Friday, August 30, 2013

The Ultimate Plan

Ever since I was young, I have always been a dreamer and a planner.  I set goals with milestone timelines and personal deadlines. Everything is timed.  calendars and clocks are part of my daily essential toolkit. I process my priorities and break them down further into graphs, charts and quadrants.

I want to be on top of things and take full control of any situation.  This is why I not only have a plan A but plan B and plan C as well. I want to cover all bases.   I plan in advance and do a situational forecasting to ensure that I weed out any elements of failures, disappointments and obstacles that may impede me in reaching the success of my goal.

My planning prowess has worked well for me inasmuch as finishing my studies in a prime university with the highest honors in our graduating batch. It has also led me to a stable and steadily accelerating career in a multinational company.  I became a manger and pioneered a new position and set up a new department with three people (older than me) directly reporting to me at the age of 25.  

Plan A was to continue in my rising career become an HR Business Partner and be happily married before I reach 35.  I was pretty much on track with my milestone calendar deadline, except when I turned 30.  And so I told myself that by the time I turn 30, I need to do something life changing - either I get married or migrate somewhere to live a new life.  Apparently, moving to Australia was easier than getting married!  

And so here I am in a foreign country daring to live out my "what if" question of starting a new and different life in a foreign world.  This was my Plan B.  In my plan B, I was prepared for a simpler life, especially when I met MunchK.  I was looking forward to settling for a domesticated life.  But then came a twist of an unplanned relationship breakdown.  I was caught off guard.  This was not supposed to happen.  For a time, I lived in denial until I managed to slowly accept reality.  Little by little, with great hesitation, I drew up my Plan C.

Plan C was to move to a bigger city, pursue a new passion - achieve the career of my dreams, go back to what I know I do best and that is climbing again the corporate ladder.  Forget about love (or at least park it for a while) and funnel all my attention and energies on building a career.  

However, as I look upon my current state, I am way far behind from any of the plans I have previously set for myself.  At age 34, I am starting back at the bottom again in a very humbling (literally and figuratively) and unsatisfactory work. From managing and leading a team as well as initiating corporate strategies, I am now serving everyone at work, doing menial errands, including cleaning the office kitchen, watering the office plants, etc.

The career field of my dreams are hostile to me.  I kept on knocking at their doors but no one would give me a break.  Sadly, beggars can't be choosers. So here I am - stuck in a dead end.  While I am grateful to at least having a job, I am unhappy and demotivated with my current work situation.  There is no career ladder for me to climb.  I was led to believe that there was one, but honestly I could not see any.  They say it is a career ladder, but frankly speaking the way I see it, it is but a see-saw.

And when I go home, I am but alone.  Bestie may be living with me now but so is her boyfriend, which to me is an unwanted guest.  When I offered my house to Bestie I did not mean to extend the invitation to her boyfriend. What should have been just a two week temporary visit for this guy is now turning to months and counting... with no plans of leaving anytime soon.  I am a bit unhappy with my home living situation.  For some reason, it feels like intrusion on my private personal space.  And so I spend most of my time in my room whenever I am home.  I am a prisoner in my own house. I feel bad for feeling this way towards him. I struggle with my emotions to make him feel welcome and be a hospitable host. Plus, I value my friendship with Bestie even more and so I keep my silence and praying for more patience and acceptance.  

I am unhappy both at work and at home.  I have no where to go.  I feel like living an insignificant existence running in circles, day in and day out. How long should I endure this kind of existence?  My present journey is like walking in a very dark and infinite tunnel with not even a glimmer of light to indicate any hope that there is an end to this tunnel. I wonder if there is any end to this tunnel at all?  I would always ask myself what life has to offer me when I grow older? Do I have a future? Is there something still to look forward to?  I feel like I am driving on reverse mode.

As doubts were beginning to fill my mind, like melodies from a mocking bird, hummingbird came to the rescue and reminded me in gentle and soothing tune  that this is just a phase which I am passing through. And through this journey, God is with me. I should not to focus too much on these temporary and changeable circumstances but instead fix my gaze to the eternal and unchangeable God.  God's love for me is true and His promises remain the same, they never change. 

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Things may not seem to make sense, things may seem to go opposite to where I wanted to be, but my job is not to define nor analyze the situation.  My job is to trust him and to obey him.  If I say I trust Him, then I should also feel it and live it.  I need to let go of my incessant need to be in control of things, and instead let Him.  I need to relinquish my desire to plan and map out my foreseeable future according to my standards and my timelines, and instead trust Him do His work in His own time.  

As long as I am where God wants me to be, I am assured that I am in good hands.  Through the storm and raging seas, I will not drown for my anchor is the Lord.  I am absolutely at the point of my rock-bottom. I do not know how exactly I would be able to rise from here. With me, things are impossible but with Him, all things are made possible.  This moment in my life is God's opportunity for Him to slowly reveal the unfolding of His miracles in my life.  

I do not need to be on top of everything, because He already got it covered.  After all, He is the Ultimate Planner, Creator of heaven and of earth, Master of everything. And so I lay down everything to God - my past, my present, my future, my heartaches, my frustrations, my hopes, my dreams.  But this does not mean that I just sit down and do nothing but wait until things happen.  My job now is to surrender and embrace my present situation and bloom where I am planted, for in due season when the time is ripe, I shall reap the fruits of my labour in bountiful harvest - all through Christ who strengthens me. 

For the very first time in my life, at age 34, I have no plan.  I have nothing but faith in God that in His time, He will make all things fall in to place.  It is scary as I think of it,   but my heart is at rest.  Sometimes it is good to put down the map and get wonderfully lost.  That's what I call adventure.  Sometimes getting lost gives you a chance to be found.  That's what I call destiny.  

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Onward Bound

"How are you?" ... Ask me this question a couple of weeks ago, and I would have answered in outburst of tears.

I have come to the lowest point in my life, thus far.  The heartaches I endured before pales in comparison to this. 

I concocted this brilliant plan of focusing on my career to escape my broken past and build a new and stronger future.  I intended invest all my emotions into my work and channel all my passion in building my career.  However, things at work are shockingly disappointing. I can't even begin to describe it nor will I even attempt to. Writing about it would only magnify it and I do not want to immortalize my frustrations here in my page.  

To make the story short, I am not happy with my situation at work.   I want to quit, run away and escape from it all.  I want to feel that satisfaction of handing my resignation.  However, I got bills to pay and other obligations.  I can't afford this time to go back on to jobhunting mode again.  It is a terrible feeling being trapped in a situation where I have no choice. I feel like I am reduced to a rut of daily survival mode.  This is definitely not what I bargained for when I moved here.

Why am I here? What am I doing here? I am on my mid-30's and yet here I am back in square one again.  What have I done to my life?  What has life to offer me when I grow old? Is there any hope for me at all?  I look around but all I see is darkness. Pitch black. I looked at the mirror.  I see the marks of stress in my face.  I have lost my youthful glow.  I have stress zits.  I now look like a hag.  I feel ugly, just like my life... Yuck! 

I am exhausted.  I feel tired even if the day has just begun.  I feel like I have lost my will to live.  I wanted to give up this life. Then one Sunday afternoon, I prayed and asked God to take away my life.  I told him that I am ready and that He can take me anytime.  

Upon uttering that prayer, I felt a gentle tug in my heart. A still and soft voice whispered to me and said, "If you are to die because of your own will, let it be for love, in service to others or for standing on your principles.  Let it not be because you are tired to press on the journey.  Your life will be meaningless if you choose to die for such insignificant reasons, especially for those people that do not matter."

At that point, I broke down in tears.  I feel humbled by the fact that God has given me this gift of life, of which I have not only taken for granted but also forsaken.  I was embarrassed by the thought of others striving hard to fight for their lives and yet here I am, irresponsibly ungrateful for this gift of life.

It has been said that life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, but learning how to dance in the rain.  I wanted to ask God so many questions about my current life's turning points.  Why this, Why that ... But before I can go on, I stop myself because I can imagine God throwing back the question at me - why not?  I am reminded about my general purpose in life.  God is not after for my happiness.  He is more after for my holiness.  

James 1:2-4

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

I believe there is a meaning and beauty behind all these things.  I know God loves me.  He knows what He is doing.  He has a greater plan and a bigger purpose behind all that is happening in my life right now. In His time, all the answers to my questions will be revealed. So even if I cannot trace His hands I just have to trust His heart.

Romans 8:28

"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 says "ALL things", not "some things", but ALL.  This is truly a faith building exercise.  Problems and pains life may actually be for our own protection.  Because it is through this that we learn to seek him and yearn for His truth.  Our desperation is God's opportunity, for when we have come to the end of the line, is where God steps in. I am treading on volatile grounds.  I feel like I am already close to the edge.  But I constantly remind myself not to be afraid for God is on my side and if I should fall, either of the two things will happen, either He will catch me when I fall or He will give me wings to fly!

And with that, I wiped away my tears and dressed up and took on the full armor of God with the buckle of truth around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness together with the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I am slowly rising from the pit, standing with my shaky knees and feeble feet.   I do not know all the answers, but that's all right because God knows them and that's all that matters.  I may be small and weak, but my God is big and He is strong. 

2 Chronicles 20:15  

"...Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s."

Romans 8:37

" all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." 

Ask me now again, "How are you?"

My answer is nervous but confident, afraid but boldly hopeful, surrendered but victorious.