Monday, August 29, 2011

On Viewing yourself through the Eyes of the Maker

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
          -- Marianne Williamson, 'Return to Love'

           I think everyone who has had a wobbly awkward teenage life can agree with me that at some point or the other, we all struggled with self-image and esteem issues. Okay, so maybe you were never that painfully shy teenager like me, however I know you can identify with one point or the other in your life where you have felt inadequate... unnecessary... and maybe not even worth it. I know I have. It is still something that I grapple with.
For me, one of the challenges I’ve had to deal with is the resurfacing of that mean carnal voice that tells me I am not worth it... not a penny or a second of anyone’s time. And it’s especially worse when you think that voice was long dead and gone, only to meet her at the intersection of the resurrection of old self and the continuance of new self.
And it wasn’t that occasional sneering jeer that creeps up at you when you close your eyes to sleep at night, or appears to you in an irrelevant dream or sneaks up when you see something you covet... no. This was the bold gallant kind that would weave in and out of your thoughts when you commute to work... when you laugh with a friend... when you watch a movie.
The annoying and shrill bemoaning lament  on what you don’t have... on what you lost... on what you could have. The measuring yardstick at the back of your mind that you tier yourself up against based on people’s reactions to you. The silent sighs of dissatisfaction that you heave off your brows when a picturesque scene of your wildest dreams flickers in front of you.
All these and more that I use to condemn myself on some invisible scale that I created at the back of my head. And worse is when I am weak and I can only let that voice rattle on and on about her self-inflicted opinions of self...
Then there are those times, as should be more and more often in all cases when the her that I am being transformed into speaks up... for herself, for who she is being made into. Whose she is takes over and reminds her of her worth.
For every single lie that tells her she is not worth it... she is reminded that The Word which created even the most distant galaxies took upon flesh to shed His blood for her. She is worth His blood... I am worth His blood.
For every single lie that tells her she is guilty and filthy... she is reminded that yes, it is so and despite that, He has made her whole... She no longer stands condemned because of Christ. I no longer stand condemned because of Christ.
For every single lie that tells her she is not good enough and will never be... she is reminded that she is good enough for Him, just the way she is... and He is good enough for Her... just enough and overflowing with abundance all for her. He is more than enough for me.
For every single lie that tells her she is alone. She is reminded that she is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses cheering her on to the finish line... and more than that She is held in the arms of the suave and yet Almighty Father that is comforting her from all of life’s arrows. I am not alone in His arms.
For every single lie that tells her she is worse off than when she started in Him... she is reminded that it is a journey... in Him... and a fight of spirit against flesh... and a fight where she is to remain in Him and Him in her. I am continually being sanctified.
And so here I am amongst my battles of a resurfacing self-deprecating voice that tries to sit the victorious me that wants ever so more to break her shell and do more. I’m here, dipping in and out ever so often... and out there I know there are many others like me struggling with letting go of that voice that tells you that you are not enough. I just want you to be reminded that you are enough, more that enough: loved and cherished in the arms of a Master Craftsman that is carrying you on His back despite what you may think, despite what that droning voice says.    
So fight it... that voice. With everything you have, fight it. That self that wants you to remain as you are, putting and beating yourself down to no avail - fight it. Break out, speak life to yourself instead. Speak positivity instead. Speak love instead. 
You are not little. You are not unimportant. You are this beautifully and wonderfully crafted person that is on a journey to making sense of all this clutter by His Grace. All the hairs on your head have been numbered, your path has been carved out from the beginning of time, with Him tirelessly working in the background to keep you and allow you to live your life to the fullest. 
And above all, allow Him to let you see yourself through His eyes: precious, loved and forgiven.

Monday, August 22, 2011


p.s. long post alert
Apart from the obvious reason for air ventilation in buildings, there is an aesthetic reason to having windows in buildings - the idea of opportunity. Too often in life, its so easy to spend our time completely tunnel-visioned on an angle or aspect that we fail to zoom away and look out the window for just a second. That was what hit me the other day as i sat in a subway train that sped underground. Summer is closing its clock on us in about a month... and i can say with a straightforward face that I've had a peculiar summer. Maybe not so different from others in the past  - i mean there was a LOT of change in the air, which is what always happens to me anyhow... but these changes were more felt.
    I walked out of a couple of phases into a new phase. I can’t say that i did that with open palms. I’m probably against my own good still struggling with just allowing my mind to reach acceptance, although it does get better with each cyclic dawn and dusk.
    Despite the immense good taking place however, i kept finding myself clutching and holding on and sinking into disillusionment repeatedly. And i started a new cycle of worry on things that have nothing to do with me. And every single time i let these new anxieties and worries clutch over my heart, like the swift prince charming He is, God always pulled through for me. More than I can say for myself.
    More good things that happened was the friendship between two of my friends and I - we kind of started this cheezy bonding get together of prayer and bible study over gmail. It went a really really long way in helping me get off my sinking feet. It felt good to get that reminder that I’m not the only one who gets constantly slapped by life’s frivolous tentacles. It felt good not to feel alone in this battle.
    And of the bad things that I let turn into huge monsters that tormented me at night, the biggest was letting sharp stakes of regret and guilt plummet my mind. I let this go on for the most part, on and on torturing myself to that abyss of emptiness. Until that train ride aforementioned.
    Zooming out. 
    Looking out the window. 
    Life is this way. No matter how hard I try to put it, I live in a fallen world. I am fallen, and no amount of my own good can clean up my inclination to sin and my own sins. Looking out the window forced me to see that i love spending my time calculating what bad I don’t do and how that makes me right with Him. I forget that it is His grace alone that justifies me - nothing of my own accord. I hardly walk around with the perspective that He has forgiven me regardless, and that He looks at me with a pleasing glimmer in His eyes. It is hard to visualize Him that way, and yet, that is what He tells us Himself.  
Another step forward, looking out the window, was about others. I am not the only one living in this fallen world. Others are fallen as well... broken shards walking with duct tape over their bodies as well. The war and ravishing famine in Somalia is one - Why does God let his happen? A man shot his wife to pieces this summer. Is God not looking? Jaycee Duggard told her story on ABC the other week - she was kidnapped from age 11 and kept as a sex slave untill she escaped at age 29 with her two kids. What can I say now? The God I worship allows this to happen... All these and more personal questions i had. Why all this bad?
Andrew Byers had some of my answers in his book “Faith without Illusions”. He spoke about ‘Hopeful realism’ - not so much cynicism, but not exactly idealism... it's that realistic inbetween where we reconcile the fact that we are in a broken world - we still are, and yet Christ came, died and resurrected. It's in the power of His resurrection.    
So all my brokenness, all of the world’s... all of our fallen melancholies... the injustices in the world... it’s so easy to get frustrated and defeated that He isn’t doing anything. But it’s just as He said in one of His responses to Job (Ch 39 vs. 1-4):
1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
  Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
2 Do you count the months till they bear?
  Do you know the time they give birth?
3 They crouch down and bring forth their young;
  their labor pains are ended.
4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;
  they leave and do not return.” 

He knows all that happens and He is still in control. 

    So yes, the world is messed up. That still doesn’t nullify that He is God... and that He is still God with all of the injustice and pain occurring. He is still in control, and He has the power to stop it all in a whim. And yet He chooses not to. For it is in our endurance and in suffering that obedience is borne. It is in that that character, patience and hope is borne for “hope seen is not hope at all” (Romans 8 vs. 24).
In the light of His resurrection, in the light of the fact that He has conquered death and all the ravishing sin in us, in light of the hope that He is restoring our minds, our bodies and our wills to His righteousness, in light of the fact that He is restoring all of creation to Him -
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  (Romans 8).
In light of all of this, we need to remember that we are in the midst of a revolution - we have been since the last days, since His ascension into heaven. He left us in the midst of this overturn of His light eroding the encroaching darkness. We are in the middle of a fighting ground - a war. Fighting ourselves, fighting sin, fighting all the evil and injustices in this world in the light of His grace... in light of the knowledge that He will win in the end. And it has started. That’s is why there is so much off balance - with good still present admist the bad, with beauty still present in the prevalent ugliness. So despite my disillusionment, your questions and our doubts, the Invisible Hand of God is still at work whether we see it or not.
    And I want to live in light of all of this - neither gearing way to much to the left in the brink of my disillusionment and cynicism and anger and bitterness and guilt and shame... nor way to the right thinking the world is all right in the grind of optimistic idealism. I want to acknowledge my brokenness and your brokenness and all of the strife in this world, and i want to acknowledge that is He is fixing it step by step through me, and you and the whole body of Christ spread out all through out the world. I want to love my fellow man even as I love myself... even as I learn to love Him. Not spite or envy or broken ratification... just love, and grace I ask of Him to know just how to do that.

p.s. Yours truly has moved into her new crib and is at graduate school. O Boy, it has been a journey since the start of the year... i'm just here, hiding till classes actually starts... i'm like in a veggie brain state - on forced break till I have to start classes and my next lab rotation. Thanks for your prayers and warmest wishes. Don't forget to keep me in your prayers :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Versatility of the Human Spirit

Yes, we are in a broken world - there is so much pain...



so much oppression...

Broken Bodies walking in a path to find themselves... 

Lost pebbles along the bank of the river... trying to find their way back to the Source.

But somehow, we make it through. 

Somehow even if your heart has been drenched from its core, we stubbornly rise.

Ashes of the phoenix striving towards the new re-birth.

It's one great gift He also gave us - endurance... the ability to overcome. 

More than conquerors - to conquer self.

More than conquerors - to conquer self.

More than conquerors - to conquer self.

Because you see, satisfying the self is what got all this started in the first place.

Self that wants to satisfy its core and lunge from the breath of the One who breathed it to life. 

Self that wants to hurt and jab and pine and bore more holes into the cleave of others.

Self that knows not how to love self back and instead suffocates others by stifling for love.

Self that needs the Compass Himself.


And so to every self that has begged for a dime,

buried a loved body,

dragged a broken heart,

asked why the door was shut,

wondered where He was,

cried yourself to sleep not only because you had not,

not only because you wanted more,

but also because you wondered what all this is... this life... this conundrum...

to every self that can identify with the futility of the chasing that we continually put out under this sun...

I say to you - You are Strong. He has made You Strong, and Beautiful in His image.

Circumstances don't show it as we edge on back towards the faint light of Eden...

Your empty pocket, your lonely bed chamber, your broken limb, your fraying memory...

This side of Eden is yet to reflect what your innermost core yearns for...

Regardless... you still have it in you - strength to carry on. Strength to live on.

Strength to strap self off and not only endure, but live through another day.

He is still here... and in silent meanders of the morning dew,

He is still carrying you.