State of the Heart

Also known as: What is the state of my heart? Answering a question I wrote for today’s Didache reflection

I always find myself surprised whenever I see a reflection I wrote in Didache1 during my prayer time. I guess sometimes I forget all about it, so seeing something familiar, or my name at the bottom always takes me by surprise.

That happened yesterday. I chuckled as I read my reflection knowing full well why I wrote it. :) Here’s the full text:

FOLLOW YOUR HEART

“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts…” – Mark 7:21

It’s a popular saying: follow your heart. I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies that always had that same central message. Because, as they say, the heart knows where it’s going and it could lead you to where you really want to be.

For a long time, I believed that I shouldn’t trust my heart, because I couldn’t trust my desires. I always thought that whatever the heart wants was selfish — only for me, me, me and not for the greater good of other people. I didn’t believe in the saying “follow your heart” because I felt that whenever someone follows his or her heart alone, it would always lead into trouble. It would be something out of God’s will.

Right now I’m trying to unlearn that. In the past couple of years, I’ve learned that my deepest desires are the same desires that has God planted in me. These are the things He planted deep in my heart, the ones in line with His will.

And for me to know what these true God-given desires are, I’ve got to work to make my heart more like His.

REFLECTION:
What is the state of your heart?

Make my heart more like Yours, Lord.

I had to laugh when I saw the reflection question. I know why I wrote this exactly, but I found it funny that was the question I asked. What is the state of your heart? or, How’s your heart? is one of our favorite questions back when I was in YFC2. It’s a question that makes us stammer and falter to find the right answers that wouldn’t make us sound like a wuss, or at least someone very needy or desperate. In short, we all find ways to sum the answer up into two words: I’m okay.

Okay, maybe that’s just me. :P

So in the spirit of my reflection published in today’s Didache, here’s a brutally honest moment3. I will answer the question: What’s the state of my heart, right now?

Really and truly?

I’m trying. If there’s one word I can use to describe the state of my heart, it’s that word: TRYING.

It’s not that I’m not okay. I think I am okay now (in fact, at this very moment, I am kind of happy), but I know that that general feeling of happiness can change just as easily because of some things that could happen at work, at home, or what people say or do or do not do. Happiness is fleeting, really. If you want something that would last, strive for joy.

But talking about joy is in another post. My heart is always trying. Trying to be content. Trying to be joyful. Trying to be strong. Trying to want the right things. It’s different from struggling. Struggling is the more conflicted form of trying, when you know you want something but you also know that it may not be a wise idea. Struggling is something like this:

Struggling happens to me a lot, more often than I want to. Struggling is good for the heart, but I think it’s not healthy to be always struggling. You’d have to find some peace inside you at one point, when you make a choice, and then you go and try to be faithful to that decision.

But trying…trying is different. Trying is when you know that you will never be enough, but still you try anyway. It’s  wanting to be better, to do things right, to be loving even when it’s hard. Trying is when you attempt to reach something, and when you finally get it, you try to stay there or move forward.

My heart is in an almost constant state of trying. Trying to be content, to be joyful, to be generous, to be prayerful. Trying to be patient. Trying to be loving. Trying to be healthy. Trying to be after God’s own heart. Failing most of the time, but trying, anyway. I don’t think I will ever stop trying at least until I reach perfection, which I will only reach with Him.

This reminds me of my favorite quote from C.S. Lewis:

“We learn, on one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, we need not despair even in our worst for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.” (Mere Christianity)

You know what they say when you don’t succeed? Try, try again. That. My heart is doing that. :)

How about you? Have you stopped and asked yourself the same question? What is the state of your heart?

  1. A daily Catholic devotional from Kerygma Family — you can get it sent to your inbox everyday for free, just sign up at the website. Or better yet, buy a copy of Didache! []
  2. The Catholic community I grew up with []
  3. A term used to describe the way I blog before []

Questions

Also known as: How I am not a person who asks questions

I’d like to think I’m a pretty friendly person. I’d like to believe that it’s very easy for me to make friends (keeping friends is another issue for another post). I can manage pretty well in a crowd and go home with new people to talk to, as long as I keep my mind open and I am willing to meet and socialize with new people.

However, there are times when I know and prove that I am not as friendly as I thought I am. My talkative nature may fool you, but really, I think I kind of suck at making friends with some people, especially shy ones. Or people who I don’t share the same language with.

I think I figured out why that is so last weekend.

I don’t ask questions.

One of my closest high school friends admits herself to be quite shy, but I find that she has managed to keep most, if not all, of our high school friends. I kind of suck with keeping in touch, so putting me in the same room with my old high school batch mates without the ones I consider very close to me now and I’ll be uncomfortable, especially if they all have their own groups. My friend, on the other hand, can probably stay there and talk to them and go out with them again sometime after that.

Last weekend, we had “new blood” in our group, and while I find myself still able to talk to him,I wasn’t able to talk to him for a long time because I don’t know what to ask. I mean, I could probably dig up stuff to ask, but I feel like our conversation would probably be littered with awkward silences as I try my best to be accommodating and entertaining and all that.

It’s kind of a weird realization to know that despite my being talkative, I don’t really ask questions. I think it’s because I’m not confrontational. I don’t really ask stuff — I tend to digest things first before asking anything. Call it a defense mechanism, or maybe even masochism. Masochism in the sense that in school, I’d rather find things out for myself than ask. I’d exhaust all possible resources before getting the nerve to ask a question. I’m also not the one who will snap at a waiter or waitress in a restaurant if their service is crappy (except maybe if I’m in a really, really bad mood), and more often than not, I sound nice when I’m annoyed.

I think that carries over with my conversation skills. Sure, I have no problem talking, but it’s kind of hard for me to keep the questions going and going. I often get along with people who are almost as talkative as I am, or at least, someone who asks the questions and we both answer the questions. But for other people, I tend to falter. I am interested in knowing the other person, it’s just that I’m not in the habit of asking questions.

I guess this goes to show I’m not really a curious person? Or, in Nat Geo’s terms, I don’t live curious?

Well that’s something I should work on. Especially if I plan to attend World Youth Day this year — I’m going to need to be more curious, right?

Does this mean I’m going to have to pick up those conversation starter books? Or maybe I should just learn to pay better attention to other people?

Twenty Five

Also known as: Some thoughts after meeting college friends last night

Thanks to Ramie for the photo and to Rye for taking this :)

I met some of my college friends last night for dinner, swinging from mid shift to day just so I can meet up with them despite the fact that I ended my shift last Monday at one o’clock because of a call and got to sleep at 3:00am because of some family stuff. I was a walking zombie in the day that needed to be caffeinated twice. However, come afternoon, I was excited to see my college friends again, so despite the sluggishness, I headed for Shangrila.

A little backgrounder about my college friends. Normally, you’d have only one original block in college, the people who you will know first and probably graduate with if all of you are lucky. It was a slightly different case for me. I had an original block that lasted for two terms (my adventures and such with them may be written in another post). By third term, our block was dissolved, and then by sophomore year, we were all split into different specializations. I specialized in Instructional Systems Technology in college, and it was one of the smaller specializations in our college, with only one block. We were only 36 in our batch, and because of that, we were a pretty close bunch. They became my second college family.

Just a week ago,  our specialization had a New Year’s/Reunion party, where we saw most of the people in the batch as well as the other batches. Then our batch planned a little dinner where I use our newly-wed blockmate Ramie as an excuse to meet up. :P Only a few of us made it, last night, though, but nevertheless, it was still a fun night.

The funny thing about my college friends – especially my thesis mates Rye, Ramie and Micko – is how our conversations evolve throughout the years. I remember in college, we’d talk about school stuff, obviously. When we’re taking a break, we’d talk about mundane stuff. Soon after we graduated, we were having coffee one day and we started talking about taxes even if none of us were working yet. Now that we’re together again, what do we talk about? Growing up stuff. The average salary of someone our age. Following your dreams. The best online tax software.  Deciding what to do next. Do you really love what you’re doing? Will you give up your stability for something you’d love to do?

It was a very serious conversation, and enlightening, too. I’m not exactly in a crisis mode in my career, but I’ve been feeling the edges of…I don’t know, unrest? I still like my job, and I think my company is still taking care of me, but a part of me wonders if there’s more out there, you know?

Case in point: when my best friend got the opportunity to go to UK for an exchange program, I was very envious. I wanted the same opportunity, too. I wanted to try new things and do all those things that I know I wanted to do before I joined the corporate world. But a part of me is also thinking: will you be able to file a leave of absence for that long to pursue the same thing? Or will you actually have the courage to resign from your job, do that, and then see what happens after? Can I be at peace knowing that there’s no steady income coming in and there’s no assurance of a job when I go back?

I guess the real reason I am hesitant to do things like this (or even other things like study abroad or something similar) is because I’m used to having a steady income. I’m used to having my own money, used to affording what I want when I want it (as long as its reasonable). But what’s life with just that? I’m young — I should be able to do more stuff now before it’s too late, right? If I may borrow Stacie Orrico’s words: there’s got to be more to life!

I aired those concerns last night and I liked how our friend Kiran put it: everyone gets to this point, and at one point in your life, you’re going to have to decide. Then, she told me it usually happens when one reaches 25.

Me: Oh, no wonder.

Kiran: Are you twenty five?

Me: No, but I’m turning twenty five on March.

Kiran: Oh, you’ll get there soon.

So I guess the magical age is 25? I have two months and five days to go.

But I don’t really want to stress about that. I can feel it, but I don’t think it would do me good if I stress about it over and over again, you know? And like what Kiran said, these things just happen. And it will be okay.

A thought: this is probably one of the reasons why I’m far from settling down. :P

When Ramie dropped me at Eastwood after the dinner, he hugged me goodbye and said, “May this be the year of answered prayers for you.” He meant something else entirely (and trust me, that will be posted here someday soon) but as I was thinking about it on the way home, I realized that God has never failed to answer my prayers anyway. He always has. He always will. It may not be always the answer I wanted, but He has never failed to answer them.

But I like that. 2011: the year of answered prayers. Maybe I need to be more aware of how God answers my prayers? :)

So from the looks of it, 2011 will be THE year. The year of what, I’m not sure exactly. But I am looking forward to finding out.

First two items on the list: practice driving and start fixing papers for Schengen Visa for WYD. Yes siree, let’s get moving. :)