Some Lessons about My Faith, I Learned through My Ex

Here’s another wordy and very personal post brought to you by none other than my Wordy and Worthy blog! I don’t expect everyone to understand where I’m coming from in this post, and that’s okay. So read at your own risk. Haha!

Warning: You’ll get tired of reading the word “realized” in this post! 😛

To start, I’ve been reading the blog of Ms. Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza (TeachWithJoy.com) for quite some time already, and I love the way she writes honestly about her struggles and victories as a follower of Jesus Christ in the areas of her marriage, parenting, etc. Ms. Joy and I may come from different Christian denominations (she’s Born Again affiliated with Christ’s Christian Fellowship or CCF; I’m Roman Catholic), but we’re both Jesus followers either way, and I can relate and learn from her posts.

Her posts may sometimes be “preachy” (just like me sometimes! haha), but I appreciate the purpose behind her writing: it’s to show everybody that being a follower of Christ doesn’t automatically make a person perfect. In fact, it’s because of our imperfections as humans that give us all the more reason why we should anchor ourselves in Christ. Being a follower of Christ is an everyday commitment, much like any other important thing in life. And being a follower of Christ is actually very hard (more attacks/temptations from the enemy, etc.), but very fulfilling and rewarding, too.

This wasn’t an easy post to write, so I’m warning you now. If you’re from my ex’s side of camp, there’s a big chance you’re going to hate me (if you don’t hate me yet! haha), but then again, I can’t just let my ex take all the blame on why our four-year relationship failed because it also takes two to tango to make a relationship work OR fail. So to my ex, congrats! I’m sure he said a lot of nasty things about me, and here I am supporting some of what I think he said about me to his side of camp when we broke up! Haha!

But you see, I realized that if I’m going to testify about Jesus‘ major role in my life, then I have to be as honest, raw, and transparent as much as possible, even if I have to expose my dark side. But that’s the thing about confessing sins. It’s done in order to be humbled and held accountable. In return, exposing the dark enables light to penetrate through.

MY FAITH JOURNEY

So, let’s talk about my faith first, then we can get to the part of my ex (which I know you’re all dying to read! tsk, tsk). 😛 My faith journey has been an on-going one since the time I was born. I was raised in a Roman Catholic household, studied in Catholic schools (from pre-school to even graduate school!), attended Mass on Sundays, etc. But I’ve to admit, I had weak faith all throughout then. “Weak” in the sense that I did religious things, but I didn’t really have a personal relationship with Jesus yet. I was lukewarm toward Him. 😦 But He never gave up on me. 🙂 I actually wrote a short piece about my faith journey in my first pure Filipino blog post, Babalik Ka Rin!

I guess the first call from God I could remember was when I started reading the Bible when I was in high school. But eventually, I stopped.

My second call was when I joined the youth group of the Light of Jesus (LOJ) community back in 2004. It was then called Youth Mission for Parishes and CommuniTies or YMPACT. The Feast — a Catholic prayer meeting headed by Bro. Bo Sanchez was even held at Camp Aguinaldo at that time. I became active in that group, attended prayer meetings every other Sunday and youth camps every summer. But I stopped again after 2007. I did attend several Kerygma Conferences in between, though. My ex and I even had our first official date as a couple at Kerygma Conference 2012! I can’t believe it now! Hahaha!

After that, my next call came after seven years. I was already a yuppie in Makati for five years then, but it was only in 2014 when I started attending Feast Makati.

Since then, I’ve been attending LOJ‘s The Feast. In the past year, I’ve been attending Feast Bay Area (FBA) more regularly. I even recently joined the Media Ministry as a writer for the afternoon sessions.

And then my last and final call from God to truly follow Him was in 2016: November 13, 2016 to be exact — the date when I broke up with my then-boyfriend of four years.

FROM BREAKUPS TO BREAKTHROUGHS

Yes, you’ve read that right. I was the one who broke up with my now ex. And that wasn’t even the first time.

The first time I tried to break up with him was in February 2013. We were together for only three months then. I was thinking that it’s better to break up as early as then than prolong the relationship. But after texting him (I know, lame way to do so!) that we’re over, he suddenly went to our house to try to make me undo the breakup. Which I did. But I was so wrong. I don’t know… I guess as early as then I already knew that there’s something off with our pairing, but my stubbornness made me hesitate to end it because I wanted to prove something. #LessonLearned

The second time I tried to break up with him was in December 2013. 10 months after my first real attempt. We were in a mall together and we fought about something. I said we were over. He still accompanied me home. But when we got home, I took back what I said. Again, I was so wrong.

The third time I tried to break up with him was in December 2014. A year after my second real attempt. Instead of hours, this lasted for around two days. Then after a phone call on the second day, we got back together. We were so wrong.

The fourth time I tried to break up with him was in February 2015. Just two months after our “longest” breakup then! We actually just came from a retreat, but I was so frustrated with him (like I said, I still had weak faith), I didn’t know how to address that frustration other than break up with him. I can’t really remember if I actually said that we’re over but I think I implied that when we boarded our bus (the retreat was in Tagaytay). When we got back to Makati, we ate dinner, talked, and agreed to stay together. Again, we were so wrong.

After that, things started going really downward spiral. In June 2015, just four months after again, he was the one who initiated a cool off. Within a week, we were “on” again.

And then in August 2015, we had our first legit breakup. He was the one who initiated it, and I remember that it was so painful on my part, I still consider that more painful than our final breakup. It lasted for a little over a week. And then you guessed it, we got back together.

His next attempt to break up with me was in May 2016. It was only overnight, and I was also so mad at him at that time I was actually glad he broke it off. But the following day, he apologized. It wasn’t a breakup after all.

After that, I believe we were on “autopilot” mode. I remember opening up to a friend as early as March 2016 that I wasn’t really sure about the relationship anymore. In August 2016, I struggled with my faith that I stopped going to Mass altogether for more than a month. My ex, being the agnostic that he was, of course couldn’t care less. I even attended a Christian group discussion in September 2016 and tried to heed advice from complete strangers about my sinking relationship. In October 2016, I decided I needed a retreat, so I signed up to a Catholic one that’d happen two months after in December. And in between those months, in November 2016, I broke up for the last time with my then-boyfriend at Hanoi International Airport when we were on our way back to Manila after our supposed “pre-anniversary” trip. Lakas maka-telenovela, ano? But I really didn’t plan that, you know?!

I’m not going to detail each and every breakup we had, but in general, our breakups were all results of our brokenness, confusions, doubts, emptiness, fears, immaturities, insecurities, naiveness, undecisiveness, unresolved issues, weaknesses, [insert negative word here], etc. But there was never a third party. At least on my part. I’ve had “hunches” about my ex having a third party on three out of eight of our breakups (and those were just the major ones!), but my verdict’s it was all in my head. There was a third party involved in our last breakup in the sense that my ex rebounded just two months after our final breakup, but when we had our closure in May 2017 (oh yes, I really pushed it!), he told me he dated that girl after a month when I broke up with him, and they got together in January 2017. He even said the girl was aware that he’s still in love with me when they got together (so weird!). He actually met that girl around September 2016 when he went to their province in Quezon, I even confronted him about it when we were still together, but he said it was nothing. After all, the girl’s still in college. So technically, they got together AFTER we broke up. So technically, he said he didn’t cheat on me. K. Whatever he said. Either way, I broke up with him not because of a third party. I broke up with him because of a lot of our issues. I broke up with him because of a lot of MY issues — which I’m trying to address now one at a time. 😉

So yes, you can say it was a dead-end and tiring relationship (gosh, I even got tired just recalling the events!). So I also can’t blame my ex if he wants a “chill-chill lang” (his exact words during our closure meeting, not mine) relationship at this time with the college girl.

But the rollercoaster ride doesn’t even stop there.

Since our previous breakups didn’t involve anyone else, I thought we could still get back together after November 2016 (even though with or without a third party, it was already obvious that a reconciliation was a wrong move again). I had a major case of the so-called “dumper’s remorse.” I only found out about the college girl in February 2017, so you can say that it was really stupid of me to still try to “bargain” with my ex from November 2016-February 2017. I even greeted him on Valentine’s Day — only because I didn’t know that he was already with the college girl then! So lame on my part! Haha! Since this is a “confession,” I won’t deny it to you that I allowed myself to step down on a few levels by sending messages to A LOT of people from my ex’s side of camp (including the college girl, when I found out!). If my ex’s way of coping was rebounding, mine was A LOT OF TALKING! So touche.

I’m not ashamed of all these things now because everything I did gave me the closure I wanted. If I didn’t send messages to the college girl, I don’t think my ex would still talk to me! But he did, and I got what I wanted in the end. If anything, I think my crazy antics even made me push my ex further away from me and closer to the college girl. So they better thank me! Wahahahaha! No, I just know that everything happens for a reason, crazy antics and all. Also, I just charge everything to experience. I still had the “first heartbreak card” then. But since I already used it, I don’t have any more excuse next time. LOL! Then again, each heartbreak is just one step closer to my TOTGA — not The One That Got Away, but The One That God Allowed!

FROM SHAMEFUL TO SHAMELESS

But seriously though, I’m not ashamed of these things now because I’ve already confessed all these to God and a priest through the Sacrament of Reconciliation — several times! I believe one of the things I won’t ever forget in my life was one confession when I asked the priest for my penance and his answer was, “I believe all the pain you’re experiencing is penance enough.” That really struck hard!

It was excruciatingly painful, alright. Why? Because I was also guilty of my faults and my conscience kept bothering me. Sure, there are worse sins out there committed by other people compared to my sins, but I still sinned. Period. It’s true that one of the hardest things you can do is to forgive yourself. And through God’s grace, I already have. 🙂

Looking back, when I was going through the stages of loss in random order, I thought I was fighting for love. Until a psychiatrist finally told me that no, I probably don’t love my ex anymore. I was just fighting for my very hurt ego. And I realized very late in the game, she was right. In fact, I think my ex and me had twisted definitions of love for our entire four years together. But I realized that it’s all because we couldn’t give what we didn’t have, so we both ran empty. That’s why now, I’m making sure to fill my love tank first through God’s love before I enter another relationship. I’m not in a hurry because I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes again when I know I’m still healing.

I’m writing all this not to shame my ex or anything (hello, you can clearly see that I also have my fair share of shameful moments!), but because I’m bothered by some people who just suddenly message me out of the blue with the hope of comforting me without even knowing the real story. They just assumed that it was all my ex’s fault just because that’s what happened to them, and they also can’t acknowledge their own shortcomings in the relationship. Please remember that we all have different love and breakup stories. Maybe I gave an impression that I was the victim and my ex was the bad guy, but as you can see now, we both were the victim and/or the bad guy at different points in our relationship. In fact, I believe we both “won” when we “lost” each other. God saved both of us from each other because we were just bringing out the worst in each other. My ex was far from perfect, but again, you clearly see that so was I. Still am. My close friends who I’ve opened up to know this, and I thank God for their non-judgmental attitude. They know that me and my ex are not bad people individually per se. We were just really bad for each other at the time being.

STOPPING THE HURTS

Now that I’ve mentioned about working on my own issues, we’re going back to my faith. Thanks to The Feast, I realized the truth behind hurt people, hurt people.

I realized that I was a very hurt person when I was still with my ex, hence I had the tendency to hurt others, too — unfortunately for my ex, it was him who got the most “hurts” from me because he was the closest to me. And I’m sorry. How did I hurt him? Well, he was the one who told me that words are both my blessing and curse. So go figure.

In order to stop that (and use my gift of words more as a blessing!), I first acknowledged my faults through some serious self-reflection because it’s through acknowledgment that change for the better begins. I also decided to kiss dating goodbye (for now) and really heal first. I realized my ex was just the tip of the iceberg. I found out that I had more emotional wounds in life all the way back from my childhood that I have to address before entering another romantic relationship. I even had the guts to talk to my biological father over dinner after not seeing him for years (but maybe that’s for another post altogether!).

OF HEALING AND THANK YOU’S

During the “dark ages” of my breakup, my prayer to God then was very specific: I didn’t want to simply move on (and then leave more unhealed wounds!). I specifically prayed that I wanted to LET GO, MOVE ON, and HEAL — in that order! And then one day just this month, I realized that He already answered all of those, and I’m now on the healing part. Looking back on how I started my faith journey, I realized how God never left me. I also realize now my ex’s purpose in my life: God used him so I can fully heal — as ironic as that may sound. God allowed me to be “broken” by my ex to expose more of my existing brokenness and enable Him to fill in those crumbling and empty spaces, so I can be whole again. But this time, anchored in Him. ❤

So I thank my ex for letting me go even when I stubbornly didn’t want to do the same to him when I was stilI not over the stages of loss. I can say that I really wish him well now.

And of course, I thank God for enabling me to see the good in all my bad experiences as mentioned in Romans 8:28 — my favorite Bible passage.

Since the breakup…

  • I learned how to be more selfless (as opposed to being selfish, such as clinging on to my ex, etc.). Because of my ex, I learned to pray for my “enemies.” Not just him, but now, when someone angers or wrongs me, I just pray for that person. And it’s true what Bro. Bo once said that praying for your enemies doesn’t just change your enemies’ lives, more importantly, it changes YOU!
  • I embarked on a fitness journey and lost around 30 lbs., and I’ve never been fitter and healthier in my life!
  • I traveled to six countries (five of which were in my dream continent — Europe!)
  • I acquired new skills like baking and cooking! Woohoo!
  • I reconnected with some significant people from my past. I also made A LOT of new friends along the way!
  • I now know the importance of and how to enjoy this “single” season in my life, that it involves pruning and waiting, so when I finally meet my future husband in God’s perfect time, I’ll already be at my best and not someone he still had to “endure” haha
  • Most importantly, I established a closer and deeper relationship with God. I’m now back to reading His Word every day, serving Him, etc. I’m even grateful and humbled to receive some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit — including the gift of praying in tongues! I’m so glad I heeded God’s call at a time I thought I wasn’t capable of answering. I still am a perfectly imperfect person, but God saw that I was becoming the exact opposite of how He intended me to be, so He stepped in and pruned me. The pruning wasn’t a walk in the park. It still isn’t because it’s still on-going. But I’m blessed that I have a support system who truly gets me and a God who never gives up on me! I love you, guys! I LOVE YOU, GOD!!!

If you’re reading this part, THANK YOU! That just means you’ve already reached the last part of this very wordy post. Haha!

At this stage, I can now proudly sing the words of T. Swift that me and my ex “are never ever, ever getting back together.” I’ve already accepted that. And I’ve even realized that it was really for the best. I guess my only regret is I wish we had known this as early as our first breakup in February 2013! But you know, everything — as in EVERYTHING, both the good and the bad — is in the past now. I can only do so much by extracting the lessons — hence, this blog post! Haha!

As I end this post, I hope and pray that those who are undergoing any heartbreak right now may also have the courage to KEEP MOVING FORWARD no matter how hard it is. I totally get you. Crawl if you must, but just “keep swimming,” as Dory in Finding Nemo put it. Hehe! Most importantly, KEEP THE FAITH! God wants to be with you at this very crucial time in your life more than anything and help you carry your burdens — but only if you allow Him to. 🙂 I’m also at your disposal if you need someone to talk to. Just send me a message, and you’ll know why I’m a self-proclaimed wordy lady! Madaldal talaga ako! Hahaha!

On the other hand, I can’t wait to meet my Tobias (for Bible readers, you know who I’m talking about!). And as it’s said in my prayer, may he be “a person with whom I can best cooperate in doing God’s Holy Will, with whom I can live in peace, love, and harmony in this life and attain eternal joy in the next.” After all, marriage (including sex!) was designed by God. Husbands and wives are given the task to outdo each other in helping each to reach sainthood. But first, I must go through my one-on-one training during this season in my life with the Master Himself, Jesus.

I wouldn’t have it any other way now. ❤

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
-Romans 8:28

“Babalik Ka Rin!”

Ang pag-ibig, yung tunay na pag-ibig, sa totoo lang, ay hindi talaga madali. Habang mas lumalalim, ito’y mas susubukin.

Noong una ko Siyang makilala, wala akong reaksyon. Malamang hindi ko pa kasi lubusang maintindihan kung ano ba talaga ang pag-ibig.

Tumagal ng ilang taon ang aming ligawan. May panahong malamig ako sa Kanya, mayroon din namang nagliliyab ang nararamdaman ko sa aming relasyon.

Pero sa tuwing ako’y nanlalamig, lagi kong pinangungunahan ang sa palagay kong Kanyang iniisip: “babalik ka rin!”

Pero kahit sa mga panahong iyon, ni minsan, hindi Niya ako pinilit. Ako’y hinayaan Niyang mamili ng klase ng pag-ibig na sa palagay kong nararapat para sa’kin.

At sa tuwing ako’y mabibigo, ako’y magbabalik. Pero aalis muli.

Ganu’n pa man, hindi Niya ako iniwan. Alam kong masakit sa Kanya na parang binalewala ko Siya, pero nagpapasalamat ako na ganu’n Niya ako kamahal at kahit kailan, hindi Siya bumitaw.

Bago pa man tumuloy ang kwento ng huling pagkabigo ko, narinig ko na ang Kanyang bulong,

“Babalik ka rin!”

Naisip ko, bakit ba Niya lagi sinasabi yun?

Hanggang sa isang araw, nauntog ako at tuluyan kong natuklasan kung bakit.

Totoo ngang ang unang pag-ibig ay hindi namamatay. Bagkus, ito’y mas nagbibigay buhay!

Kaya kahit ilang beses akong umalis, ako’y patuloy na bumalik, bumabalik, at babalik.

“Babalik ka rin!”

‘Yan ang sinabi Niya nung una palang.

At oo nga, bumalik ako sa Kanya — sa una kong Pag-ibig; sa unang Nagmahal sa’kin.

Palagay ko ikaw rin.

“Babalik ka rin!”

“Tayo’y nagsisiibig, sapagka’t Siya’y unang umibig sa atin.”
-1 Juan 4:19

To the Brokenhearted This Holy Week

Heartbreak comes in many forms. But whatever form it is, it’s definitely no walk in the park. It’s always like having a dagger in your heart, or falling into thin air knowing there’s no safety net to catch you, or simply turning your mind into a broken record that keeps on rewinding and playing past events you couldn’t change.

I can say all that because I’ve had my fair share of different kinds of heartbreak. From a very serious one like the death of my parents, to an immature one like my then long-term unrequited love for a college best friend (for six years! even after graduation! natatawa nalang ako ngayon! haha), to a neutral one like being laid off from a job (God gave me my dream workplace in exchange, by the way!), and of course, to a very fresh one, which is my recent breakup from a four-year relationship.

But you see, heartbreak may not be something we welcome warmly in our lives, but it’s inevitable. The fact that you’re experiencing heartbreak simply means you’re alive! And breathing! And still have the capacity to make your heart whole again and give love, love, and love!

So no, don’t fear heartbreak. Don’t even try to escape it because as long as you’re living, you won’t be able to. You just have to learn how to deal with it properly.

And how do you deal with it properly? By simply thinking that it’s part of life and if others have survived it before, so can you! And to me, the best role model I can think of who knows heartbreak like nobody does is Jesus Christ.

When you lose a loved one to death, He knows. Even He cried when Lazarus died.

“Jesus wept.” -John 11:35

When you’re angry and don’t know how to deal with it, know that it’s okay to feel it. Sometimes, even react based on it (we’re just human!). However, just be ready for the consequences and lessons that come after it. As long as you’re not doing anything illegal, that’s okay. Do whatever you need to do to release your pain. He knows. And He understands.

“He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” -Mark 3:5

When you remember someone who used to declare their love for you then eventually rejected you, He knows. That’s what Peter did to Him (three times!) before the rooster crowed, remember?

“Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown Me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” -Luke 22:60-62

When you feel like your heart is being torn into pieces, He knows. His pain wasn’t even just emotional, it was physical, too! Crown with thorns, crucifixion, etc. Need I say more?

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They clothed Him in a purple robe and went up to Him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped Him in the face.” -John 19:1-3

When you feel like you’ve been wronged and nobody understands you, He knows.

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.” -Luke 23:24

When you feel like you have all the right to question God for feeling like He abandoned you, He knows.

“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’).” -Matthew 27:46

When you know that everything happens for a reason, including that heartbreak, and the best thing you can do is just surrender it to God, He knows.

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.’ When He had said this, He breathed His last.” -Luke 23:46

(Not that you’re going to literally breathe your last when you surrender to God, but it will pave the way for you to experience unexplainable strength and peace, which is only possible through His grace. And yes, maybe your old self would “die,” but a new and improved you would be reborn!)

So yes, if you’re heartbroken — whatever kind of heartbreak that is — this Holy Week, look up to Jesus. Offer your pain to Him even. And if there’s one thing we can all learn from His story, it’s that it always ends in a happy ending. From darkness, light always follows — He’s light Himself. In fact, there’s no ending with Him, just eternal life. So if you lean on Him during this painful time instead of dealing with that pain through unhealthy means (rebounding, drinking alcohol, etc.), you can be assured that only good — even great — things will come out of that life experience! You won’t just be able to simply let go and move on, you’ll even heal. So yes, don’t settle for anything less — especially not during heartbreak.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28

Have a blessed Holy Week, beloved!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

-John 3:16