An XBox Maybe

I just got home from a long workday. My beautiful girlfriend, Yasmin, is asleep, as she is no longer replying to my messages. In a few days she’ll be flying to visit her family in the UK. I sometimes have a hard time processing personal feelings that aren’t logical so I wrote this poem instead:

I miss you already
With just the thought
Of you home packing
Your ticket bought
I’m thinking of sailing
Like my bachelor past
But these distractions
I know won’t last
And how could they
When compared to you
Is there a greater thrill
Than your love so true
I don’t care that we
Do the same old thing
With you, all is special
Moments beating
I don’t know what to do
My co-hiker in Battersea
I have these random ideas
Like buy an XBox maybe

The Sleepless Nights Aren’t So Bad

Your Servant is Listening
I was as nervous. My palms were wet like a rag. It was our rehearsals for a school presentation, and I was playing a young Samuel from the Bible, reenacting the story of when God called to him at night. I had basically two lines, “Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.” 

I heard my cue and stepped out.

“Speak Lord, you’re servant is… What was I supposed to say again?”

“Cut! Cut!” The director said. “David. Speak Lord. Your servant is listening. Speak Lord. Your servant is listening. You have two lines, David. Two lines. Concentrate!”

I remember feeling so pressured. I couldn’t remember a thing. I did end up getting my lines – after 5 million tries.

One good thing that did come from that is how the story of Samuel listening for God deep into the night stuck with me. It became my go-to thing to do during restless nights. When I can’t sleep, like now, like last night, like many nights, I say a simple prayer, “Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.” Who knew my clumsiness on stage would result in reinforcing this most important of lifelines?

That’s one major reason why I never could have had a career in showbiz, well, also because I don’t have the looks, nor care for whitening products, and I can’t sing, nor dance, nor feel comfortable entertaining people with how terribly substandard my skills are. I’m of the belief we should be making a living off of our excellences not our ineptitude. I guess you can say some are very good at being entertaining fools – which seems to work in the Philippines. Oh well.

That’s not the point of this post.

Listening for His Voice
In the story of Samuel, he would hear a voice calling him, and for the first few times he ran straight to the bedroom of the high priest Eli, the man who was supposedly God’s representative on Earth. Eli, as anyone who has read his story knows, failed in many ways, but he was wise to point Samuel to listen to God after realizing it was God who was calling him.

I can imagine how Samuel must have felt, hearing a call, running to the priest in excitement, ready to serve, but being told, “What are you talking about? I didn’t call you.” It can be disappointing to hear a call, answer it, then get disappointed when we realize it wasn’t what we expected. I know I’ve been disappointed this way many times.

But after many times of hearing a call, running to the wrong voice for the fulfillment of that call, and being disappointed, I find myself being reminded, “Next time you hear a call, David, wait for my voice.”

A call can come in many ways. It can come as loneliness. The answer may seem to come from the voice of beautiful girl or a handsome man, but many times it’s a call to find our security in Him.

A call can come in the form of a dream, a life ambition. The answer may lie in investors, in partners, in organizations and institutions, but many times it’s a call to expand our dream to benefit the world.

A call can come in the form of a fear, in uncertainty. The answer may seem to present itself in the form of a compromise, but it’s many times a call to strengthen our faith, or even to be patient.

Every day, every moment, we are called. To honor God, in a practical sense, means to recognize and respond to His voice among all the voices, even our own.

That’s difficult. I know I fail more than I succeed. My prayer is that I get better at recognizing His call in all situations, especially when He shouts out to me through His largest billboard on earth, other people (a topic I’ll be sharing on next).

The Sleepless Nights Aren’t So Bad
I’m reading a copy of the marriage vows. Boy are these big things to promise.

“I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”

Basically it’s saying, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the situation, no matter what voice calls out to me, the voice of joy, the voice of lack, the voice of weakness, the voice of strength, the voice of fear, whatever the voice that calls out to me, I choose to respond to the call to love you.

Of course reading promises like this one doesn’t help my chances of sleep.

Then I have this thought, “Of all the calls there are, the most beautiful is the call to love.” To fall in love, and I do think there is some falling no matter what anyone says, is to hear a most beautiful call. Many people say hello to me during the day, but a “Good morning” from Yasmin beats all the hellos ever said to me combined. Why? Because all the other hellos come from mere humans, but Yasmin’s good morning comes from the most beautiful girl in the world – and I’m completely objective when I say that – Ok ok, maybe not.

But just by a little.

When you get that most beautiful call to love, how should we respond? That’s what my next post is about. In the meantime, I suggest praying the lines that grade school director tried to hammer into me, “Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.”

I don’t know if that last paragraph made sense. I do lack sleep. Maybe I’ll edit this post someday to be more cohesive. I do know that the sleepless nights aren’t so bad, when we’re listening to the right voice.

Do Them Anyway

Struggling with Daily Difficult Things
I looked at the golden light reflecting on the pool’s clear blue. “This is going to be cold.” I told myself. I had gotten up at 4:30am to get a swim in before devotions, and make it to my daily morning huddle with the Bridge Southeast Asia team at 7:00am.

Yes, we start our first meeting at 7:00am. What time do we end?

When the job is done.

People don’t exit movies after a certain time. People leave the cinema when the movie is done – which many times includes scenes after the credits. People don’t leave their favorite restaurants after a certain time. They leave when they’re done eating (or hanging out). The point is this, if you want a good career, just as with a good movie or a good restaurant, don’t base your exit on the time, base it on your purpose. Leave when the job is done not simply because you ran out of time to succeed.

Back to the pool.

I stood at the edge of the pool, preparing myself for the upcoming freeze, “Just jump in already. No more thinking about how cold it is.”

And I jumped in. And I felt the uncomfortable cold all over my body. And…

… And my body acclimatized – like it always does.

I share this to highlight two realities:

1. Like most people, I struggle daily with my disciplines
I struggle with doing the necessary things, especially when it is uncomfortable to do so. Like pretty much everyone, I struggle with paying the necessary cost of achieving goals. And I struggle with these things everyday. Overtime, I find that some struggles are not as difficult as they once were but there’s always a bigger dream or a new pursuit that introduces new struggles. The path of constant growth doesn’t get sucked into a lifestyle sweet spot but adopts rhythms of continued progress.

The point is, like all people, I have my struggles and face them daily, and it’s not because I’m especially great or especially stupid, but simply because we will find difficult anything that is beyond than our current capabilities. This is why we have to grow. But while we’re still growing, while things are still difficult, we need to keep our struggles in perspective.

It’s very common for our vanity to make us think that our challenges are unique to us, are more serious than the challenges of others, or are of greater significance or greater difficulty. The reality is these thoughts are emotional, and there is no objective proof that our circumstances are so special. EVERYONE goes through things at different points in their life. I’ve had my financial highs and lows. I’ve had my joyful days and my crushed days. I’ve had my victories and shames. And you have too. Our circumstances don’t make our situations special, even if our entitlement likes to think they are. I need to remind myself of this when I face my own struggles or when I see others struggle. It helps correct my perspective.

It also reminds me of the second thing I want to highlight: 2. Do them anyway. Everyone struggles. The difference is not in our struggle but in our response. 

It’s funny how I replay the same episode pretty much on every swim day. I wake up early and think, “This is too early. I’m still tired. I want to sleep more.” Then I get up anyway. I put on my trunks, grab my goggles, go down to the pool, and think, “This is going to be cold.” Then I jump anyway. It’s not different from running days, when my brain comes up with reasons not to run. Then I run anyway. It’s not too different during days I don’t feel like working, I work anyway. When I don’t feel like reading, I read anyway. When I don’t feel like having my devotions, usually out of laziness or guilt or some pressing concern, I pray anyway. When I don’t feel like confronting an issue, I face it anyway.

I’ve found that that it’s a myth that I always have to like something to do it. And I also don’t have to like something to receive its benefits. Just like a child who hates vegetables can still receive its nutrition if he eats it, a lot of success requires doing things we don’t feel like doing. To believe that we can succeed doing only the things we feel like doing is foolish. There is no way I’ll achieve my health goals if I only eat what I want to. There’s no way I’ll achieve my financial goals if I manage my money based on how I feel. There’s no way my relationships will last either. A lot of achievement rests on our ability to do the necessary difficult things.

It’s not enough to know what the right thing to do is. We need to do the right things even when we don’t feel like doing them.

Name Your Solutions
I’ve been reading a bit on mental disorders like depression and ADHD. I know a lot of people like to “spiritualize” everything, but there is a physical, emotional, and mental dimension to things. It’s very possible to be feeling down due to hormonal changes or some bodily function going nuts. But while it’s great that we’ve named “challenges” and identified in more detail the things people struggle with, I believe it’s more important to name the solutions and apply them.

Yes, there is depression, but there is prayer, exercise, relationship, and good old fashioned grit, among other solutions. There are lazy days, but there’s also responsibility and purpose. There is traffic, but there’s planning and discipline. There is fear, but there is courage and faith. There are financial limitations, but there’s hard work, frugality, and contentment. There is ignorance, but there’s study, research, and discovery. We succeed not by having no challenges but by defeating our excuses. As we persevere, we find that for each challenge more solutions come up as our character develops. 

Then I realized this idea isn’t original at all. It’s found in Romans 5:3-5. When we persevere and develop our character we find hope, a hope that does not fail.

We arrive at another simple point, and this article’s last, while we all struggle with daily disciplines, if we keep doing them anyway, we can live each day hopeful that today’s struggles will be tomorrow’s victories.