Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘wisdom’

Train Up A Child In the Way He Should Go…

Little Judah was already tired. He’s just three years old and he had this long, unwavering patience not found in most children. Lans had to tag the little boy with us because she was his babysitter for the day.

“Ban-og ka (Are you tired)?” she asked Judah in Ilocano.

The little boy shook his head a wee bit as we were trudging along an inclined path. Still, she lovingly gave him a piggyback ride on her back.

I was impressed with this little boy. He has been with us in an event full of adults, an almost childless place where he could have the right to be bored and display social tantrums. But I did not hear him whimper a sigh of complaint. I have noticed that this has been the personality of most Igorot people – they are not pushy and they are very kind. I wonder how well they were raised as children. I could see that Lans and with the other adults around him are raising him well.

Most parents today, especially those who the Igorot people would label as lowlanders, are quite confused with the thin line of discipline and cruelty, as well as kindness and spoiling children. I find some parents not being aware that their way of discipline is actually destroying them.

I had observed how some parents would berate and try to embarrass their children in public by calling them “stupid”, “fool”, or “useless”. A former colleague felt sorry for a three or two-year-old who was berated by his father by blurting out a curse just because the child accidentally spills his drink inside the jeepney. Parents who would scold like that would never discipline a child because they are just declaring who their children might be when they grow older. They usurp their authority as a parent because they don’t realize there is power when they are declaring names over their children.

I must admit I don’t like children who do not regard their elders around them. There was a five-year-old girl who did not give me a mano (the Tagalog tradition of children placing their elder’s hands on their forehead as a sign of respect), despite her mother nearly screaming at her to do it. In return, I could not help but glare at her threateningly to set down her utensils because she was already waving them before our faces (despite her mother screaming at her again). Most of the times, screaming and shouting is not the way to discipline them. I guess children are tired of their parents’ screams so they would taunt them by closing their ears. A sincere heart-to-heart talk is all they need because they need to understand the consequences of their actions.

Let me go back to little Judah. Now, Judah has an elder sister named Blessie. At one time, Blessie made drawings on the wall and Judah imitated her. You know how messy a clean wall can become when scribbled by a playful kid. Lans, in her patient nature, set aside Blessie and talked with her gently.

“Did you see the drawing on the wall?”

The little girl nodded.

“Did you see what Judah did after you wrote on the wall?”

No long sermon needed. By the sound of her question, Blessie understood her mistake. She nodded without a word.

“Do you see it’s wrong to draw on the wall?”

Blessie nodded.

“That’s right. You should be a good example to your little brothers because you are their ate (elder sister). So be careful with what you do. Ok?”

No raising of voice. Words were just spoken calmly like the morning waves of the sea. But it deeply strikes the conscience like an arrow. Blessie did not leave any marks on the wall anymore.

It’s tragic when our lighthearted culture dictates it looks cute when small children display tantrums around elders because they look funny. But tolerating that would only tolerate rebelliousness. That’s why when parents correct bad habits by the time children are older, these kids snap out of it and slap it back on their parents’ faces.

Much needed to correct in the way we correct our children. Somehow, most parents in my generation are not used to be disciplined because they belong to a generation waning away from the strict authoritarian rule exuded by our much older Spanish ancestors. They have created their own way of discipline. There is a need for parents to be aware how to discipline their children well without removing love out of their system. There is a greater need for parents to learn how to pass down good traits to their own children in a well-mannered and disciplined way.

I have this sense that our culture has a big factor in the way we react to correction and discipline. Truly Proverbs is already advising us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” If we instil into them the wisdom to do what’s right at an early age, they will embrace it as they grow up. When we discipline them in the correct way, they will grow up as good-mannered citizens. With this, we can be proud of ourselves and with them, because we are adding up another history maker in this generation that needs deeper understanding on what is right or wrong.

Leaving Neverland

 The deep voice of Uncle Ben resonates from nowhere, “Where there’s power comes great responsibility.”

I turn away from the door to run back to my bed that is now running away from me. I try to spin some spider webs while the ground gives way into the deep abyss. I scream but no voice comes out of my open throat. The alarm goes off.

BANG!

My head spins as it hits the roof of the double decker bed while I reach for my phone. I was in my boarding house. I am on my own.

Welcome to the independent life. A life without Mom and her cooking. A life without my comfy bed and my hugging companion, Eeyore. A life where I have to stand alone and make my own decisions.

For the first time in my 31 years of existence, I have decided to move away from home.

Sounds ordinary, but it’s one of the dilemma of those who belong to the so-called Peter Pan generation. Going independent is a leap of faith to the likes of us.

Being in the Peter Pan generation sounds funny to some. According to social scientists, this is the new “adultescent” generation. We are the 25 to 40 year old age bracket people who are afraid to grow up. We change from one job to another. We don’t marry early. We don’t want to have children of our own. And we live with our parents.

Changing all that would mean bigger responsibilities. 

I don’t really have a solid conclusion on how this Peter Pan generation came up to be. Living with parents until one gets old is embedded in the Asian culture. But it has gone way beyond exaggerated as most of us have become dependent on our loving parents whose hands were not made of iron just as their predecessors were. 

I wonder if we have been too pampered by the generation ahead of us. If you would look back at the generation living in the 1950s (ever seen some flicks from Sampaguita Pictures, anyone?), parents are stricter and harsher. Some of them don’t give entitlements or even choices to their children. They have the authoritarian mindset which came straight from our Spanish predecessors. They got strict daily timelines and opposing them would mean punishment. Some parents would not prioritize their children’s education, more so their dreams. Yet, my Mom, living with such parents herself, would yearn for the simplicity of those ages. Radio and television were considered luxury. A short black and white episode of the Road Runner was enough to keep her entertained when she was in elementary. They didn’t have preservatives to worry about. Children could have nature as their playground. People can stroll safely under the moonlit night without fear of muggers (unless they were overly fed with a diet of aswang and capre stories). Choices in life were not so complicated and men lived in grand contentment. 

Then come 1970s and 1980s. This is the generation who have been opened to more choices, more opportunities, and greater prospects of prosperity. This is the generation who did not want their children to experience the harshness and the poverty they have endured during their youthfulness. They have built more movie houses and added color to popular Darna flicks. The human palette wanted a boarder menu that’s why they added burger and fries to their diet. They wanted their children to play more dynamic toys by introducing Nintendo and G.I. Joe action figures. This is the generation who wanted to see grander horizons. This is the OFW generation. And that almost faded picture of your mustached dad wearing oddly-sized bellbottom pants and Ray Ban shades while proudly grinning in the middle of the empty, sandy background in Saudi Arabia is living proof of this generation.  

Then the millennials were born.

If the OFW generation were given more choices, these choices doubled for the millennials. From schools, toys, malls, restaurants, movies, activities, and more stuff, our eyes ogled as we confuse ourselves by choosing which is the best for us (which would still depend on the budget). We are living in a world that has suddenly become fast paced, right after our OFW dads and moms have brought in the luxuries and competitiveness of the global market. We wanted to achieve more, that’s why we multitask (like watching TV with a burger in mouth while putting clothes in a running washing machine). We tend to move faster because we think everything is urgent (except for EDSA). And because of the vast list of choices given to us, we have a lifetime to choose which would match our passion, capability and needs. This is the reason we can’t settle down. And yet most of us are afraid of the more essential responsibilities in life. 

I don’t mean this generation is lazy. In fact, we are active, sociable and passionate. By the time we reach 30, we continue to explore ourselves by travelling, learning new hobbies, or showcasing discovered talents. But we are afraid of deeper connections, higher promotions, or breaking off from the comfort zone. When one gets married, here comes bigger responsibility. When one becomes the boss of a company, here comes bigger responsibility. When one owns his own house and lives alone, here comes bigger responsibility. We are afraid of making mistakes. We are afraid of judgement when we screw up in our responsibilities. That’s why we’d shy away from them. 

But that should not last forever.

One day, Peter Pan has to leave Neverland. The magic of childish freedom and fairy dreams did not keep Wendy and the Lost Boys in the island forever. Soon enough, the boy in green tights will realize that their wooden swords were nothing compared to an opponent bigger than Captain Hook – and its name is responsibility.

It’s not an enemy. It’s a friend. But most of us – the so-called Peter Pan generation – believe we are not worthy of it. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid it would turn against us and kill us completely if we don’t meet its criteria. 

Wrong. It’s the mindset of perfectionism, which we don’t admit, that’s killing us.

Even Dr. Strange himself, a brilliant man, thought he has to be ready before taking up a bigger responsibility. Talking with the Ancient One for the last time, she told him she does not see his future but she sees in him a purpose.

“But I am not ready.” He admits.

“No one is ever ready.” She answers.

It does not take one to be ready to grow up. It does not take one to be ready to become more responsible. It just takes courage. Deciding to jump into it is death defying. Getting there is fulfillment. 

And yes, I feel fulfilled when I could handle my own budget, do my own shopping, and finish washing my clothes. Getting into a whole new scenario in life is a leap of faith for me. Deciding to live alone is just one step into bigger destinies. And I have to take them one step at a time. 

But still, I can’t wait for Saturday. No matter how I prepare food for myself, nothing beats Mom’s friend rice, hotdogs and eggs for breakfast.

Pressured To Marry

She’s nice. She’s cheeky. She’s bubbly. She’s your typical story-filled housewife who got some good cooking. Until she blurts out. “What a beautiful girl! Does she already have a husband?”

Ok. I’ve encountered this question a hundred times. This time, she was asking my mom while she was eyeing me whose head to toe is donned in my favorite yellow, flowered dress. “No.” My mom replied as a matter-of-factly.

“That can’t be,” she gasped, just like any typical gossip-obsessed housewife. It came with that typical warning that never failed my irate eyebrow rocket towards my hairline, “You’ll grow old a spinster. You should have children.”

With that sympathizing look, she made me look like another human casualty in the evolution of genetics. Fine.

If I would point out my argument in the middle of that dusty, rural street she would never understand. Just like hundreds of married people who have asked me that same question.

I just couldn’t understand why they have to pressure me with that farcical question.

Our Asian culture dictates women to marry at a young age. Women at their thirties are considered too old to marry, more so get a boyfriend (I’m sure I’d be fatally labelled a “leftover woman” in China). As time and culture evolves, women are becoming more empowered, independent and are given more choices to challenge themselves outside the confinement of motherhood.

I am one of those women who have chosen that path.

Of course, that does not mean I don’t want to marry. I would like to fall in love and be loved. I would like to see myself wearing a wedding gown and kiss the man who is destined to be The One. But I am not in a hurry. Why should I marry if I am not in love and no one’s in love with me?

Just like many modern women today, we are given a wide range of choices and paths to take. Be the CEO of a prestigious company. Go into extreme sports and adventure. Explore the Mariana Trench. Manage fifty lucrative businesses. Achieve the Air Force with flying colors. Claim the Miss Universe crown. Win a presidential race. Save the world.

This is the viewpoint of women (and even men) who live and work in the metropolis. But not those who live in the rural life.

I would honestly never forget my chagrin when a member of the Badjao community had told me I should get married so I can have kids who would bury me when I die. Girls as young as 13 are marriageable to this group of people while 18-year old ladies are considered a spinster among them. I could not believe the limited perspective these people have nurtured throughout generations. 

This line of thinking is almost similar to the people living in my community. Partly rural and partly urbanized, most residents living here are below middle-income earners. Some were not finished in schooling. Basically, their choices are limited, as well as their resources. This leads them to the pattern of living-eating-marrying-working-have kids-die.

Ok, it does not mean one dies immediately after giving birth. But my point is most of them believe this is the same pattern everyone should go through. And every women should marry in the age history had dictated on man.

Or maybe, the age that our ancestors have dictated on man.

“Thirty! You’re too old to get married.” Rolls eyes.

“I’m married at 18 but I’m happy.” That’s your happiness, not mine.

“Would you like me to recommend somebody?” Shows me a picture. Throws up in the trash bin.

“You should marrying –” Shhhhh!! I don’t have a boyfriend! You mean I’d marry my toenail?!?!

I have sighed endless of times at those sickening questions. Gentle warning, some would say. But for me it’s the gripping reality on how limited a cultural perspective could be. 

I am not in a hurry to get married. I don’t worry about not having children. Too many marriages are broken because they have served their own selfish urges or followed the dictation of society without testing it through wind and fire. Marriage comes with careful consideration, prayer, commitment, and refinement. 

No one could ever understand when one is different among them. A single lady living among married contemporaries is as odd as the house of the Mad Hatter standing among the same tattered houses. Society dictates us to go through the same path they have gone through. They call it normal. I call it boring.

One’s destiny should not be dictated by the majority who knows no other way out of the box. Our age and status is not the basis of our purpose in life. Man’s judgement is not the fulfillment of things. No one has the right to taint the purity of our choices as only we ourselves can understand why we have chosen this path that’s different from them. Only God knows the best for us and society can never grasp that for our sake.

Crimson Shadow

Just like almost every else in the world, I am one of those who anticipated the “blood moon”. I remember, seeing a lunar eclipse when I was in high school, but not as red as this! But in posting my not-so-good pictures of this phenomenon, I’d like to be different by writing a poem to it. Everything in nature has a message to tell and so all we have to do is to listen and think about it. 🙂

Mysteriously mourning over the horizon

She wraps herself in a cloak of blood
Stained with the darkness of humanity’s iniquity
The blood moon silently wails for our vain glory
She gasps over the wickedness we have magnified
Through her veil she tries to blind herself from our lies
“Where will you go, little man, as the end approaches?
“When the light vanishes from the earth you have claimed?”
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Man gape at her crimson stare
They can never fathom the warning she had dared
But in His mercy the Author of Eternity slowly unmasked her glory
Revealing the hope for those who hear and see
The song of salvation meant for humanity
The light of His glory is given freely
For those who would want a life of purity
A friendship that cost us nothing but our surrender
Removing our ashes to wear linen clothes and golden robes
Just like the passing of the moon’s deathly shadow
The pain will vanish, all tears wiped away
For a moment we hear the mourner’s song
But behind that sombre dirge
A promise of a new beginning to be revealed!
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Wisdom From the Meager Things

IMG_20140803_084516_editI’ve been quite bothered lately about money. With the meager salary I receive and the enormous bills to pay and needs to buy, I tried to balance myself to survive…until the next payday.

Somehow, I regret the time I wasted my money on useless things like excessive eating when I was in my former work in a BPO company. I saved, but a little. I used this up when I was jobless for a year. I could have invested it instead in a reputable insurance company. Gone are that first ten years of saving. Now, I am getting to the next decade my career as a faithful worker.

So, now my salary’s not as prestigious as my former job. I’m not complaining. But, this is my time and age that I am learning to budget and save well. Even I am still on loan, I can monitor my savings. I am considering other ways to invest, as well.

But right now, I am at my lowest point. This affected my enjoyment to be a part of an extra job that I am doing. I love my job and also the extra writing assignments I do on extra time. But, I felt greedy to do more so I can be paid more. Having this kind of mindset disrupts the very purpose and the quality of the job I do.

Here’s one truth that pacifies me. In Philippians 4:19, Paul prayed, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” The moment I received my salary, I just sighed, breathing this prayer to myself. Somehow, I can discern that in my meager finances, I am taught to be fully dependent to the God who has everything.

What we see affects our thinking. When we open our eyes and see that God is at work providing our needs, we’ll be surprised we have plenty, even if they are not financial gains. This is not the first time that I received more than the less I gained. Times before, I have received worst, which in the last week before the next payday, I was short of budget. Surprisingly, I survived without borrowing from anybody (not even from my mom).

And so, this truth encourages me. My God will really provide all our needs, because He knows them, and has the compassion and grace to sustain us when we fully trust Him. With this, I cling on to Him, as He teaches me to be a good steward of wealth. In this way, I gain more wisdom in choosing where should I spend my expenses, and in budgeting the rest for the coming days. Good stewardship is the lesson here and it’s a hard one to learn.

I guess the wisdom I am gaining at such a time as this is greater than the wealth I can ever accumulate (even if I get a million bucks). I believe when I learn to be a good steward of the little things, I can take care of bigger things that will be entrusted to me at the right time.

Sowing Away the Hidden Seed

IMG_0490[1]What do we gain when we give away love through our money and other material possessions despite having nothing? Sacrificing what we have is not easy, especially when what we see is enough for ourselves.

Let’s admit, it’s not easy to give, even for a cause. My mom has seen this in some of her comrades at their senior citizen’s group. She suggested that instead of spending for their Christmas party this year, she urged her fellow officers to give money to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as its Philippine name). However, most of them were hesitant. The reason: they’re not sure if it will go to the victims. But soon enough, they were convinced, as the organization she suggested is legitimate and has been doing outreach missions for years. She was just saddened to find out that most of them handed down less than half of what each spend for their Christmas parties.

I’m not against Christmas parties. I enjoy them. It’s just our security on our money that binds us from sharing with others.

I must admit, I’m still struggling in this area at this point of writing. We have heard countless times that what we sow is what we’ll reap. But due to our culture of gaining and fighting for our rights, we have disregarded the principle of sowing and reaping many times.

Most of us have been pampered with material possessions. As a yuppie, I’ve grown to the idealism of treating myself, causing me to buy things and food I don’t need. I’m one of this generation’s impulsive buyers, which regrettably had me at debt at most times. Lofty food is one of my weaknesses. I am one of those willing to spend big bucks for expensive meals. However, when someone is in need, I would think it over before giving anything — and when I give, I give too little.

I realized today that I have lost much because I’m not a cheerful giver. Actually, I am a good saver, but due to bank closures and joblessness two years ago, I lost my savings. I have been selfish in my own principles of handling money, not realizing that everything we handle is temporary. I never give much, not even love and mercy, for I was a skeptic at humankind. I viewed that everyone is not a good steward of whatever I lend or give. But I’ve judged too much. I was the one who’s not a good steward.

Right now, I am in the learning process of being a good steward of money. The more painful part here is learning to give money to the needy. In every fruit of our labor is a seed we need to sow. Of course, we cannot eat the whole fruit, right? So, we have to sow the seed into good ground to produce a hundredfold. It’s the same with money. We can’t keep it all. So, we have to give part of it to the “good ground”, let’s say an organization or to the needy. We might be surprised how much will be given back to us.

A friend of mine had taught me this before I went to Ireland. Having no money to go there, I was holding on to what I have. But my friend, a prophetic fellow, sensed that the Lord was teaching me to give despite of having nothing. It’s a hard process to learn. But there is blessing in obedience. I was surprised that a few friends supported for my pocket money right after, even though I did not ask them. Right now, though, I’m still settling my plane ticket! But I know God is faithful and that He provides all my needs. 🙂

It’s a Biblical principle. Believer or no believer, I’ve seen how this principle is fulfilled when done. I’ve heard testimonies on how blessed are the people who sacrificed much. It’s no wonder that some rich people become richer, for they have secretly given part of their income to foundations.

It’s not money that matters at this point. It’s how we view it. Everything we receive is meant to be shared, even the kindness and love we receive. We might not see the results when we give part of ourselves away, but in time we will realize what kind of harvest will be grown when we sacrifice what we have — even a part of it. Just as the seed that grew into a hundredfold when planted into good ground, it would be the same when we give love through acts or money. Sacrifice of love will reap an abundance of love. Sacrifice of our money will reap an abundance of income. May we live the lifestyle of sowing into good ground and thus reap back a hundredfold in our lives.

Surviving the Dangerous Waters

“Do fishes have emotion?” I asked my mom while looking at the pool filled with variously colored koi.

“Of course they do,” she replied, “they also feel stress.”

I asked the question because I was wondering how they would feel when they’re removed from the comforts of their calm, cultured world. Put them in a running river or the open sea, these fishes might feel extreme stress. The outside world is too hostile compared to the serenity offered by their artificial pond. I wouldn’t wonder if they don’t survive at all in the open sea or the dangerously gushing river.

It’s the same with us human beings. We love to stay in our comfort zones. When we are placed in an environment or situation outside these comfort zones, we become stressed. What if like a fish, we have no chance of going back to that artificial pond? We have two choices: give up and destroy ourselves or overcome and emerge stronger.

It’s good to be in the comfort zone, but there is also great danger in it. There’s a false sense of peace going on around it, causing us to be unaware how our senses, thinking, discernment and ability are destroyed by a bacteria called complacency. We’re trading all talents and ability for sleep. Thus, when the shell of comfort are destroyed around us, we are caught unaware, too late to realize that all our capacity to survive is lost.

But when we are put into dangerous waters, this is the time we use every given ability, talent, and thinking into survival mode. Through this, we learn how to stand up and strengthen ourselves and forge ourselves to persevere until we develop the ability to survive.

I’ve been put into such moments many, many times. But at such instances, I wanted to give up and destroy myself, believing its the only way to get out of the problem. But, of course, we are not meant to stand in the flames alone. Do you know how God wanted to partner with us? In Him, we can have all the survival mode that we can need: the abilities, talents, thinking, and wisdom can only come from the Creator of time and space. By the moment I thought I got nothing, I just ask the Father the grace and wisdom to overcome. In Him, I got everything, and in Him I can persevere and survive.

When we are put into dangerous waters, don’t curse the moment. Instead, it’s an opportunity and privilege to become stronger and better people yet.

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