When Letting Go Lets You Grow

Last 2017, I spent an average of 7 hours a day online. 7 hours a day, 2,555 hours in one year, or 106 days. That’s almost a third of my year invested in the social online world! Tonight, I will not state a list of goals that I plan to achieve this 2018. Instead, I will be sharing one thing that I won’t be doing this year. I have decided to let go of Facebook and Instagram for 365 days. Why? So I can grow.

Now, for my online friends, this might come as a surprise because I am known as someone who posts anything any time of the day. But, according to Peter Tan-Chi, “How you spend your time shows what you think is important.” If I spend time taking a bath and brushing my teeth in the morning, then I believe that having good hygiene is needed. In the same way, if I spend 7 hours of my day on Facebook, then I must think that being online is important. Although, I should say that going on Facebook has its benefits too, such as remembering others’ birthdays and communicating with friends.

However, I have noticed that too much hours spent online caused me to experience more of its cons than its pros. Instead of me pursuing dreams and developing skills, I’ve invested in the thrill of seeing my posts reach a certain number of likes, comments, and shares. And if I didn’t get any notifications, then that would make me wonder about my self-worth. But, I bet if Facebook didn’t have the like or react button feature, it would probably change the way people post or spend their time online.

Too much time on Facebook and Instagram also discouraged me to be content with my life. Whenever friends online would go to places I couldn’t afford to go to or reach certain milestones such as earning millions of pesos, getting promoted, etc., it would sting my heart. As a result, I realized that if I am not careful with how I use my time online, eventually, I would end up feeling sorry for myself and my lack of progress. Unfortunately, this is a danger that social media has on our generation and it’s something not a lot of people talk about.

So, this 2018, I am finally being honest with myself and I will choose to let it go for now. If I log off of Facebook and Instagram for 365 days, how exactly will it help me grow? Well, let me share with you these three things that I think will personally help me:

FIRST: DEVELOP SKILLS

Having 7 extra hours in a day would give me a lot of time to develop skills such as writing, preparing travel itineraries, working out, starting a business, and many more! In those 106 days, imagine how many fruit-bearing plants I can grow, books I can finish, recipes I can conquer in the kitchen, and songs I can make! The list is endless if only I set aside time for these productive activities.

 

SECOND: DISCOVER MYSELF

Instead of constantly being reminded by others’ travel goals or milestones, I will have more time to think of what I have and what my purpose is in life. Discovering ones true self online is like studying for an exam at a rock concert. You can try, but it will be very difficult to do so, especially since you’ll be surrounded with so many opinions, pressures, and filters to become someone you’re not. But, if we quiet ourselves and take time to recall and appreciate how God has blessed us with unique strengths, skills, and dreams. Oh, what a difference it would make!

 

LASTLY: DEVELOP REAL RELATIONSHIPS

One worry that I had was “Oh no! I won’t be able to interact with people anymore! I won’t be updated with their lives!” But, as I thought about it, it made me laugh. “Of course, you can still interact with them, Nicole. You can give them a call, invite them for dinner, or go to out-of-town trips!” I think being online for the longest time helped me develop friendships only at a certain shallow level.

Out of the many friends I have online, how many of them do I really know? I just interact with most of them by clicking on the like button or by greeting them on their birthdays! Being offline would help me be creative and resourceful in meeting people face-to-face and developing deeper relationships with them. There’s something nice about looking at a friend in the eyes and walking with them as you get to share life’s struggles and sweetest victories together. Now, that’s something you don’t always get to experience online.

Developing skills, discovering myself, and developing real relationships. I believe these three things are more than enough reasons for me to let go of Facebook and Instagram for 365 days. Yes, at first, this might be a crazy and challenging idea. But, I am reminded that how I spend my time shows what I think is important to me. This 2018, I believe that it is crucial for me to finally grow.

And so, I will let go.

Today marks my nineteeth day since I have logged off of my Facebook account and so far, it has been both a struggle and a breath of fresh air for me. Here’s to the next 346 days!

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.

Make Room for Growth

This morning, I harvested my second batch of pechay leaves, which are also known as Bok choy or Chinese cabbage in other countries. The leaves I got from this batch were much bigger than the first ones I had last August. The ironic thing about it? I didn’t even know that I had one pechay seed growing in the pot until I saw a seedling in it three months ago. Today, by God’s grace, I snipped off a lovely bundle of big pechay leaves here at home.

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I happily showed my family members the stalks of pechay in my hand while they were having brunch earlier today. I then shared the background of the story and emphasized how interesting the experience was. Even though I exerted so much effort in the first batch by regularly watering, adding organic fertilizer, and taking care of the plants, they weren’t able to reach their maximum size. Why? Because there wasn’t any room for growth.

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One major mistake that I made while I was growing the first batch was planting too many seeds in a small area. Because the seedlings were overcrowded, their roots could not expand and fully develop under the soil. This resulted to smaller leaves and thinner stalks.

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For the second batch of pechay leaves, however, since it was only one seedling growing in the pot, it had adequate space for its roots to expand.  Even though I wasn’t able to add fertilizer to it as often as I did to the first batch, it still grew and reached its maximum potential. There weren’t other pechay plants absorbing the nutrients in the soil.

I learned two things today as I took photos of the larger pechay leaves at home.

 

FIRST: Hindrances to growth may also be the good things in life.

It is very easy to put the blame on the weeds and difficult moments in life whenever we experience delays in our growth. However, I am learning that even the good and seemingly harmless things may also hinder us from experiencing the best and becoming the best version that we can be. Of course, this still depends on how we respond. In gardening, I realized that fruit-bearing or leafy greens shouldn’t be overcrowded in a pot if we want them to grow and reach their full potential.

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In the same way, personally, I am reminded to be more wise and intentional in the way I manage my time, resources, and activities. For example, I’ve noticed how casually surfing the internet or social media applications take up a lot of hours in a day. Even though these aren’t bad tools, if I am not careful with how I use them, I may end up “overcrowding my soil” and not leaving enough space for more important things that can help me grow.

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Another example is being idle or enjoying too much rest or sleep. Yes, I do believe that rest is important. But, I also know that if I just sleep all day and not plan ahead on the activities that I can productively do in a day, then it would be a waste of time and resources.

What are the activities (both good and bad) that hinder me from reaching my full potential? In what areas do I need to improve on? (e.g. Physical fitness, communication skills, homemaking skills, preparation for exams or work, etc.)

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SECOND: God makes things grow.

This is my favorite part in this blog entry – the part where we talk about God’s grace. There’s something about the grace of God that strikes our hearts, humbles us, and inspires us to press on. In my case of growing pechay leaves, clearly, it was God who caused the growth of the second batch. Originally, I did not want to grow pechay during the months of September to December because I knew that we would be having rainy days in this tropical country. But, God allowed one pechay seed to be left behind and He helped it grow even without me attending to it daily. AMAZING.

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This experience encouraged me to depend on the Lord and not on my own strength and wisdom. He makes things grow. He can allow us to experience growth and reach our full potential in the different areas of our lives. We just have to trust in Him, do our part, and see Him work wonders in and through us. When I saw the lone pechay sprout in the pot, I had the choice to pluck it out. But somehow, even if it was just one seedling growing in the pot, I saw its potential and started to take care of it. I didn’t know that after three months, it would become a beautiful harvest, by God’s grace.

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Maybe there are areas in our lives right now that seem hopeless or seem to have no progress at all, just like the lone seedling in the pot. Maybe it’s a financial struggle or a heartbreak that we can’t seem to let go. Maybe it’s seeing little development from all of the hard work we’ve been doing or a blurry vision of our dreams and goals in life. Whatever it is, I hope that you will also be encouraged to surrender it to God, do your part, and trust that in His perfect timing, He will allow it and you to improve and grow.

“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:7

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Unshakable: Standing Firm in Changing Times

Last May 17, 2014, my family and I attended a one-day conference with Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Krish Dhanam and Dr. Nabeel Qureshi at the CCF Center. It was entitled “Unshakable: Standing Firm in Changing Times”. The humble speakers shared about the principles they have been learning from God’s word, their experiences in sharing God to others, and their testimonies and encounters with Him.

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with Dr. Ravi Zacharias

I have listed down some of the encouraging things they have shared at the conference. May these encourage you too. Have a blessed day! :)

KRISH DHANAM: 

Pray before making decisions.

Learn to shift through life and steer the things that do not matter.

You have to learn to start. Don’t just stand there. Do something.

A half-baked job is a no-no. Swerve. Do your best.

Outlove the people around you. Show them Jesus – who is most powerful in life.

Take one step at a time: Person to prepare, Passion to pursue, and Price to pay.

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DR. NABEEL QURESHI:

God intentionally created you. You are not a purposeless piece of carbon.

Ground yourself and know your Creator. Start fueling your life with what God has designed for you.

God has crafted you to be a world-changer. All things can be done for others. All things can be done through Jesus.

You’re here to produce, not just to consume.

Keep your eyes on the cross.

Taking God’s name in vain: You carry the name of Christ. Live like Christ and don’t take His name in vain.

Bring your shame and your past to the light. And in the light, walk with Christ and He will use you to be a blessing to others.

You have eternity secured in Christ. How are you using your time here on earth if you’re too focused on youself?

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) – Delighting in Him means loving Him with everything that you have, knowing Him, and studying His Word more. Then, God will craft the desires in our hearts.

with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi
with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi

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DR. RAVI ZACHARIAS:

A calling is that position in your life that brings and converges your disciplines, convictions, and desires in life.

Whatever you do, wherever you are, do it in the name of God and treat it with honor.

God is always within reach from wherever you are.

We see the awesome power of God when we understand and see His exactitude in all (our bodies, the earth, the universe).

You are building memories. Make good ones.

Take seriously what God can do through you.

How is your prayerlife?

The way back to any broken relationship is the communion with God.

It is vitally important to choose the right partner. Seek God’s wisdom and do the right thing with the partner you choose.

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Dad and Mom

 

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with tita Jean Geronimo and Ptr. JP & Tita Rochelle Masakayan.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)