Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cats

This blog post is prompted by a conversation I had last Friday with my dear friends. I guess I've kinda known this for some time now, but hearing it articulated and seeing it felt troubled me. 

In worldly terms, I have excelled in university. Not only grades, but God has blessed me with various ministries which I find meaning and satisfaction in. I have never felt as congruent as I have my whole life to be studying social work and applying what I have learnt to meet the seen needs around me. 

I don't know if this makes my friends feel lesser, but that they think highly of me I feel like there is a need to respond to that. And as I was reflecting I thought of an analogy so here goes:


 I am like this cat. You won't think of cats as cuddly creatures. In fact they give a whiff of wanting their own personal space and wanting to be left alone.                                                                                                                                  In short, they can seem so sufficient by themselves.                                                                                                                    But touch its soft spot and watch it close its eyes in joy! (Okay but I'm awkward with touches and need to consciously tell myself to relax when an arm is placed around me/I am hugged)                                                                                                                                                                                            As capable as I am in some things, I can tell you that I grapple with many others. When I was learning about anxiety disorders this semester, I found myself identifying with a lot of the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Not only that, I grapple with relating to others as I would like, with being my God-centred self, with feelings that I am not liked. 
      

There are days when you see this confident person talking to many people. These are when those thoughts of negative appraisal from others towards me take an intermission, or when I manage to ignore them. 

I once told a friend everyone seems like an extrovert to me because I was like 'How do you talk to people and get close to them? How does this social thing even work man?!'

With this sense of 'lesser-ness' comes the temptation to think that I am better than others to compensate. Or in the busyness to think that friends are less important.








I chose to focus on this social thing out of all my non-strengths because this is something I keenly felt after entering university. With neither class nor boyfriend to stick to, and with the biblical call to fellowship, I suddenly had to navigate uncharted territories in friendships. 




Do I act aloof like a cat as I am used to doing or do I pluck up courage to talk to people? How am I supposed to initiate a meet up? D: These things still roils my stomach. 

"In his grace, God had given us different gifts for doing certain things well." (Romans 12:6, NLT) 
This implies that there are some things which I do less well in. I guess what I want to say (and also to remind myself) is to know our non-strengths, not to be ashamed of them and feel lesser by them. Often it is precisely my non-strength that helps me to depend on God. 

Though I grapple with words like I am now trying to end, ultimately I thank God for the hope that I have. The hope that assures me that 'All's well' for me as a child of God, even if I bungle the conclusion or even the whole blog post, even if anything for that matter.                                                           









Thursday, November 6, 2014

Written in the Stars

Another semester of school is ending soon, and as I reflect on this semester, the chorus of Written in the Stars (Westlife, not Tenie Tempah) rang so true:

When I look at my life, how the pieces fall into place, it just wouldn't rhyme, without You

At my very core, You satisfy me Lord. And You have taught me to truly delight in You and You only this semester.

When I so desperately wanted friends, not to bless them but rather to have people to eat lunch with so I won't worry about eating lunch alone in school, to cafe hop with, to take nice pictures with, You did not give it to me. Instead, You showed me how self-centred I am.
Then, when I told You, I must centre myself on You so please help me to- You gave me company when I needed it. I found that I was a better friend, and much more assured in the friendships I have.

When I see how my path, seem to end up before Your face

When I asked to be rooted deeper in church, You showed me that again, fellowship is God-centred: a fellowship on a mission to witness the gospel. Definitely not by chance, I started talking to more people in church, feeling less of a sojourner and more a member.

The state of my heart, the place where we are, was written in the stars

Yes, the place where I am is also where You are. Thank you for journeying with me Lord. My heart is filled and thus it overflows with love- joy at meeting the needs of others.

I made a few mistakes, yea, like sometimes we ^always do

Forgive me for wanting to glorify myself, for being proud when I receive praise. I remember telling You, I don't have a pure heart. Yet, You have affirmed and glorified Yourself exceedingly through using me in various ministries. Thank You for the ministry given to me which I enjoy and find meaning in.

Been through lot of heartache, but I made it back to you   You were always there for me

In social groupwork terms, Father You really trust in the process, don't You? But of course, You have full control over it. Thank You for the 'heartaches', they have brought me closer to seeing You for who You truly are.

(those soulful eyes...)

Ta-ta! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday soul food




It went from- okay I will sit through this one hour- to this stirring of affections as I am called back to live by the Spirit, reminded that my groaning is a witness of my salvation. It ends off with the awesome promise to us as children of God- being heirs to all creation, the redeemed creation.

Claiming God's promises is a struggle because I often doubt the very existence of God. 'How can you be sure, really sure, that you are not deluding yourself?' As Paul states: "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (1 Corinthians 15:19, NIV)

I cannot see, yet I hope. Perhaps the being sure of this hope is a lifelong process. #soulfood


Monday, August 11, 2014

A psalm

My whole being cries out: Pain, Lord!
Pain, stop!
And  I weep afresh,
uncontrollably, engulfed by a larger pain.
I feel the pain in my brother's rage
I am the persecuted in Iraq
A mother who has lost her child

And so I sob
Welcoming the tears of release
Yet feeling utterly desolate:
There is no one to hear
But God.
And He is not enough right now.
And what of those that know Him not?
I cry again at this thought.
O God, O Lord!

Still, hope flickers.
His voice whispers:
One lone sheep to save
The endless joyous story

Amen



Blue. And existentially unimportant

But I know I (am supposed to) have the joy and that I can shoot down the second point with a dozen declarations from God in the Bible. 

Still... there always comes this time, when I start to doubt. Like now.

Long-held fears and anxieties. 

I'm boring, uncool, too serious to have fun with... No friends to really be with which makes me feel empty-sad.

And always this sense of futility- what am I doing with my life? 

To make things worse, my friends do not seem similarly afflicted. Okay, the chances are that people do feel the same way but we aren't connected so I still feel alone.

How I have prayed for a confidant to know me, apart from God Himself! Yet perhaps for this very reason the answer is no/wait.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Guarding my heart

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23, NLT

God tells us that how we allow people to move our hearts will influence our entire life. Discern well for it is no small matter, He says.

Found my heart stirred towards a really sweet-looking guy in camp. I don't know much about him but hearts don't really care about these things as we all know. 

"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm." Song of Songs 8:6, NLT

A relationship grounded in biblical principles speaks of permanence. Do I seek this permanence or is it a self-aggrandizing desire? 

"His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband." 1 Corinthians 7:34, NLT

The simple fact that is a constant struggle for me is that God should be the first priority, as our Greatest Treasure. It goes against the grain in this world, for the world does not know nor seek God. 

What exactly do I want? That is, the I rooted in Christ. A dear colleague and brother who is happily married shared that his wife had a prayer list of items she wanted in her future husband. If it is to my Father's pleasure, may He give me:

1. A man after His own heart, like king David,
2. Someone passionate about making a difference; and
3. Cares about animals the way I do, or even more so.
4. Someone able to connect with me at a deep level; to understand the nuances of my speech and action,
5. Who is willing to commit time into resolving conflicts,
6. Who is able to lead me in the relationship while being open to direction.
7. To see my brokenness clearly but love me as Christ commanded,
8. Having a gentle and kind spirit.
9. Taller than me?  Has a nice smile and likes to show it;
10. Someone pleasant to look at and be with.

Ending off, I am reminded again that this time is the furthest I've went for someone I'm attracted to. Does it mean anything? Till I find out if he meets the requisite item 1~ Already crossed out the height criteria because of him :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

blessings

Adapted from the diary entry I made just now:

Only this week did I truly (or perhaps not really) see how attractive I am. When I wore contacts, everyone was commenting how pretty I looked it made me feel kinda uncomfortable. I don't really like it when guys look at girls differently because they have a pretty face. Well I admit I'm guilty of that too. 

God gave me those pretty eyes and that winning look for a reason. So I think it's also sin to hate what He has sovereignly blessed me with.Well she does make people (especially guys) open up to me faster in social work. But I'm still scared by how she can cause me or others to fall into sin. Guys taking too long a look, me looking too long at pictures of this earthly self, or feeling proud.

Always before I pray earnestly (as earnest as my heart distracted by evil desires can) that I will glorify God and not sin against Him. Or cause others to sin against Him. It's a struggle to set my mind on things above and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2) when the youths take to me and I am kinda in their world.

"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

I have received  many blessings. Help me to be humble, to seek Your Person and not the things that You give so graciously O Lord. I just received news that I got into the Dean's List. It feels like a dream I never bothered thinking about because I thought it was beyond me. And I have such awesome work which I am good at, awesome colleagues who think well of me. Baking vegan cupcakes for my 20th birthday fundraiser which is going well. I get praise from people because of this. I have quite a few stuff going on which I find meaning in that makes makes my resume look good. 

Well, on the other side of the coin, I have some griefs too. Whether I let myself retreat into the ivory tower called Convenient Amnesia Amidst Daily Life is another question. Perhaps that is why, by God's good sovereignty, I have periodic lows of doubting and sadness. And friends who are so against Christ. Family who have yet to come other Christ's grace, a brother whom I scarcely have a normal conversation with anymore. Or sometimes I feel so lonely and unliked, unattractive both on the inside and outside.

Indeed God's sovereignty encompasses our weaknesses, such that we can be Christ-like even with them. By His great grace can we even want to continue to partake of the 'free gift of the water of life' (Rev 22:17). It is hence fitting that the last verse in the Bible is
 "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." (Rev 22:21)