Vanity, all vanity!
One of the things I dread in life is attending a class reunion. Last week, my college classmate Nena messaged me, and that’s what exactly what we’re having on the 24th. Gina, it turned out, had been home recently, back from the United States after 15 years, and she’d like to meet up at a Shangri-la Mall restaurant with everybody. Would I be able to come? I hate it, but my instinctive reaction was to panic. It’s just like I was going to die.
I had to immediately launch into my usual silent conversations with myself, my way of saying What’s the matter? Why stress over it and have a nervous breakdown?
Well, for sure I was afraid. I didn’t have to admit it – it’s obvious. Why was I afraid? Because it’s Gina, who’s a doctor living the good life in the States, having a lifestyle miles away from mine? Because it’s Gina, whom I got a little crush on (which I fantasize to be mutual)? Because it’s Gina, and Nena who’s a doctor too, and Ritchie who’s another doctor, and who knows which accomplished personality would turn up?
I told Nena via Facebook chat, I am too ashamed to come. I’m still single and still poor. It turns out I presumed I was a shameful failure, and it would be a torture for me to be told that in so many ways in my face. This means I value, even worship, what they’d think of me, for why I’d dread of them judging me?
This means even worse things. Other than having such a low regard for myself and whatever I have accomplished in life, this little incident is revelatory of my hidden God issues. If I truly believe that God loves me, why then am I ashamed of who I’ve become? Didn’t God bless me overabundantly, although in His usual roundabout, illogical, unexpected way? How do I regard all that wisdom, knowledge and understanding He graced/bestowed/gifted/lavished/favored me with? The healing of bad memories, healing of my relationship with my father, mother, brother, other people whom I thought had rejected me? How about the innumerable self-realizations on top of these, especially the revelations of secret sins/defects I didn’t even know I had? What do I make of these spiritual treasures? Why do I seem to take them lightly after all these years? What about the many interests I have that others are not fortunate to enjoy? Don’t I see how the rich and famous would kill just to have what I have, even as I obsess about what I don’t have? Don’t I remember that award-winning actor who said he wasn’t happy after snagging a grand slam of acting awards, the superstar foreign heartthrob who went through a clinical depression because he thought he’s just a pretty (but empty) vase?
“Ah!” I could almost hear God bewail through my incredible myopia.
What a horrible mess I am in, I realize, with the latest idolatry in my heart uncovered. After all these years, I still value human respect, honor, prestige, name, status. I am still dependent on human approval/affirmation. Why am I still obsessed with looking good? Who know what negative thoughts they have been thinking about me? I will be judged by anybody anyway, so who cares?
Worst thing of all, I still don’t believe and trust that God put me through the wringer that’s my life out of His love for me. He made me fall down from my high horse, my ivory tower, because I am too proud. He made me poor because I’m too obsessed with lucre, with material things. he gave me lots of defects because I am too perfectionist, as though I were God. He made me sick because everything I’ve been doing in my life is to further puff up an already bloated ego. God is giving me a lesson here, but I keep on missing it, so I keep on whining.
This punishment is really a blessing. God is giving me a favor by withdrawing all the favors I desire because my heart is not in the right place. (And that is why I am so full of myself (as though everything is about me)).
I’m still thinking whether I am going to the reunion or not. Nena sort of reprimanded me for my insecurities by saying you don’t go to a reunion to brag about your accomplishment. Of course not, she’s right, but I understand her reaction. I know better than to react that way; I instead forgive myself for I know where I am coming from, given the worldly logic I have internalized as gospel truth. But whether or not I’d go, I am glad to have arrived at myself deeper. I have sort of come home with God inside of me. Keeping on trusting Him is hard, said another friend (Cynthia), but it is a hard choice that is doable. The key is me – the one who’s going to do the act of choosing.
My wishes to God have outed me
I pray for my own place but never get it because I don’t pray that I be at home first with God, choosing instead to feel secured in my own accomplished place in the sun.
I pray for fabulous friends but never get them because I don’t pray that I’d be friends with God first, choosing instead to be affirmed and accepted by mere creatures.
I pray for my own family (wife and kids) but never get them because I don’t pray that I’d belong to God first, wishing instead to appear normal (and acceptable) and service my lust and accommodate my desire for warmth and innocent affection (which I felt I was deprived of growing up).
I pray for my dream job but never get it because I don’t pray for God’s dream task for me, praying instead to land a cushy job that will give me prestige and comfort.
I pray for much wealth but never get it because I don’t pray for money to be an instrument of God’s love, wishing instead for wealth to bring me a sense of stability and good family standing.
I pray for a perfect body and health but never get it because I don’t pray that every single breath of mine be of service to God, wishing instead for wellness to be indulged in the service of sensuality and all my selfish needs for love, approval, acceptance, affirmation, respect, prestige, stability, warmth, innocent affection.
My prayers show the true state of my heart, my wrong priorities in life, my preference of my own will over God’s will.
Forgive me, Lord, and thank You for showing me my new great hidden faults.
This is what I heard the Lord say, in response to me:
You're not doing that bad, My son. In fact, I've been watching you, and I appreciate your mere struggle to be good. I know your heart, and I understand you more than you understand yourself. Don’t forget that you went through a lot of traumas and experiences of rejection as a child. Those are affecting how you think and feel and react to life. Those are the fruit of men's sins against you, but I allowed them for a purpose.
Know that I have suffered every blow you have suffered. I was there with you each and every time, taking the pain with you.
But you are not your struggles!
Rest assured I will bring everything to good. You've known how I love writing straight with crooked lines. What looks like a curse and punishment to you now are actually divine favors, as you'll later see.