Be Kind to Yourself

I should have let that woman cross the street; I was not much in a hurry anyway.

I could have politely declined that new service offer without a hint of annoyance in my voice; the telephone operator was only doing his job. 

I would have been two steps ahead of my immigration process by now had I worked on my documents sooner.

I should have, could have, would have. 

Almost two weeks ago, prior to Kevin’s Gandang Lalake Grand Finals event, Mom and I offered to do last-minute shopping on his behalf. Since Dad will follow after work, we decided to take a bus ride instead of driving. I thought to myself that it’s been a while since the last time I did this. 

As expected, the bus was packed, so I sat several seats away from Mom. Halfway through our commute, I witnessed an offence made against another passenger. The man seated in front of me stood up to disembark from the bus. The lady standing next to him in the aisle motioned to sit on the vacant space; however, the man behind her purposely gave her a hard nudge, causing her to stumble towards another man in front of her. That was when I saw how the man expertly took the lady’s phone from her right pocket. When she was about to sit, she figured out what has happened, and immediately called after the men who just got off the bus.

All these happened in seconds, perhaps not even a minute. I could have called their attention, but I didn’t. I knew what was going on, but in a split second, I thought of Mom and the rest of the passengers on the bus. What if there were other members who have not alighted from the bus? What if they had weapons that could harm several other people including myself? These were the thoughts running through my head while I witness an unlawful act right under my nose.

I remained silent and anxious for the rest of our trip. I didn’t tell Mom about it until we’ve reached our destination. We stepped off sooner than we should have because I was starting to feel paranoid. 

Mom decided we attend the evening mass at a church nearby, and what coincidence was it to have gotten there in time for a confession. I can’t tell you how terrible I felt for doing nothing when I could have done something. I gave a blow-by-blow account of the incident during confession, and as part of my absolution, the priest told me something overwhelming: 

Be kind to yourself. Sometimes, when we’re trapped in a situation as such, our decisions become affected by things that will work to our advantage. It’s not at all selfish. God sees everything, and He knows that you only did what you think was best for you and your Mom. Let it go.

I often beat myself up for failing on certain things—whether simple or complicated—but God has His way of showing that I am not a failure. That there are things in life worth letting go of. All I have to do is trust Him. It’s amazing, isn’t it? God knows exactly when to take control over our lives to make us feel better about ourselves. I know this because I felt like a weight has been lifted off my chest. This experience was nothing but a validation of God’s authority and unconditional love. 

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