Wow, it feels like I’ve been gone for a long time, but here I am, writing after almost 3 weeks of break from writing and keeping it low (kind of) on social media. So, hi!
February has definitely been tough on me. Have you ever reached that point of exhaustion where sleep can no longer fix it? I was so drained. I was always sad, always crying, always worrying, always fearful, and always negative. I knew I could do better in class and at home, but I couldn’t. My body was ready but my mind wasn’t. At first, I kept on pushing myself even harder but I ended up being more tired and being more ineffective in my tasks. What added fuel to the fire was the world saying that it’s not okay to be not okay. That it’s not acceptable to cry, or want rest. I pushed myself both physically and mentally because of what the world had to say. And because of that, I got worse.
I opened up to my dear friend, Bea. You see, she’s my go-to person because I know she’s the type who will rebuke me if I am wrong somewhere. I told her how I felt and how not only my school work was being affected, but all the relationships around me too. I felt like I was a bad mom for not excelling in class while my daughter is making a sacrifice of being away from me while I study. I felt like a bad wife because I was demanding more from my husband. And I felt horrible for being so cruel to myself. And then Bea asked, “do you want to sleep over?”. My heart jumped for joy! First, I knew I needed rest. Second, it’s my first actual girls weekend get away! Well, sort of. We only stayed around Makati. Hehe.
My husband has been so intentional in showing me that he is always here for me and that he wants to make me happy. He even made a way so that I could spend the whole week with Taziana. But I found myself wanting more and more from him. I was miserable and I wanted to make him make me feel happy. And whenever he did, I wanted more. The problem isn’t even in our marriage or in him. The problem was really just me, my spirit, my lack of rest, and my dry communication with the Lord (since I spent a lot of time listening to the world). I knew I had to do something on my own.
The whole week Mark has been so sweet to me and kept on asking me, “Where do you want me to take you?” “What would make you happy?” “Where do you want to go if I take you out on a date?”. Imagine being asked out by the love of your life over and over in a span of one week. Of course I was happy! But I was still not okay. On Tuesday, I told him that I would spend the weekend away from home. He responded with, “Okay. Sure!” but I felt he wanted to ask more. Last Friday, however, he finally asked questions that bothered him for a while. He asked,
Mark: What time are you coming back on Saturday?
Me: Oh, babe. I think I already mentioned this but I’ll be coming home on Sunday.
Mark: Who are you going to be with?
Mark: What’s happening honey?
Me: I am so tired. I want to rest.
Mark: Oh… But…. why not with me?
Me: I’m sorry honey. This is a personal struggle and I feel that I’ve been dragging you in it the wrong way. You’ve always been there for me but I find myself asking for more and making you take responsibility for my misery. It’s not right. I want to rest and come home to you.
Mark: Oh. Thank you, honey. I love you.
Mark has been my friend for 12 years now. He’s my best friend and I’ve gone through so much in life with him even before falling in love with him. That’s why our marriage has been so exciting. But this was the first time I ever sought comfort outside our marriage… and friendship. I knew it was a battle I had to fight alone, at least for a short while. And I knew that if I am able to find rest in the Lord, it would benefit our marriage, too. I want to make him happier. And I am glad that he supports and respects my own space and growth even after being married to him.
First, I want to share with you how the weekend went. Then, I want to share with you how it affected my life as a wife, mom, student, and individual.
The weekend …
I love spending time with Bea. She is my sister in Christ and every moment I spend with her is always fruitful. Sometimes, she gives me the good kind of sting by rebuking me and broadening my vision. I’d like to think that I do the same for her. Hehe. Other than being my sister, she loves talking, blogging, vlogging, and doing girly things like me too! I love how she had lots of ideas for the weekend but I loved it even more when she said that I don’t have to try so much on the weekend, I can just be myself and let it out. It was basically a weekend where I dropped my “roles” for a while and attended to my most important role in life: a daughter of the King.
We had Samgyupsalamat, which is my ultimate favorite food, by the way! Then, I had my brows done. It was a fun change to have someone talk to me while I endured the pain that comes with brow threading. Hahaha! After that, she treated me to a coffee shop. We had her all time favorite- matcha! We sat there for hours, just talking about life and pouring our hearts out. It’s honestly my first time to experience what it’s actually like to “camp” in a coffee shop. She taught me a lot of new things this weekend. Hahaha! Then, we went to a thrift shop and finally got myself a pair of shorts which is only 150 PHP! Such a steal! I actually didn’t have an eye on any item at first, but giiiirl, Bea has a special eye on shopping. She found the perfect shorts for me. When we got to her place, we put face masks on and she taught me basic calligraphy. We called it a night at around 2 am already. And continued our morning in a coffee shop again. I studied and then we continued talking again. You can just guess how much talking we had! hahaha.
As a wife …
If I was to count, I had only been gone for 28 hours. I had a healthy amount of space with my husband and I could say that a healthy amount of absence does make the heart grow fonder. A little secret is that it has been a wrestle for Mark and I. We have been discussing about how I felt like he wasn’t exerting too much effort in pursuing me. I started feeling like he was starting to be too lax because I was always within reach. It was much later when I realized that a part of the problem was not him not trying- because he was. It was my attitude towards him. Like I said, I was starting to hold him responsible for my joy. For something that is between me and the Lord.
The entire weekend, I worked on keeping the Lord at the center of my heart. I was reminded of how much the Lord loves me and that He is faithful even when the world around me gets messy. It was unfair for me to hold my husband (or any other person) responsible for the things the Lord was already doing for me: loving me, protecting me, providing me comfort and security. That weekend, I have again, built my entire trust and identity in the Lord.
When the way I saw things changed, so did our marriage. I gave him room to come through, and he did. I gave him a chance to pursue me. All week, he has been so sweet! I receive lots of messages letting me know that I can always lean on him and that he loves me. He also sent me a few text messages while I was out on the weekend. When I was on the way home, he said he was so excited to see me. I brought home lots of stories of success and learning. It was lovely to see him smile while listening. He also made carbonara for dinner! His reason? “I think that it will make you happy”. Later that Sunday night, Mark said, “we should do this more often right?”. I couldn’t agree more. It’s always healthy to go and explore separately once in a while and come home with a fresh spirit. I also believe that while I was away for a short time, the Lord also worked on my husband’s heart- that’s why he had new realizations and changed from good to better!
As a student…
To be honest, not a lot in my life has changed. The challenges I face in school are still the same. The same battles I left on that weekend were still the same battles I came home to. The big difference, however, was the heart of the warrior that was about to face them. Before finding rest in the Lord, I was beating myself up for not doing better. I was cruel to myself for not excelling, even I already gave my 110%. Even when I already spent day and night, weekends and weekdays studying. Even when I already read the lesson 4 times before quizzes. My pride couldn’t accept that my best wasn’t enough for that subject. My focus was on the world’s opinion: it’s too much to ask for rest and failure is weakness. But after resting in the Father’s arms, it was like a change of gear. I was reminded that the Lord is in control of everything, He is in control in both the hills and valleys of my life. Even when I don’t understand what is happening, I can always trust that the Lord has his heart set on what is best for me.
While I was at the coffee shop with Bea, we read a few chapters in the bible. It was a wake up call for the both of us when we read about how God saved the Israelites a hundred times but they still had a very faint heart and were even willing to live the life of slavery again just because they couldn’t trust God and they feared the unknown so bad. That was me at that moment! How many times did God reveal His goodness to me? How many times did God remain true to His promises for me? He even exceeds my prayers and expectations! He has done so much in my life, countless of times! Yet, here I am dreading about one problem, doubting if He can do it again.
I’ve decided to surrender to the Lord no matter what the outcome is. I don’t want to live an “outcome based” life. I don’t want to be someone who only sees the Lord and only thanks Him when I get what “I” want. I want to trust His goodness and His plans even if they aren’t exactly what I have in mind.
I’ve started going to school every day with a mindset that I will do my best but will not be cruel to myself if the outcome isn’t what I expect it to be. I will always work on growing and doing better but I’ve decided to be kinder to myself.
I’ve learned that true success isn’t only found in the title of your career or your stand in school. That’s just one area of my life. Every day, God showers me with grace. I am healthy. My daughter is healthy. I am happily married. My parents are employed. We sleep in a cozy dorm. I study in one of the top schools of Medical Laboratory Science in the Philippines. I get to eat 3 meals a day and snacks if I want to. I am blessed to be able to share my heart and life to many people. My life as a student, is just a part of the big picture. One bad grade will never mean I am living a bad life.
As a daughter …
All this time I fought all battles alone because I am scared of disappointing my family once again. I didn’t want them to see me break or be faint. All this time I thought “they wouldn’t be able to accept failure from me”. One night, as I was praying, God whispered, “don’t underestimate their love for you”. So, on that cold night, I reached out to my mom and my grandmother. I realized I’ve been searching for comfort from other people but have missed out on the people who matter the most. I was scared and hesitant, but I just had to pour my heart out.
I told them about my fears and what has been happening in my life. How much I am hurting badly because I don’t want to be a disappointment… even after giving it my all.
My grandmother said,
“Take a rest. Take your time in getting a good nights sleep tonight. Do not worry about Taziana so much, she is happy and healthy here. We are here for you. Don’t fear one subject. Give it your all and if your all isn’t enough, fight again. It doesn’t end when you fail once”
My mom said,
“Don’t take things too seriously. The people who make it are those who know when to rest, when to stop, when to have fun. What’s the use of having good grades if you will have a psychological breakdown? Relax, unwind, go for a massage, go to a spa, clear off your mind from academic stress even for a while. Then, attack again with a clear mind. Wake up with a positive mantra: I am excellent in all things that I do and my professors believe in me”
It felt like a ton of bricks have been lifted off my chest when I was able to find rest and security in my loved ones. I shouldn’t have underestimated their love for me in the first place. Because they believe in me, I am able to believe in myself more. I am more motivated to fight a good battle every day. Sometimes, my battles are about giving it a strong force. But sometimes, my battles are also about knowing what to lift up and what to let go of. Not everything we let go of and surrender is a “loss”.
As an individual…
My biggest take home is realizing that there is greater strength in admitting weaknesses than trying so hard to be so strong all the time. Putting my “roles” down for a short while was like taking a step backward to take two big steps forward. When my spirit has been well rested and renewed, I was able to look at my every day much more positively. Because I have built my security on who the Lord says I have, and have built my trust on who the Lord is, bad times could shake me but could not break me. I have started facing my responsibilities with joy. My responsibilities as a mom, a wife, a student, and as an individual. I stopped dreading about my daily tasks. I started seeing these responsibilities as a blessing. I have found great joy being called in all my roles again.
Resting in the Lord’s love and security has taught me to be kinder to myself. The battle isn’t mine alone, a big part of it is the Lord leading the way for me, like He did countless times before. I am learning to trust the Lord without knowing the outcome.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
How are you? Have you ever felt this kind of exhaustion? The good news for both you and me is that it’s okay to rest. It’s okay not to be okay! Sometimes, we can take a moment to drop everything and run to our Father. And after finding rest in Him, we can pick it all up again and give the battle a stronger fight and a faithful heart.
During this season I loved listening to the song Cecie’s Lullaby by Steffany Gretzinger. The song’s approach is God talking to us, reminding us of who He is. I totally felt it in my heart when the song said,
“So rockabye, baby come and rest. You’ve been tired lately, lay your head down. Don’t you think, baby, I know best? I’ve been a father from a long time”
It would be really lovely if you take the time and listen to it.
I missed you and would love to hear from you!