It’s in the little things

Oh my baby don’t be so distressed,
We’re done with politesse.
It’s time to be so brutally honest about the way we know we long for something fine
When we pine for higher ceilings and bourgeois happy feelings.

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As things go awry

This age of technology has paved the way for so much unnecessary communication and information. We’re too connected, and sometimes, we know too much for our own good and we get too involved in the lives of others—their problems, emotional struggles, etc. It’s hard to ‘simply forget’ this or that, because social media has this artful way of getting information to us—well, fine, sometimes we go snooping around because it’s just ‘there’. Last night, I decided that it was high time to build some walls around me. I went on an ‘unsubscribing’ spree on Facebook—in the hope that I can spare my newsfeed from certain activities of ‘friends’.

My life needs some purging.

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Comfort Zone

I was speaking to a friend about how some people just refuse to get out of their hell hole, although they jolly well can. They cry, wallow in self-pity, engage in activities that make them, well, even more emotional than they already are, sit around moping, etc. I’m not saying that crying is wrong. By all means, cry as much as you want, but know that at the end of the day, you need to have the conviction to get out of it—to get better. Why do things to worsen your condition—listening to emo songs (which inevitably makes you emotional)?

What my friend said struck me: Being in this emotional state will start becoming the person’s comfort zone. I thought it strange at first, but it’s true to a large degree. Being emotional is hard, but it’s even harder to want to get out of it—to do something about it. It takes courage. It’s okay to feel your emotions, but adding fuel to the fire doesn’t help at all!

Why do you speak to people who can empathise with you? Because you want to know how they got through it—because you want to learn. But what’s the point of hearing what they’ve to say and not taking it to heart?

Getting out of your hell hole is a choice. You either want it, or you don’t—there’s no middle ground.

When life knock you on your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.

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Practice What You Preach

So, it’s been two months since I started this journey of self-discovery. I’ve reflected, prayed, read, etc. And through it all, I’ve gained a plethora of ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’. I know what I’m supposed to do, what’s right, what’s wrong. But actually doing what’s right and good is a different task altogether. I give my friends advice on what they ought to do—draw strength from God, and trust Him. But when things are going dandy on my end, doing what’s right seems so distant. I’ve come to realise the importance of trials and obstacles in my life.

Thank God for the problems in our lives, because that’s what makes us human—coming to terms with our insignificance and unworthiness. And knowing that we can entrust ourselves to a higher authority. In all honesty, I wish my life were problem-free, then I would be happy. But would I really? Would I truly be happy chasing my dreams, earning lots of money, travelling the world, etc, only to come home to nothingness—to be disjointed from my creator, who made all these possible?

Dear God, help me to find joy in my suffering.

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When it Rains

When it rains, it gets me thinking. When I was younger, I would smile whenever there was lightning, cos mummy told me that God was snapping pictures of us. And when it rained while I was in the car, I liked to press ear against the window and listen as the raindrops hit the the window surface. As I grew older, I loved listening to rainfall outside as I fell asleep. I liked the idea of a storm outside, while I was safe indoors. Other times, rain made me feel like God was crying—that the heavens were grieving. Thunderstorms also remind me of the magnificent power of God—constant lightshows followed by rumbling thunder. Funny how rain can bring with it a flurry of emotions.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; 
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, 
Thy power throughout the universe displayed. 

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art!

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Distance Makes Your Heart Grow Forgetful

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Does it really? I beg to differ. It makes your heart grow more forgetful.

As I lay down and get ready for bed, I can’t help but thank God for all that He’s blessed me with. And my mind starts to recall the experiences He’s given me. Good times, bad times, joyous moments, heart wrenching ones: it has carved me to become the person I am today. As C.S. Lewis puts it, experience is a brutal teacher.

I try to recall the past one year. I realize that the memories seem so distant. Selective amnesia you might say? I don’t particularly know. I play the memories over again in my mind, and again, this strangeness envelops me. Every memory seems so foreign-almost like I’m looking upon myself from the outside, and wondering ‘was that really me?’

When people say that things get better overtime, it’s true. Believe them. Believe every word of it. Your heart starts forgetting, sometimes faster than your head. We can liken this to the concept of ‘forgiving and forgetting’. You can forgive from your heart, but forgetting is a wholly different matter. And with that disjuncture, you find yourself playing a game of catch-up. When will my mind finally stride alongside my heart?

Dear God, let my heart find a resting place in You.

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A Prayer

God, sometimes I do things that are so stupid or selfish or shortsighted that it makes me wonder who I am. But as painful as my sins are, I know you forgive me, O God of second chances. My sins also remind me of my humanity, my dependence on you, and my need for friends who will remind me who I am whenever I forget. And I know that we sometimes discover the right path only when we stray. Thank you God for second and third and fourth chances, and please don’t let me forget who I am and who you call me to be.

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Angel of Light

Don’t be fooled by the title of the post. It is nothing close to what you might think it is.

In Ignatian spirituality, in the discernment of spirits, the devil sometimes comes cloaked as an ‘angel of light’ to lead people astray. In essence, you are led to believe that what you are doing is the right thing (i.e. having good intentions), but slowly, the evil one pulls you away from God. Before you know it, you’ve fallen into the trap of the devil.

Just a few weeks back, a friend introduced this notion of the ‘angel of light’ to me. And even after the warning, I feel like I’ve fallen into this trap.

I started out with good intentions in wanting to help. Afterall, God did call us to love. And in line with the prayer to Saint Francis, we should seek to love rather than to love, to console rather than to be consoled. So that’s what I set out to do. But true enough, after a while, things started to go wrong. Shan’t go into the details.

Thank God I’m able to see that I’m going down the wrong path before it’s too late. I felt like I was becoming the very ‘thing’ I detested in a person—a hypocrite. I need to keep myself focused on God. (:

Today, ask yourself: What would Jesus do? 

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Being comfortable with myself

For about a month, I’ve been sleeping before 11pm every night. But just a few nights back, I had no choice but to sleep later than usual because of work. Before I knew it, it was fast approaching 2am—not that late by most people’s standards. I suddenly felt so alone, and somewhat down because I thought of late night conversations I used to have. It had become a habit for me, and I really wasn’t going to just ‘get over it’ in an instant. I went as quickly as I could to bed, but instead of sleeping, I started tearing—which came almost as a surprise to me. I sent an SMS to my friend, and she replied almost instantly. It made me feel ‘okay’ again, and I could go to sleep. I didn’t realise how dependent I was on the people around me until that night.

I’ve spent a few days thinking about it. And I realised that I haven’t been totally comfortable with myself. I constantly require the attention of people around me. I cannot stand eating alone, going for lessons alone (I’ve never taken a course alone before!), etc. The only things I do alone are studying and shopping. Although the people around me see me as someone who’s independent and confident, in all honesty, I seem to allow the people around me to determine my self-worth.

Your self-worth isn’t determined by how many friends you have on facebook, or how many SMSes you get in a day, or even how many people laugh at your jokes. And really, if there’s just that one single person whom you know will do everything and anything they can for you, you are worth a hell lot. For those, like me, who believe in a God, you should know how precious you are, especially since we’re made in the image and likeness of God. For those who don’t believe, just look at your family. As much as they might not express their love for you explicitly, you can bet that they would give up their lives for you—that’s how much you mean to them.

Yes, it is important to have family and friends around you that care. And it’s true that to a large extent, they keep you going, and make your life more exciting, and well, that much more manageable. But after all that’s said and done, it’s also equally (if not more) important to be comfortable with yourself—to be able to do things on your own, at your own pace. Being comfortable with yourself means that we must love ourselves for who we are, and not allow others to dictate who we ought to be. However strange it sounds, we should learn to enjoy the company of ourselves!

The fear of loneliness can also be traced to the fear of silence. This is especially the case in a world that is bombarded with sounds, action, music, etc. Without silence, there can be no stillness, and without stillness, we are in essence, blocking out God’s voice. The lyrics to a song aptly sums this up: ‘my human nature shouts the things to do, and God’s soft prompting can be easily ignored’. Silence and stillness can be slightly uncomfortable initially, but I know that with this realisation of this fear I have, I can start learning how to overcome it.

Back to the idea of being comfortable with oneself, sometimes, just knowing that there are actually people around you who love you, is good enough consolation in the moments of perceived loneliness.I shall end of this post with one of my favourite quotes from a book Mummy and Daddy got me when I was in primary school.

Even though I might not tell you everyday that ‘I love you’, may never a moment go by without you knowing I do.

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Ask, and you will receive.

Today’s gospel from Luke talks about God’s generosity when we ask Him for something. Like the passage goes: ‘Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.’ It goes on to state how even those who are evil, know how to give their children good things, what more our heavenly Father?

I find this passage rather misleading. It gives the impression that, if you ask God or pray for something, it will definitely be given to you. And when one’s prayers aren’t answered, they feel cheated by God.

I went online and tried searching for answers. Many people asked questions like: if I pray hard for something, will I get it? Why hasn’t God answered my prayers? Why did He allow my child to die? And in my case, we prayed so hard from the start that things would work out, but why are where we are now—apart?

After some pondering, I still don’t have the answers to any of these questions. What I do know, is that when things don’t go according to plan, we ought to pray to God to give us the grace to accept it, and we ask for the patience to wait for what He has installed for us. Only He knows what’s truly good for us. It’s easier said than done, I should know. Sometimes, I tell God that I’d rather forgo this ‘beautiful plan’ He has for me in the future, and settle for what it is I want now. But, you see, it really boils down to the issue of trust. It’s putting your dreams, hopes, aspirations and life into the hands of a higher power, and knowing that in the future (although we can’t see it now), things can only get better.

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