Monday, September 22, 2008

the list i have yet to finish

For over 4 years, I have been bugged by one question over and over again. I thought I was going crazy for finding no satisfaction in all the time I spent for my thought life seeking to find the answer. I’ve read all the books. I’ve asked for all possible help. I’ve compared notes with my friends. Still, I was left with no concrete answer.

The Purpose-Driven Life became a best-seller because Rick Warren was able to successfully spot the one question that everybody has subconsciously been asking all their life- What is life’s purpose?

In one of my quest for the answer, a wonderful revelation was made known to me a few months back. I realized that finding the true meaning of existence is not of this world. I was able to understand that nothing in this world can truly satisfy that strange longing in our life…that after earning all the accomplishments this world has to offer which should’ve made us feel that it was enough, still we end up wondering what else is missing.

I was over step one. I was able to draw the big picture out of this search. If it’s not our job, relationships, our bank account or collection of travel pictures, I began to zoom in the specific- what is that very thing that we are all searching for. I used to envy those people who seem to have a definite purpose in life, who live each day as if they knew exactly what they are meant for. I began to imitate their source of happiness.

I was jealous of those overly confident people who could win any argument by mere intimidation. I was jealous of those who had a wide perspective in running businesses that innovations just seem to pop in the middle of the night. I was jealous of those who seem to know it all and are able to impose their point of view on other people. I wanted to become like them, so I dreamed to do things that would make me like them.

None of my efforts paid off. None of my plans materialized. I was on the verge of frustration of wanting to do everything and yet not knowing where to start. During one of my daily meetings with myself, I asked God just one request. I asked Him to show me a direction on where I should head. I asked for an opportunity to do that very thing that would define my purpose in life in a way that’s delightful in His eyes.

As faithful as He’s always been, He answered clearly. Imagine how you were confused as a child on why huge ships do not sink into the sea but a tossed coin does. Then all the concepts of buoyancy etc. were explained and we just couldn’t hide our amazement. I could’ve picked a better analogy but my point is there was a clear, unmistakable answer that was given to me that left me gasp in astonishment.

I was offered a writing position. I was not even expecting that answer. In fact, I was looking forward to a teaching job at a university. Writing was just a hobby and an outlet of thoughts I never seem to run out of. You can just imagine my disbelief when I was told of the answer. It was laid out to me plain and simple. No room for having second thoughts. No room for debates.

I was ecstatic! It was as if I asked my dad for a red car for my birthday and he gave me the exact red car I asked for right there and then! (How I wish) I never thought writing could possibly be more than just a hobby.

Now, I’ve got a new list of plans but this time I am prepared to put a check mark on every single step.

To God be the glory.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It was strong. It was blinding. And before I knew it, it was swallowing me whole. I once read that the pain it caused was like trying to put together a broken glass- it leaves you bleeding trying despite the glaring truth that it cannot be fixed at all.

I found myself being slowly broken into a million pieces. I cried countless times. I wished repetitively on every first star I saw at night on how much I wanted to bring back everything the way it was. But there was as if a mighty opposing force that allowed me to be totally devastated…and lost…and be in such a pathetic state.

It was so intense that I thought I could not get free from it. It was short, yet it left a seemingly lasting mark. Starting all over again was a distant idea that seemed untranslatable into reality.

I was told I could get over it and that it would all get better in time. And in my heart I wished the same. I was thinking, sure I’m smart and I’m capable of doing a million things. I’ve got a lot of friends who would back me up in desperate times. And so as the years passed, I tried to live with the few pieces of me that were left.

Those pieces were exposed to a huge deal of opportunities to be fused back together and even to multiply and be whole again. I am grateful for every chance I got to learn how to be matured enough to handle myself not just in my profession but more importantly in my inmost being.

From a self-engrossed person who cared only about my own hurts and bitterness about how the world betrayed me, I was called to do greater and more meaningful things. That mighty opposing force who seemed to have dumped me into that pit was also the same force who faithfully led me into a life I never tasted before.

Looking back I realized a very important truth in my life. The grip of that relationship, the very thing that I once embraced with all my heart, was also the very thing that held me back from becoming the person I am designed to be. And I never imagined I am much more than what the past had instilled in me.

It was never fun having to endure the pains of the past. Had nobody even cared to take me out of there, I would’ve been locked into nothingness. But somebody did care. Somebody poured out his love for me without question…without condition. Somebody showed me the brilliance of the future. That was the hope I learned to hold on to, the most wonderful gift that had finally set me free.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Changing Lanes

In my head, I found myself driving on a single lane, easy road at approximately 40 miles per hour, satisfied at my rate, well-buckled on my seat, comfortable at the sounds of my stereo. I had a content smile on my face saying “This is what I call life.”

I came to a busy street with horns honking everywhere, intersections blocked by cars trying to beat the red light, and each vehicle trying to make a way for itself. Naturally, my moment of ease was disturbed. For a moment, I was preoccupied with the traffic. I forgot the comfort I was feeling a few minutes ago, and I busied myself with what was actually there, with what was in front of me. At a red light, I compared my car to all those that are in the same lane, leaving brief comments on each I envied as well as on others I felt I was better off. When it turned green, I never gave any other car a chance to get into my way.

Traffics are always a headache. After a few times of cursing to the pedestrians who were still crossing the street at my green light, and after almost hitting the bumper of the car in front of me just to not let anybody else get ahead of me, I got weary and wanted to get out of the main road. So I turned right, went straight ahead, and made a couple of U-turns just to find an easy way to get out of it. Having no sense of direction, it took me a little more while to find a clearer road.

I found myself in the middle of the same road I was on before. Coupled with frustration, I fled. Time and again, I was able to unbelievably overtake a few trucks, and to avoid some hollows on the road under repair that I used to never miss. I was filled with pride that I was able to exceed my limits in driving. It was another adventure for me.

Yet, after the fun, I slowly became bored. I found nothing challenging anymore. I became uneasy with my speed so I slowed down a bit. Lost in my thoughts, a question popped. Where was I heading? Consumed by panic and fear, I realized a truth: I was heading nowhere. I looked outside my window to check how long I have travelled with no precise destination. I checked on my rearview mirror to see if there were any other vehicles running on the same road.

So I decided to pull over. A few cars, including a patrol, checked on me if I had a problem. At the back of my mind, I was asking, “Could you give me a road map?” But I didn’t want them to know I was lost. So I just pretended I was taking a break for a long trip ahead. Anyway, it was partly true.

It was already mid-afternoon. Still unsure as I was, I decided to get on with my ride. I drove at an acceptable speed. Seeing the fire trees that started to bloom that season, I began to relax. My worries passed and peace wrapped me. I enjoyed the solitude.

Throughout that long day, I realized, it’s not with the comfort, it’s not with the ability to get away with traffic, it’s not with the speed, nor is it with the ability to get ahead. A worthwhile ride is about being able to enjoy and appreciate every part of it, driving not too fast and not too slow, and still fully understanding where you’re going.

And now at the end of the day, the same question popped: Where was I heading? This time I smiled. I was heading back home.

It’s always reassuring to know that after my road trips, there would always be Him taking me home.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Answer

It was a difficult day.

The Questions:

Her phone alarmed at 6:05am. She automatically turned it off, and curled underneath her blanket. Another day, she thought. Only if she could make up excuses for not going to work, she would’ve probably slept the whole day. But she knew she had to get up and drag herself to shower. Can it be like this forever?

Almost 10 hours of the day, she had to deal with her job, which failed to engross her lately. She had to tire out herself “finding money,” as she put it. She knew sales was not her forte. Dealing with tough clients wasn’t already interesting, but draining. She tried to search for the enthusiasm she once had. Is this the career path she had in mind?

At home, she hardly saw her dad. They hadn’t talked for nearly 3 months. Not about work, not about what’s happening, not about anything at all. Where did her control-freak dad go?

She remembered how angry he was for not being able to impose what he wanted in her life. And she, herself, got mad at him for not accepting that not everything in her life could be manipulated by his plans, or at least what he believed was right for her. And they argued for 3 minutes or so, and fell silent for 3 months. Why can’t he understand?

She had remaining 3 to 4 hours before she would go back to bed. She had a few options on how to spend ‘em.

Watch TV. Maybe Tyra would feature some anorexic 5’11” women wanting to be 80lbs. Then she’d feel some people were more ridiculous than her. Can’t people find any contentment at all?

Chat with friends. That would divert her spotlight away from her own self. Would they have any other interesting things to say? Or would they be sensitive enough to hear what she had to say?

Dinner. She’d still have to figure out if this would add up to the free radicals in her body or if her liver won’t be overloaded. Is this healthy or toxic?

Read. She got all those halfway-read newly-purchased books piled up on her nightstand waiting for her to start living with the principles of maximizing time, heading towards success, and unleashing innermost capabilities. Yeah, the ideas were great. But why don’t they suffice?

She had the usual questions a normal 23-year old would have. (That’s insanity aside.) Life starts to become a burden, not an enjoyable thing. A day passes without any difference from the previous day and a voice within her keeps on whispering that life couldn’t be just like that. Living is supposed to be a short, yet exciting and wonderful experience you can’t wait to taste; not a dreadful, boring journey on a tunnel wherein seeing the end of it is your only goal.

She satisfied herself with a book that had been with her for months but she felt too exhausted to even consider opening. It struck her with its promises to answer life’s toughest questions. Really, huh? Now there’s such a thing as a universal answer to all the questions she had in mind. Intrigued, she leafed through it.

Upon recovery from the state of shock after reading, the reality flashed to her as if wondering why she was surprised with the answer she got. She had always tried to find some meaning in her life and a sense of purpose for her existence but instead she found herself facing the same “difficult days”, doing the same things. Little did she know that all this time, she got it all wrong.

The Answer

There’s a huge difference between existing and actually living. To exist is to breathe, to move even the most futile movement, and to be able to stay alive, even if it meant a machine is keeping your vital organs at work. To exist is to drift in this world with no purpose.

On the contrary, to live is to understand that you are tailored to a more meaningful existence. It is knowing what makes you special and what you’re supposed to do to make use of the gifts given to you.

To live is not self-serving. You may have acquired all the riches in the world, won all the trophies of success and yet come home after the most victorious event feeling empty, alone, and strangely senseless.

If you cease to find the purpose of your existence, you cease to exist. Like a wave just going with the flow of others, not knowing its destiny, it seems that it’s meant to only crash in the shore. But the truth is, even how long the journey is and how hard the crash must be, even a tiny wave it is, it’s designed to still go back to the where it belongs – the ocean.

How then do you define the answers to all these seemingly endless questions on the depth of life’s meaning?

She had kept herself captive of doubts and weariness with her life. She’d been trying to figure out if she’s only meant to crash in the shore. But then it struck her that she’d been searching on the wrong places.

Is she meant to crash in the shore, she wondered. And the answer shone on her like the sun’s rays in the morning sky. She is designed to go back to where she belongs. She is destined to carry out the master plan of the one who made her.

When you remember where you came from, it is easier for you to figure out where you’re heading. When you understand that you’re not just a single wave, but a part of the bigger ocean, it is already laid out to you what you need to prioritize. When you realize that you are not the steward of your own life, but mere clay molded by the Potter’s hand, it is natural for you to let go and allow the Maker to take control of your steering wheel.

Most of the time we trouble ourselves with every detail in our life, believing that they are the truly essential things that would keep us going- dreams, security, stability, health, relationships. But the question remained, to keep us going where? Is fulfilling a dream the end goal? Would having uncountable wealth satisfy our deepest longing? Would living up to a hundred years make us feel we have made sense on earth?

Only through the proper perspective in life we can truly decode what it is to live. And the perspective does not come from our own expertise; rather it comes from the wisdom of the Most High who is all-knowing. We keep our eyes on what’s material, on what’s physical, but He knows what is truly essential, what is eternal. If we know how to align the journey of our life with His master plan, the drifting comes to an end, and the living begins.

Searching for His ultimate plan for us is not simple and instant, though. It is not as if you’d stare up in the sky and the answer will just reveal itself to you. It takes conscious diligence and loads of grace from God to uncover the answer. It may take a lifetime search, but it’s the kind of quest that’s worth taking. Rather than journeying alone and clueless, it is more reassuring to go through this life knowing that the hand of the Father is with us, directing us which path to take.

When we allow God’s hand to lead us, dealing with difficulties on our jobs becomes a tiny hump in the road that won’t keep us off-track. When we allow God to guide us, misunderstanding and pains in our relationships will be washed away by His immeasurable love and compassion. Nothing in our life is too trivial for Him, for He knows every detail in our life. He knows us more than we know ourselves. So if we feel lost and wonder what living is all about, try to search for Him, and you’re going to get the most wonderful answer there is.