You Cannot Give What You Don’t Have

Whilst reading this blog by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio, I was reminded of an email conversation with a good friend last January.  It was about recovering from a hurt caused by somebody.  At some point, I told her that perhaps, it would be easier to heal if this somebody would apologise (that was why this other blog by Rica also struck me), to which my friend replied “wag mo na antaying mag-sorry siya sa’yo…una, baka mafrustrate ka and remember Jesus died for you when we were still sinners…”

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I must say that one of the things that used to surprise me is when people wouldn’t apologise even when I had told them that they had hurt me.  Instead of receiving an apology, I was blamed for having been sensitive or over-reactive or because they had thought okay lang sa akin (to which I had wanted to reply: kung totoong kaibigan kita, alam mo kung ano ang ok at hindi ok sa akin) or told that I had no right to be hurt because it wasn’t their intention to hurt me (as if there is always a direct correlation between one’s intention and how that intention is expressed through words or actions, which are many times the ones that become offensive).  And I realised that the surprise over the shift of the blame (ako na yung nasaktan, ako pa yung nasisi) was because of false expectations – I have learned (and continue to learn) to humble myself and say sorry if I hurt someone even if it wasn’t my intention to do so (sino ba naman ang gusto makasakit consciously?) simply because I hurt him no matter what my intention was.  It was all about shifting the focus on the person I hurt instead of myself – so others should be able to do the same, but truthfully, can I or should I expect other people to have the same mindset as I?

I cannot and should not because as a friend always reminds me, having no expectation from others will spare me from a lot of hurt and disappointment.  And the bigger lesson is that I cannot expect others to understand being accountable for the consequences of their actions (and not of their intentions) and being humble and receiving mercy because it took a lot for me also to get to this place – I am only able to forgive in spite of myself or the absence of an apology because I myself was forgiven when I humbled myself before a mighty, merciful, and loving God who in spite of my wickedness decided to let His Son die on the cross so I can have eternal life with Him in heaven – a love so great I cannot fathom no matter how hard I try to wrap my brain around it.  I can humble myself before someone I hurt because I know there is mercy waiting if not from him, from God.  I can extend mercy to people who offended me because I myself received mercy.  I can love (and a sign of that is being accountable to someone I hurt because love is not arrogant) because I was loved first.  Indeed, you cannot give what you do not have.

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A Fairty Tale…sort of…

Once upon a time in a not so distant land called Memory, in a dark dungeon in the land, there lived a princess called Pinkmary, but she didn’t know that she was a princess because she was bound in chains by a dragon who fed her with lies…lies that she believed. The best times of her life were spent in bondage with the dragon.

 

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In the same land was an exile called Princess Tinkerbelly, err, Tinkermary.

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She saw what the dragon was doing to Princess Pinkmary so she sought to set her free. She went to Princess Pinkmary’s dungeon and loosened her chains one day at a time. Alas! Princess Pinkmary seemed to have been deceived by the dragon very well. Even with loosened chains, she thought she was still bound to the dragon and had to be with him. Even with opportunities to escape him, she chose to stay…with the dragon…in the dungeon.

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I’ve run out of creativity hahaha…sabi ko na hanggang non-fiction lang ako eh…for now…not even creative non-fiction…

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I am Princess Tinkermary and I happened to have known Princess Pinkmary at one point.  I reached out to her but she broke my heart in a way I did not imagine – I was blindsided.  So, I moved on.  But someone said, “pray for those who hurt you and the hurt will go away.”  I did not give it much attention.  I was hurt and disappointed and terribly so!  But I was continuously nudged by the Holy Spirit to pray for Princess Pinkmary.  And I answered, “but why me?”  Somewhere at the back of my mind, I was reasoning, “ako na nga sinaktan, ako pa magdarasal sa kanya?!  Marami naman siyang ibang kaibigan…”  But the nudges continued to the point I had headaches trying to reason with God why I should not pray for her.  At one point, I asked a friend, “pwede ko ba syang ipagdasal…because praying for her would bring back memories…?” and she answered, “wala naman akong nabasa sa Bible na wag mo ipagdasal ang tao.”  Wahahah, tama nga naman.  So, I reluctantly obeyed and prayed for Princess Pinkmary to accept the freedom that the Prince of Peace was offering her, for her to be set free from the dragon by the Real King as He had been doing all along.  More leading came to pray for her, her family (father, mother, and siblings), and her provisions.  I remembered some of her prayer points and prayed for those.  I hoped that she would finally see that God had been leading her out….she just could not see that and that’s the consequence of having been in the dark for so long, you cannot see the truth.

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I highly suspect that like the lessons on patience and managing finances well that I have had to learn, this is part of my lessons on forgiveness and I better pass this so that I can move on to the next lesson; if not, I wonder how I should continue to learn this.  Because I learned that most of the time, God’s lessons are never head knowledge, hardly theoretical.  They are practical.  He has put me in situations where I would be so hurt so I would learn to forgive, in situations where I have had to be with people I thought I would not be able to stand so I could learn patience, and He has put me in situations I could not control so as to learn to trust God. After all, He is more concerned about my holiness than my  happiness, in my character than in my comfort.

 

Matthew 5:48  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1 Thessalonians 3:13  May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

 

The Miracle of Prayer

I had committed the land of Memory to Oblivion.  But when I obeyed to pray for her, I felt my heart of ice melt to give way to a heart of flesh.

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A friend once told me that the opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is indifference.  And that was true for me.  I did not really hate her but I was beginning to be indifferent towards her.  My initial prayer was (kasi nga pinagbibigyan ko lang si God di ba?  Masabi lang na ipinagdasal ko sya.), “Bahala ka na sa kanya, God.  Pwede ba yun na lang ang prayer ko?”  Waahhhh…I had continued debates with God for a season but He always wins!  So, ok, ipagdasal ang kanyang tunay na pangangailagan…

I was reminded “to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” but she wasn’t even my enemy.  More and more, I began to see that she was just another lost soul who was as deceived as I once was.  The mystery of praying for your “enemy” is experiencing how hurt can be replaced by love, mercy, and compassion that come from seeing the lost through the eyes of Jesus.

Matthew 9:36  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless,like sheep without a shepherd.

 

The Fairy Tale Ending

I saw that there is a king waiting for Princess Pinkmary – a big person whose bigness is not just in physical size but in leadership.  He will rule his kingdom with Princess Pinkmary, whom he will treat as his queen, with authority.  And the king has a heart big enough for Queen Pinkmary’s Little Princess Pink.

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Then they will love happily ever after.

And that is a vision, not fiction.

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When I reached out to Pinkmary, I held on to this verse:

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.

After all the hurt, it is still my verse.

If I keep a heavenly perspective and believe Romans 8:28, enemies are not really enemies… they are some of the best friends I have. What is sometimes meant by some to hurt me actually helps bring about a work of grace in me that wouldn’t take place any other way.

When a supposed enemy attacks, God exposes the sinful blind spots that lie hidden in my heart. When friends extol my good virtues and praise me, I appreciate their expressions of love, but it is more important that I be told the truth especially when it will wound me deeply (Proverbs 27:6). Otherwise I will not work to become more like Christ and the blind spots I have will grow and further infect my soul…

Without people doing what they think will hurt or destroy me, I would never find the way to being more like Jesus. They are a required part of becoming holy. And because of that I must see them as my best friends!

http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2008-3-10-Why-You-Need-Your-Enemies-Part-Two/

You Want to be Healed?

I am reposting here a very insightful blog by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio.  Bold italics are mine since these were what blew me away.  WOW!

The Confession We Should All Make

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Of course, who doesn’t like hearing the personal vows of the couple in a wedding, right? As I’ve said before, that is one of my favorite parts in the ceremony. But sometimes, perhaps out of sheer character and peculiarity of the couple, other parts become just as- if not more, meaningful, as well.

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Case in point was the last wedding we attended, that of Edrei and Thine. Edrei is a campus missionary who works with my husband and back when they were still dating, Joe and I have already developed a relationship with both Edrei and Thine. We’ve  had them tell us about their story before but I always wondered, what is it really, that keeps these 2 so connected, so in sync, so MFEO??? Well finally at their wedding, my number 1 question was answered.

Both Edrei and Thine think and feel and know they are truly blessed to be the children of their parents.

Right before their vows, the couple actually chose to honor their parents before everyone. Out loud and in much tears, they poured the overflowing gratitude of their hearts to have grown up with them instead of any other. It was a touching moment.

Thine, in tears, speaking to her parents and ends it with a meaningful hug.

I think it’s powerful when parents, recognized as the authority in a child’s life, know how to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness. Not only does it set a good example, but immediately corrects a wrong midset they might’ve instilled in the child’s brain.

They were thankful for so many things. One of which was how both sets of parents have financially provided for them without making them feel the weight of what they were, in truth, carrying. (Joe and I have agreed that no matter what happens, our children will not have the poverty mentality! We will see to it that always feel full and not lacking in anything.)

But the thing that caught my attention the most was when Edrei began talking about his parents and how they were not only quick to forgive, but also quick to ask for forgiveness,

“I wanna tell that to all parents here…all of my hurts were immediately healed just because my mom and dad always said sorry…” 

At that point I remembered this verse from the Bible,

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…”

James 5:16

It was an AHA! Moment when I first encountered this verse, suddenly understanding why I wasn’t healed from many of the hurts I’ve incurred in my life. It was because barely anyone took the time to confess they’ve sinned against me, and that they’re sorry. What’s worse was that I was the same, too. I never really knew how to admit, confess I’ve done wrong, and ask for forgiveness. And so I thought that probably, many people still linger wounded from my sins just because I failed to say sorry.

Confession is key. 

Even to parents, perfection is not key, no, not even being right, but confession is. Edrei grew up healthy and happy and healed, because his parents knew how to say sorry.

It’s probably like 2 people dating. You never really know where you are, what you are, and where to go, unless it is defined and both of you confess it. You cannot just be thinking it. You have to confess it. (Walang mag-BF/GF na naghuhulaan lang, Someone has to say it, diba?)

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I think I heard it from one of Andy Stanley’s preachings. That not asking for forgiveness is like having a debt that when you come face to face with the person you’ve wrong some time in the future, that debt is always going to be in the back of your head. Confession and forgiveness are for both parties, I believe. It’s always gonna be a secret in your heart you’d want but unfortunately, fail to keep.

I realized it is the same with mistakes, sins, offenses. We have to confess the wrong, so we can identify what’s right. We have to confess our sorrow in having hurt someone, so we can heal. Most important: confession restores….the broken peace, the broken sense of right and wrong, the broken relationship.  

Sadly, some circumstances don’t allow us to ask or to be given forgiveness anymore. And at this point, we can really just rely on the healing power of Jesus. But what I am trying to encourage us to do today and for the rest of our lives is to try leading a lifestyle of admitting our mistakes, confessing them, and asking for forgiveness. Whether we like it or not, wrongdoings (which we are all capable of!!!) break people. And though we can’t bring back the past, I hope that like me, you also see the hope in confessing, verbalizing, identifying our sins, and really humbling ourselves so to unbreak hearts and souls and allow them to heal. And at the end of the day I hope we remember that while we can’t be perfect, we can surely confess our sins and be truly sorry.

Top Ten Things I Am Most Thankful For in 2013

1.  I learned to value friends more.  2013 is the year God pruned my relationships.  I had to let go of people I had trusted as friends, albeit wrongly or foolishly.  It wasn’t the easiest of experiences because these were people I had opened my life to and had welcomed into my life with all the trust, care, and respect I could give.  But I learned the hard way that trust and respect should not be easily given.  And that we SHOULD and we CAN choose our friends with wisdom.

Proverbs 11:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully.

As a friend told me, “respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” And walk away I did, though reluctantly at first because I had thought that my good intentions were enough to make a friendship work but…

There is a way that appears to be right but in the end, it leads to death. –  Proverbs 14:12

I now know the meaning of these verses more deeply because of my personal experience:

2 Corinthians 6:14  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Proverbs 22:5  Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.

Proverbs 18:24  One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Psalm 1:1  Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.

1 Corinthians 15:33  Bad company corrupts good character.

After all the pruning, who are left are people whose wisdom and strength I admire. These are people who do not consider themselves strong or wise by their own merit or standard or experiences but only by the grace that comes from Jesus Christ.  They know that on their own, they are weak but with Christ, they have the strength and wisdom that can overcome.  These are people I treasure and am thankful for being in my life.  Through them, with their counsel or rebuke or sharing of experiences, I too become wise and strong.

Proverbs 13:20  Walk with the wise and become wise…

Proverbs 27:17  As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:6  Wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses.

I now look back and I can only be thankful that the friends I have now are those I learn from, who nourish and respect me, and who continue to believe in and trust in me in spite of my own shortcomings.

2.  I learned generosity.  That if you purpose it in your heart to give to whoever or whatever God leads you to, God will enable you to give even when you think you don’t have the means.  Again and again, it was impressed on me this year that generosity is not an issue of the wallet but an issue of the HEART.

Proverbs 11:25  A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

And along with this lesson, I also learned this about people who run away from their creditors: Kung nalungkot ka o nagalit ka dahil tinakbuhan ka ng taong tinulungan mo financially by lending to him, take heart and allow God to work instead because…

If [the thief] is caught, he must pay sevenfold though it cost him all the wealth of his house. –     Proverbs 6:30-31

Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good. – Proverbs 17:13

One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper. – Proverbs 17:20

I tell you that God is a God of restoration and He will restore what was stolen from you…exceedingly and beyond you can ever hope or imagine…and I testify to that!  But of course, we should also learn to lend wisely.

3.  Provision for the house I am building.  I really believe that my Nuvali home is a blessing from God.  He knows very well my desire to have a house with its own lot (not a condo unit) and with a clubhouse and pool in the vicinity.  The fact that it’s a green development by the Ayala Land is a bonus.  While I had been anxious at first about how to and who would build my house, God assured me that “the blessing of the Lord makes rich and He adds no sorrow with it”  – Proverbs 10:22.  Just when I thought I was running out of funds, God gave me wisdom about financial means that I could take advantage of that were not burdensome at all – non-interest bearing loans, investments that were ready for liquidation, and personal funds that I had forgotten even existed!  As one friend put it, “God’s math is different.  Hindi mo alam kung paano magkakasya, pero nagkakasya!”  So true.  And I say, “I do not understand God’s accounting at all.”

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God even led me to the team who would build the house.  I remember that season when I was asking God whether to get professionals to build it.  You know, the debate about whether to get a legit team with an architect and engineer vs. just a seasoned carpenter who knows how to build well?  During the banquet dinner for the EN Phase 2 construction, with Pastor Joey Bonifacio describing the team who built EN Phase 1 – led by a topnotch architect in the land – and why they used imported materials (sure it cost much upfront but it was worth the investment because maintenance was much less), I got my answer.  Not only did God answer my question, He also led me to the architect.  And it seemed that there was no other person destined to build it because all other people I had thought could help me were not available at that time.  I remember having prayed about this – about a team of professionals with the same values as I… and God answered.

I believe that God provides for me faithfully and generously because I have also been trustworthy with the material blessings He has entrusted to me.  And because I have also been faithful in giving back to the purposes of God.

Luke 16:10  Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.

4. I learned grace.  And that it is available to us for small and big things.

As we were moving to our new building and driving (daily!) became a necessity, I had to wake up as early as 4 a.m. everyday just to avoid traffic and get a slot in the fixed-rate parking lot behind our building.  I don’t know how I managed that and how I continue to do that.  I tell you that being able to drive daily for more than four months now without any accident is a miracle.  Add to that my need to wake up before 5 a.m. on Saturdays so that I could teach!  How I was able to sustain what I considered grueling waking up hours was only because of God’s grace.

Thanks to friends and officemates who encouraged and taught me how to park in reverse and to kanto boys and giving drivers who allowed or helped a reluctant lady driver to pass through gridlock.  In my first few days, I had prayed for God to part the traffic like He did the Red Sea.  There were days when God answered that but there were also days when instead of parting the traffic, He gave me people like kanto boys and gracious drivers to help me through Manila’s traffic.  Indeed, we cannot box the ways God answers our prayers.  Because of these people, I also learned, and continue to learn, to be gracious in driving.

Not only did God teach me grace through traffic but He gave me wisdom and taught me patience (and He continues to do so!).  It would probably take a long time for us as a nation to be disciplined in traffic – buses will be bullies, jeeps will stop anywhere (kaya pala sila hari ng daan hindi dahil sa dami nila kundi dahil bully din sila, kakamutan ka lang nila o tatakbuhan pag nabangga ka nila, sila pa galit!), motorcycles and tricycles will act like they own all lanes, and pedestrians will cross the streets as if they are gallivanting in Luneta – but I need to be disciplined and patient on my own because really, I may not be cursing but my high-beam lights and honking show impatience and rage!  Nahuhulog talaga ang lahat ng bunga pag nagda-drive ako.  So yes, I also need that gentle and quiet spirit and more of God’s grace in this area.

On the other hand, that grace which I availed of in driving was also the same grace that was given to me so I could perform my new responsibilities well.  2013 is also about being stretched professionally.  I was asked and needed to do things which seemed to be beyond my skills and liking – pre-sales, sales, events, marketing, market research, and all these while teaching on weekends.  Imagine a true-blue accountant doing sales and marketing?!  Only by God’s grace.

5.  Sustained healing of my polycystic ovaries and healing of my SVT (heart condition).  No more medicines, no expensive surgery for my SVT.  I am thankful not just for my healing, for my doctors who are God’s instruments to heal me, but also for Papa’s doctors who are channels of healing as well.  Our doctors are generous with their time and effort and are genuine with their care.

6.  My brothers were able to find their respective places in the sun for a certain season in their lives and we were able to make a small business investment for our parents, too.  We also continue to find opportunities to bond with one another…over food, what else?! hahaha…

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7.  I have been able to sustain the revenues of my own business and from this, put up another business with no additional capital outlay.

8.  New adventures – I climbed Mt. Pulag and learned to dive.  The Mt. Pulag climb was a testament of the healing of my heart.

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9.  Another travel opportunity.  Because I had known that the construction of my house would go full swing in 2013, I had declared a moratorium on big-ticket travel (by “big ticket,” I mean any travel that requires flying…hahaha) because most of my funds were really for the house construction.  But God knew the desires of my heart and so when an invitation to travel came, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could afford to travel.   Again, hindi mo alam kung paano magkakasya, pero nagkakasya.  Magaling rin kasi ang mga travel buddies ko.  They plan trips wisely.  At meron din palang libreng trips na kelangan kong lumipad!

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10.  A greater understanding of who God is.  Sabi nila, mas masarap daw ang samahan pag marami kayong pinagdaraanan.  I really think that this is how my relationship with God grows more intimate every season.  Through everything, God’s presence was with me, going before me, reminding me to “pray for it.”  His presence in my life is more tangible now more than ever. This was one of my faith goals at the start of 2013 and it was granted.

So, thank you God for 2013 and welcome 2014 with more faith, hope, and love love love!

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