compassion · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · Global Health · God · life · Milk Matters · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · sacrifices · Service · sisterhood · UP-PGH

One Seed Grows

MM WDC

This is the photo of my sorority sister, Ja Verceles, as she represents Milk Matters in an annual convention in Washington, DC. Milk Matters has been selected to participate through poster presentation and in the conference for global health.

I am so proud. I cannot help but thank the Lord for the grace to actually see this happen. I am thankful, that as I look at the photo I see two blessed things: 1. To see what Milk Matters has become, that I treasure it like a child borne out of my heart, and though I have become detached from it, my love for it has been stable, steady; 2. To see that my sorority sisters are growing out of themselves and becoming a better version of themselves through service.

Six years of intensely immersing myself in service taught me to focus on the latter blessing. To invest on people. To add value to their growth by helping them maximize their strengths and work on their core passion. That, in fervent hope, as they work tirelessly and relentlessly, a change of heart happens.

That is how I show my love– through service. Amazing how it gels together, when before the Milk Matters team only set our sights on just one milk drive and see how it goes from there. The Lord makes me see His work bloom right in front of my very eyes three years after its conception. I am but His servant.

It is great to see women with such big potentials who dedicate their efforts to help the poor and the sick Filipinos.

*This is the second international conference participated in by Milk Matters. The other one is an international award and representation in China. That is aside from the many accolades it has received in University of the Philippines College of Medicine and at regional and national levels.

compassion · CYA Staffer · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · God · life · love · Milk Matters · personal · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · prayer · Service · UP-PGH

Seeds of Service

Featured image above is a photo of one of my baby patients when I was intern. He was my inspiration when I wrote my speech entitled “Ang Bagong EDSA.” He just slept soundly on my chest. Little did he know he was instrumental in rekindling my fire for service, which was the EDSA speech’s spirit.

From my stint in the sorority up until staff work in a Catholic movement called Christ’s Youth in Action, seeds of service has been the prominent battle cry.

I was called for the planting. Look at my photos years before I was called as a staffer/youth missionary volunteer. How eerily prophetic it sounded.

God really moves in mysterious ways. These were my sentiments during my leadership years in Phi Lambda Delta that I can relate to staff work:

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“Sometimes, you really cannot sit under the shade of the tree whose seed you just planted. You plant the seed, and trust in God that He will put it under the care of the people whose good hearts become the roots, water and air for this worthy seed to grow and flourish. Mabuti talaga ang Panginoon.”

Prophetic. The worthy seed (at that time I was talking about Milk Matters) reminds me of the mustard seed talking about the kingdom of God. Look at where I am now. Instrument being used to be one of the builders.

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Meet the OG. Original gangster of Milk Matters. This was the first meeting of the team, when MM was still an abstract yet inspiring concept.

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“Ultimately, we serve because God called us to… Nagkamali ako along the way, but I am sure hindi ako nagkulang (sa effort).” I really gave it my best shot as the service arm leader for Phi. #noregrets One of my favorite jobs in the world.

And this is my nephew, cotton ball. Meet my fluffy cotton ball.

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God · life · love · pearls · personal · prayer

For We Were Once in Darkness

This article is for CYA’s 34th Anniversary. Staffer Jhing Talan asked me to write about how God used CYA to touch my life. I have an outline I wanted, then the Lord had a different idea. I prayed about the content for almost a week! All I know is, I ripped my guts out for this article. Here it goes:

Today’s youth is crying out for help.

Go beyond your comfort zones. Look outside the window of the car you are in. Walk along the street beside YC and, most likely, you will encounter them.

The little ones whose arms beg for food, whose faces contort with hunger, and whose eyes radiate only the sad echoes of what could have been a glorious childhood.

As they grow a few years older, without any intervention they learn to loiter on the sidewalk all day. They deaden the pangs of hunger with the intoxicating sniffs of rugby. They open their eyes and believe that substance abuse, profanities and lack of education are the mainstay morals of their young lives. Thus, they make themselves vulnerable to the prowling demons of corruption and call it truth. Don’t be surprised when someday, one of these children becomes the thief that points a knife to your sister, threatening to kill for a cellphone.

Up we go and transcend the social strata. This is where wealth, material abundance and the best of education do not necessarily guarantee a certified upright youth of contemporary times.

The “me” generation concerns itself with the onslaught of social media. They get their highs on the status updates and notifications in Facebook, on the latest pricey gadgets, or on the trends set by celebrities. They put so much effort on their physical appearance and not an inkling of concern on what they feed their souls with. They deaden the pangs of their conscience with materialism and call it truth. They cheat themselves on the true source of love. They settle for its fake but popular substitutes and call it YOLO (you only live once): cigarettes, booze, drugs, premarital sex, pornography, campus violence.

Today’s youth is crying out for help.

Today’s youth needs God’s light, now more than ever.

I, for one, was once in darkness. It was through the seemingly ordinary conversation with Father Chester Yacub, SJ, (former CYA Staffer) that the Lord chose to reveal Himself to me and changed my life radically.

When Father Chester told me to join Christ’s Youth in Action, I was at the brink of giving up on my responsibilities as the service coordinator for my sorority in UP College of Medicine. I was mired in the hopelessness of service projects that never seemed to bear fruit. I was embittered by the judgmental attitude I harbored against those who never seemed to appreciate (or so I thought) how valuable serving others was.

Most of all, pride was a thorn to deal with. Living in a competitive world, I strove hard to excel and achieve. I had a mindset that I deserved the good things that the Lord blessed me with.

Service and pride are two opposite ends of a pole. Service can never be deeply substantive when one’s heart is ruled by pride.

My conversation with Father Chester back then is God’s act of saving me from my own self. What follows afterward is a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness to His people.

Blessings I have received from God through CYA? Ang dami. Sobra.

God redeemed the many deaths in my heart. And He filled it with His life-giving Spirit.

When in the throes of pride, He breaks me and shows me how beautiful it is to serve with a humble and grateful heart.

When in the chains of judgment, He opens the eyes of my heart to truly see the goodness of people and the purity of their intentions.

When in the dark abyss of hopelessness, He serves as the lamp unto my feet. He gathers me in His bosom and leads me to His everlasting ways.

CYA is God’s gift to me. The relationships I have and witness through the brothers and sisters are a manifestation of God’s love here on earth. Through CYA, I have come to know God personally, deeply, surely, intimately.

I do not know why Jhing Talan asked me to write about CYA’s 34th, when for its past 33 years of blessedness, I’ve never known CYA to exist. I’ve gone through my full four year course of undergraduate college, worked for a year as a school nurse and already halfway through my degree in Medicine when I joined CYA. So I am just your ordinary newly-evangelized, newly-committed CYA member whose age warrants me to join Lingkod already.

But God has His own perfect timing. I can speak with full confidence, as put upon me by the Lord, the one great truth that I pray can inspire you to action: God used CYA to change my life.

Let me say it again: God used CYA to change my life. And to change it for the better.

God is calling His youth, Christ’s Youth, to act in His name.

To change lives for His name.

To live godly lives for the glory of His name.

There is a special blessing accorded to the youth. Energy. Insight. Idealism. Conviction. These qualities, guided by faith, can propel the youth to expand the kingdom of God in a world that is in dire need of the Gospel.

Today’s youth is crying out for help.

Today’s youth needs God’s light, now more than ever.

Our great God is longing for His lost sheep. Respond to His call and proclaim His Word.

He will make His youth a light to the nations, to open the eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness (Isaiah 42:6)

Fear not, for they who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire. (Isaiah 40:31)

compassion · doctor · doctor dreams · faith · God · life · love

Five Year Love Affair

WP 5 years

Today is my fifth year anniversary of blogwriting. My love affair for words written and/or spoken has always been a source of comfort, catharsis and coherence.

So imagine my surprise when WordPress granted me a virtual trophy for persevering with my occasional writer’s block. Like a milestone for transitioning from being an okay writer to a bit more okay one. One step at a time.

Here’s to a deluge of years of writing, hopefully with passion, depth, meaning, wit and love.

***

A Promise is Always a Promise

Note to self. Remember your promise during Crossroads.

God honors your agreement. God takes you up on your word.

When you find it hard not to look back, always remember to look up.

Look up and shift your gears toward God. He sees everything: your efforts, your failures, your successes, your perseverance, your hardship, your frustrations, your joy, your dreams.

What about your love for Him?

Learn to fully trust in Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8-9

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” -Jeremiah 29:11a

 

clerkship · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · friendship · God · life · sacrifices

Student In Charge

The SIC. One can always read it in the doctors’ order sheet, like some monotonous voice of an unseen robot giving out instructions.

“SIC to complete database for patient information.”

“SIC to refer patient to SAPOD, IDS, TB DOTS. Inform service once with labs.”

“Highly appreciate SIC efforts!”

In the world of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, SIC means student in charge. He/ she is either a clerk or an intern. Each one is assigned a number of patients to be monitored for any progress in health management. It goes without saying that the doctors’ orders must be followed and carried out. Without fail, or else.

So when the textpass came that all classes in Manila were cancelled due to inclement weather, Clerk Villa shrugged it off. Class suspensions did not really apply to us anymore. We were waterproof. The dedicated mermen and mermaids of UP-PGH. I continued with my battle gear preparation for perfect storms such as this one: the boots my Daddy bought for me, a functional jacket, a sturdy umbrella and my indispensable, ever-reliable duty bag. Off I wade into the high waters of Taft Avenue!

Oh it was such fun wading the waters with my boots on! I crossed the then ankle-deep muddy water of Taft Avenue with the strong winds slapping against me. Without fear. Without hesitation. I felt so privileged, confident that my feet would always be dry and my white pants unstained. This must be a semblance of what the Israelites felt when the Red Sea parted for them and they walked on dry land right through it. Amazing.

I arrived in the Orthopedics ward (unscathed) to see my patients and check up on the latest doctors’ orders.

I have four patients so far. Two of them have undergone below-the-elbow amputation on the right forearm because of a cancerous mass or a complicated extrapulmonary tuberculosis lesion. They are happy and relieved to be going home on Sunday, partly because they have no money to spend anymore. One is a 15 year old kid who has bilateral clubfeet that makes it hard for him to walk and relate because of the seeming disfigurement of appearance. My last patient has gone home already. He’s my age, and his fracture on the left leg necessitated that an external fixator (Ilizarov) be put on for proper bone healing. It looks like this one:

Ilizarov

Why am I writing this?

Because upon arriving in Ward 8, I am not surprised to see my blockmates, even those who are not on duty, doing their SIC work. I am not surprised to see my classmates in UP College of Medicine Class 2016 walking along the dark and cold hallways of PGH, entering their designated wards to do what they are tasked to do. Getting the latest lab results for their patients. Endorsing needed requirements to facilitate patient healing with fellow clerks. Bad weather or good. Even if they feel like doing it or not.

I am not surprised, but I am amazed all the same.

I honor the clerks, the interns, the doctors, the nurses, the utility workers, the lab technicians, the medical technicians. Being a health professional is a sacrifice. It is not easy and at times it is most inconvenient.

But the joy of serving the patients. No one can take that from us. I would like to quote my fellow clerk, Doi Infante, on his beautiful insight after a tiring duty:

“Did my rounds early this morning after a toxic 24-hour duty, and found out that one of my patients will be discharged today. All the exhaustion seemed to fade away when Lola said, “ma-mimiss ko kayo, doc!”

It may not seem much, but it made me smile.”

Doing my rounds despite the weather may not seem much, but the Lord designed my heart to bask in the joy of seeing my patients heal and get better.

A simple thank you from a worried mother, a smile of acceptance from a sick old man, even seeing the healing wound of a quiet child. These incidental forms of appreciation make us feel more human after executing the must-be-done-without-fail orders churning out from that unseen mechanized robot voice.

Class suspensions don’t really apply to us SICs anymore. Bad weather or good, we go to the hospital, do our thing, and hope that at the end of the day, our patients get better. That at the end of the day, the things we do for our patients eventually teach us to become good doctors with kind hearts, willing to cross Taft (or Pedro Gil) even if it morphs into a monster of a river.

child abuse · compassion · doctor · empathy · faith · God · hating violence against women and children · life · post against child abuse

Silence

He does not know his surname.

Robert* is an eight year old boy who has a body of a five year old: short in stature and very thin his bones seem to stick out from the sockets. He is very quiet.

“Ako, Villa ang apelyido ko. Sa’yo, ano?” I urged him on. He wouldn’t even look at me in the eye. The only answer I got was a shrug, telling me he didn’t know.

Interviewing Pediatric patients can be very difficult, especially if the child does not want to talk. Trust for a child is a big issue, and establishing good rapport with Robert is my priority above anything else.

I proceeded with measuring his oxygen saturation and pulse rate through my pulse oximeter in his finger. His interest was piqued when he saw bright green numbers coming to life in the little black monitor of the gadget. When I removed the gadget, he drifted off in his own world again as he looked at me warily from time to time.

Since this was a dermatological mission, I asked Robert if it was okay for him if I lifted his T-shirt to inspect his skin. He nodded. My worst fear was confirmed.

There, spread all over his tummy, were numerous circular scars the size of cigarette butts. Some were even overlapping. His back also harbored a few of these scars. Several of the lesions could be seen on his extremities, the shape of which I couldn’t imagine what the cause was.

I inspected his ears closely, wondering if he couldn’t hear me because he didn’t answer most of my questions. From the outside, solidified ear wax could be easily seen clumped in both his ear canals.

Then a caregiver from the institution went to me and explained Robert’s case. He was found abandoned outside Quiapo Church last year. A concerned citizen brought him to a local hospital because he was so weak he was drifting in and out of consciousness. He couldn’t even stand on his own. He was referred for adoption in the institution where he was now in on the eve of Christ’s birthday, December 24.

The caregiver told me they wanted a specialist to examine Robert’s head. They were afraid his hearing might be affected by a possible head injury.

In one week’s time I have seen two Pediatric patients who suffered from the hands of their own parents. The other one was a nine month old baby hit by a bottle of gin on the face.

It was heartbreaking. I had to take a moment or two to steady myself, prevent the tears from spilling out and take deep breaths before facing Robert again.

As a medical student, I have a lot to learn in this profession. There are many things I still do not know and understand yet, even in the aid of Harrison’s, William’s, Katzung, Nelson’s, Schwartz, etc.

But the kind of human behavior that inflicts violence on innocent children escapes my understanding. Incomprehensible. Unacceptable.

Seeing Robert and the children who have borne the brunt of their parents’ weaknesses makes me realize that there are a lot of them who have no voice. No voice to protest against the violence that threatens their very lives.

*Name changed for protection

broken heart · faith · friendship · God · life · love · Uncategorized

PERSONalities

I am a hawk.

Others are peacock, owl or dove.

That’s what CYA LEAP had for us this afternoon. Kuya Paolo talked about different personality tendencies that would help in maximizing human resource and in minimizing potential conflicts.

I am just so happy because the Lord affirmed my decision to “make buno.” And by “making buno,” I mean to endure the awkwardness and discomfort of going out of your comfort zone.

Earlier this afternoon, I poured my heart out in a blog entry about the irritating and uncomfortable effort by which I had to adjust. I could have been okay in Phi. Or in medicine. Or in my not-so-holy life.

But God has other plans for me. So I have to follow. I want to follow.

What happened during LEAP was amazing. I really appreciated the insights which I could summarize through the following points:

1. Awareness. Be aware of your tendencies.
2. Acceptance. Accept your personality and that of others.
3. Adjustment. Adjust. If you can and you know how to, be the one to adjust. It’s better that way. A sis in Phi, Dr. Girlie Teotico-Ching, also told me the same message. It is better for you to adjust if you can, if you know how, with the person who needs adjusting to.

The first two points are a requisite for the third. But I think the third point, Adjustment, is the most important.

Before CYA, I had a serious conflict with someone where I felt I was the one who adjusted big time. As in big time. Dr. Girlie supported my decision, and she told me golden lesson #3: adjustment. All the while when I was adjusting, I was screaming “unfair” at the top of my imaginary emotional lungs. I felt I was the one being underhanded, being screwed up by someone who had the skill of shrugging off problems that should be solved by the both of us.

Looking back, the Lord revealed to me that I did the right thing, even if I felt strongly against it.

Similar situations where I am doing the Lord’s will and strongly feeling against it (the nonexistent love life), or is very unsure about it (other life areas), crop up today. Giving up the love life to anchor myself deeply in the Lord, joining CYA, being in CYA, immersing myself in CYA whenever my schedule permits it to bond with brothers and sisters (this time conscious about taking care of my Phi relationships), academic requirements where I am scolded by my adviser, et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

And I find myself complaining to God again. Whining it’s unfair to be in these situations. Unfair that I am adjusting when I could have been comfortable not adjusting, especially when I have Medicine to deal with. I seriously think like a kid sometimes, it’s disturbing! God may think so. After all, I asked for these wonderful and loving changes.

I remember how the Israelites are in Exodus. They complain so badly that it takes them 40 years to reach a land that could have been reached much earlier if they only followed the will of the Lord. Then the Lord strikes them and they turn into stone. Scary.

I am grateful God is patient with me. He constantly makes ways for me to see His insights, to see His will in my everyday life. He reminds me of His promises, that He leads His people away from Egypt and into the promised land. He is patient with me because He knows that I find it hard to completely surrender to Him.

The Lord takes His time. His timing is always, always perfect. He is concerned about who I become in my journey of faith with Him. And if adjustment is what it takes, then through Jesus Christ, I can and will adjust.

“Can I not do with you what this potter does? As clay in the potter’s hand so are you in my hands.” -Jeremiah 18:6

“Finally, everything is for your good, so that grace will come more abundantly upon you, and great will be the thanksgiving for the glory of God.” -Romans 8:28

“So strive with greatest determination and increase your faith with strength, strength with knowledge, knowledge with moderation, moderation with constancy, constancy with piety, piety with fraternal love, fraternal love with charity. If all these riches are in you so as to abound in you, you will not be idle and useless; you will rather be rooted in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore brothers and sisters, strive more and more to respond to the call of God who chose you. If you do so, you will never stumble.” -2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10

Thank you Lord for your love. Thank you for CYA, for Phi, for my family, for my education, for my friends, for the many blessings you have showered upon me. Most of all, thank you for the grace of having you as my God, for the grace of being your witness and your child.

broken heart · faith · friendship · God · life · love · pearls · personal · sisterhood

What is right and what is good

What an amazing, God-filled day!

This afternoon, I watched Cinemalaya’s Hari ng Tondo with CYA sister Mauee, then headed toward Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf along Vito Cruz to study with Jhing Talan.

I was in the presence of committed and disciplined board exam reviewees the whole afternoon, so I grabbed the opportunity to read a spiritual book to pass the time. We were reading from 3pm until 730pm. Straight. No breaks in between (CR breaks were, however, acceptable).

Then we ate dinner at Wai Ying, a small but packed Chinese food outlet with good food and okay service.

It was the conversation during dinner that really made me appreciate more the love of CYA sisters. God made sure I could hear His voice through these beautiful people. Their goodness and their commitment to love as the Lord had done always inspired me. To get straight to the point, I was reminded of the following as I talked with them that made me love God more and to commit to what is right and good:

  • A trial can be a good challenge if it brings you closer to God, and you seek His will amid the hurt and pain it causes. It’s a good challenge. It encourages you to get out of the boat and walk on water towards Jesus. Always towards Jesus. And that perspective of truth is given by God when I asked Him to increase my faith and show me the right path.
  • Gossiping and backfighting are always, always bad. No matter how small they are, if it leads you away from God and what He made you to be, then do without it.
  • Commit to what is right and good, according to God’s will. Do it even if the whole world thinks you are corny or OA or wrong. Commit to God’s ways and you can never go wrong.
  • Love the way God has made you to love. Care the way you know how to care. Just love, because God has loved you first.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes in relationships. You will learn the balance in time and by His grace.
  • Be better. Be better for God.
  • Be generous! Love generously!

I could still write so much but the words describing the splendor of what God made me realize just fell short. Someday I wish to write almost exactly as if that wonderful moment– complete with its own colors, feelings, love, warmth and clarity of God’s truths– were frozen and poised steadily just so I could write them to my heart’s content. A heart-stopping moment. A breathtaking moment. A God moment.

Someday, Lord. Someday. 🙂 For now, all I could do is be grateful. And to love you with all of me.

 

broken heart · faith · God · life · love · pearls · personal

Faith at forty thousand feet

Shuttling to and from Manila for eight years now has never really assuaged the temporary heartbreak of leaving my true home– my family in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

So it didn’t come as a surprise when last night, on the eve of my departure, the loneliness and anxiety of being on my own again broke like a dam. I cried silently (and copiously) on my father’s shoulder as he locked me in his arms in a tender embrace, telling me it’s going to be okay. The tears stained a small puddle in his blue collared, cottony shirt. We held each other like that for quite a long time while my mother got busy preparing her clothes for packing.

I was crying not only out of loneliness, but also for the sadness I imagine my father would feel. My mother would be coming with me to Manila. She was accepted for Masters in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management in UP Diliman. A prestigious feat indeed, as UP’s MHRIM placed 19th in world rankings.

The house would be a lot quieter now. Too quiet. Too different.

I kept talking to God in my heart. Hear, Lord. Here, Lord. You were close to the brokenhearted.

I was lucky I got into the plane’s window seat.

I stared out the window, drinking in the greenery that assured me I was still in my hometown. At least for a few minutes. It became long stretches of green mixed with gray pavement as the plane accelerated with hurtling speed.

Then a bird of white came flying along. It stretched the full expanse of its wings and flew on with calm and unperturbed purpose, as if mimicking the plane beside it. It was an egret, a common bird sighted lounging along the green banks of the airport.

The blue sky emerged with splotched clouds as the nose turned heavenward. The egret was gone.

And the message of the Lord came to me. Not in glorious epiphanies or heart-rending realizations. It was simple, clear and true:

I will never abandon you.

I assure you, even the egret is well taken cared of. How much more will I take care of you, my daughter?

He knows what I am going through. And He is with me.

As if that was not enough, the Lord showed another promise.

Out into the fluffy cumulus clouds, above the blue sea and the fringes of the city life that begin to come alive from the land of Manila below, I see a most delightful thing.

There, at least forty thousand feet on air, is God’s promise manifested.

A rainbow. With its ends anchored in clouds of white.

rainbow_in_the_clouds_l

life · love · personal

Beautiful

I am cramming for my ORL finals. I should have woken up at 1AM but due to unpredictable circumstances (i.e., oversleeping), I wake up at 3AM instead. Thus, the last minute shoving of a year’s information in my brain.

I just need to write this.

In all honesty, I feel less than beautiful. At times I feel utterly ugly.

I feel ordinary and unappreciated. I feel so ordinary I don’t know what is surprising or exciting or even adventurous about myself anymore. I feel like life has taken something precious and valuable away from me that it has granted so lavishly on other people. And here I am, looking inside from an outsider’s point of view, wondering why I am short-changed or when I have become a stranger in an environment where most people seem secure already in their relationships as they belong to someone or to some kind of a cause.

I just feel so unseen. Unheard of. Unnoticeable. Less than ordinary.

Less than beautiful.

Funny because I know these feelings of low self-worth are unfounded or hold little validation if I really think about it. But sometimes, a girl just wants to feel and not think.

Sometimes I just want to feel beautiful without really making an effort in being so. No effort in getting dressed up, no make up, no high heels, no thinking about suitors who never come and along with them the flowers and chocolates, no high grades, no worthy causes to be passionate about, no fake smiles, no awkward getting-to-knows, no self-consciousness, no pressure of proving my capability to other people or even to myself.

It is like a stripping away of the inessential. The baring of my nakedness and at the same time risking my vulnerability in doing so. It is as if I am laying aside all the things and insecurities that weigh me down and finally accept this irrepressible yearning to feel loved.

I just want to feel beautiful, to feel like I am a good person AND believe in it. Because right now, I feel that I am neither a good person nor a beautiful woman.

To believe that I am good and beautiful; to marvel in the beauty of having a warm soul with a kind heart; to be beautiful without even striving to become one. To be beautiful effortlessly, because this beauty is meaningful: it is above the adornments, the flawless skin, the perfect figure, the pretty face, the nice clothes, the awards, the recognition. This beauty is radiant, lovely, timeless and joyful. This beauty is the goodness of a heart and the gentleness of the soul. It is akin to God and of God.

When I am that woman whose beauty stems from being a good person with a kind heart and a gentle soul, tempered in the radiance of God, I hope I can catch it, freeze it and revel in its happiness. And even for that single blissful moment, live and believe in the truth that I am beautiful. To see myself for who I truly am in His eyes.

I am beautiful without the world necessarily knowing and appreciating. I am beautiful just because of the truth that I am. I am beautiful because I am loved by God in ways that only He can love. I am beautiful because I am loved and I love.

No other reasons can suffice.