The Only Gift

A few days ago, my brother called me while I was at work and asked for my Christmas wish list. I opened my mouth to answer…

…then closed it again when I realized I had no idea what I wanted for Christmas.

Okay fine, I was just a bit too busy with work to really focus on those seemingly insignificant things. So I asked for time and tried to think of something, and I still came up short. I eventually managed to text him a few items I wanted later that day, but they weren’t things that I really, really want. In fact, some of them were just things I put there for the sake of having a wish list – nice to have, but not necessarily necessary.

It’s not that I didn’t know what I want, or that I didn’t want anything, really. I suppose we can count this as a sign of aging maturity,  as I haven’t made a wish list for my birthday or for Christmas ever since I turned 27. However, as I pondered on it further, I realized why I didn’t have a lot of things on my wish list this year.

It’s because God has granted most of them already.

Well, the ones that I asked for in all my prayers, anyway, which were the ones that I really, really, really wanted.

Direction.

And no, it’s not One Direction. ;) Early this year, I prayed for direction, because I felt like this year was the time to move, the time to do something new, especially with my career. My personal deadline was mid-2014, but God answered the prayer earlier, which led me to transition, which led me to one of the craziest adventures I’ve had this year.

I will write about it eventually, but let’s just say that this adventure led me to hold on tighter, to choose joy more, and to learn to be grateful. When I asked for direction, God really gave me that, and funny thing is that He kept me in the dark so I would learn to trust that He was leading me in the right path. In answering my prayer for direction, God made my faith stronger…and well, there’s a lot more to learn, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I got what I prayed for.

Open Doors.

This is connected to the prayer for direction, as I often prayed for doors to open when I asked God to lead me. But the more concrete thing with this is what had happened recently: I thought I lost one opportunity because I chose not to acknowledge it, so I let it go. I didn’t think it would come find me again, which I took as God telling me that that was one door opening for me again.

You know sometimes it still surprises me how swiftly God moves when the much-awaited perfect timing comes. Either that, or I just have these expectations that God’s timing is just slower, when really it’s on time.

But other than that semi-cryptic things I wrote up there (which I will write about eventually), there were many other doors that opened to me this year, in terms of travel, writing, and speaking. I realized a lot of things about myself, and what I really want to do in my life, and it’s both exciting and scary.

But I think that’s what open doors should really make us feel: excited and scared. But more excited because how can we be scared when we’ve got God on our side? :)

Forgiveness.

One of the things that I really prayed for this year is the grace of forgiveness – forgive others, forgive myself, and be forgiven. I ended 2013 with thoughts on this, and carried it over until 2014. I pondered, struggled, and worked on this in my heart, up until I had finally accepted that maybe there are some things that will really take time and that there are some things that I will probably never get, so I told myself that maybe what I wanted isn’t necessary anymore. Maybe I should just learn to live with what I was given, you know?

But you know what? It’s always when we surrender that God starts to move in ways that will always surprise us. It’s as if He’s just waiting for us to give Him the reins, and the moment we do, He moves like that, and we get the things we want in such an amazing package that we wouldn’t want it in any other way than He had given it to us.

And so forgiveness. Of all the gifts I received this year, this is the one I am most thankful for. So much of last year and early this year had me asking so many questions about what happened, had me feeling angry and sad at myself and at others because of the things I did and what they did and what I lost. I honestly didn’t think that reconciliation would be possible. But God had other things in mind, and He answered my prayer in the most perfect time, and I am just in awe and so grateful that He did.

It is a great grace to really experience forgiveness. How humbling it is to be able to give and receive it face to face. And as my friend said, truly, God works for the good of those who love Him. :)

All I want for Christmas

Looking back, this Christmas is now a lot more special because instead of asking for material things, I find myself just giving thanks over and over again. It feels like a huge bonus – not only did Jesus come down to be human, but He answered my prayers even if I didn’t deserve any of it. I believe He answered them for the same reason why He came down to be a child on this day: because He loves us.

And because of that, what else can I ask for? :)

Advent

This may be the first Christmas season where I can hardly feel the spirit. Normally, I would be up to my ears buying gifts, preparing for parties, and all that at this time…but this year, I’m not. I haven’t shopped for any gifts at all, I missed thre nights of Simbang Gabi, and inside I’m really just counting down to the holiday break, because gosh darn it, I really need this break.

It seems like in the past weeks, all I’ve been doing was waiting. Waiting for the weekend, waiting for the time I can go home, waiting for a meeting, waiting for an event, waiting for the holiday break, waiting for things to end. As if all those waiting wasn’t enough, now I’m waiting even some more to hear some feedback for some important things, which has kept me very, very antsy in the past days, so much that there has been a heavy feeling in my heart that I have been fighting off if I want to get things done.

I’m not really a stranger to waiting. Romantically, I have been waiting for a huge chunk of my life, and I am still waiting. I wait a lot in lines in banks, or tricycle terminals, and all that. I should be used to that, but whenever I am faced with a new kind of waiting, it seems like I do not know how wait again. I want things to happen my way, and I want them now. If not now, then as soon as possible.

I kind of hate that it has to happen now, when it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.

But then again, liturgically speaking, it’s not the Christmas season yet. We’re still smack in the middle of Advent. And Advent means a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus. Yes, it is joyful, but it is more of a joyful expectation, where the coming of our Savior is so close but at the same time, it feels so far.

And so we wait.

And wait.

And it’s so frustrating.

Sometimes I get so caught up with all my worries and I don’t sit still, and I worry so much. I lost count at how many times I repeated this to myself: Stop worrying. You already prayed for it, and God has heard you.

But like I said, sometimes I want some things so much, and I want them now.

Be patient, my good friend, previous manager, and sort-of mentor told me the other day when I talked to him about what was happening to me recently. I was thisclose to panicking, and I was feeling so pressured and so scared that I wouldn’t get what I want. But he calmed my fears and repeated:  Be firm, be nice, be humble, and be patient. It will all work out fine.

What did I write last year? With God, no waiting is ever wasted.

This may be God’s way of letting me understand what Advent really means, and to prepare me for Christmas in a whole new way.

And so I wait.

I ask for the grace to sit still, and for the courage to be patient. Jesus is on His way, and everything will work out fine. God has always been faithful, and He will be faithful, and I believe He has heard my prayer and He will only give me what is best.

So I wait.

Christmas Eve

I don’t know about you, but I always feel a certain kind of magic in the air the moment Christmas Eve rolls around. It may be because it’s the last morning that I have to wake up at a very early hour for Dawn Mass1, or because it’s a non-working holiday and I can finally (sort of) rest, or because I can finally open the presents waiting for me under the tree2. Or maybe, maybe it’s because Advent is all about waiting, and Christmas Eve somehow feels like it’s the end of all the waiting for this season. Christmas is tomorrow, friends!

But can you imagine this: what if it’s just Christmas Eve…forever?

I’d talk about Groundhog Day here, but since I haven’t watched that movie (Don’t hate me!), I’ll go for something a little more familiar to me. There’s this Sweet Valley Twins book with the same idea, where Jessica was stuck in Christmas Eve for several days because she was so self-absorbed and ruined everyone’s Christmas. The only way she can get out is if she makes it right on that day, and eventually, she did break that time loop, with a bigger heart for Christmas and everyone else around her.

How frustrating it must be, to keep on waking up on the same day, never reaching that day you have been waiting for.

Even more frustrating, is how sometimes we thought we did things right, but end up still stuck in some kind of Eve, never arriving to where we wanted to be.

Sometimes, it feels like life is like that. We wait for something for a long time, and then when you thought it’s already here, it turns out it’s not. And you end up having to wait some more. And more. Sometimes we want to give up on waiting, so we do things: we try to make it come earlier by celebrating earlier, we distract ourselves with other things that require less waiting. Sometimes, we pretend it doesn’t matter. Sometimes we get tired of the waiting that we just give up.

Sometimes, it feels like we’re stuck at the Eve and we would never get to the Day.

But the thing about Christmas, and Christmas Eve, is that we are assured of the promise that Christmas will arrive. That the Messiah will come. No, wait, scratch that — that the Messiah has come, and He is born, and that God is already with us. All the waiting, the anticipating, and the frustrations come to a halt when Christmas morning comes, because Jesus is born. The prophecy has come true. God’s promise is here.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

I think one of God’s reminders for us today is to trust in His faithfulness. It may seem like we are and we have been waiting forever, like we’re stuck in some sort of Eve all our lives. But remember Christmas. Remember that day when God came down to the world for us, and became one of us. We have been waiting for a long time, but we have a God who is true to His word, and with Him, our waiting is never wasted.

Image source
Image source

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Have a blessed and joyful Christmas, everyone!

  1. Misa de Gallo []
  2. At least, this year, I promised not to open any present until Christmas. It was kind of sad that I didn’t have any more presents to open last year when Christmas came, so now I’m working on my EQ. :P []