3 Important Lessons Herbs taught me about Love

This is the first year that I’ve been very interested about herbs, as someone with zero knowledge about taking care of greens it seemed so easy, “just water them” is all I learned from my childhood days and they’d thrive according to my dad’s garden. But after purchasing and caring for one, there’s so much more to learn than just to give as much as you can to them.

Love is a huge topic for me this season of the pandemic, as I have lost love from death, from grief and from epiphany. You know, when we think of the concept of “loving others”, we think “What’s best for their future” that we forget what they need in the present.

Herbs have a huge way of reminding you that balance is necessary. My first 2 herbs are rosemary and tarragon. I picked the two because rosemary is absolutely pleasant to add for cooking and tarragon is amazing as tea. So as a first time plantito, I did the best thing I could: Google ways to take care of it.

At first, I checked out some tips online which stated

  • Water once a week
  • Water when you stick your finger in by two inches and if its dry water it
  • Keep it under the sun
  • Its ok with indirect light
  • Use a non fertile soil
  • It prefers to be dry before watering

As a man that follows orders, I did just that, I followed schedule, kept it in sunlight and even kept in the soil it came with and guess what? Both died slowly. Thinking that it was a plant that like drought, I gave it drought by leaving it with the afternoon sun and with dry soil. Mind you the signs weren’t that obvious that its deteriorating because there’s new sprouts, small progress, but the degradation was faster. I didn’t take note because I thought these things listed online were gospel truth.

I’ve seen people love in the same way, as a template, and if it doesn’t work for the other, they are disappointed because they didn’t appreciate the love that they received. Well, I could say the same about my dead herbs but they’re dead because I didn’t pay attention to them as they are, I thought I could just do things in routine and things will go well. Love cannot be a template, certain sets of actions are not applicable to everyone.

I got a second set, and this time, I didn’t follow the advices online strictly. I did a regimen more customized for each plant. The three core principles still stands that: Always check 2 inches of soil for dryness, water the pot till the bottom drips water and only direct morning sunlight. But this time I made sure that the rosemary had more sun on its foliage as well as misting it on the morning. As for the tarragon, I gave it more indirect sun to work with. I also got a new herb this time: thyme.

There was a time that the thyme’s pot fell and cracked, and we had to make do with what soil we can gather temporarily since we didn’t have soil readily available at the place. It was a half of what it used to have, so I watered it more thoroughly since there’s less soil to retain moisture and the heat dries it quickly. I guess I was too worried, since it might not have enough water intake, but thyme prefers drought. so guess what? Half of it yellowed and died.

In the same way, you cannot just love bomb someone and make them feel guilty or indebted to you. Love like that is not rooted on the needs of the other, it is based on your own need to be loved. To love is to pay attention to the need and wants, and give enough. Not too little that you leave them begging, not too much that they lose their desire for anything. Love pays attention to the needs of the present with consideration of the future. Love is customized, based on the needs of who you meet, not your own love language.

Also, you have to pay attention to each person’s foundation, some people grew up in unloving homes. I realized that while some people’s problems are not irreparable, they’re just not identified properly to talk solutions and boundaries. Identification is the first step to solving problem, I learned that while their soil might not be much, we can always add new soil to their lives to put better foundation for their emotion and security. Be patient, listen and speak with understanding and they will grow lovingly.

Herbs are wonderful, if you get their range of what they desire, they provide such great returns to add as garnish, to taste or tea. I have picked some for use and the thing is, while they have brought wonders to my days they don’t grow back instantly no matter how much you water, fertilize or put them under the sun. I get anxious on the idea if they wont grow back, if they wont be able to produce anymore as well as impatient so I can get more, but none of my feelings get the consequences I desire. What they do though, is return though patience and time. To observe what is lacking takes time, you have to look for the minute detail, but once you’re confident with their health, it is important to acknowledge that they can do things on their own. To leave them in their own time.

I guess that’s the hardest to do. Whether you believe it or not, love gives space and time. Beautiful moments and realizations comes when they have time to reflect on matters and experience new moments. I’ve learned that the poinsettia and my newly acquired kalanchoe, blooms when experiencing prolonged darkness. I think that’s a wonderful representation of a person: we bloom the best when we are given time to be free, to be who we are.

I’m Deconstructing my Faith and you should too

Hello friend, it’s been awhile.

So one of the greatest challenge about the pandemic for me, is not only dealing with the grief I have to live with regarding the loss of my boyfriend but as well as faith. You see, when you are now faced with death, you ask “Where did he go?”, “Where will I go?”, “How do I get there?” and “Does it matter?” which all points to the supernatural.

I was very saturated with the concept of Born-Again Christianity, and I have always wrestled with it, going from atheism, agnosticism to back to being a believer once again (Thanks to Ravi Zacharias’ book “Who made God?”) so for me, God cannot be taken out of the equation, the concept of heaven, hell and sin exists, and the Bible, is the guide for us to get to the end game.

But I have been influenced more by the people around me about God than me pursuing Him, from people telling me what not to do, to the church expecting me to follow a template of a human being. This created a lot of conflict in me, about who I am and who I am supposed to be. There are “hypothetical contradictions” in my life that prayer did not change and my heart found peace with that other people could not — and even finds it a need for me to conform to their world and religion vs my personal faith. For a time, I used to think God spoke through these people. I respected them and their words are very important to me. Then, in my meditation about King Saul, I realized how his focus on these external practices cannot cover for what’s really in our hearts, in their hearts. Their need for external recognition does not honor God, it is how we love others that do.

I’m reminded about the last verse of 1 Corinthians 13

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

You see, among the three, love should be the one abundant as Christians, above faith, and above hope. True Christians know that hope without love is wishful thinking, faith without love is just religion and faith and hope together without love is just fanaticism.

I realized after creating a more quality time about reading: I understood at last, true faith should not be forced down my throat by anyone else, a true Christian wouldn’t. I have felt more of God by the people who spoke in love than in faith, and my faith is determined by me, my relationship, my experiences and my understanding. God is alive and not limited by a book and how much time you read that book.

Do I feel I can’t be wrong? Absolutely not. I believe anyone can give me counsel about their experience, but what makes me understand who to listen to is those who speak with love. People who prefer to speak the brutal truth are obviously more concerned about brutality than speaking truth. There is no God in them evidently, only knowledge and elitism.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”

1 Cor 13:1

Who likes listening to clanging cymbals after all?

There are people who will create dissonance between you and God claiming to be messengers. Like how Saul as king seemed like the representative of God during his reign. Make no mistake, it is wisdom to know what to listen to. No person is above God, there are only those who think they are the voice of God. Solomon, the wisest king has been blessed by God with wisdom, yet he plunged the kingdom to ruin in the end. I’m sure the people cannot blame Solomon for their worship of other gods in Heaven, after all it is their decision, knowledge and own personal experience. So likewise, with us, God is not limited to the people in authority.

So this marks my journey where I intentionally consider a sermon as but a guide, not a law. Counsel as advice, not a command and my faith as my own, not borrowed. There are multiple kinds of Christians in this world, most of them will bring you down. Perhaps, after all the sin they have indulged and have satisfied, they now believe they are much holier because they found redemption and you should not be able to afford the same redemption timespan as them. Their religion dictates only the selected get to be redeemed, and everyone that will not be obedient is damned to hell. Well, your journey might not as comfortable and confirming what theirs is already but your journey of faith is your own friend, don’t let anyone take it away from you. Let it happen, live it.

There are still good people of faith though, you just have to know to identify them from the counterfeit ones: Don’t find God in the proud, find him in the broken and humbled. There you will understand love like no other.

I hope you too someday find the time to listen to what God has to tell you rather than listen to people about what their fear is telling them. There is a heavy weight the fear of people has, to let it stay in your heart. Let it go, live free.

I Survived the 2020 thanks to: You.

2020 was chunk full of ironies in my life. The biggest being I have been freed of the shame I kept ever since puberty but at the same time I do not want this freedom I have been craving anymore.

Life has never been the same ever since I lost Maico. I have lost my sharp memory, my organization, my confidence and my will to just live well and long. Love has been trivial, confusing and something I don’t understand once again. Like a mosquito: I know it’s there, I have its company, I itch with it but I don’t know how its existence is beneficial.

I thought I was well till the holidays turned out, and again, I have felt the most alone that I have ever been in the company of others and my family. Actually, it might not be a feeling of “alone” but rather, hollow. Like my heart is missing, and I’m seeing my present in a theater of whose main character I can’t relate or be interested on.

I’m still lost, and I still don’t know how to overcome grief no matter how much I study, no matter how much I try but one thing I do know is that I had fleeting moments without grief all because of you. I survived 2020 because you were part of my life.

Because you have acknowledged Maico and my loss, that you offered your condolences regardless of what your church tells you, or what your family believes in. You acknowledged that I can love him, not as just a friend or a phase but a partner, something that really meant a lot to me and my future.

Because you offered your friendship to me, that I can see your good days in your wall, your adventures that I felt I have shared with. The memes that bring out a good chuckle in the midst of the darkness looming over my head. As well as the opinions you have the courage to share to know that I’m not alone in my fight against this world.

It is also the chats that not a lot of people have the valor to ask a broken man of “How are you?” even when you expect to just be seen or be given a stale reply. I liked to be asked, sometimes I just don’t have the heart to drag you down with me to the abyss.

The love you have given, the care that you shared, even when it was just a like on my posts, it was enough. Because any amount of time, even if just a second, helped me skipped the drop of being dragged down to the dark.

2021 has come and I want you to know what you do matters, as well as you matter. Whatever your history is, what ever your past is, is done. You can change your future with what you do now. Your words, your effort have power and influence, and it’s what you do with these that changes you from a statistic to a dent in the timeline. I’m not going to force you and say you should be, but you could be.

But if I may, do something a little more braver and reach out for a dream, make it a goal, and make it happen. I learned that not everyone gets a tomorrow and you might as well live trying than live dying.

2021 is a gift that not everyone got, whether you like it or not, might as well do the best with it.

The Pain of Losing the One

When you breakup with a romantic partner because of cheating or just purely you didn’t work out because of disagreements, it’s a time full of emotions but in the end you get that trajectory of growth to pursue being better, that they’ll regret leaving you or you’re gonna find someone more fit because of the traits you realize you didn’t like. Whatever it is, it sets up a goal infront of you, in pursuit of path that you CAN find someone and you will.

That’s what I’m jealous about, that’s what I miss and that is what I want. Because when you find a soulmate, and lose them, you end up in this dead end asking, what now? You find this perfect being based on your dreams, that their strengths and compatibility far outweigh their quirks, not only that but they pursue to find compromise with you to make the relationship work. That in itself is the closest to a perfect person I have ever met and shared my heart with. When individuality was second only to being one entity, as what marriages are meant to be.

And I lost that, I lost him.

In this life we’re taught to grow ourselves to be the best we can be and not only for ourselves, but for the future of others, to the ones you will love and of course, to your soulmate the most, because they will be the ones to inherit the best and the worst of you: Your greatest dreams and your worst fears. It’s easy to tell people your the best part about you, cast a vision, make people’s eyes light up, inspire, direct and motivate, impress, flirt and make the crowd cheer you on. On the other hand, it is true connection to tell people what makes you weak, what makes you dark and undesirable. It’s that stage where you transcend flirting, friendship and anything more than just romance. It is when you come so clean they have dirt on you that’s worth leaving you but they don’t. They chose you as a whole not as the marketed product you are while dating.

In this era of digital age, where dating is as inconsequential as window shopping and communication changed from courtesy rather than a necessity, finding true love feels like shooting through a brick wall hoping it hits the center mark but I found it against all odds and I lost it in the same odd.

So, how do I share a pain so great that demands to be felt?

I never thought of myself as emotional. When we’d get into quarrels because of his jealousy or anxiety, I’d just talk with him, rationalize why it doesn’t make sense and we’d align back. But this pain, this pain and emptiness crushes all willpower. I can’t identify right from wrong, day from night, up or down. Everyday feels hazy and living is just millions of excuses distracting from dying. Do I have to live a life where I was wrong in the most parts of it and disregarding the best part or do I live on with losing what it was worth living for in the first place?

Everyday I get love I don’t think I deserve, nor do I feel it but I just know it exists.

I guess this is connected to the idea of being the irony of Christian and being homosexual. When you’re raised by the idea that your community treats you as a joke and both God and them find you disgusting, who then can and will love you other than your co-outcast? Hence I never believed in their love, or at least have always been wary of it as more of a courtesy to a disabled, that at the back of their heads they’re still hoping and will rather love a miracle they’re counting on than someone that already exists.

You can never imagine the additional pain of hearing that the death of my most treasured person to ever appreciate the true and all of me is “for the best of me.” If I’m such a mistake, it should have been me.

It should have been me.