Monday, July 27, 2009

"Princess Wenslyn"--Part III

I usually hate sequels. Whether movies, books, or television shows...sequels disappoint more often than they entertain. Sequels try to forcefully continue a story that had already ended. Sequels are unoriginal and uncreative. I've collected many quotes that mock sequels. I hate sequels...

So why am I writing a sequel blog post...again? Because I realize that the story hasn't ended yet.

I've always dreamed of being a princess, and too often, I think of myself as a princess too. I thought that at some point in life, I would outgrow those fantasies. But even though the the puffy gowns, pumpkin carriages, and poisoned apples might disappear from my fancies...the main dream still lives in me.

I want to be a princess.

In my first princess post, I described how the title "Princess Wenslyn" took upon different meanings for me at different points in my life. Sometimes, I adored it and sometimes I detested it. Yet just like author Leslie Ludy said in her book Authentic Beauty, almost every single girl has always wanted to be a princess...and I am one of them. Whether or not my lips admitted the desire didn't my heart of hearts, I've still always wanted to be a princess. It's just that sometimes...I couldn't decide what being a princess really meant.

A fairytale princess has class, style, and poise. A princess has incomparable charm and beauty. A princess captures the heart of every man who meets her as she dances oh-so-gracefully. A princess is more precious than other girls. A princess is popular, kind, and sweet. A princess just sleeps and waits for the perfect prince to come wake her with a kiss.

Princess, princess, princess...fantasies tell me I should act according to these descriptions to be a princess. But experience tells me to my face that IT DOESN'T WORK.

I obviously do not have the class, style, and poise of a fairy-tale princess. I can never be the prettiest girl in a class, not to mention the world. I can never capture the heart of every man I meet. I am definitely not worth more than any other girl. I dance like a wooden puppet. I would never grow as a person if I sleep as much as sleeping beauty did, and a perfect prince doesn't just show up at one's door...because he doesn't exist.

So do I become a princess? What exactly IS a princess?

It's all so confusing...until I heard someone call me in a way I haven't been called before. This time, the words I heard were not "Princess Wenslyn"....they were "my princess."

It was then that I realized...the definition of a princess is not found in the word "princess"'s found in the person who has the princess. It's the "my" that defines the princess. I might not have the poise, charm, or skills of a fairty-tale princess...but that's because those princesses are defined by "fairytale." I am to be defined by my prince.

Quoting Leslie Ludy again...every girl only needs one Prince. And my Prince is Jesus Christ. When my heart follows the standards of my Prince and learns to be "His" princess...I can become a princess. And Lord willing, there will be the day when my Heavenly Prince puts my hand in the hands of an earthly prince who loves me because I am the right kind of princess. My prince will not want me because I'm a fairtytale princess...I will be his princess because I have learned to be His princess.

So the story continues...for I still want to be a princess. Not "Princess Wenslyn." No, I don't want that. I want to be a princess....His princess and his princess.

Friday, July 17, 2009

One to a Thousand

"With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," states 2 Peter 3:8. Looking back, I understand that just like Narnian time is different from the time of this world, life does not progress at a uniform rate.

Some chapters of my life lasted for several years. I would study the same way, live the same way, dress the same way, and grow in the same direction for quite some time before changes crept in. This past year, however, has been the exact opposite. I feel that I have lived one lifetime within a year.

It is now past the middle of July...more than a year since I left the Philippines for North America, to visit some relatives and eventually enter college. I had thought that the whole plan was simple. I go, I study, I come back, I go again, I study again, I graduate, I come back. But God had so much more in store.

This past year has affected me mentally. I have learned to discipline my mind to juggle many subjects and keep at pace with classmates. I have learned to write papers instead of stories, to take do projects instead of give an oral report to mom.

This year has altered me socially and emotionally. I've had to live in a dorm with hundreds of girls who are not family, around people who could hate you and be both up front or behind your back about it. I have also met people who have changed my life forever. I have encountered friendship and love beyond anything I used to hear or say or feel...from individuals I formerly never even knew existed.

This year has impacted me spiritually. When left alone in a foreign country, almost completely free from the enormous accountability I've had as a pastor's daughter...I had to learn to follow God on my own. I had to follow God whether people saw me doing it or not; I had to learn to form my own convictions about my Christian walk.

One year. One lifetime. If I did not have God, I would not have survived. I thought I knew what to expect...but God has so, so, so much more in store.

God's is beyond all time zones, all space...beyond all limitations. He could work miracles in my life within one year, and He could do that again and again. May I never try to limit God in my mind. There will be times when a thousand years feel as slow as a day, there will be times when a day feels as life-changing as a thousand years. Either way, God's in control. His ways are higher than mine.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Collect, Collect, Then Select"

Those are the four words that almost spelled my emotional doom since I first heard them several years ago. Collect, collect, then select..."admirers are for collecting and bragging about, guys (or girls) exist for your ego and comfort"...that is the real message behind this common quote. The idea appeals to the human heart easily, but it does nothing good in the long run.

For almost half of my life, I used to find pride in how guys would notice me and how even parents and grandparents would urge their family members to go after me. I liked the attention. In my highly social culture, I could feel the vanity factor. I enjoyed being desired and sought; I found value in the idea of being a prize to the guys, even if I never planned to give away that prize anytime soon. The more admirers, the more worth...that's what I believed.

So God started showing me things. The first guy I entertained extensively chose to be with someone else. When I thought others were being serious while I was flirting, I was informed that the other parties were merely just putting me down on the list of girls they've flirted. Someone the whole church encouraged to go after me would refuse to make a move for several years, but fell in love and became engaged within months of meeting the love of his life.

Some of these incidents hurt crazily. Some of them did not hurt at all. And yet...they all showed me one common thing.

What did I gain at all from having multiple guys seeking my attention or hand? Nothing. What purpose was there in knowing how to make a guy like me? Nothing, nothing at all.

I could groom and train myself to attract countless young men if I want to. I know what type of guy needs humor, what kind needs respect, what kind needs gentleness, and what kind needs just time. Sure, I could collect and collect and collect...but is there a point to it?

Instead of getting happiness and confidence...I got consequences.

Yes, I got to make the suitor-rejection speeches and letters that I had always rehearsed as a young girl. But they only brought me broken friendships. Yes, I got to receive gifts and attention and praises. But if even the friendships were lost, the memories were painful anyway.

Yes, I could collect the affections of multiple young men...but I could marry only one person at the end of the day. The ability to attract is not exactly a life-partner quality. When there are guys surrounding me, I might become a good prize, but I might not necessarily make a good wife. Having a range of admirers is not any kind of asset in my potential as a spouse. In fact, if the situations are handled poorly, such a background would actually make me a worse wife, a wife that is proud and attention-seeking.

I do understand that a person with many admirers (whether as a guy or a girl) probably has some reason to cause that situation. Appearances, skills, character, personality, or whatever...there must be something to attract people, and that something is the person's real asset. Assets do cause attraction...but attraction itself is not an asset.

So when I learn how to please the opposite gender, I should learn to serve my family and my future husband, not to attract potential admirers. When I work to improve myself, I should not focus on becoming the ultimate "admiree," but on becoming a godly wife, mother, teacher, or whatever God plans for me to be.

Collect, collect...collecting takes alot of time and effort. Why collect what I would never select? And if God is the One selecting for me, then it would be outright stupid of me to try to collect. My security lies with the Lover of My Soul, not with attention from the opposite gender. May my assets lie with Him and Him alone.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hannah's Prayer

God has been inconceivably good to me throughout my life, blessing me with love, gifts, talents, and opportunities undeserved. I wholeheartedly acknowledge how wonderfully He has treated me. And yet, as a sinful human being, I have had my share of bitterness and discontentment.

And of all the areas that I might experience discontentment, one stands

When can I have a boyfriend? Why can't I have a relationship? What hinders me from having a relationship at all? I have repeatedly asked my parents over the years, behind closed doors and oftentimes in tears.

They might have reasons, but they have never sounded reasonable to me. I have grown up all my life a helpless romantic. I have always longed for the time to give myself wholeheartedly to the man I love, to share with him my heart and my life. Yes, I've had my other dreams in terms of ministry and friends and career...but at the end of the day, I've always just wanted to be a committed wife and mother. Why would my parents allow me to pursue everything else, except the one thing I have always longed for?

When my parents tell me why I am not consistent and mature enough to make a serious commitment yet, they actually make sense. They just don't make sense to my childish and selfish heart. And, of course, there is always the comparison factor: Why can't I have a relationship now? I am more ready than so and so, than he or she.

That is the question that always haunts me the most. Why can't I if he or she can? I know that, with the way I am now, I would make a much better partner than many people who are dating (or getting married, for that matter) actually make. Why hold me to such a high standard?

The bitterness almost killed me. It gnawed away at my heart...until God spoke to me through Hannah.

At the beginning of the book of Samuel, Hannah mourned her own barrenness. Her husband's other wife, Peninnah, had many children. Yet Hannah, the godly woman in the family, had no children of her own. She was pestered by Peninnah, and she was looked down upon by her society. In many ways, she was persecuted. Yet still, God refused to give to her a child.


"Hannah would have made a much better mother than Peninnah ever would have," our pastor preached on Mother's Day, "But God chose to let Hannah turn to Him and pray to Him and wait upon Him...because He had something better, because He was refining her."

Then God give her Samuel, as well as many other children to follow.

The message spoke to my heart. It does not matter how good of a girlfriend or fiance or wife or mother I could be. I am not given those roles at the moment. It does not matter if I am this much more mature or considerate than any other person is, for God does not grant blessings based upon any human merit.

So now, do I still find it hard to trust that God will give me what is better for me than anything others around me have? Oh yes I do.

Do I still foolishly and stubbornly fear that by obeying Him I would miss out on the love of my life? You bet!

But when those thoughts pervade my mind and drive me to complain against God...I think of Hannah, and I think of how much agony she went through before God gave her a son who would be the greatest judge of Jewish history, a boy who became the first of the Old Testament prophets.

God does not give anything based upon how much a person appears to deserve it. Every good and perfect gift is from above...and gifts are things that are not earned. I cannot earn or demand or complain. I can only pray to Him, seek Him, love Him...and commit my life into His hands.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

He Knows My Name

I have been called by numerous names throughout my life. Wenslyn, Wen-Wen, Wen, Wens, Wesleen, and my grandmother's famous Son-Hen-Rys-Wen are just a few examples. I've heard of teasing paraphrases from brothers, affectionate pet names from loved ones, and honestly mistaken contortions such as Gwen, Wenston, and Wesley.

I remember walking into my parents' bedroom one day, declaring to my mom that she had given me an irrational name. She looked at me and nodded, "Exactly, that's why it suits you."

Is my name really that hard to know? At our home church, people would know my nickname but misspell my full name. Or some others would recognize my full name only to read it in a sadly mispronounced manner. When I began to attend college in September 2008, things only got worse. Without the family ties that people usually recognize me for, there was practically no reason for anyone to care to remember this whacko of a name.

Wenseen? Weslin? Wendy? Wenslo? People would seriously call me, and I just answer to them all. After all, I knew I was not important. I didn't matter whether anyone knew my name or not. They had no obligation to know. Although it would be nice to be called correctly, I honestly did not mind people's mispronunciation. I knew that selfishness would be the only reason I cared what people thought my name was. I did not mind; I understood.

Then, a truth hit me: "My sheep hear my voice, and I call them by name."

The thought overwhelms me. He knows my name. God knows my name. The incredibility of the idea!

Nothing compares to my insignificance before God; no one can be more undeserving of God's love than I can be. And yet, He knows me, and He calls me by name.

When I reflect upon the number of people that have occupied this planet in this world and throughout history, I realize how truly amazing God's relationship with me is.

He knows me by name; and He knows you by name. Even when nobody else cares, we can rest assured that He does. Whenever loneliness and frustration are overcoming, He knows, He cares...and He calls us to His side.