Traffic is God’s Way of Telling Me to Slow Down

Traffic is God’s way of telling me to slow down, calm down, and stop freaking out at everything that is completely out of control in my life.

My drive to work is around twenty minutes (eleven minutes on a good day according to google) and while it is nothing painful to drive through, I still find anxiety welling up inside of me as I maneuver through traffic. Everything about rush hour makes me tense and, more often than not, angry at random strangers.

HONKKKKKK! Yeah, that’s right buddy. Shouldn’t have cut into my lane so close!

HELLOOO! Are you gonna block me or what?!

Why is this grandma car driving so slow?! Nothing is worse than the grandma car that drives 40 mph in the middle lane. MOVE OVER lady!

Why are there so many cars out today? I have places to be!!!

So, you see, traffic can make me a little cranky at times. I can’t help it if there are so many uneducated and or/oblivious drivers in California.

But, you know the worst thing about traffic is? We always think that other drivers on the road are the cause of traffic, but as it turns out, we are just as guilty. You see, if I choose to not get in my car each day, there would be one less car on the road. So yes, we all cause traffic to some degree.

I am a contributor of traffic jams.

It is frustrating to admit that in some ways, because although I have no control over what others do, I have control over myself, over my own actions and behavior. But maybe sometimes, I just don’t want to admit that. Maybe I prefer to think that life’s problems come from someone other than myself.

Sometimes my problems are caused by my own frustrations of immobility. I hate being still, motionless, out of control. I prefer the open road, the constant steady pressure of the accelerator, the freedom of space to move forward. I crave momentum.

Stop. Slow down.

How often do I stop to think that my frustrations don’t have to be frustrations? I simply need to adjust my expectations, my attitude towards myself and others, and accept the lack of control. God tries to tell me this on my commute everyday, but I guess I just don’t listen. Accepting immobility is easier said than done, but there is a peace in it and I am trying to remind myself.

Every morning when I take the on-ramp to the I-8, I can choose to face life with annoyance and anxiety, or I can choose to turn the music up, think about all the blessings in my life and just sit with that for a while. Sit with God in my car, with good music, and forget about all those other drivers. Because in the end, I choose my own attitude, I choose my own happiness.

 

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

 

Quiet Strength – The Freedom to be Myself

quiet strength

The first time I believed with utter conviction that it was ok to be myself- completely myself – I was slurping spicy ramyun at the Filipino/Korean cafe below the tattoo shop where I got my first tattoo. The aroma of kimchi and fish sauce lingered in the humid twilight air. Cheesy elevator music blared from the SM mall up the street and snippets of Tagalog conversations ebbed and flowed from passing pedestrians. My wrist seared with pain but my heart was ablaze with triumph. I had a tattoo.

All my life I had been categorized as the “shy one.”

“She’s so quiet in class,” teachers would tell my mom, concerned at my inability to chatter away incessantly like all the other girls.

“You’re so quiet,” friends who didn’t know me well would blurt out, as if being quiet was the ultimate insult.

“Why don’t you like to talk about yourself?” people would ask. “We never know what you’re thinking.”

Why do you like to talk SO MUCH about yourself? I’d think in return.

 

quiet strength mountains

 

During my time in the Philippines, I spent many quiet evenings drifting gently back and forth in my hammock, gazing at a mass of mountains upon mountains in the distance. Sometimes the rain came, pounding on the corrugated metal roofs, trickling off banana leaves, dense misty fog slipping through the valleys like a chiffon veil. And yet, the mountains stood tranquil as ever, a still, black silhouette amidst a frenzy of rain showers.

Sometimes the sunny clouds came, bright white puffs that carried with them the essence of the ocean. Calm, powerful, vast and swirling, those gentle pillowy formations stretched for miles, engulfing all but the tips of my mountains upon mountains. And yet, those peaks stood tall and defiant; not to be overshadowed, even by floating snatches of heaven.

Sometimes the sun dipped lower and lower in a lazy decent, and the sky was filled with brilliant gold and pink patterns, trumpeting loud cries of sunset glory. And yet, without the dark contrast of the familiar mountain outlines, a twilight sky was nothing but a twilight sky.

 

All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other
– Only the mountain and I.

               ~ Li Po

 

Those mountains became my resting place, a source of comfort for all that they represented – silence, tranquility, peace, strength. I was mesmerized by their beauty, taken by their stature and stance; I felt pride and assurance that I too was like them. I reveled in silence, I basked in peace, I drew energy from tranquility, and I emitted strength – a quiet strength, not unlike the mountains I so much admired.

It was then that I decided that quiet was ok. See how the mountains stand dignified and strong? I told myself. I am like that. My strength came from my calm and quiet nature. I liked quiet; I liked me.

I sketched out an ambiguous idea and let it slowly percolate and transform through the next few months. Arranging and rearranging, drawing and scribbling, my sketch began to materialize into what I had envisioned.

A simple outline of the mountains represented strength. Underneath, inscribed in ancient Tagalog script Alibata, was the word tahimik – Tagalog for “quiet.” Quiet Strength. That was me to the core.

 

Tahimik – Tagalog for “quiet”

 

be yourself

I liked that no one could read the Alibata writing.

“I like your tattoo,” people would say, “but what does it mean?”

And then I would proudly explain my story; I would explain who I was.

It wasn’t getting a tattoo that made me someone special. Anyone can get a tattoo but it doesn’t change who you are. It was my acceptance of who I was; the pride and joy I felt at being the unique person God made me to be. No longer did I find the need to be someone that others thought I should be. I simply wanted to be the person I thought I should be.

 

“A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”

~ Maya Angelou

 

Every day I continue to walk the path of discovery of who I am and what God is calling me to do. When I stay true to my core self and what I know to be my own strengths, I am continually surprised with how much joy and freedom comes with just being completely me.

And I like that. I like me.

 

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

 

Does God Really Speak to Us?

Image attributed to Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/i-love-lucy-anniversary-2013_n_4098323.html (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Image attributed to Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/i-love-lucy-anniversary-2013_n_4098323.html (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Does God Really Speak to Us? – Listening for the Small Voice of God

 
During the lazy summers of childhood bliss, I enveloped myself in books, sprinklers, riding bikes, and watching I Love Lucy reruns everyday at noon. In one particular episode, I remember how Lucy decides to run a grocery buying business from her kitchen, charging everything to her grocery account and pocketing the cash she receives from the customers she buys groceries for. Ricky mistakenly believes she is buying stocks in the actual stock market and when confronted, Lucy lies and attributes her “investment knowledge” to the “small voice” in her head who speaks to her and gives her stock tips.

Ricky: Now honey, tell me something. Where did you get this power you have? Is it some kind of sixth sense?

Lucy: Yeah, yeah that’s it. Some kind of sixth sense. I found out that if I just stand still and listen, a little voice tells me what to buy.

Ricky: Little voice eh?

Lucy: Yeah, and yesterday it said, “Buy Canadian Allied…”

Ricky: Petroleum?

Lucy: Petroleum…yeah.

Ricky: How about that!

god's voice

Does God Really Speak to Us?

Does God “speak” to us? Have you ever heard the voice of God coming straight from heaven?

“Ahem…Hello (insert your name here). This is God speaking. Yes, it’s me God and I need to tell you something immediately.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? But hearing God speak is not what we expect. It’s certainly not easy. We want the dramatic bolt of lightning, the neon flashing sign, the loud and trembling voice from above that tells us exactly what to do.

“God, please. Just send me a SIGN!”

But God is not a God of easy answers. If every choice was obvious, how would we ever be challenged and grow deeper in faith and trust? God is a God of surprises and intrigue. God draws us closer with mystery, inviting us to search deeper for answers that satisfy and fill us. In fact, we can hear more through the small whisper of silence than we can from a giant sign or lightening bolt. Let’s take a look at how Elijah encounters God in the first book of Kings:

“Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah?…” ~ 1Kings 19:11-13

 
Violent wind, earthquakes, and fire and still God is not present. It is only until Elijah hears that quiet soft sound that he knows God is present. Ok…so we get it. God speaks to us through the small voice in the most silent of silences. But what does that mean exactly? How do we hear that voice?

Sometimes, nonreligious friends have looked askance at me when I say things like, “I felt God tell me that.” Or, “I feel God is calling me to do this.” I can hear the inquiring thoughts in their head as they wonder (with good cause) how I really “hear the voice of God.” It is difficult to fathom how you can hear the voice of God without actually hearing a real live voice.

Listening to the small voice of God sometimes feels like I’m straining to hear through the fuzz of TV white noise. It sounds like it might be there, but I don’t always know what God is trying to tell me. And that’s where prayer comes in. LOTS of it.

 

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” ~ Jeremiah 33:3

 
God's voice in quiet prayer

There have been times in my life when I could very clearly hear messages from God about what I needed to do in that moment of my life. Surprisingly though, those moments came through the most random ways. I’d be praying and reflecting on a particular situation, and each time I allowed myself to open up and trust that God’s answer would come, I’d receive a confirmation through something that seemed so perfectly addressed to me. Have you ever felt that a homily was written specifically for you alone? I have.

I believe that God works through the world that he created and speaks to us through creation, through other people, through the small moments and snatches of our ordinary lives. Although God speaks through the smallest voice, if we are sensitive, aware and receptive of hearing that voice, I find that we can hear him everywhere. I hear God speaking to me through the words of a friend, through scripture and the Mass, through that conveniently placed quote painted on the wall of a coffee shop, or through the random words of an extra friendly stranger. When I watch the sunset over a San Diego skyline and I feel at peace with a decision I had just made, I hear God speaking to me through that. God works in mysterious ways and we can find answers to our hard questions in unexpected encounters.

sunset god's voice

Just remember that without prayer and spiritual reflection, nothing will make sense. You might even be bombarded with conflicting messages and confusing thoughts if you do not allow yourself the time and space to just be with God and to listen. It is only through the silence you can begin to finally hear that soft spoken voice.
 

“Be still, and know that I am God!” ~ Psalm 46:10

 
Allow yourself to develop a constant alertness and awareness of God at all times and you will begin to hear God speaking to you through the most interesting ways.
 
How has God spoken to you lately?
 
Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

This article was originally posted on the Words of Witness Blog. Check it out for more articles on Faith and Spirituality!