From the Basketball Court to my Bible Notes II: The Plays and Prayers We Make

27 September 2014

8:38 pm

History repeats itself at our little pad. My sisters and I have collectively found a reason to post a status in our respective all but abandoned facebook walls. Three times this week, I have tweaked the broken antenna on our tv to no avail and endured headache-inducing picture quality to watch the Gilas Pilipinas play in the Asian Games. I don’t mind the headache nor the sore throat; the only one that gets me is the heartbreak.

We have suffered three consecutive losses in the quarter-finals, all of them close fights. Surely three choked games in a row is more than enough reason for me to feel choked up over this. I was honestly fighting tears when South Korea snatched away a win that was ours for more than three quarters. We fell from a sixteen-point lead to a two-point loss. I was shaking in the last five minutes of the game, in this unnatural September heat, when the opposing team was closing the gap in seemingly supersonic speed.

Throughout the second half, my sisters and I were saying “Please, God” over and over again. Every timeout, one of us would fall silent and bow her head in prayer. At some point I actually said aloud, “God, please naman. Third world country naman kami. First world na sila!” My sisters laughed at that. In my mind, I was reasoning out that when the game was over, we would still be poverty-stricken Philippines, with the crappy government and the corrupt idiot of a vice-president and the never-ending typhoons and the high poverty rates and they would still be economic superpower South Korea with their strong leaders and clean cities and great education system and cutting edge technologies. They don’t need this victory; our emotional country does!

In the laughter that followed my irrational desperate plea, I realized just how wrong, in so many different levels, it was to think that way. It is a prayer vaguely reminiscent of the ones I cried to God in bitterness after I got a rejection letter from the only company who responded to my application when I was looking for a summer internship. “GOD,” I had railed two summers ago, “my ChE life has sucked since day 1. It sucks, God, and I suck in ChE. Why would You choose to withhold this internship from me?”

It’s been more than a year and I still haven’t figured out what God’s reasons were. Most of the whys I asked in college were not answered by God the way I wanted Him to. For more times than I want to admit, I have channelled Job and challenged God to give me His reasons for the (often petty) crises I have gone through. I did get answers from God- answers that refused to address my whys, but addressed my nearsightedness and lack of faith, instead.

God let me see the ingratitude I was expressing through those kind of prayers. By focusing on that single plea, I was forgetting the favors He have extended to me over the course of my college life. I was acting as if the internship was a make or break, and I viewed it as the only way God could make my ChE life beautiful. I was looking at it as my source of happiness. It was wrong, idolatrous, even. I had a lot riding on that acceptance email- my sense of worth, my pride, my happiness-and when it didn’t come, it broke not just my heart; it shattered my pride. It wasn’t the best of experiences, but given my history with my pride, it was probably for the best. Scratch that probably. Knowing God, it was definitely for my best.

That’s something I can say when I remember that He is good and almighty. But often I am this self-focused creature who suffers from both memory loss and myopia. I forget the goodness of God. I forget that life does not revolve  around me. Worse, I forget to trust in God. I set my sights on earthly matters and conclude that God doesn’t care. I would rather wallow in my self-pitying tears than lay down my concerns at Jesus’ feet. Because remembering God’s goodness means admitting that He knows better than I do and understands what I cannot in my limited human capacity. It means waving the white flag and confessing that when my version of best conflicts with God’s, then mine is wrong because His is always, always right. It means forgetting my dreams, no matter how beautiful they may be, at least for the present, because they interfere with God’s plan for me.

Those humbling moments are plenty, and they are always painful. But those moments are also precious, because they  bring me closer to God. I relearn what it means to trust and how it feels to let go of what I think I want. I have a Proverbs 3:5 moment all over again. It is not easy to relinquish control of my desires but it gets a little easier when I am reminded if how God is always good, loving and faithful to me. He is never perverse and He does what He wants to do, which always ultimately works best for me. No, it is not easy, but it gets easier with every apparent defeat. It is not easy, but it is always right.

One more thing I remember writing in my journal amidst my drama was that God wasn’t one to withhold blessings from one who already has a lot. It was illogical, ignorant and self-centered to reason out that Korea didn’t deserve the victory by virtue of their better government.  It doesn’t work that way because there is no limit to God’s generosity. The life I live is testament to that. If there was, I wouldn’t have the right to ask more from God because I already have a lot. I have Him.

I have since come a long way from that day when I cried and cried to my mom over the phone but I keep the rejection email in my inbox still because I long for that day when I am so secure of my worth in God’s eyes, so over my college failures, so contented with my present life, so close to God, that I could read that impersonal “We regret to inform you that. . . ” and not feel a pang in my heart. And I believe in that day. I also believe that whether the Gilas advances to the semi-finals or not, it will be for the best.

We still have a chance to advance to the semis. It is but the slimmest of chances (Qatar has to lose in their games against Kazakhstan and Korea, and we have to win over Kazakhstan with at least 11 points) so I am amazed by the faith my fellowmen are exhibiting. A lot of people are saying “tiwala lang (just trust)” and “pray for gilas”. I consider this.  If I truly believe that God is good and He can give the gold to the Philippines this year, I must also believe that IF it doesn’t come, then it is God saying “no”, for whatever reason.

And I do believe. I believe in a God who cares for the Philippines. I believe in a God who cares about basketball. I believe in a God who could make us win against all odds. I believe in a God who listens to the prayers of his basketball-loving people. I also believe in a God who knows when to answer with a “yes” or a “no”. And I believe that He knows better than I do what this year’s Asian Games outcome should be and will be. And because I believe, I will accept that. Win or lose, I will remain Gilas Pilipinas’ faithful fan, while God- He will remain a faithful God.

From the Basketball Court to my Bible Notes I: A Post-game Analysis of my “Ideal Guy”

The quarterfinals for the Asian Games are over. We are already out of the running for a medal. Upon discovery that Gabe Norwood is a Christian, my sister has flooded the browser history with pictures of him in the iPad we share. And I still haven’t posted this. What follows is an entry I wrote earlier this month, upon the conclusion of the FIBA World Cup.


09 September 2014

10:53 pm

 Last week, the FIBA fever gripped our apartment. For several nights, basketball was all we talked about. My facebook wall has woken from a months-long status hiatus because my emotions were too intense not to be shared with my community. It is the first time in a long while, probably since graduation, that I was overwhelmed by that kind of tension and excitement. It is just so frustrating that we didn’t get into the round of 16 because I feel like Gilas Pilipinas deserved a place there. But even that doesn’t take away an iota of pride and admiration for my team. They finished with a single win against Senegal, for a record of 1-4, with those four losses amounting to an accummulated paltry 23 points. All their games, with the possible exception of Greece, were close fights, which really is quite a feat, in view of our considerable height disadvantage. I am proud of the boys and I’ll always root for them. They are joining the Asian Games in Korea in a couple of weeks and I’ll go on praying and cheering for them. Win or lose, Gilas Pilipinas is my team and I am a very proud fan. #PUSO

 

I struggled in writing that single paragraph because my sentiments over the Gilas’ performance in the FIBA games deserve one long dramatic love letter, maybe even a couple of them. And my opening paragraph is all of that in a capsule, because this entry isn’t supposed to be about that. This is about what I realized after the games.

 

hashtag puso

In the aftermath of FIBA, and in the boredom that is reviewing for my board exam, I have taken to googling Marc Pingris, the Gilas’ power forward, who has caught my eye before in PBA games. I admit that Gabe Norwood is physically more my type, not to mention closer to my age, but Marc is a Christian, which makes him a hundred times more crushable for me. As he is married to Danica Sotto, a Filipina celebrity, google searches on him, I was sure, would yield more results. I was right. Google delivered, and I have, by now, wasted several hours immersed in youtube videos of Marc and Danica and in their twitter and instagram accounts. They have officially sealed their place as my celebrity couple idol.

 

 I probably stop here, as I have more or less exhausted google. A week of fangirling has left me with an abnormal supply of trivia on them in my memory, an affirmation of my housewifely ambition, and a promise to be a better cook. Also, a realization that I am fickle-minded.

 

Just last month, after a 10-episode-long marathon of Emergency Couple (a Korean medical drama/romantic comedy), I thought I wanted to marry a doctor- a desire uncharacteristic of me because I used to harbor this view that doctors were generally too busy for their families. Before that, I thought I wanted a schoolteacher because schoolteachers might be the closest we have to experts on handling children.

 

Moreover, I used to have all these non-negotiable traits for my future partner- still do, in fact. (Did I mention I’m immature? ) Most of them were more or less based on personal stereotyping. An example: Must be a reader. I’m a reader myself and I don’t need to explain that to a fellow reader. Example no. 2: Must know his grammar. Because what kind of reader doesn’t? And I didn’t really need him to speak flawless English or write romantic sonnets. I just needed him to recognize the grammatical error in that sign on the highway and get my corny pun so we could share a laugh over them. I used to think that those things matter. Not in the way that a centavo matters but in that humungous deal-breaking way where I actually decided I couldn’t be with a guy who didn’t meet those criteria. I had them filed under non-negotiables, remember?

 

Cyberstalking my now-favorite celebrity couple has led me to this realization: that I’d actually make an exception for a man who would love and treat me the way Marc does Danica. I look at my own parents, happily and contentedly married for 30 years, and remember from their stories that my mother used to dislike my father immensely during the first few months of their courtship. I don’t doubt that if Mama was half as judgmental as I am (and I bet she wasn’t) there would have been several boxes left unchecked in her hypothetical list of non-negotiables when she fell in love with Papa and vowed to be with him forever. I realize that I have been using that category too liberally. Practically all my non-negotiables were actually mere preferences. I actually only have only a handful left.

 

In a few years, I am willing to bet that I’ll only have this couple left: that he be a Christian leader who loves God above all else (including me) and he’ll leave me with absolutely no doubt that marrying him and living with him would be God’s perfect plan for me. When that time comes, I won’t need my mental checklist nor my googling skills nor my friends’ opinions. I will only need my God’s guidance. And until then, I will go on waiting and praying (but hopefully, no longer chronically daydreaming), holding on to a certainty that God is already writing my lovestory. I am being shamelessly corny now. Because I already sound like a highschooler who gorged herself on romance novels, I will end with this: Be still, my heart. #PUSO

When life hands you a diploma. . .

It’s been a long time since my last post. A lot of changes have transpired over  the past six months, and the biggest is this: I am now a college graduate. It’s actually been five months and one day since I switched my sablay from my right shoulder to the other (our school’s traditional way of showing that one has her degree conferred).

When I was still studying, I was looking forward to all the free time I could use to write on this blog. It’s been six months since UP freed me from academic slavery, and I have not a single post to show for it. It’s not because I wasn’t writing. My personal journal have not been abandoned and I have even succumbed to my brief On the Jellicoe Road fandom and wrote a fan fiction for the first time ever. I did write. I just couldn’t do it here.

This was supposed to be a blog about my student life. Here I am, no longer a student for the first time in 17 years. It is as if my whole life was leading up to that afternoon I graduated from college. The sun set, and the afternoon turned into evening. When my graduation dinner was over and the camera ran out of memory, I was left to face the fact that I am about to embark on a completely unfamiliar, hundred-forked road.

If I had to choose a word to describe my post-college life, I would pick “confusion”. It’s been almost half a year and I still  don’t know what to do with my life. To be fair to myself, I have up to the end of November accounted for. Reviewing for my impending board exam should keep me busy until then. I don’t even want to think about failing it and finding myself tied up to review for another five months. I don’t think I could stand to suspend my life for that long. I want to go home and do the things I vowed I would before graduation. This after-college/ pre-board exam period feels like a limbo. It’s driving me crazy.

To make myself feel less crazy, I have decided to open this blog again. I’m going to deactivate my facebook in a few weeks in the hopes that I can focus on my board exam review. I will use this blog as a positive reinforcement for myself. If I get a solid day of studying, I can wordpress the night away. I hope it’s going to be effective.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be posting some of my less personal recent journal entries here, so don’t judge me if my topics feel outdated. For now, let me welcome myself back to the World of WordPress! 🙂