No explanation necessary


Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23)
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:11)

My blog, gonegaga in the city, like my other blogs, will be on indefinite leave effective, uh, today.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV

To my writer friends, I give you full assurance that I am not stopping from writing. This is just a season in which it’s extremely crucial to have something special and sacred left to guard and protect. For God and for my husband-to-be. Until then!

“To unveil our hearts and put all our secrets on display is to open ourselves to enemy attack. Our Lord is pleased when we reserve an “inner vault” of our lives to hold His treasures.  To “tell it all is to traffic in a world of superficiality.” ~ Chuck Swindoll, Living Beyond The Daily Grind

gonegaga is STILL in the city


Photo credit: godsgracefulness.com

I thought that in the next couple of months, I would have to create a new blog with the address gonegagainanothercity.wordpress.com. So when I finally got the much-awaited news last Saturday, my heart should have fallen. It should have been broken from the fall. None of this happened at all, and it’s God’s grace I must give this credit to.

I am still. I am still standing.

… stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:58

I’ve felt the tugging and the stretching within my heart within the last month before the final result of my application was out, but I had purposely pushed it aside, not wanting any “double-mindedness” as I stepped out in faith. Receiving the news was sad and disappointing, of course, because I really invested emotionally and spiritually in that dream. However, I was amazed that my reaction was only to shrug my shoulder twice and smiled (I videotaped it, in case you were wondering) even though it was a door closing. Right now, I still don’t understand it. God had placed that desire in me. I committed my plan to the Lord. I believed. I obeyed. I persevered. But you see, things don’t have to make sense. God is sovereign, and I choose to put my trust in Him alone. Was it a door closed for a season, and I just acted on my faith in the wrong time? Was it a door closed, and God’s telling me “I’m taking you there through a different door”? I DON’T KNOW. And there’s peace in knowing that I DON”T HAVE TO KNOW. As long as it’s God closing the door. If I had understood everything, then believing will not be an act of faith but just an investment. Because walking with the Lord requires faith… trust… and courage especially when God doesn’t make sense.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

So, looks like you’re stuck with me for a while, Roxas City. :)

I have built my ark


“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land–a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills.” ~ Deuteronomy 8:7

In early January, I listened to a message by Bishop TD Jakes called “This is Your Year to See The Vision.” I was encouraged by what he said: What you visualize will materialize in this season.
I have grown more intimate with God in the last couple of months, and I’m gradually beginning to understand what it means when they say that sometimes, you need to have the faith of a fool: to speak of rain in a season of drought, to talk about abundance in a period of lack, and to build an ark when the idea of flooding was still unheard of.
I built my ark six months ago, and in the last 40 days, have been floating  over the sea of decision-making, hoping, needing, and at times (more times than I’m prepared to admit), even confusion and doubt. Like Noah, I am now down to seven days, awaiting my dove with a freshly plucked olive leaf, or more aptly, a hibiscus flower in its beak.

Finding “suitable”


In my HR classes, I remind students that while recruitment means “finding the best candidates and encouraging them to apply for a job in your company,” selection has to be about “choosing–not the best applicant–but the most SUITABLE.” Why? The candidate who graduated with honors from a prestigious university may not even like the job or the organizational culture enough to stay. One poor hiring decision can cost the company an amount equivalent to 30% of an employee’s first-year earnings (Hacker 1997). What if you had to make a hundred poor choices? Are you willing to take that much risk?

Enough with the corporate talk. I know that’s not what you came here for. Still reeling from the aftershock of the Love Month activities, I have found that many young people, students especially, are so consumed by the idea that “Yes, I want to wait for God’s Best, but how do I know it’s him/her when I finally meet him/her?”

I wish so badly to be able to give them a precise answer, but well, I don’t have the authority to say, “He/She will be wearing a purple halo, and the moment you two meet, the halo will start flashing wildly, and the sky will open up to reveal the words ‘This is he/she.'”

As a single Christian woman, I have learned that a choice between someone who shares my love for God and someone who doesn’t should be an easy one. However, if you had to be shipwrecked into an island inhabited only by single Christian men, all having the same degree of passion for God (Sister, I know what you’re thinking. I have no idea where that place is. Or if such place exists. LOL), finding suitable would be equivalent to this: looking NOT for a needle in a haystack, but for that one special strand of hay in the haystack.

Sorry to disappoint, but really, I DON’T KNOW. What I do know is this: If you’re looking for just “someone,” you’ll get “anyone.”  Don’t go around looking for a husband like you’re shopping for a dress, saying, “I’ll know him when I see him.” Probably, if you had asked me about how I would know who God’s Best is for me, I’d be better-qualified to answer, because then, it would go back to my standards, which are just between me and God. Not even my best-est friends know. If you are a Kapamilya who’s into watching  Walang Hanggan, then maybe you can relate. (Remember when Katarina divulged the “signs” that she was looking for to Yaya Pearl, and Nathan fulfilled all these… without her knowing that her brother Tomas had overheard and communicated all these to Nathan?) What’s the point of setting standards when you’re leaving even a slight chance for someone (or even yourself) to manipulate these in order to accommodate someone who’s not right for you? Please don’t get me wrong. People dear to us mean well, and usually they’re the ones who worry too much about our being single (especially for us women) that they want to set us up with someone who they think is right for us, but sometimes, they’re not helping at all.

The Bible says,

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” – Genesis 2:18

Women, note that it says that we are wired to be “a helper suitable for him.” I’ve recently learned that its original Hebrew expression is ezer kenego, and the phrase “suitable for him” is neged, which literally translates to “answering to him.” As “a helper answering to” God’s Best For You, you are “suitable” when you complement–and are accountable to–each other. You balance and help each other out when your strong points can fill in the areas that he’s weak at, and vice versa.

I remember a preaching from T.D. Jakes wherein he said, “You shouldn’t say ‘I do’ when you don’t even know who ‘I’ is.” I believe this 101%. Some women rush into relationships, because they don’t want to be alone with themselves. Instead of fixating on “who God’s Best is” and “when he will show up,” why don’t we date ourselves first and find out, “Do I like ‘me’?”

More importantly, the surest way of finding Suitable is deepening the intimacy and closeness between yourself and God. After all, when we say “God’s Best,” it’s like when you listen to a playlist of your favorite band’s songs, point to one particular track, and say, “Ah, this is their best.” You know it’s their best, because you know the band so well, you know all the songs’ lyrics by heart. Don’t focus too much on your reward, but on the Rewarder. The deeper your relationship is with Him, the more sensitive you become to his voice when He finally says, “Daughter, siya na (it IS he).”

Productively Yours


Statistics say that the average person spends 45-62 minutes of each day waiting for something. That’s about 4.2% of the average lifespan. Right now, you may be waiting for a document to download, for your turn to use the bathroom, for a ride to arrive, or for the right person to come along. According to a study on the psychology of waiting, emotions normally dominate the process. The way we feel affects our attitude about the wait. The more unpleasant the experience seems for you, the more frustrating and the longer the waiting period seems. And that’s the reason why Eldar, the Enchanted Kingdom wizard, has a job. Time filled with something else, other than the realization that you’re waiting, gives us the perception of a shorter, quicker wait. Holding your place at the amusement park queue is one thing; now, waiting for a person, a.k.a. God’s Best, to come into your life is another story.

I wonder, how would a new concept of time change our culture of waiting? After all, waiting is a function of time. At the risk of sounding too naive, I will say what I know to be true: God’s timing is always perfect. He’s never a minute too early or too late. In Ecclesiastes 3:1, it says,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

It clearly says that there is a right time for every single thing. As for love, it is written,

Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. – Song of Songs 2:7

This means that until it is God’s appointed time, we are not to force the issue or attempt to speed up the process. In my own walk with the Lord, I have come to learn that there are FOUR MAIN REASONS WHY GOD DOES NOT GIVE US WHAT WE WANT WHEN WE WANT IT:

  1. An area of sin. It’s either there is an area of sin in our lives that He wants us to address first or what we are asking for AT THIS TIME may cause us to stumble in our own walk with God. This leads us to the issue of
  2. Unpreparedness. Sometimes, we are asking for something we’re not yet ready for. For instance, some of us single women in the church may be praying for a husband when our actions show we’re not really ready to be a wife.
  3. God is using the waiting season to mold our character. One of my favorite Scriptures tells me that “the testing of your faith develops perseverance (James 1:3).” In the same way, as we wait for God’s Best,  we gain wisdom and patience along the way, and these are essential for playing the role of a godly wife or husband.
  4. It’s not His will for us. This is the part where you leave my blog. LOL. Kidding aside, it may not be what you want to hear, er, read about, but too often, we want to be with someone who is not even God’s Second Best.

No matter how far along we are in our waiting season, we are given a model of the right attitude to keep in James 5:7-9:

See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains… Be patient and stand firm… Don’t grumble…

In the meantime, here’s HOW TO BE PRODUCTIVE AS WE WAIT:

  1. Get closer to God. The closer we get to the Author of the Greatest Love Story Ever Told, the clearer the direction will be. He is your heart’s Designer, and He certainly knows how it works best. As He knows your innermost desires, you can be sure that He will never give you someone you will want to get rid of.
  2. Rethink your motives. Why are you in a hurry to get into a relationship? Or to get married? If you’re just looking for a savior, know that you’ve already got One. If you want a way out of a lonely, dreary life, well, newsflash… There are married people who are lonely, because they ended up rushing into marriage with the wrong persons.
  3. Guard against getting “corned beef” heart. I remember the lines to the Bachelor Girl song “Buses and Trains”: So I walked under a busI got hit by a train/Keep falling in love/Which is kinda the same/I’ve sunk out at sea/Crashed my car, gone insane/And it felt so good/I wanna do it again. Enough said. Even if you survive, you bring excess baggage from the experiences that will burden your God-destined spouse someday.
  4. Prepare for the role. For single ladies, it’s time to perfect your sinigang or maybe steak and potatoes. For more info, refer to Proverbs 31: 10-31, please. This blog entry is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long. Yes, even for me.

A final Word of encouragement:

Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. – Romans 8:25

My So-called Valentines


Manong Guard was smiling mischievously as he headed toward my desk.

 

“Ma’am, may nagpapabigay po. Ayaw pasabi kung sino.” (Ma’am, these are for you. The sender doesn’t want to say who it’s from.)

 

Flowers and cake. Cheesy, huh? Oh, but I remember how my heart and mind went on a marathon then, as if racing against each other. It reminded me so much of the time I received my first bouquet of roses from a three-year crush way back when iPads were science fiction.

 

Once the guard turned on his heels and walked away, I started to run down my mental list of desirable suspects.

 

My 5110 sounded the infamous ossicular-damaging “Special” Nokia alert tone. 1 message received:

 

“Did you get them? Hehehe.”

 

It was my little sister. Enough for my romantic-comedy-inspired ideas. No wonder Manong Guard was looking so amused. He knew my little sister who was still in college at the time. She went all the way to my office down south and back to the UP Diliman campus just so I could save face on Valentine’s Day.

 

The night before, in the apartment that we used to share in Makati, I was ranting and rambling on and on about how much pressure V-day is. How there was so much expectation placed on single girls to receive Valentines. (In hindsight, I can say now that the demands on girls in relationships is even heavier—the longer you are in a relationship, the more expensive and more “romantic” people anticipate your Valentine’s Day to be. Also, there is as much pressure on men, except that they can actually do something about it.)

 

“Absent na lang kaya ako?” (What if I just skip work tomorrow?) I asked rhetorically, as I was not as creative back then in dodging remarks, such as “I think this next one is yours. Mukhang mahal eh,” (‘cause it looks expensive). That a coworker would say as a delivery boy from the florist walks in, followed immediately by a disappointed “Oooh” after a pot of stargazer lilies glides proudly past me, stamens held high.

 

I realized that my sister took it upon herself to spare me from a situation which seemed to me then was a matter of… death and death.

 

It was déjà vu. When I was in college, my roommates and I, all single at the time, had been swapping stories about girls serenaded in classrooms by their boyfriends’ frat neophytes or being proposed to via messages spread over the Sunken Garden. Not wanting to feel too left out, we hatched an ingenious plan: Valentine’s Day Manito Manita (Christmas exchange of gifts, Filipino-style). Voila! Everybody gets flowers. Our wish list indicated what kind and color flowers we’d like to receive.

 

Fast forward to 2012… I am not expecting flowers this year. Rest assured, I haven’t turned into a heart-piñata-bashing, V-day-hating person. I have learned to be content and to have a genuine appreciation for the diverse ways we choose to express love, in and out of season.

 

Love, I have come to realize, is a choice. It’s a decision that you make, and the extent to which you stand by that decision is only as strong as the value that you place on it in your life. 1 Corinthians 13 says,

 

“Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…”

 

I remember my past Valentines with fondness, and I smile, no, guffaw at the elaborate schemes I have crafted in the past to simulate to perfection how the day should be spent or evaded. It had always been about me. I had forgotten that a relationship is an equation, a statement consisting of two different expressions but of the same value.

 

To the man that God had intended for me to spend a lifetime’s worth of Valentine’s Days with, whoever and wherever you are, praise God for being generous with His wisdom. I’ve come to understand that we don’t have to speak exactly the same language of love. What matters is that we both are willing to speak the love language that each of us understands.

 

There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand:

how an eagle glides through the sky,

how a snake slithers on a rock,

how a ship navigates the ocean,

how a man loves a woman. (Proverbs 30: 18-19)

 

As if


I used to associate the phrase “as if” with snobbishness and colegiala slang (probably because  whenever I hear someone say “As if!” with the “as” prolonged, and the “if” inflected, I think “Clueless”).  Most of my last year, however, was filled with challenges and events which revealed to me a whole new meaning to the phrase.

I can’t divulge the details here–at least, not until April of this year, but I can think of one other illustration. My previous posts had mostly been about my search for a certain pair of shoes. (If you know me well, then you know that I’m not as superficial as my entries sometimes make me appear – Hahaha!) I went through all that just because I was going to a friend’s wedding.

My elder sister, who is more kikay (stylish) than I am, had booked me for hair and make-up, and when I found out, I was “What did you do that for? I can do my own hair and make-up, thank you very much. Dagdag gastos lang ‘yan! (That’s just an additional expense!)”

My sister’s reply: “Sus! You’ve gone through all that trouble na rin lang naman for the shoes… might as well do it full blast. Todo mo na!” Just between you and me, I think she just said that because she’d be too embarrassed to cancel the booking if I had asked her.

So I went along with her ingenious idea, all the while thinking “Naks! Kung makapaghanda naman, as if parte ng entourage! (I’m preparing as if I’m a member of the entourage!)”

Guess what? At exactly 10:30 A.M. (The wedding was at 4:00 P.M.), my phone rang, and the moment I saw the bride’s name on the display, I thought, “It’s her wedding day. Why is she calling ME?” As soon as I said “Hello,” my friend flooded me with what seemed to be three different combos of an apology and a request: Sorry, this is short notice but… I know this seems a little late… I hope it’s okay with you?

As it turned out, a member of the wedding entourage had encountered an emergency, and I filled in for her. When I told the story to our friends, who were as surprised to see me march down the aisle as I was when I picked up the phone that morning, here’s how they reacted: “Short notice? Try VERY short.” “Anong a little late? Sobrang late ‘ka mo! (What do you mean “a little late”? You should say “extremely late”!)

So moral of the story: it’s not so bad acting “as if” sometimes. It makes you available to step in and step out. It’s AS IF you were born ready. It’s faith in action. That funny incident gave me fresh eyes in understanding what’s written in Hebrews 11:1

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

 

Faith isn’t just about believing that something is going to happen. It means ACTING AS IF it’s already there.