Saturday, December 31, 2016

good bye 2016. hello flourishing 2017

Hello virtual memory. I thought I should spend some time with you on this last day of 2016. I have not spent much time with you this year... But I would like to remember life a little more, so here goes.

2016 felt like a year of labor. Very very hard labor. I spent most of time trying to write. Or trying to be thankful about the opportunity given to writing.

Of course, there have been also lots of meet ups. Where I try to stay connected with the real world too.. I am grateful that I have friends here in Brussels who feel familial. Maybe they won't ever replace my main tribe of people, but I know that we have each other's back for this season of our lives. 

Somedays, I wonder how on earth did I think it was a good idea to do my life in all its glorious drama (both in my brain and out) And how I regret being so far away.... and I get bitter, grumpy and ugly... I am reminded though that resentment is not from God. Godliness with contentment is. In this season, I pray for grace and discipline to understand what this means. 

In the past months, I felt like I gained a better understanding of this verse "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."(Mat 10:16) It is not enough to just play the nice card. there is the need to articulate and to defend/fight for what one believes in. In fighting, there is strive, there is tension. In this tension, it is difficult to be content... 

I am also struggling with what's next. Need life to move on. Need to find a job please God. Need to be done writing too. Need to remember that God remains good. And with that in my mind, to remember to flourish. On that note, I want to remember to remember the character of God. Bring on 2017. In this new year, I ask for more grace to face this new year, that God intends for us to have life. to flourish. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

A little life

Just read a novel. It's been too long. I was reminded how much I really like to read (story books). I loved the idea of knowing how 4 people's lives turn out over a span of 40 years in 40 hours. It made me laugh, cry despair and hope all at the same time. Mostly, it made me feel the beauty and the devastation that this world offers. I liked the book. It looked at mental illness, homosexuality, postmodernism, love, friendship. It was honest. It was sad. Sad because it is a stark reminder that life without God is a painful existence.

I am generally drawn to the broken, the complicated. But lately, I have been thinking of the broken as self-centred, and perhaps even self indulgent. It's their own doing to explore (looking at myself) and to get oneself into the weird situation that they are in. If they are broken, there is a certain amount of 'justice due them'. Of course, I think that it is important to live a life authentic, sincere, real to who one is. I think its important to pursue what "I" think God puts in my heart, even during moments when life feels like !@@#%, because it is in living that one is a witness, the journey is in the means (process), not only in the end. But I wonder, where relationships are in this equation. Especially relationships that sometimes seem mundane, burdensome, and even unnecessary.

The easy (and always the right) answer is grace. That I should offer grace to all, and also to myself.  But sometimes, grace is not the answer for spiritual cultivation. I want to reflect about what I think needs to be done.

I am being trained to have an opinion, so these are my thoughts - albeit still developing (with influences from Charles Taylor, Bonhoeffer, Volf, and maybe Ricouer)

- What is authentic to me is not the same as me against the big bad world. It is maybe a calling, a vocation, but it is definitely in some ways rooted to the way we see the world, the context that we are in. Being authentic therefore is more than being against the world - it is a response of one towards the world. Sure there are rubbish things in the world, but I am not sure that its me against the world. It can also be me with the world, me for the world etc etc. I just want to be me cannot be the excuse to absolving responsibilities one has in the world. (of course, the question then is what does it mean to have responsibilities).

For me relationships are a big responsibility. They are constitutive for the authentic life. They make life worth fighting for in some sense. Bonhoeffer speaks about being the vicarious representation for the other. This relationship then is the bond that enables me to represent the other better, more accurately, more truly.  It is also true that relationships can be complicated.. I get the idea of it being restrictive, and burdensome (in some sense i think this is why brexit happened). but it is also what we are about in the end (at least is the core message in the book I just read - the restorative power of friendship).

The question then is, how should I treat/think about those who don't think the same? To those I feel a shared responsibility for these relationships. Sadly, I have to accept that relationships do not have the same role for them as it has for me. On one hand, I know that that i have a relationship with these people too, and this relationship is bounded by feelings of vicarious representation. Of seeking to really love, to lay my life for them... but what do I do with feelings of inadequacy, injustice, indigence, esp to those who are waiting to have a relationship with them.  I see people hurt because of their responses.

What does it mean to have compassion for all?

- What I want to do needs to reflect my values, be a reflection of my authentic journey.  It is my calling, my response - and so I shall not wish one way or the other. People are part of this journey.

- I can't save the world. I can only do my part, in the participation of the mission - where I think people lay central. this means, I need to not feel overly bad about the bad feelings people are feeling.  I need to have my own boundaries - before I become a grumpy old woman.

- I need to love more the people I find are in the wrong. In this sense, love is not a smothering feeling of affection. It is to accord them their rights. to give them due justice, instead of giving them tit for tat. It is to be witness to a God that is the well of unending love. Where love means justice - giving them their space, rights to be who they are. (and also to lay clear what I think the rules of engagement are (eventually))

May grace abound freely for all, and may I remember to not lose wonder of this world. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

my heart rages

My heart rages
For Brussels, for Lahore, for places I don't know how to pronounce.
For suicide bombers, for victims, for family
For people in fear, and those that have to make decisions.

Doing the right thing is never easy,
help me discern what that is.
Give me hope Lord to believe again I have a future
In this abyss of writing

I need you Jesus, thank you for your resurrection.
You are my God.
Help me stay faithful. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Racism, diversity, and choosing what to believe (otherwise)

In Singapore. We hear about the Chinese privilege. Or perhaps we are happy to be Singaporeans in SEA where we are branded for our wealth, efficiency, and general amazing-ness :)

Suffice to say, I am not well equipped to deal with racism. Specially from little beetle. This i hope will not stay a lingering theme. But it has been the case the past weeks...While I can try very hard to be empathetic, to say it hurts is to say that the sky is blue...

Sad to say, theology leaves me with the same feelings of helplessness. Empiricism, Scholasticism, relativism, (and all the other isms).. I perpetually feel like I did not have an education... I was under the impression that theology had something to teach about real life issues.

Well, this feeling is repeated of being small and unworthiness appears every once in a while. Dirk says I have been here for 5 years. I should be done with whatever culture shock I would have, and not keep thinking/wishing of being somewhere else. I wished I was better at this too. But truth be told, this feeling reappears when I struggle with a new language, speaking German with an accent (and with deliciously rubbish grammar) getting reject letters for job vacancies, and writing things that do not make enough sense.

But we are not called to feel bad. To hate our lives/self so much. Instead, we are called to be us, to remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. This even when it is so hard, so hard to not be put down and to just put my head down and say ok, you win. I need to fight. To fight to believe in God's truth. To let that be the most true of who I am. Because in the end, it is. Today. I want to remember that I have a purpose. And I am called to be exactly where I am. (I just received my permanent resident in Germany today - yay for one thing working out) I will not think fleeing thoughts. But think about what it means to live in Christ.

God please help me.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Dear Child of God

Do you know that the God of creation, decided to create you?

He decided that you will have a tender loving heart, where brokenness and imperfection breaks you, a sense of adventure and curiosity for people unknown; parents who try their best with you, siblings to love, compare, agonise and be proud of. A husband that you love and respect (sometimes hate but mostly love), a little bonus child that you can laugh with and cry about but finally to witness a little life come to be.

God has been present through the journey of life, the mundane, stressful, exciting and sad. He knows you are intense. He made you. He knows how people, results, life have almost broken you. Yet He also walks with you, comforts you at your lowest. Besides pain, he has also given you so many special-ness to be thankful about. People, places, food (yummy food), nature. All in all. You are blessed. Very blessed. You love your family, they love you too. There are people on this planet that you care very much about and you are typing this in the comfort of your apartment.

So child of God. Stand strong. Show up. Remember. Remember that who you are is a gift - not a liability. Remember your blessings. He has blessed you indefinitely. Remember to seek his kingdom and his righteousness. Do not start worrying (obsessing) about the small things in life. God, your father knows you need them.

To seek his kingdom in your situation is love the people in your life. It is also to be discontent with the world's brokenness. It is to find a place that you want to contribute in. To witness to. At this point in life. It is to talk about Christian organizations. You do not want them to settle. to forget their Christian identity. So write, Child of God. Stop feeling so inadequate. Stop being vain with your work. Remember, it is how you participate in this mission of God at this moment. If you ever reach a day where you become puffed up with all this knowledge - I will have a talk with you. But at this moment. WRITE. Be thankful and strong and brave. You have a message. Share it unapologetically. It is what it is.

Child of God, continue to strive for contentment. It is living the present in lieu of God's promises. It is not to close your eyes and wish your life away. It is to be brave and to walk in the thick of it. To want to live for God in the face of opposition. To not shy away but to remember that your God walks with you.

Child of God. You are loved. Love back. Don't be scarred. Use your experiences to deepen your love. Love the lord your God, and your neighbour as yourself.