5 Big Changes I Did in 2019 That Changed My Life

2019 was a year of financial struggles and work-related stress and pain. But I am grateful for the hardship because it changed me into a wiser and tougher person. Life is hard, that’s a fact but we are more than conquerors through God who loves us. (Romans 8:37) Without these trials we will never grow mature. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, Jesus said, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) I would like to share with you the changes I did in the previous year and I will continue doing this 2020 and for the years to come.

1. I decided to become a minimalist.

When I was younger I used to think that minimalism is boring because I thought that minimalists’ only use either black or white things. I was wrong. Reading a lot about sustainable living, I figured out that minimalist is all about buying things that you only need. I am not ashamed of the fact that I bought a bag way back 2016 and I’ve been using only one bag at work for the last 5 years (which was a gift to me in 2015). The last purchase of shoes that I use for going out (not for work) was in 2015. Minimalism is not about depriving yourself to buy things that you love. It’s about being content of what you have. I became a minimalist because unnecessary shopping doesn’t excite me anymore. I remember I was often mistaken as a saleslady when I went to malls because I always wear jeans and just black tshirt which is the usual attire of people working in malls. Wearing black or white clothes is fun for me because it doesn’t matter if you wear them endless times. I’m not impoverished but I want to spend my money with more valuable stuff such as investments.

2. I don’t care about people’s perception of me.

If I care about people’s opinion of me I will buy many trendy and latest items to impress them. If their perception of me matters to me I will be ashamed of my 5 year-old bag that I use daily for duty and my clothes that I used hundreds of times. But no, I am proud of my ancient but durable and high quality things. I am not impressed by others (with the same salary as me) who always have new expensive clothes. Our worth doesn’t depend on the things that we have or we lack.

Our worth also doesn’t depend on what others say about us. Whatever we do, people will comment bad things about us. Assess ourselves. Are they right when they tell me I’m incompetent? Are they correct when they say that I’m dumb? If we know ourselves enough we know which comment is truth or just trying to put you down. I heard many bad remarks about me and I know that I am not the kind of person they think I am. I don’t care anymore. I practice the thing called Mind What Matters. What you don’t mind doesn’t matter. Don’t mind them and they don’t matter.

3. I don’t collect things anymore.

I realized that my mind is clearer when I’m dwelling in a place with less clutter. As an overseas worker, collecting things in a foreign land is a waste. I will end up going back to my homeland and I can’t bring all useless things with me when I go home. I also hate the idea of stuffing my room with too many shoes, clothes and the like until my place turns into a mess. I rather collect memories with the people I love the most.

4. I plan my retirement.

I want to retire as early as possible because I want to spend the rest of my life enjoying the fruit of my labor. Retirement for me doesn’t mean working no more. I imagine myself managing my dream business when I retire. Planning my retirement is setting my priorities, educate myself on finances and saving money for investments. Being a minimalist also helps in saving money for my dream job when I retire as an employee.

5. I write my prayers in my notebook.

I always believe in miracles and the power of prayer. As a Christian, I believe that prayers can move mountains. We may not see the result right away but as we continue praying day by day, God slowly teaches us how to pray and what to pray for.

Most of my prayers written in my notebooks are still unanswered. But the mere fact that I’m writing my prayers in my notebook has changed my life because it has changed my outlook and disposition in life. Rereading my prayers everyday is like reminding myself that the Lord is working everyday even if I don’t see it or feel it. There’s blazing hope in every prayer because He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

3 Ways To Know Our Real Identity

Knowing our true identity is the beginning of discovering our purpose. We are here not to exist and die but to figure out our identity so we can fully understand our purpose. Many people are coming up with different ideas about their purpose. They say that helping others is their purpose. Some say that living their lives to the fullest is the reason for their existence. Other say making an impact on the world or influence others is their purpose. But are those really the purpose of their lives? We can comprehend our purpose by figuring out our identity first. We must know ourselves first. We know our own name, age, sex, biological family and the like but there are 3 ways to know our real identity.

1. Know Who Our Father Is.

We are defined by what family we belong. We are defined by identifying the one who teaches, influences, nurtures and corrects us. We are defined by who our real father is. I’m not talking about our biological fathers but the real father who is a reflection of ourselves. The behavior of the parent is the reflection of his child’s personality. Do you know who your father is?

It is written in John 8:44,“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Jesus was the one speaking in above verse to particular people who didn’t believe Him but claimed that they belonged to God. But in John 1:12-13, the scriptures say “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

‭‭It is clear that not all created by God belong to God. Not all who claim that they belong to God are children of God. Do we believe in Him and carry out His desires? Or do we doubt the existence of the Creator and following all our selfish desires?

2. Know What Our Father Says We Are

Initially we have to know who our real father is because not everyone has the same father. We are all created by the same God but God has special people whom He set apart from all other creations, His chosen children.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter‬ ‭2:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

The Bible is filled with descriptions of people of God. I can’t include all of them but I will share my favorites among them.

We are the salt and light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-15)

Food is tasteless without salt and we are unable to see without light. The children of God make the world happier place to live.

We are God’s temple. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

We are citizens of heaven. (Philippians 3:20-21)

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

We are accepted and loved. (Romans 5:8)

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

We’ve been made rich. (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭8:9‬)

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

We’ve been healed. ‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭2:24)

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

We are free from sin. (Romans 6:22)

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”

And many more.

3. Know Your Choices

God has given us the ability to make choices. He wants everyone to be His children but we know that it won’t happen. Many people in His time denied Him. In fact, they crucified Him because they couldn’t accept Him as their Lord. After all, it is the choices that we make everyday that define us. We choose either to be better or to be worse, to be content or to be unsatisfied, to believe or to doubt. We can choose not to believe in Jesus and everything that is written here. We can define own identity based on our own knowledge, ideas and feelings. But remember, when everything else fails to fill the void in our hearts, don’t hesitate to go back to number 1 up to the third one. May we find our real identity in the One who Created us.

Christian Blogger in the Internet Full of Make Up Tutorials and Travel Goals

Before vlogs became popular, blogs were born. Before YouTubers became famous, bloggers were superstars. I witnessed it because I began to write blogs way back 2009 on Friendster blog. I was in college when I went to my university computer room for free internet and started to compose my first draft. I had no reader because audience that time wasn’t as essential as income. When writing is your passion, the mere idea that your words will be published on the website drives you crazy regardless of view or money. Personal blog became a trend and as I was religiously updating my blog site I gained followers or cyber friends who regularly left comments and nice remarks on my posts. It seemed surreal but because of blog monetization I got 4,000 pesos or 100 US dollars as my first payment. I believe that 2010 was the golden year of blogging because everyone was interested in blogs until Facebook snatched the spotlight. Everyone got hooked on that blue favicon and since it’s easier to express yourself on social media with just simple captions than to post it on more complicated blog site, the ones who weren’t fan of writing shifted to FB and closed their sites. I noticed that most blogs with personal theme didn’t last long except if the author has a knack for literary works. Networking sites stole the scene so blog readers were decreasing unless the blog is owned by famous celebrity. Most people aren’t into reading personal issues of some random persons. People will only be interested if it is beneficial to them or if it is entertaining. So blogs with niche such as fashion, lifestyle, travel and the like stayed in the limelight because those bloggers could showcase their talent and knowledge in a particular topic which was helpful and interesting to a specific target of people. Before Instagram was known the term bloggers were pertaining to the fashionable ladies who were posting perfect photos of themselves flaunting their outfit of the day which are now considered as influencers. Then creative YouTubers nowadays caught our interest with their witty vlogs and helpful tips of living our lives to the fullest. Bloggers before became video blogger today or short for vloggers.

2015 when I attempted to bring More Drafts back to life after a year of inactivity. I figured out that blogging lost its fame because most of blog sites that I followed were no longer existing. But just like painting, the painter’s reward is the art itself and an audience is just a secondary consideration. I’m not as talented as others but I love the power of written words which can change perspectives and feelings of a human heart. On The Mind of a Self-proclaimed Ugly was the very first post about my beliefs as a Christian. I wasn’t planning to change the theme of this blog when I was writing that entry. It took me many months to finally decide to publish that draft because I couldn’t find the resolution of that essay. It remained incomplete and insufficient for a long time, adding few sentences at a time until one day, I suddenly felt certain with my ideas and words were flowing smoothly like a calm river gliding gracefully to its destination. Completing that blog post is like overcoming my biggest insecurity. Posting it and rereading it a hundred times felt like being freed from a hundred years of imprisonment. Publishing it is the start of writing about my pursuit of becoming a child of the Most High.I don’t have much reader and it’s okay. But I love the idea that when I die, people are going to be curious about what I have been through and they will find my blog out. They will feel comforted by everything that was written here. I also love my blog to be read by my children when I am old and my grandchildren when I already passed away. I want them to be inspired to pursue God in their lives because I did. It’s nice to be remembered as fashionista, a beauty icon or a well-traveled person but I want to be remembered in a different way. I want them to be happy remembering me because I overcame all life’s battles through God’s faithfulness. Because in the end, all material and superficial things don’t have any value at all. It’s how you inspired them to believe, how you made them feel important, how you encouraged them to move forward, are all that will matter. As long as I have the capability in the world where we can be anything, I will choose to blog about the pursuit of our true identity in the Lord.

The Pessimistic and Complaining Christian

During my school days I heard someone talking about me in annoyed but very small voice, “She keeps complaining all the time.” I didn’t hear the rest of her speech but I knew that she was pertaining to me because as she was speaking all our classmates were looking at me like I did some horrendous crime. When college days just ended as an act of farewell we wrote letter anonymously to each other before we separated ways. I received a letter saying, “Karen, please stop complaining too much.” I was never aware that I was complaining a lot. I speak what I feel. If I feel uncomfortable I will express it and if I feel uneasy I will tell about it. I thought there was nothing wrong with me until I heard others complaining also about me.

The series of unfortunate events in my life could be the reason why I always think negatively. It could be the result of hoping and praying intensely but ended up not getting what I hoped and prayed for. It could be the numerous times of disappointments and frustrations. It could be my way of protecting myself from pain of not getting what I wished for. I developed a pessimistic mind because I might just wanted to prepare myself to be hurt because I might hurt anyway. Pessimism is also another form of hopelessness, in my own perspective. I grew up with this kind of attitude or it’s better to say that as I grew up I learned this kind of behavior as a form of survival in this tough life. Being complainer somehow correlates pessimism. I complain because I focus on negativity. I complain because I am unhappy and unsatisfied. I complain because I always see the bad sides of everything. I wasn’t aware of the effect of this to the other people around me until I heard them also complaining about me.

I felt a bit hurt when I heard others are irked by my trait which I wasn’t aware that I was. Being a complainer and negative thinker is similar to being ill-tempered, nagger, impatient or any other nasty behavior which is a common reaction when dealing with conflicts. It is my way to function as a human with emotions. I act this way because there’s a cause. But when it starts to bother others, affect my relationship with others and my disposition and contradicts my identity in the Lord, something must break.

Break the Chain

They said that when you let your emotion control your actions you are enslaved by it. You are chained. You are a prisoner of your own feelings because you follow whatever it leads you. When we get mad we may do things mindlessly even though it’s hurting people. I complain because my heart says it doesn’t feel good. Whenever I feel miserable I whine because my heart says so. To break the chain is to let my mind take over my feelings. If I know that God says I am His masterpiece so why am I complaining about my appearance? If I know that God’s plans are better than my plans then why am I complaining about unmet expectations and disappointments? If I know that God is for me and not against me then I should be expectant of His favor and blessings. To break the chain is to let my mind filled with God’s wisdom take over my heart.

God’s wisdom can be found in God’s Word, the scriptures. Many people read self-help books to grow and mature emotionally. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help from self-help books but I figured out that the first self-help book was written ages ago before any book ever published. It was engraved in stones, written by different kinds of people in different generations, the Bible. Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-13‬ says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ‭‭God reassured us that we may not know His plans for us but surely He knows. He will prosper us, that’s what He promised. I often complain that I don’t get proper compensation in my job. I think I’m getting less than I deserve. But whenever I meditate on God’s promises for me I feel ashamed of my thoughts. God teaches me to manage my finances and value what I have. As long as I have all that I need I am certainly blessed and it doesn’t matter if I have little or more.

It’s easier said than done because to break the chain is also to break our hearts and all its evil tendencies. To break the chain is to break ourselves into pieces. To break what we are is to allow God to remold and reshape us perfectly according to His will and plan.

Is There Unbreakable Chain?

Being a Christian doesn’t mean being faultless. I became a Christian and it doesn’t signify that my behavior instantly became flawless. We are still flawed but made perfect through the grace of God. We still have bad traits but one of the best things about being a Christian is whenever a Christian makes mistakes the Holy Spirit rebukes him/her. It is impossible that the Spirit of God didn’t convict us whenever we did unpleasant deeds. We are on the process of remolding and reshaping by God to become the Godly person we ought to be. I still fail even though I try so hard. I still complain and can’t help but to create negative thoughts on my head when life bombards me with uncertainties and difficulties. Is there an unbreakable chain? Isn’t God working enough in my life? I know He is. Bit by bit people may not see but deep inside we can feel that something has changed and though many times the enemy attacks us telling us that God’s promises are all lies and promises are meant to be broken, we sometimes give in. We almost believe. The enemy already deceived us long time ago in the middle of the garden of Eden. We once believed the serpent’s lies and he still keeps on deceiving us up to this present day. That is the reason why God has given us His Son that even though we fail numerous times and keep on failing repeatedly, Jesus already paid the price of our failures. Through Christ’s blood we already won the battle against the same serpent in the middle of the garden of Eden. No human imperfections the blood of Christ can’t wash away. No chain the blood of Christ can’t break.

On The Verge of Losing My Faith

Approximately two years back I was self-studying the Bible daily for months. I was writing the verses on my planner, jotting down my own realizations about the scriptures and at the same time I was researching through the internet. I read many websites and blogs which share clear explanations of each verses. But I didn’t believe everything that the Internet feeds. I would click the About page first and if the author was a Christian I would proceed but I also didn’t believe everything a Christian author says. I must be parallel with the Word. I discovered interesting things about the scriptures. Amazed and overwhelmed by the the Holy Book until I found myself on the verge of losing my Christian faith.

It started when I tried to understand the Bible.

The beginning was my attempt to analyze the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in Genesis. I was full of whys. Why did God plant a tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden where Adam and Eve lived? The Lord prohibited them to eat its fruit but He placed it in their dwelling. It is like storing a food in your fridge and telling you not to eat it because it will kill you. I couldn’t help but to ask a big WHY? I thought the one who kept that food in the refrigerator had intention to kill me because even though He warned me that the food was harmful for me, He knew I would be tempted but He still put it in. Was it all set up? Were Adam and Eve planned to fall? I read articles about free will. God has given humans freedom to choose. Satan was clever and he deceived the woman and the woman had a choice either to believe the lies of the serpent or obey God. It wasn’t set up, they said. The human was at fault, they said. The serpent contributed a huge part of it but all was blamed on human. God only created the tree and placed it near them. It seems like He just placed a knife beside my table and told me not to use it and the devil came and urged me to use it to kill myself and I believed the devil. So I took my own life using the knife that the Lord gave me. But what if there was no knife which acted as an aide to harm myself? What if there was no tree of life that opened our eyes to know the right and wrong in the garden of Eden?

I was determined to answer all my questions about the Bible. Mysteries in the scriptures to me are like treasures that sleep in the heart of earth and I dug up enthusiastically, dug dug dug. Along the way I found some pretty things but not enough to make all blurred pictures clear. In the process of searching and contemplating instead of answers, questions poured out more like an avalanche.

If God is omniscient then why didn’t He foresee that people would become so evil? If He did, then why did God regret that He created them and decided to wipe them out of Earth? I am pertaining to the God-induced genocide through flood and fire in the Old Testament.

If God is omnipotent and nothing He can’t do then why didn’t He make the world perfect? Does the imperfection of the world signify God’s limited power?

Why was the God in the Old Testament more wrathful and less forgiving than the New Testament God?

If there is no impossible to God then why He can’t change the heart of all the people so no one will be tortured in hell? Which leads us to conclusion that indeed His power has limits.

Why did God still create Satan even though He knew Satan would rebel?

I’ve been working in the Middle East since 2013 and I’ve known Arabs who were born Muslim and had no deep understanding about Christianity but really were kind and loving people. They died of sickness. I felt a pang of pain thinking that their destination will be the lake of fire. I wanted to ask God why.

Why?

Why?

I had plenty of whys on my mind which had no adequate answer. It was like an unfinished novel, a song, a movie which keep you thinking until you lost your sanity. I craved truth and the Bible is true when it says that the truth will set you free. Truth would break the crippling chains. I wouldn’t follow a God that I didn’t totally understand. I wanted to be released from confusion and doubts which were imprisoning me. I wanted to be free from hindrances of accepting my identity which God pronounced. I wanted to be fully equipped with facts and right words to answer huge question marks lurking in my mind. On the process of probing, I came across the darker side of internet. And though I didn’t believe everything I read, I read still, to weigh points of each opposing sides. I read a lot until I found myself on the verge of losing my Christian faith.

Selfish and Wrathful God

Approximately two years ago I stopped reading the Bible like used to do. I lost the appetite, the delight to savor the taste of my favorite delicacy because I found out that the spices which added flavor to it were made of plastic. I didn’t believe the Bible anymore but still believed that God exists but the image of God in my head turned into something worse, from a warm and gentle into austere and hostile face. Nobody knew but I was slowly drifting away from Christianity. I was going to church but my heart became bitter to the wrathful God as I perceived He was.

I came to the point when I fed my mind with enough knowledge for all my queries. The internet is like a national library full of books written by different writers and you are free to pick as much as you want and digest each page. It is also like a supermarket full of various edible goods looking presentable and delicious before your eyes waiting for you to take them. But you need to be wise enough to know which is tasty and which is rubbish. You have to first taste them eagerly and chew them carefully and then decide if it’s worth swallowing or spitting out. I acknowledged both Christian and non-Christian perspectives and both had their own share of logic and explanations to consider like two different bestselling products in the market. I chose the atheistic views not because Christian views weren’t sufficient to change my mind. In fact both sides are thoroughly scrutinized and discussed. Nonetheless, losing Christianity didn’t make me an evil person who did evil things but I felt sympathy for Satan. Isn’t it heartbreaking that your Creator knew that you will end up in hell but still created you? Isn’t it hurtful to know that your Maker let you live to suffer for eternity? Before I knew it I was becoming resentful and rebellious to the liar and selfish God. Is Satan also like that? In the midst of my busy life, I paused and examined the kind of heart I was cultivating. I initially allowed myself to be persuaded by non-Christian viewpoints but it wasn’t long until I decided to quit what I was thinking for only one reason: the choice is mine.

The Battle Is In the Mind

Our mind is a battlefield. Unlike other creatures which only follow their nature and the flow of life, humans have the complete control of themselves. From the time we wake up we decide what to do first, eat breakfast or take a bath. When taking a bath we choose what soap to use. When eating we choose what food to eat. We choose our lives though there are things we were born with like financial status, physical appearance, sickness, family and many more but we are able to change our ways for our betterment. We can unleash our fullest potential to become the best version of ourselves. Will power, determination, patience and resilience are all we need. We are also capable of destroying ourselves into bits by failing to realize our self-worth. Experiences and our environment also mold our personality but it is our choices that define us. It is our choices that dictate who we are going to be. Now I choose to become a Christian not because I am blinded by false teaching and wrong doctrines, forced by culture and traditions and led by lack of understanding and knowledge. I choose Christianity because I have options and to be able to freely decide what to believe is power.

Satan Has a Choice

I once believed that Lucifer is hopelessly trapped in a miserable life which has no escape. His life story has already an end and it is eternal condemnation. I read many atheist say, ‘I don’t agree with eternal punishment’, and I can hear Satan also says it. They said they can’t imagine for just temporal sin God will let humans eternally suffer. I understand them. I was thinking same thoughts before. The beginning and the end of the world are already written in the Bible. Whatever we do in this lifetime is the fulfillment of what has written. Whatever I do in my life has consequences which already been prophesied long ago. God already knew my choices before I choose them. God already knew Satan won’t surrender to His power before He created him. But along with the gift of life He has given to Satan is the freedom to choose his individuality which is the same thing He gives to humanity. But the difference between Satan and I is I chose to embrace my identity in Christ and succumb to God’s sovereignty while Satan remains rebellious and resentful which exactly I was two years ago.

Choose Wisely

I seldom read Christian websites and blogs nowadays because I switched to watching YouTube videos and below are my favorite channels that follow.

Sergio and Rhoda in Israel. This couple showcases their travel escapades mainly in the holy land of Israel and rediscovers the historical places mentioned in the Bible. Their videos are entertaining and at the time same, full of insights and historical facts. Watching their videos is like visiting interesting places which you can only read in the scriptures. So amazing! Here is one of their best videos:

Inspiring Philosophy is a Christian apologetics channel which tackles compelling issues of the Bible and other theological concepts thoroughly and flawlessly which you probably can’t hear from church or other religious gatherings. The creator is indeed blessed with a gift of discernment. This video below is one of its finest.

Please share if you know more amazing videos or websites. I love to know!

Mourning Into Dancing

I can still clearly picture every detail of his physique and facial features. After three months of being away he came home, slender and tall like what he used to be when he was still high school student. He lost enormous weight, excess pounds that he gained from impulsive eating, the huge belly he used to stroke like how pregnant woman does, the round face which resembled full moon. He went back to his normal shape in a span of three consecutive months. Time will fly and I will become old and gray and weak but these memories are the ones that will stay with me, untarnished with time, vivid like a 4D film in my mind. He was peacefully lying on his bed in his room. I whispered to his ear, “Kuya, gumising ka,” (Older brother, wake up) because I’ve heard that when someone dies hearing is the last sense that will vanish. First of April, 2010, Holy Thursday when Kuya passed away in his room after three months of being away from home. June 3 was my college graduation day so I immediately went home after the ceremony because Kuya’s wake was still going on. This wasn’t the first time that a loved one died in our family so I knew the routine. People would visit and we would offer coffee, juice and some bread, candies and nuts. On my father’s wake, relatives from far provinces were coming and staying with us for few days. Papa was well-known because he was a friendly man. Throughout Papa’s funeral service our house was jam-packed with relatives and friends but Kuya’s only had his immediate family, us. He was only 24 years old and our relative didn’t know he even lived. He wasn’t popular and had no close friends. Friends of us who didn’t personally know him dropped by and were saddened by his story but it wasn’t enough reason to stay with us for so long.

Endless tears had shed and sleep was forgotten. My exhausted eyes succumbed to shallow slumber and only to be awaken with remorse. In my waking hours my mind was constantly trying to answer every agonizing question while staring at the burning candles and dying flowers beside his white casket. Why, Lord? He lived to suffer for almost half of his life. He didn’t enjoy the life You have given him. Are you so merciless to allow this to happen to him? Why did you let him live and tremendously suffer? I will never know how much pain he felt because it was beyond my comprehension. Only Kuya can explain the degree of pain he experienced. Only him can tell the amount of suffering he had gone through. Everything that happened to him was unimaginable and unutterable. No word can ever be sufficient to describe them. My mind could only get a hint by mere observing his gawky body, the reddish hue in his fatigued eyes, the unpleasant marks and scars in his uneven complexion, unkempt hair, cracked lips, decayed teeth, bleeding gums and unsteady gait. If eyes were the mirrors of our souls then his soul was lost, striving though ruined, uncertain but genuine, misunderstood and mocked, careless, carefree but hardened by world’s cruelty, unstoppable, limitless but irrational, illogical by human standard. His soul was unique like everyone else but his uniqueness was strong, worrisome, eerie. I’ve seen it all through his eyes. The way he blinked when he spoke. The way he closed his eyes when he tried to doze off. The way he stared at you but didn’t look at you. The way he glared at anyone and looked away. The way his eyes glowed as he told about stuff that he adored. The way his eyes twitched when he was about to cry. The way he glanced into the air in silence and I could give anything in exchange for knowing what’s on his mind. Perhaps not knowing what’s in it spares me the agony. After all, ignorance is a bliss.

I used to believe that his healing depended upon the level of faith I have in God. So I was holding my white tiny Bible as if I was holding Kuya’s life in my hands. I couldn’t remember the scriptures but what I remember is the blazing hope as I whispered the verse like a prayer. My mother shouted my brother’s name. “Kristian!” I tossed my Bible aside, ran to his room and witnessed hope disappeared before my eyes. Mother tried to revive him but I knew it was finished. He breathed his last and I knew it the moment he closed his eyes because it was the first time I saw him in such so much peaceful state. His face had no sign or trace of sickness, affliction or misery. His face was almost angelic. Kuya’s death was so sudden. We were enveloped by resentment and despair because of his unexpected passing. But despite mourning, as I looked at his sleeping face the serenity which was evident in his aura radiated to the air of his wake. I didn’t know why we felt such calmness and tranquility when our mind was in turmoil and confusion.

Mourning was infinite. He was alive in my dreams but he was scary and ruthless. He was worse in my nightmares than he was in real life and in several times I would wake up forlorn, breathing heavily. Perhaps my subconscious mind hadn’t moved on with his tragic existence. To move on, I must hold on to the truth that actually happened. I must believe in reality that truly existed. For nine years of recalling the event, ruminating every single detail of that significant moment, I eventually started to accept and believe. My heart screams that his soul is no longer lost. In his death he was found. My endless questions to God began to blur as an image of Kuya’s angelic face became clearer. When he died his melancholy ended. His death is the beginning of his life.

Whenever it is Holy Week I always remember his death. We can easily believe that it is an coincidence that he happened to passed away on the same week when Jesus was beaten, crucified, died in the Calvary and rose again. But my heart which can see what the eyes can’t, tell me that Kuya died on Holy Week and not on ordinary day because it signifies something else. God use symbols, metaphor and numbers to rely His message to mankind. The Bible mentioned Jonas who was stuck in the belly of the big fish but after three days and three nights he was released by the fish. The story of Jonah is compared to the resurrection of Jesus as states in Matthew 12:40 AMP, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jesus was three days and three nights in the tomb and on the third day He has risen. Bible has taught me that there is no such thing as coincidence nor accident. People live and die for a purpose. Kuya was clinically diagnosed with major depression at the age of 15 and later on bipolar disorder and couldn’t finish school. He jumped from one institution to another since then. Because of stigma I chose to shut my mouth up about his ailment but now I am declaring this in confidence. His life in this world was a story of sorrow and illness but his death is another story. His death is God’s way of reminding us that in death we don’t leave home, WE GO HOME. Kuya is home where Jesus is.

Jesus died in a gruesome way and though people nowadays are trying to imitate His crucifixion during Holy Week, Jesus’ was incomparable. Why is it necessary for him to die in that horrible manner? Why is it required that he must die anyway? If He is a Son of God why didn’t Jesus choose to amaze the world with His power through rising up to heaven without any marks of cruelty and nail pierce? He could do it. He had an option but he chose to surrender Himself to mankind to be scourged, condemned, mocked and betrayed. He let them call him hurtful words. He let them put a crown of thorn on His head to ridicule Him. He let them give Him sour wine to sip when He said “I am thirsty.” I think I already know the answers to all my painful questions. Struggling life isn’t equal to meaningless life. Beautiful and comfortable life isn’t equal to meaningful life. The Lord who became human to be with us didn’t choose an easy life. Jesus came down for the broken, lost, abused, maltreated, sick and poor and to be able to understand them He became one of them. Being one of them doesn’t mean He was forsaken. I remember Jesus said in the cross before He died. “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, “E li , E li , lama sabachthani ?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 AMP) And I understood. It was an initial human reaction and as a tormented being in flesh we often ask God questions as if answers would eliminate the hurt. But the Father hasn’t forsaken Him. God hasn’t forsaken my brother. Jesus died to save the sinners who repent and believe in Him. As the Bible says in John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) will not perish and will have an everlasting life. The everlasting life that God promises pertains to the perfect life with Him in paradise for those who believe in Jesus.

Kuya is finally living His impeccable life that He didn’t experience in this evil world as Jesus promised. I know it for sure as a youngest sister who knew him so deeply since we were toddlers. I couldn’t decipher his deepest thoughts but I know him like how I know it’s about to rain when its gloomy. I know his wonderful parts that others fail to see. I’ve grown with him and saw him evolved into worst and then into best and it was when he was lying on his bed, morning of April 1, Holy Thursday, sleeping but not breathing I saw him in his best feature. There’s no more denying, like Jesus who rose up from His tomb and now siting on His throne, Kuya Kristian Dhan’s soul arose and left his frail and sick body and went up to where there is no more sadness and sickness. On that significant day, calmness and tranquility that we felt weren’t delusion. It was real like the breeze that blows the sea toward the shore. I can’t see but I feel it’s touch even if I close my eyes.

Everything in here is temporary. Everyone of us will soon die. But the ones who trust and believe in Jesus will live forever. Life in here has sorrow, anguish and unhappiness but Jesus overcame it all. Kuya overcame it all like Jesus. Like Jesus who was beaten and mocked, my brother was also beaten and mocked because of his ailment but like Jesus who died and now lives, my brother died but now lives. For these crucial realizations that others may require a lifetime to contemplate, I thank my dear Kuya. To be his sister is such an extraordinary role that not everyone will be given a chance. Jesus has turned my mourning into dancing. In the most perfect place with the most beautiful worship song I can ever hear surely we will be singing together, lifting our hands up to God, dancing in the beat as if no one watches because Jesus will wipe the tears in our eyes and there will be no more pain.

“You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,” Psalm 30:11 AMP

All Non-Christian Things

Blogging about Jesus is my own way of discipleship. Most of my essays’ sole purpose is to encourage readers to become Christians. I disclose my flaws to testify that God loves even the unworthiest. I write for skeptics, atheists, for Christians like me who understand, for the curious, interested and searching. Passion for writing and for God motivate me to continue blogging throughout the years. But to be able to write a Christ-centered post worth sharing I must listen to preaching, read and savor God’s Word like mouth-watering delicacy and be filled with His spirit. We can’t give something we don’t have. I must fill the void in my heart in order to fill yours too. Sometimes I also don’t feel like writing because I feel empty. Sometimes my doubt is more potent than my faith and I let rage overpowers love. I keep my laptop and Bible shut in those times. But now is a different thing, I would like to write no matter what I feel. For change, I would blog not to encourage, inspire, or explain Christianity. I don’t want others to think that the blogger who writes Godly stuff and this similar person in the real world have different personas and everything written here is a work of fiction, created only to fix my reputation, to delude world into thinking that my life is Godly and holy, to serve as a clean mask to cover a filthy face. I have shortcomings. Christianity doesn’t mean sinlessness. So this time I would write not about God or anything related to holiness. I would write about my inner demons and all non-Christian things.

Since I was as young as six I’ve been writing prose and poems. I’ve always been amazed by the meanings of words and how a piece of writing can change moods, feelings, perceptions and ideas. For me, someone who can write sensibly and effectively is something else. Jose Rizal was my first favorite author after I read the whole El Filibusterismo when I was in grade four. Years back, I was blogging anonymously with a pseudonym. Profanities were my expressions to add spice to my raving. To express yourself without thinking that someone you know will judge and misunderstand you is liberating. And if anyone does, who cares? They don’t even know your real name. Overwhelmed and driven by dark emotions such as hatred, angst and bitterness I put my feelings into written words. I was Alla Francois in Aftertaste, spoke perfect sarcasm and was on the verge of depression.

Depression

Long time ago I was existing but I was dead. I was tortured by life’s callousness then murdered by having no purpose to carry on. I remember when I suspected myself suffering from Hypersomnia. I wasn’t feeling lazy or exhausted but I was sleeping for more than an average person can. My body was abnormally urging me to doze off to desperately escape reality and I knew it was getting serious when it started to affect my activities of daily living. I struggled to stay awake to study lessons that eventually led to low marks in class. My dream of graduating with Latin honor vanished like a bubble. Underweight and ugly were the exact adjectives to describe my appearance when I was in college. I was an honor student in my younger years but I always was lacking confidence to entice teachers. Take for example, even if some of my classmates applauded for my speech I personally wrote I received a lower grade than my classmate who stammered. Annoyance and hatred towards dumb, austere and stern professors were the reasons why I often was hiding my face from teachers who were belittling me or never knew I existed. “Nakasimangot ka na naman. Wag mo pasanin ang mundo.” (You always frown. Don’t carry the weight of the world.) My classmates were teasing me for always frowning even though my lips were curving into a smile. What’s inside of us reflects outside. I didn’t know what they saw but I think I had an idea. They saw melancholy and misery. Or perhaps I’m just too negative about myself. Maybe they just saw a scrawny gal with serious facial expression.

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Above was written by Alla Francois in 2013. Now I am more comfortable using my real name on cyberspace because the Alla Francois in me eventually died. She killed herself. Her fear of being misunderstood by someone who knows her caused her to conceal her identity. She was enslaved by her emotions and committing suicide was the best decision she made in her life. To perpetuate her existence is to cultivate my inner demons and nurture negativity. I liked to think that she hung herself with a rope under a flourishing tree on wondrous summer day. Birds were chirping as if rejoicing and celebrating the death of an evil antagonist.

Skepticism

I have been fond of books since I started to read. I read all the reading materials kept in our shelves at home when I was a child. I started to collect comics and classic and bestselling books when I grew up. I thought reading the Bible didn’t make sense because only gifted ones were able to comprehend. I tried reading the King James version but my head bled. God didn’t answer prayers because if he did, my father didn’t die when I was 18 and my brother lived a normal life without sickness. Life was no magic. All can be explained by science and logic. Science can explain everything that God can’t. Science explains my sibling’s ailment and why he had to die as young as 24. Science explains why sufferings are endless and why some diseases can’t be cured. God can’t explain why my brother wasn’t healed because it contradicts Himself as a healer. He didn’t heal him. I remember I was holding my white tiny Bible when my mother cried out, “He’s dead!” Betrayal was the first thing I felt at that moment because I was reading God’s Word (though I found it difficult to fully understand some contexts in the Bible that time) and praying for healing when he died.

Hatred

When I was being sarcastic and harsh I knew there was no love because love is compassionate and understanding and hatred is rude and hurtful. Hatred can be the opposite of love. Long time ago, I was disgusted by so many things I couldn’t count. A hideous girl wearing very short skirt you can glimpse her soiled panty. A snobbish guy full of pimples. Classrooms full of pasikat idiots. I hated everyone. My old sarcastic blog was an evidence.

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I can imagine now what the one who wrote this paragraph looks like. She has unpleasant wrinkles on her forehead for excessive frowning and her complexion is gray and pale as if it is always gloomy and no sunshine. Her face is pleasant but her facial expression which is cold and full of contempt ruin it like a beautiful place with a stinking poop.

Believe me, I might be worse than you imagine but certainly all of these had happened in the past and today is a different story. But sure, skepticism, grudge and unhappiness still visit like an old enemy and ravage the peacefulness of my soul and my heart. But since I’ve changed the theme of my blog, I became a new person I like more. I found an antidote for all of these non-Christian things like a cure for all the deadly diseases that plague a weak body.