I wish

I am still quite disappointed; although now I think more with myself than with the situation. It did feel like a major setback, work-wise, this project that was offered to me, and that I really wanted to take on but couldn’t because of stipulations in an existing contract I have. I knew it would be a long shot, but I still gave it a try and asked for permission. Well, at least I gave it a try, and with the definite no I got, there was a closure of sorts. Closure has always been important to me.

I must move on now, and stop clinging to the hope that maybe, just maybe, it can still happen for me. I know I am all grown up already because a larger part of me can gracefully rationalize setbacks like this, and it is easy for me to peacefully accept how things happen and fall into place in a perfect time predetermined by a perfect God.  What will be will be. If it does not come to pass then maybe it just isn’t mine to have. As simple as that.

That said though, it sometimes jolts me when I realize that I am also still a little girl deep inside because I honestly still get sad and disappointed even if I totally understand, and fully accept, the situation. And that is the more frustrating part, I think, knowing you should not be downcast, but finding in the quiet of the night, when it’s just you and your thoughts lying on the pillow, that you are. Oh well, I need to re-welcome myself to the real world, where I cannot always have everything I want.

When I got home that night I told my husband about it. My multi-talented spouse has another talent that, through the 10 years we have thus far shared, continues to amaze and amuse me: he is very good at dealing with the setbacks a day can hand him. In fact, he can snap out of them almost immediately, and so easily.

I remember a time early on in our marriage when something he was hoping for did not come to pass. On our way home that night that we found out, as we passed along the rotunda in Ayala, and he suddenly told the driver to stop and held me by the hand as we hurriedly crossed the street to go to Häagen-Dazs in 6750, he in his suit and me in my long gown and stilettos. We each got ourselves an ice cream cone and ate it standing by the counter, in comfortable silence, he feeling his sadness maybe, while I — well, what was I doing but eating ice cream beside him in silent sympathy, quietly helping him through his sadness in that cold, happy place. How on earth could I not feel any semblance of happiness then, even if disguised itself as momentary pleasure, as I ate my absolute favorite dessert in the whole world? It was perhaps one night when ice cream tasted even better than it should, and I would like to believe that to some extent it succeeded in numbing the pain, no matter how little it was then and how insignificant it seems now, somehow. The next day, life flowed on for him as usual and I did not see him moping around or lounging in the house like a couch potato, pining for what could have been.

That ancient, isolated incident suddenly returned to my memory now because that was the first thing he told me when I relayed my story at around 2 a.m. when I got home from work. As I sat on a stool in our kitchen table eating cold, leftover chicken dipped in pinakurat vinegar he said kindly: “It’s okay, honey, let’s celebrate just the same and share a big bowl of ube ice cream with soda (that’s our special way of sharing ube ice cream: a sentimental favorite and an integral part of the early days of our love story).  There will be other offers.” My sweet man, so sturdy and positive even when the clouds that hover above me are so wet and gray.

After a long, hot shower I slipped under the sheets and settled in my spot in our bed, Juliana to my left and Richard to my right. “Your will be done, Lord” I had prayed before making that all-important phone call earlier in the evening. “Grant me the grace to accept Your will with the lightest of hearts even if it will not be what I am hoping for.” Well, I did get my answer, and it sure was not the one I was hoping for. I got my iPod and listened to Joel Osteen’s Trusting God in Every Situation and Thinking The Right Thoughts until sleep came. Years from now, it will not matter.

There is a sweetness to surrender — really there is — and it is a feeling that, like wine, gets better with time. I always look for closure before surrender though, maybe because I feel it makes cycles go on, and allows hope to flow fluidly, sensibly. When you watch a situation unfold there is nothing like taking it apart and looking at all the pieces realistically. When you put them all back together you get the bigger picture. Honesty is always a good thing because it anchors you to the truth, leaving less room for false hopes.

That night, because I already had my answer, my next prayer was for grace from God to please help me let it all go, especially that feeling of panghihinayang. Like my husband said, there will be other chances. Something good will come out of this. God is good and obedience always brings down a blessing. That truth is stated in the Bible. I will cling to that promise.

A few days later I had dinner with two girlfriends. What do you know, one of them turned out to be a shoe fairy! Having gone through the same situation in the past she totally understood why I felt quite sad. By the end of the night when we had said our goodbyes and we were already in our respective homes she had, to my surprise, ordered from a lady who brings in brands available only abroad three pairs of shoes for me, in gold, navy, and pink, with a text message that said those “may not be X (the project I wanted) but I wanted to try and put a smile on your face.” I was smiling already even before that, but all of a sudden I had three more patent reasons to smile. God is just so wonderful and charming and he always uses people to pop little bursts of sunshine right before your eyes just when you least expect it but need it most.

Now why am I still a tad disappointed with myself? Because I feel guilty about having felt so, so sad at one point. My faith should be stronger. I should have never even wondered about the “what if’s” after I got my answer; there should be no space for that.

One day I wish I could be at that level of spirituality where nothing will disappoint me anymore, where holding on to my joy come what may can be graceful and effortless, 24/7. But until I can be that detached, at least I know that every little drop of sadness can be numbed away with a big bowl of ice cream, or shiny and pretty shoes, and always, yes always, a spiritually healthy dose of prayerful surrender. Since I was an elementary student in a Catholic school in Ormoc the nuns taught us that the prayer most pleasing to God is the one that says “Your will be done.” As you get older and life gets more complicated you will find that this is so true. It simplifies everything.

Tomorrow is another day. Something good will come out of all this. I heard something that sounded like hope. It was my heart beating. That is a cheering prospect.

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