This was supposed to be my piece in a publication but I think it’s turned out for the best that I’m publishing it here. I think Valentines is also a great time to post this because of all the external pressures and internal longings of the season. I’m adding this to my series: This Is Who You Are.
I was asked to write something, anything, from a guy’s perspective, and one thing I want to remind you from the start is that there are many kinds of guys, just as there are many kinds of girls. So my perspective may not be what people would consider the common guy perspective. I won’t be writing about secrets to keep your man happy, or whether I wear boxers or briefs, or what I think makes a woman sexy.
Instead, I have written a short piece on a different kind of woman, a woman I find both fascinating and challenging because of the standards she upholds. She is a rare kind of person, and in this world that promotes sexiness, fortune, fame, and everything fleeting, she is an endangered species – and that makes her all the more beautiful.
It doesn’t take an expert to know that the more rare something is, the more valuable it is.
We know this from art, from jewelry, from antiques, to cars, to even bags, and haute couture. Let’s take the very famous Birkin bag for example. While many people are impressed by it, very few will know the answer as to why they’re so expensive in the first place. I asked a few fashion friends, and what did they tell me? “Because it’s Hermes!”
Powerful branding, yes. Deep thinking, no.
Let me tell you why a Birkin commands such a high price: craftsmanship, materials used, maker, and lastly, rarity.
First of all only expert artisans work on the bags which are handmade and bearing the Hermes’ signature saddle stitching. It takes about 2 days to make one bag. The materials are from various specialty tanners that give each bag a distinct smell and texture. Given that the process is so meticulous and the attention to quality so focused, the result is a strong albeit heavy bag that is one of a kind. In other words each is distinct. Each is rare.
More rare than a Birkin, more rare and infinitely more valuable than the treasures of the Earth is a Woman of Beautiful Values. What is she? Who is she?
She is a woman who is not dictated by the trends, not easily impressed with the famous, not swayed by worldly pressures, and not discouraged by life’s challenges. She is a woman who knows her values, what’s truly important to her, and pursues them with focus and discipline, faith and hope, perseverance and passion.
Some may say, “I know a lot of women like that. What’s so rare about that?”
Well it’s the second part. Not only does she pursue her values, THE DIFFERENCE IS IN WHAT SHE VALUES. What makes her so rare is what she makes important in her life.
Values are the things we hold important. What we value becomes obvious based on what we spend our time, energy, and money on. Think about it? When a guy likes a girl, he spends whatever time, energy, and money he has on her. When a girl wants to shop, she spends time, energy, and money. When a parent has children, he or she spends time, energy, and money. And the more valuable something or someone is to us, the more we spend time, energy, and money on it.
A Woman of Beautiful Values spends time, energy, and money on cultivating her inner being, not just her physical shell, because she understands that who she is inside is she who she truly is when age and nature and life strips youth. She cultivates her mind with noble thoughts and learning. She fills her soul with noble inspirations. She grows in spirit through faith. Though no one sees or commends her, nor puts her on a list of most sexy, a Woman of Beautiful Values is secure in understanding, that what is essential is invisible to the eye, as the book The Little Prince so eloquently says.
A Woman of Beautiful Values spends her time, energy, and money on beautiful things. What are beautiful things? These are things that matter, things that last, starting with other people. A Woman of Beautiful Values spends her time, energy, and money on making other people better.
Her life’s emphasis is making the lives of others beautiful, not so much in proving her own beauty. She desires to lift others up, even at her expense because she understands that this is what it means to truly love.
A Woman of Beautiful Values spends her time, energy, and money on living a life of true love. She seeks to validate, not to be validated. She seeks to serve, not to be served. She seeks to give, not to take. Yet she does not lack validation, nor service, nor gifts, because in her is a cistern full from a lifetime of investing in her soul and spirit.
A Woman of Beautiful Values values God most. There is a humility that comes with complete dependence on God. Humility comes with admitting that we cannot live this life without Him. Humility isn’t silence or the lack of bragging. It is seen when one exhibits willful service, gracious forgiveness, and quiet trust.
To sum it up, a Woman of Beautiful Values is full of faith, hope, and love because she embraces the source of these three virtues: God.
ONE OF A KIND. I like that phrase. That’s a Woman of Beautiful Values. It signifies rarity, that among everything and everyone in this class, you’re set apart. You’re special. There’s no one like you.
O Woman of Beautiful Values, don’t envy the common ways – no matter how famous, no matter how enticing, no matter how euphoric, for the world needs more ladies like you. Don’t worry if you’re not on a billboard, people don’t advertise their treasures. Don’t worry if you’re not sought, there are really more fans than there are connoisseurs.
Have I described a standard too lofty? Maybe. But the thought of you inspires me. More than your benefits, I know one thing is for sure, that someone this full, this attractive, this impossibly unattainable is worth every moment, every effort, every expense.
Stay strong, stay resolute, stay full of love, O Woman of Beautiful Values, be a light.
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When one reads this, or the other parts of this series, one may immediately have thoughts of romantic love. Some may remember a name or a face, some a moment or a memory, some a movie or a song, and maybe even a regret. Through the different parts of this series, I had thoughts of all the above. What started as a desire to remind someone else of God’s love, has turned into an unveiling of His love for me. This is why it took me so long to write this last part.
To write this, I dug through the pages of my Moleskines and through old posts, as well as looked at the etymologies of the terms I used. Most of all, I immersed myself in the Bible. For most of my life, I saw the Bible as a rule book, a code of conduct.
I had missed the point.
The Bible is a love story of the most epic nature. It is the romance of the universe that includes body, soul, and spirit, ultimate purpose, ultimate rejection, and ultimate love that led to ultimate redemption. It is about God’s love for man.
Yet, in this infinite love story, is a very personal one. His love for me. His love for David Michael Antonio Bonifacio, despite all my failures, public and private, accidental and malicious.
Within this infinite love is His love for you too. It is freely given and available to anyone who will receive His gift. Like any gift, you have to receive it to enjoy it. A child can’t play with Lego that stays in a box.
Finally, within this love story, is His love for everyone else, and He loves them personally too. This includes everyone we love and hate, everyone we admire and disdain, everyone who supports us and threatens us. This includes everyone.
“Then why is there pain and hurt in this world?” you ask.
Because we have rejected love for imitations. We have praised independence and are embarrassed by dependence, when love is about surrender. We have become too wise and too practical for love, the wisdom of God, as Victor Hugo reminds us. We have become too materialistic and comfortable, and cannot accept that a life of sacrifice and laying one’s life is a worthy one. We have decided that some deserve love, and others don’t. In short, we are selfish, and that has always been the problem.
In a world of conditional love, love will be witheld. In a world where love is witheld, pain and hurt will thrive.
I say “we” because I include myself among the offenders.
Yet, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gives us a model of how to live. “Be patient” He says. “Be kind.” and so on. In other words, show love, the real kind.
People ask me question like “How should I treat homosexuals?”, or “How should I treat strangers?” or “How should I treat foreigners who intimidate me?” or “How should I treat people different from me?”
Love them. Be patient. Be kind. So on…
“How do I treat irritating people?” or “How do I deal with my rebellious kids?”
Love them. Be patient. Be kind. So on…
“How do I deal with enemies?” or “How do I deal with people who have hurt me?”
Love them. Be patient. Be kind. So on…
And what happens when you’ve shown extreme patience, extender kindness, and extreme everything on the list?
He ends with this, “These 3 remain, faith, hope, and love…”
In other words, we keep believing that the love we’ve sown will bear good fruit. That’s faith.
We keep looking forward to that day of love’s harvest. That’s hope.
And we do everything again. Be patient. Be kind. And so on… That’s love.
Paul understood that love cannot be enforced, as many of us attempt to do. Love cannot be coerced. You cannot threaten someone with punishment so that they’ll love you – that’s manipulation. You cannot bribe love with blessings – that’s prostitution. You can try to explain love, yet you won’t go very far. We can’t explain the taste of chocolate to someone who hasn’t tried it. What more love?
Love must be shown and love must be experienced, over and over, and over again.
Finally, after everything I’ve written, I’ve described a person who is completely unlike me. That’s the honest truth. Your brothers don’t call you Shrek, your sort-of-exes don’t call you an atomic bomb, iceman, Henry Higgins, and Oscar the Grouch (among other things), and your friends don’t call you a manimal for being loving.
Yet, again, I have salvation, because I am loved.
From This Is Who You Are.
I don’t care what anyone says, how you feel about yourself, or how far you are from the popular ideal, I love you. No ifs, meaning no conditions. No buts, meaning no considerations. Just an appreciation for who you are, just a desire to show my affection, just an announcement that you have arrested my attention.
In a world that says, “I love you” today then forgets what it means tomorrow, I want you to know that my love will be patient, and kind, will not boast, will not be proud, nor be rude, nor seek my own benefit, nor be easily angered, nor keep a record of wrongs. You will shine as my love illuminates the dark areas of your life.
In a world that says, “I promise” then goes and breaks their honor, I want you to know that my love will not fail you. You can depend on me – but you need to wait for me, in other words trust.
In a world that says, “I believe in you” then betrays you to believe in other promises, other reports, and other fears, my love will keep you safe – even from yourself. I will always give you another chance. I will always hope for the best. I will never give up.
You’re afraid because you’re from that broken world of cheap love, unkept promises, and betrayed trust. You’re afraid my love will fail you, and you don’t want to get hurt once more.
You’re most afraid because you know that you are not just from that world, you were once of that world. You have loved cheap things, given your heart to attractions of no value. You have broken your promises, leaving a trail of failed expectations. You have stopped believing that true love exists for you, you have started to doubt. You are afraid that you don’t deserve my love.
My love will not fail you. In my love are the privileges of the beloved. Because I love you, you are most beautiful. Because I love you, you are most special. Because I love you, you can depend on me. Because I love you, you are irreplaceable. Because I love you, I will never let you go.
Because I love you, I will not force myself on you. You are free, even free to not choose me.
And yet, my love will not condemn you. It is freely given and it is freely kept. You did not earn it and cannot un-earn it. It is a gift. You captivated me at your worst, so surely I will stay to enjoy the sunrise you bring.
In your freedom, do not be proud. In your fear, do not run away. In your guilt, do not hide. In your pain, do not harden your heart. Instead, give me the pieces of your broken heart, let me keep it safe for you.
And here, take mine, it’s yours if you’ll have it.
“Why?” you ask?
Because you are my beloved. This is who you are.