To my 30-year-old self

I’m writing this days before our birthday weekend. I’ve actually tried to write this earlier, but something felt off. And the truth of the matter is, I think I was trying to write that letter too smug. We may have learned a lot in the past decade, but we’re still a work in progress. Some days, months or years may come better than others but we’ll still need to work on ourselves every day. Not necessarily to reach perfection, just to be a little bit better every day. Better on ourselves, other people, and the world. 

20s was a decade filled with memories for the ages. Exciting adventures at unfamiliar landscapes, heartbreaks, disappointments, achievements and new beginnings. You’ve shown up for yourself in ways that you never thought you needed to. You’ve grown to love yourself and actually like yourself, even if you do get snotty sometimes and may need some reassurance from time to time. You’ve accepted the freedom of being wrong and being wrong often (sometimes we still need to accept this more if we’re really being honest). You’ve started to have more faith and trust, even when times feel desolate and futile. You’ve allowed yourself to feel every crashing wave of emotion instead of holding your breath until it passes. And you’ve been humbled, and continue to be humbled, to know that you didn’t do any of this on your own. You’ve been gifted the strength to fight through circumstances, but nothing compares to the grace, love, joy, courage, wisdom, peace, and power that surrendering to Christ brings. He is your most trusted friend, heavenly father and faithful partner.

There’s so much to look forward to, even if they are unknown. Many more things to learn and unlearn. And even if sharing with your best friend, Tatay and Nanay, may not be physically possible, they’ll be here in mind, heart and sometimes with a little attitude to bring yours down back to Earth. It’s okay to miss them and wish they were here. That’s part of grieving and moving forward.

Lean into your discomfort. To access the deepest and undiscovered parts of you, you have to let yourself sink into the discomfort. Floating only keeps you on the surface, wandering and wondering – half in and half out. You and I know that staying on the superficial surface has never been our style. So sink. Forgotten shipwrecks remain dormant underneath the surface could still carry treasures. You found the one true refuge amidst a shipwreck, remember?

And one last thing before I leave, you’re going to hate this but I’m going to say it anyway, fall in love with someone else again. You know how to love unconditionally, that’s not what I’m saying. Fall in love again slowly, and let yourself be loved… I saw that eye roll. Do it for us and because we deserve to. 

Always,

K

P.S. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Dear Gomer

I was reflecting on the book of Hosea when it dawned on me that you are among the select women in the bible whose story was told in more detail than a few verses. Perhaps not the most commonly known or the most sought after character to emulate like Hannah or Ruth, but your story lives and it’s an important story to hear.

Was it hard to accept that you could be loved so deeply and unconditionally by someone? Was it hard to see yourself as lovable? Was it hard to trust and believe that someone can embrace your past despite all its thorns and choose you, out of all people?

Was it hard to let yourself be loved? 

Living a life of prostitution was probably not your desired first choice. The piercing glances that you may have come across along the streets of the northern kingdom of Israel further etched markers of promiscuity, sin, and judgment in your mind and heart. Did you ever conceive that an alternate life was possible? Or did it seem like a fruitless endeavour to hope for such a thing? To not only be loved but relentlessly pursued by a prophet called by God over and over again. Hosea pursued you over and over again. 

Did it seem too good to be true? Did you wonder how it could be real? I imagine the experience could have felt jarring. To have already accepted all your life that poverty and survival was all life was, and yet unexpectedly there’s more. To see yourself, a woman ostracized in society, all of a sudden receive status and privilege without having to work for it or be born in the right family or look a certain way. Will Hosea wake up one day and realize that you’re not the woman he should be married to, let alone pursue? But I don’t think God made a mistake selecting your story to be told. Choosing you was a choice that God equally relentlessly made. No matter how many times you went back to sin, forgiveness welcomed you with open arms and a warm embrace. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-14

God chose to see the woman, not the sins. The beauty that He created carefully for you to eventually accept within. 

Always, 

K

P.S. 

You are not too much. 

You are not too little. 

You are not too broken. 

You are not too unlovable. 

You are not too weird.

You are not too sensitive. 

You are not too loud. 

You are not too shy. 

You are not too strong.

You did not make too many mistakes.

You are accepted. 

You are wanted.

You are loved. 

Dear 2021

Boy did you come with very unexpected surprises! Some pleasant, some not so pleasant. All in very interesting timing. You’ve inherited COVID with absolutely no choice, and it most likely will be part of our regular vernacular for years to come whether or not the pandemic dies down soon. I think by now, we’re all pretty exhausted, rattled and/or fed up. And yet, I still stand by what I said last year…there’s hope for something bigger than ourselves amidst all of this. 

Upon reflecting on the past year, I kept circling back to the notion that chaos is necessary to move things forward. We can see this manifested in nature, people, culture and so on. If we look at the labour market alone, remote working conditions are prioritized, top talents are choosing to leave their high-profile jobs to start their own ventures and conversations about what it means to be an effective leader in this day and age finally included traits like empathy. Sometimes we need a little chaos (or a lot depending on the situation) to shake things up and challenge our core. So if I had to choose, the word that comes to mind when I think about 2021, it would be chaos

In today’s definition, the word chaos means being in a state of confusion, disarray or disorder. Although the origins of the word are suggested to come from the Greek word cháos or an open formless space, an abyss or void. Interesting isn’t it? How meaning evolved to denote space and time into a feeling about something. And that something is often out of our control. It feels chaotic to us because we can’t control the outcome we want to have or expect to receive. It feels chaotic to us because we don’t understand what’s going on. But did we actually fully understand before? 

Chaos compels us to trust. To trust in God. To trust that He is in control. To trust that He is an immovable fortress. To trust ourselves enough to try to make wise choices, albeit perceived high or low risks. To trust that if something fails or is not completely what we expected that we won’t fall apart. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:1-3

As 2021 comes to a close, let’s remember that the everlasting light that shines ever so bright will set us free from the chaos towards creation and abundance. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Chaos Theory + tabula rasa. 

Re: Growth charts

Months ago I wrote about how plants are like people and the impact our environments have in our growth. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t follow up with the diversity in the ways in which plants grow, the varying ways we grow.

I’ve been joyfully growing different plants since that post in October. More recently experimenting growing red bell pepper seeds and an avocado seed from food scraps. Sustainability is something that I value, but we’ll dig into that later (yes, pun intended!) After a few weeks of nurturing my bell pepper seeds, I started to notice how fast certain seedlings were growing, while others held a much slower pace. And so, even if they came from the same bell pepper their growth charts were not equivalent, the ways they developed roots were not equivalent and the direction that they were growing were not equivalent. My avocado seed actually took more than 100 days to start a stem, and the root is much thicker in comparison to the roots found on a bell pepper seedling. I watered all of these plants the same way everyday, yet their outcomes are not totally the same. Why? I’m not going to pretend to know why because I don’t. Although, not knowing does not limit how much I can and want to take care of these plants. The uncertainty of their growth charts don’t dictate the love I want to shower them with and the joy I receive seeing them flourish at their own pace and at their own time. So why is it so hard for us to translate the same level of compassion with fellow human beings? One word: expectations. 

As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is… 

Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pg. 35-36

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together shares a powerful message about what it means to live in community as Christians during a time of hatred and great division, a hopeful byproduct of experiencing Nazi Germany. Who would have thought there was such a thing? Nonetheless, I was humbly reminded by Bonhoeffer’s book while tending to my seedlings and feeling the frustrations of navigating through difficult relationship dynamics. To put it simply, I was reminded to meet people as they are as God meets me as I am, wherever they may be in their life journey. And yes, I recognize that this is easier said than done. But if I can’t make room to see humanity being reflected in front of me, how could I carry the same level of compassion I’m willing to pour over my plants? How could I connect with people meaningfully? How could I love people truly? We learn and grow in so many ways, because we are beautifully diverse in nature. 

Always,

K

P.S. Be brave, curious and kind.