A Quest

understanding reconstructions in life

2006: Plastic ID Jackets

October 11
“Secretariat Committee for the nth time.” That was what I said after I learned that I would head the secretariat committee for our YFC-CB sector conference together with a brother.

I have been in this committee several times, even if I wasn’t the head, in such conferences. I was also ALWAYS assigned to the registration every assembly, which is also part of the secretariat work.

I asked myself, am I really only for this? I’m getting tired of always doing the same thing. If I’m not careful, it might even loose its meaning. That’s why I asked God to help me see the essence of secretariat committee, to please give me the grace to understand what He wants me to learn.

State of my Heart
During the preparations for the said conference, I experienced being not okay. I was tired of everything – my studies, my service, my family. I was irritated at myself for sometimes having a short temper with my family members. I remember one night when I had a short discussion with my sister. As I was about to sleep, my mom asked why I looked like I was about to cry. “Naiinis ka ba dahil nawalan ka na naman ng kama?” my mom asked me. I said no, and it was nothing. Actually, I was in the verge of crying because I hated myself for being irritated with my sister so fast. I was on a roller coaster ride with my emotions. In short, I was really emotionally unstable.

I was also hurt. My love to this certain person was tested, and put to the limits. That person did, or rather, did not do a certain thing that really hurt me. The relationship was stained, and I couldn’t look at that person in the eyes for a long time because of the barrier that was made.

I couldn’t understand why everything was happening. I developed my stubbornness. I refused to believe in simple truths because I was too tired and these truths weren’t doing anything to replenish my lost “energy”. I regarded them as clichés. Nothing seemed to convince me, but I knew it was because I choose not to be convinced.

What I wanted was to get out of my circle. Imagine a Venn diagram. The big circle is the environment where I live. Inside this circle, there is one circle per area of my life (family, academics, YFC, UPYFC, UP Buklod-Isip, etc.). Then, there is another circle that represents my life, and this circle intersects with all the other circles. What I wanted to do was to get out of the big circle and look at all the rest outside, with the help of another person. And that was what I did.

I texted a priest, one who I really admire because of the wisdom and practicality of his homilies, and asked him when he would be free the following week. We set an appointment. I shared with him all the things that were bothering me. Indeed, he shed another perspective to the things I was bothered about. He made me realize that it doesn’t matter if a person told me or did not tell me things. I realized that what matters was to know what stage our relationship was in, and how to improve on it.

He told me that all the things I said were kalat. They were all over the place. No one and nothing holds them together. He suggested that I might want to ask myself, what was that thread that binds them all together, the center that puts everything in order?

At that moment, I knew what I wanted to say, I knew what should be the thread, the center. I knew it was God. It was Jesus Christ, the love that He gives. But I couldn’t bring myself into saying it aloud since I wanted a more concrete answer — the how. How will i bring these areas of my life together? How will I bring Christ to them? I was having a really hard time doing that, ever since I allowed Him to enter me. However, this attitude, being so unstable, doing and saying things without second thoughts, and then blaming myself right after, hurts my inner self. If I did not stop doing this right away, I would be in danger. Everything would eventually loose their meaning.

Sector Con Preparations
The Monday I talked to the priest was the Monday before our Sector Conference. Naturally, it
was the week where we rushed things, last minute preparations for the big day.

That Friday, I spent the whole night finishing more than 700 ID jackets. Of course I did not do it alone, there was a few of us who were making it. During the wee hours of the night, I was the one who was sealing the plastic. Only the three of us were awake, pushing ourselves to finish what we began. While I was sealing the plastic, the two of them were wiping each plastic to remove the dirt accumulated while it was still being cut. I was working like a robot then. I wasn’t thinking, my hands just moved by itself. I came back to reality when one of them spoke out, “Ang galing. Parang tayo yung plastic, pinupunasan ni God para luminis.”

His statement functioned like a key in the ignition. He started my brain again, and my heart. I searched for meaning in what I was doing, since that was my question ever since I knew I was secretariat.

Indeed, God used the ID jackets to speak to me, to speak to my stubborn self. I realized that the ID jackets are really like us, not just in the aspect of God wiping out our impurities. The process of making the ID jacket describes us.

The purpose of the ID jackets is to contain the ID and the conference kit. Every jacket had the same things inside and the only distinguishing mark each could have was the name of the one wearing it. Everything contains God’s message, with the word Radikal (the title of our conference) with a picture of Christ inside the K. No jacket had more, none had less. Before the ID jacket became an ID jacket, they were part of a very big plastic. The big plastic was then cut into smaller strips, and then cut again to the fit the right size. After that, they were wiped clean, then folded with the help of its contents, and sealed. Once they were sealed, the rest of the contents were placed inside, and the excess plastic was cut off, straightening its edges. Holes would be punched, and the strings attached, then the ID would be ready.

I realized that the contents of the aspects of our lives are the same. They should contain Christ. They may be different because of the names we wrote to it, but still, they are the same. It is He whom we really want to show everyone.

Each aspect undergoes a process, just like each jacket does. In each, we experience a variety of things – happiness, sadness, stress, joy. We struggle. We make wrong decisions and do things not according to God’s will. Sometimes, we question, “If I already let in Christ in my life, then why is this happening?” Let us look at the ID jackets. The kit was placed even before the plastic was sealed. Therefore, it follows that once we recognized Christ in our life, then we would still be folded, sealed, and sometimes, re-sealed. Our edges would still be smoothed out. In other words, we are not yet finished. That particular area of our life is not yet done.

Answer
As I look back at the question posed earlier, the ID jacket answers it. I stick to my first answer, that it is Jesus that should be the thread, the center. We should just allow ourselves for Him to act, humbling ourselves by making the ID design come out more than our name. By humbling ourselves into doing only what pleases Him, in being Radical Christians for Him, by always seeking to know Him more, there would no longer be clichés.

Let me quote from a priest’s homily, “We are people of hope and therefore, we always hope in people. If we forgive a person who has hurt us, we actually mean that we hope in him or her. Forgiveness is giving another chance for someone whom we believe can also change. If we can master our tempers, then we can control anything.”

This part of his homily struck me, most especially for the relationship I mentioned earlier. I realized that the reason behind the uncomfortable feelings when were together ever since the incident was because I have not forgiven him. I have dwelled on the fact too long, and I forgot that it matters only a little. I have forgotten to become a Christian by not truly forgiving.

Another thing that I realized was the reason why I refused to believe certain things, why I regarded them as clichés. It was because I also failed to forgive myself. I marked a bad point on me for not doing my responsibilities well, for not reaching the things that I expect myself to do.

Fr. Paul was just so kind to remind us all during his homily in the conference that we glorify God not only through the victories and accomplishments we have but also with the pains and sufferings we experience. We also glorify God by the way we deal with our sufferings, by being steadfast in His love, by having faith.

He also reminded everyone that it is important that we understand that we should first die before we could live just as Jesus died on the cross before He can resurrect and show how glorious God is. Just like the ID jacket that it first had to go under the hot sealer to be able to hold the ID and kit. To become radicals for Christ means to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and then we can follow Jesus. However, with cross, we should never forget about its duality.

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