Oswald & Holmes

“Reader, I married him.” – Jane Eyre

I decided to write this piece to let “some” lovely people know how I fell in love, what made me fall in love, and who I fell in love with. At first I had second thoughts about this piece. It felt like people really won’t be that interested with how I fell in love, what made me fall in love, even more so, who I fell in love with, but then I realised that’s not exactly true. For some reason, people seem to be most interested with stories of love, and I think what’s more interesting about this piece is my declaration of a couple of men that I fell in love with: One is dead for over a hundred years, the other one is a “written” man. So maybe some lovely people will appreciate this post.

I wrote Jane Eyre’s words at the beginning of this blog because my story really starts with her. Reading her encouraged me in a lot of ways, and even more so to love. Let me mention though that I am not married. I am very much single.

I had just finished reading Jane Eyre when I met the first guy I fell in love with. His name’s Oswald.

Meeting Oswald

Judy: “You should read him. I know this thing you’re going through with your mom is not easy. It’s very complicated. I support you. As young as you are, you have a good grasp of the reality that you are in, and you love your mom. I think this guy can help you. He’s very intelligent. You have his way of thinking, I think. You can learn a lot from him.”

Ate Judy is a single woman. She’s more than 15 years older than me. (Ate is a Filipino polite way of calling an older woman or older sister.) She’s one of our elders at church. She heads the prayer team of the church. She’s one of the coolest people at our very traditional church.

“So you can help me? Let’s see then. I would like to find out how intelligent you are.” My thoughts when I first saw Oswald wearing a moss green shirt with some gold words in it.

“If we obey God,” he started, “it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the pain begins.”

In my head: “My goodness, it’s like this guy is reading my mind.” Then I finally said, “What exactly do you mean? I thought obedience to Christ is only going to cost me. Cost a lot. Cost ME a lot. What are you saying?”

“Angela, if we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything – it is a delight. But to those who do not love Him, our obedience does cost a great deal.” He explained. “If we obey God, it will mean other people’s plans are upset. They will ridicule us as if to say, ‘You call this Christianity?’ We could prevent the suffering, but not if we are obedient to God. We must let the cost be paid.”

Those words made me quiet. I have so many questions in my mind: Who is this guy? Why did he suddenly talk about obedience? Do I really love God?How much do I love Him? Is that how God really planned it? That when we obey, it not only costs us, it costs others too? Do I really love God? How much do I love Him? Am I ready to see my mom “suffer” because of my obedience to God? What does that look like? Should I believe this guy?

“Angela…”

I thought I heard my name called to interrupt my thoughts.

I looked up. He then said, “We have no right to think that the type of relationships we have with others should be any different from those the Lord Himself had (see Luke 8:1-3). A lack of progress in our spiritual life results when we try to bear all the costs ourselves.”

“You’re kidding,” was my confused reply.

I thought I heard him sigh and then said, “And actually, we cannot [bear all the costs of obedience]. Because we are so involved in the universal purposes of God, others are immediately affected by our obedience to Him.”

I couldn’t speak. I hear Jane’s words ringing in my ears: “Millions are condemned to stiller doom… millions are in silent revolt against their lot… Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel… they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation… It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

Some traditional Filipino parents see their children as investments. In that mindset, children are obligated to provide for their family, their parents until the day they die. That came from the “slavery mentality” we inherited from the Spanish colonizers. My mom believes I am obligated to give her all my money, and to provide for the entire family even if she has a husband. My mom believes my entire life is to serve her & her family. I’m the illegitimate daughter. I am the outsider in the family. I am suppose to be obedient to her & her only. My mom is a Christian but she doesn’t go to church. She doesn’t believe in “God’s calling.” Her belief is based on Roman Catholic belief that you can only be considered “good” if you know how to submit to your “superiors” without question. You’re “good” if you know how to do good works to others no matter how bad you treat your family. She doesn’t like me going to church.

She would always say, “This is how you treat your mother? You disobey my commands. God said to honor your father & mother. You call yourself a worship leader? You are disobedient to your mother.”

I was talking to Ate Judy about this struggle. I know my mom was wrong, but I have been trying so hard in so many different ways to explain this to my mother. She’s resolute. I’m just her daughter. She doesn’t need to listen to me. And I have been asking God why He still wants me to stay & keep talking to my mom about these things. I’ve been asking God why do I still need to keep helping them if my mother thinks I’m just a commodity. Now this guy gives me all these things.

“We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve our Lord.” He quietly said.

This type of conversation with Oswald went on & on & on. He made me think about a lot of things. He would always say I have a choice. He said that God would respect my choices. He made me question how much I really do love my Lord? He made me think what loving God meant. He talked to me about obedience over & over again.

I realised, at that point, that I’ve never met a man like him before.

Understanding Holmes

I met him back in high school. He was a young man with a reputation. Weird reputation. He seemed to be the wisest guy at school, but has always been weird around girls. Girls adore him though, but he just seems completely oblivious of the fact. I heard he has a penchant for mystery. He seemed interesting to me. Plus his accent’s beautiful.

Love: “You can take a look at my shelf. It should be on top of the books, second row.”

Love is my cousin. She was giving me instructions about the CD of worship songs. That’s when I saw it and exclaimed, “Hey, you have this!” as I reached for one of the books in the shelf. “I had no idea you knew Sherlock.”

She said, “And you do?”

“Yes. I knew him in high school. Are you done with this? Can I borrow it? I mean, I heard a lot about him. Watched him. He always seemed interesting to me. I think he maybe my type of guy.”

Love laughed and said, “Well, you can have him. He’s all yours. He’s really good but I didn’t really enjoy him,” as she gave me a wink.

“See the value of imagination…” he said one night at a coffee shop before I went to work. “We imagined what might have happened, acted upon the supposition, and find ourselves justified.”

“That’s your situation not mine,” I replied.

“See the value of imagination.” I keep hearing his words in my head.

I discovered he is funnier than I imagined him to be. His words have always been so good & beautiful. He has a way of making me remember his words. But if I’m being honest, I think half the time I really don’t understand what he’s saying. It’s just that his accent is so intoxicating that I feel so good even if I’m really not understanding him. It’s incredible how that works.

“It is more than possible; it is probable.”

“You would confer a great favour upon me by coming. And I think that your time will not be misspent, for there are points about the case which promise to make it an absolutely unique one.”

“We can’t command our love, but we can our actions.”

“You can see everything. You fail, however, to reason from what you see. You are too timid in drawing your inferences.”

“Your reasoning is certainly plausible.”

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

He would always commend my thoughts. When I’m doubting myself, he reassures me that I am doing alright. He’s always curious about me, my thoughts. He’d always ask for my opinion.

Oh dear romantic reader (Jane Eyre), I fell in love with these men. They captured my heart in ways I never thought I would fall for. Oswald Chambers died in 1917. His wife compiled his thoughts, lectures and turned them to a book in 1927. It is called, My Utmost for His Highest. Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle back in 1887. He is a work of fiction.

The third Man I fell in love and still love so much is Someone who gave His life for me, to redeem me from my sins, and came back to life so He can love me more. His name is Jesus Christ.

There’s a fourth. I can’t tell you much about him yet but I can tell you this, he is Oswald & Holmes in the flesh. And he loves Jesus Christ too.

I hope sooner than later I can declare Jane’s words above for real. For now, I will borrow some of her words still, “In spirit, I believe, we must have met.”

2017, Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Photo is mine. This was taken at the Hello Kitty Cafe in Singapore.

2017, I understand, has been a difficult year for most. While I am aware that a lot has suffered including most of my countrymen, I can say that 2017 has been quite a different story for me.

I almost didn’t want to publish this because it seemed insensitive to talk about all the beautiful flourishing things that happened to me last year while the rest of the world grieved and suffered. It is nearly February now. I shouldn’t be putting this anymore.

But I had to.

Only because I need to declare to all the world, even if no one listens to this, that God has sustained me, provided for everything I needed and wanted, has blessed me greatly, because He decided to prove to me who He said He is. It is my prayer that by declaring what God has done in my life, you would come to know Him too, and would want to experience Him also.

Travel and Fun

The first month of 2017, I had to be in Masbate. My beloved grandmother passed away in late December of 2016 so we had to be in Masbate for her funeral. She was one of the most intelligent persons I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing in my entire life. That’s why even when she passed away, we still decided to visit one of the most beautiful places there – Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary – after she has been put on her final resting place. My Lola was a woman of common sense. And it was our way of saying goodbye to her beautiful soul. It was like she was walking the white sandbar with us.

I remember talking to her about a certain guy the year before and the complexity of that situation. You would think she would judge me for all the mistakes I did, and have a go at me for all my stupidity. But she encouraged me all the more and told me, ‘Make sure you settle this in your heart, otherwise you will carry it for the rest of your life. ‘ And that was the greatest lesson I needed to hear and would guide me from that day on and I can now say, onwards.

By June, I was making plans to travel local & abroad. I prayed to God to bring me to Hong Kong, and that if it was okay with Him, I wanted all expenses paid. And by July, He allowed me to travel to Hong Kong with my Mom, all expenses paid. And not just that! He allowed us to visit Macau too! And that trip to Macau was the most fun I’ve had so far.

By the next month, I was attending a wedding in Palawan. Experienced one of the best restaurants in town and went to El Nido, Palawan! I’ve never been rich in life. I was a breadwinner of the family for the longest time. So El Nido, Palawan was one of those places I knew I could never afford. I grew up knowing that it was one of those places here in the Philippines that could be more expensive than traveling abroad. That has now been replaced by Batanes. But it happened. God made it happen.

September came and I found myself in Singapore. Still crying as I write this just remembering how God made everything possible for me last year.

Work and Fun

Before September ended, I found myself praying to God for a different career. Can you guess what happened next? I got two job offers that I knew would dramatically change my life. And they didn’t offer to just add a few hundreds on my pay check. They were offering way more than I ever thought they would. I was so overwhelmed by all these things.

You know how you pray so hard for the longest time all of these things you want in life, but then God tells you to do something else? He tells you to focus on this first. He directs you to go through this route first, and when you’ve done everything He needed you to do, suddenly He gives you everything and just so much more?

Psalm 91 has never been so true in my life than the past year.

“Because [she] holds fast to me in love, I will deliver [her] ; I will protect [her] , because [she] knows my name. When [she] calls to me, I will answer [her] ; I will be with [her] in trouble; I will rescue [her] and honor [her] . With long life I will satisfy [her] and show [her] my salvation.” Psalms 91:14‭-‬16 ESV

I had to insert the female pronouns there because it had been so personal to me.

My prayer for everyone of you is that you learn obedience to God no matter how hard things get. I can tell you that I’ve made this decision a long time ago. I found no other way to live my life than to live in obedience to Him. I wanted to be like Isaiah who knew how to raise not just his hand, but also his heart and will to God when He asked, ‘Who shall we send?’ foreshadowing what Jesus did on the cross. I can only pray and try my best to obey the way Jesus did.

Obey now and do not delay.

Obey. Obey because as the verse said, “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Psalms 91:7 ESV

So the whole world can crash and burn, but if you make the Lord Most High your dwelling place, your comfort through out all the pain, suffering, confusion, and disappointment, then you will declare that He is your refuge and fortress. The God you can always trust. And He will never fail you. He will not let His holy one see decay (Psalm 16:10).

So by October, I finally have a new career. I finally got that much needed new work schedule. I finally got Friday afternoons and evenings spent with my family and friends. For the longest time in my life, I’ve not had that privilege. Finally got to experience the coffee shop I’ve been wanting to get to for the longest time. And now, I get to sit there and have the most perfect cup almost every single day. I get to go in a beautiful park and spend lovely quiet mornings there during my lunch break. Just like how I’ve always imagined my breaks will be.

By December, I had the opportunity of experiencing a real Christmas break. Something I never experienced in all the years I’ve been working. Two weeks. Break from work for two weeks. Two weeks! In December! And it’s a mandatory break! In my previous job, December has always been the busiest and the most difficult time to get some time off work. But now, it’s all different.

Fun, fun, fun.

During the Christmas break, I had a chance to explore La Union. I went surfing. I went grapepicking. Visited art galleries. Had fun walking around it’s beautiful landscape.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I even had a chance to go on a night out in Vigan –  one of, if not, the most beautifully preserved historical landmarks in my country!

Even on the very last day of the year, I was traveling and having tons of fun. 2016 was one of the most difficult years of my life — one of the most unbearable. But God saw me through. And He was so true to His promises.

God made 2017 my yesterday’s tomorrow. And for that, I am eternally grateful. And because God did that to my 2017, He made me look forward to 2018 in eager expectation. He is going to reveal something. I have a feeling He is already in the process of revealing it to me. He just knows me too well, and so wants to make sure I won’t spoil His surprise.

Have the greatest year this 2018, guys! Make sure you have all the God-approved fun this year!