“The Unnoticed Plot Twist in the Story of the Prodigal Son”

Featured“The Unnoticed Plot Twist in the Story of the Prodigal Son”

 

“The son was prodigal indeed –  yet he wasn’t the only prodigal character in the story…”

 

The Prodigal Son (as we know it)

The parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-24) is one of Jesus’ most detailed parable, which generally pinpoints the Pharisees’ self-righteous character (as portrayed by the older brother) and God’s redemptive hand for His stiff-necked people (as portrayed by the younger brother).

It starts off with the younger son, asking for his share of his father’s inheritance (v. 12). He packed his bags and wandered off to a foreign country in order to live out his life to appease his worldly desires. When he had spent everything he had and a sever famine hit the land, he then began to be in need (v.14).

He became bankrupt, famished and wasted. In fact he was so hungry, he had second thoughts in consuming the food that was meant for pigs (v. 15 -16)

He came to his senses and went back to his father to admit his mistake and to apply as a hired servant in his father’s household.

The father took him back, forgave him and the rest was history.

When you first read the story, you’d find yourself relating to the younger brother –his egotistical personality, his conceited reliance on himself in wanting to live a life outside of his father’s guidance and his reckless behavior that led him to become bankrupt, broken and depressed.

We also saw his soft side – his humility in admitting his mess, his broken heart that led him to repentance and his bold decision to restore his relationship with his father by facing the consequences of his actions, even if it means losing his son-ship and be hired as a servant.

The son was prodigal indeed – his lavish lifestyle, his reckless decision making and wasteful spending.

Yet he wasn’t the only prodigal character in the story. Perhaps this other character was even more prodigal than the son!

Let’s continue on with the story, this time with more focus on the father.

 

The Prodigal Father

After a eureka moment, the prodigal son decided to go back home. Perhaps he rehearsed the perfect “accept-me” speech on his way back, over and over again. : “I have sinned against you. I am no longer worthy to be your son. Treat me as one of your servants.”

Perhaps he imagined countless scenarios of his father’s possible reaction when he sees him.

After a long voyage, he reached his father’s house.

Anxiety and fear filled  his heart, but he felt  as if he had  no choice but to muster up his strength and swallow his pride.

He advanced slowly so he that he had more time to memorize and practice the lines for his speech. As he grew closer to the front gate, he saw a familiar figure standing outside it.

 

It was his father.

 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him.

His father waited day and night, knowing that his son would come back to his senses and return home.

The story doesn’t say how long he waited, it might have took him days, months or even years! – but the father waited.

Upon seeing his son from afar, the father felt compassion (v. 20).

I would like to define compassion as an uneasy feeling when you see someone in need, a churning in the stomach that goes beyond sympathy, which can only be solved by an immediate action.

The father didn’t get angry, he didn’t command his servants to lock the doors and not allow his son to come in – he felt genuine happiness and compassion upon seeing his son come back.

The father ran towards his son – he sprinted like never before and though it was a mile long, he showed no signs of slowing down.

His actions were very unlikely for someone who was very rich and had hundreds of hired servants.

He could have just ordered his servants to open the gates and let his son come in or he could have called a chariot to bring him to his son – but he didn’t.

 

“Compassion as an uneasy feeling when you see someone in need, a churning in the stomach that goes beyond sympathy, which can only be solved by an immediate action.”

 

Just feet away from his son, the father tackled his lost boy, embraced him and kissed him – with his clean, fresh, white robe, the father squeezed his muddy, pig-smelling, famine inflicted, bankrupt and wasted son as if there was no tomorrow.

The son was shook to the core and may have forgotten the “sorry speech” he practiced for days – he was probably crying out of shame, out of abandonment, out of desperation and hopelessness.

He didn’t want that moment to end – he just wanted to be inside the arms of his loving father.

But then it hit him, apologizing isn’t enough; he had to do something to pay back what he did to his father. The son still insisted to be treated as one of his father’s servants but the father did the opposite of his son’s request – the Father gave his son the best treatment despite of his son’s worst behavior. He gave him the best robe, the best pair of shoes, had the best calf roasted and threw the best “welcome back” party anyone could host.

And you may still sit there and ask why – why such a response from the father?

After everything his son did  to disappoint him, after all the disrespect and arrogance from his son – why?

He could have just hired him as one of their servants or could have given him a lecture entitled “I told you so.” But why? Why did the father choose to love and accept someone so reckless and undeserving.

Because the father loved his son prodigally.

 

“The father tackled his lost boy, embraced him and kissed him – with his clean, fresh, white robe, the father squeezed his muddy, pig-smelling, famine inflicted, bankrupt and wasted son as if there was no tomorrow.”

 

The Father excessively exercised redemption by reaching his hand to pull his son out of the mud and into his kingdom.

He lavishly poured out his grace to someone who deserves to be locked out because of his actions.

He extravagantly showed his affection by running towards his broken son, with the goal of restoring him back and reminding him that he’s still part of the family.

There’s nothing that the son could do in order to gain back his family title for he was a child of his father by birth, not by worth.

Re-read the story again and tell me who is more prodigal: the son or the Father?

 

“He was a child of his father by birth – not by worth.”
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Here’s why you can’t be friends with everybody

FeaturedHere’s why you can’t be friends with everybody

Have you ever heard of someone who tried to become friends with everyone?

Even Jesus, during his time, was not able to do so. In fact, He just knew a handful of people who He regularly met with, invested a lot of time and effort and considered them as His friends.

His goal was not to please everyone around Him, rather, to please His Heavenly Father and accomplish the task that was set before Him.

Personally, there came a point in my life where I just wanted to get everybody’s approval – I longed for recognition and was hungry for applause. But then, instead of getting happier, I became depressed and ended up chasing after opinions everyone has of me.

I realized that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t be friends with everybody.

So don’t try it and don’t even think of becoming “Mr. / Ms. Congeniality”.

Not only is it impossible but it also is very deadly.

Let me break it down for you even further…

  1. It will burn you out

You will be drained emotionally AND physically.

As you accept every invitation you receive and join the coolest cliques to impress people and fit-in, you’ll begin to realize that all these things are nothing but hollow and temporary affairs. Believe me – you’ll get tired of it.

A famous quote from Will Smith writes:

 

“Too many people are buying things they can’t afford, with money that they don’t have… to impress people that they don’t like!”

 

‘Nuff said.

2.  It is unhealthy

1 Corinthians 15:33 writes “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character”.

No matter how strong your convictions are and no matter how firm you are in the faith, if you continue to hang out with friends that are not good influences to you, chances are, you’ll end up being like them – you’ll end up compromising your values in order to “fit-in” with theirs.

3. Quality over Quantity

I see a lot of people with thousands of friends on social media but if you ask them who their REAL, CLOSE friends are, it’d probably range from around 5-20 people.

Before I left the Philippines, I had hundreds of friends – friends from work, friends from church and friends from my former schools. We talked and hung out because we always saw and made time for each other. But when I left, only around 10 people (15 max) made time to communicate and catch up.

Having a lot of friends doesn’t mean you know each one in a deep way; people who have gazillions of friends may also have gazillions of shallow relationships.

The goal of (real) friendship is to attain real knowledge of another person, and knowledge takes a lot of time and effort.

4. Not everybody will believe your belief

Everyone has different beliefs and people expect you to respect that – and in your effort to convince them to take part of your convictions, you’ll end up having more enemies than friends at the end of your monologue.

I agree that a debate CAN be healthy among friends, but if your beliefs are compromised because of your friendship, then I suggest you really take some time to really consider continuing your relationship.

5. Beware of butt-hurts

The Urban Dictionary defines butt-hurt as overly or unjustifiably offended or resentful. Butt-hurt people do not know how to take jokes – they take everything you say at face value and take offense at even the slightest displeasure they have with you. Someone will always get offended REGARDLESS of what your say or do.

 

“The goal of (real) friendship is to attain real knowledge of another person, and knowledge takes a lot of time and effort.”

 

6. “Haters gonna hate”

Your daily dose of discouragements can all be found in the comments section – this has been proven and tested! Some people will focus on your mistakes rather than your accomplishments and keep a long list of your mistakes and imperfections. Yes, there will ALWAYS be disagreements and opposition and yes, there will ALWAYS be people who will hate you no matter what. So…

Why waste time impressing people who hate you when you can invest in people who desire to build you up?

  1. User-friendlies are rampant

“What will I gain out of this person?” – Some people choose their friends depending on how a person answers this question. Give them their desired answer and voila–instafriend!  I’m not saying that everybody has this mindset, but you have to be vigilant in knowing who your faithful friends are from the bogus bunch.

8. Your self-worth will diminish

Your worth will be dependent on your image – on how people see you and on how people perceive you in public. You will crave for likes on social media and grow anxious when no one responds to your posts. Your whole identity will be based on other people’s opinions – people you can never please and opinions you cannot meet.

 

“Why waste time impressing people who hate you when you can invest in people who desire to build you up?”

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pleasing other people comes very natural to us because we are social beings, our natural tendency is to belong to a group and find a place in this world – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

However, if  your life’s mission is to be “friends” with everybody then that mission will remain unfulfilled because that is virtually  impossible, much less ideal.

You just CAN’T be friends with everybody.

I say all these from experience. I hope you avoid the hurt that comes from trying to please everyone. If you have been hurt from falling into this tendency, I’d like to leave you with advice that helped me rediscover my worth and purpose:

  1. Respect yourself

You are perfect and exceptional in your own little way because God wired us differently – we all have unique DNAs and unique personalities. Stop trying to fit in the world’s mold rather, fit in God’s. You are completely fine; there’s nothing’s wrong with you if people don’t like you back, they just simply don’t understand you. You don’t need to change into something or someone else in order to be accepted.

 

“Your whole identity will be based on other people’s opinions – people you can never please and opinions you cannot meet.”

 

2. Choose a side

You cannot be lukewarm/neutral all the time. You can’t stay in the gray area too long; eventually you’d have to choose a side, pick a team and fight for what’s right. If there are friendships you need to sever because they are wrong or unhealthy, then do so. You cannot carry on living a mediocre life by having no solid stance on what your convictions are – you have to choose a side!

Even God hates neutrality:

“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:16

So stand firm for what you believe in and don’t let anyone belittle your faith and belief.

3. Strive to be positive

In this world of negativity, you must motivate yourself to be positive. People will always have something to say against you – they would hate you, backstab you, gossip about you and even spread rumors about you. But I am hoping that all these negativity won’t discourage you, rather strengthen you as a person. You have to thank the haters for their criticisms – if it’s true, improve it, if it’s not, ignore it. You have to embrace your enemies and kill them with genuine love and kindness.

  1. Appreciate the people who love you for being you

Spend some time with people who love you for who you are – people you don’t need to impress, people who don’t need your pretenses and have seen you at your worst yet remained to be your friends. People who’ll accept you regardless of your past and regardless of what you can offer them – those are your real friends – find out who they are and treasure them forever.

Forget the shallow friendships – cultivate and deepen your relationship with people who love you the most.

 

“You have to thank the haters for their criticisms – if it’s true, improve it, if it’s not, ignore it.”

 

5. Remind yourself who you really need to please

Apostle Paul reminded the Galatian Church why he did what he did:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

At the end of the day, your end goal is to bring a smile on the face of God – in spite of persecution, ridicule and rejection.

So don’t bother trying to please other people because people will let you down and disappoint you – but Jesus won’t:

“Never will I leave no will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

The greatest Person you can ever please is Jesus – He even calls us His friends (John 15:15).

So stop pretending and do what you do best – be yourself and aim to please the One who loves you the most.

18 Truths to live by this 2018:

18 Truths to live by this 2018:

18 Truths to live by this 2018:

1) Pursue if there’s peace.

2) Stop making God your consultant; let Him be the Director.

3) Always see the best in people.

4) Always give it your best; regardless of the number of people in the room.

5) Never force yourself in other people’s lives; if they care, they’ll stay.

6) Never find your worth on likes, comments and shares.

7) Walk more; talk less.

8) Listen more; advice less.

9) Appreciate more; expect less.

10) Raise your standards but learn when to bend.

11) Do what you love and love what you do.

12) Rid yourself of shallow relationships; dive deep into other people’s lives.

13) Exceed yourself – just when you think you’ve had enough, press on.

14) Be the kind of person that your crush will have a crush on.

15) Be more understanding  – always put yourself in other people’s shoes.

16) Be creative – look for opportunities to be an encouragement to others.

17) Be thankful – always find a reason to smile.

18) Be humble – feet on the ground and head up in the sky.

2017 Year-End Blog – My Best Year Yet!

2017 Year-End Blog – My Best Year Yet!

2016 just wasn’t the year for me.

It was a heartbreaking year –  the year I lost the love of my life because we chose to follow our practical minds over our confused hearts.

Our family’s first year in the US – we needed to make a lot of adjustments with regards to work, making new friends and settling down in our new apartment.

If I would put 2016 into words, it would be depressing and downright devastating.

After months of depression, self-pity and replaying ‘what could have been’ scenarios in my head – I finally came to my senses.

I thought to myself: “There’s got to be more to life than just being sad and depressed all the time.”

So I got up, wiped off the tears in my eyes and declared that by 2017, everything will be different.

Things will change for the better.
That angry, dry summer-like season in my life has to come to an end.

I can’t stay here forever!

I needed to move on.

I had to.

I was looking forward to a new season – a fresh, fragrant spring-like season.

A season where I could bury my old self and leave my past behind.

I was ready.

Ready for an adventure.

Ready to make myself better.

2017 – BEST YEAR EVER

I entered 2017 with one question in mind:

“How can I make 2017 my year?”

I was down, broken and filled with regrets.

I was weak.

But the LORD in His Word reminded me:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

So that’s what I did.

I relied on His grace and asked Him to make me a better person.

MY PERSONAL BLOG

The Lord has taught me a lot in the past year and didn’t want any of my experiences to go to waste.

I wanted to encourage people – people who are trying to move on and people who are scared to move forward – and let them know that they never were alone in this struggle.

So I thought: why not start writing blogs?

So that’s what I did.

I created a WordPress page (mikoevaristo.wordpress.com) as a venue to share my life before and after the Big Move – stories about our family’s migration, the challenges I had to go through upon moving here and the grace that the Lord allowed me to experience.

#MIKOTRAVELS

This year, I also started travelling.

It was my dream to see different States here in America.

So that’s what I did.

I saved up, packed my bags, booked some tickets and just travelled.

In a span of 1 year, I was blessed to visit 9 states (Arkansas, Arizona, California, Illinois, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah) and was able to learn and see what makes each State unique.

Each place I went through was memorable and each experience was very surreal!

I remember:

Standing in awe of the Grand Canyon.

Visiting Elvis’ home in Memphis.

Touching the world famous Bean in Chicago.

Taking the tram up to a snowy mountain in Salt Lake City.

Visiting Capitols of different states (Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Little Rock, Arkansas respectively)

Crying as I was walking in Times Square for the first time.

And just soaking all the summer heat on a perfect California Day.

I wanted people to see and get a glimpse of where I was going.

So that’s what I did.

I created a Facebook page (facebook.com/mikotravels) to share all my travel vlogs from the different places I have been to.

I wanted people to know that life doesn’t always suck and that there’s definitely always a reason to be happy.

NEW FRIENDS

2017 has really been a breakthrough for me when it comes to having friends.

From being depressed and all alone, the Lord has ushered in new people to be a part of my life.

People who I can laugh with, tag memes with, share my thoughts with and just generally be myself around them.

The Lord has also blessed me with more people inside our Midweek Group and has entrusted me with faithful and hungry young men and women who desire nothing but to get to know Him in a much more deeper way.

People who I can call my “brothers and sisters” because they are literally like family to me.

STRONGER FAMILY

2017 was the year where our family got stronger.

The most memorable experience I would never trade was during the Family Camp.

It was during the camp that our family laid all our cards in the table – all our deep hurts, all our struggles and all our inconsistencies – with the goal to reconcile and be more united as one body.

So shoutout to my Dad who never failed to make us laugh with all his funny encounters with people from his commute.

To my mom who was like my bestfriend in whom I can tell almost anything about.

To my sister Ate Jam and Raffy who are currently in London, you always make time to talk to me and even give me advice everytime I need it.

And to Kurt, my favorite brother who’s more mature than people his age.

Thank you. I’d never trade this family for anything.

This was also the year where I connected better with my cousins.

I never imagined being close with my younger cousins but somehow we just clicked.

So thank you Jared, Jozelle and Jenny, for hearing my rants and never getting tired of my hugots. Thanks for always encouraging me and for reminding me to push through and persevere. Thank you for all the laughs, for all the spontaneous shoppings, for the random rap battles and for being there every time I need you. You know how much I love each and every one of you. You all mean the world to me.

Thank you Joshua, for going out of your shell and for sharing deep (sometimes dark) stories with me.

Thank you James, for teaching me how to play City of Stars via piano! I’ll never forget that!

Thank you Deb, for always being available and for still bearing with my corny jokes.

Thank you.

ENDING A GREAT YEAR; STARTING A NEW YEAR

I really don’t know what to say.

I feel bittersweet when I think of leaving such a wonderful year.

But as I’ve mentioned in my blogs before, we are always called to move.

We are called not to get too comfortable but to exceed ourselves and do more.

I know 2017 was great but I am certain that 2018 will be even better.

So thank you, 2017:

Thank you for all the good times and the bad times.

Thank you for all the new friends and the friends who chose to depart.

Thank you for a great family.

Thank you for all the travels.

Thank you for drawing me closer to Jesus.

Thank you for the life lessons.

And thank you for allowing me to move on.

So, here’s to a more awesome year!

A year of more travels.

More friends.

More closer connections.

More challenges.

More stepping out to unfamiliarity.

And more awesome experiences.

Looking forward to meeting you, 2018!

The Dangers of Living in Comfort

The Dangers of Living in Comfort

Years ago, a man made an experiment on the most effective way to boil a frog.

For his first test, he placed the frog inside a pot of boiling water which instinctively made the creature jump out of the pot because the water was too hot.

For his second test, he placed the frog inside a pot of lukewarm water and slowly increased the temperature – the frog remained inside the pot and didn’t even notice the temperature increasing until he realized it was too late for him to jump out when the waters started to boil.

This is called ‘The Boiling Frog Syndrome’ and is a good metaphor on the dangers / pitfalls in living a comfortable life.

As Christians, we are not called to live a comfortable life; God didn’t save us JUST to bring us to Heaven when we die – we have a far more greater purpose.

But you may be asking:

“What’s wrong with living a comfortable life anyway?”

“Didn’t God promise blessing and goodness for all His people?”

“Isn’t prosperity a form of blessing from the Lord?”

During one of Jesus’ teachings, a young rich man who claims to have obeyed all the commandments, approached him and asked what good deed must he do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus told him upfront:

 “…Go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” – Matthew 19:21

The scripture tells us that the man left sorrowful for he indeed was very rich and had great possessions.

Following Jesus means leaving everything behind – it is a daily denying of ourselves, a daily surrender of our desires.

It is a constant choice; a commitment – it is doing something that needs to be done despite the circumstance.

Majority of what you would say ‘believers of Jesus’ have this mindset of a storm-free Christian life.

They think that the moment they place their faith in Jesus, all their problems will start to disappear and that all the tangled cords in their lives will ‘magically’ start to straighten out.

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul recounts the discomforts he experienced as a follower of Jesus:

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.

Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” – 2 Corinthians 11:24-29

Talk about suffering! A disaster was waiting for him on every turn but this didn’t stop him from proclaiming the Gospel.

Oftentimes, we easily give up when sufferings come because we have basked in our comfort too much.

When a small wave shakes our “boat of comfort”, we instantly blame the Lord for allowing such a thing to happen.

We act as if the Lord is obligated to answer our prayers and sadly, we treat him like a servant to clean our mess up or an ATM whenever we need money.

We demand the Lord to bless us and expect him to answer our prayers immediately.

And the sad truth is this kind of “religion” is evident in churches today – a self-seeking, Me-centered, prosperity-preachin’, comfort-driven kind of religion.

I don’t know what that is but that’s definitely not Christianity.

Because being a Christian means following Jesus regardless of the circumstance.

It means taking up your cross and dying to your old self.

It means trusting even when you don’t understand.

It means following even when no one seems to believe you.

In fact in John 16, Jesus already warned us that we would be experiencing persecutions and the world will hate us for going against its beliefs.

But before the chapter closes, He left us with an encouraging note:

“In the world you will have tribulation.

But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

– John 16:33

My friends, stepping out of familiarity and comfort is a step that we all must take because this is what separates the “believers” from the followers.

Yes, it will be hard and will entail a lot of sacrifice, but His grace will be more than enough for us to get by.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

The only comfort we should ever experience is the comfort in knowing that we are in the center of His will.

We should remind ourselves that His presence is all we will ever need in order to experience the fullness of His glory.

I Found ‘The One’

I Found ‘The One’

My social media feed is flooded with photos of weddings and marriage proposal videos. Almost everyone I know in the same age bracket as mine are either in a relationship OR getting married.

I tune out my virtual world and survey the real world – maybe it’ll be different… But guess what? It’s still the same – I look around and see couples holding hands and old people still showing a lot of love and affection – not bothered by the wrinkles on their face but just reminiscing on the years they’ve gone through together.

 

Don’t you just love the idea of being in a relationship?

Holding hands with that special person you love, watching fireworks together and introducing them to your family as ‘the one’?

I mean seriously, who wants to be single forever, right? (Well, I don’t)

 

And if you know me personally, you know that I’m a hopeless romantic –  you’ll probably find me under a tree, day-dreaming of what it’s like to have a girlfriend.

You’ll probably hear me scream out  “Lord, I don’t want to be single forever!” in random places like malls, church corridors or even inside the car.

 

I’m weird. Well, not just weird – but desperate – and in my desperation, I tried to take things in to my own hands:

 

I downloaded dating apps – but don’t get me wrong on this one, dating apps are cool and I’ve heard of countless love stories that bloomed through them – but apparently this didn’t work for me.

Each swipe just made me more depressed because none of the girls I ‘swiped’ at was actually meeting my standards – I just swiped for the sake of swiping.

 

I also came up with ‘The Predestination Theory’: It is a theory where bumping into a girl in a very unexpected time, place and season in my life made us meant to be or ‘predestined’ to be together.

I would think of how all the events that led me in to meeting her seem to connect and ‘make sense’ when I try to puzzle all the pieces together to form ‘the big picture’.

Eventually, I debunked this theory because it just caused me to overthink, make wild assumptions without hard evidence and utterly disappointed when things didn’t turn out the way I imagined it to be.

 

I also bargained with the Lord – I prayed silly prayers like ‘Lord I would change and be more active in ministry IF you reveal to me who my would-be wife is!’.

Or pray ‘Lord, please make her the wife I’m going to marry. Please let it be Your will.’

Relationships are more than just butterflies in the stomach – it’s a lifelong, life-laying and life-giving commitment to your partner

But after all my hopeless and desperate attempts, I finally gave up and completely trusted the Lord.

I rested my case, raised my arms up, swung my white flag and said “It’s up to You, Lord! I give up. I surrender”.

If He wants me single till 40 then so be it! I’d rather wait for His best for me rather than settle for the wrong person.

I earnestly prayed for Him to steady my heart and desired to be satisfied in His presence alone – and to tell you quite frankly, it’s pretty hard to be fully dependent on Jesus – especially with regards to my emotions.

The prophet Jeremiah explicitly warns us that our hearts are deceitful and beyond cure (Jer 17:9); so we really should be careful with our emotions and on how we handle this desire to find a partner. We should always remind ourselves that relationships are more than just butterflies in the stomach – it’s a lifelong, life-laying and life-giving commitment to your partner (well that’s how it really should be).

So I came up with these 3P’s that serve as a reminder for me to endure and enjoy my singlehood:

  • Pursue Jesus

Devote your time in knowing Him more. Get involved in your local church, join a ministry, start a small group, attend/listen to Bible studies and pour your heart out in sharing Jesus to other people.  He knows your desires and He knows what you want before you even ask Him (Matt 6:8). If you seek Him first, He will add the things you’re deeply longing for into your life (Matt 6:33). Seeking Jesus doesn’t change His mind, rather it changes your heart – His desires now become your desires. As John Piper once put it: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

  • PAUSE.

Take some time to pause, re-assess everything that’s happening in your life right now and cherish your singlehood. Stop counting the benefits of being in a relationship! Being single is awesome and is also a gift – don’t think of it as a curse or bad luck. Maximize your alone time by trying on a new hobby, going out to parties, meeting new friends and by travelling to different places. List down the areas you need to improve on and start working on them.  This is the perfect season to produce a better version of you.

  • Pray for your future spouse

The best thing you could do right now is to pray for your future spouse. Pray for his/her growth, pray for his/her studies or career and pray for his/her spiritual maturity. If you’re praying for a husband, pray for the Lord to give you a husband that will lead you more closer to Him. If you’re praying for a wife, pray for a suitable helper who’ll support you in all your endeavors. But don’t be deceived – it’s okay to pray for specific traits about your future spouse but don’t make that the focus of your prayer. Your whole prayer should revolve around making your requests known to God (Phil 4:6) and to expectantly wait for His answer. God isn’t selfish – if you delight yourself in Him, He will align the desires of your heart to His desires for your life. (Ps 37:4)

Seeking Jesus doesn’t change His mind, rather it changes your heart – His desires now become your desires.

Remember my friend, our ultimate goal in life isn’t to get married; it is to know Jesus and make Him known.

So stop looking for your better half because only Jesus can complete you.

Just relax and trust in Him! He will be “The One” to sustain you, guide you and lead you to ‘the one’ if He wills it.

Don’t rush it.

Don’t force it.

‘The one’ will come in His right time.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

When things don’t go your way

When things don’t go your way

What do you do when things don’t go your way?

How do you respond in a situation that you never expected?

What would you feel if you encountered 2 accidents in less than a month?

 

Well, welcome to my world.

 

The past few weeks has been a rollercoaster for me; but instead of experiencing the highs, the Lord allowed me to experience the lows.

 

Last September 27,  I was peacefully waiting in the left turn pocket of National Blvd. when suddenly, an SUV coming in from the 405 Freeway rammed the side of my car.

The impact was so sudden that it slightly changed the orientation of my car from a 12’o clock angle to a 10’o clock which resulted to a broken bumper, a busted back left door which looked like it was opened by a giant can opener and an utterly dismayed driver who claimed that she was in the right of way.

 

To make the long story short, both insurance companies and the 2 accident attorneys favored the other driver’s claim so I ended up paying for the repairs on the damages that she created.

 

Little did I know that just barely a month after the accident, another misfortune was already waiting for me.

 

Last October 22, me and three of my friends surprised our friend in Sacramento but on our way back to LA, we met another accident.

After turning right from a stop sign, a speeding car bashed the back left part of our vehicle which caused the side airbags to deploy and jolted everyone in it.

 

I immediately stopped the vehicle and turned to checked-up on my 3 friends.

By God’s grace, everyone was alright –no broken bones and no blood (whew) – just minor head bumps and sore muscles.

 

I got down the car and exchanged contact information with the other driver.

Since I was renting a car, the company’s insurance provided us a replacement vehicle on the same day.

 

We contacted our respective parents and they decided to buy us plane tickets to Los Angeles, have the rental car returned to the airport and have our head bumps checked at the nearest hospital.

 

AT MY LOWEST

 

I was at my lowest.

 

I remember myself sitting in the hospital’s waiting room.

I was tired, hungry and overall depressed.

 

I silently prayed to the Lord:

“Lord. I really don’t know how this is gonna turn out. Please help me.”

 

In my mind, I was blaming myself for being so careless with my driving.

 

I was thinking of all the trust I broke that day.

All the angry parents waiting for me at church – I even thought of not showing up in church for a month or until the issue died down.

 

I couldn’t even begin to imagine the burden I would be carrying if one of my friends had a concussion or a broken bone.

I couldn’t even face our friend we visited in Sac – she carried so much burden that she wasn’t supposed to.

 

The more I dwelled on the situation, the more Satan would attack me with anger and depression.

 

I was literally wallowing in regret and self-pity…

 

BUT THEN GRACE

 

Grace opened my eyes; she allowed me to see that God is still supreme and is still in control.

 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. “

– Psalm 46:1

 

Grace rebuked me; she reminded me that God allowed this to happen – nothing I did or will ever do can ever go past God’s approval.

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”

–Romans 8:28

 

Grace picked me up; she strengthened me by teaching me not to rely on my own strength but to trust in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

 

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

–Isaiah 40:31

 

I really don’t know how the Lord will turn this situation around, but one thing I know – He is still Lord.

 

I know that He is still faithful even if we are faithless (2 Tim 2:13).

I know that He is close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (Psalms 34: 18-20).

And I know that He will supply all my needs according to His great riches in glory (Phil 4:19).

 

I may not see it now but I know that He will see me through!

5 Misconceptions that Filipinos have on Filipino Immigrants

5 Misconceptions that Filipinos have on Filipino Immigrants

Before migrating here to the US, I had certain ideologies and beliefs on the lives of Filipinos who moved to other countries. One of my former beliefs was once they exited the Philippines; their lives will be better and they’ll live happily ever after. But after living in the US for almost 3 years now, the truths I once held on to are nothing but myths, theories and mere generalizations.

So I am writing this blog to clarify and put into light, 5 common misconceptions that Filipinos back home have on Filipino Immigrants.

  1. “Marunong ka pa ba mag-Tagalog?” (Do you still know how to speak Tagalog?)

Filipinos equate an American accent with excellent English-speaking skills– but that shouldn’t be the case. Several factors determine a person’s competence in speaking English – grammar, content, flow of the conversation, to name a few.

Accents are not the end-all, be-all of English speaking – content, clarity, and connection with your listener are far more important.

Though accents can be learned, forgetting how to speak Tagalog is actually impossible, especially if you were not born and raised in the US. It also depends on a person’s preference & attitude towards the native tongue: I know a person who migrated to the US when he was 8 years old (he’s 19 now by the way) yet can still speak English and Tagalog very fluently (he has thick accents for both) and there’s this 22 year old girl who migrated when she was 15 years old and now rarely speaks Tagalog.

2.  “Mas okay sa US kasi mas malamig” (It’s better in the US because it’s colder there)

Okay, first of all, it’s not always cold here in the US – it actually depends on the state and the season a person is in.

For those of us living in California, different seasons mean different temperatures:

Winter – November to February; temperatures range from 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 10 degrees Celsius)

Spring – March – May; temperatures range from 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 – 15 degrees C)

Then it becomes crazy hot on summer, which begins from June and ends late August, with temperatures ranging from 70 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 40 degrees C). Other states like Nevada/Arizona/Texas can even reach up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (or more)!

People might also say that it is “hotter” in the Philippines, and while this is true on most days, the heat in the Philippines is different from the heat here in the US. Again, this also depends which state one is in, and I can only speak for California. The Philippines has tropical heat (essentially, this heat makes you sweat) and the US has dry heat (this heat seeps through your skin and bones). My family, especially my athletic brother who loves being outdoors, became two shades darker ever since we moved here.

Secondly, colder is not always better. I have friends from Canada and the East Coast who told me their experience during the winter season. At first it was fun because they get to build a snowman, throw some snowballs, build miniature igloos, etc. However, as time passed by, everyday tasks became more tedious – they needed to turn on the heater, wear triple layers of clothing to keep them warm , shovel tons of snow out of their car, clear the snow out of their driveway and drive through icy roads JUST to get out of the house – and they do this every day!

P.S

I’m seriously missing the tropical weather! 😦

3.   “Mayaman na yan kasi dollars kinikita niyan eh.” (He’s rich because he earns in dollars!)

Earning money isn’t easy – no matter which state or country you work in. Yes, people here earn in dollars but also spend in dollars! Some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) here work 2 jobs just to sustain themselves AND send money back home.

Work here isn’t easy as well (especially for us immigrants) – my first job was a sales clerk for a Department Store – I folded clothes for a living! But I didn’t complain, in fact, my experience humbled me and helped me learn the American culture faster. Some people have more strenuous jobs than I do – they chose to endure the lengthy hours of work in order to save up and bring some bacon back home to the motherland.

4.   “Kapag sa kapwa Pinoy ka lang sumasama, mas magiging madali buhay mo” (When you stick with fellow Filipinos, your life will be much easier)
This gets me very upset because some Filipinos would rather stick to their own kind instead of embracing America’s culture.

The secret beauty of America is its diversity – it is a melting pot of different races. But we Filipinos have somehow developed colonial mentality – a false belief that we are inferior compared to others races; we’d rather cave inside our own little shells rather than compete in the international scene.

To all my immigrant (and would-be immigrant) friends out there, the first thing you need to do when you start moving here in the US is to be open-minded – stop holding on to the things you got used to and let go of the habits you once had back home.

Embrace the culture, soak all the positive traits of America and combine it with our own. Being diverse is what makes America unique – don’t feel inferior!

5.   Nag-migrate yan kasi di na niya mahal ang Pilipinas. (He migrated because he doesn’t love the Philippines)

Before moving here, I had this misconception that Filipinos who migrated to the US are unpatriotic – they must have hated the Philippines so bad that they moved out of the country to live in “greener pastures”.

I don’t blame them for making that decision. Some Filipinos are just so fed up with all the things that are happening in the Philippines – the government, the pollution, the traffic, the speed of the wifi, etc. They just want to have a better life and grab any opportunity to raise their standard of living – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

For some, migrating to another country is the only option they have – there are thousands upon thousands of OFWs who unwillingly migrated to the US to work. They came here alone to work for someone they do not know and pursue degrading jobs they do not like; they are in constant battle with loneliness and depression but that doesn’t stop them from pursuing their goal which is to save up and give their families back home a better life.  I am 100% sure that a day never passed without them thinking of their dear country which cradles the family they departed.

Whether you’ve been in the US for 3 months or 30 years, as long as you are Filipino, you will always come back to your first love.

Their migration doesn’t mean they hate the Philippines; in fact, they do it out of love for the families they left behind and will always make it a point to come back to their beloved motherland.

 

We may find these misconceptions amusing but the truth is, living in another country isn’t always blissful; we too have our own set of problems and challenges we need to deal with and at the end of the day, we hope nothing but the best for our fellow Pinoys back home and exclaim with high regard:

“No matter where I am…I am always proud to be Filipino.”

The Quarter Life Crisis Survival Guide

The Quarter Life Crisis Survival Guide

The Quarter Life Crisis Survival Guide

(Specifically for those aged 24 – 28)

You might be in this stage of your life where you seem lost and feel like your life is headed nowhere–

…A season where you wake up depressed even after a good night’s rest.

…A phase where you easily get discouraged, at the same time overwhelmed at all the responsibilities you shoulder.

 

If you’re single (like me), you are in THAT chapter of your story where the idea of marriage looms like clouds before a heavy downpour. (or: where you expect the prince to meet his princess, or vice versa)

 

If you are experiencing all of these, you are not alone!

 

You are entering a stage commonly known as the “Quarter Life Crisis”.

 

It is a crisis that may be experienced in one’s twenties, involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life. (Collins Dictionary, 2016)

 

Although it is not a necessary stage one has to go through, many people claim to have trodden this murky life stage.

 

Given that it happens as one is nearing 25 years of age, you can expect when it can occur, but as to how it will take shape and form, you just have to find out!

 

If you fear you might go through this or are already in it, let me tell you something: there is a way you can emerge victorious.

 

Since you can’t prevent it, you might as well survive it, right?

 

So here’s a guide I came up with which I hope can help you guys/gals survive “The Quarter-Life Crisis”:

 

  1. List down all your fears

Your fear doesn’t have to be tangible – like fear of spiders or snakes – It could be the fear of getting hurt, fear of public speaking, fear of rejection, etc. Once you identify and define them, create a plan to either overcome or manage them! One of my fears, believe it or not, is engaging in small talks. I am socially awkward especially with people I just met and in order for me to conquer that fear, I have purposed to exert extra effort by going beyond small talks and dive into deep conversations. Face your fears and don’t let them hold you down!

  1. Determine what your passions are

Back in High School, I had this passion for editing and creating funny videos – I even had my own YouTube channel, but eventually I deactivated it. Now I’m back, doing travel vlogs and montages for fun! How about you? What do you love doing most? What are the things you are naturally good at and would never get tired of doing? Determine what they are and invest your time and money on enhancing them. Who knows? Discovering your passions might be a wake-up call for you to finally have a career-change.

  1. Create short and attainable goals

We set plans that are long term – like ‘I should be married by the age of 30’ or ‘I should have my first million at the age of 45’ – and there’s nothing wrong with that! However,  may I suggest that we also create targets that are short and attainable – preferably 1 year. These 1 year challenges are all over the internet – whether it be a reading plan, a financial savings guide or a workout routine – short-term plans are easy, achievable and realistic.

  1. Pursue that dream

What is that one thing you’ve always wanted to do ever since you were a child? “That dream” you thought was very impossible to accomplish might not be impossible after all! For me, “that dream” was to travel the whole world. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I purposed in my heart that someday I would be able to. I didn’t allow my dreams to remain dreams, I had to do something about it – the rubber should hit the road! One of my top dream travel destinations was New York City, so I saved up for almost a year, planned a 5 day itinerary with my friends and just went there. My NYC experience was something that I wouldn’t trade for anything and my desire to travel became more motivating because I knew that my dreams were not that difficult to achieve.

  1. Stop sulking

Get up and stand up! Stop wasting your time being down and depressed all the time.  What if an Olympic runner who stumbles remains on the ground and begs to be pitied? A good runner would stand up and start running again.  Many people count on him to win and lying on the ground won’t get him anywhere. My friend, you still have a lot of things to accomplish– you’re not even halfway done – so better get up and start running.

  1. Shake up your daily routine

The reason why you think that your life is routinary is because it is! You work at the same old office, commute at the same old train and spend your weekends on the same old coffee shop. Start changing the small things in your daily routine – sleep on the opposite side of your bed, wake up extra early to jog or read a book, take a different route on your way to work and try out different cafes or restaurants during your days off. It’s okay to step out of familiarity every once in a while.

  1. Always look forward

This by far is my favorite secret weapon in surviving the quarter-life crisis – I always look forward. It doesn’t have to be major, you can look forward to: weekends, your payday, that package you ordered from Amazon, that movie you’ve always wanted to watch, that concert/party you’ve always wanted to go to, that game which will be released this summer, your long awaited holiday vacation, etc. Don’t let your hopes die down – always get excited and anticipate that better days will always come.

  1. Move On

Yes I know you were young once and have made stupid decisions that you can’t seem to let go of and sadly, you are currently facing the consequences of your actions. Nonetheless, holding on to your mistake won’t make you a better person; in fact, it pulls you down from becoming one. You have to let go and move on.  Doing so does not mean you tolerate your mistake; it only proves you learned from it and commit to never repeating the same mistake. Moving on isn’t easy and it never will be – some people take months or years to completely recover – but take the necessary steps in order for you to move forward. Don’t let your mistakes define you.

  1. Ask the Lord for guidance

It’s hard to live a life without meaning and purpose, that is why you need to ask the Lord for guidance and direction. You may often feel unusually tired and depressed because of this crisis but the Lord promises in His Word:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! – Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

All you need to do is trust in Him – trust in His timing, trust His heart and trust His plan for you – because no matter how many plans you come up with, it is the Lord’s plan that will prevail (Prov. 19:21).

Finally,

  1. Go out there

Now is the best time for you to get out there and do what you love doing. You are at your prime and you are at your best state! Meet new people, travel to another state or country, do something that scares you and never be afraid to get hurt. In my experience, 2017 was a real breakthrough for me – after almost 2 years of depression, loneliness and a major heartbreak, I decided to turn my life around and not allow sadness to take control over me. I invested my time, money and effort in doing what I love doing best – traveling, blogging and making videos. So stop worrying and stop regretting, these won’t add another hour in your life. Go out there and enjoy!

So there you have it! I hope my quick survival guide helped you in this journey.

Feel free to leave me a comment or a private message to share your #QuarterLifeJourney.