Listen, B.


This is you from five years later. Yes, you made it. No, you’re not crazy.

I’m here to tell you what life is like, but first, a few spoilers.

You don’t get in to Rappler. You don’t end up working for a news agency. You never applied to CNN—Philippines or International. You don’t live in Cagayan de Oro, and you don’t get to be roommates with Tet in a true-to-life quirky sitcom.

You work for, of all things, a missions* organization, the international headquarters of which is located in, of all places, Butuan, which is where you grew up and spent most of your life. Yep. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Part of what you do involves being an assistant to the Chief of a large, wonderful tribe that spans the whole world. He is from New Zealand (and yes, you do overcome your ambivalence over working with foreign bosses).

There’s a dachshund in the office called Mobi. He’s not very furry, and a little spoiled, but on days when the weight of the world is too much, he sits next to you and helps you bear it—short legs and all.

Watch out for this woman named Bambi. Your friendship with her will change your life.

You don’t live in constant fear anymore. You don’t come home wondering what you might find inside the doors. You don’t jump as much at sudden sounds. You don’t wake up violently. You still have bad dreams, and you’re working on that. You will know what it means to have an anxiety attack, but the good news is you have people to tell when it happens. You have people who will see when your quietness is different.

You, Mom, and Gabe are okay, by the way. You’re all going to be alright. (Inna, too.)

Listen, B. Do you remember that atlas, the one you got for your 11th birthday from Uncle Ed and Auntie Ann? Do you remember, it was a book of maps of all the continents of the world? Do you remember sitting on the floor and memorizing all the flags of all the countries–would you believe me if I said, you get to go to some of those places one day?

You will meet wonderful, interesting people. They will teach you new ways of seeing God, of seeing the world around you, and every time you come home, you see your own city differently. Some of these people will become your closest friends, your allies. There are young people all over the world who will inspire you with their stories, with their lives. You will love them. You will show some of them your own scars.

Because the major part of what you do now, is getting to work with young people and helping them discover there is more to their lives, than just this. That there is more to waking up and falling asleep every day, than just this. That there is more to their perception of God and living for God, than just this. Some of them have been where you are right now.

And I know, I’m supposed to be explaining my current situation to you, not trying to get you to stop what it is you’re doing. I wish I could say that everything makes sense but not everything does. I know there are needles under your pillow. I know there are pills in a green box hidden under your study table. You still have scars, by the way, five years later. They’ve faded.

Listen, B. Tonight you had a conversation with a Singaporean filmmaker who came to work in your office for a day. You were sitting in the hall when he walked by. You asked him about the tattoo on his leg, and he sat down and you ended up talking. You told him you have been a writer since you were little. He told you about making cartoons with lights and shoeboxes when he was a child. The writer and the producer – both ending up in places you never expected to find ourselves in. You never know, he said. You know never know how God will use you.

And he’s right.

Listen, B. The days are coming you will never forget. You just need to hang on, to soldier through. If you could, somehow, begin to believe in the grace you keep pretending doesn’t exist. You need a reformat, basically.

This is what life is like now. You make coffee for everyone in the mornings where you work. When you find a good pun, you pass it on to the Chief and he rolls his eyes like he always does. You play guitar well enough to lead worship service (!) on Sundays. You write a lot of poetry, way more poetry than you did five years ago. And, oh you have a Skype debrief with Timo this Friday, after spending the last weeks catching up with Noemi and Kelly. (You don’t recognize those names just yet, but you will one day.)

Sometimes you feel like you are not here, like you are in between, like you are waiting to go over the edge. It leaves you queasy in the stomach, the way it does whenever you are in an airplane during take-off. A good queasy. You get on planes a lot now. You still think it’s a big deal every time.

You will discover more about God and His kingdom, and therefore more about yourself, than you ever have yet. It’s funny how much of the world you think you know, and how little you actually do. But these adventures are coming, just around the mountain you think you now face. One day your angry, calloused heart will be soft enough to twist and take a look around and see. There is a quiet Whisper that can calm it, a deafening lion’s Roar to wake it up. Oh, just you wait.

Just you wait, B.


October 2016.

In response to the prompt: Explain your current situation to your self from five years ago. 


You know you want to.

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