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Clothed in Dignity: Thoughts on (In)security

At 25, the word I’d least describe me as is insecure – or so I thought.

Wasn’t this reserved for a younger version of myself so easily swayed by short-lived emotions? This was, inevitably, a crucial season of self-discovery intermingled with fear. It was a period of self-loathing after another heartbreak, cringing at my reflection while doing a fitting, and distancing myself from “toxic” peers – a life worthy of a Simon Pulse YA novel. Wasn’t this something we were supposed to overcome at some point? Yet, as I have these difficult conversations with myself for the occasional heart check – you should, too! – there are other ways my insecurity manifested itself as. It’s way beyond just the physical.

Reading So Long, Insecurity: You’ve Been A Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore, a P130 surprise find from Book Sale, is life-changing. When we skillfully bury our insecurities and don’t place them on the feet of Jesus Christ, we deceive ourselves, and we deceive God. Triggers – like meeting a partner’s ex, getting another rejection letter, and seeing one more relationship status change on Facebook – will reveal the worst of us. But fret not, dear one. You have power vested in you by the Creator – who fashioned you with unwavering security – to change your perspective and ultimately, your response. 

“We, of all people on the earth, possess the reason, the residence, and the ongoing revelation to be, of all things, most secure.” 

Etch this in your heart. Proverbs 31:25 says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” You have a treasure within you that no man, no rejection, no betrayal, no circumstance can take away. Nobody can and should ever make you feel like less of a woman. Stop handing people power only God should wield over us. 

  • Stop depersonalizing people. 

There is insecurity rooted in competition.

When we feel threatened by anyone (ladies, hands up!), human as we are, we judge their character and discredit their hard work. Have you felt even the slightest tinge of jealousy for another person’s progress? Do you find it difficult to genuinely be happy for somebody else’s good news? This is all too familiar for me, and I wish it weren’t. 

I’ve learned to try my hardest to see people as equally broken as me. We are wounded but sustained by His love. We are all going through the highs and lows of life. We have all, at some point, questioned our purpose. We are all striving for the same things, and this allows me to extend grace – no matter what I feel. To champion this fellowship, most especially for other women, helps me see the same dignity I have that others are given as well.

“Where on earth did we come up with the idea that we have to subtract value from ourselves in order to give credit to someone else? When I humble myself enough to pray for someone I feel threatened by – and especially when I muster up the courage to ask God to profoundly bless the person – I end up blessed every single time, and the rivalry gets diffused.”

  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

There is insecurity rooted in information.

Have you ever wanted anybody to divulge information to feed your curiosity, maybe even your ego? Do you find yourself going that extra mile – lurking through social media platforms, opening e-mails or text messages – just to “silence” your inner demons? You strived and succeeded, but I bet you regretted it.

Like Eve and her pursuit for knowledge in the Garden of Eden – way beyond what she was capable of handling – we must learn how to be content with what God wisely chooses to reveal to us. Stop asking for answers you aren’t ready to receive. But when He does give it, and it will hurt, He will equip us with grace to deal with it.

“God had already told her what she needed to know and what her heart and mind could tolerate without self-destruction. But she insisted on knowing something she was wholly incapable of handling. There is knowing. And there is knowing too much. What is God showing me? Or what am I demanding to be shown?”

I leave you with this, woman of God. Start seeing yourself through His eyes. It is this simple: when you find your worth in Christ, nobody else can take it away from you.

Jesus has been the purest, most consistent romance of my life, and despite the inevitable aches and shocks of living for five decades, somehow with Him my youth is inexplicably renewed. In the light of His presence, I am so glad to be a woman and feel oddly adept at it even in a world gone mad.

That, beloved, is our challenge. To let the healthy, utterly whole, and completely secure part of us increasingly overtake our earthen vessels until it drives our every emotion, reaction, and relationship. When we allow God’s truth to eclipse every false positive and let our eyes spring open  to the treasure we have, there in His glorious reflection we’ll also see the treasure we are. And the beauty of the Lord our God will be upon us.”

[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. [Her] heart is secure, [she] will have no fear.

(Psalm 112:7-8)


3 Things I’m Taking with Me from 2017

One glorious breakthrough after another, 2017 is a year of relentless, God-ordained humbling (and heartbreak, if I may truthfully say so). Some days were lusterless and devoid of hope while others were painstakingly designed by the Creator – to reveal Himself to me, or through me. I cannot ask for anything better for I’ve learned to surrender, though slowly, every part of my life to His faithful hands. I see everything as an overflow of grace – no mistake, no lack.

This is why I write: to bring me peace. I’ve had the most humiliating conversations with God, which required me to acknowledge long-forgotten wounds. And, it tells me, they’re here and have become part of me. But my God, my God has brought me so far; through Him, I can heal. And someday, when I read these words, I will have nothing but gratitude in my heart. 

My bold prayer: may I faithfully live these truths out every day of my life.

  • Deal with your (emotional) baggage.

God restored a number of relationships this year. For the courage to speak out and the humility to admit my wrongs, I am thankful. Grace, you meet me exactly where I am.

My dear ladies, as early as now – especially if you’re single – please do yourself a favor, and *deal* with your emotional baggage. Allow God to heal you. This liberates you from fear you will eventually project to your partner and unhealthy expectations you will keep yearning for (e.g. that he will fix this for you). Chains of shame will never be broken if you keep hardening your heart. Though you are walking with the Lord and seeking Him, you can’t hear His voice with deafening clarity if you keep tuning it out – filtering only what is convenient for you. You cannot expect God to be God – just, sovereign, and all-knowing – if He can only have a portion of your heart.

But friends, let me tell you something. Pour your heart out to Him, cry it out. If you feel the need to respond to your emotions, pray about it first, and let some time pass. Direct His loving hands to the weary parts of you. Direct Him to your insecurities. Resolving ties, regardless of who was wronged (more), is a step towards unyielding growth. Sometimes, it means valuing a relationship more than your pride; other times, it’s simply giving yourself peace. Life is too short to keep everybody accountable to expectations they don’t meet – especially when we refuse to communicate them. No matter how irreconcilable circumstances seem, nothing is too big (or small) for God to take control of.

So, please stop hiding. Please stop running away from the struggle. At the end of the day, we have no control over how people respond to our pain. Let God tend to your wounds. Let God deal with your expectations. Let God discipline concerned parties. Let God work faithfully on your behalf. Just let Him. This might take months, even years but He gets the final say, and He will make things right.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18–19) 

  • God will set you aside if He knows He can grow you. 

There is a beautiful blessing in being hidden.

I’ve quieted myself on my blog for quite some time. If you noticed, I haven’t written anything related to my faith for months, and I’ve felt guilty for the longest time. I was (definitely) making time for Christ; it astounds me how much I’ve learned about His character! My appetite for Him has grown immensely. I’ve learned that God requires me to fully be accountable and obedient to Him, and it (sometimes) means not having to publicize it. For someone who spent the past 8 years divulging every. single. revelation on my social media platforms, I’ve learned to be content with His one-on-one discipline – seen by Him now, and felt by many later on.

How is He setting you aside? Maybe you’re experiencing a season of singleness, waiting for a good man after God’s heart. Maybe you’re called to pursue further studies, which will require you to live independently. Maybe you’re still waiting for a job offer, after months of applying to companies. Maybe you feel yourself questioning your friendships, drifting apart from those you love. I say this with love, may you be brave enough to obey the no’s and not yet’s of God. Look past your maybe’s, and trust His heart.

Read: Maximizing Your Season of Singleness 

Sometimes, when God wants to grow you, He sets you aside. This means feeling hidden, occasionally lonely, and desperate for the next season. But, He delights when a heart submits to His plan. You cannot remain the same person when He is in the picture.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under Heaven. Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,11,14)

  • Stop fitting your progress story into a mold.

There have been moments when I refused to move. Why? Because I can’t find anyone with the same story as mine…isn’t that silly? For the longest time, I’ve (unintentionally) looked to people around me – my family, friends, colleagues, and personal heroes – for a “standard”  that when I can’t meet it, I consider myself a failure. I’ve put them so high up on a pedestal that I end up doubting myself and worse, the faithfulness of God.

A huge example: my mother got married at 24. At 25, I don’t even have a prospect for a boyfriend. This has been weighing me down for some time because the enemy keeps feeding me one lie after the other about my worth. Is God wasting me? No. Will I find completion in a partner? Another big, fat no. Now, shall I talk about working the same corporate job for the past 4 years? Given this modern culture which champions job-hopping and freelancing, how can I not be insecure? That’s for another entry, friends. But, am I shedding light to my frailty?

I am not immune to comparison. But this, I am slowly learning: walk your path with self-love. Stop belittling your unique progress story. Allow the Lord to course you through life, embracing both detours and breakthroughs. I’ve stopped giving myself deadlines and have traded these instead for God’s perfect timing, and it is changing me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

What were your biggest lessons from 2017? Share them on the comments below! I’d love this to be a growth-filled space. 🌹


Serving a God Who Weeps

A part of me has always been ashamed of my emotions. When you grow up with a heart like mine, your expectations of love and understanding of grace limit your actual communion with it. As a young girl, I let my heart do the leading. I allowed my emotions to control my response to situations – hastily and recklessly. I gave without demanding anything in return, I loved without asking for permission, I forgave without hearing an apology. For years, I treated these attributes as a form of shameful weakness – that is until I rediscovered the character(s) of my God.

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

Christ was emotional. The fierce and inexhaustible force, which holds the world and carries my heart, wept. He felt pain – just like you and me. Yes, pain, the soul-crushing type which keeps me up at night. God, in His splendor and majesty, chose to strip off His divinity to be human. He did not exhibit pride nor apathy to protect Himself from the possibility of rejection, fear, and sadness. He was not above it.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3)

Living here on earth enabled Him to personally commune with His people. He embraced human emotions to fully understand and empathize with man – yet He did not sin. He is not detached to my recurring reality, and that is infinitely comforting. We serve a God who is tender and compassionate. We serve a relational God who reaches out and does not wait for me to get myself together and face Him with joy. He humbles Himself and shares in my grief because He Himself faced it.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)

The next time you feel that vulnerability is a curse – that it needs to be avoided at all costs – remember the big blessing of emotions: sharing in something bold and beautiful with your Creator. This is to love you, to know you, to be with you. This is the love, which finds you and me, a love fully devoid of selfishness and pride which unfailingly embraces our rebellion. This is love within reach. This is love which waits to be noticed, to be received. This is His love – the emotional kind, the God kind.

By His wounds, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

“God could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape Him. Of His great humility He chose to be incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane. Otherwise we should have missed the great lesson that it is by his will alone that a man is good or bad, and that feelings are not, in themselves, of any importance. We should also have missed that all important help of knowing that He faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin. If He had been incarnate in a man of immense natural courage, that would have been for many of us almost the same as His not being incarnate at all.”

C.S. Lewis (Letters of the Faith Through the Seasons)

 


Maximizing Your Season of Singleness

If you’re reading this as a single man or woman who feels strongly about a relationship – even marriage –  you’re not the only one. I’ve been single for as long as I can remember. Most days, I don’t mind the wait, but as much as I love learning about the Lord on my own, I eagerly wait for the day when I can grow in faith with my partner.

Friend, I want to affirm you and let you know it’s okay to be faith-filled..and still be lonely. When my lonely gets too loud, I tell myself it’s alright. This is human – as human as anyone can get. If people invalidate your desire and say you lack faith because “you are not satisfied in the Lord,” talk to someone else. Your desire is God-designed – God created Eve for Adam as a helpmate – in the same way that others have the equally blessed gift of singleness. But then, this isn’t an excuse to waste this fulfilling albeit tiring season. You eventually get to a point when you understand its purpose. This is exactly when you allow His faithful plans to unfold.

Read: Single, Faithful, and Not Waiting

  • Make peace with your past.

The most liberating feeling is knowing your shortcomings, asking atonement for them, and making way for God to renew you. I’m pretty sure we all have had (almost) relationships and “cheap” imitations of love we want to keep in the farthest corners of our minds – or even pray into non-existence – but wounds often arise when these aren’t properly dealt with. Before you can genuinely be content with the season you’re in, make peace with the people you’ve hurt, make peace with God, and make peace with yourself. God can trace away all the murky, sad parts of you you’re afraid to show others – if you let Him. Let these chains (of hurt and self-loathing)  be broken.

You will no longer remember the shame of your youth. (Isaiah 54:4)

  • Guard your contentment.

Guard your heart, you’ve probably heard that – and if you’re in a Christian environment, endless amount of times. But, do you guard your contentment? The simple act of binge-watching Koreanovelas or romantic comedies makes any woman want the fairytale-type-of-love fast. Personally, I watch vlogs from itsjudyslife every single day. When I get really lonely, I cry myself to sleep because I don’t have what they have. (I’m not exaggerating.) I’m not telling you to stop watching these shows, I have no intention of doing so too, but take caution in what holds your heart and mind captive.

Months ago, I deleted a playlist with sad love songs I listened to when I wanted to indulge in my sadness. Rather, I pray and redirect my thoughts to higher things. Stop romanticizing your sadness, and know what triggers it.

  • Learn from your relationships.

And no, not from romantic ones. How do you treat those you have nothing to gain from? Are you creating new relationships and nurturing old ones? Are you plugged in a solid community that helps you grow or are you too busy engaging in futile acts like gossip to belong to one? How you treat those around you will eventually be how you treat your partner.  

For women, do you affirm the men around you? Do you push them towards Christlikeness? For men, do you treat women with respect and protect them? Do you let their unique femininity radiate? Regardless of your “intentions,” kindness doesn’t go unnoticed.

  • Passively wait, actively serve.

Are you pursuing your best, the Lord? Do you make time for Him? Are you delighting in Him and His precepts, or do you simply make Him an afterthought? There is so much that God can boldly use us for – to reach out and mentor someone younger than us, to be part of any ministry in Church, and to let people know about God in whatever way we can. This season is a great gift; may we offer our waiting to the Lord.

An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:34-35)

Being in a relationship is a beautiful, life-giving thing but honor your singleness, and make peace with it. Don’t make a (romantic) relationship your goal. Be open to possibilities, and allow this season to bear glorious things within you. If you’re single, good, it means you have uninterrupted time to learn about life without compromising your plans – because you have another person in the equation. It is a wonderfully grave responsibility, after all. Do the things you’re afraid of – trek a mountain, learn a new language, go on your first solo trip – and love life without anticipating that someone falls in love with you in the process.

Work on your person, and continue to fall in love with your kind of beautiful. Let time transform you. Lay down your expectations on the feet of Christ. I tell you, every day you wait on God’s plan is a gift to your spouse.


New Rules: Everything I Want to Tell Women Who Settle

In Dua Lipa’s New Rules MV, you see a group of beautiful women – with mascara-dripped faces and blinding highlight – “supporting” one another (emotionally) in a singsong, theatrical production. As of writing, it has 33M views – pretty sure because many can relate. Let me tell you something, it’s everything I want to tell my friends who settle.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’ve been there, and my closest friends can attest to that (with my desperate text messages at 3AM all in CAPS LOCK – because FEELINGS). Having said that, I’ve also met and comforted way too many heartbroken women who have felt abandoned. Sometimes, we persist to stay in situations that don’t benefit us but we’re too caught up in the person, in the feeling that we need to be reminded that, really, we don’t need to. This may be a part of life but that’s it; don’t let it become your life. Let this be your salvation: love doesn’t need to be complicated. If you’re trying too hard, there may be something wrong.

  • Ladies, you are not just somebody’s “afterthought.”

You are not a chance lost *cough Jollibee TVC cough,* you are, first and foremost, a choice. Stay away from boys who only seek your presence when it’s convenient. Never compromise your standards to fit someone in the picture. If you have different beliefs, if you’re running towards opposite directions, it’s time to be firm and stand your ground.

  • Never act on your emotions when you’re lonely.

I’ve been there. 12AM messages left “seen” you immediately regret until the wee hours of the morning. (Girl, sayang ‘yung skin care mo, itulog mo na lang ‘yan – ikagaganda mo pa!) It’s okay to be lonely, but how do you respond to it? If you think you’ll find a good man on some hook-up app or in a bar, please reconsider. I know the attention is so enthralling, and you hunger for it, but there is so much on the line. I say this all the time but lead your heart before it leads you.

  • Handle your expectations.

Correct me if I’m wrong but so many of our deepest hurts come from unmet expectations. Before we put the “blame” on the other party…kayo ba talaga or is it just a M(alabong) U(sapan)? If a guy can’t bravely put himself to lay it out then you have every right to ask for clarity.

  • You don’t have to work for anybody’s attention.

A good man won’t stop at anything if he really likes you. You are worth pursuing. Call me old-fashioned but it is the man’s job to initiate.Take this (and everything else I say, really) with a grain of salt. If you end up second-guessing your words and actions again and again – almost to the point of crippling self-doubt and self-loathing – it’s time to stop and evaluate your circumstances.

“A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in Him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our striving. This is why we must keep asking. Ask Jesus to show you your beauty. Ask Him what He thinks of you as a woman. His words to us let us rest and unveil our beauty.” 

(Stasi and John Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of A Woman’s Soul)

Bottom line, if you’re settling for cheap imitations of love, you are doing yourself a disservice. Honor your heart, and give yourself the respect you deserve. Simple lang ‘yan, if you can’t give your best friend the “love” you have now, then why would you allow yourself to be in that situation? Ipaglaban mo naman ang sarili mo. 

The road to love, the real and God kind, is filled with detours but trust that taking the road less travelled – to wait and make honorable decisions you can be proud of – frees you from unnecessary hurt and drama. Give your energy to something more worth your time. Surround yourself with people who you can be accountable to and who could lovingly rebuke you when you’re making problematic decisions.

From one struggling woman to another, you are beautiful and so is your heart. Guard it for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23). Believe me when I say there is glorious love stored up for you that won’t make you doubt yourself. It is unrelenting and true. Don’t settle for anything else.

Read: Maximizing Your Season of Singleness 

If you had the opportunity to talk to a younger you, what would you tell her about love? Leave your answers in the comments below! ❤️