Tough Love (How God Parents Us)

Cane-corporal-punishment

“Do not withhold discipline from a child;
    if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
 If you strike him with the rod,
    you will save his soul from Sheol.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)

When I was a kid, I used to compare my mom and dad on how they disciplined me. My mom never spared the rod and I was constantly at the end of it. On the other hand, I only remembered my father using it once, when I spoke ill words towards my mom. I wasn’t the easiest of kids because I liked defending my rights or what I thought my rights were. And, although my parents would constantly reassure me that they did it out of love and concern for my future, I just didn’t understand the idea of beating your own child. It felt brutal and unjust for me. But, I grew up well and unscathed because of those beatings.

Then, I look at God and how He disciplines me.

In my perspective, He’s way, way more brutal than my parents. He does not physically spank me or He might have a few times, I do not know for sure. But the pain is so palpable in every inch of my being that I can do nothing but to rely on Him. The thing is, I’m still stubborn like a kid. I still don’t want to listen. I still want things done my own way. And, I like being in-charge of my own life. I’m a hardheaded adult.

So, I’ve been subjected to a lot of pruning and character building. Seasons that were so painful, I can only cling to my dear Lord for my dear life. Seasons that made me pray and plead, fast and meditate on the Word. Seasons that pushed me to totally surrender every bit of control I thought I have in my life. And in those moments, I learned that the Almighty Father just wants the best for me. It might not be convenient, but that’s the least of His concerns. Because He has gone ahead of us, He sees what needs to be done through, in and for me. And, it’s amazing that even in our moments of unfaithfulness and unbelief, God is still a caring Father. A Father who provides shelter in the storms and bread in our times of hunger. Truly, a Father who will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)

Just like my parents who always made sure I understood why I had to get beaten, God makes us understand why we have to go through seasons of refining. In the fire, metals are purified from dusts and dirt. God allows seasons of purification to prepare us for seasons of beauty and breakthroughs. I personally believe that if I had not gone through all the pain and hurts of my past, I would not have an enduring heart. If I was spared from heartaches and darkest moments, I would never have seen how grand God’s plan for me is. If God did not allow me to be beaten to a pulp, I would never have realized that the only anchor I have is Christ. I would have gone astray, far away from the beauty that the Lord has in-store for me.

“..And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Christ wasn’t spared from the shame, betrayal and pain. But He looked at the joy set before Him, which is the salvation of mankind. May we all see difficult seasons with the eyes of the Lord and realize how much we’ll benefit from them. In tough times, may we always remind ourselves to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. In times of struggles, may we grow strong in faith and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.

I pray and hope that we will take this time to reflect on our seasons of pruning, rejections, heart breaks and refining. I pray that no amount of pain can ever deter you from seeking God. I pray that in every season, we would still find a reason to praise and worship Him. And, just like to our own parents, we would come home, fully convinced that God’s tough love is for our own sake, believing that all things work together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

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Since March is International Women’s Month, I thought of writing something to empower women who experience the same struggles I have when it comes to beauty. I’m nowhere near the looks and stature of a beauty queen and it’s safe to say that I have lots of insecurities in my body. This post is in no way aimed to discriminate, embarrass or shame anybody. I’m glad that people have learned to accept their own bodies and personalities as they are and I’m so thankful for advocates who have massively changed our perception of ourselves . But, we live in a world where we are still exposed to high standards of beauty everywhere and whether we like it or not, we are influenced by it. Honestly, how many of us have used whitening soaps and lotions to try to achieve that pearly, white skin? Or, how many women have dragged their work-exhausted bodies to the gym to have that Coca-Cola body?

As some people may know, I was *unofficially* diagnosed with anorexia years back. Growing up, I feared that I would end up being fat because of my genetics. I was always threatened by my family of the state of my future body. The world has always injected into my mind that being slim means being beautiful and if I’m not, I should work my butt off to achieve that body. I feared I would be bullied and that no one would ever like me. And so, to counteract, I just stopped eating. But, no matter how thin and buto’t balat I was, whenever I looked in the mirror, I still saw someone who’s fat and ugly.

I’m sure we all had that phase or maybe we are still in it. We fear that nobody would think greatly of us just because our skin is terrible or that our haircut is not in the latest trend. We fear that our own circle of friends would be embarrassed to be with someone who does not have the latest mobile phone or who doesn’t wear branded clothes. We fear that we will never find that romance because we just don’t look good as the standards of this world.

But, our identity is not determined by the clothes that we wear or the makeup we invest in. Our identity is anchored to the One who despite our flaws and immeasurable amount of sins, still took the cross for us and exchange our shame for His glory. Our identity is resting on the fact that we are children of God. We were fearfully and wonderfully made. And we do not need the beauty of this world because in His eyes, we are far more precious than rubies.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

We should not be limited to what the world says we should be or how the society thinks we should act for we do not belong to this world. We should be secured on the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is not His will for us to feel downcast because of how we look, but He wants us to remember that He values us more than anything else in this world. He sacrificed Himself without needing and wanting anything in return. While on the cross, His eyes was fixed on us. That’s why despite the shame and pain, He endured. He did it all out of His great love for us. If that isn’t enough for you to realize your worth, I don’t know what will.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are..” 

(1 John 3:1)

My dearest, fellow women, you are loved by your Father in heaven. You are of utmost importance to Him. He holds you in highest regard. I hope you live your life as the princess of the King of kings. I hope that you will think highly of yourself not because of the position you hold or the face that you have, but because you have a crown in your head in Christ.

Do not let this world tell you otherwise.

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

(Psalm 139: 13-16)

“A cord of three strands..”

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Back in college, I was not a person with many friends. I would always stay at the back or in the corner of the classroom, surrounded by the people I’m most comfortable with. I am not one to talk to someone I was not close to because I don’t feel secured. Back then, I would reject Facebook friend requests from people not in my circle. I wanted my privacy so I had few friends. And no one would know my struggles unless it was too much to handle, because I had the same facial expression every single day. Not my family. Not my closest friends. No one. I had a deep sense of longing for isolation, back then. And I kept on thinking to myself, “That’s just the way it is. You don’t have to force yourself to socialize or smile. You do what your heart wants to. If you want to be alone, then be alone.” But as I grew in my faith, I learned that all those thoughts were lies because we are not alone in this battle.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kindsbecause you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-4)

The Christian life is not as easy as it seem to be. We were told we will face trials of many kinds and no one would be spared from this. We are all wrestling in this broken and fallen world. But when I underwent a difficult season in my life, I wanted to revert back to isolation. It was hard. It was painful. I was depressed. I wanted to cry the whole day. I didn’t want anyone to bother. I wanted to be encapsulated in my thoughts. I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want anyone to ask. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I thought that it is my problem and I need no one. I reached that pit where it was dark and deep. I could not see a hint of light. But God’s love is beautiful and He promised He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Joshua 1:5) He found me sulking in my corner. He took me out of the pit I was in and helped me take my first step. I knew then what I needed to do, and that is to reconnect with the Lord. I had to seek Him, pursue Him and soak in His presence. And in there, I saw hope that the best remains and the best is yet to be. It was great and a really refreshing time, but God did not stop there. He wanted more for me and He wanted me to reach out to people to tell my story so they could pray for me.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

And I was awaken to a whole new perspective when I talked to different people. It’s one thing when you’re praying alone and asking God to answer your questions, but the outlook is wider when people are praying for you because they will reveal to you words from the Father that you won’t get in your “me time.” When I felt weak, they prayed for the strength of the Lord to come through. When I felt tired, they encouraged me to persevere. And I knew it wasn’t false because the Lord is working in them, as He had promised to be in our midst whenever we are gathered in His name. So just a little shout out to the people who battled and stood with me in prayer. Thank you guys, you know who you are. I believe that the Lord will reward you for your heart to help 🙂

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

As followers of Christ, we are instructed to have fellowship with one another based on our fellowship with God. We were instructed to love, be compassionate, help out and encourage our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. We are in one spiritual family and we should honor the Lord through obedience in His word. There will be struggles in our walk with the Lord, but rest assured that if you have people backing you up in your faith, you will not be quickly broken. You, the people around you and the Lord will consist that cord.

If you are in a church and is still not part of any group, I suggest you reach out to one of the leaders so you can belong into one. And if you stumbled upon this post and have been struggling, visit a local church in your area.

May the good Lord bless you and keep you!

Hi, all.

I figured it’s the proper time to transfer and start anew. I’ve been wanting to start a new blog and I have finally found the courage to do so. I stopped writing for a while but by God’s grace, I’m back! I don’t promise to post weekly, but I will try my best to share my thoughts as often as I could. Please bear with this normal person, working an 8-hour, sometimes 12 (or even more) job. Kidding aside, welcome to my dear blog!