It’s Not About Competition

Ping Pong games always remind me of childhood memories with my dad and siblings. More than fifteen years ago, our dad bought a net, a huge piece of plywood, Ping Pong rackets, and Ping Pong balls for the house. Even though it wasn’t the real Ping Pong table, we were still able to learn the sport thanks to Dad’s patience and skills.

Playing Ping Pong is similar to riding a bike. You still remember how to do it even after years of not playing the sport. So, although it has been a while since I last played, I said yes to the challenge of joining the tournament in our office this year.

By God’s grace, He allowed my Ping Pong partner and I to win two games and advance to the semi-finals! Honestly, this was something that I did not expect because the other participants are really good. Plus, most of them usually spend their lunch breaks playing in the office way before HR announced the tournament. During our first two games, I didn’t pressure myself to win. I did, however, practice as much as I could and have fun in the process. But, now that we’ll be competing again, I can feel the pressure!

While my partner and I were practicing against other opponents earlier today, I didn’t do very well. Almost every missed turn or mediocre service that I did, my partner corrected me. Haha! At first, I thought, “Boy, is he competitive!” But, what struck me about his comments was this statement: “Palu-in mo nang malakas para hindi ko na ibabalik sa kanila.” To my foreigner friends, he simply emphasized the need for me to hit a hard and fast ball so that our opponents wouldn’t be able to return it to our side.

It took a while before it sank in me. After practicing and playing during the first two games, I realized that I was just playing it safe. I didn’t risk by hitting the ball as hard as I could. My only goal was to bring it to the other side. But, what my partner said was exactly what I needed to hear. As a team, we need to help each other out and make things easier for each other. Oftentimes, I would return a high ball and our opponent would easily smash it towards our side, making it hard for my partner to return the ball.

Just before I went home today, I had a quick chat with another participant who was staying at the pantry. I joked about how intense the competition was especially for me since I was feeling the pressure from my competitive partner. But, once again, I was humbled by the response of another colleague. She said that my partner’s competitive spirit and comments during our practices are helpful in developing skills. She pointed out that I improved in returning long and low throws compared to how I played a year ago.

She also said that since every hit was 50/50 for me, why not hit it hard, especially if I receive high throws? She gently rebuked me and said that I needed to let go of pressure or hesitation and just practice hitting hard as I aim. She also ended by saying: “Even though I hit the ball hard and it goes outside, I still continue practicing hitting hard the next time. We don’t always get them inside the court, but this is how we’ll grow.”

Wow. All I could say was “Wow!”. As I drove home, it hit me. It isn’t about competition, it’s about constant growth.
It doesnt matter who’s ahead or who’s number one. What matters is that I’m maximizing what I have now in order for me to keep on growing and learning.

In less than two days, we’ll be competiting again. But, this time, I’ll be having a new perspective in my mind and heart. No matter what happens, I will still be very grateful, not only because of the victories we’ve experienced, by God’s grace. But also, because of my colleagues who selflessly coach and help me to grow.

The Lost Boy at Mercury Drugstore

I passed by Mercury drugstore last night to buy some medicine again and I saw the same cashier lady from last week. As soon as I walked over, she gave me a second look and smiled. I then softly laughed and said: “No one’s lost, so far?”. She smiled and replied, “No one.”

Exactly a week ago, we encountered a lost boy inside the same Mercury drugstore.

On my way home last Friday night, I was only supposed to buy things from a hypermarket nearby. But somehow, I felt a strong nudge in my heart to drop by Mercury drugstore (a few blocks away) to buy medicine before driving to the hypermarket. As soon as I paid for the medicine at the cashier, I noticed a young boy (around 9 years old) who was crying. I overheard the cashier lady and the guard at the store talking to him and saying words like “España” and “Dapitan”. In an instant, I realized that the boy was lost!

I offered to help him find and contact his parents through Facebook because he didn’t know his phone number at home nor his specific address. For the next 20 minutes, we did our best to search and wait for the replies of his mom and aunt. But, we didn’t receive any. So, our plan B was to check if he left any contact information when he visitied one of the playstores in the area. The guard at the Mercury drugstore asked the other guard to accompany the kid back to the store. It was already around 8:30 pm.

After five minutes, I received a notification in my phone showing that the mom already accepted my message request! Yes! Immediately, I called her and she picked it up. To my surprise, in the video call, I saw her with the lost boy! They were reunited!! I traced my way towards where they were and said my goodbyes.

I also asked the mom to help the kid memorize their numbers and address so, if ever it happens again, he’ll know the way home. The mom kept on thanking me for helping his kid contact me and I knew that it was all by God’s grace. No wonder I felt the nudge to drop by Mercury drugstore blocks away first, even though there was a Watsons drugstore inside the hypermarket. No wonder I felt a strong urge to charge my phone in the car on the way home from work. I don’t usually do this, but I remember having a quick thought saying “Charge your phone now. You’ll need more battery tonight.”

Sometimes, God uses unusual and spontaneous ways to speak to us. But, if there was something that I won’t forget throughout the experience, it was learning to obey without delaying. I was in the Mercury drugstore at the exact moment that the kid was crying. I had battery and data that night which gave the kid comfort as we waited and tried to contact his mom. In the end, I was also able to talk to the mom about God’s goodness in what happened. All by God’s grace. What if, despite the nudge in my heart, I decided not to drop by Mercury drugstore that night? Then, I would have missed out on this special moment where I witnessed God’s goodness in the lives of the mother and son.

When I got home and until the next morning, the mom and I exchanged messages online to share what we experienced and to thank God together. The lost boy at the drugstore was found! I still remember feeling the joy when I saw them together! Even the cashier lady and the guard rejoiced with me that night!

I can’t help but remember how it is also the same in our walk with the Lord. We all are lost in our sins. But, God has been pursuing us ever since. Because of His unconditional love for us, He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross and rise again to save us and give us the gift of being with Him in Heaven forever. We just need to believe and put our faith in Jesus, our personal Lord and Savior. (Eph. 2:8-9 and John 3:16)

Just like the lost boy at the drugstore, there are so many similar cases out there. And if we don’t act when God tells us to do something, we might miss out on helping them get found.

Britt Nicole said in one of her songs:

“Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
‘Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found
So when you get the chance
Are you going to take it?”

 

P.S. Thank you also, Mercury Drugstore guard and cashier lady in Fun ranch, Pasig. :)

Thanks for Putting Your Phone Down, Dad!

At around 9:45 pm, I came home from a long, tiring, and interesting day. To be more specific, something happened between 7:30-9:30 pm tonight that was special to me. I’ll probably share it in a different post. But, those two hours had a huge impact on my heart and I couldn’t contain the joy and peace that I was feeling.

I entered the Master’s bedroom to greet my parents, but my mom was already asleep. My Dad, however, was still awake and was using his cellphone (I think he was playing a game). When I kissed dad, he asked me how I was and where I came from and I decided to take a deep breath as I said: “Dad, I just had a crazy and interesting night. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Sometimes, before, whenever we had the chance to talk in their room at night, he would continue to use his phone while I greeted him or while we exchanged stories. But tonight, he did something that I deeply appreciated. Dad put his phone down a few seconds after I started to share what happened to me tonight.

For the next fifteen minutes, I relayed to him the details of my night as my eyes watered. I got teary eyed not because of pain but because my heart was overwhelmed with joy and amazement at how God personally touched me in my fresh experience. As I shared, Dad eagerly listened and even affirmed what I was sharing. He continued to rejoice with me when I rejoiced and he praised God with me when I acknowledged His goodness and perfect timing. He even gave me a sincere advice to support what I just learned and shared to him.

After our talk, I walked out of the room and shouted “Thanks, Dad, for listening! Oh, and thanks for walking and feeding the dogs earlier too!”. Not only did he do the chore that I was assigned to do tonight, he also made sure to give his full attention to me, his daughter, while I shared my heart to him.

I am guilty when it comes to using my phone while I talk to other people. Sometimes, I even prefer to use my phone instead of starting conversations with friends or family members. But, tonight, I realized and saw how nice it was for my dad to be so interested in what I was sharing. He postponed what he was doing on his mobile phone, put it down on the bed, and engaged in conversation with me.

Tonight, I just want to appreciate my dad for this seemingly simple yet very impactful act of his. From a daughter’s point of view, I know that parents do have a great influence on their children. Their words, actions, thoughts, and even body language can either build them up or discourage them. This is also the same for children towards our parents.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” -Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬

Although I know that we are not perfect, I believe that by God’s grace, we can continue to grow in our relationships with each other. Even through the simplest ways, we can show sincere love and care for each other. By God’s grace, Dad continues to grow and improve as an intentional dad at home and I really praise the Lord for this.

Thanks again, Dad, for our quick magic moment tonight! You were the first one to know about my special experience! :)

10K at the 41st Milo Marathon in Manila

Originally, I did not want to join a race during the rainy season because I knew that I would have a difficult time training outdoors. However, because of a surprising turn of events, I found myself randomly registering a month ago for the 41st Milo Marathon in Manila today.

It all started when I couldn’t close the buttons of my top after eating a heavy lunch in the office last month. I told my colleagues about it and we all laughed and teased myself because we knew that I wasn’t physically fit anymore. Interestingly, that same day, I received an email about the online registration for the Milo run. I took it as a sign for me to get back to shape. So, I prayed about it and asked God to make it clear to me that day, if I should join the race today.

The only requirements for the registration are the fee and an empty bag of Milo powder, specifically the bag that weighs 300 grams. The registration closest to me was located near our office and near a grocery store. I told God that if He really wanted me to join this, He would provide a 300g bag of Milo powder that night. It’s funny because as soon as I entered the grocery store and saw the section where Milo was kept, there were numerous bags of Milo that weighed 220g, 390g, and 600g. However, there was only ONE bag of Milo that weighed 300g! It was as if it and I were destined for each other. Hahaha.

So, that same night, I had peace in my heart about running at the event today despite my worries of not being able to adequately train. I only had a month left to train and half of that month either had rainy nights or stormy early mornings. As expected, I was only able to train six times outdoors before the race day. (During my first 10K run, I had eleven trainings before the run.)

Slowly, I felt the worries creep in me, especially last night. It was hours before the race and I barely had sleep. I also knew that I didn’t have the best trainings before the run. In fact, my average pace was 12 min/km. (The goal was to run faster than 9 min/km in order to achieve the cutoff time of 1 hour and 30 mins. for 10K runners.

But, by God’s grace, He surrounded me with supportive family and friends and they helped me remember God’s strength in my weakness. (Special shoutout to: My family, Tina A., Hiro, Zeke, Zee, Ira, Juds, and my other colleagues — for the encouragement before the race.).

During my first 10K run a few months ago, my only goal was to finish the run. But, this time, I was faced with a different kind of pressure as I needed to meet the cutoff time in order to finish well with a medal. Here are some of the highlights from today’s race:

GOD’S GRACE

From waking up earlier than my alarms to being at the venue two hours before the call time to having perfect weather to persevering throughout the race and finishing well. God’s grace was very evident today and I can only give Him the glory for this accomplishment.

IMPORTANCE OF REST

As much as possible, I didn’t want to stop running because I was afraid of not being able to make it to the cutoff time. But, before the race started, the hosts reminded us of how crucial it is to hydrate every time we pass by the water stations even if we don’t feel thirsty. This will help the body endure better. Also, whenever I felt like my body was already going to give up, I replaced running with 30-second briskwalking every now and then. If I didn’t rest, I probably would not have survived the race.

THOUGHT-LIFE

I guess what I mean is that our thoughts greatly affect our behavior and response. When I was entertaining thoughts of defeat (not being able to achieve the medal) during the first few kilometers, I saw how my body started to slow down and feel heavier. But, every time I prayed and encouraged myself to run a little further, I end up having the strength to endure. For ten times, I almost wanted to give up during the race. Also, when my body couldn’t take it anymore, I even remember saying “I never want to do this again!” Hahaha. By God’s grace, despite my thoughts, He still allowed me to finish the race at a good pace.

INSPIRATION

The hosts of the event emphasized at the start of the program that this run was specifically designed to inspire and influence others to take home life lessons from running. They mentioned about discipline, hardwork, patience, endurance, teamwork, encouragement, and many more. I almost got teary-eyed during the event because I knew that along with my other fellow runners, I am also learning valuable lessons and am giving myself an opportunity to develop certain characteristics through this. (Bonus na lang yung medal!)

After updating one of my friends about the race, he said: I’m sure this activity will encourage you many times in your life!” …and I do agree with his statement. Somehow, God uses these moments in life to remind us of who He is. In those times when we feel like giving up and losing hope, He helps us to focus on Him and endure further.

During my last kilometer, Chris Brown’s song “Crawl” was playing on my phone where it had the ff lyrics: “So we’ll crawl til we can walk again. Then we’ll run until we’re strong enough to jump. Then we’ll fly until there is no wind, so let’s crawl back to love.”

While I was listening to that song, it reminded me of this verse:

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬

With only two minutes left on the clock, I was able to make it to the finish line on time (with a pace of 8 mins/km!!!) Woohoo! As we speak, I am still very weak and sleepy, I have sore legs, I am feeling light-headed, and I am exhausted. But, despite these, my heart feels very much alive and peaceful now and I thank God for the privilege of experiencing Him in new ways.

Thank You, Lord, for my first medal! This one’s for You!