Breathing

I had a hard time breathing today… well, I still do. And it doesn’t have anything to do with being sick, well, not physically. But my chest felt tight all day, I had a hard time focusing on work and I was wound up so tight I was afraid other people could hear the twanging every time I moved.

And here I go again, writing another morose blog post, in Godspotted! I should have another blog for all my emo posts and just leave this blog for posts about sunshine and rainbows and happiness and dancing and singing Christian songs. This is Godspotted after all, it should be all positivity and stuff. I should be ashamed of myself. I guess this is why I haven’t written here for a long time, I just kept on waiting for something happy and light to write about. But whenever I do, I can’t sit still long enough to write about it.

But difficult times cause me to pause and check on my breathing. And that’s when I sit still long enough to write. (And it makes me feel better and more focused.)

Hence, I’m writing this now, at four in the morning.

I went to bed as soon as I got home to my parents’ in Cavite, desperate for the day to be over, but I woke up at around 1AM because I remembered I neglected something at work in my desperate bid to make it out of the day alive. But then, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I thought of writing this because I needed to remind myself why it was a better choice to stay alive than throw myself off a building last night. If I let myself, the reasons for leaving (though few) are getting themselves heard above the reasons why I should stay.

So, here goes. Here are my reasons to stay (by order of appearance)

My nieces: Sky, River, Casey and the incoming baby girl, my mom, my dad, my sisters and my brother. Actually, considering my family was enough, that’s why I ran straight home even if I still had obligations in the city until later. Then my friends—although at the height of my breakdown I couldn’t remember if I had any friends that would care if I was gone (of course I underestimate them, but forgive me, I was not in the right state of mind at that time). I wanted to ask for help, but how? I could only croak to my Bes “Help” when I called her and because she was in a crowded bus at that time she could only reply “Wuh?” before the call was dropped (thanks a bunch Globe) and that left me wondering if I just imagined the reality out there and if I’m really going crazy. And then there’s the future that there would be better days beyond this, and all I had to do was hang on until the fever to end it all was goneMy life is good despite what I’m being made to feel at this moment

I am loved.

God loves me.

For some reason, that came in last. And it was only after Tita Sandy reminded me. I wish it had made me feel immediately better, but for some reason, it’s always something I’ve known, but I didn’t really think it mattered if I died today or later.

But I chose and I’m still choosing to stay. And live for another day. Even if that day means facing the fallout of the responsibilities I neglected because I just wanted to get away from high buildings. I still wish I had just gone back to the office like I said I would. But… yeah.

But I’m alive. The storm is almost through and I made it out. A little worse for wear, but I’m still here.

There’s a lot of cleaning up to do. But for now and, hopefully, always, my Father, my God, I’ll rest in You, and breathe.

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Something broke. I wish it didn’t have to take everything else with it. Tomorrow I have to face the fallout of my choice to save myself.

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I know that when You 
don’t calm the stormy weather
You hold me close
Until it blows over.

 

 

What I look for in a man

I have to admit that the thought that maybe I am meant to be single and unmarried for all my life does cross my mind once in a while. Once when the haze of meeting someone new clears and the reality that he is an actual person–both wonderful and flawed at the same time, working on an entirely different script that I didn’t write for him–has finally sunk in, I find myself fearfully stepping back. Heart carefully tucked just out of reach.

This does worry me a bit. But we’re working on it (God and I).

I was talking with a couple of girl friends over dinner this evening and I found myself rambling these thoughts aloud. And I stumbled into something that I didn’t really think of putting on any of my “must have” lists before. I’ve discovered my ultimate  non-negotiable when it comes to the man that I would want to marry and it’s all about:

Humility.

Not a humility that makes him shy and retiring, nor a humility that turns down recognition. I am still attracted to some measure of boldness, after all… I meant a humility that knows forgiveness because he asks and gives it.

I think I would need a man like that should I be married to one. I need him to place forgiveness above being right– which is different from speaking the truth, truth still needs to be said, just as forgiveness needs to be present because one must have love and truth at the same time. A man who knows when to ask for forgiveness even if he is the one wronged for the restoration of the relationship– I need that kind of man, just as much as I need a man who can forgive even when he’s angry.

I’m not saying that he needs to find forgiveness easy, no… I need him to understand the forgiveness given to him by our Father through His Son, and works it out in His life, even if and when it is hard.

I need him to be like that, because I need to be like that.

 

And that’s the kind of humility that makes me respect a man.

TRUTH THURSDAY: I WISH YOU WOULD SAY

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“You were wrong. It did work out.”

“I am so proud of you.”

“Let’s be friends.”

“I understand.”

“Are you ok?”

“You will be fine.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Anything I can do to help?”

“Where are you?”

“I get it.”

“I’m sorry for breaking all those promises I made.”

“I know you have been working really hard on this.”

“Need a hug?”

 “Thank you.”

“Well done.”

 

For Truth Thursdays.

TRUTH THURSDAY: To answer your question

How are you?

You know already. But… Can I just lie and say, “I’m ok?”

No.

Ok… so, I’m not really THAT ok. I mean, I’m working hard to look ok, because, I don’t know– I just don’t want people to think that I’m not…ok…um

Because that takes a longer answer.

Yes. And I’m tired.

Why are you tired?

Because I have to look ok, when I’m not.

You already said that.

I know…

So? How are you, really?

I’m… hiding. I don’t know why, but for some reason, my defenses are up, and I don’t want anybody to come near me. I think they know the truth– but I don’t want them to confirm it. I’m scared that they might see how hideouspathetic I am, and leave.

But, since the walls came up, I have been very very lonely. Because nobody comes by to see me anymore–and I can’t see them. But the lonelier I get, the higher the walls get. And I bury myself with work. A lot of work. So much work, I can’t do all of it anymore. 

I don’t want this anymore! And I know what to do, it’s just that I’m afraid that if I do it, I’ll be left really vulnerable and exposed…and that scares me.

But then, it begs the question–what am I so afraid of that I have to defend myself from it? Would it be so bad for people to find out just how weak and how needful (needy) I am?

(Come to think of it, yes– it was bad before, when people did, and they left, because they couldn’t handle a needful (needy) weak Stef. But maybe it’s because they’re not used to it… because I always fight to look ok even when I’m not…

and blahblahwhineblah)

But I knew, all this time. And I’m still here. 

I know you knew. And I know you’re still here. But you don’t count.

Why not?

For that very reason! You don’t leave! I know you’ll always be there, so you don’t count.

Ouch.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that you don’t count that way… I mean, you’re the most important one of all. But, oh. You know what I mean!

I do. But I think you needed to hear yourself say it.

How do you put up with me?

Because I love you.

I know. And that’s why you don’t count…

I’msorry. I suck.

It’s ok. I still love you. And you won’t suck all the time. 

That’s a relief.

I’m working on it.

I know… but why are you taking so long?!

This isn’t too long. Compared to eternity.

I know. We’ve talked about this already. I’m trying to get it… it’s just… Oh, you know how stubborn I can get!

Yes. I do. 

But you still love me?

Yes. A million times. Yes. 

I love you too.

So, what happens now?

We break down the walls. I think… I need it more than I am scared of them being down. And, because I know you want them to be down, even if you’re not saying it.

Yes.

But. I can’t do it on my own.

I know.

Help me?

Please?

 

This moment of vulnerability is brought to you by Truth Thursdays

 

Truth Thursdays: When it was over

When it was over
I was still standing
I was whole
Nothing broken

When it was over
I was mended
I was stronger
Though I was sad that it ended

When it was over
We walked forward
After I’d been through
I was no longer a coward

When it was over
You knew what to do
When it was over
We started something new.

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(For Truth Thursdays)

 

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Truth Thursday: What’s in Your Hand?

“Scars are not injuries… A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.”
(China Miéville)

I have scars on my hand, one covers all the fingers on my right hand from a fire I started on purpose but did not mean to burn. I have stitches on my wrist that I don’t remember getting from my childhood. And I have scar tissue in my wrist, probably, where it broke in second grade. The cuts don’t show as much, I’m glad.

Then there are the scars I carry with me– like badges of honor of all those incidents in life that have made me strong. Not all of them are from sad or painful experiences. Most scars come from falling off great heights and the falls are always as exhilarating as the climbs, or from going too fast and taking a tumble, or from trying something new, or reaching out and sometimes being bitten.

These scars come with stories and words that I pluck out of air to tell them.

Scars are gifts, along with other gifts I have in my hands. The more I share, the more I have to give away.

For Truth Thursdays.

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Truth Thursday: In Time I Will Be

In time I will be. Perfect. Complete.

It is my Creator’s promise, after all. He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it in the end. For now though, I feel it. I feel unfinished. Like I’m always in the brink of something big and I’m not there yet.

But it’s exhilarating to keep on moving forward, constantly asking “What’s next? What’s next?” This promise of wholeness and completion gives me the joy and hope and strength to keep on moving. When I fall, I know I can get up. When I feel like a zombie for days, I know that it will come to an end. When I look at myself, I tend to cry in frustration, “What good is in this work in me, really?!” But all I have to do is look up and keep on moving forward again.

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I know that in time I– a writer who can stitch together stories of other people and who churns out blog posts– will be better at this and maybe even write a book that would be a worthwhile read.
(In time I will be able to master my tenses.)

In time I will be swimming with real live sharks. And I will be a certified scuba diver.

In time I will be eating bacon again. (But maybe for just one more time.)

In time I will be able to go to the places I never thought I’d go. And I will write postcards, take pictures of me jumping, eat the food, dance in the streets and smile at strangers who can’t understand what I’m saying.

In time I will be able to conquer this fear that keeps me from saying what I need to say to you.

In time I will be holding his hand.

In time I will be his wife.
In time I will be holding our children in my arms.
And we will raise them to know the God who completes us in time.

In time (just as in other times) I will be able to look back to all my years and see the path, that seemed to so long and winding at that time, is actually pretty straightforward. And I will sing His praises.

In time, I will be complete. But until then there is that hope of completion that won’t let me down. And I pray that when I’m finally finished, my Creator will look at me and say, “Well done, my child. Well done.”

 

For Truth Thursdays 04: In Time I will Be

 

 

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Tomorrow’s Freedom

Today’s surrender is tomorrow’s freedom. We come to you and lay our burdens down.
(All Sons and Daughters)

Last week came and went so fast and I was so tired through it all that I didn’t really feel or take note of what was happening, just finishing what was required. By the weekend, I was just wandering around in a daze. I couldn’t wait to get out of the city after work and I just stopped replying to messages, putting everything on hold until when I felt like it. (I still need to write my third Truth Thursday response…). I went through the motions for Sunday, setting up stuff that were needed for the service, just functioning to function. I couldn’t wait to get back home and sleep.

It’s already Monday and I’m still  feeling it, but the time is up for me to get my act together and come back to reality again. I know what I have to do, but like with everything else, it’s too much of an effort, I have to go to work early, I have so many things to do today…and… and blah.

Then I’m reminded that I need to soak in God’s presence for energy. To lighten my load, I need to transfer my burdens on His strong shoulders. My time alone with Him is not just something that I have to do as a spiritual discipline, but it’s something I need to unscramble my thoughts, to survive the days ahead of me.

I need to fight for this time, even if right now it feels like I’m moving neck-deep in molasses. There will be opposition, that’s for sure, but I realize that if I want to get out of this muck, this should be my all-or-nothing push out. And as I keep on pushing and fighting for God’s presence, I will gain the strength to resist these opponents dragging me down.

So I prayed. I prayed for this burden (whose name I don’t even know) weighing my heart down so much that it becomes difficult to breathe. I prayed for this season where everything is working but there’s no satisfaction or contentment in me. I prayed to get up. I prayed to breathe. I have had seasons like this before, just as there are seasons where everything seems so easy and every step is like a dance. I know that He is here even as I struggle in the mire, I need to keep my gaze on Him and see what He sees– not the gloom and heaviness around me, but the victory and freedom I have in Him.

But for today, there is surrender. Because this is all I can do.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

(Psalm 62: 5-8)

For later

(This is actually for my Truth Thursdays last week…)

 

Today. I left behind everything that I owe.

Replies to text messages.
Audio recordings I have to upload at our church websites.
My credit card bills.
That meeting I have to set.
The plans I have to implement
for the writing group
for the media ministry
for my work.

The dinner I had to cook.

Because it’s Saturday.
And I’m tired.
And sometimes to just feel better
I leave these behind
And just get back to them later.

 

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Neither Here nor There

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“Tell me stories, Steffi!!!” my friend yelled above the music. She, being a single mom doing freelance work mostly from home so she can take care of her two year-old son, insists on living vicariously through me, her “single and available” friend who’s always out and about.

I just stared at her, wracking my brain for A Story, something that would merit her trip through the traffic just to meet me tonight for dinner and drinks to Catch Up. “I’m out of stories!” I said, just a hint of despair creeping in my voice. What is there to tell? Work is good, ministry work is good, food is good… and I have no boy stories to speak of. “Technically, there is nothing wrong with my life.”

She squinted at me through the dim lighting. “And what does that mean?” she demanded.

I shrugged. Apart from the lack of love life, I have nothing to complain about (even if the big lack of love life should be a big enough complaint, but sometimes I have too much pride to complain) . Or do I? Life’s been sort of a blur between deadlines and destinations these days. Work. Church. Friends. Family. Be here at this time, stay until this time. After work is for friends. Weekends are for family. Sunday mornings, church.

I have been coasting along without even enjoying the view.

“The thing is,” I tried again. “It’s like I’m neither here nor there these days.”

“I’ve seen you like this before.”

“Really?”

“It’s always right before a change and certainty.” I blinked at her, she continued, “Remember right before you got that offer for a new job? You were already transitioning even if you didn’t know to where you’re transitioning.”

“Really?”

“Yep, you were letting go, even I saw you. And when you finally got certainty, it was like someone switched on a light inside you.”

“Oh yeah…”

“I’m really excited for you.”

“I can’t wait to be excited too! I just hope that it’s not another new job. I’d like to stay longer in this one.”

 

Inspired by Truth Thursdays

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