You have to remember that
not all silences are scary.
That they don’t always mean the end
of a story,
of a show,
of a conversation.
Sometimes, they’re just a pause.
A time for you to gather your wits, your strength,
to get your ready for the next part.
Maybe sometimes they mean more than a little pause.
Maybe it’s a time to get your heart and mind focused again.
Or maybe it’s just a time to sit still.
You need to stop being afraid of these silences.
You need to realize
how some of the best things can come out of these silences.
That this silence can be beautiful,
if you let it.
You need to fight
against these voices in your head
that urge you to make noise.
Sit and revel in this silence.
And believe that this is good.
You have to remember that
not all silences are scary.
I joined this romance novel(la) writing class at the start of the year. I didn’t want to, because I’ve always been insecure about my writing and joining an actual class scares me, but I joined anyway because:
- The class was free
- It is the year of the brave
- The class
was freeis facilitated by one of my favorite local authors.
So I figured: If not now, when?
Fast forward to a couple of months later, I am in the middle of my writing my novel, rushing to meet the class deadline and I realized two things:
- The novel is a mess
- I don’t like middles
It’s understandable that my novel is a mess right now because it’s a rough draft, and all my novels that went through this phase is such a spectacular mess that most of them get buried underneath all my files in my hard drive. But one thing I realized as I worked on my outline and wrote the story is that writing the middle is always the hardest part.
“But the middle is how you get to the end!” A writer friend told me when I lamented on this fact over Twitter. I know. Don’t get me wrong — I love reading very good middles, but it can get a bit frustrating when I’m the one writing it. It’s easy to start, and I always know how I want my story to end. I can see those two parts clearly. I know some bits of the middle, of course, but I realized that the ones I have now aren’t really enough to get me to the end. Or, they’re just vague ideas of what I want to happen, but they’re not always connected. They’re little scenes that I know would bring them to that end, but they don’t necessarily form a smooth transition from one part to another, making the readers see how these characters get from Point A to Point Z (or their fictional happily ever after). They’re awkward at best, which isn’t really a problem because I can always refine it. But they’re so hard to write sometimes because it’s not as exciting as that ending I have in my head.
I don’t know if anything has changed, but things feel different somehow. It feels warmer. Not summer warm (or hot, rather), but more like the first rays of the sun peeking from the horizon after a long and sleepless and cold night. It was a welcome feeling, and I’m so, so, so afraid that it’s just a fluke, that it’s just one of those strange days that things are different.
But why am I subscribing to such negativity? Why can’t I just sit back, relax, and enjoy everything?
I was angry. No, I was fuming.
I can’t remember the last time I was so pissed off about something, so bad that I wanted to cry. I wanted so much to fight back, to answer, to say something to put some people in their place. I was one click away to doing it, but a friend stopped me and told me to take a walk.
And so I did.
I was still so angry, that I needed to let it out. I called a friend and started ranting, and after I have said everything, after I have spent some time speaking about my anger, being all ranty and whiny, he says, “It’s kind of shallow, you know.”
We ended the conversation with another topic, and I thanked him. Later, he reminded me of something I used to tell myself before 2012 ended: be gracious.
I was in tears. The frustration just bubbled up, and I wondered if there was something I could have done, if there was something I could’ve said to make everything stop. What if, what if, what if.
And then I wondered: are we really bad people?
It was then I really disliked everything, and even them. I hate that they made me doubt the goodness in the people I know, and most especially, me.
I was snapping, snapping too fast. It was an automatic reaction when I talk to them sometimes, and I am not proud of it.
I think there’s a special kind of grace involved when dealing with your family. It’s easier to be nice with your friends because you don’t live with them, and you are often always together with them in the happy times. But when you live with some people who know you inside out, whose words can automatically set your nerves ringing with annoyance, it’s easier to snap and answer back.
But I’m too old for things like that. I’m too old to be a brat, I’m too old and I should know better.
So I prayed.
Let me take this moment to breathe a sigh of relief and say: Thank God April is almost over. Whew.
It’s not that April was a completely horrible month. It was more of April kicking me in places that I didn’t know even really existed. I wasn’t particularly sad, but it felt like there were too many things this month that had been pulling me down. It was harder to be happy and stay happy because I was worrying about a million and one things, I was busy with a thousand and probably paranoid about a hundred things. Almost everything is getting into my nerves. I was hardly calm, and even when I find a sense of calm sometimes, something happens (or I do something stupid) that knocks me off balance again and I go back. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But April is also good, in a lot of ways. I surfed. It was our book club’s anniversary month, so we had a ton of activities here and there — book covering for hours and hours, my first outreach event, our first (real) pool party, and a road trip across the city to watch a movie that is showing everywhere but we wanted to watch it there just because. There were phone conversations, assurances and things to remind me of who I am, of what I am capable of, and people who are willing to stay up to 2 in the morning talking to me because I feel unsettled. There were lots of laughter. And hope. Lots of hope.
So while April is busy kicking my butt, it’s also busy trying to teach me a lesson. Or several lessons. Most of them are too lengthy to blog about — patience (as always), balance, trust, friendships and relationships, graciousness. And just recently: gratitude.
Remember how at the end of March, I was so grateful for all the things that I was given during my favorite month? How all I can say was thank you, and my heart was bursting with gratitude because it was such a beautiful month? I wanted so much to get into that state again in the midst of April, to be grateful for the good things again because it’s easy to be thankful then. It’s easy to go back to those happy moments and say thank you. But when things aren’t going my way? I can’t even say thank you at all.
However, I have learned that gratitude isn’t exclusively for the good things. Gratitude applies to good and bad things. It takes a lot of maturity and courage to give thanks for the bad just as you say “thank you” for the good. It’s all about perspective, they say, and that’s true. I just forget it too easily.
April is ending, whew. I am happy it is, and thankful for all the lessons it has taught me. I’m pretty sure it’s far from over, but thank you anyway, April. I won’t miss you, but thank you. For May…
…I pray for the strength and courage to be truly thankful, even when everything feels like they’re falling apart1
…I pray for grace and peace for the moments when I worry, cry and complain, so I can just be grateful for being where I am.
…I pray for the trust that even if things aren’t going my way, I will remember that I am blessed and say thank you.
We’ll give thanks to You
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need.2
I was writing a letter to a friend last night1 and I wrote something about how I am able to recognize subtle shifts in my mood, and my thinking. Like, how I was so busy last week that I barely had time to think about anything else, and now that things are winding down, I suddenly find a lot of free brain cells that started thinking of things again.
Being aware of these subtleties and these shifts is a blessing, because I can force myself to slow down and eventually, stop. Over thinking is my number one sin to myself, and this awareness helps me stop it before it starts. I realized that when I go on that mode, I become a selfish little brat because I tend to think that everything is about me. Things are happening (or aren’t happening) because of me. People are mad at me, or are talking about me. I need to do something. I need to say something. I, I, I, me, me me. But now, I try my best to stop and remind myself: hey, it’s not always about you.
This reminds me of one of the early lessons I got back during my birthday week. Remember how I said I tend to be especially bratty when it’s my birthday month? Well, as it turns out, being bratty doesn’t always work, and is not really a good thing to do. Especially when it’s with people you care about. Maturity, and all that. Sometimes you don’t get the things you want, and you probably never will, but it doesn’t mean that everything is ruined. You just have to grin and bear it, because it’s the right thing to do.2 So I see this way of recognizing these shifts as a way of maturing, of being a grown up and in return, relating better to people.
I think one of the sure signs of maturity is being able to trust people. Not just with things or thoughts or secrets, but you know, yourself. Your heart. That’s one of the lessons I’ve been trying to learn in the past weeks. Some people who know me in real life will probably laugh at this, given that I can probably get into a conversation with anyone but the people who really know me know that this openness is my defense mechanism. I talk a lot because it gives me control of the conversation, and I get to pick what the other person knows about me. And I get to laugh about too many things, too, so I can avoid those things that can actually show my weaknesses.
I’m trying hard to get those guards down, because…well, I want to have a brave heart. You know, a heart that isn’t afraid of vulnerability. This reminds me of this amazing TEDx talk I watched recently, thanks to one of my new favorite blogs. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks that we need to be vulnerable if we want to truly love, and it gives me hope that maybe, I am in the right place. What I didn’t really count on is how trying to be vulnerable can just really hurt. Too much, sometimes. I know it’s not easy. Sometimes I just want to pull up my defenses again, and fight. Fight, because I don’t feel safe. Fight, because no one can hurt me first. Fight, because nothing is sure, and and I can’t handle it. Fight, because when things aren’t assured for you, you must do everything in your power to make sure it’s yours, especially when others seem to want to take what you want from you.
But fighting is exhausting. It may keep me safe, but it stresses me out. Sometimes I feel like learning to trust other people is harder than learning to trust God. It makes trusting God easy all of a sudden. Okay, maybe not easy, but easier, given the nature of who I am trusting. God is trustworthy and faithful and He has good intentions for me, so I will definitely trust him. But other people? Who knows what their intentions are? How can I trust them with even just a small piece of my heart when they can easily crush it?
I honestly have no easy answer to this, because like I said, I’m still trying to learn it. There are days when I feel so ready to trust another person and I actually really do so, but then some things change — there’s a subtle shift somewhere — and I pack up and go again. Sometimes it feels like it’s one step forward and two steps back. Sometimes, it feels like I actually got it and I can hopefully move on to the next lesson,3 and then I get hurt and I crawl back into my hole.
But I have to have courage. If I am to have a brave heart, if I am to be wholehearted, I have to learn how to trust people. To be seen and known, just as I am.
There’s a lot of adjustments, many things to learn and unlearn. It is all completely messy but also beautiful, and I think it’s just how relationships are. Right?
- Because you can never write enough letters. And, you always need a pen pal in your life. [↩]
- And sometimes, you get something better in return. But that’s for another post. [↩]
- I imagine God laughing at me whenever I think this, and then He puts a hand on my shoulder and says, “Not quite yet, my daughter.” [↩]
Hello thereHi! I'm Tina. I've been online for as long as I can remember, and I've kept a blog for almost as long. I (still) own refineme.org, but last year, I've decided to switch domains and start fresh, just because. I like to read and write and I
used to beam still disgustinglymushy/sentimental sometimes, but I just don't really blog about it anymore. I get excited over nice pens and notebooks, anything with stars, sunflowers, tigers, cats and dogs. When I'm alone, I talk to myself (weird, I know), and when I'm with others, I talk a lot, and I talk fast. I live loved because I serve a great God. :) More?
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