This part of the year brings out my drama king aspirations. Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday, a day I’ve celebrated eight times; from 2006, my first time do so, up until the last time I celebrated it in New York in 2013. As much as it is a day to give thanks and honor God for the blessings He has given, and look back at the people and experiences that have made me a better person, Thanksgiving is my marker for the number of years I’ve been in New York. My second Thanksgiving in 2007 marked my first year in the city, the same holiday I celebrated in 2013 would marked my last full year living in the states (at least for now).
I miss New York, big time. There was never a day since I moved back to the Philippines in 2014 that I didn’t think, pray, or dream that I’m back in the city. I’ve prayed the same prayer since my first day in Manila – “Lord, bring me back to New York.” My Mom, my friends from church, and even the students I’m helping grow in their faith have been saturated (sometimes exasperated) with my pleas of wanting to go “home.”
Though that’s the case, however, I know that I am where I’m supposed to be. I’m thankful that I had the courage and clarity of mind to do what I need to do at that time. And had an enormous amount of grace entering this season of my life outside of NYC. I’m thankful that I have people around me who has encouraged and cheered me on in my new season since day one of arriving in Manila. I’m thankful that I have a job that I love and work with people passionate about their careers and ministry. I’m thankful that I live in a home conveniently located to places where I need to be – my church, my friends, and university students ready to hear God’s word, and with each passing semester reminds me of my purpose here. I’m thankful that I have budget for Starbucks and Uber, both of which have been crucial in getting me to work and getting me to work!
I’m also thankful that I live in a country, despite of its flaws and frailties, have a culture fixated on love and humor. I’m thankful that I live in a city that, despite it having a namesake river deemed the most polluted in the universe, is peaceful and safe. I’m thankful that I live in a home, with imperfect parents and imperfect siblings, that showers me with enough (sometimes more than enough) attention and love that I grew up being comfortable with myself and well, enjoying being by myself as much as appropriate. I’m thankful for having a best friend, who despite the distance, continues to stick closer than a brother; who never reneged on his promise that he’ll never forget me. I’m thankful for our weekly phone calls, the numerous texts, and the consistent encouragement that very soon we’ll hangout again in person. I’m thankful for all my friends back in New York, who continues to be there for me, and for those who I’ve touched based in person or over Viber, always makes me realize that distance doesn’t diminish genuine friendships.
Above all, of course, I’m thankful that I worship and honor a God who celebrates, promotes, and stands for the real meaning of love, so much so that He defines and personifies such lofty idea. In an age of hate where the name of god is used to kill, steal, and destroy lives, I’ve known and committed my life to a god determined to prosper me, to give me hope, to give me a great future, and to give me a full life.
Yes, I’m still not in a place I want to be in. No, I didn’t accomplish the things I thought I already would have attained at this point in my life. Maybe, I’m still complaining deep inside and needed to write this as a form of therapy. But one thing’s for sure: Being grateful for anything we have in life is as much a decision as it is a feeling. There are more than enough reasons for me to thank God this year for what He has done. I have received more than enough blessings to look back and look up to Him who has made all these things possible.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Please eat an extra slice of Turkey and Pecan Pie for me.