Category Archives: My writing

The Breakup of a Successful Courtship

Everyone wants a happy ending. Filipinos are suckers for this especially in TV series and movies. I remember myself avidly following but eventually hating one tagalized Koreanovela. It turned out that the guy died in the end. And do I hate Shakespeare for what he did with Romeo and Juliet!

For us, deaths and breakups do not qualify as successes in love stories. Let’s concentrate on breakups. Breakups are as common as relationships. Boyfriend-girlfriend relationships at that. Hey, did you know that they broke up? Who? Who?

Let’s face it, we don’t think people who break up have had their share of a successful courtship. “It just didn’t work (sigh)”… It was not meant to be. Bummer. Too bad to hear. Sorry for that. A wedding ring is our idea of a successful courtship.

But did you know successful courtships can also lead to breakups? You probably haven’t thought of that, have you?

Now let’s pause for a moment and have ourselves rethink. Let’s think anew about courtship.

Courtship is the prelude to marriage. I may rightly or wrongly attribute that sentence to Joshua Harris, bestselling author of books “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Boy Meets Girl.” But anyway, courtship is by principle the time when two people—boy and girl—find out if it’s God’s will that they eventually say “I Do.”

Does a courtship always have to end up with marriage? Not necessarily. It is a platform of finding out: soul-searching. In Christian circles, suitors often replace the invitation phrase “Can I court you?” or “Could you be my girlfriend?” with “Can you pray with me?”. It sounds weird, but the essence is there. Prayer is one of the ways that we can know what God wants to happen in our life—by asking Him.

Courtship though, shouldn’t be done for the sake of being romantically involved. Simply put, it is not a free place to express what you feel and have your feelings reciprocated. It is not “an end in itself” or a dead end.

As you go along finding out, God will reveal His will in many ways. Is the person right for you? One way to find out is what James refers to as the “wisdom of God” that is “peacable” (Jas. 3:17). I’d like to see it this way—that if you are meant to be, God gives you the peace to go along through the weeks, months and even years of your courtship. He will give you that special kind of peace and joy to continue and make the romantic involvement grow. And it will deepen.

However, God can also reveal the opposite. If you are not meant to be, He will surely impress it to you, that is, if you do not play deaf to Him. It may be in your quiet time, your devotion, your prayers. It may also come as a remark from a Christian brother. It most especially will come from within: a feeling of restlessness, lack of peace and joy will haunt you if you are stubborn. The Holy Spirit from within will convict you that it’s not right to continue.

Are you asking for answers? Or you deliberately won’t listen so you wouldn’t know?

A successful courtship ends when God wants it to end. After all, everything we do is just the daily following of what God wants. Relationships are no exemption. If God wants it to go “all the way” (I mean marriage, not sexual immorality), so be it. That’s good. But if He makes it clear that you should end it, so be it. And that’s good.

Joshua Harris’ advise that romantic involvement grows only in proportion with commitment is true. “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.” Unless God impresses in our hearts that we are doing His will by staying with the person, we ought not to commit to the relationship. That way, we minimize the hurt—of course there will be—when we break up. That’s why it’s always important that we guard each other’s purity. We give the other person all the respect, the love, the care that they deserve (especially women).

If we become so romantically involved and emotionally attached to the person, a danger looms. When God wants you to let go, you have to.

Being obedient has its own reward. We are not in the position to assert what we want. Obeying His will save us from hurt or pain beyond what’s necessary. Think of it—letting go would have saved you from a lifetime stuck with the wrong person in an unfortunate married life. Pathetic boyfriends make pathetic husbands. But if you want things your own way, go ahead. Be my guest. But remember, obedience will prevent us from unnecessary consequences. God forbid, like violating the other person in your confusion.

After all, courtship is the time of finding out. If it’s a yes or a no, it’s not our business. Our business is to do the right thing based on the right information at the right time.

A breakup is as good as a courtship that leads to marriage. That is, if it’s the will of God. Both are successes.

It also follows that a courtship that leads to marriage is not always a successful one. Even a courtship that continues after it should have ended.

People who desperately hold on to people are in trouble. They ought to understand this: No human relationship can ever satisfy. We only find completeness, peace and joy in God alone.

If this is not understood, relationships will be a mess. It will not do its job—to lead us to the right person prepared for us. By refusing to break up, we deny blessings from pouring in.

One is growth. Elisabeth Elliot writes in her book “Passion and Purity” about this:

“There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops. If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to let it go when the time comes to let it go or unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul.

“It is easy to make a mistake here. “If God gave it to me,” we say, “it’s mine. I can do what I want with it.” No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go–if we want to find our true selves, if we want real Life, if our hearts are set on glory.”

Looking back, I could just be thankful of my breakup experience. Did it hurt? Yes. Would have I wanted to have her back? Yes, but that was years ago. *wink. Did I have a hard time moving on? Like who wouldn’t? But would I want to prevent it from happening if I could go back in time? No.

I could only look back and reflect on my immaturity and shortsightedness back then. The breakup gave me the opportunity to grow. When I look at how far God has brought me, I thank Him. I wouldn’t want to go back to the past and change anything.

When we refuse to let go of the wrong person, we also withhold ourselves the coming of the right person. We cannot put water in a glass that is full. Who would want that?

Therefore, take the time of courtship to find out what God wants. As you go along, seriously ask questions. Don’t shun answers because you don’t like to hear them:

Am I learning to love the right way (see 1 Corinthians 13)? Is the relationship helping me grow? Or is it stunting my spiritual life? Is it sucking up the joy that I find in Christ? Am I depending too much on the person? Remember God wants first place in our lives.

Do I have peace? Do I see the qualities I want of a Christian husband or wife in the person? Does he/she share the same vision and appetite for the ministry?

Does he/she share the same faith as mine in the first place?

And how about this: Does this person love God first, before me?

Take note of misguided priorities, wrong notions of love, and unwillingness to listen to God’s will.

And lastly lemme ask, how do you view God? Is He someone who is kill-joy, who doesn’t want you to be happy? What do you know about His faithfulness and promises? If we know God as the Author of love and romance, we would trust that His Will will always lead to successful courtships. Breakup or not.

Know and love your God first.

“A messed up theology leads to a messed up life.” —Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep

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Sincerity

Girls often ask (or try) guys a lot in the aspect of sincerity. The Filipino way of starting romantic relationships is through courtship. More often than not, men who ask out girls are often plagued by women’s questions on whether they are sincere or not.

What do they really mean when they ask about sincerity? One definition goes this way, “Sincerity is generally understood to be truth in word and act.” This means whatever is in a person’s mind and heart, that is what he speaks about and how he acts out.

I can’t really go on discussing about what the word is, but I definitely know what it is not. Over time, I have come through misconceptions about the word. People seem to equate it to things that it is not. Here are some:

  • Sincerity is not necessarily doing the right thing. You can be sincere but sincerely wrong. Case in point: religious cults. A more contextualized case in point: relationships that God forbids, but still people go on coz they’re ‘sincere’…the feeling is real.
  • Sincerity is not necessarily being too outspoken or emotional. There are people who are not so open about relationships but are sincere. There are also people who fill Facebook with their romantic shoutouts but are not really true about what they feel. What I know is this: no matter how outspoken or not a person is, as long as what he feels and thinks is consistent with what he expresses, that’s sincerity. The person may have reasons for not (excessively) shouting it out to the world. However, anything that fills the heart will overflow to words and actions. Eventually, it will.
  • Sincerity is not necessarily determined by your track record. For people who have played around before, others might not trust them, no matter how sincere they are this time. They will think that the ‘sincerity’ is an isolated case. And be careful with goody-two-shoes. They also have a tendency to be insincere this time. It’s really difficult to determine which is which. Though it’s not really about your track record, there is something to be said about your lifestyle. What have you used to doing? People who are insincere and want to change usually find it difficult to get their act together.

There are many questions and misconceptions about the word. (I think I’d be ending prematurely here, but anyway…) Sincerity is a virtue. No matter what we think it is, it is still important when we start, nurture and maintain relationships with people, especially with romantic ones.

But for me, sincerity in relationships is something like this: It is knowing that what you feel is true, that the feelings are founded on what you believe is right, and that your expression of what is right and true is appropriate, that the expression is seen appropriately by others, and that the expression that you know others see is completely consistent with what you think and feel in the first place.

That’s quite long. Let’s just stick with the first definition: “Sincerity is generally understood to be truth in word and act.”

Making something sweet together

Oops, sorry. Not what you think.

But really, I’m inviting this one special someone to come over my place. I want to make something sweet together with her—leche flan.

I have this craving for this sweet, sweet dessert for a time. I love it when mom makes leche flan for us. I recently asked mom to teach me how to do it.

Weeks ago, I made my first leche flan(s) for the first time. It was for someone special (I mean, someone special other than mom!).

Back then, she just came home after her an overseas trip. I brought her leche flan. She liked it (I think).

Now, I’m inviting her to make that sweet little thingy with me. I also want her to try cooking it—it’s simple and fun. (More fun when I’m with her).

The thing is, these days we’re rushing things in the brink of our countdown to—wait for it—graduation. However, midst our busy-ness, I’ve been asking her that we’ll do it.

But I do understand it when she declines. We’re busy. Anyway, I’d still hope for the day we’ll do that sweet thingy together.

But not just that, we could cook a whole lot more together. More sweet thingies. Together.

Ah, the niceness of the thought. Sweet. Together. Love it. Love her.

Why there are things I shouldn’t know

I don’t get the reason why people close to me tell me white lies. You know, saying ‘There’s nothing between us’ when she’s really sustaining a relationship?

Well, I’m not that gullible but I tend to believe them. The word’s trust. But as JLB quotes the Russian Proverb “Trust, but verify” (Доверяй, но проверяй) made popular by Ronald Reagan, I usually do….verify.

O yes, I do have my secrets too. However, I’m not the secretive type. As an INTP (me with the personality types again), my quest is for truth. I admit I’m not a good keeper of secrets. My quest is for truth. I don’t take pleasure in lying. (Not that I haven’t lied, but I usually rely on rational excuses rather than lies to get me out of my parents’ scoldings *wink)

But, yeah, why do people have to lie? Why do they twist the truth?

Does that make them feel good? I don’t know. Does that make them feel safe (uhm, from me?)? Well, temporarily. But ultimately, lies lead to bondage. And the well-known Biblical phrase forever rings true: The truth shall set you free.

God hates lies. In fact, Satan is forever cursed for being the father of lies.

And anyway, all secrets will be revealed someday. That’s why I don’t keep secrets. (When I imagine how much skeletons will be spilt out of the closets, I cringe—with a capital ‘C’—at the thought.)

In case my friends stumble on my blog these days, enough warning, enough admonishment:

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Ephesians 5: 6-13, emphasis added

Enough said.

Process is important

The process is more important than the success.
—Francis Kong

Yes, I’ve been muttering this phrase for a week now. Since I heard Francis Kong, RP’s top inspirational speaker,  say that, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

And he’s right. Everyday, everything is a process.

Couldn’t say much now, but I admit it’s an encouragement. I’m in an uncomfortable situation right now, helps to know that the discomfort is part of the process.

Someday, everything will pay off. For now, I’ll have to deal with the process.

This, too, shall pass.

Break Down, Let Go, Move On

"When praise demands a sacrifice, I'll worship even then, surrendering the dearest things of life; And if devotion costs my all, He'll find me faithful to His call, when praise demands a sacrifice."

Break Down The High Places
God has His way of getting back what utterly belongs to Him—whole-hearted devotion. I didn’t know I was building an idol out of an affection. No, affections are not wrong. But I think this one is.

I even managed to convince myself that it was right. I thought talking about it in “Christian” light made it right. Blinded I was, God went down to second place.

I was like the Israelites in Biblical times. At first, Jehovah God was God alone, but then, they turned their faces to idol worship. They set up idols in high places where altars for worshiping God used to stand. Continue reading Break Down, Let Go, Move On

Zabbel

Zabbel is a little tiger. In fact, she’s a stuffed toy. She’s cute, and striped orange and black (of course). Last night, I gave her to someone special.

The name “Zabbel” is an Armenian derivative of the Spanish “Isabel”. It means ‘an oath to God’ or ‘consecrated to God’. At least, that’s how I desired her recipient to be—someone dedicated and set apart for the Lord.

Is it for the Day of Hearts or the Chinese New Year of the Tiger? Probably none of the two. For one, I am single. Secondly, I am not really Chinese by culture. But that doesn’t stop me from bringing Zabbel to her rightful owner.

“Please adopt me,” the cute little thing says. It’s even cuter when she read that little tag.

It was past nine in the evening. The special day was nearly done. If I haven’t scoured that place for her presence, I wouldn’t have handed in the gift. I knew I had to hand it in. I was driven to give it on that day, personally.

At last I found her… It was relief. But the softer side of things was left unsaid. I knew, that though unsaid, both of us understood it. But for now, let it remain in the memory of Zabbel.

Yes, I hope you’d be set apart, consecrated for God.

Zabbel.