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.

Fight for Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23

This verse has been preached a thousand times in a thousand different ways. But such are the joys of the Bible being living and active – there’s always something new to get from it every time.

Allow me to tackle this today in a different way.

I have recently gone through a process with the Lord wherein He took me to different places in my memories – memories that I somehow managed to forget were there. At first, I was apprehensive and tried to run away. I wasn’t quite ready to face where I was being taken and wanted to protect myself from the hurt that I knew was coming.

The Lord then had to talk me through it. “I’m not trying to break your heart. I’m trying to bind up your broken heart.”

I was confused because I was at a perfectly good place. At least, I thought I was. The Holy Spirit then kindly made me understand that there were issues I buried from years ago that I thought were already dealt with but in fact still had roots, and it was time to deal with them before they come back up rearing their heads. I really didn’t quite think they were worth paying attention to because the blows I took were not as horrible as others have received. However, we all break differently and such comparison of brokenness doesn’t invalidate the trauma.

There started a process that was painful, to say the least, but was also enlightening. You see, I thought I was protecting my heart by putting up walls and keeping it safe, but the truth is I was actually killing it.

We’ve taught ourselves to not talk about things of the past; to not think about things that hurt. We say what’s done is done, but does that really make it over?

There is constant talk about how the love of the Lord is like a soothing balm over our injuries and yes, that’s true. However, His love is also like disinfectant fiery over our wounds because His hands need to take the bullet out and stitch up the holes.

It hurts, but it’s necessary if we want to live.

If we want to really protect our hearts, then we have to stare all the painful memories right in the face and not look at away. We have to go back to those moments and bring the Lord with us.

It gets scary because we do have questions and regrets. “Why did I do that, how could I have been so stupid?” “Why did the Lord allow that to happen to me?” “Why is life unfair?”

And so it’s important to hold the Holy Spirit’s hand through all of it; we need to be aware of what He is saying about all the things we went through. We also need to be reminded of the fact that the enemy comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He is actively working day in and day out to snuff out your hope and your spirit.

It might sound threatening but reality is, he’s threatened of you. He’s scared of all the things that you could become and is terrified of you reflecting all of God’s goodness and glory. Therefore, he has set up a thousand situations to take you out and has placed a million lies in your head, telling you you’re not good enough, that you’re unwanted and a burden, that it’s all your fault and that it happened because you had it coming anyway.

But one quick look at the Bible will tell you that even before the Lord formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew you. While you were still a sinner, He died for you. And His heart is to bless you, heal you, and give you life that is lived to the full.

You’ve probably heard of conspiracies regarding the Illuminati and that they make agreements with the devil so they can have the life that they want. Making such transactions with Satan is not the only way to have an agreement with him. Each and every time you agree with his lies towards you and even towards others, you are entering into an agreement with him.

We have to cut ties with those lies. This is not just about having low esteem. This is spiritual assault at its finest and this is why we have been implored to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

Notice the term “take captive.” It’s a term that belongs to the vocabulary of soldiers and the military. This is because we are in a fight and we have to understand that trying to ignore the battle or deny the war does not mean we will be spared from it.

One of the common translations for one of the names of God “Jehovah Sabaoth” is “The Lord of Hosts.” The literal translation for this name is “The Lord of Angel Armies” and I like that a lot better. The Lord has been constantly accused of being a bystander, but He has been anything but. In fact, He has always been the frontliner, going forward as the sacrifice for the rest of the people.

We look at all the defeating blows humanity has received and point fingers because we have bought into the idea that we don’t have to fight because we have Jesus, but that is heresy and just another lie the enemy has managed to infiltrate in our culture. It’s like someone from the Navy saying, “I don’t need to fight, the Commander will do all of the fighting.” We have been called to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) and to take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We have to realize that we have been slated into this war and were never meant to play civilians; we were meant to be warriors.

A verse that I commonly hear being quoted completely on its own is Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” as Moses told the people of Israel. What people fail to pay attention to is the context of the verse, because in the next verse, the Lord told Moses “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

You have a part to play. You have to keep moving forward. Don’t allow the enemy to belittle the things that the Lord has placed in your heart. Remember that Satan does not want you stepping into all that the Lord created you to be and will do anything to prevent that. He will try to break you down, discourage you, meet you with failure and dishearten you.

Wonder, love, grace, joy – the world wants to take it all away from you. Hell will fight you over what heaven has called you.

There will be doubts. You may be fronted with shame and judgment. Satan may even use people to mock you and look down on you, but don’t lose heart. Think of Joseph’s brothers and how they were so threatened of Joseph that they plotted to kill him. If you’re in that situation, know that it only cements the fact that there is a good future waiting for you and that if you push through, there is glory to come.

“So, it becomes the devils business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes. He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage, we will never be able to claim our rightful spiritual heritage. He knows also that while we continue bound in this kind of enslavement we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.
We must face up to the issues and attitudes and doubts which constitute our fears, that keep us from being happy and victorious Christians with the true liberty of the children of God. We seem to quake about many things. In the first place, are you still afraid of your past sins? God knows that sin is a terrible thing?and the devil knows it, too. So he follows us around and as long as we will permit it, he will taunt us about our past sins.”
-A. W. Tozer

This also helps us be sensitive to the fact that everyone has their own battles. So be kind, be gracious, and love one another as Christ has loved you. Stand together in prayer and hold the ropes for each other. The Lord knows we all need it.

Don’t be afraid to bring to light all that you’ve hidden in the shadows. Don’t put your heart under a shade and hide it away. Don’t buy into the lies of false humility and shame.

Allow everything in your heart to shine and break through. If we truly want to protect our hearts, then we fight to keep them the way the Lord designed them to be – loving, selfless, brave, and free.

“As for myself, I have learned to talk back to him on this score. I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible-but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good -forgiveness and cleansing and blessing- everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!” Everything that is bad and that is against me I got from the devil -so why should he have the effrontery and the brass to argue with me about it? Yet he will do it because he is the devil, and he is committed to keeping God’s children shut up in a little cage, their wings clipped so that they can never fly!”
-A. W. Tozer

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.

The 2018 New Year Post

Prayer and fasting week just ended yesterday and I was pondering on how God answered all my prayers from the previous year – and how, in a sense, He didn’t.

My ultimate prayer has always been that His will be done in my life, followed by bullet points of specific wants and requests that I have. All bullet points for 2017 were answered, some with a yes, some with a no, some with a few modifications in between. But one thing’s for sure, His will prevailed and with that, I couldn’t really ask for more.

I think everyone who reads this blog knows how I always thought I would have been married by the time I’m 21. Not that I prayed for it last year, but hey. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got the job I never knew I wanted, am living alone for the first time in my life and discovering more of what I actually want to do.

And I have just one thought: I’m really, really glad I didn’t get married at 21.

(I’m pretty sure my parents are too).

How gracious is He, to withhold the things we think we want so we can have the things we would truly want in the end. I’m glad I didn’t get everything I ever asked for, because then He gets to give me so much more.

So sure, I have my list this year. In fact, I was specific and very particular about my requests, and I have faith that they would come to pass.

But if they don’t, I have faith that He will give what’s better.

For our faith is anchored on Him, whose kindness and goodness is immeasurable. Our hope is in Him who knows and has the best for us.

I’ve seen Him put to death my greatest dreams and I’ve seen Him resurrect them in ways I never dared imagine. He can do it again as much as He wants to. I can die to myself, over and over and over, because then I get to experience Him breathing life in me again.

I have completely no clue what’s going to happen this year, but I know that someday when I look back, I’m going to be glad things were the way they were. For this we know: God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

In His will, there’s absolutely nothing to fear. The anxiety of uncertainty may try to come at you, but God’s already got you. You can surrender, you can let go, you can trust.

We can lose our control as long as we know that God has it all under control.

I am fully convinced that God wants the best for us more than we could ever want it for ourselves. If that’s the case, then how can it ever not turn out okay?

So, 2018, are you ready for what God’s going to do? I know I am.

Limang Maikling Tula Para sa Kanya

Disclaimer: I wrote this as a creative challenge to myself more than anything. 
(Putting that disclaimer up for my dad more than anything 😂).

Isa, dalawa, tatlo, apat, lima
Binibilang ang araw hanggang tayo’y muling magkita
Isa, dalawa, tatlo, apat, lima
Binibilang ang beses na sinabi sa puso, tama na

Isa
Alam mo bang ako’y nabighani sa iyong mga mata?
Alam mo bang ang ngiti mo’y nakaukit sa aking gunita?
Alam mo bang ang bawat galaw, bawat sulyap, aking itinatala?

Isa
Isang beses ko palang ito nagawa, nadama

Dalawa
‘Di makahinga, ‘di makaimik
Idinadaan na lamang sa nakaw na tingin
Sa loob-loob, nanalangin
Na balang araw, ika’y maging akin

Tatlo
Ang kathang isip lamang, pwede ba maging katotohanan?
Araw-araw nagdadasal sa Diyos na Siya’y gumawa ng paraan
Ngunit kung sabihin Niya na kailangan kang bitawan
Ako’y handang magparaya, magpalaya,
Lumisan

Apat
Sapagkat ayaw kong pilitin ang tadhana
Hihintayin na lamang ang nakatakda

Lima
Nangangamba, ngunit nagbabakasali
Gusto kita
Gustong gusto kita
Pero Diyos parin ang natatangi

Break.

"It's okay. Break. It's okay to break. It's okay to be broken."

How many times do we have to tell ourselves that our brokenness is forgivable?

This, this is one of the greatest things He has taught me. That we can be undone, and it's completely okay.

Some pain could be self-inflicted. Some pain could be world-induced. Some pain could be completely out of your hands. But none of those actually changes anything.

Pain and brokenness will either demand to be felt or they will demand that we feel nothing at all.

So feel. Beloved, allow yourself to be broken. Maybe you've been holding it together for the longest time. But you don't have to, not in front of Him. Let the tears come. You don't need to be afraid of what is broken, what could be broken, what will be broken. Not when He is not afraid of broken things; not when He is redeeming and restoring everything.

Let His love re-define you and the meaning of your brokenness. Let Him love you in your most disappointed, hurt, confused places. He wants to. Rock bottom becomes your stepping stone if you decide to walk it through.

I remember this song by Leonard Cohen that says, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.

Let the love get in. But you have to break first, fully.

Then let all the broken, seemingly scattered pieces fall into place. Let Him put your pieces back into place.You can press your scars against His nail pierced hands and know that this, this is Someone who is not afraid of broken, this is Someone who understands pain.

You may think that you can't afford to feel because you have to be a leader first. You have to be a parent first. You have to be a sibling first. You have to be responsible first. But it costs so much more to forget that before all of that, you were God's child first. And He wants you to be super real with Him. He isn't surprised by how low you could go. You'd be surprised by how His love can chase you down there, even deeper.

Didn't you know that your broken heart breaks His? Didn't you know that you refusing to break open your heart breaks His?

And the Father has His arms outstretched, Christ comes to us showing the scars in His hands, the Spirit whispers inside us, "it's safe here."

Why do we need to fear being messy when it's never more than what our God can handle?

Break. At His feet. Before His throne. Offer your brokenness. Then watch Him fight for you. Hear Him speak grace and truth to you. Listen to Him tell you, "go in peace" (Luke 7:36-50).

You may be busted, but you are beloved.
You may be guilty, but you are not condemned.
You may be broken, but you are chosen.

So rather than pushing people away because "you don't understand my pain and you have no idea what I've been through", why don't we let them push through our hearts and maybe then we'll see them pull through for us?

It's fascinating to me, how the bread we eat and the juice we drink during communion represents so much more than we think they do. Wheat and grain have to be crushed in order to make the bread we commune with. Grapes had to be squeezed and pounded in order for us to have the juice that we drink. All the sweetness, the oneness, coming from broken.

We share this together – all this broken, together.

And all this pain and suffering, they all do things to us. They make us defensive. Bitter. Mean. Because, as they say, hurt people hurt people.

But everyone's hurt. In ways we will never know and in ways we won't fully understand, everyone is hurt, has been hurt, and will be hurt. And if we don't start responding in love in the face of pain, if we keep putting up walls rather than allowing the cracks, if we don't start reaching out instead of slapping away, if we'd rather make people break than be broken together, then the cycle will keep going on.

Hurt people hurt people.

Someone, somewhere, has to be brave enough, humble enough, to break the cycle by being broken.

Let that someone be you.

The truth is, there will always be someone who has something bad to say about you, something bad to do to you. Love anyway. The moment we feel most appalled, most disappointed, most repelled is the moment we need to love anyway the most. The heart that repels us the most is the heart we need to love the most.

Because we all need love when we feel we least deserve it – and that's exactly how God loves us anyway.

It's two-way, a cycle, this circle of love and life and pain.

Rather than comparing and criticizing who has the right to be broken because "I've been through worse but I turned out better", why don't we break our self-righteous pulpits instead?

Do you really have to give someone a piece of your mind when they need a piece of your heart? What if that person is not necessarily being difficult, it's just that she's having difficulty? Because we know it gets harder before it ever gets easier, and people need someone to help them through and tell them that it will get better if they don't give up when it's hardest.

Beloved, we will be known for our fruits, not our judgments.

So the ground has to be broken to produce crop and the seed has to break open to produce wheat and the wheat has to be broken to produce bread.

And Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).

We break ourselves open and we die to ourselves.

And then He puts us back together, the way we were always supposed to be. He binds us all broken people together.

Because, if anything, seeing how deep our brokenness makes us realize how deep His love is. And I deeply believe that what the enemy meant for evil, God will turn into good. I deeply believe that He can turn your bad broken into good broken. I deeply believe that no darkness nor evil nor spirits nor anxiety nor fear can keep you from His love and peace. When we are wounded by the world, we can find shelter in His Word.

And then we will know, truly, Christ was broken so we don't have to be.Our undoing will be our remaking.

The origin of the word suffer means "to bear under." To suffer means to bear under what we cannot control. Which is why we would rather avoid suffering at all. But we can bear under that which is beyond our control because we know that above all is the One who is in control. Whatever has been and whatever will be, we are being held securely in the hands of Him who is the Prince of Peace. We are held in the arms of the One who holds all things together.

Whatever we are wrapped up in, He sets us free.
Whatever we are accused of, He has taken the condemnation.
Whatever we lack, He will provide.
Whatever we have failed, He will redeem.
Whatever battle we face, He has declared victory.

For where we are weak, He is strong.

We imagine needing to go through things on our own, but in the darkness, in the valley of death, He is there with us. There's no season that we have been in, no season we are in, and no season we could be in that He will not go through with us. In the desert, in the valley, in the fire, He is right there with us. When everything is up in flames around us, He is right there with us in the middle of our burn.

It's not up to us to overcome our brokenness. We don't have to be okay before going to Christ. Rather, it is Christ who will have us overcome our brokenness and who will make us okay – even when things don't seem okay.

And now we who are broken, scarred, limping, we can be brokers of healing because we know where the wounds run. We know that compassion can heal what condemnation could not. We know that God will use all things for our good and His glory – from testing to testimony.

Taking it from apostle Paul, whose daily involved being stoned, flogged, persecuted, and imprisoned: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

He can say that because amidst everything, here is his mindset: I am not a victim. And you are not a victim. Beloved, we should stop acting and thinking and living from a place of victim. And I do get that – that it will take time before we get out of that slave, victim mentality. But we'll let His love lead us through.

We confront our brokenness and own our beloved-ness.

For everything, everything, everything will work together for our good and His glory – even if we don't see it just yet. There will be stories to tell on the other side because we were never meant to wallow in our pain, we were meant to overcome.

He puts all our broken pieces together to form His body and we find His marks on each other. Let it sink, balm through the cracks: Christ is in you. You have the hope of glory in you.

And if we trace every scar, we can find there written along the lines:

Wounds run deep, but His love will always run deeper; the world will fight you and your own self will contradict you, but He has won the war – this Scarred, Victorious Savior.

And His triumph is counted as yours.

Dear Mr. Right: I Can’t Love You That Way Anymore

Dear Mr. Right,

Just a heads up: this might not make you feel butterflies or see hearts.

I’m assuming you’ve read the thousand of books and posts out there on the qualities “God’s Perfect Choice” should have. Of course you have, you’re a godly man. The truth is, I have always wanted you to be the epitome of what everyone would call “The One”. You know how some people say that from the very first time you lay your eyes on that one person, you just know? Well, I have a type. And this entire time, I have waited for that leap of recognition when I look at faces that pass this physical standard. I have held a list up to every guy who dares to get close to me, trying to see how many qualities on my list he lives up to, trying to rate and trying to see if he is you.

But maybe it won’t be that way for us. Maybe you look nothing like how I want you to. And so let me look for you not through the lens of this world and its superficial standards. Let me recognize you through your bubbling laughter and sparkling eyes, through your kind soul and compassionate smile. Let me see not how many barbells you lift at the gym, but how you arms are outstretched to those in need. Let me see not the brand of shoes you wear, but how your feet are willing to go wherever the Lord says so. Let me hear not how deep and melodic your voice is, but how you speak life, grace, and truth. Let me notice not how high you hold your head up, but how low you kneel before His Throne.

One of the main reasons I will love you so much is because you look like Christ. 

Yet amidst all these expectations and requirements, I realized that while having standards is most certainly not wrong, I was teaching myself to only love good people. I was conditioning myself to love you conditionally, and that the moment you start messing up, I can no longer consider you as God’s best. And I can’t love you that way anymore. I’m done claiming to be ready to love you when it’s actually on the basis of my preferences and comforts and pretensions. 

How can I expect you to never make a mistake when I constantly make mistakes too? How can I expect you to be forgiving and understanding of my issues when I refuse to even give any guy the time of the day because he has struggles? How can I say that I love you when it has become all about my standards and my happiness? 

I sincerely apologize for having diminished your worth to a formula; for thinking that your value is rooted in how convenient it would be to love you. I don’t want you to be a checklist I get to tick off. I want you to be real.

So know that I will also love you in the moments that you fall short.

I never want you to feel as if I would judge you just because you lost control over your anger or had a murky past. I never want you to think that you have to be the poster boy for Prince Charming to gain my affection. All I expect of you is that you love God above everything and anything else; I expect you to revere Him and adore Him and live out your life in light of who He is.

Still even then, I know there will still be mess-ups. You’re going to make mistakes and so am I. We’re going to hurt and we’re going to fight because fairy tales and chick flicks are just that – fiction. But what we have is better. What we have is not a story of pretend written by human hands, we have one written by the Author of the Universe – full of plot twists and conflicts for we are to be refined all through out this journey called life. I doubt that it’s going to be easy, walking on this path together, but there will be no balking the moment things get tough and there will be no running away. There will be love, there will be understanding, and there will be repentance and forgiveness.

See, I don’t want us to be like couples who claim to have missed out on “The One” and that they married the wrong person. My love, to me, you don’t become “The One” when you have fulfilled my preferences; you become The One the moment we say, “I do” – that’s why the path to you must be filled with reason and guidance. You remain to be The One even when you fail and even when times get rough. And though you will change through the years, that wouldn’t change a thing because I know that I would have married a person, dynamic and changing, not a list.

To be honest, I’m writing this more for my sake than yours. I have always been obsessed with getting things right, but I am done having criteria that are selfish and are driven by my individual desires. I’m doing this to remind myself that The One I’m waiting for is also a human being – and I wouldn’t have him any other way.

And so tell me, tell me about the universe hidden inside of you, show me the darkness, and let me point out all the stars I see. Let me commit to you not with knowledge of my ideals, but with knowledge of your faults and your weaknesses. Let me love you not only because, let me love you in spite of.

For while the process of choosing you would mean the need for wisdom on the basis of clear thinking, being in a relationship with you would be driven by wisdom on the basis of God’s unconditional love. And so when I dive into this adventure with you, it means witnessing both wonders and horrors; it means embracing the beauty of mystery and uncertainty.

When I love you, I love you completely – past, present, and future; mess and all. When I choose you, I don’t choose by formula, I choose by faith.

And it is with faith that is neither blind nor naïve, with eyes fixed on The One who first loved, that we’ll get this right.

I Give Up.

I give up.

There, I said it. I just can’t do it anymore.

I’ve never really talked about it on this blog and I only shared about it to very few friends, but let’s get it out in the open now.

I graduated from university almost two years ago with the idea that I’ll pursue either pursue world missions, further studies, or work straight after traveling for a bit. Slowly getting my options in a row, my e-mail was full of messages from Stanford MBA Admissions and London Business School, with job-interviews for Rockwell and Ayala lined up.

And so I still recall sobbing on the phone outside Apartment 1B a day after I got back from Taiwan, my brother beside me as the news that I had to put a hold on all those plans because God had other plans hit me out of nowhere. The only consolation I got that night was Wes ordering all the dessert from the menu to comfort me and Janna standing out of a balcony with me as the Ayala lights flickered away from across the street.

Not that I’m sitting outside a restaurant right now bawling as strangers did their best not to stare at me, but I find myself in the same internal setting once again: bewildered, a little lost, plans in a disarray as I turned down yet another job interview earlier this week because God told me that I can’t do so until He says go. I honestly can no longer count the number of times I’ve had to say no because He said so, and it’s been wearing me thin.

Don’t get me wrong. As much as I’ve been jobless and living in the province, the past year has been the most wonderful year of my life as it has been full of surprises, adventures, and so much of Him. 2015 made sense.

2016, so far, not so much.

You see, He told me beginning of this year to sit back and watch everything unfold because this year will be far better than 2015. But all I could see unraveling is my heart; the frustrations and doubts buried beneath layers of “God, it’s okay”, “I trust You”, “I surrender to Your will” coming out.

The first quarter of the year is almost through and let me tell you, nothing quite spectacular has happened so far. And so when He whispered a date to me twice earlier this month, I held fast to it.

“March 19.”

I counted down the days in fear and anticipation. But March 19, 2016 came and went without anything significant happening, and I felt my fears being justified. That is, until He told me again.

“March 19. Ask Me why.”

Those three extra words, and my head fell in shame. Out of my desire, I assumed instead of clarified. And when I clarified, I found out we were talking about two completely different things.

He asked me to check out my journal entry from March 19 of last year. I was baffled because I knew full well that there wasn’t anything special going on this time last year. But I wasn’t going to make the mistake of pushing what I wanted, so I did.

I approached my bookshelf praying dearly to God that I didn’t mishear Him on this one, and upon scanning my entry on March 19 of 2015, I knew I hadn’t.

Staring right back at me were words I have spoken in the past, words that resonate in me in the present.

“Teach me how to wait on You. I want things to come to pass as I like, but I know You have something better planned. It’s only March 19, and I know You have so much more in store. I will not go ahead of You. Teach me to enjoy the anticipation. As much as I want to pull off the blindfolds and see where I’m headed, I trust You. It’s hard. Some days, I feel like I’m just being stupid. But I know no word from You will ever fail. I wait for Your work and story to unravel.”

The stark contrast between my perspective last year and this year humbled me. I have allowed impatience and discontent to get the best of me. I have wanted to take control of circumstances as I have before.

He so perfectly knew that the best person to remind me of how I gave up before was me from a year ago. He perfectly orchestrated this meeting of past and present. And I know He will perfectly weave the past, the present, and the future.

That’s why, yet again, I give up.

I give up trying to predict You. I give up trying to chart the future and mapping out in my head all the things that were to come my way. I give up fixing my eyes on what is seen.

Rather, I fix my eyes on the One who sees the unseen; the One who already knows the journey, the climax, and the end of my story; the One who, as we speak, is working behind-the-scenes.

I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I know whom I’m waiting on.

For if there is one thing I’m not giving up on, it’s this: that He is.

My dear, no matter where you’re at, know that He is. He is faithful. He is sovereign. He is trustworthy.

It’s okay to give up to someone like that. And when you do, He will give back. Indeed, it might not look like anything you’ve expected, but it just might be beyond your wildest dreams.

“For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”
-Isaiah 64:3-4

Dear Reader: Stop Copying My Convictions

Hello, my dearest reader.

I mean this in the kindest way possible. As you read through this, don’t hear my voice in your head as someone mad or annoyed. Hear the sincerity and the heartfelt concern.

As much as I am immensely grateful that you hold my convictions admirable enough to imitate, I must say this: please know why you’re doing it. If you do it because you understood my point of view and God convicted your heart, then by all means do so. But if you’re doing it only because you feel condemned for not having better convictions, then don’t.

I personally have gone through that. Books such as I Kissed Dating Goodbye (though I have nothing against Joshua Harris) have held my stands captive for a long time because the thought of the books sounded nice. It seemed like I would have been less a Christian if I didn’t follow suit. It appeared to me as if I was marring my purity if I didn’t have the exact same beliefs. And so my entire high school and part of my college life has been lived based upon the stances of other people. I spent that entire time being so concentrated on living like a good, emotionally pure Christian girl that you wouldn’t hear anything else out of my mouth other than love (friends who have known me for at least 3 years would attest to this). In fact, I made a completely new blog because looking back, I was kind of appalled by how much my old blog revolved on romance – as if there wasn’t more to life with God. After constant reading of Christian books and blogs about love, emotional purity, courtship, and romance, I have turned into a well-meaning person who made the opinions of others her own, obsessed with getting things right. I have become legalistic.

My most popular post so far on this blog has been the one about guy friends. And while I am thrilled that so many people related to it, I dearly hope none of them broke it off with their best friends of the opposite sex without thinking through the heart behind it. Contrary to popular belief, guys and girls can have relationships built on purity and integrity without the need to overthink every little thing because they have God in the center. Loving each other as brother and sister is a beautiful thing. 

I used to have a “no texting guys beyond 9 pm” rule in high school because someone said so. I used to avoid going on one on one friendly dates with guys because I read that you “shouldn’t.” Only to discover eventually that constant communication and hanging out with guys don’t deter my heart, and that I was only doing it because I based upon a set of rules to follow, not a personal relationship with God. But people, being a Christian isn’t based on a formula. It’s based on having intimacy with the Father.

Gain as much wisdom as you can from these kinds of blogs, but never map out your life in such a way simply to fit a box that seems right. If it’s extra-biblical and it’s not sin, then know that we all have free will in Christ, and you have the right to use your own mind. Know what your spiritual family and leader has to say about it and listen intently, for Christianity still has massively to do with us as a body. Take the ideas you get and consider them. Know your past, know what would make your heart weak, know what you struggle with, know not to cause others to stumble. Don’t live off of the relationships God has with other people because everyone has different histories and stories. Seek Him on your own. Ask God what He would have you do. Is it wise or is it compromise? Would it bring Him glory? Would He be pleased? Would He be honored? Then proceed to hold convictions based upon this awareness.

The most important thing here is that you live a life that is led by the Holy Spirit, a life that is worthy of what Jesus has done, a life that worships the Father in all areas. Develop such an interaction with Him that every decision you make and every word you speak is lifted up to Him. Know what kind of person He wants you to be. And I dearly hope that at all times, you will be in tune to His heart.

Again, this is for extra-biblical matters. For convictions on issues such as homosexuality and pre-marital sex, I have this to say: sin is sin. He will never ever lead you to anything that goes against what He has said in the Bible, remember that. If you feel led to hold convictions that goes against the Scriptures, then know that it isn’t the Holy Spirit leading you.

And for everyone else out there, please know that more uptight convictions don’t make you a better person, so don’t look down on people who hold different views. It’s about God’s grace, not our strength or accomplishments. I remember having seen a wedding video of someone bragging about how he chose not to say “I love you” before they wedded and how he told others to do the same. Now let me tell you, saying “I love you” or holding hands before you get married isn’t defrauding. Don’t get me wrong, I hold admiration for people who do, but simply because it’s what they believe in and not because it’s a trophy to hang on their wall.

We don’t live by formula. I don’t post everything I do for God on Facebook because I don’t understand how it magnifies Him more than me. That doesn’t make me more of a Christian than those who do. I no longer have time constraints as to when I text and I meet up alone with guy friends because it’s not something I struggle with. It doesn’t make me less a Christian than those who don’t. Just as long as we take up our crosses and live surrendered to Him, honor Him in everything, don’t steal any form of glory from Him, and stay aligned to His will, then we’re just fine. Life with God is living under His grace and having freedom under His truth, not under a set of made-up rules.

And so as you continue to walk with me through this blog, I hope it imparts wisdom and truth, inspires you to seek His heart, and points you to His glory, not confine you or the way you live. 

Don’t imitate me or any other writer or preacher out there. Imitate Jesus. And live life to the full. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
-‭‭Proverbs‬ 3:5-7; ‭4:7-9, 14-15, 26-27‬