I think it was late last year, during my most stressful days at work, when I thought of running away.
Not really run away from home, mind you, but run away somewhere just so I won’t have to deal with the things I had to deal with everyday. I was so, so tired, and I thought of all the options I have in front of me: to resign, to study, do something else – just be anywhere but there.
But in the end, I didn’t do it, because responsibility won me over. Plus I couldn’t help but think of what my manager told me before I joined the team when she saw my tenure – that I was someone who stayed, and it’s a big thing. I thought maybe I should hold on a little while longer, and not make hasty decisions. And it’s not like it was so easy to just run away.
Besides, if I didn’t remain there for a little bit longer, I wouldn’t have found my 2015 word, and I wouldn’t have moved to this other job.
So it all worked out in the end.
The One Who Remained.
At the SFC International Conference at Cagayan de Oro last year, the second talk was all about the apostle John, and the crucifixion.
You see, John was the only one among all of Jesus’ apostles that was at the foot of the cross up until Jesus drew his last breath. When everyone else had run away and hid, John stayed. After Peter denied Jesus three times, John followed Jesus to the cross.
Why was he there? The speaker asked.
The answer was simple: He was there because Jesus was his friend.
The speaker further explained: He was there because he loved the Lord. John thought that his presence there would somehow ease Jesus’ pain and suffering just by merely being there.
It was early morning, and I was on my way to tutoring when a thought hit me.
Why don’t I study abroad? That’s something nice to do.
It was, admittedly, a nice dream. It was something I had parked at the back of my mind years ago, but I never pursued because I didn’t want to leave. And then I found a reason. Or perhaps, it wasn’t really a reason, but a push.
It seemed like a good idea, though, and it is still a good idea now. Except back then, the reason I wanted to do that was because I wanted to run away again. I wanted a fresh start that I can’t seem to get here, so I thought, where else can I get a fresh start but in another place where no one knew me?
Of course that didn’t happen, because other things did.
John could have ran away, too.
I think that Jesus would have understood if he disappeared, too, like the others. I think he would have been excused, and it wouldn’t have been taken against him.
But John made a choice. He made a choice to stay by his friend’s side. He remained, because John trusted his friend, he trusted that the suffering isn’t going to be meaningless. He believed that there’s something good just around the corner, and he will only see it if he remained.
And there were good things, after all the pain. John’s choice to remain showed him a love more powerful than death, and a joy more lasting than any sorrow.
I want to be like John.
I felt that urge to run away again, just recently. The urge felt frighteningly familiar, and I panicked because I didn’t want to deal with it. It’s not supposed to happen again. I saw pain, and a lot of discomfort, and maybe anger up ahead. And I did not want that.
So I wanted to run away, because I didn’t want to deal. I felt like it was the easier thing to do, and perhaps it was. But it was also the cowardly choice, that comes with losing some of the important things and people that I didn’t want to lose.
It was a choice between self-preservation, and vulnerability. It was a choice between safety and, well, love and growth.
The choice is obvious, but making the choice is damn hard.
But I want to be like John. I want to have the courage to stand by the foot of the cross, to endure the suffering and pain, because I believe that there is something better after this. I want to be the person who stays despite the brokenness because I believe love ultimately conquers all. I want to be like John, who chose to remain because he knew that suffering offered to Christ is not meaningless, and it leads to joy and victory. I want to stand at the foot of the cross with Mama Mary, and know that even as I suffer, I am still loved. So, so loved.
I want to learn how to remain.
Because just as John chose not to leave Jesus, his best friend, in the midst of His suffering, so will God – who knows us and has seen us from the very start and has loved and is still loving us right up to this second that I am writing this and you are reading this – remain with us in the midst of all ours.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:9-11