Parallel Experiences

I can’t help but think, as I am experiencing my uninspired moments in Christ’s Youth in Action staff, that these moments are going to recur when I proceed to Pediatrics residency.

Contrary to popular perception, staff work is actually toxic. It is so different compared to what the students apparently see. There are a lot of stretching of the self, a lot of dying, a lot of breaking, a lot of pruning, a lot of feedback (for me, because I am stubborn) that happen in the background and away from the prying eyes of the university students. A good shattering of expectations leads me to realize romanticizing staff work is not going to work if I want to stay.

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Christ’s Youth in Action Staffers doing a Rurouni Kenshin pose in honor of Flo. Cute namin!

Not that the shattering is a bad thing. It’s part of the process. And in staff, I’m experiencing what it really is like to be a disciple of Christ. And I feel I am not even closer to the woman He has created me to be. The disciplining of the leaders in CYA staff is probably one of the most strict, yet most loving, that I’ve signed up for.

I also cannot help but think, during this seemingly lack of enthusiasm in what I do, that I’ve dealt with similar moments before.

Cases in point: Phi Lambda Delta Sorority and my internship in UP College of Medicine.

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I cannot count how many little boys I circumcised. Organizing a tuli mission is one of my main jobs when I was a leader in Phi.

No need to bore you with details, but these two big decisions of my life contained my most uninspiring moments. But look what came out of it: during my term as Phi’s Sister Caritas, Milk Matters was born. Then, I was able to graduate from UP College of Medicine with awards for leadership, service and meritorious performance. I passed the Physician Licensure Exam! Goodness abound.

So as I try to find ways on how to deal with this demoted spirit in staff work, especially since BUSIER days are coming, I have three lenses I can look at that can present me rich strategies I can be creative to use: to look back and be grateful; to look forward and be ready; and to experience the present– find joy in what I do and do the things that bring me joy. (Read Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and not for men.)

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CYA Medicine just launched out! Here I am taking a two-hour teaching off my doctor work to cater to my brothers and sister in Medicine schools. (PLM and UP Med) High yield ito ang saya! No regrets doing it kahit sobrang pagod ako after this.

I am just afraid of completely missing out on what the Lord is trying to teach me in these moments of dry inspiration. I need grace for a good sense of detachment. Another strong motivation is I just do not want to go back to the old me. Not anymore. I want to learn Your ways, Lord.

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Just because I am radiantly beautiful and happy to be here. Where I am right now. Though I know not the road ahead of me, I trust in the Lord that He will carry me through, victoriously!

Grant me faith for the future. Grant me a grateful heart. Open my eyes to see your work in me and in others.

What are You teaching me? Teach me to persevere and find joy in things that I do, even if I don’t see its fruits.

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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)

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.

 

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.

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A Friend is a Pearl

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April, me and Tere

I trust these friends with my life. Meet April and Terese, barkada (close knit of friends) since high school’s best, college’s worst and post-graduate’s calloused years. I settle comfortably in our aged friendship like wearing an old  favorite shirt over and over again, despite the lint and holes. It’s comfortable all the same.

We’ve known each other for quite a long time now, and every time we get together and talk ourselves hoarse, I always find it comforting to feel that thread of friendship stringing our lives together grow stronger. It grows stronger, even in the months I am not able to see them because I live most of my Medicine years in Manila. Time has softened and strengthened us through each other.

Each of us lead different lives. Both of them are, however, Human Resource heads in their respective fields. April is a part-time law student, incoming third year in Palawan State University. She attends law classes after her 8-5PM office hours. Terese is a mother of two, on the way for her third baby (April and I are Ninangs) and works in Robinsons Place, Palawan. Inevitably, we experience the trials and tribulations of growing up and managing (surviving!) as an adult. That mostly makes up the big bulk of discussion during get-togethers.

I wonder how we’ll turn out when we’re 50. Oh we are gonna be beautiful, mares! (translation: mi amigas)

They say you are lucky if you have found for yourself one true friend. Seeing these two girls, I am twice as lucky then. Genuine people make for genuine friends. Bet your lucky penny on that.