Pray Boldly

My 2016 word found me around mid-November, during our SFC cluster’s Christian Character Weekend retreat. It found me, unsurprisingly, after the talk about courage (hello there, old friend). I remember talking to a friend about this that weekend after I was done with Confession, and I told her that I had several variations of this in my head, but it seemed like the word demanded that it be a verb, not a noun or an adjective. And I figured that it might as well be, because action words require, well, action. 

It wasn’t until two weeks later, at our Sector Assembly, that one of the speakers said this:

And I was all: Well, thanks for the affirmation.

So my 2016 word is PRAY. 

The first time I picked a word in 2012, I admit that it didn’t feel as heavy and it didn’t really make me feel as committed to it. 2013 changed all that, obviously, as well as 2014. 2015 brought me to a slightly different and quieter ground. Having the word FAITH felt more like a display of God’s faithfulness in my life, as if He was saying, Look at what I am doing in your life, look at how much I love you.

So it seemed just right that my 2015 word would lead me to pray.

“What’s your next word?” This has become a usual question to me from other friends, and when I told them about PRAY, they asked, “What more can you learn about praying? Don’t you already pray everyday?

I do, I pray. But what do I pray for? What do I really know about praying? You grow in your relationship with God when you pray, but is my relationship with Him growing with every prayer I say? With every mass I attend, with every time I open my journal to write my prayers down? Or am I going through the actions?

Do I really understand what it means when I promise my prayers for people? Do I really know how it is to intercede, to knock on heaven’s doors for this world that sorely needs prayers? Do I really know what it means to ask for prayers from the saints, from Mama Mary?

When I pray, do I expect God’s answers? Do I approach His throne with humility? Am I confident that God will answer me, or do I shy away from praying for some things because I’m afraid of letting God know (which is kind of useless because He knows, anyway), and I’m afraid that He will not answer. Why am I so afraid to give God what’s inside my heart by asking for it?

So see, no, I don’t know much about praying. Even if I pray everyday.

So, PRAY. I’m not going to call this easy because the days leading to the New Year already showed me a struggle with my prayer time. Heh. But by God’s grace, I am looking forward to where this word – and all the prayers – will bring me in 2016. :)

Here’s to bold and brave prayers for 2016. :)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. – Philippians 4:6 (The Message)

Remain in My Love

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.

(more…)

Twenty Nine

I turned 29 today.

I was honestly too busy to start counting the days to my birthday in the past weeks. I stopped the countdown last year, and the days leading to my birthday this year was just filled with too many activities that I hardly thought of writing, or documenting anything, or counting, even. Before I knew it, it was the 16th of March, and I fell asleep before midnight and woke up – I’m already 29.

Every time I think of that – I’m turning 29, or now, I’m 29 – I get this freaked out feeling inside. I always thought that age was just a number (and it still is), and I never thought that I’d be the kind of person who’d stop counting at a certain age…but really, I’m sort of freaking out. I’m almost at the end of this decade of my life. I’m almost thirty. I mean, it’s still a year to go, but I’m twenty-freaking-nine. How did that happen?

When my friends asked me yesterday and today about my birthday wish, I was at a loss. I had…nothing, really. I got just a little bit worried. How can I not want something? But I don’t. I mean, yeah, there are some things that would be nice to have1 but it those nice-to-haves aren’t really deal breakers.

I am happy now. I mean, I was happy before, but now I don’t feel like asking for anything anymore. My 28th year was, as a friend described it, “…a year of surprises, of mending broken fences, of accomplishments.” It was a year of silence, of trying new things, of forgiveness, of transitions, embracing my crosses, and consecrations. It was an eventful year, and now it feels like all of those have finally settled down.

I’m actually content.

So what now?

Most of the readings for my birthday in the past year were exhortations about blessings, and running the race, and being filled to overflow. This year’s readings were just a little bit different. First, the Gospel was about the paralytic man who stayed by the river for 38 years, waiting for his chance to get in to be healed. Jesus came, saw him and talked to him, and healed him by saying:

“Stand up, take up your mat, and walk.” – John5:8

It felt like a marching order of sorts. My 28th (and 27th) year(s) were very eventful, and I felt like they were the years where so many things happened in my life, in work, and in my relationships. It was a crazy ride, so to speak, and now that they’re all over, I still find myself still looking back, and kind of revisiting and reliving some of them. Now don’t get me wrong – it’s okay to look back. But maybe…not so much. I think it’s time that I stop lying there, waiting for something, because really I have been forgiven and healed, and I have been so blessed, that it is time to pick up my mat, and walk.

Walk towards something new. Walk towards what God has in store for me. Walk into where He wants me to be.

I take it back. I actually have a birthday wish. This came from today’s first reading:

“Wherever it flows, life abounds.” – Ezekiel 47:9

I never paid attention to this one before. This was the kind of first reading that didn’t really make sense to me, and I never really appreciated it. Interestingly, I found that I had highlighted this passage early on, and reading it now, on my 29th birthday, this suddenly made more sense.

I want to be someone where life abounds.

I don’t know if I said it right. But in my 29th year, I want to be the kind of person who gives life. Not physically, as in giving birth, or you know, suddenly going into medicine so I could save lives. I mean it more in the spiritual, maybe emotional sense. I want to be someone who’s so full of life that sharing it is the only thing to do. I want to be the kind of person whose words and actions give life to other people. I want to be someone that God uses to bring life and light to everyone I meet.

Truth be told, this wish, and this “marching order” of sorts kind of makes me nervous, on top of me freaking out that I am one year closer to 30. But time and time again, as one of my best friends always reminds me: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. :)

So thank you, to everyone who made this day special despite me being at work and really not having plans. Thank you for the 28th year, and thank you to all the people who journeyed with me. I am grateful. ♥ I wish you love and joy, as always.

I leave you all with words from Pope Francis, one of my favorite messages during the Papal Visit last January:

Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Don’t be afraid of surprises. They shake the ground beneath our feet and make us insecure, but they move us forward in the right direction.

Here’s to 29. :)

  1. I will be honest here – a love life would be nice, haha. []