it also helps (a lot) that you never lose sight of God and your faith, and to not blame or question God no matter what, because in the end, you’ll realize that through all the pain and trials, He never let go of your hand, not once, not even when you thought He did. I can attest to that!

I know this may be more than just about patience but I’d like to believe how it correlates to faith. I know I’m not the person to speak of these things, but in my own sufferings, I’ve learned to wait with great endurance and with better faith (I think) and to appreciate that God’s timing is truly the right timing.

P.S. After a whole lot of waiting (and a bit of prodding, if you can call it that) and of course with teeny bit of panic, I have heard back from the seller and the resort staff. It wasn’t the best and smoothest transactions I’ve dealt with, but I couldn’t thank God for never making me lose temper. I could easily have thrown ^#$%@^&@ at them, but they did get back to me and I’m thankful for that. I guess, it never hurts to always wait a few more before really losing it and I was really hoping I don’t ruin it for everyone in my family, so I had to take an extra dose of patience.

So do all of these make sense? Did I get the answer I was looking for? Do I see patience as a virtue? Well, thinking about it, in a way, patience makes people see life in a better way, which in turn makes them do good things, at least from my point of view.

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4