Thursday, September 20, 2007

Learning from Things That Never Happened

I often hear educators discuss how different methods of teaching can make students more well-rounded. They can go to great lengths debating how to best explain certain points and impart certain pieces of knowledge, citing experience and observation as their witnesses.

Well, they still can't beat God. God created all things out of nothing, and He made man in His own image. In my life, I'm realizing that He also teaches out of nothing; He molds His children out of things that never even happened.

After I decided to apply to the University of Hong Kong last year, my family did their best to prepare me for life in Hong Kong. My parents invested time and money to aid me in learning the Cantonese language. I familiarized myself with the lifestyle of Hong Kong. We disciplined my brothers to take over many responsibilites I have at home, and I helped to train church talents to sub for me in my music and language ministries.

A couple of weeks ago, my application was confirmed to be denied. Yet even as I cope with the rejection, I find myself amazed when I realize how much these months have taught me.

In terms of skill, I mastered an addition language within 2 years time, and I learned many essentials of lone survival. With regards to my family and friends, I learned to treasure them so much more as the reality of impeding separation weighed upon me during those months. Others also benefitted from this ordeal, since I know my brothers and trainees wouldn't have been taught so much if I had not been going anywhere.

Yet most importantly, this event has taught me to trust God and live one day at a time for Him. After living through several months without knowledge of where I'd be within the year, I was trained to wait upon God. Realizing that I would soon be surviving on my own, I was compelled to grow even closer to God in my personal walk, since I would not have the spiritual aid and security of family and home church soon.

Most people might consider these lessons to have been learned "in vain," since I am not going to Hong Kong after all. But I know better. I know God was at work, molding me and the people in my lives through this seemingly failed ordeal. With the apparent disillusionment came valuable lessons and intimate moments with our Lord that I would never have known otherwise. God teaches in mysterious ways. Yes, He really does.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Internet?!

Yes, for more than 48 hours this week, our DSL-accustomed family was struck with an internet draught. Thanks to PLDT’s disservice, we were isolated from cyberspace for what seemed like endless eternity while it lasted. For the entire duration of the experience, my brothers and I would cry out spontaneously, “Still no internet?!” while my parents would sigh every time they could not access their favorite webpages. It was so frustrating.

My dad had his news and investment information to track. My mom had junior church matters to research. My brothers had their game progress to follow. I had my blogs to manage, many chatmates to contact, and lots of time-sensitive information to relay through Yahoo Mail or Messenger. And to think all these were merely our most basic internet activities. It was irritating.

Yes, yes, I know it was no big deal. A pastor’s family can’t survive without internet? No way.

True, we can survive without internet, and we did survive without internet, though not without plenty of whining, complaining, sighing, and outright boredom.

Remember those days when you would treasure electricity so much only when the house is struck with a brown-out? Remember how you realized food needs an effort to acquire only when you were hungry and the fridge at home was empty? I guess that happened to our family again.

We would never have realized how great a blessing, and also how great an addiction too, the church’s high-speed internet were to us if we had not been deprived of it. As we found ourselves complaining and tired without access to the world wide web, I realized it was time for some thankfulness and confession.

I heard a magician’s testimony this past Sunday, about how he learned to be thankful for his nimble hands only when he almost suffered the loss of a finger. It was a very touching account, and I learned a lot from it as well. I don’t want to lose more things before I remember to treasure them, nor do I want to idolize anything lest God should whisk them away. I don’t want to think that I have the right to enjoy any luxuries, for they are all grace.

Thank God for my family of sinners, thank God for leading my life so far. Thank God for so many talents and resources to serve Him. Thank God for out internet recovery…so I could post this account. Little things, big things, they all add up. I could be constantly grateful for them, or I could let them become my gods. I pray it will stay the former.

Now the internet’s back, and everyone’s happy. And I hope, that what we do now and feel now with this tool will make Him happy too.

Monday, September 3, 2007

"Princess Wenslyn"

Many people have addressed me with those two words during separate intervals in my life. My sentiments towards them, however, have not been consistent, and still aren't.

When I was a little girl, I abosolutely adored that term. "Princess Wenslyn" delightful, how charming, how wonderful! It reminded me of all those fantasies as a young princess parading my long train, wearing my tiara, and twirling around in a ballroom of candles. And I was ecstatic whenever anyone in real life referred to me with such words. It was magical each time.

Once a teen, however, I stopped loving that title. Wanting more affirmation from people my age, I detested the reference of "princess," since it reflected my aloofness, my intimidation to others, and my oftentimes inconsiderate socialite mannerisms. I took the term to be more an insult than a compliment or word of endearment.

After many years, I've heard those words again...and this time, they made me think a whole lot.

At different stages in my life, I've over-emphasized the good or the bad effects of such a position, and I adored or detested the title accordingly. Yet all of a sudden, I realize that perhaps it is fact more than comment. In the world of Filipino-Chinese ministry, I do come from a stronge heritage of "royal blood," inclusive of all the wonders and the challenges.

Almost like a princess, I enjoy the concern and recognition of so many people. I own the comfort of a model pastor's family spiritually, materially, ministerially, and so forth. I am blessed with numerous ministry opportunities due to my high-profile position. I am well-loved.

At the same time, the struggles abound. There's the constant struggle to think myself more important than others. There's the struggle of high expectations. There is the sometimes overwhelming responsibility to uphold a high standard in all family and social interactions, even as we live in a fishbowl, plain for all to see.

So what then, if I am a princess? Am I to strive for normalcy after living so differently all these years? Or am I to take full advantage of my position as ministerial royalty and continue to try new boundaries for youths in service? The answer is a balance, I know, but that balance is oftentimes so tricky to find as it swerves over the years.

I am slowly learning, that as a ministerial princess living inside the ivory palace of our church, I have more than human expectations to meet. Maybe soon I will no longer live this high-profile life. Maybe the princess will walk among others anonymous, or maybe she will still be a starlet for some time to come. I don't know...but I do know that when human expectations cease, God's expectations don't. I'm a child of a King, and it is for His standards that I live.

I don't need to argue whether I'm a princess or not, because I am, and it is for the standards of my Father that I live, I trust, and I persevere. "Princess Wenslyn"...I know I'll always be one. Perhaps now in an evident way, perhaps less in the future. Yet there is no escaping the fact, and my duty and my joy is to be found in living whatever may be my portion in each chapter of my life.