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Opinion

No permanent mistakes allowed

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Last week, my brother-in-law Coach Eric Altamirano shared an actual video of someone sharing a “religious joke” inside a real church. The story or joke is so relevant for the Filipinos that I shared it on Facebook and asked others to do likewise. The speaker stood amidst the pews in a predominantly black church and told the tale:

A “Big” man died and went to the other side. On that day GOD decreed that whoever arrives must choose where to go, whether to Heaven or Hell. So, this man was so excited he demanded to visit Hell first. And he got into something that looked like a “lift” and he went down to Hell. When the doors opened, things were glorious. The devil had no tail, the devil had no horns, he even met his friends, they were healthy, eating well, drinking well, making merry!

Then time was up, and he demanded to be taken to Heaven. In Heaven, the picture was nice, angels floating around, good music, the Lord Almighty presiding and reigning supreme. Finally, he was asked: what is your choice? Because you are not going to be judged, there will be no judgment today. Judge for yourself. He thought: “You know these bishops have been telling lies and spoiling the name of the devil. The devil is a very fine man. He looks after his people, it’s only the monks making the most noise saying ‘Satan’ ‘Satan.’ This man is not bad at all and, in any case, Heaven seems to be over-rated. As a matter of fact, it’s a bit boring.”

That was the debate in his head. So, when the angel asked him to choose, he said: “I have chosen that I will go to hell, now that I have seen it with my own eyes.” Then the angel said, “Get into the lift” and it took him down.

But when the doors opened, things have changed. The place looked like a desert, his friends were wearing dirty clothes, they were eating from the garbage pit and the devil was now complete in his devilish regalia. The tail was out, the horns were out and he was carrying a whip. So, he tiptoed towards the devil and said, “Excuse me Sir, you remember me, don’t you? I was here the other day, surely you remember me?” And Lucifer said, “Go to hell, I don’t remember you. What do you have to say any way?” So he said, “You know, the other day things were very nice here. Things have been changed for the worse today! What’s happening?”

The Devil said, “I’m sorry, my friend, the day you came we were campaigning.”

Now therefore we need to tell our people: there is life after campaigns.

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My friend Robert Hern, who pastors an Every Nation Church in San Diego, California recently posted a line he had read in an article about “Emotional Intelligence” that goes: “Never make a permanent mistake based on a temporary emotion.” I actually searched the statement and tried to find a Bible phrase equivalent, but nothing came out close to what the statement was saying. As I went through different images, my mind casually drifted to a time when the term “Permanent Mistake” first hit me.

It was an early summer evening in our family home in UP Village, a time when I was madly in love with a young lady from the US who, after an extended romantic holiday, now had to go back home to finish school. As goodbyes were being said, my father Louie Beltran joined us and asked us to sit down for a few minutes so he could talk to us. This was one VERY RARE occasion because as much as he loved us, my dad was not so expressive, let alone the type to sit you down to talk about the birds and the bees, God, religion or relationships. He was undoubtedly a wise man full of life’s experiences, but as great as the journalist and broadcaster that he was, he really struggled verbalizing emotions and concerns. Dad was always awkward around the girlfriends or boyfriends of his children.

He began with well wishes and have a nice trip and out of nowhere he said: “When it comes to relationships, there are right relationships and there are wrong relationships. In life we make mistakes and we are allowed to make mistakes, but what we are not allowed to and should not make, are permanent mistakes. Whether it’s a decision or a relationship. You have to make sure that your actions and decisions don’t end up putting you somewhere you regret for life. Marriage is for life and marrying the wrong person is a permanent mistake. Make sure that you choose someone you want to be with permanently and not someone you will be referring to as your permanent mistake.”

Yes, being madly in love is certifiably a bad state of mind and historically a temporary emotion. But permanent mistakes are not the monopoly of love stories. They also come in the form of bad decisions, violent acts or indecision even. I know of a couple of people whose lives have been permanently ruined, along with others, because of their violent action. People who, in a burst of anger, drug induced rage or actual accident, have killed someone or abused someone. They may have paid for their crime, but they are forever cursed or haunted by the permanent consequence of their momentary emotion. They never fully recover mentally and become social outcasts.

There are also those who, based on what they were feeling at the moment, decided not to help someone in need only to discover that they could have really made a difference in a person’s genuine hour of need. We often say “I don’t feel like it” or “I’m tired or I’ll do it later” but none of that works for someone who committed suicide yesterday, over dosed last night or died outside a hospital this morning. Think consequence, not emotions.

CHURCH

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