“I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:

  1. Inclination to unbelief;
  2. Forgetfulness of the love and mercy that Christ manifest;
  3. A leaning to the works of the law;
  4. Wanderings and coldness in prayer;
  5. Forgetfulness in prayer;
  6. Prone to murmur when I have no more and yet ready to abuse what I have;
  7. I can do none of the things which God commands me, while on the other hand my sinful nature springs effortlessly;

These things I continually see and feel. And because of these I am in constant suffering. Yet to the wisdom of God, they are for my own good:

  1. My inclination to unbelief: They make me abhor myself;
  2. My forgetfulness of Christ’s love and mercy: They keep me from trusting my heart;
  3. My leaning to works: They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness;
  4. My coldness in prayer: They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus;
  5. My forgetfulness in prayer: They press me to pray unto God;
  6. My discontentment when in need and my irresponsibility when in plenty: They show me the need I have to be alert and be sober;
  7. My incompetence towards the things of God: It provokes me to pray unto God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world.”

 

A paraphrasing from John Bunyan, taken from “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”

I can do one-hand pushups!

Given my lanky ectomorph body, this fact almost always surprises people!

Yet it’s true. I spent almost a year studying, dieting, testing, and training my body so that it can finally be able to do the targeted feat. To be able to do one-hand pushups was one of my yearly goals that I set last year, which I set because I wanted to learn how I can better take care my body.

It took me around eight months. Muscles cracked. Joints snapped. I started from normal pushups, to varied forms of it, to core workouts, then I started dieting, and then slowly I focused my efforts on pushups that isolate the stress to just one arm.

Pursuing goals without sharing them is difficult, thus I also asked a friend to by my accountability partner. I shared my goal, I set deadlines, I made training schedules, and I designed consequences. Luckily my friend was more than willing to participate.

The experience taught me a lot of things. From the human body. To diet. To discipline and consistency. To motivation. To mindset. Yet the most valuable thing that I got out of it isn’t one of them.

The most valuable lesson that I got out of it is this:

The mind gives up twice as times earlier than the body does.

I think I read this out of a book, or a workout magazine, or a blog. I’m not sure anymore. But I was eager to test out that theory.

When I was in pain, I cheered myself.

When I felt lazy, I pushed myself to just do it.

When I feel like my body can’t endure it, I just recited that the mind gives up twice as times earlier than the body does.

And then I discovered, my body indeed can take more than what my mind suggests.

The mind gives up twice as times earlier than the body does.

And this knowledge continues to allow me to push myself just a little bit harder.

I think I am well acquainted with fear.

I have heard friends say that I am too courageous, probably nearing to the degree of recklessness. I make decisions involving obvious risks with personal consequences. I make decisions that would make my knees and jaw tremble. I desperately move forward, making decisions that will push my self towards the outside of my comfort zone.

Because I am against fear, I will attempt to write some of my thoughts about it.

Fear Amplifies Humanity

I believe I can achieve any thing as long as I set my eyes on it. And it is not just me, but I heard mentors say that I’m the type who’ll excel at whatever thing that I’ll set my eyes on.

But fear. Oh, fear.

Fear is one of the many things that makes me realize something most important: That I am just human. That I am dust, weak, stupid, fragile, sick, dependent. And luckily, this fact helps me to stir my ship away from the pit of conceit. It helps me to bring me to my knees. It amplifies my humanity. It makes known to me the great disparity between man and God, and with it reminds me of my great dependence to God.

Fear Shows Direction

The human brain is amazing. It has different regions, with different functions, with different natures, with different “sub-brains”. And out of all the “sub-brains” of our whole human brain, the one which I blame to be the cause of fear the most is the “Reptilian Brain”. The Reptilian Brain is the brain responsible for giving us “instinct” and is most attributed for our survival.

But the thing with the “Reptilian Brain” is that it can be really selfish.

It clouds sound judgement. It twists logic. It pollutes morals and ideals. It makes our vision short-sighted and our decisions weak, concerned only for the Now instead of looking ahead for a greater better Future.

That is why the moment that I notice myself feeling fear is most of the time the moment that I know what action to pursue: That I should all the more do these things that makes me feel fear.

When confronting my own fears, my inner dialogue usually goes on like this:

Pyl: “Do you feel fear?”

Pyl: “Well. My knees are trembling. I definitely feel fear.”

Pyl: “Why do I feel fear?”

Pyl: “I feel fear because I don’t know what will happen. What if I’ll embarrass myself? What if I’ll make enemies and make people dislike me, even hate me? What if I’ll be alone? What if I’ll fail real hard?”

Pyl: “Why am I afraid? Didn’t Jesus said that Perfect Love casts out fear? Then why am I afraid? Shouldn’t I not be afraid of evil even through the valleys of death, because His rod and His staff gives comfort? Does running away from this justify this fear? Or do I want to just run away so I can selfishly save my own skin? Why this fear???

Rationalizing against fear can work. It allows me to detach myself from the feeling and allow me to see the hard facts. It makes me stand strong despite with trembling knees. Also, knowing God’s words on fear is a tremendous boon.

This is then why fear gives direction when decisions are hard to make.

Fear Gives Courage

Without admitting fear I think there can be no development of courage.

It is when we realize that we are afraid that we can identify our self. And then from there take steps to quell our shortcomings and develop our character.

Of course, I think fear can be never ending. But I also think fear is something that is worth fighting against.

Finally, there is absolutely every reason to feel fear for things. But I also know something that will make a great daily reminder: That our most deep seated fear should be reserved and be realized for Someone most worthy.

 

 

I think that I had been putting the blame of my recent lack of self-discipline on to Someone.

My new knowledge of God’s sovereignty was music to my ears. Even though the knowledge of it is beyond comforting to my soul, but it also became a reason for me not to take any responsibility over my life.

Yet it is amazing, how cold pitch-black nights can open my eyes that is; Sadness made me realize my foolishness.

Now I am ready to bounce back. I am at the edge of my seat. Now is the time to make up for what is lost and move forward!

Distractions

We live in a generation filled with buzzing, noisy, entertaining distractions. We may be preoccupied with tasks, our schedules filled with meetings, and our mind conquered by short-term goals. We think that we are productive, but at the end of the year, we look back and see the time that we lost.

I learned that there’s a GREAT difference between what is urgent and what is important. Important things are what we should only strive to work on, while urgent things are what must be taken care of. Anything else is a distraction.

Working on important things is the goal; working on urgent things is a responsibility.

But consistently working on what is important is difficult. Partly because it requires more mental effort and force, the disciplining of the mind, and the keeping of strong good habits.

But to be distracted is dangerous.

It is a great boon to learn how to number our days, so that we may hopefully gain a heart of wisdom.

Emotions

Kings fell. Nations crumbled. Wars waged. Families broken. All because of a single thing — the fallen human heart.

Leadership always requires strong control over the heart. To keep emotions in check. To control outbursts. To make sound and wise decisions. To have control over the self.

The heart is deceitful above all things; We should watch over it with all diligence.

Stewardship

With everything that we have, with the relationships that we had been given and will be given, with the range of free will that we have, with the space and time that we are in. With the degree of control that we have — it is stewardship entrusted to us.

It is then our job to take responsibility over it.

Finally, self-discipline is hard — The moment we believe that we have it, we then easily lose it. But it is something that is worth having.

 

PS: Though I try to avoid taking quotes out of context but all of these sprung out from a paragraph that randomly popped out of my head: “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”

Learning To Read

The first time that I read a book from cover to cover was when I was in highschool. Our English teacher assigned us a project of reading a book and then making a review out of it. Being a highschool kid who never had any interest in books, I got myself a random fiction book called “The Twelfth Angel” by Og Mandino. It was a book that told the story of a little American kid who’s into competitive baseball.

And the book taught me the value of “never, never, never, never, never giving up.

A Whole New World

Reading the book was fun and exciting. It was like I was dragged into a whole new world with interesting characters, and where I can think and feel what the characters think and feel at the moment. After two months, I finally finished the book. Man, does it feel good to finish a book from cover to cover! Then my sister showed up. She asked me if she can borrow the book. I agreed. She took the book from me, she read it on her spare time, and then after one week, she was finished.

She finished the book in just a week, while I struggled to complete it in two months.

That was the time when I said to myself, “I have no talent in reading. I hate reading books.

Three Reasons To Read

Everything changed when I got into the later years of my college days. I now consider myself an evangelist of reading. In fact, just last year, I finished reading 41 books within a single year. I’m still a naturally slow reader, but I try to atleast put a portion of my time towards reading.

And here’s why I think you should too. I can probably list tens, or maybe a hundred, but I’m going to give you just three reasons why you should read books:

First, because the world-class guys do it! Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Benjamin Franklin. If I am to name one thing that these guys have in common, it is that they realize the importance of reading. These guys have been reported to be voracious readers and that their reading eventually contributed to their success. If these guys who are already at the top did it, and are still doing it, why aren’t we?

Second, because it’s fun. Books can take you not only to different places, but to different eras and even different worlds as well. Imagine, time travel at the palm of your hands! Who would have thought that I could get to experience being in the Romantic Period of Europe? Or who would have thought that I could learn the childhood years, the aspirations, and the habits of one of the Founding Fathers of America? Books open to you how big the world is.

Third, because it makes you smarter. Studies have shown that reading books improves the following: Concentration skills, creativity, self-awareness, knowledge, empathy, and that’s just to name a few.

Reading As An Investment

The simple act of reading might be one of the best investments that we can make. It improves many aspects of our life, and it improves us as a person and as a society overall.

If you can remember what I just shared earlier, I have no talent in reading. I was born a slow reader. And I just got into reading late into my college years. But I now realize the importance of reading.

And a thing that I also believe is this quote that I found to be true. It’s goes like this:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist.”

(Jack London)

I can’t help but notice something.

It’s been a year since I left home; A year since I started to become daringly adventurous and gutsily independent. A year since I felt like a knight who left his land to experience the gigantic world, a very big world which he only found in his books, to conquer dragons and see his dreams come to reality.

After all those months, I can’t help but notice.

Something changed.

I no longer actively sought opportunities to talk and meet new people like I used to. I no longer actively joined competitions that test my limits. I no longer deliberately read books like my life depended on it, like I used to. I no longer recorded and tracked my progress like I used to. I no longer am comfortable in taking risks like I absolutely had nothing to lose, like I used to.

I am becoming comfortable.

I noticed that life isn’t as hard, as risky, as challenging as it used to a year ago. And on top of this, the kind words and feedback that some people give me only adds up to this false sense of security.

A part of me thinks to myself, “You can live with this, Pyl. Remember how people acknowledge you and your talents? Yeah, you’ll have a decent future, Pyl.”

I am becoming comfortable, and worse, in a false security.

My talents, skills, job, achievements, dreams, connections, personality, stuffs, are things that provide me a sense of security, but a false one that will fade away in a blink of an eye. I realized I am foolishly possessed by the security that these immediate things provide, when the truth is that Security’s only master is the Creator Himself.

I remember that I passionately don’t want to have a life that just survives, but I want to live life to help others to have the same.

And I have been remembering another thing, a thing that both humbles me and wants me to push myself at the same time. And it is from this thing too that I find where true security is:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.””

(James 4, 13-14)


I was an unusual twenty-two year old young man.

Or atleast I feel like one when compared to my peers.

I flew immediately from my beloved Iligan City up far to the capital of Metro Manila to live solo independently, seeking for a challenge, with nothing but a hopelessly romantic dream inside my soul.

A dream.

A hope.

An experience.

I could have lived more comfortably by staying with my parents, or by moving to much familiar places, or even by living with some relative.

But my eyes were set on to something else.
Something bigger.
Something farther.

The road looked perilous, but my hopes were set.

It’s been 1 year or so. I have learned a gigantuous amount of things: From making my own food, to paying my own bills, to learning to take hold of the strain of solo-living. With this 1-year experience, I hope to blaze a trail of knowledge for my fellow people who might benefit from this experience.

Before I start, do know that these will be highly biased since these speak of my personal experiences. And experience will vary from person to person, as persons vary from their personalities, background, aspirations, skills, and many more.

With that out of the way, shall we start?

I. Career and Employment: The Promise of Learning

I came from one of the best, if not the best, school in our area, MSU-IIT. Though even with the status of my university, it’s unfortunate to say that my school is not that well-known in Manila’s IT industry.

I was absorbed by a company which, from my own observation, is mostly accepting only graduates from the schools of Ateneo, LaSalle, UP, etc. The management commented that I’m the first MSU graduate that was accepted. Considering my unspectacular academic grades (being the lazy, choosy college student that I am), I was only taken in because of my aptitude score and my somewhat interesting resume. Despite of this unfortunate discovery that my school is not that well known as I originally thought it is, I am thankful for my alma matter since if it’s only one thing that it does very well is this: Teaching people how to learn how to learn things. And it has been a very invaluable asset.

As a graduate from a school that is unfamiliar (atleast to them), and a multimedia IT graduate that’s working in a position mainly designed for Computer-Science graduates, I am alive to say that I had not been ax-ed so far. And did I mention that I got a prestigious corporate award (though undeserved) in my first months?

II. Financial Management: You Get To Learn How To Manage Your Finances

I have not asked a single centavo from my parents the moment I started to live under my own roof. This may mainly be due to my immensely stubborn and proud personality. I admit that learning how to manage finances has been a serious anxiety-causing nerve-wracking challenge for me, especially if you’re paying for your own roof, your own water, you’re own electricity, your food (which is needed for survival by the way), and everything else. If you’re trying to save money, you’re at a distinct disadvantage from those who are living with their parents because of the expense from bills..

But money-saving-capabilities and spending-power is not the only measurement of value; intangible assets such as experience, wisdom, and character are far more valuable. I think this experience has taught me a lot of these — expense management, being responsible towards bills, non-extravagant living, etc — things which I feel I could not have learned fast elsewhere.

III. Mindanao VS Luzon: Language and Discrimination?

I think that the top two reasons why my own people would hesitate to be here in Metro Manila are these. First, the use of the Tagalog language. Second, the possibility of discrimination.

These two reasons are reasonable. Conversing using a language that you are not fluent at is daunting. And being discriminated isn’t really nice. But how did it go with me? Did I experience difficulty with the language? Did I experience discrimination?

First, the language. Conversational Tagalog is quite difficult to master, but good news, you can speak English, and you’re probably better at it than most. When I was still learning the ropes of conversational Tagalog, I just used my English. If I truly cannot speak out a thought that I want to speak out using Tagalog, I just speak it in English. Simple. Chances are, you’ll be successful in your conversations. Plus, there’s also a chance that the person you’re talking to will be intimidated.

Secondly, the issue of discrimination. I’m not even sure if this issue is a myth or not. I think this thing boils deep down to personal self-assurance. Of my year in living here, I have not felt that I am being in any way inferior to any of the people here. I did notice, at the early months, some very few persons who blatantly tried. To their dismay, I know I am not inferior to Mark Zuckerberg or to Elon Musk in the same way that a speck of dust is not inferior to another speck of dust. And so are you.

IV. Independence: Sink or Swim!

Imagine playing a video game on the “hard” difficulty setting, voluntarily, except that the game is Life itself, and it has serious repercussions if ever you’ll fail.

I feel that’s an appropriate analogy.

It’s the first months of independent living that are the most ruthless.
Homesickness.
Adapting to new things.
Getting to know yourself more deeply.
Missing the people, activities, and things you grew up with.
It’s home-sickening, and of which the apex of this feeling is Christmas time.

But the pain is bearable. And when you get past that, the experience becomes a significant strength. A distinct strength that I feel cannot be gained elsewhere.

I’d like to think that through these I have become quite stronger (emotionally, mentally, and physically). To name a few, I learned that I can be independently responsible in life, that I can grow to extents I have not experienced yet, and that I have family and friends who I can lean on whenever all of my strengths depletes itself.

By having experienced what it feels like how to sink, I have learned how to swim. And when I look back, I feel nothing but gratitude for the gained strength.

Conclusion

What conclusion does this deserve? All I can say is, I have absorbed a tremendous amount of things in a short period of time, things that my written words fails to do justice.

Some of my friends have called me brave. But may the world know that it is not my own strength that holds me together, but it is the goodness of the sovereign Lord and His people, and His steadfast love that holds me, assures me, challenges me, and compels me altogether.