Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Being a Good Steward

Today was another reminder how 24 hours never seem to be enough to one who has overbooked herself.  I have tried to do one task after another, but there has been no letting up.  I am exhausted, tired, and cranky already.

I remembered one reason why my day went haywire: I forgot to have my prayer time this morning.  I rarely forget anymore, after learning the habit since 1993.  Forgotten prayer times mean incoherent mornings and disorganized days.

When I finally sat down to quietly come before God, I was delighted to read the reflection from Sabbath today, written by Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB.  This is apt for me now as I juggle so many activities and struggle with my priorities:
Responsible people care even for things that are not their own, and even for stuff they would no longer benefit from. Responsible stewards go beyond what is expected of them and dedicate themselves to pursuits that would redound to the future generations. Reprehensible, instead, are those who worry about nothing else but amassing wealth for themselves.

Today’s liturgy would have us think beyond responsibility as far as stewardship is concerned. The Lord expects more. He wants us, His stewards, to be faithful and prudent, in addition to being responsible. Fidelity  and prudence in stewardship have to do with watchfulness and dedication to duty, even when no one is looking. It has to do with being about our business, even when there is no deadline to meet. And it means applying oneself to duty in view of the future, even if the future is uncertain.

Yes, I will go back to my tasks with love, thinking about what will benefit future generations.  I will be a good steward of my time and talents.  If only I had read this before I started this hectic day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lifting Weights

I used to go to the gym regularly (yes, back in the day) and at one point even hired a personal trainer.

I don't remember if I wrote about this already. The analogy hit me again today, about my secret life as a (light)weight lifter.

Sometime in 2008, I signed up for thirty sessions with the PT just so I'd have someone reminding me of my workout sessions, assisting me during warmup, and directing me during the actual calorie-burning chores.  She did a good job, for before that I had zero desire to sweat like a pig.

I was, as expected, a major complainer.  I kept asking for lesser repetitions.  I made faces when she made me take heavier dumbbells.  I felt unglamorous as I sweated while my cute little PT just looked fresh-faced, all the time.  If she were not so fragile-looking, I would have hated her.  I preferred the dance classes but I had to go to them outside of actual PT sessions, which meant I had to spend more time at the gym than my lifestyle permitted. 

After less than a year of hitting the gym, I started to feel pain on my elbows.  I mentioned it to my PT and she said that she noticed a change in me as well.  That was when she told me that I had actually gained strength and was already able to obey her almost effortlessly, until that time.  I didn't know that I was particularly strong, or that I had improved.

It turned out that I overexerted myself during a business trip to a national lawyers' conference, as I had to bring heavy luggage containing CD Asia materials, and this resulted to a minor injury.  I experienced pain whenever I tried to lift heavy objects.  I had to stop going to the gym (and forego my remaining prepaid sessions), and instead went to a physical therapist.

Now, my spiritual direction sessions are starting to feel like work.  I want to make faces at my SD when he assigns me to look more closely at certain situations and feelings that I tell him about.  He said I had to endure the discomfort so I could deal with my emotions and let them point me to what they mean.

I just hope that I am gaining strength even  if I do not see it. That I am lifting incrementally heavier weights with less sweat and aches.  And I hope that I do not overexert myself outside of my SD sessions so that I don't get injured again.

I can't stand another injury.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

New Stop in The Journey

The good news is, I have a new spiritual director. I researched his background after a friend recommended that I seek out this gifted priest. I knew he would be a helpful companion in my journey.

It took me six months to gather the courage to approach him, though. I tried the Filipino thing and asked common friends to endorse me, as if that was necessary.  Brothers and sisters kept telling me to just ask him if he would be my SD. How hard was that?

Turned out I was too scared and shy to ask for help, because I knew it was going to be difficult. I had accumulated baggage that needed sorting, and they were weighing me down.  They had become familiar, and I was reluctant to let go of my spiritual band-aids and deal with the festering wound underneath.  This was not a new revelation to me for I had previously entered this cycle of ignoring warnings and then dealing with snowballed problems.

Finally, one morning, as I was praying, I ran out of excuses. I needed to talk to someone, to be guided in looking at life in the eyes of faith once more. And I knew I could trust this priest with my innermost struggles.

He did not disappoint.  I was not as transparent as I used to be, so it took me a while to explain the predicaments that brought me to him.  I knew he understood me and got me when he said that I needed to be kinder to myself and not be harsh in judging my behavior. I told him how tired I was of pretending.  As he was probing, I did not feel rejected.  I felt accepted.

I saw the love of Jesus flowing through him, and said it out loud, that it took me years before getting a spiritual director again after the previous ones left the country because I thought nobody should worry about my little worries except myself.  And then, sitting there, I remembered:  Jesus cared.  He cared for my guilt, He cared for my happiness, He cared for my sacrifices, He cared for my healing.  I was running away, once more, from the Lord.  The very love I needed, I hid from.

Many times I do not get what I want.  But what I need, I always get, at the right time. God knew when and how to pursue me. This is a welcome rest for the weary.

Monday, October 01, 2012

I Am The Worrier

Wake up, wake up, wake up.  September has ended.  (Green Day must be having a party right now.)

In the Philippines, Christmas shopping has started.  Holiday decorations have started selling like hotcakes.  Balikbayan boxes have been shipped on their way home.

My family will have a reunion this December and I have trips to plan!  But no time for that now.

Time, and sleep.  If only I could have both.  These days they are both elusive.  I may have overbooked myself.  I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

I have a day job, and I teach. I am exhausted because I chose this schedule. I wish I cared less, but I don't.  I can't.  It's not in my nature.

Instead, I worry and am less productive because of it.

I know.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? (Luke 12:25, NIV) 

Knowing has never been my problem.  I know everything - how to lose weight.  How to clean my room.  How to be happy.  How to be productive.  How to be efficient.  I just don't do it.

Instead, I worry.

Time to change strategies.