By Lauren V. Macaraeg

The phrase “Holy Week” is practically synonymous to “relaxation” here in the Philippines. It is a traditional time for most Filipinos to take a vacation from work and school. Some Pinoys fly off to exotic tourist destinations in other countries, others drive to refreshing out-of-town spots, while some travel home to their native towns and provinces to spend time with family. Others choose to stay in the city, either checking into fancy hotels or simply chilling at home to get much-needed rest.

What if all of your friends are enjoying one way or another this Holy Week? What if they are posting about their fun adventures in real-time on social media, while you feel you are the only one who is stressing out over problems? I am experiencing this for the first time this year.

My first time to feature a sad-faced cartoon mini-me in my blog 🙁

When I was growing up, my family and relatives had an annual tradition of going to out-of-town resorts to relax during Holy Week. We would either go to the mountains to cool off (and eat) or go to the beach to swim and go snorkeling (and eat). Although we are still close to our relatives, we have all gradually started doing our own thing during this particular holiday.

These past several years, my mom and I have chosen to stay in the city during Holy Week. We want to avoid the stress of packing and traveling, while minimizing our expenses at the same time. (During the rare times we do go out of town, we prefer to do it during a regular weekend instead of a holiday to avoid the crowds). Although most people know me as someone who likes to go out, I absolutely love curling up in bed watching TV, movies or Asianovelas, reading new books, or simply sleeping in. On Good Fridays, we usually attend the special church service with one of my favorite aunts who often stays in the metropolis too. (Tita C usually makes us laugh when we hang out afterwards so it’s kinda hard to maintain a serious “Biyernes Santo” face ?).

This year, we had no grand travel plans for Holy Week. Simple lang. Yet I have been looking forward to this time since the beginning of the year, because I thought I would at least have peace and quiet for a week. But we unexpectedly faced a crisis this month so it has not been the relaxing time I had hoped for. (I won’t be sharing the details of our problem for now. While I freely share the fun aspect of our life with everyone, with the hope of spreading good vibes, I prefer to deal with problems privately as much as possible because I don’t want to burden others unless necessary. Plus, there is no need since that is not the point of my story.)

To be honest, I have been inwardly (and sometimes outwardly!) grumbling the past several days. I felt resentful. “Ang babaw na nga ng kaligayahan ko,” I thought, “hindi pa ako pagbigyan ni Lord?”

I’m not even the type to get envious when friends or relatives go on fancy trips abroad as long as I get to relax in my own simple way. (It helps that I literally got sick and tired of flying on airplanes years ago, to the point that my stomach felt queasy whenever I saw my suitcase ? But that’s a different story). I even enjoy looking at other people’s travel pictures! (Although I admit I feel a teeny bit envious whenever I encounter photos of exotic FOOD I would like to taste ? Haha ang takaw talaga! And I do miss the ocean. But I always do).

All I wanted for this year’s Holy Week was just plain and simple relaxation. I was resentful because I felt I was being cheated out of something so basic.

Even during the times I tried to rest this week, I still felt worried about our problem. I wondered why in the world the crisis couldn’t just have happened – if it had to happen at all – after Holy Week. I thought, “Hindi ba ako pwede mag-recharge muna bago harapin ang reality ng buhay?!”

“What a stressful Holy Week this is! Ano ba naman yan…” I muttered crankily.

Then I suddenly felt the Lord answer me, “Why? What do you think my Holy Week was like 2,000 years ago?”

“Oh,” I said. “Oh.”

When #GirlMeetsGod: I was in the middle of grumbling about my problem-filled Holy Week. Then God reminded me of His Holy Week. #LaurenMacDoodles

I suddenly remembered exactly what kind of Holy Week the Lord Jesus had two millenia ago. What was it like again? Well, pinako lang naman Siya sa krus, nilatigo, sinampal, dinuraan, kinaladkad, at iba pa… [In English: Well, He was just nailed to the cross, whipped, slapped, spat upon, dragged around, and more…]

It suddenly dawned on me that although many of us Filipinos intentionally try to remember the Lord and His death and resurrection during Holy Week, we usually have this time of reflection while we are relaxing. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

But perhaps this year, maybe the Lord wanted me to have a very small, very faint glimpse of His suffering, although my pain does not even come close to His. Perhaps He also wanted me to understand a little how the Jews felt like when the greedy Romans oppressed and abused them. And more importantly, why the Israelites felt a pressing need for a Savior.

This week was tough. Still, it was a clear reminder that my new life was only made possible because of the cross. Salamat, Lord.

I don’t know a lot of things. How the Lord will show His goodness and power through this trial. How He will ultimately work this problem for our good. But I do know one thing: I am not alone. We are not alone as we go through joyful times. We are not alone especially as we go through sad times.

Creating this #LaurenMacDoodles relaxed me during this stressful week even if it was a little tiring too. Reason No. 1: Putting together all the visual elements into one final image in the end reminded me that God will piece together all the details of my life even if they don’t seem to make sense at first. #Romans828 FTW! Reason No. 2: I just like to doodle!

To all of you out there who may also be going through a rough time this Holy Week, perhaps even during the rest of the year: I don’t know why God allowed certain things to happen in your life. And I will not presume to guess because I am not God.

All I want to tell you is this: You are not alone. For there is a Savior who suffered and died on the cross and rose again to life. So we can be together with Him. In good times. In tough times. And everything in between.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They clothed Him in a purple robe and went up to Him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped Him in the face… So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.” (John 19:1-2, 16-18)

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

#LaurenMacDoodles #GirlMeetsGod #HolyWeek #Summer #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines #TunayNaPinoy #LaurenVMacaraeg #LaurenMacScribbles #LaurenMacKulit

#Holiday: Holy Week 04.2017

About the author

Lauren V. Macaraeg

Lauren V. Macaraeg is a children’s book author and freelance writer. Check out her official website at www.laurenvmacaraeg.com to learn more about Lauren and her book Sinemadyika.

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