Reflections on how I learn to live life with faith.
I have never experienced saying “THAT IS SOOO TRUE!” after reading every paragraph in a book until I have reached Chapter 3 of The Purpose Driven Life. By the way, I am reading the 2011 version, where it has the high-tech QR codes that I can scan through my iPhone and it will automatically open a video link and watch a brief teaching from the author, Rick Warren. I have to say that, I am only up to Chapter 3 of this book, and this book so far is the BEST CHAPTER! Rick Warren started to describe five common things that drive us: guilt, resentment and anger, fear, materialism and need for approval.
Guilt, Resentment and Anger
I cannot help but remember how I used to be a year ago after I started moving on when my relationship failed. I felt guilty before because I had the chance to come out clean earlier on but I hesitated with fear and self-disgust. There were times in that relationship that I could have fixed all the past issues but I hesitated. And when the relationship was crumbling down and when I faced my ex, he somehow threw all the things I have done in the past straight on my face. It was like him throwing all the blame towards me in one big supernova fire ball. Then I read these sentences in that book, “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it. God’s purpose is not limited by your past… God specializes in giving people a fresh start.” Whatever sins we have done in the past which caused our relationship with other people breakdown, and lead you to live a life of guilt (what ifs) or anger or disappointments or fear, we have to let it go. God is here, He was there when you made that mistake, He was there when you are dealing with that mistake, and every day that He is present, He is observing you.
“Listen: Those who have hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain through resentment. Your past is past! Nothing will change it. You are only hurting yourself with your bitterness. For your own sake, learn from it, and then let it go. The Bible says, ‘To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do.'” – p.28, Chapter 3: What Drives Your Life, The Purpose Driven Life
Look, there is nothing I can do to change the past, but I would like to say that I am proud of myself that I have sought for God’s help first before facing my ex. When my ex’s other woman posted a public status indirectly aiming at me saying that she is a “taong simbahan” (a person who goes to church). I started to challenge myself. I know God, I know Jesus, I know church… and I was at that time a confused person, so I should pray to Him. I should start having faith and believe in Him again. No matter how dark my past was, God worked a miracle in my life. And behold, I was able to face the inevitable, I was able to face the most difficult and darkest time in my life. Thus, I know, no matter how many sins I have made, God listened to me when I needed Him. And my relationship with the Lord now has grown deeper and better. Seek God first and never worry about tomorrow because He has it figured out for you already (Matthew 6:33-34). He forgave me my sins, He has let go of the things that I have done in the past, and He made me a strong person. He was with me through that difficult situation of my life.
I did not only let go of the past, but I have also learned to forgive my ex from the heart, even when he never asked for one. That was one of the turning points in my life when I finally started being at peace with myself and started living a life full of joy (Read here: Vindicated) God knows what is in your heart, and when you feel guilt and remorse, God feels it. Even if other people think that you are being fake, God knows if you are being real or not. So let go of it, ask for God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, forgive that person, and move on.
“Fear-driven people often miss great opportunities because they’re afraid to venture out. Instead they play it safe, avoiding risks and trying to maintain the status quo. Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”
– p.28-9, Chapter 3: What Drives Your Life, The Purpose Driven Life
I remember three weeks ago when I had a catch-up with my close friends, and they asked me how my love life is. I told them that I have no one, zero. Then someone said, “Pano naman kase, friend zone ka ng friend zone!” (You always put them in the friend zone). I have to admit, it is true. I have had suitors since after I became single, four according to my reliable memory, but sad to say, I have placed them in the friend zone. Thinking about it now, of those four, one of them almost made it, LOL. But he was not able to wait for me, he went out with someone when I was on a holiday, and now they are together. Personally speaking, and this comes from the heart, I could say that I am not ready for another relationship. I am still afraid of loving and trusting someone else. Hence, when someone comes along, I entertain them at the start then find myself ignoring them afterwards when things start to get serious.
I should say that God provides for people to meet me and get to know me. I am thankful to God because their admittance of liking me is an assurance that I am still a likeable person. LOL. But for now, even if I have been fully healed by my past relationship, I still find myself fearful in that aspect of loving someone. I know that God wants me to be happy, and I know I deserve to be happy.
We all have fears, especially when it comes to facing the unforeseeable and inevitable future. Well, I guess not being able to predict or see the future comes as a gift because it allows us to enjoy our present moment. Remember, ignorance is bliss? What more, if we are able to see the future, will we be able to cherish the things we have now? Jesus knows the plan God has for Him. He is able to see His future, especially when the time has come that Jesus has to face darkness. He knows that the inevitable is about to come, I can sense that like us, He was also a human afraid of what is to come. But Jesus prayed to God, He prayed for Himself, for his disciples and for those who will believe (John 17). He prayed and His’ sweat started dripping like blood. He knows what was coming, and God sent down an angel to strengthen Him (Luke 22:41-44). Same as with Peter, Herod imprisoned Peter and Peter prayed to God. God sent down an angel to release Peter from prison and strengthen Peter’s spirits by rescuing Peter out of the prison (Acts 12:3-11).
In times when fear is about to overcome us or weaken our spirits, these are the crucial moments in our lives that it is not bad to actually start praying to God. It is only through God that we will be able to release ourselves from the things that weaken us, and be empowered by God’s mighty power of love. I fear loving someone else again; God knows how difficult it is to get over a betrayal. But it was through Jesus Christ that I was able to learn to let go and forgive, I believe that it will also through Jesus that I will get over that fear of loving someone and will finally venture into another relationship. As long as Christ is with me, I have nothing to fear. And when, fears eat my spirits like a kryptonite, I only need to pray to God and He will strengthen me – no chains can hold me.
Materialism and Need for approval
“It’s also a myth that if I get more, I will be more important. Self-worth and net worth are not the same…. Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. I don’t know all the keys to success, but one key to failure is to try to please everyone. Being controlled by the opinion of others is a guaranteed way to miss God’s purposes for your life. Jesus said, ‘No one can serve two masters.'” – pg. 29-30, Chapter 3: What Drives Your Life, The Purpose Driven Life
As I continue to read the Bible, reflect on the life of Jesus Christ, and discuss it with my peers, I usually hear them say, “It is sad to think that Jesus was right in front of them yet, many did not acknowledge Him. Furthermore, they killed Him” These are the same sentiments of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:52). What
would you do if Jesus is already in front of you? What if Jesus was already in front of you but you ignored Him? I am starting to think about Pilate, one of the main characters that we are about to discuss in our next Bible study (John 18:28-40). Pilate had a personal one-on-one with Jesus after Jesus was being accused by the Jewish elders. Jesus revealed himself to Pilate and told Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world that He was sent to reveal the truth. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” then came out without hearing an answer from Jesus. Pilate knows Jesus is innocent yet he yield in with the crowd. Pilate had a one-on-one conversation with Christ but Pilate did not let the truth touch his heart. Plain and simple, Pilate is a man of the world.
There are many Pilates living right now and I have met many Pilates. We know Jesus and we know His life – but do we actually hear him? We get so busy with worldly things, and we constantly keep up with the expectations of others on us, that hearing the truth is blurry already. What Rick Warren wrote here is true, “It is impossible to do everything people want you to do… If you can’t get it all done, it means you’re trying to do more than God intended for you to do… Never confuse activity with productivity.”
Keep our focus on God, because material things, past mistakes, fear of the future and depending on people – are temporary things and temporary setbacks. Of course, God wants us to be happy while we are here on Earth, but let us be selective. Cut yourself away from the things that you know will only take you away from God. If we want to belong with Christ, and we would have something meaningful to say on Judgement day about what we did on Earth – we have to prepare ourselves for eternity. Put it simply, our driving force in our life should be our faith – our relationship with God.
“It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14 CEB.