The Effects of Surrender: Remembering 2008

As I begin to write this, it's 2 hours before the last work shift I have for 2008 ends. I have nothing left to do right now, as the people that are under my care are currently being catered to by the good people of another department. My work is literally done, and I am obviously doing the best that I can to justify my burning of the remaining time in this shift through blogging. If anyone asks, I suppose I can go ahead and say that I am doing this to sate the demands of my mind to exhale, with all that has been inhaled, all for the purpose of self-preservation, for them to receive better bang for their buck.

It's funny how some of the quick excuses that you give to people turn out to be more true that you initially thought. I say this because I think that memory preservation may very well be a true means of self-preservation, especially since I would like to indicate that the way I ended this year compared to last year has been nothing less than healthy.

I also find it astonishing, how a principle, if committed to memory, becomes more and more apparent and applicable in our lives as we keep recalling it. The principle - no, the truth I'm referring to has been echoed more than once over the blogs that I have posted during this beautiful year: The only thing we have control over in this world is how we react to what happens to us. God, who has control over literally everything else, loves us so much that His grace encourages us or brings us to the right path, depending on how we react.

Case in point. Some of you knew about the ugly news we got more than a week ago, regarding the possibility that we would be working on December 24th, a sick joke considering the fact that we were promised that day and Christmas day off. That news came to us on December 21. At this point many of us have succumbed to the general feeling of frustration that our plans and hopes were ruined, amplified by the fact that the news came in such a short notice.

When you give your life to Christ, you actually gain more. In this particular case, I gained the choice to react by prayer and pleading instead of letting my heart and sanity sink with the rest of the seemingly sinking ship. I reacted by praying, praying, and even more praying, with help from true friends I could count on.

On the afternoon of December 22, I got my answer. We were given our off on the 24th and 25th, and I had nothing but thanks to the people who helped out in prayer - More importantly, God had once again demonstrated that prayer works. Oh yes, it does.

Fast forward to the afternoon of December 23. I was assigned to give feedback to agents after they did impromptu speeches. I was on a roll too, doing what I could do to help out. After around 3 or 4 agents, a co-support staff starts interrupting me and stealing the show, saying any other things, cheap words that lack effective coaching value (I'd say bullshit, but I'd rather not). I lost my patience, because for the most part of the day I was idle and feeling pretty useless, and now that I was actually doing something this guy goes ahead and stops my momentum, for reasons more selfish than virtuous.

I step back, step out for a bit. I was pissed, and whatever came out of my mouth during that period of infuriation definitely did not be of benefit to anyone.But thanks to friends, rather, people who God sent, I was reminded of how I needed to control what I had inside of me, effectively bringing me to my senses. God had once again determined that He works in hearts. Oh yes, He does.

Those were two situations, and two reactions. As I approached the end of last year, I was nursing the absolutely excruciating pain of rejection, and if I recall, the way I handled it, the way I reacted, would have left me dead, disgraced, or both, if I didn't stop. I was drinking, smoking, and looking for love in the wrong places, king of a kingdom of one, where the judge, jury, executioner, AND the defendant were all one person.

Through a series of fortunate events which I believe could not have been plotted by anyone lesser than a divine power (involving a digital camera, of all things - fancy that), that all changed. I was shooting more than smoking, and at the start of the year, I kicked the habit cold turkey, inspired by a good friend of mine who decided to quit because of reasons so deep they got to me. At the time, the magnitude of the pain derived from this rejection actually made it a whole lot easier for me to quit, especially since another good friend of mine told me that you actually take better pictures when you are angry - a fact which led me to take even more pictures, instead of wasting time having a cigarette, seeking genuine solace from co-smokers in vain. As I stayed away from cigarettes, I also found it easier and easier to stay away from drinking - the saints whose names we will eternally remember placed on countless bottles of beer and hard liquor, they never really gave me the comfort I sought.

There was nothing left to do but to take pictures, and to go to church. I did both with increased intensity, and found that there were saints greater than San Miguel, and that dude named Fundador... They were in overnight prayer meetings. The faith that I thought I turned I back on was being brought back to life with each and every praise report I heard, with each and every prayer answered, each and every concern addressed. It grew to a point that blessings became bigger and smiles grew wider. God's grace was being seen more and more, and things were looking up, in all aspects. Situations presented as problems were no longer seen as problems but opportunities for God to demonstrate His awesome control over every single thing. Circumstances that would shake foundations were mere stepping stones leading us to truly place our complete and total trust in God.

God uses people and situations for good. I am now a staunch believer of this truth. And God never lets me put my guard down; Even now, I am being pressed and pressured more than ever, with greater problems turning out to be greater obligations to get down on my knees to call on God for help. I am dealing with concerns I never thought I would be taking on - just to specify, I have been given the honor to be part of a ragtag band of brothers held responsible in supporting an account to stand up and stay up. Additionally, I say with no bitterness within me that I am also dealing with the same rejection that I experienced last year, only this time it was official. I got dumped - and it isn't a bad thing, because it seems like if the pain is more intense, the outcome will be so much sweeter. I am also living in a time that would test the sanity of even the most stable person - With morality becoming less and less popular, and with all the problems that the world is facing, it is a neccessity for us to keep our minds trained to adjust to these trying times.

If you keep giving yourself to God, He will direct you to more challenging assignments, and tasks with more significant implications over reality. If you own up to where He directs you, He will continue to use you in ways you never thought you could reach.

With great responsibility comes great power.

I thank God for 2008. I hope God continues to move through your life as much as He has in mine. While there is life, there is hope.

God bless us all.