“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” (Proverbs 17:3)
Following that train of thought would mean that the past year was a series of pop quizzes, final exams that allowed only a day or two of review, rounds of debates that lasted months, a thesis I had to defend, and law school recitations for major subjects I was called for as my breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Piece of cake.
The year I’ve had since The Immaculate Misconception has been one heck of a becoming.
This was the prayer that started it all:
I’m sick of living for myself. Please teach me what it means to surrender completely. Whatever you need to take, whatever I need to give, whatever needs to happen – let Your will be done. I think I’m ready and I know I can take it because I have You to catch me. I trust You completely and I have faith in Your plans.
I’m already nervous and scared as I write these words down but I know it will be for the better.
For a couple of months, it felt like I was Alice in Wonderland endlessly falling into a pit without a floor to break my fall.
Constantly fighting with family, relationships and friendships ending, jobs changing, opportunities passing, weaknesses unveiling, fears manifesting – perpetually falling.
But the worst part about it was that all the decisions I made were from a conviction that I was simply following what’s right. It was tough to go through it when in some instances what was right seemed wrong or painful to others.
I followed the recipe but my soufflé almost always fell flat. Frustrating could not even come close to what I felt at that time.
I eventually cracked under the weight of “be needed but to never be the one in need” and crashed into pieces when I finally hit the floor that broke my fall.
“Better to be patient than powerful. Better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:32-33)
To surrender is a concept I’ve always heard and understood as a momentary sacrifice or a temporary defeat.
But what I’ve come to learn is that to surrender meant to stop imagining a scenario where I could finally prove a person wrong, it meant biting the bullet instead of pulling the trigger, it meant not obsessing on possibilities and probabilities of how it could’ve happened, it meant avoiding sweeping declarations and biases against situations, and it meant not continually beating myself up with judgment and criticism for my own mistakes and failures.
Most of all, surrender meant not getting ahead of Him and His perfect timing.
It’s been a tough year but I’ve been holding on to something tougher.
The beauty of surrendering to an absolute truth is that things of true value gain clarity and stand firmly against the tides of distractions and vague ideas.
I decided to get baptised last year looking forward to being renewed. But I discovered that I wasn’t just going to be renewed – I was going to be restored.
“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3
The process of restoration is meticulous, slow, careful, and intentional. It takes patience, discipline, and most importantly a humble and forgiving heart – none of which I had nor was even capable of.
The matchstick concept as the theme of True Life 4: Pursuing Passion manifested as an idea after days of racking our brains with the team trying to define what “Pursuing Passion” was supposed to mean amongst our many distractions, interests, and the constant reinforcement of the idea that we can figure life out solely on our own.
Fortunately, the idea finally manifested at the last minute.
The main theme of this year’s retreat was about living a life pursuing passion. The matchstick served as a symbol and constant reminder of how limited we are on our own – the energy we spend, the love we give, the compassion we share, the drive we run on, the passions we pursue, and the life we live.
But all it really takes is igniting the right flame, discovering the true kind of passion that sets your heart on fire – the fire that lasts forever.
It was in the middle of a prayer that I decided to shut up and listen instead of dictating to Him what I think the theme of the retreat ought to be.
Similar to most of the mistakes I’ve made in the past year, it was in deciding for Him ahead of time and filling in the gaps for myself did I find myself perpetually failing.
“You make me new, You are making me new.” – Beautiful Things, Gungor
It’s been one year since that faithful day I decided to pursue my passion by surrendering to Christ and I’ve never been more fulfilled to let myself and my life be used for His glory. It’s been such a privilege and a blessing to experience being used by Him to serve and love others.
I planned on writing a long post that encapsulated almost all of the stories and milestones I’ve been dying to share this past year (especially for the people who constantly check up on me to find out what’s really been going on), but after much careful thought as much I would love to share all the details and events that have miraculously transpired, I think I’ll hold on these little treasures for a while.
It’s not the right time yet – I’m still in the process of slowly being put back together.
I’m still waiting for the first layer of paint to dry, still waiting for specific brushes ordered overseas to fill in the details, still waiting to complete the first phase before we can begin with second.
And guess what? I’m finally enjoying patiently waiting for His perfect timing.
This time last year I promised to consistently choose less of myself and more of Him everyday.
This time I’m promising to surrender to the process completely as I wait to be restored to His beautiful design and purpose.
Photo Credit: True Life 4: Pursuing Passion Facebook Page