So here’s the thing. I’m on the third day of my learning about being a pollution control officer. It’s taking approximately 9 hours out of my day, so I still should have some time to do other things. Unfortunately, I’ve observed that my mind is looking for comfort, to make up for the time lost. And, really, it’s not even just about that reason – I seem to be making it up, because even in the middle of the online lectures I’m finding myself reaching out to my phone. My Twitter engagement has increased significantly and now that I think about it I should probably just write in longer form… meaning I should probably just be typing more on Evernote, possibly for uploading to WordPress, but ultimately for more fine-tuned clarity.
Over the past days I’ve imagined that there’s a better version of me, working on what needs to be done and avoiding the things I know are wasting my time. I’ve imagined I’m looking at this better version of me as a totally different person… but I’ve also imagined, considering my belief system and its influence on my mindset, that this better version is already existing and alive, and all that’s needed to do is to break out of the old mold.
A recent topic we’ve talked about in our lectures was focused on climate change, and while I have my own reservations on the topic, I do agree with what they were saying were prompt responses – they were generalized into mitigation, and adaptation. For a good number of infographics the blame was placed on us – and I have to agree that we did have a part in making it all happen – but if you look at the responses, they are, well, responses. It’s like it’s inevitable and all that’s left to do is to reduce the damage we appear to be causing, and to adapt to the consequences that follow – damage control, if you may.
I also remember something that our newly-elected President said in his inauguration: “A stronger resilience, quicker adaptability. They are our best prevention, they are our best protection.”
Before I go any further I think I should just quickly share definitions, and let’s see what we can piece together, let’s see how we could do some simplification. Of course these are all from our trusted friends, Merriam and Webster.
Mitigation: the process or result of making something less severe, dangerous, painful, harsh, or damaging
Adaptation / Adapt: to make fit (as for a new use) often by modification
Now when it comes to resiliency, I saw two definitions that caught my attention. The first one I’m sharing seems to be the more fitting definition.
Resiliency: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change
But check this definition out – it’s actually the first definition in the website.
Resiliency: the ability of something to return to its original size and shape after being compressed or deformed
Prevent consequence as much as possible, and if it could not be avoided, then convert the consequence to a benefit, and if it could not be converted, recover. This projection of this so-called better version of me would probably have experience in having mitigation, adaptation, and resilience as a good response plan for anything, but I couldn’t help but go back to that definition I pointed out, the other definition for resiliency – It reminds me that in all that does happen, it helps more than anything else to know that I ‘return to (my) original size and shape.’
Here I see another case of the importance of identity, in as much as what I think is its absolute superiority over our methodology. Obviously it’s impossible to list down all the possibilities in every possible moment and assign individual mitigation and adaptation methods for each and every item. It’s notable to have general collected methods and protocols to address the majority of possibilities, and I have no problem with that… but I ought to remember – apparently just as much as I’d like to share – that for the one who believes in Christ, our level of resiliency is not necessarily seen in our recovery.
No, I believe that because of His finished work, we have been brought so close to Him, and He has brought Himself so close to us, much so that He has become our Identity (NOTE: This does not mean that we are gods – this DOES mean we have an inseparable and therefore close-as-possible union with the one true God). And because Christ is our Identity, so He is our Resilience – He remains the same for us and in us, even in those times when we would experience tragedy that deforms us, or fortune that reforms us. He remains the same for us and in us, even in those times that we encounter depression that compresses us, or elation that expands us.
Having this in mind doesn’t necessarily cancel out our need to mitigate and adapt, but it does shift our minds.
Before I go any further I do want to mention a line I shared with a good friend of mine, much younger than I am – the closest person I have to who I can call a disciple: “I can’t say I’m god. It’s obviously not true. But think of it from one perspective – we are finite, but we are as close to the infinite God as we could ever be. If you put me besides God I’d be so tiny and so insignificant – actually, incomparable! But even if I’m that tiny… All of God loves all of me. It’s so true when the Psalmist said, who am I that You are mindful of me?”
Just to know, again, not that we are gods, but that we have God, and God has us – it doesn’t necessarily remove or even reduce the possibilities of consequence hitting us… but it does separate us completely from the anxiety associated with such random circumstances and situations. As believers still within this reality we’re bound to mitigate and adapt just like the next guy – only I believe our perspectives, much like the rest of our minds, have been fully renewed.
Look at it this way. The pressure of us making something less severe, dangerous, painful, harsh, or damaging to ourselves has been taken away, because Christ essentially already took the worst that can happen to any of us – that is, sin separating us from God and therefore dooming us, not only to death but to insignificance and entropy.
He became sin and died – and here’s the thing, now that I’m in my current train of thought, I’m thinking that the moment Christ’s body flatlined, He could have instantly bounced back up and that would have been a miracle. I believe He had to be dead for 3 days, for another reason on top of what’s already out there: He became sin and died, for sure, but I believe insignificance and entropy were also in the cup He was to drain down to the dregs.
Anyway. We know that Christ took the worst that could happen to us – not only for it not to happen to us, but also for the best He deserved to fall upon us instead – that is, to be reconciled to God, to be so close to Him that we do not only call Him God, not only Lord, but our Father. And considering Christ’s finished work made this such a guarantee, we face severity, danger, pain, and harsh damage – all with perfect love, which casts out all fear!
I keep going back to telling the story of a friend of mine whom I worked with, when I was assigned to work in Manila. He was processing his resignation, and in the hours of what was his final shift, he told me that he had to talk to me. Considering his situation I thought he was going to talk to me about tying up any loose ends he was inevitably going to leave behind, but to my surprise, we sat down, and he asked me – ‘Why are you always smiling? Why are you always at peace?’
Now the first question was easy – my Mom was and is always smiling, and not in a twisted, Joker-poison sort of way, but you knew she was just as real as she was glowing. I guess some of that rubbed off on me. But as to the second question? Well… looking at it now, I don’t think I had as elaborate as an answer, but I’d like to think that I was still ready, as the Word proclaimed, to be ready with a testimony. Long story short, we didn’t leave the room without me leading my friend to accept Christ as His Savior.
Now the thing is, I may not have demonstrated the love of God at every given moment – This was certainly the case when I lived and worked in Metro Manila, which I still call a giant ‘meat grinder’ – but for some reason, I believe my friend still saw the love of God shine in spite of the severity, the danger, the pain, and the harsh damage that was clear and present, in and out of our workplace. If it’s enough to change someone else’s perspective, how couldn’t it change the way we think – just as much, even if we aren’t thinking about it?
To this day, I cannot fathom – rather, I’ve given up on fathoming. I’ve given in to just embrace this subtle, yet overwhelmingly irresistible, perfect love God has for us. We mitigate, prioritizing others as Christ prioritized us over Himself, and with boldness, not only because Christ was bold in laying down His life for us, but also because we know that He has eliminated the fear of the worst ever happening to us. I’ll admit that this has probably made me more reckless in my actions, and more arrogant in my words and responses… I’m not even going to try to make excuses, but I would take responsibility, only out of thankfulness, because I’ve been set free from doing FAR less out of a fear that God was gonna withdraw some of His favor from me if I made what I thought was a wrong decision.
And, really, that’s the difference between how we mitigate and adapt then and now – We mitigate when we must, but all in appreciation of Christ who not only mitigated, but eliminated the consequence of sin in our lives. And if we find ourselves dragging our feet to help others, let us find our peace – and however it may drive us – in reminding ourselves of what Christ did for us.
On the other hand, we adapt, and we adapt in appreciation of Christ. We do our modifications to our beings – mostly our minds, out of my observation – all this with the awareness, and maybe sometimes in remembrance of the fact and the Truth that God truly is faithful to make all things work for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.
I know I’ve clarified my stance on that many times before, but I will say it again – sure, it does mention ‘those who love Him’, as if to say that we’re to be doing all the loving and raising all the love to Him. But, really, how would we even know what love is if our eyes aren’t opened to the true love He has for us, as demonstrated and guaranteed by Christ and His finished work? Sure, our old, flesh minds and hearts could serve God, but I will stand on my ground in saying that we couldn’t love God unless we know He loved us FIRST.
And it’s in our understanding of how God absolutely loves absolutely all of us that we understand His purpose, and how we all fit in it – After all, He loved the world, as the famous verse goes. John the Baptist called Him the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. I’m no universalist – I still think that we need to reciprocate the Holy Spirit’s workings in our being to give even the slightest of openings to Christ to come in – But I do believe that it’s God’s will AND purpose for none to perish, but for all to have everlasting life.
So we could do our own adjusting, confident, knowing that Christ knows infinitely more than we do about each and every situation we’re adjusting to (and even those we have yet to work on), and the triune God is sure to respond. And we’re not only confident. To be honest, we may never know the reason for why everything happens, and we may never know the adjustments God makes in our own specific issues, but we have peace, and peace that is understandably beyond understanding, simply because we know our God hears us.
And there it is. Just as we are motivated to mitigate as Christ responded to the worst that happened to us, so we are inspired to adjust, knowing that the everlasting God is for us, and He makes all things work together for our good. Christ is our literal Resilience for what the world throws at us, just as He is our Identity, expressing Himself through us the way He built us.
All this time I thought He was the ‘better me’ I was thinking about. Turns out, He’s better than that – He was the best thing that ever happened to me, and He wants nothing less than the best for me; I know this because He gave His best, just to have me, and for me to have Him at His best.
So is it back to the drawing board? Perhaps. But I learned something in all this verbal navigation: I shouldn’t be a sucker for comfort, because I know I’m always at rest.
In all this I am reminded of Christ, holding me together no matter what happens. I am reminded of Christ, who strengthens me, protects me, directs me, and loves me in all I make happen.
All I can say now, is thank You, Jesus.
Let’s continue to remember His goodness as we continue through the second half of this week. God bless us all.