Friday, October 18, 2013

Loneliness vs. Solitude

Believe it or not, one of the most difficult things for me about moving into my own place is not so much the responsibilities this would entail, but a sense of loneliness that was and at times is, difficult to shake off.

I rent a small room in a house full of disconnected people. There's like 7 of us living in a house, with hardly any connection with each other.

We share bathroom, kitchen, and sometimes words.

My room is small. Being there can feel very trapping.

I hardly felt at home at this place.

Sundays were the worst days. I would go to Mass in the morning, talk with some friends, and then, disappear into my room.

I mean, what else could I do? Pray? Check. Watch a movie? Check. Listen to music? Check.

The loneliness still persisted.

I would usually try to escape this feeling of loneliness by going to spend a weekend visiting my parents, escaping with friends from church on odd adventures, or visiting friends nearby.

A few months back I had an intuition that God was and is trying to use this time for something.

I felt Him speaking to me, one lonely Sunday afternoon, "Why don't you use this time to practice solitude with me?"

The obvious became clear, as it's often the case when one encounters some wise words. Herein lies my solution; not in escapades or in entertainment, but in solitude with God.

I mean, I've done solitude before. I had some solitude retreats before, and while it can be difficult at times, it usually is a calm, healing and reflecting time with God.

But what was missing with my Sunday afternoons was simply intentionality. If I were intentional in using that time as "solitude time with God" then the loneliness would usually leave me.

There is huge difference between loneliness and solitude, though outwardly it may look the same.

Loneliness may be a part of bigger issues that we need to address with God, and solitude may be our dealing of those issues with God. Both can be painful, but one leaves you thirsting while the other satisfied.

Loneliness is a thirst for water, solitude is drinking from the fountain of living water.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Year's Resolutions September Update!

The month of September is one of the few months were I felt I made some tangible and recognizable progress!

It hasn't been perfect. It never is.

It is one month, however, where I felt more in control in many areas of my life. It didn't start with a happy sunrise, but with a gloomy and cloudy environment. I was in a funk.

God took all of this and transformed it by reminding me of some lessons learned and ignored with the helpless passing of time.

More on that later! Let's dive in into my 2013 resolutions.

Resolution #1: Achieve my ideal weight.

I lost some weight! I have decided to exercise more. Last week, for example, I started running!

I always hated running. It seemed to me like a torturous punishment, and seeing how many types of effective exercise are out there, it seemed pointless to me.

Impulsed by some friends I decided to give it a try. Who knows? Maybe I'll get used to it and start liking it.

Resolution #2: Keep my room clean, year long.

Okay, my room is still a mess, but at least it's less messy than before! I have made small but important improvements.

I have said many times before in this blog that the opportunity to mature comes at you daily, even in seemingly unimportant tasks.

What I have discovered this month, however, is that it goes beyond tasks. It can all be covered under the umbrella of decisions.

Life is full of decisions. To some of us, accustomed to the habitual MO of life, it can be incredibly easy to live it in autopilot.

This can take away from us the power of conscious decision making, and I have come to believe that the best way to grow is by taking this power back.

Anyways, small conscious decisions have helped me clean up my room a bit.

Resolution #3: Update my blog regularly, minimum once a week.

I am glad to say that I've done this for the month of September!

This blog serves to me an utilitarian purpose. It really helps me to keep focused on the journey I decided to take a year ago.

The commitment I took to update this blog has helped me in being focused and accountable in this journey. 

I'm glad I took it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

God is committed to us

It's been a year since I started this blog! Back then I realized that I needed some serious changes in my life if I was to continue doing the work God is calling me to do.

I made the commitment to God to mature more in His image. This blog was a way to document and share those struggles.

There are a few things I have learned this year. Maturity comes slowly, painfully slow.

It's not like I naively believed that by the end of the year I would be a complete new person, equally balanced in all the right places.

But I never thought it would be this slow.

I also learned that growth comes not steadily, but in stages. This is important to know, since disappointment can quickly sink in at seeing how you sometimes take 3 steps forward and then two back.

The most important thing I learned, however, is that God remains heavily committed to us throughout this process.

No matter how little growth we bring back to Him, no matter how hopeless we may feel in some stages, He never gives up on us.

He never gave up on me.

There were times were I thought change was almost impossible, too difficult for me, and therefore felt hopeless about the whole enterprise.

I felt weary, and wanted to try no more.

I didn't see, however, how God in His Grace was working behind the scenes.

I didn't see how He slowly brought subtle changes, not because I made the changes, but because in every encounter with Him, in every single moment of intimacy, His presence slowly changes you.

I was driving home one night after work when it suddenly dawned on me how God has remained committed to me.

Those who have been reading this blog know that I struggle with being firm. It is in fact, one of the most difficult traits I need to grow in my life.

At the beginning of the year, the owner of the gas station called me in to the office.

He said "you really need to pay more attention to shoplifters. I haven't seen anyone as bad as you for keeping shoplifters out! They know when you work and they come here to steal! I told you this many times now. At this point it would be cheaper to hire somebody else. Please do this!"

I know I needed to pay more attention. I know I needed to be more firm with shoplifters, otherwise I would lose my job. I took this as an opportunity to grow in my firmness.

After a few months of trying, my assistant manager told me one night before leaving work, "I just talked to the owner and he is very pleased with how you've been working. You are like one of our top 4 know in keeping shoplifters out!"

As I was driving home that night, still digesting those words, I felt as if God was speaking in my heart "I'm committed to you".

Hallelujah! He is committed to us!