This beautiful book about creating love is the third collection of the Boss articles from KERYGMA. Here, nationally known author and speaker Bo Sanchez does what he is best known for: From his heart to yours, he shares common stories with uncommon wisdom. Join him in his personal journey of deep faith and tender love, and your heart will overflow with laughter and warmth.
This special collection includes the most favorite of Bo’s articles, including…
• Cherish Your Chosen One
• A Tiny Human Being in My Arms • You Create Your Destiny
• Your Past Does Not Define Your Future This book can profoundly change the way you look at life.
You Have the Power to Create
You Have the Power to Cr
Bo SanchezThird Collection
From the National Bestselling Author of “You Can Make Your Life Beautiful” and “Simplify & Live the Good Life”
YOU HAVE THE POWER
Other Books By Bo Sanchez THE BOSS Series
Thank God He’s Boss
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful You Have the Power to Create Love
Simplify and Live the Good Life Simplify and Create Abundance
The Way of the Cross
Special Prayers for the Holy Rosary
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE LOVE
Take Another Step on the Simple Path to Happiness Copyright 2002 by Bo Sanchez
Request for information should be addressed to: SHEPHERD’S VOICE Publications
#60 Chicago St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109 Tel No (632) 411-7874 to 77
YOU HAVE THE POWER
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, ex-cept for brief quotations, without the prior permission of the publisher. Layout design by Noli Vicedo
The stories in this book first appeared in KERYGMA magazine under the column, The Boss, by Bo Sanchez. This is the third collection of the series.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE LOVE Take Another Step on the Simple Path to Happiness
A KERYGMA Collection Book Shepherd’s Voice
Discover Yourself 13
Take Delight in the Simplest Things 15
Write Down 100 Dreams 19
Find God in Every Place, in Everything, in Everyone 23
A Tiny Human Being in My Arms 27
Love Isn’t a Business Opportunity 31
Do For Your Soul What You Do for Your Body 35
God Will Watch over You Night and Day 39
Angels are Ready to Escort You 43
Failures are Necessary to Teach Us Lessons 47
Bless the World with One Thing 51
Stop Comparing Yourself to the World 55
Be Faithful to Who You Are 59
Winning Every Time 61
You Have Wealth Under Your Nose 65
Make Refocusing a Habit 69
You’re Always a Star 73
You Create Your Own Destiny 77
Complicate Your Life 81
Use The Power of Labels 85
Feel your Feelings and Then Let Go 89
Congratulate Yourself: You’re Human 93
Smille More Often 97
Define Your Greatest Achievements 101
Always Give Your Best Struggle 105
Lear to Say No Sometimes 109
Enjoy Who You Are 113
See Your Father’s Tears 117
Live Your Life With Presentation 121
Live Life Knowing You Are Gazed Upon 125
Open Up Your Life to Love 129
You Have the Power to Create Love 133
Receive His Love in the Most Unlikely Places 137
I love to write. Especially if I write from my heart. If I don’t, the article doesn’t see the light of day. Because the moment I sense that I’m not writing from my passions and deepest convictions, I get bored and press the de-lete button rather quickly.
But if I write from my heart, I feel fire flow through my fin-gers as I pound on the keyboard.
But you know what?
As much as I love writing from my heart, I love something else more fiercely that makes me want to write every day.
Let me tell you about it. Over the past years, I cannot count the number of people who have written to me, who have called me up, who have told me to my face that their lives have been dramatically changed because of what they read in my books. I’m humbled. And I’m grateful for this rare privilege. My friends, you are the reason why I continue to write. I write not just because I love to write.
I write because I love you.
And I pray that this book changes your life as well. Yes!
You have the power to change your life.
I believe in that statement so much.
Not because I read it in some book but because I’ve experi-enced it again and again in my life.
You have the power to become happy or miserable. You have the power to become a success or a failure. You have the power to become a loving person or a selfish person.
The choice is in your hands.
And in western
countries, one out of
two marriages end up
in divorce. That’s a
pathetic 50% failure
rate! I would never
buy a car, a stereo, a
shaver, or even a nail
clipper if there was
a 50% chance that it
would conk out on me.
CHERISH YOUR CHOSEN
ONEGetting married is the greatest mistake anyone can ever make. Being wed is the height of insanity, the most ludicrous commitment, the most totally illogical decision any human being can fall into. Tell me. Why should I commit myself to be with one woman for the rest of my life—and thereby reject 3.2 billion other females in the world? Along the way, I’ll meet a girl who’ll be more beautiful, or more intelligent, or more charming, or sexier, or holier… So why nail myself down to one choice, permanently—and suffer the agony of simply watching beauties pass me by? And in western countries, one out of two marriages end up in divorce. That blows my mind. That’s a pathetic 50% failure rate! I would never buy a car, a stereo, a shaver, or even a nail clipper if there was a 50% chance that it would conk out on me. I simply wouldn’t! And why stay with one person “in sickness or in health,
0 in riches or in poverty, till death do us part”? Is my mind fried? If my shirt shrinks on me because I eat too many pizzas, don’t I just throw it away and buy an XL? (That will be the day.) And if I outgrow my ancient computer, don’t I just look for an updated version? And then there’s the catastrophe some call kids. I mean, do I really want to wake up in the middle of the night to entertain a self-centered, bald, toothless tyrant in diapers? Do I really want little rampaging monsters to break the most expensive furniture in my house? Do I really want juvenile creatures to stay on the phone for six hours straight, listen to noise they call music that you believe came directly from hell and mope around uncommunicative, catatonic and depressed because another demented juvenile creature (a.k.a. boyfriend) hasn’t called in the past 30 minutes? Why should I go through the torture? Marriage is insanity. But a few years ago, on my 32nd birthday, I gave myself a special birthday gift: I got married to a lovely woman— and committed myself to insane living. Marowe is her name, the one person I chose—out of 3.2 billion females. Yes, we now have a tiny tyrant that wakes us up at night, and in the near future, we will most likely have little monsters that will destroy our house during playtime, and creatures from outer space that we will call teenagers. Why? For three reasons. FAITH. We believe that God calls us into marriage.
And if He called us there, that means He’ll be there to meet us. We will suffer all things—just let us be with our God.
HOPE. We confidently expect the best blessings— immeasurably much more than all the hardship. God will bless us beyond our wildest dreams.
LOVE. Oh yes, there will be other females who’ll be more beautiful, or more intelligent, or more this and more that… But they’ll only be just that—females—like flowers in the field of a million hectares of flower fields.
But not this woman—my Marowe—the one beautiful flower I have personally chosen, personally picked from her roots, personally planted in my own clay pot, personally watered every day, personally watched every day, and personally loved every day. Because of my love
for her, there will be no one like her.
In my heart, she will eternally be the most beautiful
flower of them all.
Because in the end, there will only be faith, hope and love.
I believe that in real life,
getting discovered by
someone else is not as
important as discovering
In the parties that I attend, I’ve noticed a common ritual that happens around the Karaoke or Videoke machine. I’ve discovered three stages in this ritual.
First, someone is cajoled to sing for the group. He first declines adamantly like it was as preposterous as running for president of the Philippines. He in fact points to others who may sing better—but if for some bizarre reason people don’t continue pressing for him to sing, you will notice that he will go home utterly depressed and may even hang himself. But let’s say the ritual is followed and people keep urging him to sing. The would-be singer declines now with shy humor—inviting them to pressure him more. He says inane stuff like, “Ayoko, baka ma-discover ako.”1
The second stage of this ritual is when the singer takes the microphone, pulls from his left pocket an audio cassette and says, “Minus one ko, side A. Nakasalang na yan.”2
The third stage happens after the song. Everyone
1 “I don’t want to, as I may be discovered.” 2 “My minus one, side A. It’s ready to play.”
asks for an encore—no matter if his voice gives everyone a brief introductory experience of the pains of hell. The Filipino audience is supposed to praise him with words like, “Naku, kailangang may makadiscover sa ‘yo! Kalinya mo si Martin Nievera!”3 Let me focus on one point about this ritual: This whole thing about getting “discovered.” I believe that in real life, getting discovered by someone else is not as important as discovering yourself. You discover the beauty, the glory, the wonder that is you! Listen to a quote I got from Mike Murdock:
“Popularity is when others like you. Happiness is when you like yourself.”
Do you like yourself? Do you enjoy being you? Do you celebrate and throw a party because of the goodness that God has bestowed on you from the very beginning? Let me say this again: Don’t wait to be discovered. Pray. Be quiet. Look within yourself through His eyes. Discover! And be completely awed at how beautiful, how special, how wonderful you really are. DISCOVER YOURSELF
TAKE DELIGHT IN THE
Guess what I gave my wife on the eve of our wedding. My honeymoon present, if you may.
Right after the big wedding of a thousand guests, at 12:00 midnight, when we were finally alone in our hotel room in a faraway resort as two awkward and giddy virgins with excited hormones slambanging and sloshing through our veins, I decided it was time to give her my honeymoon present.
Wrapped in a simple brown bag, my bride took one look at it and was petrified.
After all, it was our honeymoon and I could legally give her anything sexy, sexual, sensual, seductive––and all the intimate “s” words you can think of––and God wouldn’t mind. She closed her eyes and poked her hand in the bag and pulled it out. And so there it was in all its green and yellow glory, a Crayola box of 64 crayons, with built-in sharpener in the middle. Plus three coloring books of Winnie the Pooh. (Months back, she told me that one of her fantasies was
to have her very own 64-set Crayola. I was about to share my own fantasies with her but decided against it.) So upon seeing the crayons, my bride shrieked and went to work at once. She poured out the fat little sticks of peach and magenta and pink and amber and silver and gold… and all the way until 3:00 AM, Winnie the Pooh became beautiful in her hands. (Unfortunately for me, she forget about the excited hormones slambanging and sloshing through her veins.) That’s why I always say that our honeymoon was the most colorful in the world. And our lives have been such! We take delight in the simplest things. Sure, I could have given her a one-carat diamond ring. Or a lady’s Rolex. Or a new pair of Ferragamos. But I didn’t because of two important reasons. First, I couldn’t afford them. Second, we were learning to delight in the simplest things. I have here a list of things you can do that’s really downright inexpensive. Take a stroll together. Watch the sunrise from your window and pray. Play with a baby. Read a good book under a tree.
Watch a Walt Disney film with the kids.
Order coffee (and nothing else) with your beloved one late night at a hotel lounge.
Sleep till 9:00 AM one Saturday.
Write love letters to your friends. As early as April, make your own Christmas gifts. Smile at strangers. Breathe. Take delight in the simplest things.
How can anyone be
bored in a world so
beautiful and full and
exciting as this planet
we’re living in?
WRITE DOWN 100 DREAMS
There are a few things in life that make me go berserk. One of them is when someone says, “I’m bored.” I mean, how can anyone be bored in a world so beautiful and full and exciting as this planet we’re living in?
Well one day, a 15-year-old friend with aluminum fingernails and 12-inch clogs told me, “I’m bored.” Instead of bouncing up and down shrieking my head off, I decided to calmly ask, “Why?” “Because my cell phone’s busted and I can’t text anyone!” Ooooooh. Armageddon can break loose, the ozone layer can disappear and an asteroid can destroy half the planet—but these disasters cannot compare to the calamity of a teener without her cellphone. “Here’s a piece of paper.” (I tore one from my diary.) “Write down 100 dreams you want to do before you die.” Her eyes bulged. “One hundred? I-I never thought of…” After thinking for a while, she sheepishly said,
0 “Well, I wanted to buy the cute avocado-green Benetton shirt I saw yesterday in the mall. Is that considered a dream?” “I’ll let that pass. Write that down as number 99 or 100. Anything more exciting?” “Uh… I once thought of becoming an author of a novel one day. But nah…” she brushed off the idea with a wave of her hand.
“Write that down,” I commanded, “‘I will become a terrific novelist.’” As she scribbled the line, she asked, “Should I include the word terrific?” “Put that down, girl!” I almost shouted. “What else?” “I sometimes imagine myself starting my own shop. It will sell trinkets that girls like me love to buy. But it’s too farfetched…” “Fabulous! Write that down!” She went on. “And one day, I hope to give a million pesos to a home for the aged.” Soon, she didn’t need any more coaxing. She was like a runaway train, her eyes on fire. Learn the violin. Travel to Paris and Beijing. Try skydiving once. Become a gourmet cook. Get married and have three kids.
When she finished dream number 100 (the cute avocado-green T-shirt was somehow forgotten), I said, “Think of small things you can do NOW that will bring you closer to the fulfillment of your dreams. Start with the novelist dream...”
“Well, I could start reading novels. I’ll learn the craft.” “Fantastic! And how about the trinkets shop idea?”
“Perhaps I could learn more about bracelets and nail polish and hair stuff…” I suggested, “You can also work in any store during summer or on weekends, even if they don’t pay you a cent. Learn how it works, from top to bottom!” “This is exciting!” she shrieked. “And you say you want to give one million pesos to a home for the aged?” “Don’t tell me, Bo. I could visit them now! Maybe monthly! In that way, I’ll never forget my promise! Gosh, I’ve got a million things to do! Got to go!” She bid me farewell and off she went, the girl with the aluminum fingernails and 12-inch clogs.
Hmm. That was strange. I thought I just saw a young girl without her cellphone. Happy. I must be seeing things. P.S. Write down your 100 dreams. It may just do strange things to you as well.
I need to learn that
every situation is a
window where one
can see the workings
FIND GOD IN EVERY PLACE,
IN EVERYTHING, IN
EVERYONEI love St. Francis of Assisi. But even if he has been my idol my whole life, I’ve lived long enough on this planet to realize how different my life is from his. One of my favorite stories of Francis was when he was walking through a field of flowers and he ended up screaming, “Stop talking to me! Stop talking to me!” He later explained that he was so overwhelmed by what each flower was declaring to him: “God made us bloom because He knew you were going to pass by.”
I mean, Wow!
When I walk through a field of flowers, all I end up screaming is, “Stop giving me allergies!” and about 17 haaaachooooos per minute.
St. Francis was the same guy who called everything “brother” and “sister.” I don’t mind calling the sun
“brother sun” and the moon “sister moon.” But I think calling rats “brother mice” and roaches “sister cockroaches” is going a little bit too far. I just squash those crawling things without any permission from God. He was also the man who kissed lepers and embraced them. Simply because he saw God in each of them.
Honestly, the first time I met a leper, I didn’t know whether to simply wave “Hi!” or pretend I was Japanese and clasp my hands in my chest and give him a reverent bow—just so that I wouldn’t touch him. You and I need lessons from St. Francis who saw God in every place, in everything, in everyone. I’m learning. One day, after giving a talk to a thousand people that I thought to be extraordinarily inspiring, I stepped off the stage feeling very proud of myself. I was immediately greeted by a female participant, and expecting the usual praise like, “Your words bless me so much!” or “You are terrific!” I bent down towards her so that I could hear her adulation above the deafening applause. Her words had impact. She said solemnly, “Your zipper is open.” After overcoming my desire to die that instant and after mentally selecting what remote island I could hide in for a few hundred years, I began to laugh. Because I actually began to see God in the situation. I may have missed Him speaking to me in the field of flowers, and I may not have seen Him in rats and roaches (I still don’t), and I may have missed him the first time I met the leper (I embrace them now!), but I didn’t miss Him in this
humiliating experience. He was telling me, “You’re just my mouthpiece, kid. Humble yourself and loosen up.”
Oh yes, I believe He also wanted me to zip up. I need to learn that every situation is a window where one can see the workings of heaven. And everything is a self-donation of God, an explosion of His love that cannot be contained. And every person is sacred, bursting with His presence, His wisdom, His beauty.
The nurse came out
of the delivery room
holding a tiny human
being wrapped in
a white sheet, his
chubby face screaming
to the entire world,
his small hands
and delicate fingers
A TINY HUMAN BEING
IN MY ARMS
These two words didn’t roll off my tongue easily. The first time I said it, it felt awkward. As if something didn’t fit. “My son.” It felt strange. As though I was reading a script of a play. I had to practice saying it a thousand times. “My son… My son… My son…” I started saying it the day I found out that I had a baby boy through my wife’s ultrasound test, and I kept saying it to myself daily. Finally, on the morning of January 21, my son was born. The nurse came out of the delivery room holding a tiny human being wrapped in a white sheet, his chubby face screaming to the entire world, his small hands and delicate fingers shaking nervously. “Baby Sanchez?” the lady in the green surgical robe asked, looking at the room full of expectant fathers.
I stood up, holding my breath. She showed me my baby. “My son,” I whispered—the line I’d been rehearsing for months now. The little guy screamed, “Waaaaaaaaaah!” But in my heart, I heard him cry out, “Daaaaaaaaaad!” I’m sure that everyone in that room will swear to their graves that they didn’t hear my baby say that. But I don’t care. I called him, “my son,” and he called me “Dad,” and that’s that. End of story. People ask me, “What did you feel at that precise moment?” and I cannot even begin to answer. I’m supposed to be a writer and therefore a master of words— yet I grope with my adjectives. More than that, I grope with my emotions. “Joyful” isn’t powerful enough. “Bliss” isn’t sweet enough. “Peaceful” isn’t calm enough. “Happy” isn’t intense enough. After my baby was whisked away to the nursery, I got back to my seat in the waiting room. I shut my eyes. But tears escaped them anyway. And then out of the blue, my 80-year-old father lumbered in. As we always do, we embraced. “Dad,” I whispered. “My son,” I heard his heart say to mine. And suddenly, the past 33 years folded up into the present and I was now the baby bundled in white, and my father was standing over me.
“My son,” he said.
“Daaaaaaaaaaaad!” I cried my little lungs out.
At that point, for some reason, I knew I was going to be a great father.
The 80-year-old man in front of me seemed to agree. He smiled and we both walked out of the room in search of the tiny human being that will change our lives forever.
Love is like that. It is
giving oneself without
in return. If I want to
get paid, then it isn’t
love. It’s a business
LOVE ISN’T A BUSINESS
OPPORTUNITYIn an old brown envelope tucked in one of my desk drawers, I hide my great wealth. I’m sure you have one of these, too. This has become a special ceremony for me: Once in a while, whenever I feel nostalgic or sad or happy, I open the old brown envelope and forage for its contents. I feel the material in my hands, read it, touch it, even smell it. I sigh a hundred times, get a few tears in my eyes, and close it up again for another time down memory lane. I’m talking about letters and cards sent to me by my children.1 Yes, when they were much younger and
uncomplicated. It is filled with beautiful unreadable lines like, “I lob yu, koya Bu.” Plus their sketches of rainbows, flowers, houses and stick men. The lines are crooked. The English is bad. The paper and cardboard are soiled. But I’d rather keep the contents of this old brown envelope than if I were given the paintings of Michaelangelo or Da Vinci.
Because Michaelangelo or Da Vinci didn’t love me. These kids did—and do. To me, this old brown envelope contains the most valuable artwork in the world. Well today, I perform this ritual because I feel sad. Yesterday, I invited my kids for a day out in the city. “Let’s watch a movie tomorrow!” I announced over the phone. But instead of hearing the usual shout of glee from them, I received their sad retort, “We can’t. We’ve got exams on Monday…” Ouch. Are my kids really growing up? But wasn’t it only yesterday when I picked up these orphans from their dilapidated bamboo hut in a mountain and transported them to Anawim? Without a mother or father to care for them, they were starving and could no longer go to school. But this June, some will already be college students. Gosh. Did I say college?
How can time fly so fast?
I guess all parents experience this sad separation when they see their kids get older, have friends, get married and leave home. But love is like that. It is giving oneself without expecting anything in return. If I want to get paid, then it isn’t love. It’s a business opportunity.
But I love my kids. And wherever life takes them, these precious children can never be taken away from my heart. They live there, together with the brown envelope I hold in my hand.
Our bodies need
because we get dirty
every day. But so do
our hearts! Because
each day, people hurt
us, offend us, forget
us, snub us, step on
us, reject us.
DO FOR YOUR SOUL WHAT
YOU DO FOR YOUR BODY
I have a couple of questions for you. Can you imagine yourself taking a bath only once a month? You’ll freak out, right? But let’s say there’s a water shortage and a presidential decree was issued that showers can only be taken every 30 days—with a maximum of two gallons of water for each Filipino per bath. (Out of our ingrained hospitality, foreigners are allowed to use two-and-a-half gallons.) Entering into an air-conditioned room or bus will be a nightmare, as various toxic odors will hang so thickly in the air, it may coagulate into gel form. Charismatic prayer meetings will prohibit the lifting of hands. The basketball ring will be lowered to five feet. And I presume that lighting a cigarette in a crowded elevator will be fatal, as the fumes of a sweating humanity will be flammable by that time.
Too gross for you? Let’s change the topic.
What would it be like if you brushed your teeth only once a year?
Let’s say some loony scientist discovered that the up and down motion of brushing teeth has a direct impact to the thinning of the ozone layer. (Who knows?) So brushing of teeth has been banned by legislative decree number 9002—except on New Year’s Eve. That is the only day you can brush your teeth. Imagine how thick your mouth will feel by November. Think with me. Let’s say you’re out on a romantic date in December. Not much kissing will take place, believe me. And as you look at your beautiful damsel, you notice a bit of green lettuce jutting out from between her teeth. So you tell her, “I know what you had for lunch this morning.” “What pray tell?” she teases you. “Lettuce!” you grin. She chuckles, “You’re wrong! That’s what I ate last March!” Ah, these situations will be quite normal. My message? That you and I do more deranged things than bathing monthly and brushing teeth annually.
For example, when we do not forgive others every day. Our bodies need regular washing because we get dirty every day. But so do our hearts! Because each day, people hurt us, offend us, forget us, snub us, step on us, reject us. But if we choose to forgive everyone every day, we cleanse our hearts! We wake up the next morning refreshed and pure and lovely!
Some people however will not wash themselves from the hurts of each day but rather accumulate them week after week, month after month, year after year. Perhaps in some annual Holy Week retreat, they decide to forgive all their enemies. Perhaps when someone close to them dies, they remember to cancel debts and live for something more noble—rather than collect bitterness.
But without these rare events, they just become filthier each day.
Their spirits begin to smell.
And their stench becomes flammable. For these people, hell begins now.
I guess I wasn’t
such a great shepherd,
need to be constantly
there, protecting and
caring, 24 hours a day.
But thank goodness,
God isn’t like me
GOD WILL WATCH OVER
YOU NIGHT AND DAY
Have you ever prayed “The Lord is my Shepherd” from Psalm 23? When ancient Jews prayed that special prayer, they’d feel an inner warmth in their hearts. Some would close their eyes and maybe even shed a tear or two. Because they knew what it meant to be a shepherd. They felt it. They knew the toil, the sacrifice, the hardship of being a shepherd that loves his sheep. If there was danger, he wouldn’t sleep at night or take coffee breaks or read a pocketbook or even text someone on his cellphone. He’d just watch and be ready to lay down his life for his sheep. But when modern Filipinos pray the prayer of Psalm 23, the only reason we feel an inner warmth in our hearts is if we had just eaten too much crispy pata1 before praying
and have heartburn.
We don’t see shepherds, sheep, or lambs a lot. We’re familiar with wool, yes, but the steel wool variety for cleaning pots and pans. The closest thing to sheep we’ve seen are goats, and they’re not very docile creatures. They
eat anything in sight, make a lot of noise, and smell bad— reminding us of a drunkard uncle.
So to help people feel what it means to be a shepherd, I ask people to think about their first pet as a kid.
Can you recall yours?
Mine was a chicken. Well, it was first a tiny chick, and then a chicken. Finally, it became fried chicken, but that’s going ahead of the story.
I cared for that chick with my life. The first thing I did upon arriving from school was to visit my pet, feed it with rice, and rock it in my hand. After a couple of months, my chick grew up and I started playing all sorts of games with her: running, jumping, pecking… I tried teaching her chess, but I kept getting a chickmate. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I promise not to give another pun in my entire life, ever.) But during the day, I went to school. And I guess that’s why one day, I came home and discovered my feathered friend in a platter with french fries and catsup. I wasn’t there for her when someone became hungry—someone who to this day has remained anonymous to me. I guess I wasn’t such a great shepherd, because shepherds need to be constantly there, protecting and caring, 24 hours a day. But thank goodness, God isn’t like me at all. He’s here for you for life. Permanently. Eternally. You won’t be anyone’s fried chicken.
Or shish kebab for that matter. He’ll never leave you for one moment. He’ll never take siestas or coffee breaks or read a pocketbook or text anyone on his cellphone. He will watch over you night and day.
When I make the sign
of the cross, the iron
gate opens. And an
angel gives me her
hand. We walk into
the garden of God.
ANGELS ARE READY TO
ESCORT YOUWhen I was an impish kid, I recall regularly visiting the cloistered Carmelites with my family—those cute brown-clad nuns behind the steel bars and black curtain. Contemplative sisters, they called themselves, but as a kid, I had my own secret nickname for them: penguins– –because they looked so much like them. I noticed they were small; they’d trot around in their black sandals in tiny little steps; and they’d bob their heads up and down whenever they seen someone. No one could enter their holy house, my parents told me. It must be very special, I told myself, because only God and His penguins were living there. One day, as my family was still inside the church, I ran and peeked through the iron fence of the convent to see if the Almighty was indeed there. All of a sudden, one of the penguins peered through the door and saw me. I froze in terror. But a happy face greeted me and said, “Do you want to come in?”
Did she say “come in?” Before I could answer, she opened the iron gate and gave me her hand. I was dumbfounded. “One, two, three, four, five…” I counted. Yep, she had five fingers. Funny, I always thought they never had hands. They kept hiding them behind their brown robes! Hmm. My penguin theory was falling apart. We walked hand-in-hand and it felt good. In fact, I felt I was holding the hand of an angel. Behold, a new theory in my brain was being formed. She led me to their fabulous garden and it struck me how beautiful the garden of God was. I caught a glimpse of a guava fruit high on a tree. She saw me look at it, so she grabbed all of me and lifted me up, enough for my hand to pluck it off myself. The fruit tasted sweet, but not as sweet as being in the arms of the angel of God. After a few minutes, she carried me back to the gate where my parents were now waiting. Outside. Because only I was able to enter the house of God. I recall that experience and feel the same way every time I pray today. When I make the sign of the cross, the iron gate opens. And an angel gives me her hand. We walk into the garden of God.
I gaze at His beauty and even eat the fruit of answered prayer. It is sweet, yes, but not as sweet as being in the arms of love. Enter into God’s house more often. The angels await on tiptoe, ready to escort you to the Throne.
God knows how
to use failures.
He masters in the art
of recycling flops
FAILURES ARE NECESSARY TO
TEACH US LESSONS
So many people tell me that I’ve succeeded so much in my life. And everything I’ve set my mind on happens. They enumerate the many dreams I’ve had which have become reality: Kerygma. Didache. Gabay. Companion. Sabbath. Anawim. Light of Jesus Community. Light of Jesus Counseling Center. “Bo, they were once mere thoughts in your brain,” they’d compliment me, “and after a while, we saw them in the concrete. For real.” But you see, people only see one chapter of the entire story. First of all, all of the things mentioned above were created with a bunch of selfless people who didn’t like their names in the limelight. They let me have the glory so that my rewards in heaven will be miniscule compared to theirs. (Rats.) But here’s another thing people don’t know: About my other dreams that have nose-dived and crashed to the bottom of the sea.
In 1983, I lived in a depressed area, dreaming of starting a community among the poor, plus a cooperative to assist in their financial needs. Nothing happened. Well, not exactly. Through that experience, I learned the art of sharing one filthy toilet with five families, two of which had eight children each. (I’m not exaggerating.) Needless to say, my mornings there were very interesting! In 1985, I wanted to start a Christian restaurant— complete with Christian music and food with biblical names. I also wanted to provide jobs for our unemployed members. That idea didn’t even reach the oven. I wanted to serve dishes like Martha’s full course meal and Moses’ manna and Daniel’s veggie meal and Esau’s stew and Jonah’s big fish and Tobit’s liver and Jacob’s broken hip and… Heck, maybe I should thank God this whole idea didn’t materialize. Should I go on? I can write a 30-volume encyclopedia entitled, “THE FAILURES OF BO SANCHEZ.” And that’ll just be the index! If you want the blow-by-blow account of how I failed, you need an entire hard drive! I’ve failed, and I’ve failed really bad. And at the time of the failure, people didn’t mince words. I was criticized, ridiculed, lambasted, fried, roasted, grilled, baked, sautéed, stewed and eaten alive. (See how my restaurant dream still haunts me today?) But God knows how to use failures.
He masters in the art of recycling flops like me.
We are all wounded. But wounds are necessary for His healing light to enter into our beings. Without wounds and failures and frustrations and defeats, there will be no opening for His brilliance to trickle in and invade our lives. Failures in life are courses with very high tuition fees. So I don’t cut classes and miss my lessons: On humility. On patience. On hope. On asking others for help. On listening to God. On trying again. On trying again and again and again.
Life isn’t about
trying to be an
expert in everything.
It’s about being an
expert in one thing
and offering it to
BLESS THE WORLD WITH
One day, a bird, a squirrel, a fish and an eel got together and decided to start a school. Naturally, the bird insisted on a flying school. But the squirrel argued for training in perpendicular tree climbing. And the fish, a swimming college. The heated debate seemed to go on forever until the eel proposed a compromise: Why not let all these things be included in the curriculum? And so the school formally opened with all the students taking all the courses.
The bird was glorious at flying but a big flop at
swimming. It didn’t take long, however, for his wings to be damaged by the freestyle and breaststroke; he finally got a C in flying, and naturally, an F in swimming.
The squirrel broke all her bones as he tried flying. (She jumped from the tallest tree she could find and shouted, “Darna!”1 It didn’t work. She wasn’t in a two-piece.)
And the fish? He couldn’t breathe too well when he tried climbing or flying. Until he got sort of brain damaged and wasn’t even a great swimmer at the end of the
Guess who was the valedictorian of the class? The eel. He did everything in a half-way fashion. In tree climbing, he sort of squirmed his way up. In swimming, he wriggled in the water. And in flying, well, he jerked. So he got a C in all his courses and ended up highest in the class. (I got The Animal School story from Leo Buscaglia, in his bestseller, Love, but I couldn’t resist changing and adding a few details.)
Life isn’t about trying to be an expert in everything. It’s
about being an expert in one thing and offering it to the world.
I’ve accepted the fact that because I’m human, I’m terrific in one thing, good at some, mediocre at a bit more, and terrible at others. And if you’re human, you are too. You’ll have to discover the one thing that you are good at and major in it. What are the primary gifts that God has blessed you with? Answer that question well and you’re one step closer to a life of peace, excitement and joy. I’ve decided to focus on where I’m good at, which is preaching and writing. Come to think of it, I’m a very unbalanced creature. I’m pathetic at sports. And at fixing stuff at home. (Even if I have a complete set of tools at home, my favorite tool is still the telephone so I can call a repairman to fix whatever is broken.) And I don’t think
I’ll ever be a math whiz. Management isn’t my cup of tea. Even pastoring and counseling aren’t adrenaline-pumping events for me. So I delegate. But I bless the world with one thing: I communicate to people about love and joy and peace and all the good stuff of life through preaching and writing—hoping to change lives and make this world a better place to live in.
The most difficult
thing in the world
is to be who you
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF
TO THE WORLD
We live in a pathologically dissatisfied world. And I’m going to tell you why. Because we love to compare. Go around the world and discover that people aren’t happy with their bodies. Filipinos want to be fair complexioned like Westerners and so buy bleaching stuff. Westerners want to own bronzed bodies like ours and so purchase tanning lotions. Those with moles have them removed, while those who don’t have any strategically implant beauty spots. Some people want to shed a few pounds to look like Ally Macbeal, while others want to gain some baby fat to look like Drew Barrymore. When are we ever going to stop and simply be happy with how we look? We live in a sick world, I tell you. And that sickness is comparisonitis. Take a look at wealth.
When we drive our old Toyota, it really suits us fine. We feel blessed in fact when the rain pours outside and we feel snug and cozy on its faded upholstered seats. But the
moment we see our own officemate (or neighbor, or buddy, or cousin, or brother) drive his sleek, skyblue, four-door, four-wheel Rav4, we automatically feel like third class children of God. Next time we drive our bumpy, noisy, rusted, dilapidated Toyota (notice how all the defects come out all of a sudden?), we feel deprived, dispossessed, pariahs, total failures, debased and only a little higher than the insects of the earth. Listen carefully. Bill Gates’ total assets is $60 billion. That’s more than the GNP of some small countries. Tiger Woods earns $80 million simply by smiling on TV wearing a Nike shirt. And the stars of the sitcom Friends are paid $50,000 per episode! My point? No matter how hard you work, there’ll still be some people who will be richer than you are. And there’ll be some people who will be more beautiful, have more sex appeal, have more boyfriends and have more problems. Try it for once. Stop looking around. Don’t compare! Don’t compare her nose with your nose. Don’t compare his wife with your wife. Don’t compare his salary with your salary. Don’t compare her breast size with your breast size. Don’t compare her kid’s report card with your kid’s report card. Don’t compare his prayer group with your prayer group. Don’t compare her cellulite deposits with your cellulite deposits.
For crying out loud, stop comparing and start living! And you’ll be happier with your life, I guarantee. This is crucial: The most difficult thing in the world is to be who you are not. Pretending and trying to be someone else is the official pastime of the human race. (I don’t think dogs and cats and cows and horses have this problem.)
And the easiest thing in the world is to be yourself. Be happy. Live! There must be a reason why God made you tall or short or fat or thin or bumpy all over.
I believe that if
I will do what my
Creator wants me
to do, I’ll end up
a lot of people.
BE FAITHFUL TO WHO
YOU ARELet me share with you a simple secret in succeeding in life. Don’t ever try to please everyone. I’ve been a leader of Catholic organizations for two decades now. If I try to please all the expectations that people heap on me, I need to be Padre Pio and Bill Gates and Francis of Assisi and John Rockefeller and and Clark Kent rolled into one. Talk about severe schizophrenia! Some want me to be Padre Pio: “Bo, your early morning prayer time—done at four in the morning— should last for three hours. You should levitate once in a while. When you walk around, we should smell the odor of sanctity and see a beautiful glow on your face.” Jeepers, I have some type of odor, that I know. But I doubt if it’s sacred. (Spell out my name. Remind you of something?) Others want me to be Bill Gates, the great CEO: “As
our leader, you should manage a well-knit, well-run, well-0 oiled organization. You should implement reengineering, develop our marketing niche, and work towards ISO 9002 systems in our prayer group.” Others want me to be St. Francis of Assisi, the ascetic: “Bo, you should live in poverty, wear second-hand clothes, and never touch or own or think of money at all. Drive a beat up, rusty, dilapidated car. And live in a squatters area.” And yet another group of people insists that I be John Rockefeller, the philanthropist. “When we have financial needs, it’ll be nice if we see you dig deep into your pocket and help us with our children’s tuition fees, our hospital bills, our shopping sprees.” Some wish me to be Clark Kent: “I don’t care if your schedule is full. You have to be there for me! Be my personal best friend. Don’t just be my leader! Phone me every day and visit my home every other day.” For two thousand members of my organization?
I’ve accepted this truth: I believe that if I will do what my Creator wants me to do, I’ll end up disappointing a lot of people.
I’m not all these characters. I’m Bo. And I like being Bo! God has created me to be this particular person with my own set of strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. Don’t try to please everyone. Disappoint people! Know your call. And answer it.
WINNING EVERYTIMEBe honest with me. Do you buy Lotto tickets? And do you pray that God will help you win? You may be doing one of the following techniques: (1) praying before you sleep that you’ll dream the right numbers; (2) “cutting” the Bible and noting the numbers of the chapter and verse; and (3) promising or bribing (depending on how you look at it) the Almighty that you’ll give away 50% of your prize to an orphanage if God will make you win. Hey, I know of one priest who bought a Lotto ticket and won 40 million pesos! Overnight, he became the most eligible bachelor in town. To shoo away all the women lining up at his confessional box, he quickly donated his prize money to the Church! I also heard of one janitor who won millions in Lotto. He resigned and said goodbye to his toilet-scrubbing days and went off to live as a king. But after a few months, the king came back to his old company begging for his dirty mop! He felt so lonely, he wanted to clean toilets again. So if by chance you catch a guy mopping floors yet sporting a
Rolex watch and wearing Bally shoes, you won’t wonder. They made this survey of past Lotto winners in the U.S. and they found something mind-boggling: Many of them experienced misery—not happiness—due to their sudden plopped-from-the-sky wealth. Many ex-winners had a sad tale to tell, from broken marriages to kids on drugs to a total loss of personal meaning. They simply didn’t know how to handle the pot of gold. In fact, many of them reported the money long gone. Vanished rather quickly, as easily as it appeared before their eyes. But the devastation and hurt remained. No, I have not yet bought a Lotto ticket in my life, but I do recall buying Sweepstakes tickets peddled by blind beggars. “Lord, make me win,” I’d intone beneath my breath, smiling deliciously at the thought that perhaps, God would reward me for helping the needy. Well, wonder of wonders, God hasn’t answered my prayers one bit. He’s totally ignored them. Probably laughed aloud on His throne when He heard my plea and told the angels about it, who in turn giggled their wing feathers off. But today, I really thank God that He’s totally disregarded my wish. Because now I realize He loved me too much to say Yes. Who knows what trouble and heartache would have befallen me if I had won? I still believe that the best prayer in the world is, “Lord, Your will be done.”
Next time you pray any kind of prayer, whether it be for the resolution of healing, or for a house, or for a car, or for a husband, or for a family conflict, or for a solution to a problem, tell Him He can say yes or no.
when you start
looking for what
you don’t have. But
when you start
for what you
YOU HAVE WEALTH
UNDER YOUR NOSE
Adultery happens when you start looking for what you don’t have.
“Bo, this girl in my office is a real looker,” many a husband will say. “But it’s not her Wynona Rider features that get to me. I’m head over heels with her because she’s also understanding, intelligent, tender—so many things that my wife is not.” Sure. Guys, trust me on this. Somewhere along the way, you’ll find a woman who will be more charming. More alluring. More thoughtful. Richer. A better cook. Have greater sex appeal. A more efficient housekeeper. And you will find a woman who will need you and pursue you and go loco over you more than your wife ever did. Because no wife is perfect. Because a wife will only have 90% of what you’re looking for. So adultery takes place when a husband looks for the missing 10%.
Let’s say your wife is melancholic by nature. You may find yourself drawn to the pretty clerk who has a cheery laugh no matter what she says: “I broke my arm yesterday, Hahahaha…” Or because your wife is a homebody in slippers and pajamas, smelling of garlic and fish oil, you may fall for a fresh-smelling young sales representative that visits your office in a sharp black blazer, high heels and a red pencil-cut skirt. Or because your wife is the quiet-type (a rare find), your heart may skip a beat when you meet an old college flame who has the makings of a talk show host like Oprah. But wait! That’s only 10% of what you don’t have. Don’t throw away the 90% that you already have! That’s not all. Add to your wife’s 90% the 1000% that represents all the years that you’ve been with each other. The storms you’ve weathered together. The unforgettable moments of sadness and joy as a couple. The many adjustments you’ve made to love the other. The wealth of memories that you’ve accumulated as lovers.
Adultery happens when you start looking for what you don’t have. But faithfulness happens when you start thanking
God for what you already have.
But I’m not just talking about marriage. I’m talking about life!
About your jobs. About your friends. About your children. About your prayer groups. About your lifestyles.
Are you like the economy airline passenger that perennially peeks through the door of the first class cabin,
obsessed with what he’s missing? “They’ve got more leg-room! Oh my, their food is served in porcelain! Wow, their seats recline at an 80 degree angle and they’ve got personal videos!” I guarantee you’ll be miserable for the entire trip! Don’t live your life like that.
Forget about what the world says is first class. (Do you know that there are many first class passengers who are miserable in first class—because they’re not riding in a private Lear Jet?)
My main message: If you start thanking God for what
you have right now, wherever you are is first class!
We probably need
to get away with
Him. Talk with our
Lover. Take a second
Him. Or a third,
or fourth, or fifth…
MAKE REFOCUSING A HABIT
When I enter a restaurant, I immediately know who’s married and who’s only engaged or going steady. I’m sure you do too.
The unmarried lovers are seated very close to each other. So close in fact, that microbes will have difficulty passing between them. Their hands are joined, their fingers wedged, their legs intertwined, their toes linked. (Look beneath the tablecloth and you’ll see a very sensual love affair taking place right there.)
Most critically, you will also notice that their eyes are fixed on each other and nothing else. Their mutual gaze is nailed, glued and cemented. Their food is cold on the table, barely touched. Because nothing else matters. The restaurant might be burning, an asteroid might come crashing through the roof and a nuclear warhead might suddenly land on their table—and they wouldn’t even notice it. Oooh-la-la. Because they’re in luv. Married couples act quite differently.
The first thing you notice is that they sit apart. A ten-wheeler can pass through them quite nicely.
Both are busy eating, slicing, forking, spooning, dipping and munching.
0 No sensual foreplay is taking place beneath the tablecloth. Their eyes? Darting left and right, scanning the architecture, surveying the interior design, counting the light bulbs, critiquing the waiters, observing the other customers. Oh yes, every other customer in the restaurant is cross-examined, their fashion style denounced, their hairdresser condemned, their personal history conjured, their financial worth assessed and their body weight ridiculed. Sounds familiar? In a word, married couples tend to be unfocused. They no longer see each other—for the other gets lost in the minute details of the background. Like tuition fees. Toilet training. House amortization. Terrible two’s. Orthodontist’s bills. Wrinkles and overlapping cellulite. And then we complain that we have fallen out of love! As though we are victims to things we have no control over.
Baloney. (Too unfilipino? Let me rephrase. Longganisa.)
Happy couples make it a habit to refocus. Because it’s
quite normal to be distracted. So they talk. They get away for a while. They pray. They go on a marriage retreat. They take a second honeymoon. Or a third, or fourth, or fifth… Our love relationship with God suffers the same disease: We get unfocused.
After some time, we lose our first love for Jesus. We fall in love with our spiritual community, or with pastoral care, or with spiritual knowledge, or with our financial blessings, or with our successful ministry… We start losing our focus on God. We get lost in the minute details of the background. We probably need to get away with Him. Talk with our Lover. Take a second honeymoon with Him. Or a third, or fourth, or fifth… Make refocusing a habit.
Never go after
fame. In the heart
of God, you’re
always a star.
YOU’RE ALWAYS A STAR
Imagine I’m an aspiring actor. You must agree that with my looks, it wouldn’t be too difficult to picture this scenario. After all, the horror genre is aplenty.
They tell me that there are five stages that every tinsel town personality must go through. Let me show you the anatomy of fame.
Stage #1: “Who is Bo Sanchez?”
This is the starting point of every fame-hungry person: You’re a nobody. You have to make your first appearance on film, even if your role is that of a costumed freakish alien that gets pulverized by the star at the opening scene of the movie. It might be difficult to imagine now, but even Madonna and Demi More and Julia Roberts went through the stage where people asked, “Who’s she?” Stage #2: “Get Bo Sanchez” This second level is intoxicating. By some stroke of luck, you get recognized for your thrilling talent or thrilling body. Your name is bandied around in the studios,
and a small fans club is forming—no longer organized by your mother. Your price tag is still ascending, so all movie outfits fight for the right to make your first box-office. As you walk in the mall, you count the number of times people ask for your autograph. When you get tired of this, you start wearing shades. Ahhhh. You have arrived. Stage #3: “Get me a Bo Sanchez lookalike” The peak! Your face is seen on ads, tabloids, billboards and TV gossip programs. You’re everywhere! Only the biggest producers can afford you now. So smaller media companies will settle for young artists who look like you. You’re now royalty (e.g. concert queen, king of pop, box-office king, soap opera queen). Finally, you know you’ve reached this high point when you can no longer walk in a mall without a huge crowd following you hysterically screaming, “Aaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy!” Stage #4: “Get me a younger Bo Sanchez” But before you know it, the inevitable hits you. You hear your director ask for someone like you who’s ten years younger, ten years sexier, ten years bolder. You feel offended when scriptwriters offer you motherly roles. Soon, however, no other roles come except motherly roles. Your price tag gets slashed. Your name shrinks in movie ads. Your fans club is reduced to a handful of loyalists, and when they congregate around you, you wonder if you’re in some high school reunion of class ‘27.
Stage #5: “Who is Bo Sanchez” You meet some teens walking down the street and they pass you by like you were a telephone post. Ouch. Once in a while, a grandmother points to you and her family looks at you quizzically. You feel like a prehistoric artifact in a museum being surveyed. And then they walk by you. Double ouch. And then it hits you: You’re a nobody. And you realize—wasn’t I here before? Never go after fame. In the heart of God, you’re always a star. Always were, always will be.
If we don’t like our
jobs, if we don’t
like the state of our
relationships, if we
don’t like what’s
happening to our
have no one to blame
YOU CREATE YOUR OWN
Let me tell you a story.
Three construction workers were on top of their half-finished skyscraper.
“Rrrrrrrrrng!” the lunch bell sounded, and the three men sat on a steel beam of the 56th floor with their lunch
boxes in hand.
The first guy opens his and groans in exasperation, “Tuyo!1 There is not a day that I don’t get tuyo for lunch!” He turns to his buddies and announces, “Mark my words. If I still get tuyo tomorrow, I’m going to throw myself from this building.” The second guy opens his lunch box and moans, “Tinapa. Every day, I get this for lunch.” He looks at his friends and declares, “Believe me when I say this. If I get tinapa tomorrow, I’m going to jump from here and kill myself.”
The third guy opens his lunch box and it was his turn to despair, “Galunggong. All I get is galunggong!” He looks to his co-workers and says, “I’m telling you, if I still get galunggong tomorrow, I’m going to jump from this building and die.”
The next day, the lunch bell rings and all three men are again seated on the 56th floor.
The first guy opens his lunch box and starts crying, “Tuyoooooo!” And so in front of his shocked companions, he jumps off the building and crashes to the ground. The second guy opens his lunch box and wails loudly, “Tinapaaaaaa!” And before his remaining friend, he jumps off the building and hits the ground and dies. The third guy opens his lunch box and screams, “Galunggonggggg!” And so he too jumps off the building and dies. Days later, during the funeral of the three men, their three wives embrace and begin to weep together.
The first wife cries out, “I didn’t know my husband didn’t like tuyo anymore! Why didn’t he tell me? If only he had told me, I would have prepared something else!” The second wife echoed her statement, “Yes! If only I knew, I would have cooked something else, not tinapa!” The third wife, between sobs, spoke up, “I don’t know why my husband killed himself.” The two wives looked at her curiously. “Why?” She goes on, “Because… my husband prepared his own lunch every day.”
I love this crazy story because it presents a very important truth: all of us prepare our own lunch. If we don’t like our jobs, if we don’t like the state of our relationships, if we don’t like what’s happening to our spiritual lives— we have no one to blame but ourselves. Because God has given us free will. He has given us the power to prepare our own lunch. If we want to put more joy in our marriages, if we want to grow in our relationship with God, if we want to earn more and be free from debt—then go back to your kitchen and prepare yourself another dish. Because you design your own future. You create your own destiny. Ask yourself? What kind of future do you want to have? What kind of millennium? You decide.
As long as you
life because of love,
then it’s glorious.
COMPLICATE YOUR LIFE
My title sounds shocking, especially coming from someone who’s known by everyone as Mr. Simple—a guy who doesn’t even comb his hair and doesn’t wear a watch and who dons a 70’s outfit not because it’s faddish but because he’s trapped in that era. But you see, I don’t believe that simplicity is the greatest thing in the world. Take my life for example. I’ve deliberately complicated it these past few years. I remember a few years back, I wrote these articles with nary a distraction—except perhaps for the few stray mosquitoes underneath my computer table. Today, the mosquitoes don’t bother me at all. It’s the one-year-old thief in diapers underneath my table, grabbing my computer keyboard and typing in tongues. When I was a single man some time ago, I didn’t even know what “savings” meant. Today, I have to deal with educational plans, health insurance and sound investments. And even if the thief-in-diapers is still toothless as of this writing, I’m seriously saving for his teeth braces, which I hear, cost more than my car.
During my single days, I recall sauntering off by myself to a lonely mountain to pray for a day or two—whenever I so desired. I’d bring a guitar, a Bible, and a tiny picnic basket. All by my quiet self. That will never happen again in my present life. Because now, I’d have to bring a guitar, a Bible, a picnic basket, my wife, my baby, his diaper bag, his toy bag, his food bag, his clothes bag, his bottle bag, his carriage, his car seat… And on that mountain, I can only pray as long as the thief-in-diapers is napping. And the moment I play the guitar, he instantly wakes up and strums it for me— ushering the end of my quiet prayer time, and signaling the start of my distracted, noisy, harassed prayer time. There are days when a thought crosses my mind: Why on earth did I get married? What insanity came over me? Why did I complicate my very simple, happy, single life? But immediately, the answer comes forcefully when I see my loving wife playing with our smiling baby in her arms. Peace overflows my heart as I realize that I’ve exchanged my very simple, happy single life for a very complicated, happy married life.
Why have I complicated my life? Because I have decided to love.
And here’s the lesson I’ve learned: As long as you
complicate your life because of love, then it’s glorious.
Because simplicity isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but love.
Let me give you two other examples:
If you’re going to join a Catholic group, believe me when I say this: your life will get complicated. (Take it from one who’s been part of community for 20 years.) Why complicate your life with weekly meetings, heavy responsibilities, tiring ministries and queer personalities? Why get into relationships that will disillusion you in the end? Why follow leaders that you know will disappoint you one day? A more basic example: Why will you commit your entire life to God? I mean, won’t it be easier just to be a nominal Catholic? All you have to do is go to Mass on Sundays and presto—you’re guilt-free. You can do what you want to do the rest of the week. You don’t have to think about pleasing Him every moment of your life. You don’t have to love Him in your every word, thought and deed. That’s just too complicated! Make your life simple. Simply meaningless.
become the labels
you give yourself.
USE THE POWER OF LABELS
These past months, I’ve been busy building my tiny home. It’s so tiny, whenever I open the refrigerator door, you’d think I installed centralized air-conditioning in my house. But I determined that no matter how small it was, it was going to be pretty. Like I wanted the walls to be covered with red bricks to give them that rustic, country look. So I asked my contractor if that was possible. “Sure,” he said, but he asked me, “Do you want new bricks or old bricks?” That one question introduced me to a world that I didn’t know existed. “What kind of creatures are old bricks?” I inquired. “They’re 40-year old bricks that have been used in old homes. These old bricks are discolored and deformed and disfigured with age. In other words, they’re ugly.”
“If they’re cheaper, I’ll take them!”
My contractor laughed. “The old bricks are three times more expensive than the new ones.”
My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe my ears. He explained. “The new bricks are so perfect and uniform, they’re boring. The old and ugly bricks on the other hand have charm and character.” “Wow. The last time I heard the words charm and character, they were descriptions of boyfriends and girlfriends.” Needless to say, I was so intrigued by these old bricks I decided to blow my budget and splurge. “Alright, give me the old bricks!” I announced to my contractor. “Good choice!” he said. “They cost one thousand pesos per square meter. How many shall you order?” My jaw dropped again. I began to compute on my calculator and told him my answer as confidently as I could say it. “Give me 12 bricks.”
“Twelve square meters?” my contractor asked. “Uh no… 12 pieces. That’s all I can afford right now.” The following week, my 12 bricks arrived.
They were ugly all right. Discolored, misshapen, broken, pock-marked, deformed and disfigured. One of them even had graffiti on it. But after the mason plastered them on the wall, they were exquisitely beautiful. Charm and character written all over my wall. Who said these bricks were ugly? People. And who said these bricks were beautiful? People. Why? Because of the power of labels.