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Right on schedule

lemonade-e-juice

“He’s a God you can’t hurry,

You don’t have to worry;

He may not come when you want Him

But he’s right on time, right on time. “Traditional Gospel hymn

I have refused to give up on this Advent. (Last year’s Advent of struggle ) As expected, I have been put to the test during this season. On one hand, I have a wounded dragon heaving its last toxic breaths.

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Vandervals’ “Wounded Dragon”

On the other, there is the prospect of yet another round of hoping for a leopard to willingly change his spots.

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The guy on the right is the inspiration for The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”

(Truth be told, I’m not waiting at all but I’m loyal to a fault and I will do as directed, even if I get a little Ben Linus on occasion.)ci-59798115230130361

I had a moment yesterday when I wavered, when all my anger, frustration, and indignation threatened to cloud my mind and fill my eyes with tears.  But I remembered to breathe, pray, and hold tight to my commitment to this Advent.  I moved forward in more ways than one.  Yesterday, I made a choice.

I’ve already owned my penchant for pettiness. Shoot, I even have the casual Fridays t-shirts to prove it. My pettiness is amusing at times, other times worthy of criticism. But it hasn’t held me back in the way my lack of self-confidence does. Oh sure I’ll dance on stage or on the streets with little practice. I’ll take the mic and put together a speech on the fly. But my career has been stifled by my inability to see myself as a leader.  I have worked for twice as long as several peers who are at the helm their own ships.  Yesterday, through the darkness of my emotions, I found the strength to own that my time has arrived. It is my time to lead, guide, and shepherd. I have vision, purpose, and integrity; now I am emboldened by the courage to stand alone.

At the end of a stressful workday or any day for that matter, I have to answer to myself, my family, and my God.  How have I been the best version of myself today?  How am I going to be the best version of myself tomorrow?  Soon, I will live out the answers to these questions in the spotlight.  My mistakes will be my own.  My decisions will be my own.  I will struggle and fail but I will learn.  That in turn will help me grow in the woman I was born to be.

While I may be tempted to take Hot Sauce out my bag and mess up a window or two, I can’t let others’ tomfoolery make me resort to my worst self.  I am finally going to fix myself some long overdue lemonade.beyonce-car

These hands will have to stick to prayer and to getting my paperwork together for my next job.  God will continue to give me the strength and patience.

“You’re ruining my Advent” and other excuses

I began my Advent retreat faced with new challenges. Rambo had left for his own retreat out of the country. The situation at work went from bad to worse. Within one day of setting a goal of engaging deeply in spiritual reflection and gratitude, I was mentally cussing out this person and that person.  By day 2, I had coined “You’re ruining my Advent” as my rationale for the recurring anger and frustration. Even during prayer, I found myself praying for Jesus to take control not out of faith and acceptance but because my mind was going negative places. I had missed the point.
Saint John of the Cross wrote about the “dark night of the soul”, an experience of great suffering and confusion that tests one’s strength and faith. I have lived through many dark nights due to emotional struggles, physical illnesses, family crises, and work-related conflicts; I cannot say that my recent experiences are a “dark night” experience.  However, I gave in rapidamente to negative thinking, to resentment, judgment, self-righteousness, all those thought patterns and ways of talking about others that get in the way of my faith and my growth. I’m quick to throw ajos y cebollas all around. While I know that I cannot control others and that I can control my own reactions, I chose to lose control, if only behind people’s backs and in my mind.  Nobody was ruining my Advent without my permission and involvement.
Brett’s birthday fell on the second to last day before the winter break, during the 3rd week of Advent. I logged into Facebook to change my profile picture to commemorate this day. As often happens when I think of Brett, I was reassured. 
 My Advent has been filled with love, love from M, love from Rambo (via Skype), love from my samba family, love from my boss, and love from the speakers and writers at Dynamic Catholic.  Even that one person who gets on my last nerve on the regular showed me love;  this sometime nemesis turned out to be my secret Santa. I had sent a mean text about this individual minutes before when my colleague approached me.  When I heard the news, I laughed at the irony and the lesson. Despite our differences and occasional skirmishes, this person had spent two weeks giving me thoughtful gifts. As we shared a hug, I scolded myself for being close-minded and resentful, for not showing mercy. 
Advent is about waiting. It is the period of waiting in darkness for the light of dawn.  I struggle with my own darkness, whether it is the darkness of depression or the darkness of anger and anxiety.  I wrestle with that darkness; I may have to crawl towards the light.   I won’t be stopped.  
Morning at Machu Picchu, July 2014. Photo by me.