Sunday, July 18, 2010

Love Takes Courage

I was a bit hesitant to join my aunt and her friend to a shopping trip last Sunday afternoon. I preferred to just stay at home and read one of the untouched old books tacked on my book shelf. But then I decided to go and keep my aunt (former yaya, bodyguard, driver, buddy-buddy) company anyway. We walked for a good 3 hours between piles and piles of clothes (would you believe this made me sleepy?), then we had dinner.

It was just three of us ladies on the dinner table. Born at least two decades apart from each other, we were in our 70's, 50's and 20's. Surprisingly, despite the age gap, we had one of the most insightful, open, honest and vulnerable conversations ever. I forgot how it started. I know when though, it was a few minutes past 6pm when we were a few bites away from finishing our pizza and pasta. The table was filled with colorful stories, hearty laughter, painful memories and hot dripping tears, that my aunt said we were like watching a movie.

My 72 year-old friend shared with us a scene from her childhood where she had a terrifying tummy ache. It was so painful that the pain extended to her knees. That night, she heard her mom telling God, "Lord, I hope that you can take the pain away from my daughter and give it to me instead." From then on, she realized that a parent's love is unfathomable. She then told me why we should appreciate our parents.

When we are single, our salaries go straight to our stomachs, our clothes, our gadgets and our gimmicks. Once we become parents, priorities change. We would think of what food to give to our babies, before our own stomachs could be filled. We would allot the first part of our income to the needs of our children. The second part for the bills, maintenance, etc, and only the remaining would be left to us. This is how parents think. That's why they are hurt if they see their children rebelling, withdrawing or simply unloving.

She also stressed that parents are very precious, precious individuals. They love us more than anybody else in the world (except for God of course). However, like any other sinner, they have their own shortcomings. Her father, for example, did not love her as much as her older siblings. She was left at home when her whole family was traveling. She was humiliated in front of her dad's peers. And she was the only one left without an inheritance. Despite this, she took care of her dad until his last breath. She realized that God can be the one to fill in the shortcomings of her parents. Actually, I think He did more than filling in. He has become her ultimate Father. Because God's love overflowed in her, her hate turned to love, her anger turned to peace and her bitterness turned to joy.

Our trials at home or anywhere else is but a fingertip ("kalingkingan") to the fullness of God's grace.

On the same day, I got to read a book entitled "Who You Are When No One's Looking," and I learned about courage. Courage is not merely rescuing an old lady from a burning building or taking a bullet for someone. Courage is not limited to these once-in-a-lifetime drama, it is a character trait that we can wear everyday as we seek to go against the flow, as we admit our weaknesses, as we allow others to see our vulnerability, as we strive for the right.

One such courage is relational courage. When we see a conflict, courage is talking about it and seeking to reconcile before the night turns to a day. Courage prevents us to wait blindly until all hurts and anger pile up. Courage is saying, "Dad, you know I'm a bit hurt with what you said. Despite that, I love you very much." While a coward would say to himself, "I don't want to talk to my mom anymore. She never understands." Courage is showing your love and appreciation unashamedly (even if it's a bit cheesy).

This is my challenge to all of you. If you haven't shown appreciation to your parents, pray for courage (and creativity?) to do so. If you're experiencing any relational rifts, pray for the courage to reconcile. If you love your parents, pray for the courage to tell them "I love you." If you're angry, pray for the courage to confront gently. If you're hurting, pray for the courage to open up to your parents or your mature God-centered friends.

I was in for the same challenge. That same night, I wrote a short note to my dad and placed it in his lunch pack (which I don't normally do). You see, like my dad, I do not like showing my emotions. I'm quite embarrassed to even show my love to someone. I find it extremely cheesy. So it took me a great deal of courage to do this. The next day, I got this surprising response and it was all worth it.

Hi Joyce (my second name),
Thanks for the wonderful letter.
Just remember always.. Your mom and I love you very much also.
It's just sometimes I'm moody because of stress at my work.
But no matter what happens, I will always love and take good care of our family.
Just take good care of yourself and indulge and work for your ambition.
We will support you all the way.
Again, love you always.
~ Papa

God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power. Boldness, not cowardice, is the mark of the spirit. Having this gift of the spirit or Holy Spirit, is the reason why we can take courage in every area of our lives. Go ahead and love your family courageously.


  1. this entry made me cry! thanks for being a channel of blessing even though we're miles apart.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Jacq! I hope to see you soon! :)

  3. super nakakaiyak. thanks.