I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness-- Jeremiah 3:3

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.They come through you but not from you,And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.You may give them your love but not your thoughts.For they have their own thoughts.You may house their bodies but not their souls,For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
                                                                                                                   --Kahlil Gibran

For every mother who must have seen and passionately believed in what she thinks are potentials of her wee little baby (even before the tiny tot begins to show such signs) discovering her kid doing below par in school is way disheartening. You can ask me. Containing such frustrations is no joke.

I know she's not me.

By theory, I should not take out all on my daughter my old dreams that remained unreached until now. I lived my younger years constantly trying to make my mamma proud. And I guess for the most part I did just that. In fact, I overly did it that I unconsciously buried my personal dreams. I was a constant honor student but I wanted to do more. I gathered I was too hesitant, probably too bashful to own every opportunity that presented itself to me.

Then God gave me a daughter. I thought I find her interestingly vocal and linguistically skilled. But then again I am the mother. To a mother her offspring would always be the stand-out one in the crowd. That's how her eyes see. That's how her heart chooses to see. Now I understand every parent who sheds tears to teachers for the kid that never gets the grade the kid deserves.

I got the same frustration when I got the news that my daughter did not do much academically in school last March. The one who took the highest rank in class is the one who was so quiet but really prim and proper in class. Now there, I can accept that. She would never beat that kid. My daughter's stunts in class are more like that of an ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) child. One would think she would never run out of steam. She gets too bossy and doesn't want to stay in her seat for more than 5 minutes, hence, she would never pass for the teacher's pet category.

Now let's look at the performance in her day-to-day classroom activities in school. The teacher said she's very good in reading and oral but too poor in writing. Well, that hurts a bit. But that's okay. I know she needs to grow in time especially in her psycho motor skills. But still, at this point, I couldn't believe that she's only fourth honors as there are only 6 students in her class. I couldn't even begin to imagine that she's just an average girl in the room. A mother dreams--very ambitious dreams--at that. This is especially that she used to have her dreams within her grasp if not for her weak heart so to speak. And now with a daughter whose skill supersedes that of her mother's is good news. So I thought.

Then one of my elders in church told me right to my face that my daughter needs to develop her study habit seriously with me, the mom. She might have the talent but such skill in hard work and study must be cultivated seriously with a parent who  can match her stubborness (in this case, me, the more persistent parent) before it's too late. Or else, she wouldn't stand a chance in the competitive world of academics. At first, I got so incensed by such disbelief in my daughter's capability. But despite the hurt that is brought on by that comment, some sense came home to me. I come home at 9 at night after my work and tutorials in the pursuit of staying above water on the daily basis sad to say leaving the chores to my husband to tutor her and have her finish her assignments every night. Until I found out that my husband could not wield the stubborn head of my strong-willed daughter that she ended up not studying enough.

Then this summer came. I enrolled her in a private prep school offering reading as the curriculum for the summer. Despite the tuition fee that rocked my wallet, I jumped in to the idea of trying a different environment for my little princess. At the teacher's diagnostic observation, she said, she needed to put her to a basic reading course which they call "Rookie Campers" class. She can perfectly identify letters and their sounds but a four-year-old should now be able to read the CVC words which she cannot. Of course, her former school has not taught her that yet to my dismay.

So, sadly she had to repeat the ABC sounds for the entire summer. Then the second week of her school came. I had to have her study as her quizzes seem to drop unlike her first week. It was a revelation. My little girl has a hard time recalling the sequence of the letters of the alphabet--that she would rather play while studying or better yet just play all the time. Perhaps, my elder friend was right. She has not developed her study skills. But then again, maybe, like I was in my elementary years, I started showing my skills way late. I was never an honor student when I was in the fourth grade although I thought I was better than the third honors in class. Then I was first honorable mention in my elementary graduation, magna cum laude and cum laude in college. It wasn't an easy ride but I did it as a scholar.

Although I'm being careful not to expect my daughter to attain what I got (which I did the tough way), I was still silently believing and hoping she would match or outdo my stunts hence, my frustration at her inability to exert effort and get serious with her academics.

A teacher that I am has tons and tons of strategies in our belt and almost always they work with my students. But they seem to never work with my little Shekinah.

But I remember patience. Along with love, I remember patience with my daughter's pacing. As I said, she's not me. She never got the pressure and stress I once had as a sad child. That said, from now on, I will be there before the day turns night to salvage what is possible. If it doesn't work, my faith in her tells me she will make me proud one day. It may not be in the near future. But she will.

I will not forget this: she is not her mother. She will never be. She came from me. But she's not mine. At least, with Shekinah, I can say what Kahlil Gibran wanted to say. My daughter is not my own.

She owns her future. I don't. But I am here as a steward who is tasked to watch what is lent to me by the Omnipotence, the Father of all fathers, and mothers, that is.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


         You can't force love. You can probably make it happen but you can't just push its button anytime you want it.
          One scorching Sunday morning, a minister preached passionately on tithing. He quoted Corrie Ten Boom saying, "The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation." And he interpreted the quote capitalizing on the literal definition of the word "donation" in the quote. He went on convincing the awestruck few in the pews: It doesn't matter how long or how many years you have been in church. What matters is your donation to God. First thing first, the term donation could be easily misinterpreted as literally to be monetary. Although we may not be privy to the context of the quote but certainly life shouldn't be about anyone just doling out money.Although that could be a product of his contributions to the world in general. Speaking of the word contribution, I'd say I might consider that as the nearest synonym for the word donation referred to in the quote. That said, donation could very well be referring to what we have done to make the world better in the sight of God monetary or not. But certainly not monetary in capital letters.

          Second of all, when the pastor paraphrased the word "duration" as referring to how long someone has been in church is way too much for an interpretation. I'd say I am vehemently offended by how he deliberately used the quotation to lead the congregation into believing that literal donation is what matters most. I have been educated in my poetry class to pay careful study of any line or stanza of any write-up to finally dig the real story of the line. I am certainly not happy. As a literature and English teacher, it is an affront to me. His poor paraphrase whether intentional to deliver his caricature of a Christian motive or not insults anyone's ability to search the internet of the accuracy of the quote in its context and definition.

          And who is Corrie Ten Boom really? Despite her contributions to the world and to the Church history, she still fell short as an authority to say that what matters is what a church member gives to the church, that is, if that was indeed what she meant by that passage. On one hand, I think it is a speaker's command responsibility to study the context and background why the quotation took place before striking a group of people with some indignation, almost condemning them for one purpose I'd rather not elaborate here.

           But while it is true that giving God what is due him is scriptural, hence, mandatory, a pastor can only say much on the pulpit and mouth inaudible prayers too much. He could not shake the head nor bend the iron will of anyone to be compliant and docile even if it  is the divine mandate. It is God himself who does the moving.

           I understand the dire need of that certain church to double up their commitment in the aspect of giving and church financial support. But more than anything, it takes more than commitment. It takes more than passion. Any preacher can be vehement in the pulpit for what he thinks is God's message. In fact, preachers tread the thinnest line there is when they deliver the message. I'd say it takes a lot of asking from up there to have him deliver God's message instead of his or instead of what he thinks is necessary.

          Now let me bring this point to another level. Loving God is not always automatic. But with the awareness that it is the way to be truly happy, we make it our aim to prove worthy of his love despite of our "filthy" righteousnes--despite of our "filthy love." However, as we grow as a church, this commitment brought about by this love we pledge becomes muddled as we are plunged into personalities and circumstances. More than the financial difficulty, there are more factors that probably stop a good Christian to send in his envelope to the offering pouch. Sometimes it takes being fed well spiritually to have our hearts reach the pockets. I am fully aware that churches go through different issues. Some stay in deserts long. Sometimes others get lost in the wilderness wandering looking for a way back to that oasis that once fed them.

         To cut the crap short, one can love God but it takes the steward of God to deliver the goods  as he should before the goods get translated into what should go to the offering plate.

          Of course, one might say if you love God you can't let anyone--not the cranky youth leader for instance nor the legalistic pastor--stop you from giving what is due. That's cliche all right, but that's admittedly ideally true.

          However, when a soul gets parched for long, when the stomach has been painfully empty for quite a while, one can't help but get paralyzed.

          It takes a reconciliation with a brother or a sister before anyone can offer anything of worth to the altar of his sanctuary. No matter how true what Malachi said to bring all the tithes in, how can a famished church member who's spiritual decay involves someone among the church leaders and ministers make his offering sweet-smelling to God if his heart remains unreconciled to someone who refuses that reconciliation as well.

         Doesn't the Scripture say, "Leave your offering behind for they are rendered useless and go reconcile with your brother before you can bring it to his altar? (Matthew 5:23-24) So that after all that would be said and done: the patching up,the kissing and the making up so to speak, love becomes a natural reaction. Not forced. Hence, in such context, giving comes with a lot more sense and meaning.