How To Know If He’s In Love With You

As a business graduate, there’s one rule I got out of my accounting classes that I continue to live by today: never assume unless otherwise stated. Being such a stickler for rules, I made sure to adhere to this one. Apparently, that one went down for better and for worse. I literally never assumed – even if my discernment already told me otherwise and even if I no longer needed discernment because the man’s intentions were already so blatantly obvious.

The good thing is that through the muddy process, I learned that more than holding on to that rule, it was even better to hold on to wisdom.

And it was wisdom that taught me when to confront and when to step back. It was wisdom that taught me when to put up walls and when it’s okay to keep them down.

I’ve noticed that females have this reputation for being assuming. I will in no way defend that because I have been so deliberate to not turn out like that, but I also want to say that to a degree, I get why most girls assume. We live in a world where muscles and ego have been given a premium over humility and where ladies are frequently treated like a commodity (cat-callers, anyone?). It shouldn’t come to us as a surprise that when someone acts like a gentleman, the receiving end can turn it into something more than it actually is. It has become difficult for us to believe that someone can actually take us home and feed us good food without requiring anything more than friendship in return. And since we have a culture that glorifies casual relationships and blurred lines, the difficulty in identifying when a gesture means something and when it doesn’t becomes even more intensified.

But beloved, none of these actually justify anything. I am here to tell you a simple truth: if a guy truly likes you, he wouldn’t lead you on. A guy who has it in his heart to serve you will let you know very clearly what he wants. Furthermore, he won’t just tell you or show you he likes you, he should then proceed to pursue a relationship with you.

I vividly recall writing a blog post on how relationships shouldn’t be tied down to a formula, because they truly shouldn’t be. There is no one formula. But when it comes to this part of the relationship, a man’s pursuit, there’s really no way around it: a man in love with you will love you.

Love does not dishonor you nor does he defraud you.

Love is not self-seeking. Love does not go beating around the bush because he might get rejected. Love lays itself on the line because he would rather get hurt now than hurt the beloved in the long run.

Love rejoices with the truth. Love is intentional, clear, and does not attempt to confuse.

Love always protects. Love guards your heart and does not force his way in. Love guards the eyes of others because he does not want to taint your reputation nor your testimony.

Love perseveres. Love pursues.

Love does not tell you he loves you just so he can get it off his chest, knowing that it might confuse you. Love does not show you he loves you if he’s not ready to back it up with clarity and commitment.

I’ve been in both the situations I just stated above. Men have told me they loved me just so I knew, without any intention to do anything about what they said they felt. Whether I was interested or whether I was not, it always ended up one way: me cutting the guy off for a season. Why?

Here’s the thing: if a guy really wants to be with you, then it wouldn’t have mattered if you lived halfway across the world, he would still commit himself to you. The fact that someone would tell you that he has feelings for you without any plan of action shows that he’s not ready to take responsibility for his emotions. As women, we can make as much excuses as we want regarding why he just can’t commit right now, but those are just mere facades to cover up the truth you don’t want to admit to yourself.

Don’t allow yourself to be kept on the hook. You wouldn’t want to spend your life waiting on a man who claims he loves you but has no guts to actually ask you out.

On the other hand, men have tried to “make paramdam” (drop hints) without actually giving clarity as to why they do what they do. Now please, make no mistake in this and don’t assume the guy is dropping hints about liking you when he’s actually just being nice to you.

But since you’re already on the fence about it, the best thing to do either way is to ignore. If you’re sure that a guy is trying to “damoves” and he’s not offering a shred of explanation, then ignore him and don’t give him the time of the day. Just stop entertaining him. If you think that a guy is trying to “damoves” but you’re not sure if he actually is, then ignore the thought and don’t give it the time of the day. Don’t dwell on it until he actually goes and says something to you. The last thing you want to do is taint a caring friendship that was offered to you in purity.

If this guy is a part of your spiritual community, it’s best if you get to talk to his leader or mentor about it just so he can be guided accordingly. You would want to serve him as a sister. I also highly encourage you to talk to your leader or mentor to give you another perspective because you wouldn’t want to cut off someone who has been nothing but an honest-to-goodness brother to you.

At the end of the day, you draw your line. Confront when you feel like it’s already necessary to. If he won’t be clear, then you be clear about where you stand – and make sure you both know it.

When It’s Hard to Let Go

“Why did you even let the relationship go on for as long as it did?”

I looked my friend right in the eye and refused to budge my line of questioning. Here was a man who fell in love with a lady he knew from the beginning wasn’t the one God had for him. He dove headfirst into the relationship, ignoring what he told me were frequent nudges from God telling him to let it go.

With a shrug, he met my gaze and said as frankly as he could, “I just gave in to my desires and before I knew it, I was in too deep.”

Just several weeks ago, I talked to a woman who knew she had to get out of a relationship and yet she couldn’t quite bring herself to. My heart broke for her because I knew exactly what it felt like to be in that position. Sure, this is a story I’ve heard from plenty of other people time and time again, but this is also a story I myself knew very well. I’m well acquainted with the turmoil that comes with knowing you need to let someone go and yet not wanting to.

I remember coming to the Lord and telling Him,

“I can handle breaking my heart over this. What I can’t handle is breaking his heart.”

The reply came immediately, quiet but certain.

“Would you rather break My heart then?”

So I chose to break his heart since what I truly can’t handle is breaking His heart. But while people at the time were highlighting the strength to obey as swiftly as I did, they didn’t see the plethora of emotions surrounding that decision nor did they witness the horrid mess that I was afterward.

The Lord had to deal with several fears in my heart, fears that may be hindering you from letting go of the person you know you’re supposed to as well:

1. Fear of hurting the other person

When you really care for someone, this fear supersedes your fear of hurting yourself. I know people who end up staying in a relationship for many months more simply because of this reason and while it may seem like a compassionate move, it always ends up hurting the other party even more in the end because he would have invested more time and emotion by then.

Let’s be completely honest here: there’s no way to break up with someone that will make him feel happy and fuzzy about it. It’s always going to hurt. So when you know it has to be done, just do it. You’re also robbing him of the opportunity of meeting the person you know is the one for him. This may be hard to stomach in the moment, but if your hesitations are really out of love for him, then you would want to serve him better by letting him go. It may be that the most loving thing you can do for him is to break up with him.

The world may have taught us that love means grasping on to something as tight as we can, but we have now found a love who would hold on to us. We can let it go.

2. “I won’t find someone like him again. I’ll never love anyone else the way I loved him.”

It sounds a tad melodramatic typed out like that, but this is a thought that is very common and very real. In actuality though, this is just an emotion that says it is the first time you’ve been this attached to a person. It doesn’t mean it will be the last nor does it mean you won’t find something deeper than that.

If I were being transparent, I would admit that it took me years to stop subconsciously comparing the men I meet with him. But eventually, I did. And I realized that I would never find someone like him because there is only one him and I don’t really want another him because there’s a reason the relationship didn’t work out in the first place. Now, I get to be found by Someone whom I love so much more.

3. Fear of being alone

The transition between talking to someone every single day to not talking at all is always very abrupt and it takes quite a while to get used to. The loneliness that hits afterward is understandable, but we don’t have to stay there.

The good thing is that more than having a good support system walk with you through it, the Lord doesn’t have qualms in proving that He is close to the broken-hearted. The intimacy I had with Him during that season of my life tasted much sweeter than the seasons before. In fact, sometimes I go back and revel in all the memories wherein He made sure that I never felt alone.

You may fear of losing the feeling of being loved but you are never not loved, not for a single second. And it is when you let that relationship go that you will experience a Love far greater than anything else you have ever known.

4. Fear of regret

Regret is such a tricky thing to deal with. See, there are two regrets that frequently arise from this kind of situation: regret of letting him go or regret of dating him in the first place.

There is always the could-haves and should-haves haunting us down and leaving us sleepless at nights. But reality is, things are as they are now. There is nothing we can do to change what we have done and the only way now is to move forward.

If you’ve made mistakes in the relationship before, then begin by doing what is right. If you’ve crossed physical lines, take action to be pure. If the relationship dishonors your parents, then make the decision to honor them. If there has been lies and deceit, then come clean.

God works for the good of those who love Him and we know that those who love Him follow His will. Trust that as you go with His plan for your life, God will be the One to work the story out into a testimony that brings Him glory.

Now, how do you know if the relationship is something that you should let go? I can’t quite give you a rundown of how to know. The truth is that you just know, but if I may kindly point out: the lack of peace in your heart should already be a tell-tale sign. Abuse, unhealthy patterns, and toxicity are also dead giveaways.

You may start to go on about making it work, and I am all about commitment, but here’s the thing: beloved, if the relationship is not of God, then it has already failed before it even got to begin. You don’t want to fight for something Jesus didn’t die for – and He died so you can have life to the full. Don’t be so consumed with holding on to what you think is good that you miss out on what God knows is best.

And when you do finally decide to let that person go, you need to stick with that decision. They do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and the first few months truly are the hardest. You would probably be tempted to go running back to him, but stop yourself. Surround yourself with people who will not let you to second-guess yourself. You missing him and thinking about him does not mean you need to be with him. It’s an indication of the past, not the future.

If he does go chasing you around and continues to contact you, then draw the line. Don’t feed off the attention he is showering you. Him missing you does not mean he is the one for you.

I say this with utmost care and concern. The longer you leave yourself out of God’s will, the more consequences there will be. Let’s be frank here. You may be happy with him and he may emotionally satisfy you temporarily, but to your core you know that something’s missing. You can try to convince yourself that everything’s great, but you know something’s not right. Your relationship with God most probably took a hit as well because you can barely face Him anymore, knowing what He will say.

Do you really want to spend more time stuck in that limbo? Paul reminds us to throw off everything that hinders and to run with perseverance. That means determination to push through even when it hurts and even if it feels like you’re crashing to the ground.

I cannot promise you that you won’t hit rock bottom, but if you do, know that He is right there with you – He is the Cornerstone after all. Rock bottom can even turn out to be the foundation on which you are rebuilt and remade.

The best thing to do is to lift it all up to God in prayer. And I don’t mean the “God-please-let-us-end-back-together-after-we-grow-separately” type of prayer. I mean the prayer that acknowledges His will; the prayer that asks for His will be done no matter what that may look like. It is when you consistently place yourself in a posture of surrender that the regret about the past and the anxiety about the future become pretty much non-existent.

You may want to stay within what is familiar and hesitate at the thought of an infinite amount of paths sprawling out in every direction; you may balk at the picture of a future without the one person you thought was sure to be there no matter what road you take. But my dear, when doubt keeps us safe where we are, faith brings us to the pinnacle of living.

Let your faith become really real during this season of your life. Faith without action is dead and letting go may be the action step you need to take. God promises that the future He has for us is full of hope and while all may seem bleak in the midst of the turmoil, we have to be certain of what we do not see. We may not be able to peer into the fullness of the future but we have the only Light we need.

Oh, and my story?

Well I lived to tell the tale.

Let’s Talk About Friendship

For the past few weeks, I’ve been pondering on why it’s so difficult to build true, soul relationships with other people. It’s difficult to start to begin with and eventually they become difficult to keep.

I’ve watched people come and go and I’ve watched friendships form and disintegrate. When I see this in my life and in the lives of the people around me, I can’t help but wonder why it has to be so hard. Why is there envy and strife even in friendships? Why do people gossip and take sides? Why can’t we all just love and support each other without turning it into a competition?

Is it even worth it to try anymore?

The Holy Spirit then started reminding me of certain memories.

Back in 2015, I was in Ilocos with my friends when the vacation turned into a battleground. I was prophesying over some and ended up being horrendously attacked by the enemy. When I was being beaten to the ground, the very friends I prayed for ended up being the ones covering for me.

When one of my friends confessed about being assaulted, in the midst of tears, pain and anger, we stood over her and bound everything that the enemy was bringing upon her. We ended the night singing songs of victory.

On one of our trips to Tagaytay, a birthday getaway turned into two straight nights of declaring healing over the lives of each other, bringing to light certain pains and hurts we have so long kept in the dark. Forgiveness was given and relationships were restored then and there.

Dozens of similar stories then started to pop in my head, because it was never just a one-time thing. This was something the fellowship lived and breathed and prayers were given without ever hesitating. These were friendships that went beyond shared hobbies and similar taste in music; these were friendships centered in Christ. We stood by each other through seasons and we fought for each other’s destinies and families.

When we said we had each other’s backs, we meant it life or death.

I see. That’s what makes it so difficult.

Because it was always powerful. Such relationships are powerful. It brings freedom and restoration and that is exactly why the enemy will do everything in his power to hinder and stop you from even wanting to try. He will have you turn on each other, get annoyed at one another, be too busy to even care. He will bring in doubt, impatience, slander, and anything else possible to break you apart. He will make you feel ignored, unwanted, dejected, and rejected so you keep your heart locked and safe, away from anyone who can make you feel the same again.

Look, it’s true that vulnerability is hard. It’s one thing to tell others how you are and it’s another to show your heart and open your life for them to see all the places you have yet to be holy. It’s absolutely frightening, especially for those that have experienced trusting others only to end up in betrayal and heartbreak.

And really, who hasn’t fought to open their heart up to someone only to find it pierced? Who hasn’t watched their friends turn into the mob and the jury, yelling accusations and demanding crucifixion?

Jesus Himself was betrayed by Judas after all.

But while the scars are bound to remind you to be careful next time, we are reminded that Jesus gained the scars in His hands while hanging naked on a cross – uncovered and unmasked.

Love doesn’t really get any more vulnerable than that.

And we were meant to live as Christ did after all.

“This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you.”
-John 15:12

It may be easier to hide your heart away, but we were never meant to live the easy way.

My relationship with my best friend Belle is probably the longest one I’ve managed to maintain that remains to be just as close, and when you view 7 years in comparison to those who have been BFFs since birth, it doesn’t really sound like it’s anything of a feat. But personally, the fact that it made 7 years even as we lived in different regions and now different nations is nothing short of a miracle.

We didn’t even really get along at the beginning. We just knew that God was calling us into the friendship. And I think that’s the only reason it lasted this long: because we fought for it. We have had the most horrible of fights and conflicts, but we also knew we had to fight against falling out. We understood that we were called into the commitment of covenant friendship and that we have to be deliberate about it.

And I thank God for all the friendships I’ve gained through the years after that were just a deliberate and just as true.

Community isn’t just suddenly found. Community is fought for and forged. We can’t keep on having superficial conversations and polite formalities. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of shallow “how are yous.” It may mean that no one gets hurt, but no one gets set free either.

Look, it’s very possible to be part of a group of friends and yet not really be intimate with each other. It’s actually rather common to find a routine that keeps everyone from getting to that point of being close because eventually, no one would want to break the status quo. Spending a lot of time together does not mean truly knowing each other.

This is why we have to dust off our fears and swallow our pride. It’s okay to be the first one to express the desire to want to go deeper. It’s better to be the one who tries.

And we have to open our eyes to the people around us who are also trying.

Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4 to bear with one another in love and to make every effort to maintain the unity in the Spirit. He wouldn’t have said that if it was easy. It will get messy – I can guarantee that. Such is what happens when imperfect people come together. But iron sharpens iron and it is only through such that our edges can smoothen out.

We are all works in progress. We are all going from glory to glory. And we are all here because of Christ and for Christ. That is enough to bind us together and to keep us holding on to each other.

We remember that the Bible reinforces that we need to not give up on each other; that we have to keep on forgiving and keep on giving.

And we’re going to – even if others don’t.

Because the truth is, we all want to be fully known. We all want to be fully loved.

And beloved, it’s impossible to be fully loved if you are not fully known. In the same way, be wiling to fully love and fully know.

It doesn’t have to be with everyone you know. In fact, it shouldn’t be. This is a step done not just in faith, but also in wisdom. Ask the Lord who He has called you to, know the people you could walk with, and then build from there.

It may just be the first step, but it will be worth it.

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…”
-Acts 4:32

When I Say I’m Praying for [him]

I say a prayer every time I think of you. Every. Single. Time.

I pray that you’re allowing what the Lord is doing in you during this season.

That you are completely yielded to the Holy Spirit and where He is leading you.

That you are fruitful and growing in wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

I pray for you.

I don’t pray about us.

I do tell the Lord about what I feel for you and openly express my desire to be with you, but I do not want to nag heaven with cries and petitions of what I want and how I want you.

Not that doing so is wrong, but then is it really right? Am I even truly praying for you if my intentions revolve around me?

I refuse to highlight what I want and how I feel, no matter how incredibly tempting it is for me to do so. The last thing I want is to make this journey of praying for you about me.

If I’m going to passionately bombard heaven with relentless prayers about you, I might as well make them into prayers that are actually, well, for you.

For your benefit and for your good and for His glory in your story.

Whether that story includes me or not begs to be seen, but that doesn’t change a thing.

I choose to pray not with palms clasped tight but with arms open wide.

More than anything else, I pray for His will to come to pass in every area of your life.

I pray to see His glory shine ever brighter in and through who you are and who He is making you to be.

I pray that you live a life of His best; even if that means it’s a life that does not include me.

I don’t pray that you’ll be mine. Just that you’d be His.

How to Pursue Your Boaz (Like Ruth Did!)

Is there anyone here not familiar with the story of Ruth? So often cited in Christian circles as justification why women can make the first move, we look at her story with profound interest. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and every time, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the way they were, in their own ways, rather scandalous.

Every year starting December 1, I re-visit the stories of the people part of Jesus’ ancestry and so once again dwelled on the story of Ruth. I thought of her as scandalous in the sense that she went and “made the first move”, which I figured was acceptable in their context and culture, but I came to see that things went much deeper than that.

The overarching theme of Ruth was Naomi’s bitterness turning into joy as she saw God redeem her and her family. Ruth’s story is that of an outsider being taken in and shown love and mercy. It’s much more of a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness than anything else.

Don’t we all want our love stories to look like that? Here’s how Ruth got it right.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
-Ruth 1:16-18

Upon closer inspection, we could see that Ruth was anything but the take-control, aggressive woman we made her out to be. All throughout her book, we could only see one thing she was determined about: going where Naomi would go. In fact, it was when she was eligible to get married to younger, richer men that she decided to leave everything behind and follow wherever the Lord, through Naomi, would lead her and call her to. She basically gave up her right to live her life the way she wanted to.

Forgive me for saying this, but we have become a culture so obsessed with self. Instead of looking at our singlehood as an opportunity to serve, we see it as a time to focus on self.

I’m not saying that self-development and discovery is wrong in any way, but while we’re busy bemoaning our relationship status, complaining about the lack of available men, and scrolling through social media sites, children out there are dying of starvation, women are being sold and prostituted, and families are broken apart by sickness and poverty. We are present at every singles get-together and retreat, yet we wouldn’t even sacrifice a couple of hours to be of service to other people.

And then we have Ruth, who laid all of her to serve the person entrusted to her.

She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” She gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.
–Ruth 2:7, 17-18

From the very beginning, her intention and her service was for her mother-in-law. Every decision that she made from the time her husband died was not to her own advantage. In fact, she basically shunned the thought of marriage and prioritized working and providing for Naomi. Her desire was not for herself. Naomi then had to be the one to convince her to get back in the game again.

And even then Ruth in her humility responded,

“All that you say I will do” (Ruth 3:5).

I think one thing a lot of us overlook is that when Ruth approached Boaz, she didn’t do so because he was the one she desired or because he paid attention to her. She did so because he was her kinsman and culturally, one of the few people who can redeem her family lineage and legacy. She did not do so out of her own volition, she did so out of submission.

Her act of going to Boaz did not speak “I like you Boaz so please marry me” as most of us would interpret it. What she was truly saying was, “In order to redeem the family name of Naomi, I am willing to be a living sacrifice and thus offer myself as your wife.”

Ladies, let’s be completely honest here. We all want to be in a relationship, but how many of us are ready to offer ourselves like that? And if we wouldn’t even let God refine our hearts to get to that point, then why bother magnifying your desire for a guy in the first place?

At one point or another, you have probably come across a Jim/Elisabeth Elliot quote, but I love this one certain line from a letter before they got married:

“Let not our longing slay our appetite for living.”

We’re all always longing for something. Love. Relationships. Family. Peace. Provision. Security. Health. Beauty. Purpose. We’re all longing – each and every one of us. Yet all of these must not in any way hinder us from living; from embracing and thriving where we are now, with what we have now.

I’ve talked to countless women who said they were praying to end up with a godly guy, only to find out 5 sentences later that they’re doing so in the throng of bars, speed-dating, and matchmaking sites. I’ve had single women older than me come up to me and ask me to write about how we live in a generation where men are afraid of commitment and pursuit, more so than any other generation before.

And I’m not going to deny the statistics. The trend goes far beyond the romance department. Working for the ministry, high on the list of our greatest, most pressing needs are male missionaries who would be willing to go places and spearhead certain pursuits. We have a huge pool of women volunteering themselves to go to the most dangerous of places because there is such a lack of men willing to rise up. (While I would love to discuss that in length, this isn’t quite the place or post to do so).

Either way, I believe that this does not at all hinder God’s stories for His children. Our frustration does not in any way give us the right to grab the pen from God’s hands and try to overwrite what He has already spoken. The fact that the cute office-mate you have is brave enough to pursue you does not change the fact that he’s not a follower of Christ. You being convinced that it’s your season to be in a relationship does not mean that you’re right.

If God wanted you married by now, then He would have found a way to bring a man into your life by now. It would certainly entail obedience from both sides, but He is more than capable of using the most unlikely of circumstances to, at the very least, get things moving. He managed to bring Eve to Adam when Adam didn’t even know someone like her existed after all.

The thing about the book of Ruth was that there was no angel visitation or apparent supernatural manifestation but her seemingly ordinary life was marked with divine orchestration – all started by her humble act of submission and catapulted by her obedience. Ruth did not just happen to end up in Boaz’s field, where he took notice of her, and it was no coincidence that he was her kinsman redeemer. It was all God, moving behind the scenes all along.

God writes the best stories, but only if you allow Him to hold the pen.

So if you really want to pattern out the way you approach your love life according to Ruth, then here’s how you can start:

Yield. Surrender. Obey.

Men, You Are God’s Gift to Women.

I’m not talking about the guy who arrogantly flaunts and flirts and personally tags himself as God’s gift to women.

(Hi. If that’s you, I’m telling you straight up: you’re probably not, actually. Sorry).

I’m talking about you who care so much about Biblical manhood that you’d invest time and money into learning how you can better serve others by being the best you could be. I’m talking to you who wouldn’t subscribe to the stereotypical basis of what a man looks like and would rather break the standards by following His standard.

I’ve told you before how much we needed more men like you, but have I ever mentioned how much we appreciated you?

When you lead and not dictate,
When you are tested yet stay committed,
When you graciously listen and communicate,
When you have vision and take action,
When you pray and obey,
When you take responsibility and not make excuses,
When you rise up and take initiative,
When you give and don’t require,
When you respect and don’t expect,
When you are passionate and compassionate,
When you affirm and correct,
When you protect and pursue,
When you fight for the wronged,
When you forgive what is wrong,

When you refuse to be passive and jump right in,
When you step back and choose to be patient,
When you go out of your way,
When you show up,
When you don’t leave,

You are God’s gift to women.

When your heart is in the right place,
When your eyes are fixed on His face,
When you seek Him always,

You are God’s gift to women.

Please, never, ever stop making an effort. Never, ever stop stepping into all that He has for you. Never, ever stop fighting for the calling He has placed upon you.

Even when it’s difficult, even when it’s tiring, even when it takes so much of you: keep at it. Never, ever stop using the gifts He has given you. Never, ever stop being the gift He has called you to become.

For when you humbly admit that you aren’t there yet, but you want to be,
When you deliberately take steps, no matter how slowly,

You already are God’s gift to women.

Thank you for all that you are,
And thank you for all that you will be.

I Want To Get Engaged Too

You guys, I’m not kidding.

Two men got down on one knee to propose to two of my friends last week and while I deeply rejoice with them, I can’t get out of my head the fact that life is quickly passing me by. It’s surreal to think that we went from talking about wedding plans to them actually already planning their weddings and here I am, still unengaged. The days have blended into each other, minutes and hours quickly whir past, and I’m left there standing, wondering, where did all the time go?

I don’t want to get left behind and so here I declare that even though I’m single, I will get engaged. I know, I know. Getting engaged is a commitment and it can be extremely difficult, but it’s something I want for my life.

I think it’s something you should desire too.

But first, I have to clarify. By engaged, I don’t mean someone putting a ring on my finger.

Engaged (adj.)
: to participate; to be fully involved in activity
: to be greatly committed and interested

Through all these years, I’ve tried. I force myself to pay attention and to fully be in a moment, but at the end of it, I revert back to my usual pacing – a little detached from reality. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m always charging full speed ahead. My brother points out to me that whenever God gives me a vision, I’d drop everything in the now and eagerly fixate on getting there, always one foot out the door. And that’s not bad, but maybe it’s not entirely good either.

Because how many of us can attest to the fact that God’s visions don’t immediately materialize in one night or one year or even one decade, for that matter?

You see, in attempts to live fully, I want to quickly get on to the next thing. I work and hurry thinking that I need to make up more time, that I’m making the most out of my time, but maybe all I’m doing is throw time away. Because it makes one ask, am I ever really present?

My friends and I would watch travel and adventure videos, and all we could think is: we want to be there, where they are, because here just seems so mediocre in comparison. There is adrenaline and exhilirating and here is… ordinary. However, I can’t help but wonder, what happens after all the rush goes away? They can’t exactly jump from a plane every day, can they? Then their there becomes our here and everything seems mundane again.

But is it really true? Does awe and wonder always have to be there, never here? In always aching to be there, am I ever really here?

Have I ever lived life fully and made the most out of every moment, moment-by-moment? Have you?

The clouds peeking through the buildings and billboards as the MRT speeds through, the extra time to undividedly speak with God when stuck in traffic, the friendly smile of your officemate as she walks past your area, the chocolate swirls that are your mother’s eyes, the iridescent colors of the sun appearing in the suds as you wash your dishes, the smell of flowers seeping through the whirl of the washing machine – it’s all there, but does anyone still notice?

It’s not as if I plan to do some rehabilitation and unplug from electronics. I’m not trying to say we all stop doing anything seemingly apart from nature. This is not a call to scale the Grand Canyon and to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Maybe what we lack is not more weekend getaways; maybe what we lack is a fresh perspective, a look through the eyes of wonder that see His hand in every detail.

I’m excited for the next season. I’m excited for all His promises to come to pass and I’m looking forward to experiencing Him in different ways.

But I also know that He’s just as here as He is there. His very name says it – I Am.  In the present is the presence of a very present God. 

I’m not there yet but I am here and I Am is here.

And I don’t have to wait until that special someone comes to get engaged with a person. Here, now, I can find a good number of people whose lives can fully intersect mine. Here, now, I can be truly, deeply aware of their lives and their situations. Here, now, I can stand with them in their battles and struggles.

Isn’t it time to stop knowing people through stalking their Facebook accounts and start knowing them by actually talking to them?

Don’t just behold life. Take part in life. Fully be where you are. Fully be, right where you are.

I don’t want to wake up one day and cry out, like Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I didn’t know it!”

For He is in air and space and time, and He is in the in betweens and the plot twists and the situations unwanted and the tough moments and the seeming delays. In Him, all things were created and in Him, all things hold together. His fullness is already here, not just there.

Grace is here. Joy is here. Glory is here. The full life is here, because God is here.

It’s that “yes” to God and the invitation to become His Bride. It’s that “yes” to life.

Here, now, we find the Perfect Lover whose love knows no end.

Doesn’t that make you want to get engaged too?

Bro, Don’t Me.

Based on a thousand true stories of malilinaw na malabong usapan, though not one of them mine. Rather, these are the collective thoughts of males and females alike who are close to me and have been in such circumstances before. 

Let’s make it clear before this gets too far. Like a puppet-master with a string, you have always known how to pull me to you. But today, I might have to cut the ties.

The Greek have said that emotion must warm reason, but reason must rule emotion. I confess, I can love you in spite of everything. I can give up my “rights” and what I “deserve.” However, I choose not to, not because I choose in selfishness but because I choose in wisdom. I apologize for not standing my ground sooner yet I will not apologize for this, now.

I refuse to allow you to keep waging active warfare against my heart.

Stop messaging me audaciously on Facebook if you can’t even face me properly in person. Stop flirting with my emotions if you can’t take responsibility. Stop strategizing and teasing, drawing me near the boundary lines, tempting me to compromise.

Stop making me forget my worth and who I am in Christ.

I am not a secret kept in the dark; I am to be loved in the light. I am not a trophy to be won; I am to be treasured like the jewel in your crown. I am not a toy to be played around with; I am to be treated as I am – created in the image of Maker, bought by the life of the Savior.

They say boys will be boys, but I refuse to accept that. I don’t want to forget your mantle and who God created you to be, too.

You are not a boy, weak and unsure; you are to be a man, ready to lead and take risks. You are not a slave to your emotions and desires; you are to be a warrior fighting for what is right and true. You are not a player; you are to be who you are – entrusted by the Maker to care for His creation, marked by the love of the Savior.

I will not take the easiest route with you, not if it means settling for less than the quality of relationship God might have for us. I don’t want to keep each other stuck like this. The stakes are simply too high. I deserve better. You deserve better. I refuse to rob you and your future wife of your time and affection, so please don’t rob me and my future husband of mine.

If you’re going to pursue me, then do so the way Christ would want you to pursue me.

Love me with clarity.

How would you feel if your sister is being treated the way you treat me?

Love me with purity.

Brother, a man who looks to Jesus would know how to treat a woman.

A woman’s insecurity is never an excuse for a man’s irresponsibility. And as you do your job, I promise I will do mine.

Man up. Please, don’t me.

Is It Really Wisest To Wait?

“It is wisest to wait.”

How many of us have heard this, have said this, time and time again?

Wait. Until you’ve saved enough money. Until the window of opportunity opens. Until you’re ready.

And I agree, I really do. However, though this may sound contradictory, I think this advice can be mistaken too.

Please don’t get me wrong. Of course, there are finances to be considered. Of course, timing is a huge deal. Of course, there are steps to be taken. But practical doesn’t always mean wise. The truth is, there are some things we just can never be “ready enough” for and it is possible to overstay a season far too long because we keep waiting until “everything falls into place.”

When I think of Mary, who was most probably around 14 years old the time she had Jesus, I can only think of how she was not ready, being unmarried and a virgin at that. Her wildest dreams could not have prepared her for that twist in her story, yet even as she felt troubled and as she questioned the situation, she took a step out in faith and accepted what was to happen next in her life. There is also Rahab, a prostitute who didn’t wait until she “cleaned up her act” to do God’s work and grabbed the opportunity to help a couple of Israelite spies as it came. David, who was only mentally prepared to go deliver food to his brothers when he decided to go where others dare not to, chose to make do with what he had and faced the giant with mere sling and stones – no sword nor armor.

These people didn’t wait to be brave. They didn’t wait until they had all their ducks in a row. They didn’t overthink the pros and cons and turn over every detail to get to the “wisest” strategy or game plan. They took what they had, here and now, and acted in faith.

You know, I always ask myself, “what is the wisest thing to do?”, and with hammered-in views on what wisdom is supposed to look like, that usually leads me down a path that is well thought out and safe. So “to balance things out”, one more thing I ponder on is, what is the faith-full thing to do? In this situation, at this time, what action will require the most faith from me?

. . . but should it really be wisdom vs faith?

Let me tell you something. After I graduated, I was mentally prepared and rather excited to move on to the next season. I was pumped up and ready to do whatever God would have asked of me.

He asked me to stay still and to wait.

At that time, given how it was the complete opposite of what I expected, it required the most faith from me. So I stilled and waited. Fast forward to almost two years later, when waiting had become my comfort zone, God asked me to step out and move. Even if it was still exactly about moving toward the next season, faith now required something different from me. So I took action. My mind and heart were again ready to fully plunge into what was coming. And then after a few weeks, God asked me to wait again when the “best” thing to have done is to jump the iron while it’s hot. He knew that at that moment, the way I was, it would take more faith for me to pause once I got going. (This tango, my friends, is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to be an all or nothing kind of girl 😅).

But if all that taught me anything, it’s this: maybe wisdom doesn’t mean being rational and faith doesn’t mean being irrational. Maybe wisdom means forgoing reasonable and faith means forgoing risky. Maybe wisdom means doing what is illogical, choosing what is unpredictable, and taking a chance on the uncertain while faith means doing what is logical, choosing what is predictable, and taking a chance on what you already know.

If that was hard for you to follow, let me put it this way: wisdom isn’t simply being practical or sensible. Faith isn’t about being illogical or unreasonable either. This life isn’t a game of wisdom vs faith. The wise act in faith and the faith-full act in wisdom. It takes more for the impulsive to slow down and plan the same way it takes more for the wary to take a dive headfirst into the uncharted, thus it goes the same both ways – choose what frightens you; choose what stretches you; choose what requires the most faith.

So, is it wisest to wait?

Not necessarily. But always,

It is wisest to act in faith.

. . . without faith, it is impossible to please God.
-Hebrews 11:6

Dear Student: What To Do When You Like Someone

Dear Student,

I have something to say first, because maybe you have heard from some people that you should not like someone. Maybe you’ve been told that you’re too young to develop such attraction. I’ve had a lot of voices like that in my life. I grew up feeling condemned and sinful whenever I had a crush on someone because there were those who told me that I shouldn’t be having any crush at all. Having a crush meant I wasn’t fixated enough on God. Liking someone meant I would be distracted from God. Admiring meant I would be sinning emotionally. (If you have never heard these statements before in your life, you can skip ahead to the numerated part of this post).

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand where they were coming from and I appreciate the heart behind it. However, experiences like those left me scarred, dubious, cynical, shamed, and above all else, legalistic.

I actually haven’t liked a guy romantically for two years now. Not because I try not to admire someone, but simply because I haven’t found someone who captured my attention. It’s funny that it was when I graduated university that I lost those kinds of emotions, but I guess this is just the season God is placing me in now. However, I certainly have had my fair share of crushes – all when I was a student. And for most of that time, I felt extremely dirty because I was no longer “emotionally pure.”

So let me tell you something that will get that weight off your chest: it’s okay to like someone. It’s okay that you admire him. It’s okay that you feel something for her. It’s okay. You don’t have to suppress it. You don’t have to downplay it. I know your emotions feel so real, so acting like it’s not would be messy. Trust me, I tried. I would attempt to minimize my emotions, then I’d act on them, then I’d pull back, then I’d show emotion again, then things would get incredibly messy. 

And so through all my years of trial and error, I want to share with you the best way to deal with these emotions at that stage in your life:

1. Be honest to God and yourself about how you feel.

The faster you become transparent about it, the better. Don’t worry, God’s not going to strike you with lightning and He can handle your emotions. Thank Him that you have someone to admire and care for so much, then surrender those feelings to Him – don’t let them lead the way. Take a step back and listen to what He says about it. Because while you cannot imagine your life with this person right now, he or she might not what God wants for you – even if said individual is too amazing or attractive or perfect. 

You have free will, but you wouldn’t want to make any rash decisions based on the fleeting and fickle knowing that it might rob you from His best. Not to belittle what you think you possibly feel, but truly loving is different from temporary liking. 

My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.
-John Piper

2. Be accountable.

Don’t go spreading it around like a 5th grader. Tell your leaders, people you trust and look up to, and listen to their counsel. Tell the ones you know would guard you and look out for you, not the “friends” who would spread the fact around like a joke and stir up your emotions inappropriately even more.

3. Guard your thoughts

I am so sure you’ve heard Proverbs 4:23 used to tell you to be careful about how you feel: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” But while there is a good point to that, contextually, that is not what this verse is saying. If you read the entire chapter, you will find that this is a father speaking to his son, telling him to keep wisdom in his heart and to make sure he guarded this wisdom. And so this I tell you as you venture on the adventures of the heart: don’t be legalistic, be wise. Guard your thoughts and keep them pure. It’s not wrong to think about that person every now and then and to continually admire, but it’s wrong if that’s all you ever think about. Don’t stalk his social media accounts 24/7. Don’t overthink every little detail; don’t meditate on every single word he or she says. Don’t fixate on the person; fixate on Jesus. As you submit your emotions to Him, ask for the grace to take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ. Let your thought life be that of all that is true, pure, noble, and praiseworthy. 

“Not to think of him was impossible. How to think of him was within her power.”
-Regarding Lady Helen’s affection for Wallace, The Scottish Chiefs

4. Watch your actions.

As your thoughts become captive to Christ, I hope your actions do too. Don’t be unnatural around him or her. Don’t take matters into your own hands, don’t grow impatient, and don’t take control. Don’t let attraction turn into manipulation. Don’t go under the guise of “group hangouts” or “study dates” with just the two (or three, if you add a thirdwheel) of you. Maybe it would be wise for you to talk or text less, even. If you’re friends, please don’t stop being friends but also don’t place yourself in positions that would stir you up even more. Let your fists relinquish control and with your heart wide open, hands off. 

5. Pray.

I have had students ask me if it’s okay to pray for a specific person they desire, and my answer is yes. There is really, really nothing wrong with that. God has always wanted us to be transparent about our desires, and to present this person before Him is as honest and vulnerable as it gets. It’s worse to stay within the line of praying “only for the qualities” while thinking of this someone, simply because you think that it would be wrong to ask God and thus you end up being completely untruthful to Him. Just be sure that when you pray, you are completely surrendering those emotions to Him. Be ready to submit to His will when He says no, and be ready to risk when the time comes and He says go. If you aren’t willing to adjust to the idea that God might say no and if prayers just make you obsess all the more then stop completely, because that is no longer love; that is idolatry.

6. Let Christ be your First Love.

Now don’t ask me if you’re allowed to enter into a relationship as a student, because honestly, I won’t say that you’re not allowed. That is not for me to dictate upon you. I don’t want you to follow a formula; I want you to follow Him. So check your heart, your thoughts, your intentions, your actions – is it still about God and what He wants for you or has it become about you and what you want? Be discerning, would a relationship cause you to compromise and sin? Would it distract you from your studies? Would it make you disobedient to your parents? If you answer yes, then take it from someone who entered a relationship when she was 12 years old (I was in 2nd year high school, mind you, and it was mostly out of rebellion): be careful about trading your destiny for something that is temporary. Because let’s be honest, teenage hormones can be immensely misleading. And I don’t think it really matters to God how cute you would be with this person if your relationship wouldn’t be of honor to Him.

“Everything is permissible” you say, but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). Your willingness to bend your values might mean that you’re only using that person to fill holes in your heart, and that is just setting yourself up for disaster. My dear, you may think you just have to be in a relationship now and all your friends may be in relationships already, but if you think of the fact that you’ll live up to probably 70 or 80, you’ll realize that there’s no need to rush. Know without a doubt that God makes everything beautiful in its time. 

“Our love for God becomes our scale to judge things: we do things and don’t do things because we love God.”
-David Bonifacio

The most important thing is you let your love and life (and lovelife 😂) flow from a place of deep adoration for God. Human love will fall short, and no one in this world can compare to the Lover of your soul. He is the only one who can fill your deepest needs and wants; He alone can satisfy your deepest longings.

And the only way to be sure that you are being wise about how you are handling your emotions is when you love Him most, when you allow yourself to be governed by His holy love. He is the standard of true love, and so let this be how we love– with a love that is patient and not self-seeking and protects; with a love that does not seek to be completed, but is already whole. 

Photo by Jah Sales