The applause slowly faded but the smiles on their faces remained painted in my periphery as I sat down for my break to give way to the next trainer for the next module. I breathed in deeply, felt the air expand my belly, and then gently releases it as I breathed it out.
I had just finished delivering a training module on Life Skills as part of the 4-day training for a group of employees from different offices, regions and cities in the Visayas and Mindanao. It was held in a very nice hotel in Cebu. The meals were fantastically filling, the participants were enthusiastically engaged, and the experience was extremely exhilarating.
Speaking and training is something that I am passionate about. It is something that I love to do. It is my preferred path of service to other people. Sometimes I think of being a politician or a preacher to be of service but this, my choice at the present, is a huge present. I love it!
As I was listening to my friend who was delivering the other module, I paused in awe. I looked at myself in the situation and suddenly realized that even though I haven’t reached a lot of my dreams yet, God has been giving countless gifts to me. They have been coming in different forms – opportunities to be of service, to do the things you love to do, to go places you want to go, to meet people you want to meet, and to find friends and mentors who are nurturing and supportive.
I escaped from the training scene and suddenly saw myself journeying from the past to the present and standing looking forward to the future. I saw myself in that small grade school boy walking with overly worn out slippers, that boy slowly growing up while missing out on what his classmates called a merienda during recess times because he had no money to buy snacks, finishing school with Latin honors despite the financial challenges along the way, getting his professional certificate he never thought of as kid, landing his first job in that skyrise building he first walked into, receiving his promotion letter as a supervisor even how young he was then, venturing out as an entrepreneur with his passion and huge dose of courage, now giving talks, trainings and seminars to some small groups and schools, and writing and publishing books being read by a handful of some hundreds of readers.
I came back to the moment and realized that while I have not achieved much of my goals yet, I have grown so much from my struggles in the past. While there are many things I need and want to do, achieve, and become, and that I still need to work on many things in different areas of my life, there’s something that just blew me away – it is how the good Lord blesses you and me in the little and great things. They really are gifts – gifts that are given even if we don’t deserve them.
While they are the results of our hard work and smart work, our good intentions and determined actions to achieve them are our way of cooperating with the Giver so that the gift would reach us. While we are putting in all our efforts, there is always this vital element that completes things. It is the hand of God working in the background. It is God’s loving grace.
It is not because we are worthy but because He is generous.
The days went on filled with fun and learning. The training concluded with heartfelt words from the participants like Thank you and See you again.
Saturday came and I found myself seated at the Mactan Cebu International Airport waiting for our flight PR1850 bound for Manila. The waiting lounge was at its usual ambience, ninety-nine percent of the seats were filled, and groups of tourists and travellers were walking in and out.
After looking around and gazing at the blue sky outside which seemed so usual, I looked at my close perimeter and noticed something out of the usual. Beside me was an international consultant and trainer from the United States whom I (we) have been learning from and working with the past two weeks. Across was a director from an international financial institution, on the left were my friends and co-trainers. I shutdown my laptop as I joined the conversation. They were sharing their stories and experiences of places and people, of countries in different continents. I gazed back at the blue sky outside. It was no longer like the usual. It seemed brighter than usual.
Then I was reminded that through the years, in different occasions and venues, I have been meeting great men and women, who are recognized in the field, in their own industries and I have been learning from them. I have also been meeting great men and women who seem so ordinary but whose lives and daily examples are not just ordinary at all.
As I reflected on this, I asked the questions, “What are the other things that I could be thankful for?”
I paused in awe and thought of the places I’ve been to, the profession I am in, the passion that I am able to share, my partners in projects, the people I meet, the experiences, stories and moments.
“Please prepare to board,” were the words that came out from the loudspeakers in the waiting area. As if knowing what each has in mind, we all nodded, stood up, and lined up to the boarding gates.
Inside the plane, I located my seat, sat down, and fastened my seatbelt. Minutes after our take-off, I pulled out my laptop and started writing again.
In the middle of a paragraph, I paused again and took a deep breath. I looked outside the window and saw the clouds, the blue ocean, and the view of the houses, buildings, and mountains from above.
“Life is beautiful,” I whispered.
Then I told myself, “I still have a long way to go and the destiny I am dreaming of is seemingly not within reach yet but there are a lot of gifts that have been coming my way. To these, I am thankful.”
“Thank you, Lord.” Then I closed my eyes and dozed off.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to start our descent to Manila,” announced the pilot.
I opened my eyes and put back the tray table in front to its upright position. “Get ready to land. After this, prepare for the next one,” I whispered.
Life is filled with good gifts given by God through events and encounters with and through different people in different places. Gifts come in different forms and in different ways. Our role is to receive them openly, with gratitude and with a good sense of stewardship.
(This is an excerpt from Chris Dao-anis’ book ‘Living Large in the Little Things.’ He also gives talks and trainings on communication, confidence building and leadership. Like him on Facebook at www.fb.com/chrisdaoanis. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)