Posted in Anything Under the Sun, Expat Diary

Am I Ready?

As my flight to Cebu, Philippines is drawing near, I can’t help but ask myself, “Am I ready?

Am I ready to revisit the past?

Am I ready to see people who made me feel unloved and rejected?

Am I ready to see places and recall memories that had caused me so much pain?

Am I ready to go back to the place where I had one of the most painful experiences of my life?

It’s been six years since I last visited that place, but now that I’m planning to visit there again, I’m not sure if I’m ready to revisit the past and not get overwhelmed by emotions that might just come flooding in once I’m already there.

At first, I was excited. Very excited, in fact, but for some reason, I was suddenly reminded of all the things that happened there; things that broke me to pieces; things that shattered my dreams; things that crushed my spirit; things that made me lose trust in people somehow. I was reminded of people whom I trusted and loved but made me feel unloved, unvalued, rejected, and disrespected.

Though I still have lots of friends there, whom I’m excited to see, am I ready to go there again and be okay being in places that could remind me of bad memories or be around people who made me feel as if I am the most unwanted person in the world?

To be honest, I really don’t know the answer. I just hope that in the past six years God had already filled my heart with enough love and grace to face those people with a forgiving heart and see them as people who, just like me, were broken and hurting. Just like me, they need a Savior who can teach and help them love others better. Just like me, they had their own struggles, doubts, and fears that must have affected how they regarded or treated me in the past.

I know in my heart I have already made the decision to forgive them a long time ago. I just don’t know why I suddenly felt anxious about being there again or being around those people who would most likely remind me of the bad memories of my past there.

Though many people say, “past is past,” there are things in the past that keep haunting us no matter how we try to forget them. Even if we have sincerely made the decision to forgive people, our minds (and our hearts, too) don’t forget the things done to us. That’s why I don’t really think that “to forgive is to forget what happened.” In my journey to finding healing and forgiveness, this is what the Lord has taught me so far – to forgive is to NOT count against others the wrong things they have done to us every time we remember what happened or every time we are reminded of the pain we went through because of them.

I don’t think we ever forget the things that happened to us, especially those that we valued so much and worked hard for but didn’t work out. Although we experienced pain in losing and being brokenhearted, we should not forget that there was also growth in those times we were badly hurt and broken. Yes, the pain was there, but as we struggled with the losses and pain we went through and trusted God to see us through, we also grew, by the grace of God, in our ability to love ourselves more so we can better love people whom God brings to our lives. Above all, it was in the lowest moments of my life where I experienced God the closest. In the lowest points of my life, there He was crying with me, wrapping me in His warm embrace, and spending sleepless nights with me as I wondered what would happen to my life back then when I thought all my dreams were shattered and I couldn’t see where I was headed.

In conclusion, I’m not really sure how my visit to Cebu would look like, but I want to trust God that He will go before me and make my visit a meaningful and memorable one. May He prepare my heart to be loving and forgiving in situations where I would be reminded of the bad things that happened in the past or whenever I meet any of those people who were involved in one of the most painful experiences of my life.

So after processing my thoughts, do I feel ready now?

Well, I hope God makes me ready. Only He can make me ready, I believe!

 

What about you? What did/do you need to be ready for? Feel free to comment/share your experiences so we can learn from each other. πŸ˜‰

Posted in Expat Diary

Frustrated but Amused

Yesterday, I went to the seamstress alone to get two dresses stitched. I usually ask a Chinese student to accompany me whenever I go to the seamstress, but this time I thought of going on my own to practice the little Chinese I know. So I learned and practiced the Chinese words I needed to use the night before so I was excited to use them in an actual conversation.

Confidently, I went to the seamstress’ shop and explained what I wanted to get done with my dresses with my limited Chinese and some hand gestures (which are always helpful). I was quite sure she understood what I meant. I told her I need the dresses today so she told me I could come back to get them in the morning. I went home happy thinking things went well with the seamstress.

Now I’m at the seamstress’ shop waiting for my dresses to get stitched the way I wanted it done. Unfortunately, the lady I talked to yesterday (who’s not here today) did not understand what I meant. Instead of sewing the hem of my black dress, she cut it shorter and did not even sew it. I wanted to scream in frustration because it’s too short for me now. I can still wear it, but it’s not the length I would be comfortable wearing. I might just give it away. I still want to scream!!!! Thankfully the other lady who is here now is free to do what I hoped had been done by now.

I guess this is the price of my limited Chinese, but my frustration has all the more motivated me to improve my Chinese spoken skills. It would take a while but I believe I’ll get there. I hope!

So you might be wondering, “So why did she say she’s amused?

Well, it’s just because I had a fun conversation with an elderly man who happened to be here at the shop earlier. With the help of a translation app, I was able to have a short conversation with him. At first, he asked me if I was a student. When I told him that I’m a teacher, he asked about my age. So I said I’m 33. Then he said something in Chinese to the other elderly women in the shop and I understood when he said I look like I’m just 25. When I repeated 25 in Chinese they realized I understood what the man said and we all laughed.

Then it was followed by an awkward silence. You know how that feels, I believe.

Then the elderly man broke the silence by asking me something I wasn’t really surprised about. You’ll know why, haha. πŸ˜€

I did not understand every word he said but I understood one word, “boyfriend.” So I said, “I don’t have a boyfriend” in Chinese. Then he said something to the two women in Chinese which I translated as “She’s old but she doesn’t have a boyfriend? I feel sorry for her.” Haha…of course I don’t know what he really meant, but I think my translation isn’t too far from the real meaning of what he said because…

Wanna guess what he said next?

If you thought he said, “Let me introduce someone to you” (of course, with the aid of the translation app), you got it right! Bravo!!!

I just laughed after reading the translation of what he said. Then I asked him, “Who is he?” in Chinese, and I think he said, “No one for now,” if I understood it right. Then that awkward silence again until the man decided to leave.

I’m now left with these two elderly women who are, thankfully, not interested in prying more into my personal life, haha!!!

To sum up my experience today, it’s always fun to go out and meet people despite my limited Chinese, don’t you think? πŸ˜‚