Silver Lining

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-21)

How often do we find ourselves saying “everything happens for a reason” and “there is something to learn in this situation”?

Often times, forgiveness seemed to happen when we start looking at situations from different perspectives.

Throughout the past week, I was faced by a few difficult situations and most are totally out of my control. In the end, I found the reasons to be grateful in all these situations.

The first unfortunate event happened to a friend I have known for over 20 years. Out of a sudden, she seemed to have vanished totally from social media and attempts to reach her through the phone were unsuccessful. We drove to her home and found out that she had since changed her phone number and throughout the conversation, we could hear she seemed surprised that we had obtained her new number and sounded very fearful. Apparently her new boyfriend is unhappy with the message exchanges we had in the past. At first, I was offended and thought that was really convenient for him or her to put me in the spot and be blamed for all the insecurities. Her statement was malicious in nature and could plant a seed of distrust between by wife and I.

It then became clear to us that she had found herself a psycho for a boyfriend and we agreed to stay clear of it. Our worst fears was confirmed when we started ticking off more than one of the telling signs from this article we found regarding abusive relationship.

The question my wife and I asked ourselves were “What Can We Do?”.

The problem with such situation is that no one can do anything unless the person involved becomes aware of his or her situation and have the desire to get out of it.

But we did try to analyze why our dear friend has allowed herself to get into such a tight spot and we can truly understand because it is a no-brainer. After going through a divorce and being left with two young children can be an extremely overwhelming and daunting task for any single mother to cope. In those few years, we had seen her changed from a very determined young lady into one who has lost all hope. I am sure that at some point of her life, she has given up.

And in such vulnerable situation, I do not blame her if she have had many self-doubt moments – “beggars can’t be choosers”, “what do I have to bargain?”, “I am not getting any younger”, could be some of the statements that might have went through her mind.

I am not surprised that this guy became her “last hope” and she made the decision to give up the past totally just so that she could make the future with him work. Even if it means that he can be abusive and violent towards her – these can be taken as how much she meant to him and to justify his “possessive/aggressive” behavior.

It is easier said than done but if I could give a piece of advice to any single person out there thinking that their biological clock is ticking and desperately looking for a mate, it will be “DO NOT SETTLE FOR LESS, THE BEST IS YET TO COME”.

The second situation that I have witnessed happened this morning in church. A group of children had raised some funds to help a fellow classmate’s struggling mother. She had lost her husband in an accident when the child was still a baby. The priest came to know about her situation when he helped present some gift vouchers on the children’s behalf.

In both situations, they got me thinking about how fortunate and blessed I am. How often I have taken so many things for granted and fret over the most trivial of things. I thought to myself that there is a reason why I am made aware of such situations and there is a silver lining in all of them.

There is something for me to learn here and that is GRATEFULNESS.

And through these lessons, I learned not to just take difficult situations at face value and I ought to be quick to forgive not only others but also myself for passing judgements and jumping to conclusions a little too quickly.

I thank God today for all the blessings and graces He has and continues to bestow upon me and my beautiful family.

And God bless you too!

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New World Currency

My observation tells me the world is becoming more and more superficial as we speak. Apparently, anything with a huge following and influence will eventually be a de facto standard or taken as a way of life. Just what in the world is cryptocurrency!? I just do not get it.

What is the substance behind this virtual of virtuals? I know telephatic ability seem futuristic but buying something physical with totally intangible currency? Even a nickel is worth something in its true form, right?

The world is really changing in a very scary direction.

Ease of everything seemed to be a term that is music to the ears for the new generation. But how real is this virtual reality?

When the computer was first introduced, it promised to make lives easier for humans. Does it really?

With the dawn of industry 4.0 or 5.0 even, will the cost of goods go down to zero and mankind can sit back, relax, procreate, and run around naked?

Will there come a day when machine and artificial intelligence takes over the world, and we humans no longer need to work? And what will the common denomination/currency be? Will it be a free for all world?

The more instantaneous the world becomes, it seemed like we are slaving more for what we need.

Where is this life leading us?

I wish life remains simple like binary 0s or 1s and Yes or No. Just how complicate must it be? I sometimes wonder why we keep on wrapping simple things in layer after layer of “cosmetics” and “sugar coatings” just to represent the same things differently.

In the gospel reading today, Peter had a very clear objective when he took a leap of faith by getting out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus. His mind soon started to wander and doubt crept in before he began to sink. We are all like Peter because we allow ourselves to overthink and overload our minds with too much information just because it is readily available at our fingertips. Often times, less is more.

Jesus’ message is simple – “Do Not Be Afraid”.

There is just too much insecurity and fear around us. We are afraid of losing competitive edge across the many aspects of our lives be it personal, business, and everything in between. In order to stay in business and in fear of losing profitability, we convinced ourselves that we must “re-invent” our businesses to stay current. Even if it means changing the design of the cover of a book numerous times without altering the contents.

We need to take courage and look at the substance and true worth of things. We cannot allow our values to be compromised by the superficial.

In order to discern during a chaotic situation, we first need to be at eased and at peace.

Sometimes, that can be achieved by just looking at some fishes swimming gracefully in an aquarium…

In Search For The Saint

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28

It is almost a month now that we’ve had not listened to the inspiring words of our favorite priest on weekends. After completing some urgent work, it was 3.30 am when I finally went to bed this morning. I had the strangest of dreams. There he was being very silent and still but yet comforting in the dream. I guess he brings about an image of peace and tranquility in a chaotic world. His presence alone brings a smile to the heart.

We all know dreams are not meant to be interpreted because they usually do not mean anything. But somehow, this particular dream reminded me of the quote above.

(5 days later…)

While writing the above, something urgent came up that needed my attention and this post was left unfinished. Sitting here at the end of the weekend, I am finally able to finish up this post.

Today, the focus of the reading is on Mount Tabor where Jesus transfigured while His disciples witnessed in great awe. The priest’s sermon spoke about “Top Of The Mountain” experience. It somehow reminded me of how people with addiction struggle to chase after the “first highs” in their lives.

The quote “I’m the king of the world!” was made famous by Jack played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit movie Titanic. A perfect example of what can be used to describe a “top of the mountain” experience.

Having had followed the provocative sermons of a priest for most of my life had me spoiled with “top of the mountain” spiritual encounters every weekend. It has become very difficult to come back down to the regular experiences “on the ground”.

The question now is whether the past “top of the mountain” experiences will be able to sustain me in the present and as well as the future. Or do I detach myself from being so dependent and expectant of the approaches of the past?

I would like to think that there has been growth after so long and I would be able to find inspiration on my own. Perhaps, my focus has been at all the wrong places or that is something I tell myself as a consolation?

Whatever it is, I am opined that “top of the mountain” experiences should motivate us to achieve greater heights in life. They should be the building blocks for more “top of the mountain” experiences.

I hope you have a “top of the mountain” experience today that will not only inspire you but also sustain you through all the challenges you’ll face in the future.

Shalom…

Only The Best

“Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that is cast in the sea and brings in a haul of all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fishermen bring it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in baskets and throw away those that are no use.” ~ Matthew 13:44-52

I cannot help but to feel that today’s gospel reading seemed to be asking us to be “wasteful”. That is exactly how it is in our world today. We have no qualms discarding everything and anything – we do not fix things anymore. In relation to that, nothing seemed to be built to last anymore because there will no longer be “recurring revenue” if things cannot be broken or spoiled.

From a different perspective, it also tells us how we are expected to be “perfect” while knowing the fact that we are mere humans with unique weaknesses. The only take away I can think of is that we should all try to be good. I do not really subscribe to the fact that God punishes His children and thus, I am not taking the reading literally.

The way I like to see it is that, we should not be complacent but instead strive for the best in life be it spiritual or otherwise. We should also share our talents with others so that they will be inspired.

A few years ago, I came across a photographer named Willian Wegman. Mr. Wegman captured the hearts of many with his creative and beautiful photographs of his Weimaraner dogs, namely Man Ray and Fay Ray.

The picture of Weimaraners on the packaging of the dog food I bought today reminded me of Mr. Wegman’s photography work with his beautiful dogs.

The following photos are inspired by Mr. Wegman.

Staying Married In A Secular World Part II: The End Game

My wife and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary last week. Nothing to shout about because it is not a silver or golden jubilee but nonetheless, we are still working on it – our marriage.

In the fast paced world we live in today, we often ask ourselves “what is the end game”? For a sustainable business, the end game would be to have referable customers to give good testimonials about our services to new prospects in hopes that they will end up being our customers.

What about marriage?

There are two possible “end game” to a marriage and they are:

a. Divorce

b. Until Death Do Us Part

For this post, I would like to write about one of the clear indications that a marriage is heading towards divorce even before it begins.

When we attended the marriage preparation course, the initial question the presenting couple asked us was whether we have signed any prenuptial agreement and if we did, they would not allow us to continue attending the course.

But of course we were young and so in love that we did not even understand what a prenuptial agreement was and let alone signed one. In hindsight, I am glad that was the case.

TRUST

I have come to understand that a prenuptial agreement is a contract with the “end game” in mind. There really is no point in getting married when either one of the two people agree to having a prenuptial agreement. This is a clear indication of one’s non-committal behavior towards the union. There is enough distrust in the relationship to afford an “what if” situation. Perhaps it is a lack of faith but whatever the reason, I am opined that it is best not to get married to a spouse who demands or even considers a prenuptial agreement.

A marriage is the commitment of two people who have made and will always make a conscious decision to love each other every single day of their lives until death to them part.

In marriage, we give ourselves fully to our spouse – a 100%. But a prenuptial agreement is 2% less. There really should not be Plan B or C in a marriage. We stick to our vows no matter what happens.

As we celebrated our 11th year together as husband and wife, I was reminded of that one question that helped me make the decision that she is the one.

“Can I TRUST her with my life?”

And like our wedding vows, the answer is YES!

If you are considering marriage at the moment, I hope your end game is Till Death Do Us Part. I wish you all the blessings and graces for an everlasting marriage!

You can read Part I by clicking here.

Quietly Growing

I’ve had these cactus pads for more than a year now and in fact, most from the initial plant has rotten away before I decided to salvage what seemed to be healthy. In some cultures, it is a taboo to keep cactus plants in living spaces because of their sharp thorns or spines that are believed to cause more “harm” than good. After replanting them in a bigger pot, I also re-positioned them to where they will be able to get more sunlight.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28

“But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” ~ Matthew 13:8

The gospel reading last week talked about getting a good rest and this week the gospel seemed to be about growth.

I cannot help but to relate the readings to the situation I had with these cactus pads. Not only have I not planted them on good and suitable soil, they have been deprived of the nourishment they needed to thrive.

Just like how newborns need their sleep as part of growth, adults too need to rest so that our bodies will be able to rejuvenate and “repair” what is damaged. Spiritually speaking, we need to be still and in the quietness, reflect to find the inspiration we need to grow as a person.

I chance upon an article on my favorite self-help blog Pick The Brain and through it, found a TED talk by Susan Cain about The Power Of Introverts.

It is interesting how all the experiences in the past two weeks coupled with the discoveries of the article and video seemed to be intertwined and run in parallel.

We are so distracted in this instant gratified world that we have often forgotten to pause and invest some quiet time for growth.

I hope you will have a good week learning something new and worthwhile in your journey towards growth.

Friend

Here I am trying to recall and recollect what has taken place the entire past week. Nothing inspiring worth sharing because I am still coping with losing two people due to relocation. I still hope that one of them would resume his presence online as soon as he is settled at the new base.

Whatever it is, we are often lonely in different ways.

Last weekend, there was a huge Pride Parade at downtown Toronto and the topic of LGBTQ+ became a discussion (once again). One of the many things that is very difficult to define with precise certainty.

I think like most things in life, people in general are seeking acceptance and a sense of belonging. We are trying to fill the void in certain aspects of our lives.

Most of all, we are seeking for companionship and love.

We want to be heard, affirmed of our self-worth, and be valued by someone else.

We are now living a highly pressurized and challenging world where people are easily provoked. The more connected we are through the internet, the more disconnected we are in the real world. It is now quite difficult for us to hold a lengthy conversation because it has been reduced to “what’s in it for me?”, “what do you have that I need?”, or “how can you be of benefit to me?”. We seemed to have grown into this “selling oneself” culture whereby we are either selling a product, a service, or even prostituting ourselves just to get by in life.

In the end, we yearn for what is left of our dignity and self-worth. We become jaded as to what are our talents, values, morality, principles, ethics, and purposes.

If only we can all love a little more by being compassionate to one another. By understanding the fact that each one of us is seeking our spot in this huge planet – to be counted and valued. To also understand that often times, the level of wisdom and intellect of a person can be confined by the circumstances that are totally out of their control. We must love enough to know that for each person to come to his or her own, he or she needs time, the right opportunities, and guidance.

Therefore, if you come across a person not up to your standards or expectations, perhaps it is your opportunity to learn new ways of leadership and be the change he or she needs so desperately to turn life around.

As we begin a new day, let’s ask ourselves – Have you found LOVE today?