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Just felt this is something I should share.
- This is me two months ago, commenting in someone’s blog.
March 23, 2010
“it’s very disheartening reading some of the comments here. honestly i am beyond tired. if these are comments from christians, i lagi more tired! i don’t want to be pretentious so i will admit that the devil has succeeded in getting people to avoid the church. at least he succeeded with me. i guess that makes me a loser. to hear the constant bashing, especially in recent years, of the church that has been my lifeline in so many ways, is very discouraging and hurtful. when i first got saved, there was this pure and innocent joy to share the good news. i remember inviting a friend of mine to church. she was deeply moved and over the next few years, one after another of her family members came to christ and found new meaning in life. a few years ago she sent me a christmas card with only these words…thank you, thank you, thank you (for bringing me to chruch and introducing me to christ). even now as i am writing this, it brings tears to my eyes. this is what makes life meaningful, to be an agent of change in people’s life. all that was before blogs existed, before i started reading comments and forums and the media. a lot has changed since then. it’s difficult not to be affected by all the criticism and judgment and the spirit behind them. yet it is difficult to avoid them if one doesn’t wish to be a christian living only in her own world. i love to read. i have gained a more balanced view of my faith through reading viewpoints and experiences of other believers. but it has also costs me. fortunately i receive a lot of positive feeding from my church every week. my faith journey might not have lasted this long if not for them. but all the poison has finally caught up with me. my relationship with christ and NCC has become a very private thing. i have no desire to invite anyone to church or mention anything about NCC, church …. or even Jesus. in the eyes of non-believers, they are all the same. with believers, i don’t mention NCC because it makes them run before i have the opportunity to speak. the prejudice is just too great. so i keep silent. i don’t need more people bashing my chruch or my faith. i am done for now. i need time to recover.
many of you ask, how has NCC changed my life? i can’t tell you without telling you how Jesus changed my life because the focus on Christ is central to NCC. yes there are flaws but Jesus is always central. you asked, how has NCC help my faith journey. it is difficult to prove to you in a tangible way. what i can say simply is that the Jesus presented by NCC is the reason why hope is alive even in my bleakest hour. there is an inner buoyancy that sustains my soul when my circumstances are an utter shipwreck. that Jesus is what motivates me to pick myself up and start again when i fail to live up to the christian ideal. when i thought i have completely lost my innocence because i have lost faith in humanity, when there is no one i can trust anymore, that Jesus encourages me to seek beauty in the midst of ugliness. i don’t know if i have personally impacted anyone by these but they sure do keep me from giving up on life.”
but right now, i am really tired. i need to withdraw into my church and behold the Jesus that I know again.
- This is me having doubts about my calling and loosing passion and direction, writing in an email to M.
April 24, 2010
“….regarding your question about interest and passion, well…I’m afraid I don’t have a definite answer right now. You see, that was the reason why I contacted Seth in the first place – because I feel like my life has lost passion and direction. I thought doing something different and following various impulses might help me see God’s leading clearer. I used to be passionate about seeing people come to see their need for Christ, accept His Grace and be transformed by His love and seeing a new purpose for life. I enjoyed reading up on comparative religion and christian apologetics and enjoyed comparing different worldviews. But all that has faded much. Perhaps I was discouraged by a lack of tangible results and a general attitude of nonchalance among the people here. Eventually I tell myself, why cast precious pearls to people who don’t care.”
coming up next…..my recovery.
Since the beginning of this new year, I keep hearing of how people around me are moving on to greater things, or at least are making plans to do so. Some are taking risk and challenging themselves to try something different. Some want to retire in 10 years and are looking for ways to make that happen. Some have plans to upgrade themselves to maintain a competitive edge. Some are fired up by motivational-self-help books to get their life back on track. Suddenly I feel a certain panic. I am turning 38 in a few weeks and have accomplished nothing by society’s standards. “What about you, what are you going to do about it?” seems to scream at me just about now. I could feel a sense of rising panic and voices telling me to catch up when I heard another voice, “Guard your heart. Let not your heart be troubled”. That stopped me in my tracks. I do not want this to be a “reaction” motivated by the fear of loosing out. I certainly do not want to end up laddering on someone else’s dream. Whatever my calling is, it should not require me to compromise on what is uniquely me. The only way to make the most of this rude awakening was to invite God into the picture. And so I did, knowing that everything else that follows will be filtered through his wisdom and love.
At about the same time, Seth Barnes, whose blogs had spoken to me in the past came to mind. With his wealth of experience in discipling and his passion for helping people reach their destiny, there must be something he can offer to help me along in this journey. We got in touch and together with another lady, Patti, they got me started on my journey. I spent two days pouring through blogs Seth had written in the past about dreaming and destiny. I even found some gems in the comments others left in his blog. Noted down everything that stirred my spirit, not fully knowing what they mean for me or where they lead yet. Basically just thinking and asking questions along the way. These are what I’ve got so far. Seth are Patti are guiding me over email as we go along. If you are a friend and a believer, do pray that God will make the path clearer with each step that I make towards Him. Perhaps you find the following resonate with your spirit as well. If they do, why not start your own journey?
- God’s dreams – dreams that build God’s kingdom.
- Besides missions and ministry, what else builds God’s kingdom?
- Emily’s dream of being a Hollywood actress. How is that a kingdom dream? How do we who are already on a conventional career path make it a kingdom dream?
- Must we always give up the conventional path?
- We come alive doing what we’re created to do. What makes me alive?
- There must be God-room in every dream. If he doesn’t show up, the dream won’t happen.
- Get the dream right. HOW?
- A good idea is worth doing badly.
- Fear constricts our heart.
- What shapes our dream – world’s needs, our passion (heart), our plan (head), our skills (hand)
- Dreams become clearer as we pursuit different impulses.
- Is it ok if you don’t know what you’re called to do but feel like you’ve been called to so something? Because I am not sure, which makes me wonder if I’m answering the call.
- Do I feel like I am where I am supposed to be or do I feel like I’ve been called to do something else?
- What legacy would I leave behind? Who have I been influencing or ministering to? How have I touched lives?
- Impact and legacy starts with listening – to God, to people we serve, to people whom we are accountable.
- Greatness = dependence on God > takes risks > unpredictable
- Turn off the noise your my life and seek God whole heartedly.
- Greatness has little to do with your competence.
- Read Steven Covey’s 8th habit.
- What is Jesus asking you to do?
- To follow Jesus is to be available to do impossible things.
- He may take us to places that are deep but have some familiarity. Eg, a relationship that is familiar but feels impossible. Reaching out to them may feel like deep water to us.
- God may want to deal with your heart before he has you extend your heart to others.
- Examples of deep waters:
bad habits that eventually define who you are (eg. too critical, too negative, too withdrawn)
reaching out to people different from you
- God wants to eventually move us and trust us with greater challenges that build his kingdom.
- God gave you a heart and passion for a reason. He expects you to listen to your heart and do not dismiss your passions.
- What is the my heart’s cry? Can I trust my heart? How will I know if it’s truly free from self-interest, fear or my ego?
- We don’t just fall into our highest and best in life. We often have to meander a little at first, fight and take mad risk along the way.
- The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
- God knows the plans he has for us. When we truly open our hearts to Him, He has us covered no matter what his dream is for us.
- We need to surround ourselves with a community of people who trust in his work.
- Trust in God’s timing.
In my first post of the year, 2007 In Focus, I wrote about a financial challenge that I am facing. Just before that, in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I wrote about my views on money. Last month, I left a comment in Steven’s blog questioning the link between our finances and our heart.
Two weekends ago, I made a financial commitment. Not on impulse but after much thought. By all natural reasoning it is foolishness; suicide. At first I didn’t feel safe enough to share it here as I felt it should be a matter between me and God alone. But at the same time, sharing it here will serve as a form of accountability. If it’s just between me and God, it is more convenient to shrink back when the pressure increases. The commitment I am talking about is the consecration of 10% or my gross income to God; what the Bible calls tithing.
I agree and believe wholeheartedly that tithing is not just a responsibility (as creatures of God) but also a privilege (as children of God). What I struggled with was the material blessings that comes from tithing, where the spiritual affects the natural; that God uses tithing as a tool to prosper us right here on earth, even though God did say, “test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” It’s context clearly suggests earthly, material blessings. In the end, I think it’s about trust. I didn’t really have the faith to believe that God would take care of all my financial needs, let alone multiply my seeds sown. I was afraid the remaining 90% will not be enough. In the past it was easier to tithe because there were reserves I could fall back on if I fall short. I didn’t realize then that I wasn’t trusting God to provide for my needs, I was trusting my bank account! Subconsciously I was thinking, if God doesn’t come through, there is backup…..and so save everyone the embarrassment. As long as I think I’m covered, I could tithe. That shouldn’t be! Tithing should be as much an act of faith (a reflection of our dependence on God as our provider) as it is an act of worship (honoring God with our wealth).
But this time I am going to run with God, even though it sounds CRAZY to the natural mind. There is no more backup this time. How my paycheck is going to stretch till the end of the month after 10% of it went to God last week, I have absolutely NO idea. How this is going to play out month after month, only God knows. If He doesn’t come through for me, by all natural reasoning and calculation, I should be in debt before the year is over. Actually, that was exactly “my financial forecast” this year by a local Feng Shui master. No, of course I DID NOT ASK for it to be read, God forbid! It was up on a big banner (kinda in-my-face) in a very public place during the recent Lunar New Year festivities. It is common for Feng Shui masters to give a general “prosperity forecast” of all the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. Mine was under the first Chinese zodiac of the Rat. To be exact, it said “many financial woes”. As if that is not enough, a co-worker forwarded me a list of the best and worst dates to start work in the new year. <roll eyes> That is the kind of obsession people have over here! Well you guessed it, I started on the worst possible day, completely ignoring the warning. So you see, even the “stars and elements” are against me!!
But you know what, to hell with them all! I am a child of the Most High God, Creator of the heavens and the earth and whatever elements within. He alone is the final authority in my life. Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall NOT be in want. He shall supply ALL my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Because He is my helper, I will not be put to shame. A thousand (rats) may fall at my side and ten thousand more at my right hand, it shall not come near me. My barns will be filled to overflowing and my vats will brim over with new wine. If God is for me, who can be against me? Not any stars, nor moon, nor any created thing.
Do or die, I am going to trust my God this time.
It’s time for my annual In Focus blog – my personal version of the Oscar moment. Before I go on to name the winners, I just wanted to say that this year has been a rather uneventful year for me in many areas. There weren’t any major event in my life worthy of being named Event of the Year. Nevertheless, a few of them deserve some mention. So I am going to do that right now before I present my list.
There were a few setbacks and disappointments. This is the first time I am writing about some unhappiness at work. I have always loved my job and my workplace. But for some unknown reason I seem to have less favor with a few people this year. As someone who has had a record of good relations with co-workers and bosses most of her working life, I am a little concerned. Let’s just say that I feel the need to constantly remind that I have to learn to stand up for myself sometimes and not allow people to run all over me. I wouldn’t say it’s a major issue but it does piss me off when it happens.
This is also the year my son sat for his first major exam, the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination). I know it’s not a big deal to most of you but among Singaporean parents, it’s a big milestone for their children because it determines the path the child will take in his secondary education and so on. My son did not do as well as we’ve hoped for. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. While I take my children’s education seriously, I also constantly remind myself that education encompasses more than just academic excellence. The education system here is rigorous and very competitive but from the onset I have endeavored not to get sucked into the mad race. My disappointment was not due to his ranking lower than others. It has never been my vision for him to chase after awards and medals. What I want is for him to challenge himself; pushing his own boundaries so he can reach his full potential. This is where I felt he could have done better. Anyway, we have accepted the results and moved on, continuing to trust God will work all things for good and has good plans and purposes for him in this less popular route. I strongly believe that His destiny is in God’s hands and not determined by his academic achievement alone. The next stage of our prayer is that God will bless him with good teachers and classmates who will have a positive influence in his life and that he will grow healthily not just in his academics but most importantly in his character. Already, I could see God’s grace. Because of his normal results we have decided it’s best for him to continue his secondary education in his affiliate school. It turns out to be a very good choice. I’ve just attended a whole day’s worth of briefing and presentation by the school’s principal and his team the other day. They spoke with passion and resolve about providing a holistic education, built upon strong Christian values for the children. But what impresses me the most is their sincerity and love for the children. It concluded with a moving, God honoring ceremony to welcome and integrate the new cohorts into the “family”. By the end of the event, I am convinced this is the best school for him!
Moving along, it has been a pretty dry season spiritually as well. I am ashamed to admit that I have not invested much in this area this year, so the dry spell is no surprise. Truly what we invest in, in terms of our time, energy and focus will reap it’s harvest eventually. A little slumber, a dash self-indulgence and emptiness and frustration is brewing in the pot. I find myself more carnal this year than I have ever been. It is a year I am not very pleased with myself in terms of spiritual growth.
It has also been a year of escalating financial challenge. Due in part to lack of good financial stewardship but mostly due to increasing financial burden. My husband’s continuing financial dilemma and obsession with the stock market naturally affected us as well. It is difficult and unnerving to live from one paycheck to another. But thanks be to God at least I am not in debt. Due to these financial woes I struggled to understand certain doctrine and to reconcile them with the reality I was facing. Nevertheless, I will say, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Right now I need to reassess my finances and make some changes which will have to include letting go of certain comfort things. I told God that I really wanted to start tithing on a regular basis again. My past 2 year record had been spotty. If you are a personal friend of mine, please do not worry about me. It is not as bad as it sounds. You know how we tend to assume the worst. It will make me feel awkward and I will have reservations sharing them in my blog in the future. When we do meet, you need not feel obliged to discuss it unless of course I initiated it. The best thing you can do for me is to relate to me the way you normally would and if I had to decline certain get-togethers, I hope I you will understand. Don’t assume it’s always a financial issue. More often than not, it’s because of family commitments. And no, I will not be comfortable accepting treats from you during this period. You will know when I am back on track. This doesn’t mean I can’t do anything with you guys anymore. It’s more like, lets go to the local kopitiam instead of a fancier venue. Ultimately, it is the human bonding that makes the difference. I feel a burden lifted already. Thank you.
Oh dear, sounds like it’s mostly bad news. Don’t know why I’m sounding so gloomy when I am not even feeling that way right now! My mom once told my brother that I am not the sort to wallow in depression. (wow..you really think so Mom?) I didn’t know exactly what she meant until I heard my pastor preach one day; that there is a certain buoyancy in our inner man that keeps us from drowning in utter hopelessness. It sounds a lot like 2 Corinthians 4 – “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” And for this I owe my gratitude to God. Thank you for the hope and promise that is in Christ. Thank you also for moments of refreshing and grace in my journey this year. They make it less arduous than it would otherwise be.
And now, my list for 07.
Film of the Year
These are films I’ve watched this year. They are not necessary produced this year. All of them deserve my 5/5 rating!
The Talented Mr Ripley
Life Is Beautiful
Book of the Year
I have not read that many books this year. Will try to catch up in 08. To read my comments on these books please refer to the Site Index under the catergory, Books.
Silence by Shusaku Endo
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jewish History and Culture by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Anne Frank: Beyond The Diary
Heroes of the Holocaust – Arnold Geier
Event of the Year
People of the Year
Sermon of the Year
This is a surely a year of good sermons! Unfortunately I am unable to share them here this year because there were simply too many and to add to that, most of them were all pretty lengthy. They all have this amazing ability to refocus my mind, settle my heart and reignite the fire of hope in me. In the coming year, I am considering keeping a record of the title of such sermons so that those who are interested could at least visit the ministry’s on-line store to find out more. It will come in handy if I need to listen to them again in the future.
Blog of the Year
Lesson of the Year
I think I’ve learned something about choosing priorities and how the results of misplaced priorities is not always immediately evident. This year’s setbacks, some of which I’ve mentioned above, has also taught me a thing or two about humility and gratitude.
To read past year’s In Focus, please refer to the Site Index unter the category: In Focus.
I just finished Silence by Shusaku Endo. It is highly recommended by Philip Yancey, whom I greatly respect. Years ago, I endeavored to read every book and author he introduced his book Soul Survivor; a book about the people and their writings that have made an impact in his life. Silence is one of them. I was delighted to find it sitting in a local library the other day.
Silence turns out to be an intense, disturbing and emotional historical novel. It is set in 16th century Japan and tells the story of a Portuguese missionary, Rodrigues, who travelled to Japan during the height of Christian persecution. His mission is to locate and provide encouragement to the persecuted Christians and to discover the truth about his former spiritual mentor, Father Ferreira, who is rumored to have apostatized under the tortures of the Japanese feudal lords who are determined to drive Christianity out of Japan. Their modus operandi is to strike the shepherd in order to scatter the sheep. They pay a sum of money to anyone who would betray a priest to them. Once captured, they would inflict the most heinous torture in order to get the priests to apostatize. Another example of their cruelty is seen in their torturing of the Christians, whom are mostly simple-minded peasants, in order to induce great distress and guilt upon the priests to force them to renounce their God for the sake of their sheep.
While the theology of pain and suffering is not new, a lot of what had been written take a somewhat detached view; they were either an apology for God’s permitted suffering, rants against God for permitting suffering, or pep talks for believers going through suffering. Unlike these, Endo wrote from within the grasp of suffering, giving us a heart-wrenching account of the internal and external distress and abuse these early Christians and missionaries had to endure. As a reader, I am forced to grapple with issues of doubt and faith, of God’s sovereignty, of forgiveness, of the purpose and effectiveness of prayer and to question the rationality and relevance behind the Christian fervor to fulfill the great commission. Are we doing more harm than good? The Korean church must have asked the same questions at some point in the recent hostage crisis in Afghanistan. Mid-way through the book I was almost convinced that the young priest’s faith which was strong and unshakable in the beginning would start to crumble with every unanswered prayer and needless suffering of the people and finally giving up on a God who choose to remain silent through it all. It is difficult for us who live in a time and place of peace and freedom to comprehend the extent of their anguish as they face their tormentors but the greater anguish is their sense of abandonment by God. Finally they wrestle with public apostasy and with whether or not they could ever be forgiven if they commit such an act.
There are words on many pages that will pierce your soul but none more so than when Rodrigues, agonizing over whether to trample on the bronze fumie (an act required by the feudal lords as a sign of apostasy) to end the agony of the peasant Christians, suddenly heard the Lord calling from the fumie, “trample! trample!…..I more than anyone know of the pain in your foot. It was to be trampled on by men that I came into the world. It was to share in men’s suffering that I carried my cross.” Suddenly a whole new Jesus forms in your mind. In the end, Endo uncovered to us a true theology of the cross. The young priest had learned the hard way that the power of Christ is not in displays of supernatural powers but who in sacrificial love, chose to suffer with those who suffer.
Silence is one of the best book I’ve read in a long while. Highly recommended!
Shusaku Endo (1923-1996) was a renowned 20th century Japanese author who wrote from the eunique perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. (The population of Christians in Japan is less than 1%.) Silence (1966) is Endo’s most famous work, generaly regarded as his masterpiece.
It was a warm and humid evening and I was content to wait at a table in the air-conditioned section of the café. Going al-fresco this time of the year is unthinkable.
“Waiting for someone, stranger?” a familiar voice called from behind.
I turned around.
“You’re late my dear”
She let out a sheepish smile and mumbled an apology. We placed our order and she settled down quickly on the velvet couch in front of me. It has been a rough week for both of us and we’ve decided we could do with some drinks and time to just be. After what seemed like hours, we paused and let the silence linger for a while.
“Have you ever wondered if God can be trusted?”
She nods into her glass of Budweiser. She knows exactly what I mean. She’d probably asked the same question herself.
“How do we know if God can be trusted, really” I repeated. This time a statement more than a question.
“How can we be sure that what God says about this or that is true? And that his promises will come to pass?”
She smiled. Eyes vacant. Eyes that have known disappointment. Eyes that have trusted but have since become disillusioned. Hopefully…… eyes that are still searching.
“When the reality that we know seems to tell us otherwise, which should we choose? God’s word or reality as we see it?”
“And how do we know if the reality we’re seeing is in fact the true reality? Could there be another higher reality which we have not known but will, if we choose to stick with God?”
We’re content to let those questions linger. Neither expecting any sudden revelation nor for them to dissipate into insignificance.
Sometimes, if I’m honest, I feel like telling God that He lied; that love is not that powerful after all, that treating others the way we want to be treated doesn’t pay – it only gets us hurt in the end, that giving my heart away is foolish cos it’ll only be trampled on. That’s the reality I’ve known.
My blogger friend, Steve, once wanted to know what he is fighting for. He felt like he is fighting a loosing battle. Is there really any good in persevering when time and again, it proves nothing but failure? It is a question all of us who have experienced disappointment ask. It is an important question for we won’t have the strength to continue fighting a battle which we have no reason to fight for. I tried to search the recesses of my wounded heart and came up with something I hope I will be convinced enough to believe.
Regardless of how we feel, we must not quit on God cos He is our only hope. For what would we be left with if we do? Nothing. To give up on God is to give up everything. When we stop believing that God is still at work in our life and that He can and will work good out of our struggles and redeem our pain, we’d have nothing left worth living for. We’re fighting for HOPE. Hanging on to God even if the “out” we wanted did not come is stupidity and blindness to some. Yet it means a lot to God that we do not quit Him even then. Perhaps then we shall have eyes to see the higher reality.
Real conversations in a fictional setting and characters.
Misery all around
oppression ahead , behind
Make me numb
Where are you
I need you
A drop, a glass
I want to be free
Where are you
How long, how long
Hear me, look at me
Where are you
Make me numb
Set me free
Or heal me
“I am depressed; What causes happiness?”
I walked my own dark valley lately. Everyone does, whether you’re Christian or not. Being Christian just adds a purpose to it. At one point I was actively searching for a book on depression for Christians. They were difficult to find mind you. Almost as if Christians with depression is unheard of . I understand why one might think so. I bought 2 titles which I hope will help me understand the condition better. Ironically, I have not gotten around to reading them. I hope that’s a good sign. But I will check them out one of these days regardless.
The reply from Probe was wise and practical without being simplistic. One observation I found particularly true is “an intrinsic part of happiness is having something to look forward to”.
Last year I was drunk with anticipation of many things. Even though circumstances at home were none the better if not worse, I was optimistic and grateful for many simple blessings. I was able to see good in the midst of darkness. Some people call it having the eyes of faith. Do you see how having something to look forward to brings forth hope and hope stirs up faith? As these anticipated moments come and go, life begins to settle into the monotonous and along with it goes much else. So it is true when they say we should not fix our eyes on temporal things because they will fade away. Treasure them while you have them but hold them lightly in the palm of an open hand, knowing that nothing really belongs to you.
The ordinariness of daily responsibilities sucks away our sense of gratitude, wonder and anticipation. According to this article, the ability to feel deep emotion is a sign of spiritual health. Oh I can laugh or cry alright but I seem to have lost that sense of awe I used to have. (by the way, that was an excellent article. if you’re interested to keep the spiritual side of your heart healthy – read it)
I don’t see my time in the valley as particularly difficult in terms of circumstances. There have been worse. I don’t understand this present state enough to phrase it in a meaningful way. A general lack of thirst perhaps? Thirst for what used to energize me? Of course setbacks at home adds to the melancholy. But this is the first time my faith in God doesn’t seem to be helping my condition. And it scares the shit out of me. I suppose it’s just a feeling on my side. One I hope will soon pass. Theologically speaking, I know God is not oblivious to my predicament. He is still at work in my life. He knows I am in the valley, being sifted as wheat. He is not impotent nor unwilling. I’m just not in the right frame of mind to see things clearly now. At times like this when my faith is stretched to the limit, theology does help keep me in check till heart-revelation takes over, which I hope will be soon.
I can only say that I will continue to trust God to work things out for good even though all other signs point the other way. I have staked everything on Him. There is no turning back. I am in this for the long haul. If I’m going under this time, I’m going with my eyes on my Shepherd. But I know I’ll be fine. Like the Bible says, He is faithful even when we are faithless. I’ll just hang on to that promise for now.
At this moment of writing, I am in a better state than before. I look forward to that burst of light when dawn breaks. But I am not as hung up on it as before for I know below are the everlasting arms. I don’t see it. I don’t feel it. But I know it’s there. Somehow, this is a very spiritual thing. And strangely, I feel honored.
Earlier this year, the people at The Straits Times came up with this brilliant idea. They have decided to put up 3 special sections every week, devoted to specific areas of interest like Digital Life, Mind & Body and Urban. These papers, half the size of their big brother, is choke full with information. I particularly look forward to Urban every Thursday. There are fashion and beauty tips, product reviews, celebrity vibes, arts & books, music, food, lots of pictures and just about anything that might interest an urban lass. I must say, they are doing a darn good job. Who needs a fashion and lifestyle magazine with these around. Besides, they come free with your Thursday paper.
This week’s issue features the beautiful Denise Keller, her head resting against the cheek of another women much older than her. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Mother’s Day is just round the corner. The editors have put together several pages of tributes to mothers, from celebrities to highschool girls. I did not read into what they have to say about their mom. I predict the usual fare. Praises and gratitude for the women who sacrificed time and energy for the sake of her children. Who has been a pillar of strength, comfort and even inspiration for their young ones. Who courageously overcame all odds to give the ones she nursed from young, a brighter future, a better hope. These words needs to be heard more than once a year. To the weary mother at the brink of throwing in the towel, it’s an encouragement no medals can give. Encouragement doesn’t come as persuasively as knowing another life is enriched because of you. Of this I have my own mother to thank. She is a women with flaws like everyone else but saying that she has enriched my life would be an understatement. When the day comes for her to head Home, I know a part of me will go with her.
I am a mother myself. I have a 10-year old boy and a girl who turns 4 come Mother’s Day. But I am not the sort of mother Urban would feature for their Mother’s Day tributes. Hallmark stores and Mother’s Day tributes reminds me I am in the wrong skin. 10 years and much struggle later, I woke up to the realization that God must have made a big mistake when he assigned me to mother these kids. I am not saying that I am a terrible mum. I just feel…….mismatched. You know what I mean?
A few weeks ago, I was catching up with my cousin over email when she said something which caused me to pause for a while. She said she admires my strength in holding everything together without much support and that I should give myself a pat and not be too hard on myself. Is she for real? To be sure, it’s not something I hear often. The only other person who commended me on a job well done was my maternal grandmother, whom I don’t know all that well. That was many years ago when my son was still a toddler. I don’t know if she really meant it, or was just being nice, but her words were like oil to my weary soul. It’s one of the very few things that I can still recall today. My dear cousin, I know she was sincere. She just had not seen me handling my kids. If granny were to see me now, she would eat up her words. There is a great deal of ourselves that are hidden from people looking from the outside. Sometimes it’s a matter of missed opportunity rather than willfull coverup. They just weren’t there to witness it when we screw up.
Perhaps it’s mid-life crisis. I am not enjoying my kids as much as I should. My times with them has led to more frustrations than reward. That’s a bad sign. It’s not that my kids are ultra difficult. It’s just me. I don’t think I am suited for the role of a mother or wife. Even my mom agrees I should not get married in the first place, let alone have kids. I was young, immature and unprepared. I didn’t know who I was and what I wanted in life. God wasn’t part of my life then. But what is done, is done. I have made some choices and I am not going to make excuses for them. I’m just telling it plainly the way I see it. I can’t turn back time. If I could I don’t think I’ll want to marry ever. But then, if I had not travelled this road, I might not come to know God nor my need for Him. So I know everything has it’s purpose.
You must be thinking I hate my kids and can’t wait to put them up for adoption. I don’t deny that is how I feel sometimes. But when I think about it, really really think about it, I know they are the most precious thing to me and you’ll have to kill me before you can take them away. Each time I lost it and hurt them with my words, I hated myself with intensity enough to kill.
I do not hope to have a spot in Mother’s Day tribute. All I want is for my kids to turn out well in spite of me.
I find it strange how we see only what we choose to see.
I had a conversation with a christian co-worker this morning about suicide. We were discussing the consequances of self-muder. He believes that Christians who commit suicide is outside redemption, therefore they won’t make it to heavan. It is a totally new idea to me. I am convinced Christ’s redemptive work covers all sins, including self-murder. It seems quite clear to me from the Bible that if a person is truly born-again, God will preserve them till the end. However I do realise I could be wrong. Perhaps my co-worker knows something I don’t. It would be good to learn what it is. That’s how we all learn and grow. By being willing to listen instead of becoming defensive.
Before I continue, I want to make it clear that we were opposing ideas and not people. It was a sincere exchange of thoughts and views, motivated by a love for truth. You’re probably thinking if it’s really that important to know. Well, I guess it depends on each individual. If you have lost a loved one to suicide, then it would be crucial for your peace to know if he made it to heaven.
I found a piece from an apologetics site which I thought made a very good case for the argument of assured salvation even for suicide cases. It has all the Bible verses to back it up. So it wasn’t just the authors personal opinion. I’m not into personal opinions, even if it’s from the pope. I just want to know the truth as God reveals it. So I shared what I found with my colleague. To my surprise, he didn’t see what I saw. What I saw as clear and logical seems to elude him.
Which brings me to my main point. Most of the time, we see only what we want to see. To be fair, I could be guilty of it as well. Am I dismissing something too quickly because it doesn’t agree with my own views? Or did I do it justice by seriously considering my friends perspective? I think I did. I hope I did. But I could be wrong, because when you’re blind, you’re blind. Till something or someone opens your eyes.
It seems that such a condition is prevalent in almost all circumstances. Especially so in matters of spirituality and human relationships. We start off by having a preconceived idea of what we hope is reality and see everything else from that lense. We are too quick to dismiss anything outside our comfort zone. When we are faced with certain disturbing facts about someone whom we love, we either ignore or deny it because we are afriad it will shatter our hope. At most we shelve them away into our subconcious mind so that we don’t have to deal with it. But it will come out of the closet eventually and devasted us in an even deeper way. We see only what we want to see. We are better at living in denial than to face the truth.
So it is with spirituality, we are afraid to let go of our assumptions for fear of the possibility that we could be wrong. We have been brought up to believe such and such and suddenly someone or something is challenging it. We see it as a threat to our cherished beliefs and get defensive. When this happens, truth is hidden behind the veil of our fears. It couldn’t come forth because we are too afraid to remove our veil. It makes us vulnerable. Insecure.
But real security can only be found in truth. And the result is liberty. As Jesus says, “Know the truth and it shall set you free”. And the way to it is to be willing to make ourselves vulnerable. No risk, no treasure. It works the same way for love.