You Were Bought with a Price

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always imagined myself getting married, having kids, and sharing my interests such as gardening, cooking, baking, and the Bible with them. However, after graduating from college, this desire seemed to fade away. I didn’t think or pray about it for years. For some reason, I was enjoying being single and exploring my different hobbies even after celebrating my 25th birthday two years ago. But recently, I noticed that my relatives and friends started getting engaged and married. Unexpectedly, the dreaded day finally came — The day when I started to entertain and believe in lies.

If you know me, you’ll agree when I say that I am very much aware of the security that we have in Christ. I’ve listened to countless messages and read a good number of books on being single and on Godly dating. I’ve spent time with God’s word too, where I learned about how Jesus is more than enough for us. I’ve also received counsel from some of my mentors and accountability partners. But, I wasn’t careful with my heart and it wasn’t fully surrendered to the Lord, contrary to what I thought. Because of this, I ended up nurturing the lies of the enemy in my head.

Throughout the past months and years, I’ve heard people casually tell me the ff. statements:

“Your standards are too high. You’ll never find a guy like that.”

“What?? You still don’t have a boyfriend? Since birth??”

“How about your siblings? They still don’t have partners? Why???”

“When are you going to have a boyfriend? How old are you now? Ohh, okay. You still have time.”

“I never want to be single. Ugh!”

“I hope you’ll have a boyfriend already. It feels so great to be in love and to have someone love you and cherish you.”

“Your parents are getting old. Hurry up and get married so you guys can give them grandkids already.”

…and the list goes on.

Usually, I would respond with a polite laugh and comment. But, what they didn’t know was how I’d come home feeling defeated, unwanted, and unloved after hearing their comments every single time. But, by God’s grace, He has developed a natural desire for writing in me, so, I immediately open up my heart to Him each time I struggle with this and remind myself of His truths. He has also surrounded me with a few accountability partners who help rebuke and encourage me as I struggle.

For someone who has accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior, I knew that my relationship with Him matters most in life. But, because I absorbed the comments from people and valued my status in society more than my worth in Christ, I honestly struggled believing that He was and is more than enough for me. There would be moments when I would write these lines on my journal: “Lord, why does society always have to put ‘being in a relationship’ on a pedestal — like it’s the most important thing ever; as if you lack something if you remain to be single. Lord, You are more important. Right? Right.”

As the months passed by, more and more of my friends became blessed with the privilege of getting engaged, being married, and serving the Lord as husband and wife / as parents. And I’d find myself sitting at a coffee shop week after week, drinking my favorite frappuccino, thinking: “Wow. I never thought I’d say this, but, I really feel like I’m missing out on something, Lord. I know You are good and loving and You have the best plans for me. But, why is it so hard for me to trust in You? To find contentment and joy in You? Why are my stubborn eyes always on the lookout for what others have that I don’t? Please help my heart trust in You and in Your goodness and love for me. Please?”

The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my accountability partners where we talked about this lingering struggle in my life. We called it, “The Ring”, mainly because of the engagement and wedding rings I’ve been seeing everywhere. This week, I had the time to quiet my heart and process things with God again… for the nth time. I humbled myself and specifically told Him about my worries and anxieties. I told Him about how it has been a struggle for me and how I’ve felt like a wounded soldier each time I fell, got back up, and drew near to Him again. But, I also told Him that I wanted to have a heart transplant — figuratively speaking. As I was spending time with the Lord, He encouraged me to look back on His faithfulness and remember how He worked in my heart and life. Praise God for old journals and blog posts! As I read through them, I remembered how God helped me to grow and know Him more through the years.

Then, a random idea crossed my mind: “Nic, what if you buy a ring for yourself, since ‘The Ring’ has been a struggle for you lately? Buy one that will constantly remind you of His love for you.”

It was funny, but I seriously prayed about it. I passed by Silverworks last night and saw a crown ring (Php 1,190) that looked nice! I told myself, “Cool! A crown to remind me that He is King and I am His daughter, a princess.” However, the staff told me that they didn’t have my size. The ring was too big for me. After feeling bummed about it, I almost left the store. But, somehow, I felt that a ring inside that store was meant for me. So, I looked around one last time. Ten minutes later, I found another ring with a red gem on it (Php 390). Even though I didn’t really like other colors aside from gold or silver, I still gave it a try. When I wore the ring, it was as if the world had stopped for a few seconds as this song played in my mind:

“You loved me when I was so unlovely

You sought me when I was lost

You showed me how much you really love me

When you bought me at the highest cost

There’s no greater love than this

That a man would give His life for a friend.”

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:5

I almost shed a tear inside the store. All of a sudden, the color red became beautiful to me. And in an instant, I whispered to myself: “I was bought with a price when Jesus shed His blood for me.” Right then and there, I knew it was the perfect ring for me. In the midst of insecurities, discouragements, and doubts, I can look at it and find comfort as I remember my worth in Jesus, not in the standards or opinions of society. Truths from His Word slowly filled my mind and heart.

I am dearly loved by Him. (1 John 4:19)

I have been forgiven and free because of what He did for me (Eph. 1:7, 2:8-9).

No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11).

Our life here on earth is short. I am like a mist; here today and gone tomorrow. This world is not our home. (James 4:14).

The peace that we have in Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

He has made everything beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiates 3:11)

He cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7)

… and the list goes on. :)

 

So, today, I unpack my heart and open it up to the public not because of my longing for sympathy, but, because of my desire to give God the glory… even in my weakness. The Lord has also comforted my anxious heart with this verse: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) These troubles definitely include struggling with believing in the lies of the enemy. Whenever I am discouraged or tempted to believe that God is not good or that He made a mistake or that He doesn’t have the best plans for me, I am humbled and encouraged by the fact that I am already victorious in Jesus when He died on the cross to save us; when He rose from the grave and overcame death. He has defeated the greatest problem in the world, sin. And by God’s grace, I know that I can choose to live victoriously each day for His glory as I continue to put my trust in Him, whether or not I get married. Whether or not I get promoted, have a new car, earn millions, etc. because my security is not anchored on society, but on the One who knows the deepest struggles of my heart and yet loves and pursues me just the same. Jesus, what a beautiful name!

Today, I got my Starbucks planner for 2018 and as I flipped through the pages, I saw the section on February 14. This went on in my head:

“Great. I don’t have a Valenti— Wait a minute!”

*looks at my ring*

“Sorry, lies. But, I’ve been bought with a price!”

It most probably will be a daily battle for me. But, because I know that the Lord is always with me, there is no need to fear. There is no need to worry. To anyone who’s also struggling out there, know that you are not alone. You may feel lonely at times, but you will never be alone. He is Emmanuel.

To the love of my life, my Prince of Peace, wonderful Counselor, faithful Father and Friend, and my ultimate Encourager… from the bottom of my grateful and wounded heart, I thank You!

Going to a Concert Alone on Valentine’s Day

THE CRAZY IDEA

“Are you really going to the concert alone on Valentine’s day?? Hahahahaha.” I asked myself a couple of times before buying my ticket online. It seemed like a crazy idea because I felt that it would be very awkward for me to sit beside thousands of couples celebrating Valentine’s day at the concert of Boyce Avenue. During that time, I could already imagine Alejandro Manzano dedicating a song to all of the lovers in the coliseum while I would just sit there and be reminded me of alone-ness and singleness. Haha. It was a funny thought, really. But somehow, it still didn’t stop me from buying one ticket.

Photo c/o Ovation Productions' Mong Pintolo
Photo c/o Ovation Productions’ Mong Pintolo

I didn’t have close friends who also wanted to watch the concert and my family members already had plans that Valentine weekend, so I figured that watching the concert alone was really meant for me. A few weeks before the concert, I told God: “Okay, Lord. It’ll be just You and me on Valentine’s day. Even though I feel that it would probably be a bit awkward and lonely for me at the concert, I know that You will always be with me and that’s all that matters. I can’t wait for our date!”

Tweet last January 26, after I bought my ticket online.
Tweet last January 26, after I bought my ticket online.

When Valentine’s day came, I was nervous and excited at the same time because I was finally going to Boyce Avenue’s concert. All I wanted to do was to relax, get ready for the concert, listen to their songs, prepare my phone and camera, and try to look for ways to meet the band after the show (since they weren’t selling meet and greet passes). However, God encouraged me not to worry about these things and He helped me find rest in Him that day. Instead of worrying about the meet and greet dilemma, He gave me the desire to spend time with Him in the morning and He allowed me to have the privilege of studying His Word and having accountability with Arra (a friend I’ve been mentoring) in the afternoon.

One-on-one with Arra before the Boyce Avenue concert. :)
One-on-one with Arra before the Boyce Avenue concert. :)

The first half of my Valentine’s day was very encouraging for me because God used those hours to remind me of my security in Him. The idea of being alone on Valentine’s day may sound sad and funny, but by God’s grace, He gave me the strength that day to focus on who He is and who I am in Him instead of dwelling on the things that I didn’t have. Actually, He has been giving me the strength to do so ever since, but it was only until a couple of years ago that I truly embraced it in my heart.

Being in a committed relationship is a privilege and responsibility that God graciously gives to people and He may or may not allow me to experience such in the future. But whether or not He does, I am encouraged to continue seeking the Lord with all my heart and to serve Him faithfully.  This is exactly what God was telling me to do last February 14, 2015. Even if I was going to be alone at the concert of Boyce Avenue, even if I was going to be surrounded by thousands of couples, and even if I didn’t have the assurance of meeting the band after the show, He encouraged me to still be faithful in spending time with Him and serving Him that morning and afternoon.

IMG_5520

“You make my heart beat steady to the love song You’ve written for me. I don’t want anything but You, You’re all that I need.” –Royal Tailor’s “Love Song”

 

THE EYE GLASSES

Fast forward to 6:45pm that Valentine’s night, I was already seated inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum. I was an hour and fifteen minutes early, so I had the chance to settle down and observe my surroundings. True enough, there were couples everywhere! Hahaha. They were all paired up with buckets of popcorn, pizza slices, and drinks in their hands. I have to admit that at first, walking into the coliseum and sitting by myself felt a bit weird and funny. But, as the minutes passed by, more and more people filled the place and it didn’t really matter if I was alone or with a partner or with my whole family. We were all there to watch our favorite band perform and enjoy their beautiful music!

While waiting for the concert to start, I did something that I rarely do. I wore my reading glasses. I never really liked wearing my glasses because I felt that it didn’t suit me since I also wore braces before. Eventually, I disregarded my glasses for two years. It was only until a couple of months ago that I saw them again while I was cleaning my room. Somehow, I felt that I would need them during the concert because I wasn’t sure if my seat was near enough for me to see the band members’ faces. Thankfully, I brought them with me and I ended up wearing my eyeglasses during the concert which helped me see things clearly.

Photo of my glasses while I was watching Boyce Avenue perform.
Photo of my glasses while I was watching Boyce Avenue perform.

While the band was playing, I would slightly move my glasses up and down to compare what I see with and without them. It was during this time that God spoke to my heart and encouraged me to look at the situation I’m in through His eyes. Looking through my eyeglasses made a huge difference that night because not only was I able to see the band clearly, I was also able to see my dad’s friend (who helped me in meeting the band after the show) while he was more than 50 meters away from me.

In the same way, God reminded me of the huge difference it makes when I choose to look at myself or at my circumstances through His eyes. I was alone at the concert on Valentine’s day, but I had so many things to be grateful for too. Because I was alone that day, I was able to experience the ff.:

1. Focused on the music and the band. – Because I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I had the privilege of really listening to the music, singing along, and observing the band while they played and sing. I noticed little things that happened on stage, like how Alejandro tiptoes while he sings or how Fabian strums his guitar while he raises it high in the air or how Daniel smoothly goes on top of the bass drum while he bobs his head and plays his guitar. I also appreciated how the Manzano brothers interacted with each other (by smiling or making fierce facial expressions) while playing their guitars. Moreover, it was cool to see their crew discreetly and quickly change the guitars lined up at both sides of the stage which helped the band get the right guitars on time.

10989207_891950217491924_8044574444763726745_n
Alejandro Manzano. Photo c/o Ovation Productions’ Mong Pintolo.
Fabian Manzano strumming his guitar!
Fabian Manzano strumming his guitar!
Daniel Manzano standing on top of the bass drum while playing his guitar.
Daniel Manzano standing on top of the bass drum while playing his guitar.

2. Stepped out of my comfort zone. It was my first time to drive to Smart Araneta Coliseum and I honestly wasn’t sure which roads or turns I should take. My dad helped me by giving instructions and I did check Google Maps, but once I was on the road by myself, it was pretty intimidating. But by God’s grace, I safely and smoothly got to the venue. Woohoo! Oh, and there were numerous times during the event when I needed to leave my shy self behind and muster up courage so I could talk to certain people (bouncer friend, dad’s friend, etc.).

3. Learned to listen more. Because I wasn’t speaking much that night, I literally listened more. It helped me understand what was going in my heart and helped me listen to God’s voice more.

4. Had the Luxury of Time. I had the privilege of leaving the house and leaving the concert anytime I wanted to. I also walked at my own pace and didn’t need to rush or slow down while I was on my way to the venue.

5. Free to be Me. My introverted self actually enjoyed my alone time. Although I did feel awkward at first, being alone eventually helped me feel more confident after a while. In fact, a man beside me was also alone, but he didn’t care too. He also got his phone, recorded the band throughout the show, and enjoyed listening to the songs just like the rest of the crowd.

Photo c/o Fabian Manzano
Boyce Avenue. Photo c/o Fabian Manzano

 

THE BEST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER

Before going to the concert, I already expected the band to say something about the lovers out there. But, surprisingly, they gave a shoutout to all the singles at the concert instead. Hahaha. The band even dedicated their song “On My Way” to all of the single men and women and encouraged us not to settle for anyone who’s less than the best for us.

Even if I was alone, I didn’t feel lonely on Valentine’s day because I felt God’s presence with me. He also helped me appreciate so many things around me. E.g. I had two hands which were very helpful in taking photos and videos at the same time using the gadgets that I had. I had everything I needed that day: transportation, access to water and food, extra cash, a really good seat, eyeglasses, etc. I had the privilege of enjoying the concert of Boyce Avenue, meeting them after the show, and sharing God’s love to the band on Valentine’s day through John 3:16! (Aaaahhhh!!!) But most importantly, I had the honor of enjoying a crazy, amazing, faith-stretching date night with God and experiencing Him in a much deeper way this time.

Photo c/o Ovation Productions' Mong Pintolo
Boyce Avenue. Photo c/o Ovation Productions’ Mong Pintolo

Just so you know, I ended up crying while I was on my way home from the concert. I couldn’t explain or contain the joy and awe in me after my Valentine’s day experience because I saw how God graciously allowed things to fall into place. He definitely knows our hearts’ desires more than we do.

“’You could have been anywhere else,’ Alejandro Manzano said, ‘but you chose to be here.’” :)

Screenshot from a video I took during the concert.
Screenshot from a video I took during the concert.

I do enjoy spending time with family and friends, but every now and then, it’s nice to do something new and spend some quality time alone. Going to Boyce Avenue’s concert alone on Valentine’s day was a blessing after all. In fact, for me, it was certainly the best Valentine’s day ever!

Tweet after the concert of Boyce Avenue.
Tweet after the concert of Boyce Avenue.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

 

BLOGGED: Boyce Avenue in Manila 2015: Meeting Them Again

At Smart Araneta Coliseum with Fabian Manzano, Alejandro Manzano, and Daniel Manzano. Boyce Avenue!
At Smart Araneta Coliseum with Fabian Manzano, Alejandro Manzano, and Daniel Manzano. Boyce Avenue!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)