1 Sep 2014

Getting pain for loving and living the Fight

The cat has a strange habit.

None of my other cats had it. Chats throws up. Yes, every now and then, the kitty will deposit a mess of still-being-digested contents at whatever spot she happens to be at. Our first instinct on seeing this? A chiding of course, "Chats! ....". Today however, I decide to go after her and give her a little tummy rub to soothe her. And this is what I got:

It is stinging me even now.

Talk about love being messy. Which part of "poor kitty' didn't she get? I feel utterly unappreciated, and I cannot argue with or reason with this feline. It is really painful.

All of us live with some form of pain; maybe the pain of regret or loss. Most of us learn to cope, or numb, or pretend. But there are many today who live where pain is a constant -
They are losing loved ones suddenly from blasts that shatter any solidity they may yearn for. Like in the Middle East.
They are being judged - first - simply because of their skin colour. Like in many parts of that free land called the US of A.
They are worried about being found out, exposed and rejected. Like the guys.gals who wrestle with being emotionally and physically attracted to the same gender.
There is simply no salve or solution, but there is this: Jesus enters the pain. 

I first heard this idea twenty years ago in seminary. In my youthful enthusiasm, the mere knowledge of it made it all so grand. I reached for this truth like it was a trophy and prize and may have uttered, "pain, do your worse for I am not alone!".

This cat scratch that still hurts is nothing. Over the years, Pain has thrown tornadoes and whirlwind against my soul and upset it in no small way.

Many days I wonder that I still stand.

Jesus has entered the pain ---
Is he here supporting me so I don't fall?
Is he giving me moral support, rooting for me with the "you can do it, coz I did" kind of thing?
Is he quietly working out this marvelous outcome, rigging the results while I am having this slugfest in the ring called broken humanity?

Jesus entered the pain by becoming one of us creatures-in-pain. He allowed his infinite being to be limited by time and space, subject to broken humanity and suffered all of the pains we do -

physically  from hunger to near-death physical afflictions,

emotionally from suspicion to outright betrayal,

and endured a pain none of us would ever have to: separation from God as a result of bearing the totality of sin.

In every season of pain, I have gone to this Jesus and asked him again, what does it mean that you enter our pain?
And I begin to realise that my pain is real. It is being taken seriously. I can talk to him about it. He is deflecting and absorbing some of it I am sure or I would totter and crash.
And like a dedicated medic who has rushed to the wounded solider in the trenches, he reaches over and bandages my wounds. He tells me it will heal. I look into His eyes and I believe Him even as the battle rages on.

As the bandage goes around the wound, he tells me too that I am to stay in the fight; not let the injury incapacitate me. I lean back and dreamily wish for Lucy from Narnia, coming up and applying her magic potion that would immediately restore me.

Sometimes it feels that way. It happens quick the healing. Other times, it seems the wound is going to just gape and mock me. But I arc and lift myself up; everywhere are the fallen and I must not get lost in my own pain....Even though sometimes there's the added burden of someone cussing nearby, another calls you a madman or a clown, others cry and melt down; and still a few yell back, "save yourself", the same words they said to Jesus that he may prove himself smarter and stronger; and if he did he would miss the point of love that dies for the beloved.

Lesser mortals would kick the cat that scratched. But I am no mere mortal now who contain glory am I?

"And you...he has made alive together with Him..." ~ Colossians 2v13

So I too enter into pain and deflect sometimes and absorb at other times. I too learn to bandage wounds and speak valour back into the wounded soul.

We are more than the wounded; we are the wounded healers.

And dear soul, how about just pausing for this: healer of my soul {michael talbot}

29 Aug 2014

Of doubts and 'what if I am just psyching myself?'...

Doubts plague all thinking people.

And some of us, we are prone to question, and so to doubt; more than others.

But because the world loves to operate and talk as if we all know what is going on, to harbor doubts can be scary for us. It smacks of a lack of faith. It feels like we are missing something. It feels like we may be have a loose screw jangling noisily that only we can hear. So we berate ourselves and make ourselves feel worse.

But then with I read a cry like this,

Why have you forsaken me? ~ Psalm 22
and know that we who doubt are safe.

Psalm 22 has been called the Messianic Psalm, and right here is the cry from the pain-fraught, anguished soul of none other than Jesus. He cries out that God has left the scene! Jesus on the cross and felt the Father’s absence as the sin upon Christ caused the Father to turn His face away.

If you ever felt the stung of rejection.
This is what Jesus felt. For the first time. In the most awful way.

Because of you and I.

Rejection is at the root of all our doubt. It is the fuel for the “what ifs…” we utter frightened within our hearts. And all of us have felt this sting before.

We think God is all ready to reject us.

But he is the sting-remover; the One who wants to come close and apply a soothing balm to this sting that acts up and cause us to shrink back, become cynical and even paralysed us into non-action.
What if she laughs at me?What if he doesn’t believe?What if I am wrong?
More than once when journeying with people, they say at some point, “I think I am only psyching myself. I am tired of pep-talking myself…”.

I get that.

The pep talk, the one we do to remind ourselves of hope; yes it can seem pretty lame. It’s just words, and often with a stinging pain, it feels plain powerless to make any real difference. Besides, some of us just aren’t the talking kind.

But listen. We talk to ourselves all the time.

We even talk to ourselves that what we say to ourselves is useless, or useful.

It’s kind of circular and silly;  or  it is powerful and deserves repeating.
It really works.

However –

Our self-doubting capabilities will kick in. So we demand some evidence -

If I am worthy, then why doesn't anyone notice?
If I am gifted, then why is my life so ordinary and I am so wrecked with pain?If I am loved, then why do I feel so miserable and weak?
I get this too.

We need to talk to ourselves.

But we need more than preppy, happy, ’clappy’ shorthand ways of describing life. We need more than clich├ęs.

This means it is pretty important that we talk to ourselves properly.

Takes time.
Takes effort.
Takes quiet.
Often helped with a journal.

If you want to have a great conversation that unearths truth and sends light exploding in strange corners of your soul.
If you want to be real and authentic; which is required for intimacy and communion.
If you want to feel free and lighter.
If you want to sense a trajectory to your life.

Then talk to yourself properly.

Don’t stuff your feelings or ignore your fears. Don’t kick those doubts or trash those tuggings.

If you reject yourself, you make yourself more prone to seeing rejection in others’ responses to you.

Even more – rejecting yourself is an affront to the God who made you.
This is the God who declared each of us fearfully and wonderfully made. There is no mistake or manufacture fault from His point of view. But it's so hard to believe this when we live in a world that defies this truth and trample upon it in a thousand ways; demanding that we prove our worth and earn our space here. Founder of evolutionary biology Richard Dawkins recently tweeted that couples should simply abort their babies because it's immoral to give birth to a Down Syndrome's kid. That's saying a lot - and talk like this floats around in the air we breathe in each day. It can get hard to talk ourselves to a place of security.

This is why, the self-talk must give way to silence – when we listen to God talk.

Whether we intentionally shut up and read Scripture, and scrawl sightings.

Whether we sit quiet and wait.
Whether we walk in the great world he made and let bird, water, light send their echoes of delight into our souls.
Whether we draw, doodle, make music, move or squish mud to be amazed that these hands and this body and this mind can come together and convey beauty and longing.

For in the end, we are reflectors. We reflect what we absorb.
“In the beginning was the WordAnd the Word was with GodAnd the Word was God…Through Him all things were made;Without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
~ John 1v1-4
The Word that's always been is what forms and makes and shapes. The Word gives definition and stirs to life. There is the promise here that we can be set alight by this Word that gives life. 

If we ever hope to have some light on our lives, the most important self-talk is to remind ourselves to go to the Word, the Life, the Light.

For a little more dissecting, here's the good, bad and ugly of doubts .

25 Aug 2014

Getting older, growing bolder {with cat pictures}

No one seemed to have witnessed it.

There was a huge arc of light splayed apart in its constituent colours last Tuesday. I followed the arc and it flowed towards where I lived. For the first time in my life I tried to chase a rainbow. But as I grew nearer, I realised that when we stand right under the Light, the colours scatter all around and we may not notice it!

We remember the first rainbow as a promise that a earth-wide deluge would not happen like in Noah's days. But there is more. God is not looking to destroy but to heal and embrace and make real. The rainbow is what light really is. When it shows up, we are always surprised and a little dizzy with delight -- the same way
when we stop; and remember that we all stand under the Light.

And there is this choice to notice it.

"I am the Light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but have the light of life." ~ Jesus in John 8v12

May I share something I saw under the Light?

Seventeen years ago, i decided to check out the meaning of my name. I found out that it means 'boldness'.

I sat deeper into my chair -- and the moments I was bold and the many times I was just plain scared, when I stepped away, backed off...all came tumbling into my mind.

Was I bold to choreograph a dance when I did not know a thing about dancing?
Was I bold to write that protest note on behalf of the class to the principal and so five of us got to see what it was like in her office.
Was I bold to trek off into the mountains of the Golden Traingle in Thailand with an two-week old cough?


Who we are is given to us. 

While our mom and dad and so many fussing aunties or none at all look at us and decide on a name; they had no clue what to call forth from this tiny being all packed with future and possibility.

There were hints: I was the kindergarten bully - I sat next to this clueless kid who drove me mad and I made sure he knew. But I was also the one who would cry and refuse to go because I remembered I forgot my book. I was the pretty girl my mom wanted to spend her precious little on, but when she took me to the market and after twenty minutes when I stood my ground instead of accepting any of the frilly dresses, we ended up eating fishball noodles instead.

There are times when who we are might be crushed and squashed a little; even lost to us when hurt and pain can send us hiding because we think that's the way to be safe. But we die as we hide.
come on out from hiding!

This is why it also takes this:

Who we are is called forth from us.

Was I bold to walk into a new place and people and start being their pastor?
Was I bold to call myself a 'pastor-writer' when no one else did?
Was I bold to ignore the reasonable voices that I should look after the needs of a few hundred and not stay home to watch the souls of two?

The needs call out our gifts.
The convictions of our hearts stir the cauldron of our values and prime us to activate our selves.
The faith of others, when they see our gifts and affirm them energise us to arise.

Bold - is the standing up, being loud and noticed, making a splash and causing a stir. It is speaking up, being different, daring new things. So we think.

and we stand, now, upon Grace

But as I grow older, I find my boldness surface and surprise me. In fact, it seems my boldness is leading me away from the typical places where the bold tread: decision and power centres. But I see that a courage is being nourished and honed in this strange paradox of being obscure and away from the action. This process mostly involves me seeing my fears up close and refusing to cover them up with leaves; but to accept my smallness, to weep over my cowardice and compromise, and to rest that Someone greater has named me, given me gifts, and will call me forth. 

What have you been given?
What is being called forth?

And, haha this -
o kitty! not like this!