2019 is almost over. As much as I want to be excited for 2020, I know that I will soon be making some of the biggest decisions that could be life-changing.
Whew! Ang bigat! But to prepare myself, I thought I would like to firmly decide that I will leave behind what the Lord tells me to let go of as 2019 closes.
But for me to do this, I have to recall few of the most important lessons that He taught me this year. In this way, I can set things in order, to make more room for Him in my heart bago man lang natin i-celebrate ang birthday Niya.
The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
After six years, when I have started my discernment for vocation with the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate here in Los Angeles, I encountered this prayer again. I thought I already know what the words in this prayer mean, but I have come to understand them more profoundly this time around.
The words are simple, yet they mean so much. I don’t want to make it seem too magical, but I believe, it is not an accident that this prayer/song makes a significant tug in my heart from the moment I learned it up until today.
Be An Instrument of Peace. Paano?
Since I have started working, I have experienced several instances where I am being provoked to lose my composure and my calm. Noon namang nag-aaral pa ako, nakakaranas na rin naman ako ng mga provocation by people and circumstances. Mas nag level-up lang noong magtrabaho na ako. Mas malaking mundo, mas diverse ang personalities and situations ng bawat isa, customer man yan, co-worker, or random people, even my own relatives.
But in this year in particular, it seemed like the provocation to forget what Jesus has been teaching me has intensified.
Being exposed to people who are non-Christian is one thing. Being confronted by these people for your faith is another.
If 2018 is filled with spiritual nourishment from retreats and conferences, and with appreciation and enjoyment of simple but meaningful events and happenings, 2019 is when the Lord seems to be slowly opening the gates to a whole new battlefield, giving me opportunities to see and face the wolves in real life.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
–Matthew 10:16 NKJV
And this is when the first part of St. Francis’ prayer becomes an essential reminder to me by Jesus.
- When I recognize that there is anger and pain in a person’s heart, I should sow love daw. Intindihin ko raw at mahalin yung tao not because he deserves to be loved but because he needs to be;
- Kahit daw nasaktan ako nung tao, sa halip na manakit pabalik (kahit na ‘yun ang masarap gawin), magpatawad daw ako. Kasi yun daw yung makakapaghilom ng mga sugat;
- When someone is doubting my faith, or doubting Jesus in general, I should not be discouraged. Mas lalo ko pa nga raw dapat kapitan ang kamay ni Jesus for my faith to be strengthened. Mas lalo kasing walang mangyayaring mabuti kung bibitaw ako;
- Kapag nabanaagan ko raw ang kawalang pag-asa nung tao, hindi raw ako dapat mawalan ng pag-asa for him/her. Instead, I should be a channel of hope;
- Whenever I see darkness anywhere, all the more I should persevere to shine the light of Jesus. (What does that mean? It means to give grace and mercy just like how Jesus wants us to);
- And while it is good to be aware of reality’s imperfection, I should remember that there is always something to be grateful for and to be joyful for. Because everyone (admit it or not) wants to be happy. When people see you happy, they may become happy, too kahit papaano. Kaya kahit pa may dahilan ka para hind imaging masaya, we can still choose to be joyful.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!”
–Philippians 4:4 NKJV
Understand More Than to Be Understood. Awwwts!
I admit. Masyado akong naging oversensitive in general. (yes, masyado na, over pa!), but Jesus knew better, as always. Alam Niyang kailangan kong matuto na maging saktong sensitive lang. Hindi dapat balat-sibuyas, pero hindi rin dapat manhid.
The process of transforming from being extremely selfish and insecure to becoming selfless and secured in faith is so gradual, it could take up our whole lifetime. With that being said, another lesson to learn along with all this is to be patient.
Kailangan ng patience pati na rin humility para maintindihan at maisabuhay ang second part ng prayer ni St. Francis.
- Kahit na gusto ko at kinasanayan ko na laging ako yung kino-console kahit sa mga minor stuff lang (in short, kahit sa pag iinarte lang), people other than myself need to be consoled more. Lalo na yung mga may mas mabibigat na pinagdaraanan.
No matter how bad I feel, kahit pa nga kapag may pinagdadaanan din akong hindi biro, there is always someone out there who suffers more than I do.
- Kapag may nakaka-misunderstood sa akin at feeling ko para akong nasasakdal na hinatulan nang walang nangyaring hearing, my initial thought is, gigil at atat akong ipaliwanag ang sarili ko to set the record straight. I always badly wanted to be understood. When I was younger, I used to be way too scared to be misunderstood to the point that I rarely speak and keep everything to myself. (Thank God, ilang taon na Niya akong tinetrain na bawasan ‘yun—I believe nag iimprove naman paunti-unti by His grace)
Jesus is reminding me constantly that it is actually not necessary that each person understands me, my journey, and everything I want people to understand. Why? Because it’s not about me. It’s about Him. And also, He wants us to understand other people, the things, and the circumstances na mahirap intindihin o mas nangangailangan ng pag-intindi kaysa sa mga hanash ko sa buhay.
As for me, Jesus has made me realize na kahit isa o dalawang tao lang na mahingahan ko at makaintindi sa’kin para tulungan ako, sapat na. Hindi kailangang buong mundo ang makaintindi, let alone those people who only wanted to argue and are not willing to have enough space in their hearts to understand.
Kahit hirap ako because of my pride, Jesus still wants me to also understand these people. Kaya nga Niya ako siguro pinag-aral nung course na kinuha ko nung college eh, particularly for this purpose. (Huuu hirap.. Lord, hindi naman po sa nagrereklamo ako ah, pa-vent lang nang kaunti. Hahaha);
- On my 18th birthday, sabi ng tatay ko nung hiningan siya ng message for me during the program, mahalin ko naman daw yung ibang tao, hindi lang daw puro sarili ko lang. Hindi naman niya ako sinermonan in front of all my guests, but he said it in such a way na alam ng lahat that he meant well.
Sobra kasi akong mag self-pity no’n, kahit wala akong kinukwento sa tatay ko, he knew what’s going on within my heart all along (keen observant kasi siya, sana namana ko yun diba. Hahaha). And he finally brought it to my attention nung ang pagseself-pity ko ay nagreflect on how I had written my short autobiography to be read to my guests at the party. Nung nireview ni father dear ang sinulat ko, nabother siya nang bongga. He revised the whole thing according to his fatherly point of view.
And he gave me the most profound advice: Seek to love more than to be loved. At ito ang itinuturo sa’kin ni Jesus for the longest time. Nauubusan na nga ako ng pasensiya sa sarili ko, pero Siya, hindi pa. Hindi kahit kalian.
GIVE. FORGIVE. LIVE FOR LOVE.
There are many ironies in life. Wala akong kakayahang isa-isahin because I am still yet to discover and understand many of them.
But how amazing could it be that, when we share more, hindi tayo nauubusan o nawawalan? When we do more for others, nakakapagod man physically but fulfilling spiritually!
The last part of St. Francis’ prayer has just started to make more sense to me and I am yet to understand it more deeply as I continue to learn and grow in my spiritual walk with Jesus.
This year, I have come to learn that the Lord wants us to use what He has given us—life, energy, talents, skills, resources, knowledge, strengths, opportunities, etc.—to serve and benefit others. Should we worry na baka tayo naman ang maubusan o kaya ay maabuso when we do this? No. He promised to always sustain us (See Psalm 23).
Sa taon ding ito muli kong kinailangang matutunan na magpatawad at humingi rin ng tawad. It takes genuine humility—something that I am still currently learning to have—to do both.
Some people say that, when we forgive, we are setting not only other people but also ourselves free. Holding on to grudges doesn’t and will never serve anyone for the good. When we are still full of anger, napakahirap tanggapin nitong statement na ‘to. It’s like our whole system screams “NO!” in rebellion. But those who have chosen to completely and wholeheartedly forgive can firmly and confidently state it without a doubt.
I’m open for corrections about this. But based on my understanding from my own experience, while forgiving someone is a slow (and even painful) PROCESS, the Lord wants us to forgive because we have been forgiven bago pa man tayo humingi ng tawad—it further teaches us to be more humble. He wants us to forgive because it is the only way to love.
Kahit pala anong pagpapaka relihiyosa ko, hindi ko pala matatanggap nang buo si Lord at lalong hindi ko pala maibibigay sa Kanya nang buo ang sarili ko—all that I am, all that I have, and all that I do—kung hindi ako magmamahal. And I cannot love truly if I refuse to forgive—if I refuse to let go of the pain, of other people’s offenses, and if I refuse to be humble.
And to be able to give my whole self to God, I have to allow Him to transform me completely. But for that to take place, I must let go of my old, selfish ways. Yung mga insecurities, yung pride, yung pagiging overly sensitive and emotional, yung pagiging defensive, yung pagiging people-pleaser, at marami pang iba na kailangang pakawalan.
Of course, the transformation is a lifetime process. Kaya’t aasahan ko na, na sa 2020, ongoing pa rin ‘to… for as long as I live.
But for now, I pray that each of us will continue to walk with Jesus regardless of our circumstances. If you haven’t started your walk yet, I pray that you would begin by 2020 😀 or whenever your heart becomes open and ready.
God bless you.
Love and prayers,
Photo sources: Unsplash and Pixabay