As I practically bid goodbye in a matter of weeks to the 18-year-old me, I would want to share some of the things I would bring with me even after I enter my 19th. Here goes…
My 18th Birthday Celebration
Who in her normal self wouldn’t want her own share of an unforgettable 18th birthday? I was honestly one of those “debutants” who had made plans ahead of time of a “grand” Debut celebration. However, because of circumstances I would not wish to elaborate (HAHA), that “grand” celebration wasn’t given to me. Well, hindi kasi ‘yon ang plano ng Diyos. And I realized that the sooner I accept that God has GREATER plans for my birthday, the better. Eventually, I did. 🙂
Two days before my birthday, I was kinda upset. It got me thinking why nothing special was actually happening to me. Call me assuming, but I call this HONESTY – lahat tayo gustong maging espesyal ang araw natin. It was like I’m not feeling my birthday… unsignificant… boring. And it hit me that I need an answer from my God. And He did give me an answer that eventually became one of my life verses:
“You will show me the path of life; I will find joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Refreshed and enlightened, I thanked the Lord. My joy was dependent upon whether something special is going to happen on my birthday – what happens if nothing does? I realized that I was quite blinded of thinking and thinking about myself, trying to make the world go the way I want to because it was my 18th birthday. I was flattering myself. But then, TRUE JOY only comes from the Lord – IN HIS PRESENCE – PLUS there are eternal pleasures and revelations of the path of life! It hit me, then. I started feeling JOYFUL (’cause being joyful is a choice) and stopped seeking for VIP-treatments or special attentions – I can have that (and many more) in the presence of my God. I decided I’m gonna be joyful if or not my 18th birthday is gonna be extraordinary because having lived here and actually be used by God is already an extraordinary gift for me.
The day came. My friends literally raced their way to greet me first (HAHA!). That simple thought that a number of friends wanted to make sure they’d greet me a happy birthday as early as they can meant a lot to me. It was like God telling me, “See, you’re special.” And I was totally thankful to God for the lives of those who remembered it was my birthday and for even sending me their sweetest nothings. It was also my second to the last day at school (I was studying Adobe Flash by then) and I celebrated with my classmates and professor (ka-birthday ko yung prof and my age was half his. HAHA! I bet He was as blessed as I am that day). I had an incredible birthday, I thought, and I was already looking forward to a dinner my Mom promised we’re gonna have three days after.
One day before that “three-days-after” thing was a G12 Summit day at our church. It’s an annual thing we do during Araw ng Kalayaan. I got to bond with friends who sang “3 in 1 plus 1” in public trying to humiliate me (But I actually thought it was sweet :)), got to receive belated greetings, hugs, kisses and even gifts (cash gifts!). And I actually thought, “Could this day get any better?” HAHA! Even the event was such a gift to me because of the remarkable revelations I had. Everything was sooo amazing.
After that Summit, Ate Chari (my spiritual Mom and best friend) promised to buy me a Dairy Queen Blizzard as her treat for my 18th. We had a lot of inspiring sharings with each other and after that she suggested we go home and continue there our conversation. There was a funny moment when we got off the jeepney. She, like, sorta fainted. We stopped for a minute and then went to walk home.
Upon arrival, I asked Lanie (our housekeeper by then) why Mom didn’t get to attend the Summit with me. As I remembered, my Mom told me she got a lot of things to do for the day. We finally got in and to my surprise the door was locked. It got me thinking, “Bakit naman magla-lock pa ‘to e nagsasampay lang naman sya??” And then I started investigating the place and saw mono-blocks that aren’t even ours. I exclaimed, “Ano ‘to?! Ano ‘to?!” and started speculating that there’s something weird going on. And because the door was locked, I looked for other passages to see what’s going on inside and *vuallah!* the bay window was open! I tried to take a glimpse behind the curtains and saw my best friend JB and some other shadows. The light was off and only the candle light in a birthday cake was lit. The door was opened and to my surprise… ANG DDAAMMII pala NILA (There were like 30 something people there when I asked after the day), and then they started singing me a happy birthday. Tita Thelma and Tito Dave welcomed me with their greeting and special dedication and then, I blew the candle.
So the “program” went on. I never thought I’m gonna be having 18 Flowers and Chocolate Kisses on my birthday (I actually call them 18 Speeches, that’s what mattered, HEHE). 18 men and women got to tell me how they met me, how they think about me and how we have grown together most especially in faith (and bondings). Not to mention that it was like a Comedy Bar – Celebration (laugh trip kasi talaga lahat ng dedication. Wala atang hindi bumanat ng patawa dun!). Everything was just sooo great! And that night you wouldn’t hear anything but “YEEEEE!!!!” and “HAHAHAHAHAHA!!”. I was so happy I never did anything but cry. Every second of the night was so remarkable and I bet I would never trade any of it even to a grand debut celebration that could have been – No, this one will always be the best for me 🙂
They let me give a speech-back after all the 18 people who did. Di naman din ako makausad dahil sa kakaiyak. There are so much I wanted to say that night but I ended up just thanking God and bringing Him all the glory because He deserves every single speck of it. Kuya Allen led the prayer that sealed all those Speeches and “whatever’s” and then we all enjoyed the amazing dinner while chit-chatting, taking pictures, singing in the Magic Sing (na namamatay-matay pag nagalaw yung kable nung mic) and many more!
It was also a night that left me nothing to do but to thank the Lord. I was just awestruck in the revelation that God only wanted me to be satisfied with the joy that comes from Him. What happened that night were all overflows of His love for me. And because I first chose to be joyful IN HIS PRESENCE, the joy I got from that night were also overflows from Him as if God left me no room to spare for my joy. Ibang klase talaga ang Lord pag nagpasaya – HINDI MO KAKAYANIN! haha!
And even as I remember it now, I thank the Lord for what He’s done. Up to today, I still use this testimony of the “overflow” of God’s joy in my life to also be a blessing to people that are in search of their happiness. And again, I say, nothing beats TRUE JOY that can only be found in God’s presence.
(to be continued…)