When I handed in my resignation letter to my Managing Director at TCOB, I had high hopes for myself. I had discerned the decision of leaving my previous position in the company as Head of Design, and it brought me peace. I had managed and trained my team to be fit enough to handle the company’s Design Department in my stead, and looked forward to a time for me to take a short break to figure out my next path. It was a very smooth transition at my now former workplace, and I planned for myself a month to recharge and contemplate on the direction in which God was pointing me towards since TCOB no longer provided me with professional or personal growth. What I saw in my time off was a simple case of stepping back to think and enjoying alone time to recharge. However, God had different plans.
What I thought was one big change turned into several, and I found myself struggling. Problems came up from every side and I didn’t quite understand why. It left me living through my days with emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. My relationships were tested, too – with friends, with loved ones, with myself, and with God. What I thought was one of my strongest and most valued traits, turned out to be what brought me down and tired me out. My understanding had its limits and thinking too much became a bad habit. Most days I lived through with a heavy heart, unable to think straight or to do certain things on my own, but found hope and help from little kind gestures and (I know this may sound cliche but) smiles and talks with children. The simple things kept me going.
When my mom went away for a few weeks, she left me with the responsibility to keep the household intact and running well in her absence. Being busy with mom’s household system of doing domestic labour (like doing the laundry, going to the market, shopping for groceries, cleaning, organizing, cooking, etc for my whole family) helped massively. The routine helped me catch my breath even if it was physically tiring. Everyday manual labour simplified my life, and living away from the city is another good thing. Even if I still heard the echoes of some unwanted voices in my head, it took me away from the source of the real noise.
On days when my mind was running too fast and almost hitting over drive, I picked up my running shoes and went out for a real run. When I was swimming in a pool of my own negative emotions, I packed up my swim suit and went out for a real swim. And when I found myself falling into an abyss made up of all my thoughts and seriousness, I found a loved one bringing me back up with his sense of humor: “Hawak ka nalang sa muscle ko.” Which means in English, “Just hold onto my muscles,” and I would laugh… Because it was ironic. He keeps me grounded and also led me to the Lord’s beautiful words in Jesus Calling:
1Understanding will never bring you Peace. That’s why I have instructed you to trust in Me, not in your understanding. Human beings have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out, in order to gain a sense of mastery over their lives. But the world presents you with an endless series of problems. As soon as you master one set, another pops up to challenge you. The relief you had anticipated is short-lived. Soon your mind is gearing up again: searching for understanding (mastery), instead of seeking Me (your Master).
The wisest of all men, Solomon, could never think his way through to Peace. His vast understanding resulted in feelings of futility, rather than fulfillment. Finally, he lost his way and succumbed to the will of his wives by worshiping idols.
My Peace is not an elusive goal, hidden at the center of some complicated maze. Actually, you are always enveloped in Peach, which is inherent in My Presence. As you look to me, you gain awareness of this precious Peace.
And when I found myself desperate and drowning deep into my thoughts again to the point that I let those thoughts affect my walk towards the Lord, I turned to a priest. I was blessed. He was a priest whose presence radiates with joy, and just by looking at him, even if he was just sitting down expressionless, you’d still catch yourself smiling. His words were these: “Be simple. Don’t complicate things by thinking of so many things. God is Love, so Love.” God was speaking to me through that priest.
The next day in my meditations book, I came across a similar message which read: 2We who desire to follow Jesus very closely, to be truly His disciples, should remember that the Christian life consists not so much in thinking a lot as in loving a lot.
It’s a struggle, and at times I still get lost in my journey towards Christ because of my need to keep thinking things through. It’s tiring. My over-thinking is a tough habit to break, and my need to understand things is easily forgotten until another huge problem makes me aware of it again. But the Lord is merciful to keep sending me signposts to direct my path, as today I came across a quote by a design and advertising practitioner saying, “The wise think very little.”
3 The signposts Our Lord gives us have to be trusted. They are not restrictions imposed on mankind, they are not onerous burdens. They are radiant sources of light which illuminate the road, enabling us to see and to travel more easily. The person who tries to respond sincerely to the grace of God will discover true freedom by following Jesus. On hearing His Voice one sees, at last, one’s way.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
– Proverbs 3:5-6
1. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
2. cf John Paul II, Homily Avila, 1 October 1982; St Teresa, The Inderior Castle, IV, 1, 7;
3. Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God