How do I love the unloveable?

For the last couple of days, I have been bearing some nasty feelings towards a colleague at work. It is not nice to feel what I feel about him, and I occasionally feel guilty for harbouring all the malicious mutterings in my heart. But I just cannot help it! I can be studying, or cooking, or getting into the bath, and suddenly his repulsive countenance would appear in my mind’s eye, and I will think about how rude and loathsome he is. I judge him every time he pops up in my thoughts, and my dislike for him grows exponentially every time I remind myself of how much he drives me up the wall.

The man is ill-mannered, sarcastic, arrogant, and possesses no communication skills whatsoever. He is everything that I detest about a man put in one person. I am left exasperated and offended after every encounter with him, and I cannot wait for the day we rotate away from our current hospital and I will hopefully never see him again. I am determined to avoid him and tolerate him, and I refuse to be hypocritical in pretending that I even like him vaguely as a colleague.

I have not felt so strongly against another person for a very long time. In the past, when I did have issues with other people, I often managed to resolve them because I could actually communicate with these other people and they mostly do possess some feature that made me at least respect them. Not this time. After 9 months of trying to befriend and understand this fellow, I have given up. He is now my trial, my tribulation.

I really cannot stand this person, and I resent him even more for making me feel so guilty before the Lord. God teaches us to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. How difficult it is to do so! I can barely tolerate this person, how can I even contemplate loving him?

Jesus can, and He does. What incomprehensible and unconditional love. Love that forgives us for being the hateful people we are. Love that cursed away our vile and pungence. Love that was extended to me and to him.

Lord, help me to forgive him, and then to love him (<– that was really hard to write/ ask for)

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Just trust Him

My heart is filled with longing tonight.

I feel love-sick. Except that this love-sickness isn’t directed at anyone in particular. In fact, there isn’t even a single person in my life that I vaguely admire and can feel love-sick for at the moment. I don’t know how, or why, but I am just missing someone, somewhere; wishing for someone, somewhere.

My heart is thirsty; for an attachment, a spiritual connection, a commitment. My head is sorely wanting; for a shoulder to lean on, a chest to cry into, an arm to rest onto. My hands are fervently desiring; for someone to hold it, kiss it, and guide me to dance with it. My chest is aching; full of thirst, wanting, desire.

Perhaps I am love-sick for love.

On nights like this, it is really hard to trust that the Lord knows best and is in complete control over my life. When I browse through facebook and learn that yet another friend is engaged, or pregnant, or celebrating a wedding anniversary, or preparing for a child’s birthday, it is so hard not to feel particularly lonely and wanting. Especially when I know that I am no where near a relationship, a marriage or a pregnancy like them. Especially when I am living alone, here in a little town where none of my friends are, and working in an place where colleagues can be quite hostile. Especially when life is currently a boring cycle of work-study-sleep. Especially when there is an important exam looming ahead and there is hardly anything to look forward to in the foreseeable future.

I know people often say  that “the grass is always greener on the other side”– single people always crave to be in a relationship, whilst some married couples wish they had stayed single for longer. A relationship may seem satisfying in many ways, but I must remember that being one half of a couple brings with it its own woes too. I know full well that I should embrace my singlehood and all the freedom that it affords me; but just for tonight, let me wallow in my own self-pity.

God provides for His people. He knows the desires of our hearts and wants to bless us with His goodness and grace. God knows what I am thinking and how I am feeling, and He already knows what He is going to do about it. But I don’t. And so, like a spoilt little child, I am crying out to my father “I want that. I want that NOW! I want you to give me what I want. *sob *wail * sniff.” I am throwing a tantrum and making a scene. I am like a brat accusing my “selfish” father of depriving me of my liberty to own the beautiful barbie doll that I want oh-so-terribly. And my father? He is anything but the miserly dad I have accused Him to be. He is generous and loving and kind. He has refused to give me what I want now, because He has prepared a wonderful doll-house filled with gorgeous barbie dolls (including the one I want) and stunning barbie dresses that He plans to present to me on another special occasion. God has it all planned out and He knows what He is doing. He wants to give me the best things at the best times.

I should trust that.

What a hard thing to do.

Lord, please help me to be patient.

Losing a friend

2 days ago, I received in my mailbox an invitation to a “wedding” that I wish will never happen. My heart sank, and I was filled with sadness.

I know it sounds bad that I should be wishing against the coming together of 2 people who are “in love,” but I know that I have every right to do so in the name of the Lord Jesus. When a relationship is drenched in such murky waters of sin, when such coming together desecrates the sanctity of the institution that is marriage, and when a “wedding” publicly and defiantly sticks a finger up at God and His laws, I have to reject it.

I know that people will hasten to condemn the way I sound so self righteous about being judgmental. After all, we are entitled to a freedom to do whatever we want, right? Whatever they do is good, as long as it is right for them, right?

Wrong.

How can one claim to be truly free in life, when our pursuit of freedom in one area leads to an enslavement in another area in life? When we seek to be completely free to spend all our money on everything that we want, we cause ourselves to become slaves of the dollar bill and of debt. When we seek complete freedom to be intoxicated with alcohol, we become slaves to liver disease, slaves to broken relationships, slaves to a life that is but a constant blur before our eyes. In the same way, when we seek to be completely free to enjoy sexual immorality, then we become slaves to our selfish bodily desires, slaves to STDs, slaves to an imperfect sexual life that was never part of God’s plan for humankind.

When we insist on having our own total freedom to do whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want, we cannot help but impinge on other people’s freedom either. While one may feel free to steal a car, he is encroaching on someone else’s freedom to have their car safe of filthy thieving fellows. While one may feel free to indulge in bullying, he is depriving someone else of a freedom to feel safe and unthreatened. That’s why laws exist, isn’t it? Laws draw boundaries to our freedom in order to protect the freedom of other people, and that is why God lays laws down for His people too. God did not enforce a long list of commandments for the sake of depriving us of our freedom, He enforced them for the very purpose of preserving our freedom! We live in a world where our lives are all intertwined with that of the people around us. Our actions impact not only ourselves but also the lives of other people. How can anything be good as long as it is right for you, even if it is not ok for other people? How can such freedom be good?

Anyway, I digress.

I wanted to talk about friendship and its frailty. One half of this couple who is getting married used to be a really good friend of mine. We used to spend a lot of time together and he was like a brother to me. We lived together, studied together, played together, and served and loved the Lord together. For years, I thought we had a solid foundation to our friendship and that our close ties will last a lifetime.

But how time and distance has made a mockery of our relationship. 6 months was all it took for us to grow apart. 6 months was all it took to practically erase all the goodness that had been borne out of an 8 year long friendship. 6 months, the devil, and a man.

I was looking at a couple of old photos today and I have to say that I really do miss this friend whom I used to consider a brother. I look at his picture from then and compare it to the person he is now, and realise that he is no longer the same person I used to love. He has gone down a path that I would never have chosen for him, and has estranged himself from the precious friendship that we both used to treasure. He has become a stranger, again.

How feeble human friendships can be! It just reminds me of how broken and fallen our world is, that we are unable to even preserve relationships that we deem important to us. We fail one another, and then move on selfishly as if nothing ever mattered. What terrible friends we humankind make.

God, please teach us how friendship really works.

How deep the father’s love for us

Isaiah 53:5-6

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Romans 5:6-8

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Thank you Lord for saving me. Thank you Lord, for the Easter Sunday 2012 years ago when death lost its sting and desperation was conquered. Thank you that through Jesus, I have life, love, hope, peace, and joy overflowing. Thank you Lord, for everything.

Boy Meets World

Recently, I got myself hooked on an American sitcom from the 1990s.

I remember watching a couple of episodes of Boy Meets World on the “Mickey Mouse Channel” when I was about 12, thinking that the show was funny, exciting, and very relevant to my young self. I never got to watch much of it though, as the channel stopped being free-view, and my dad was reluctant to pay subscription for kids TV.

Thank God I rediscovered it on Youtube.

The sitcom essentially chronicles the life of its protagonist, Cory Matthews. As we watch episode after episode, we watch Cory grow, learn and slowly mature into a responsible young adult. It touches on issues like peer pressure, loyalty towards friends, being proud of one’s parents, communication within the family, falling in love, dealing with break-ups, pre-marital sex, marriage, and saying goodbye. Through the mistakes that Cory makes, and the lessons that Cory learns, sound moral values are also being impressed upon its young target audience. The show is not only instructive, but actually really fun to watch too. Humour has got to be one of its best weapons in keeping us hooked.

I think kids these days can really do without the trashy TV that TV stations have become so apt at churning out. I wish people made more shows like Boy Meets World now: Entertaining yet educational, capturing the hearts of both the young and old.

Boy Meets World. I loved it then, and I still love it now.

Can’t wait to get the box set of all seven seasons. I want my children to be watching quality TV like this in the future.

Giving all glory unto Jesus

Recently, I have been receiving a number of compliments about my singing.

On B’s wedding day, I was singing a song whilst helping him iron his groomsmens’ shirts. One of his groomsmen, A, overheard me and kept exclaiming that I should audition for American Idol. He said it not once, not twice, but three different times! Then, there was the other Sunday at church when I sat next to this lady whom I have never met before. After the service, she turned around to me and said “do you know that you have a really good voice?” And today, I received an email from SP. She had requested that I send her the mp3 of the songs we did for Vicky’s wedding, claiming that “I like your voice very much.”

I feel flattered by all the praise that has been piled my way. I do love singing, and it feels awesome when other people acknowledge that I am good at it. I am thankful to God for this gift, and do want to serve Him with this voice He has blessed me with. I sing in the worship band at church now and again, but I do often wonder if I could do more with what He has given me.

So anyway, I got thinking. When people commend and applaud us, what should our response be?

When I still lived in Singapore, the correct response would be denial. When someone else praises you to the skies, you are expected to say  “(in Singlish) No la, I am so lousy, so-and-so is so much better.” The aim of the game would be to deny the compliment, and then proceed to explain to the other party why you are not as good as they make you out to be. In fact, you want to try and convince them that they are better than you in the said activity/sport/talent. You wouldn’t want to come across as arrogant and full of yourself by accepting that you are “amazing” or “wonderful” or “stunning,” would you? Of course, you don’t really mean what you say; secretly, you are proud that they have flattered you. It’s a hypocritical response really, to think one way but act in another. In a way, I think it goes far beyond simply trying to come across as humble and meek. In fact, I think this response lies far from humility but instead reeks of “reverse pride.” By putting ourselves down, we are hoping that the complimenting party will then try and convince us of our awesomeness by piling on more praise or by explaining our greatness, thus feeding the pride monster that lives in all our hearts. In my opinion, it is a self-glorification seeking process.

When I got to the UK, I had to be taught how to receive compliments. I remember one of my closest girlfriends, Lyd, telling me that I should accept praise and just say “thank you” with a smile. Doing so doesn’t mean you are arrogant and proud, you are just accepting that someone else thinks you are good at something and are thankful for that. There is nothing wrong with being proud anyway. We should all be proud of the gifts and talents that we have- it builds self esteem and self confidence after all, doesn’t it? Being proud of what you have is good; pride becomes a negative thing only when we start claiming greatness for what we do not have or cannot do, or when we claim more of it than we deserve.

Lately, I have been watching a couple of interviews with the NBA sensation Jeremy Lin. Here is an example of a guy who has been lauded and celebrated the world over for his genius gameplay. Yet, he remains ever so grounded and has stayed humble about his achievements hitherto. Jeremy Lin proudly (and rightly) acknowledges his flair for the game, but doesn’t forget that he cannot do it all without his team mates. In fact, he goes even further to acknowledge and thank the Lord who helps him play. I love the way he points everyone back to God over and over and over again. When people are pointing at him saying “you are amazing,” he is pointing at God saying “He’s the one who is really amazing.” I love his unabashed and public proclamation of Jesus’ name whenever he gets the chance to, so that all the world can see and know who really is in control.

There is so much we can learn from Jeremy Lin in the way we deal with compliments: give all glory back to God- the author and creator of this universe, the giver of life, the source of love, joy, peace, and the bestower of all blessings. When God gets all the glory, we can feel free to be as proud as we want- proud of the Lord who deserves to be extolled for His amazing grace.