Brothers Bonifacio – It Is Well

Brothers Bonifacio – It Is Well

Dedicated to three people:
My superwoman, Yasmin. Thank you for our son.
My Papa Joey and Mama Marie. Thank you for all that you have done for me. I cannot thank you enough.

 

The Morning of the Delivery

I didn’t realize it until one of the nurses asked me to stand to cut the umbilical cord, that I was already passing out. Sitting in that operating room, watching them operate a cesarean on my wife, had hijacked my system. I felt like fainting, throwing up, and taking a crap all at the same time. As I grabbed the scissor-like instrument, I was so worried I would lose control and drop it into my wife’s open belly. Somehow I was able to muster what little control I had left to cut our child’s cord, complete with a photo of me looking like I didn’t know where to look – and that’s because I didn’t know where the camera was. As soon as I cut it, I excused myself from the room, and sat on a stretcher outside. A nurse who saw me very concernedly told me to take deep breaths and gave me a cup of water. It was around then that I realized I was soaking with sweat, as if I had run half a kilometer. It was not my most Instagrammable moment.

But it was one of the best moments of my life, probably the single best moment of my life.

“I’m a father.” I thought to myself. Followed by a “I want to see my son.” and “I’m sure glad I’m not a woman.” in that order.

I walked-back in, held our son, and went to my wife, “You did well, Yasmin. Look at Elijah.” “He’s perfect.” she said. Of course he’s not “perfect”, no one really is, but he is to us.

After 15 months of having given up my much beloved bachelorhood, I have learned three priceless lessons:

1. Marriage taught me the beauty of true love, that the more I chose the satisfaction of another, the more that other satisfied me.

2. Having a son taught me there exists a pure love that has nothing to do with my son’s achievements and everything to do with him being mine.

3. And we (the community of Christ’s followers) are both Christ’s bride and God the Father’s children, and we have access to the satisfaction of choosing to satisfy Christ and the pure love of knowing we are loved, not because of our accomplishments, of which we have nothing to be proud of, but simply because we are His.

In this social-media soaked society, where so much effort is placed on projecting a “likable” life, we must remain sensitive to the important lessons from the simple and mundane, difficult and painful, and unposed and embarrassing.

In my very close fainting-vommiting-crapping-combo moment, I fell in love with my wife in a special way, appreciated my parents in a greater way, and worshipped my God in a deeper way. In my emotional and physical, weakness, when my normally very calm and clear mind just wanted to shut down, His power to communicate His love to me was perfect. There was nothing to capture, no lights, no takes, no slow-motion, no OOTD, no brand to hashtag. Just a very sweaty, anxious, light-headed man needing a puke bag and a diaper, overjoyed at having a son and being a son.

Then my mind drifted for a moment, “Are there nine people operating? Am I paying for all of them?? How am I paying for all of them???” How quickly the cares of the world steal our joy.

Then I heard my wife’s voice ask worriedly about the sutures, and our baby’s soft cry as they observed him, and out went the worry, replaced with just simple unadulterated care. How quickly loving others brings our joy back.

It Is What It Is and It Is Well.

The next day, I walked to the billing center of the hospital. St. Luke’s has been an incredible hospital. The facilities are amazing, the nurses were very helpful, and we’re extremely grateful for our OB Gynecologist Dr. Sapaula and Pediatrician Dr. Saulog, as well as our anesthesiologists Dr. Gary and Dr. Inciong, who was very reassuring towards Yasmin during the operation. Seeing what my wife went through made me appreciate my mother so much. Seeing the bill made me appreciate my father! ”Woah!” I thought. “And it’s only Day 2!!! Another 18 years of this! Another…” my negative thoughts were arrested. “Another collection of moments with my son.” For a second I felt I could afford anything. The idea only lasted for exactly one second. But it is what it is.

As parents know, pregnanacy and having children can be expensive. It is a range of more expensive and less expensive, depending on one’s means, but always expensive. When my wife was pregnant, she purchased just one pair of maternity jeans (which she washed every day!) partly because she couldn’t find ones that fit her height, and mostly because I had given her a very tight budget. But our budget is what it is. The available choices are what they are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. She was happy, we were happy, and 38 weeks later, we have a healthy son. With  faith in God and grateful hearts, it is well.

We were asked if we wanted to store the umbilical cord for future stem cells, and we said it’s out of our budget, it’s not something I prepared for, and not a priority. We have some friends who did it, we have some friends who did not, and there are also those who know nothing of stem cells, and there’s no right or wrong here. What one can afford at the moment is what one can afford. What one knows is what one knows. It is what it is. With faith in God and grateful hearts, it is well.

After just about 3 days, my wife has started to see some success with her breastfeeding. It wasn’t easy. We tried many times, had so many nurses help us, and amazedly watched YouTube videos of babies finding boobs on their own. Some mothers take days, some take weeks, some are instant milk farms, and some are never able to produce. I’ve learned that there’s a whole range of nipples, and not all lend well to breastfeeding. Some have access to breastmilk banks, some can afford nipple shields, some can’t afford these supplements, and some don’t need them. Whatever the case, it is what it is. With faith in God and grateful hearts, it is well.

While my wife was recuperating, we read an article of kids being kidnapped in refugee areas and being found killed, and were told of some serious medical conditions that have happened to other babies. The next day, my wife told me, “I cannot stop thinking of those babies. Why does God allow that?” I answered her simply, “The truth is, I don’t know. Some of life is because we or others use our freedom in ways that lead to bad consequences. But there’s also so much we don’t know. There’s so much I don’t know about what is already known, of what has already been discovered, and there’s still so much more to discover. Who can say they fully understand life?” I thought about this more through the evening, and I never found any answers. I did remember that God asks us, the living, to be grateful in all circumstances, to love by serving others (especially those who have less than us), and to have faith in God’s goodness. And while this may seem like the simple-minded belief of those too weak to handle life’s painful truth, I’ve come to realize that whether one believes this is truth or superstition in this situation is irrelevant. Being grateful in all circumstances will bullet-proof your soul and make you more able to face life. From an evolutionary perspective, developing gratefulness is good for you. Continuing to love despite our own personal doubts, personal suffering, and personal loss is good for the world in general. It flicks the finger at the cycle of violence and hurt caused, when people use their own hurt, their own doubt, their own suffering, and their own loss to justify unkind or even inhumane actions. From a social perspective, it’s beneficial to be like a human desalinization plant, taking our salty doubts, suffering, and loss, and releasing a purified love. Finally, believing that there is divine goodness, makes people hope, and hope is a balm for the soul. With faith in God and grateful hearts, we face what is as it is, and know that it is well.

And it is well not simply because we have everything figured out, or can afford everything we want or need, or because everything is wonderful, colorful, and great. It is well not simply because we’re laughing, content, and succeeding in our goals. It is well not simply because pain, doubt, and suffering are absent. Neither is it because we experience something relatively better than what someone else is suffering. (I hate it when people try to comfort you by pointing out how someone has it worse.) Just like I learned that I could love my son not because of any perfection but simply because he is mine, you need to love your own gift of life simply because it is yours. Don’t compare it to someone else’s, as any parent would be a fool to compare their own with someone else’s. But realize that it is special because it is yours. Without getting political or controversial, this is why I am so against any thought process that makes killing a solution. Life, your life, every life, is special in itself, not comparatively or relatively special, but special and amazing, a true miracle. A life that travels the world and one that stays put are equally special. A life celebrated by the world on social media and tbe one no one knew existed are equally special as well. We need to move away from valuing our lives and the lives of others comparatively, based on man-made metrics that are really mostly focused on utility: how useful this person is in satisfying society’s needs and wants. We value good looking people and celebrities because they fill our need for beauty. We value rich people or successful people to fill our aspirations. We value powerful people because we look for security and order. We value the intelligent child because he will discover things and get a good job. We value ourselves and people by how good we are at meeting society’s needs and wants. This is why we think it is smart, advanced, even humane to abort children and kill crooks. Why maintain a life that does not fulfill society’s needs and wants? Why maintain a life that drains society from meeting its needs and wants? The answer is because it is a life. Even if one doesn’t believe in God, each life is owned by a corresponding person. Is it not more sophisticated to be able to go beyond utilitarianism into the metaphysical understanding that this life is the private property of someone, and to snuff it out means breaking that person’s rights, and showing we value utility over honoring individual lives? And if utility is the best score for a person’s right to live, never expect a peaceful world. Expect a highly competitive world, expect a divided world, expect a highly insecure world, and expect a highly unequal world as we all prioritize that which maximizes our own individual utility. This is a world I know I can thrive in given my personality, skills, and relational advantages.

But it is not the world I want to live in nor want to raise our son in.

Instead, we decide to live by the simplicity and elegance of remembering that every life is God’s, and it is only for Him to decide on whether it lives or dies, and our role is to love; to care; to cultivate; to improve, to take our 1, 2, or 5 “talents” and multiply them, not compare them, but expand them; and to hope for the day that we share in our Father’s happiness. Walking with faith in God and gratefulness in our hearts, knowing that no matter what happens, it is well. #db

#db Father: Preparing to Raise a Man

#db Father: Preparing to Raise a Man

On September 1, only 5 days from now, my son, who will most likely be named Elijah David Perucchetti Bonifacio, will be born via scheduled cesarian. As mothers will know, the process of pregnancy and giving birth is different for everyone. For some women, like my wife, and for a range of different issues, a surgical operation is required to deliver the baby. It is a generally safe procedure but your prayers are always appreciated. I love the idea of prayer, that we can come to God Himself, and that He listens. I love the idea of people coming to God for the concerned of others. It is a very real example of living out our Christian life, not only acknowledging God’s great power, but choosing to call on that power for another.

Yasmin
Yasmin has been incredible throughout the pregnancy. I do not think I would have handled the last 9 months as gracefully as she did. I wrote this on my Facebook Page to acknowledge my amazing wife:

Yasmin, you have been incredibly amazing throughout the whole pregnancy. You’ve been so strong, have had such a good attitude, and continued to take care of our home despite all the physical changes, discomforts, and concerns of the pregnancy. Thank you for carrying our son, for not getting a straight night of sleep for over 9 months, for going to the toilet a million times a day, for putting up with his constant kicking and moving, for managing backaches and ankle swelling, for enduring the nausea and puking, and for doing it all in your kind and loving way. I love you!

My advice for anyone who wants to attempt to raise a great family, as that’s the stage we’re currently in, is to choose a great spouse. I don’t mean be picky in the superficial sense. I’ve written quite a bit on how I think those marriage lists are silly. What I mean is this: be with someone who embraces the same purpose, lives by the same principles, and partners towards the same performance.

Who are you following?
While I do believe I’m extremely grateful to have such a beautiful wife, I want to ensure that my life and our family do not contribute to the diseases of “celebrity-ism”, which is the putting of people on pedestals. We want to do our part in contributing to society, and part of that includes sharing our experiences, but not in such a way to glamorize our situation, but to empower others to make the most of theirs. This is one of the things I love most about Yasmin. She is so natural and down to earth, and has no need nor desire to be treated like an “It girl”, like a goddess, or a celebrity. Quite the opposite, she likes to wear the same things every day, literally only wearing the one pair of maternity jeans she bought when not in a skirt. “Pretty good huh?” she told me, when I pointed that fact out to her. My wife rarely goes to have her hair done, usually does her own nails, battles her own way through Manila traffic, and is so used to washing her own clothes in the bathroom sink. Before and during the early days of pregnancy, Yasmin would be at the gym or out hiking, preferring to do active things than just hang out. Now that she’s close to giving birth, we’ve been talking about the workouts we’ll do to stay extremely healthy for our son. It’s true: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30). Yes, my wife is extremely hot, the hottest in fact (I admit I’m biased), but what makes my wife lovely is this: she genuinely loves God, loves other people, and loves life, not merely the grand experiences of life, but the gift of every day, whatever that day may be. This is something we can all enjoy through the simple act of gratefulness. All of this to say:

I truly believe in the potential for everyone to be amazing. But it won’t happen if we spend too much time, in fact, any time, worshipping others. The time must be spent on living our own lives, the only lives we get, and making sure that our lives made the world a better place. So learn from us, learn what to do and what not to do, and learn that life has many options and it doesn’t have to look like ours. Most importantly, don’t worship us, don’t put undue attention or admiration on us because it will prevent you from learning the actual lessons, it will prevent you from being creative with your own situation, and worse, from worshipping the One whose favor all families need.

Before I move on, I want to leave some questions:
Who are you following? An influencer? An expert? A pastor? A relative? A celebrity? Or have you been cultivating your own principles and disciplining yourself to hear God’s voice?

The beauty of listening to God above all these voices is that He guides us to live a most creative life, for the source of all wisdom and the source of all goodness, knows a beautiful way unique to each of our own hearts and circumstances. So we let go of the need to compare and benchmark, and we focus instead on Him and each other, not our pegs, and place our attention to where it should be.

I hope my posts on learning to become a father are helpful, but I hope never to be guilty of celebrity-ism. It’s a disease.

Preparations
Somewhere the baby bag is packed, the bottles have been washed, and the car seat waits to be installed. Yasmin has stuck the alphabet letters on the wall of the baby room, added a night light, and we’ve turned-on the baby camera and monitor. His cot is assembled, his stroller parked, and his clothes have been hung on mini hangers, waiting for our little man. As Yasmin and I prepared, as we read more about the method we intend to use, which is Baby Wise, we also started thinking about the inner life of our son. It’s so easy to prepare for the outer life and for the physical, his health and his stuff, but it’s very easy to completely forget about his soul, or to leave that bit to some other time when he’s older or more cognizant of intelligent things. But just like we prepare for the physical things ahead of time, I think parents should prepare, particularly prepare themselves, to be leaders of the spirit, mind, will, and emotions as well. You can Google or buy books on a great number of resources on how to prepare for the material and physical. I won’t cover that here. I do want to encourage you to think about the values you want your young men and women to embrace.

I posted this on my Instagram page:

This used to be my study and workout room. Now it’s our son’s. I still have a shelf and a pull up bar though. I am so excited to give him the best that I can. This made me ask myself, What does giving our son “the best” mean? It means to prepare him for freedom. It means to lead him towards wisdom, character, integrity, and impact. It doesn’t mean more toys or more clothes or more stuff. It doesn’t mean more comforts or more conveniences. @yasminperucchetti and I had to recalibrate ourselves and remember, in our excitement for our son, we have a life to steward, not simply a baby or a child, but a life of infinite potential. And we are privileged to be responsible. The beauty of this approach is “the best” doesn’t mean breaking the bank or keeping up with other parents. The best means passing on a life of virtue, and that is something we all can do regardless of what we can afford. #db #family #baby #virtue

A post shared by David Bonifacio (@davidbonifacio) on

As part of the preparation, I’ve been able to define a little bit more the kind of man we want to raise, a man very different from the old boys our society seems to churn out more and more. While this list will be refined, here’s what we have so far:

1. Godly: Someone who loves God and loves others
2. Graceful: Someone who is full of God’s love, favor, and virtue
3. Grateful: Someone who humbly acknowledges that all of life is a gift
4. Generous: Someone who enthusiastically gives more than he takes
5. Global: Someone who is effectively engaging this changing world for the better

From Day 1, we want to prepare Elijah for freedom, to be able to be self-determining, and wise enough to determine the right things. By defining these, we realized that we need to guard against the vain and materialistic parenting so prevalent today, the kind that parents by pegs and marketing, not by convictions, the kind that always thinks it needs more things and forgets virtue. We will never raise a man who gives more than he takes if we raise a needy person. A needy person will never be good for himself or the world. This reminded me of something Yasmin always tells me when she sees me being impatient, using my phone too much, or working too late, “Do you want our son to copy you? Because he’ll be watching you.” This always makes me stop and think more deeply about my own behavior. It’s made me take our list for our son and aim it at me: Am I godly? Am I graceful? Am I grateful? Am I generous? Am I global? If yes, how do I pass it on to my son? If no, how do I develop these things in my own life that I may be a good example to him? Freedom is a very important idea to me. How can I teach my son to be a valuable member of a free society if I myself don’t understand what that means? I won’t be able to. Which is why I’m preparing my mind regarding these concepts and other intelligent things as well. The point is, my son has one father, me, and to the level I can provide is the level he can gain. That’s a serious responsibility.

In a few days from now, my son, Elijah, will come into the world. I’ll be sharing more about this exciting journey as we go along. As I do, I hope my readers will remember the following from this first post in this series:
1. Raise a man not a boy. The world needs strong men who can carry responsibilities, fight injustice, and improve the world.
2. Don’t parent by social media, by influencers, and by marketing. Parent by conviction and wisdom, using defined values to guide you more than advertising.
3. Take a good look in the mirror and decide to become the kind of person your child would be wise to follow, because he will follow.

I’m saying a prayer for all expecting parents. Here we go!
#db

How Do You Know If You’re Mature?

How do I know if I’m mature?
How do I know my calling?
How do I know what to do?

These three questions are very connected. They lead into each other, validate each other, and inform each other. Let’s explore these connections.

I was talking to a potential new member for senior management at Bridge. It’s generally quite tricky to hire for Bridge, given our intense culture, strictly defined values, incredible goals, and life stage (startup). It’s extra tricky hiring senior management because we require not just skill and experience but the hunger, eagerness to learn, and work endurance usually more associated with younger people. This person I was meeting with has all the qualities above, which is why we were on our second meeting.

During our conversation, she asked me about our young leaders, and she said something very insightful, “Given the way you’ve structured Bridge, this will require a lot of trust between your leaders, especially between your junior and senior leaders. How mature are the business unit heads?” I thought about her question, and proceeded to answer it the same way I answer most questions asked to me, with more of a description than a direct yes or no. Here’s what I said (paraphrased):

“Our team is young. But they’re hard working, they’re hungry, and they’re teachable. They’re all different personalities and different levels of skill and experience, but to be a leader in any of our organizations, you need to be willing to embrace your accountabilities, face the gap between who these accountabilities need you to be and who you are at the moment, identify what you need to do to start bridging that gap, and work extremely hard to do so. Our leaders are like that.”

Then she said, “That was what I meant about mature. That’s good to know.”

Fast forward to this morning. It’s 5:33am, and I’ve been thinking about this concept of maturity since I woke up around 3:30am. My alarm is normally set for 4:30am, but many times I’m woken up by something I can only describe as a call. When I try to explain this to many people, the response I normally get is a mixture of “Wow, that’s admirable. But you’re crazy.” and “You’re crazy for getting up so early.” and “You’re too intense.” Then there are those who, without saying anything, look back with recognition. Their faces show, “I know exactly what you mean.” These people excite me. They remind me of a C.S. Lewis quote, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” With these people I go further and explain to them what that call is, and the usual response is, “I’ve known that for a long time. It’s only now that someone has captured the idea for me in words, but I’ve always somehow understood that.” And I can see the validation lighting their eyes up, that all of sudden all the quiet plodding, all the courageous counter-culture decisions, the thankless hard work, the invisible soul wrestling, and the shedding of ease, made sense for them. They were not being kill-joys, or corny, or missing out on the good life or being cool. They were answering a call, their call, a call unique to them so cannot be validated by someone else’s experience but their own meditation on who God wants them to be.

Too many times, when I hear someone, particularly someone asking me for money, say, “God’s calling me to this…” I find myself thinking about what my next meeting is or wishing I had an eject button to send either of us elsewhere. It’s a very commonly used and commonly misused statement. So I like to ask, “How do you know God’s calling you?” And the usual answer is, “I felt it. You know, when you feel something is right. You know it.”

Famous last words. In my opinion, a calling is less a feeling and more a recognition of something or someone reaching out to us. Who or what is reaching out to us? The “who” are our stakeholders, the people we have commitments to. The “what” are our commitments themselves. A calling is not something we’re very interested in or very “passionate” about (another abused term), but the recognition of an accountability to someone or to others. Answering a call is not about finding the job that will never feel like work but about courageously, selflessly, and effectively heeding the summons of your life’s commitments.

And this is where maturity not only comes in but is necessary. It takes maturity to recognize life’s calls because it takes maturity to embrace life’s commitments, and to understand that commitments are accountabilities, meaning, there are consequences when we fail. A mature person faces the fact that we need to make commitments in life, the scary truth that failing in our commitments have consequences, and the very real risk of failure, without giving up or whining.

This is why you’ll find, over and over, that people who tend to have a lot of free time, flexibility, and less responsibility usually are less productive, less effective, whine more, complain more, criticize more, and breakdown easier, than very busy, very structured, and very responsible people. It’s not a question of busyness but of maturity. A lot of people who appear to have “control of their time” because they have a lot of free time are the most lost and ineffective people I know. Their “control” is a myth, because they’re bad controllers. They’re bad controllers because they don’t have discipline. So they’re actually not controlling anything. They are controlled by their feelings, by random events, and by what others are doing. This is obviously a sign of an immature person.

The answer to “How do I know if I’m mature?” is this: Do you know what is required from your life by the people around you? And do you courageously, selflessly, and effectively embrace this accountability, along with the potential benefits and consequences of success and failure?

Do you know what is required of you as a son or daughter? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as part of a team or group? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as a follower of God? Are you embracing requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as a spouse? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you by your customers? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as a person living in a free society? Are you embracing this requirement?

Whatever your role in life, recognizing your accountabilities in each role, embracing the requirements of these accountabilities, and courageously, selflessly, and effectively meeting these requirements is what mature people do.

That’s how to know if you’re mature. If you don’t know your role, if you don’t know what’s required of you, and/or if you don’t effectively meet these requirements, you have your indicators of a lack of maturity.

So we’ve answered the first two questions about maturity and calling. Callings aren’t some weird fuzzy feelings or interests. They are very simple recognitions of my roles in life (follower of Christ, husband, father, son, leader, friend, etc…) and what they require of me, and maturity is heeding this call with courage, selflessness, and effectiveness.

This leads me to the last questions: How do I know what to do? The answer is very simple.

You should do what your calling requires of you. You should do what your accountabilities require of you.

What time should you wake up? You should wake up at the time required of you.

What books should you read? You should read the books that help you fulfill your life’s requirements.

What should you eat? You should eat the food that helps you fulfill your life’s requirements. (And you won’t be able to fulfill it if you’re dead.)

What should I wear? You should wear what helps you fulfill your life’s requirements.

What job should I take? You should get the job that helps you fulfill your life’s requirements. And sometimes that means getting a job that’s boring or difficult simply because your life requires you to grow up, move out, and learn how to be independent, more than it needs you to be comfortable. For me, my most difficult job and searing learning experience came from having to take over our old family business. It wasn’t my brilliant foresight that made me take it on. I was so scared about the business for years, sweating profusely despite being in an air conditioned building. But it was what life required of me in that moment. It didn’t require me to be cool, or to eat in fancy restaurants, to enjoy the trapping of success. It required me to sit in banks and ask for grace. It required me to beg for terms from suppliers. It required me to go to work at 6:00am and get comfortable with all nighters. It required me to grow as a manager and leader. It required me to trust God at a level I had never done so before. It was what my love for my family was calling me to do. It was difficult and I wouldn’t not wish it on anyone. But it was beneficial. More than the lessons, there was the character building, the cultivation of virtue that can only really happen through difficulties. Even more, I hope, that God was pleased with my reliance.

Your basis for what you should do is not how you feel, or what others are doing on social media, or what your social calendar says. Your basis for what you should do is your deep understanding of your roles, your accountabilities, and your requirements.

This is why I never tell people to follow their passions. I tell them to follow their responsibilities. You will discover more about yourself, cultivate stronger character, and achieve more impactful results by getting good at being the guy who makes and keeps commitments than by being the one who has the benefit of little responsibility living off of someone else’s maturity. This is also why I vehemently disagree with people who say, “Some people are really just like that. You can’t expect them to be mature. They were never taught.” Saying this means we have automatically concluded that these people will a) never face the many consequences of immaturity (they will), and b) they will never enjoy the satisfaction that only people of achievement experience. It is not true that people who were not prepared to be mature are exempt of the consequences of immaturity and it’s not true that just because someone did not start out mature, they are not able to develop maturity. They can and should.

#db