1 Mar 2015

God loves me, yea,... but does he LIKE me?

adivsory: this post has fun cat pictures for illustrative purposes
Let's just say if you have a bad habit like forgetfully picking your nose in public; you will surely live. On the other hand, if you have a bad habit inside your head, it gets more complicated (especially if yours is a woman's head).  A bad head habit is a thought pattern and way of interpretation that is faulty. This has massive implications.

If you tend to think people are out to get something from you; imagine how you would respond to a spontaneous gift from me?

Our head habits, those regular thought patterns are like train tracks. We have train tracks just for God; and I have found that it is basically about God being far / unreachable / out to get us, and that this track runs parallel to another one about self: I am not good enough.

Guess what? I have a very serious hunch that for most of us those are the exact train tracks that run inside our heads of all sizes. And the train goes clackety-clack on those tracks so that no matter what we hear taught, preached, sung... it ends up as another carriage on this track.

How do we get off track, or on the right track?

The answer is Revelation. /an enlightening or astonishing disclosure / {Meriam webster online} 

Revelatory insight makes you bright, turns on the light and brings a smile to your face.

Like when you discover that God doesn't love you because He cannot help it since He is Love; and that not just that, He actually likes you.

I remember that afternoon well. We were dating so I was visiting and hanging around. The house was quiet and in the high of new-love, I was shaken by this Q: does God like me? I am not sure where the Q came from; but nearly twenty-nine, I wasn't head-over-heels in love as much as waxing and waning over my fierce emotions and equally strong resistance to this whole 'we're going to get married thing'. We were old enough and free enough to have gotten on each other's nerves too many times to count. So perhaps, I was disliking myself a tad.

The answer, the revelation came a couple of years later. Sure that afternoon, my mind put 2+2 together: God is all integrity, and we cannot use human measures for him; I comforted myself that He did like me. But I did slip in, "tell me God".

So another afternoon, I was sitting, no, I was crumpled, at the piano, trying to tinker some noise of praise out as my heart was filled with sorrow, anger and remorse (it's amazing how many things one can feel at once)... when I 'heard' "Jenni, I enjoy you". God caught me right at that tip of the train track as my trains were leaving. It was almost as if He interrupted me because just as those words came, they overlaid my own words, "I don't enjoy myself". 

I'm the poorer judge, and too weak to argue. So the words slipped right into me and found the empty space and lodged there. God likes me!

There are days when I am grossly dissatisfied with myself. Et tu? Like when I am hazy, lazy, and yes, plain crazy!  Like when I knew I should have but didn't. Like when I slip into my ennui. I am glad to report to my fellow women that I am on the downhill side of that dreaded the PMS mountain. But my inconsistencies, contradictions, comedy of errors are all wrapped up in a Love that likes - 

/ to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in / 

God is drawn to me and when I sit with Him, He smiles. He's glad I made the time and created a special space. Maybe he pats my head. Often I find a light breeze or a tune - both balms for this tropical heat. This may sound weird; sometimes I make up jokes for God! 

This morning I was going to write a funny piece on Twitterverse. 
I was going to group twitters by birds and have a bit of fun with my observations ...then I felt Someone laughing with me. As I brushed my teeth, I realised I wanted you to know this: God loves you, and he likes you!

Not some future version of you, all cleaned up and improved.Certainly, God is not like us and i do believe that when he sees us, he sees all of us; past-present-future. Yes, there are people He does dislike too - those described in the Bible who are not Godward; the evil. 

We separate Love and Like. It's easy to like (just click) than love. Not really. Very few of us genuinely like anyone else. We find way too many things to complain about them. It's easy to. I remember as a teen thinking, "I don't have to like anyone. I just have to love them". OK -- it is jolly hard to love anyone without liking them at least a bit!

Perhaps this is a false divide, another faulty train track. How do you love someone - who is a composition of his traits, habits, personality and values, while disliking them? So my conclusion of the matter is this:  I will stop pretending. I don't really love/like anyone. I even struggle to love/like me. And in my abject poverty, the emptied out space, when the train switch is off and the clackety is stilled - revelation comes and finds a home:
we love because He first loved us ~ 1 John 4v19 NIV

and if i may add: we like because he first liked us.

If I haven't met you yet, I am sure I will like you a tad when we do meet. Meanwhile, be brave, get to a scratching post and let all your angst out, Claw away till you have sloughed off some and feel space opening up for your moment of revelation. 

Q: What other revelations (that overturning of train tracks) have you experienced?

24 Feb 2015

The strangest coffee-shop talk ever: is this man in love...with himself or what?

I just got back from lunch. It was my usual fish soup and rice meal, simple, tasty, I'd like to believe health-full too.
Singapore's fish soup version 1 

The routine is pretty usual, I walk up to the stall, smile widely at the Chinese gal who by now recognises me, makes some small talk and repeat my order.

The coffee shop was crowded today with lunch-goers, some seated around those roll wooden table tops tossing their lo-hei on this day of humanity 人日。Maybe after all that zodiac calibration, we figure humanity should have a little affirmation even if the Chinese love to compare ourselves to animals, with sayings such as, slogging like a horse/bull.

So I sit at this table fairly close to the stall, half of it occupied by containers of nearly-finished New Year cookies. I had just begun gingerly stamping the seeds out of the chilli padi with the end of my chopsticks when a baldy skinny man with a cup of tea in his hand asked to occupy the empty chair. I nodded and smiled a little. He began to move the cookie containers to one side giving himself a decent berth; I gathered my bowls closer to myself too, in case he needs that much space!

His food arrived and he asked the server. "where is the dong gua?" The server stared blankly. So being the busybody I am, I said, it's "huang gua" (冬瓜 would be winter melon while 黄瓜 is the cucumber). And this is when he began.

"I eat here all the time. She is not here anymore. She always knows I need cucumber. If it was not ready, she would prepare it for me. She left... July 11th 2014....She's really good..."

Naturally, I smiled and said, wow. Which meant he continued.

"I used to buy her stuff. I come for lunch, I buy her mango. Sometimes I go to Paragon and get her Tiramisu from Gastronomia, I buy the good stuff you know, I think I spend maybe five, six hundred dollars..."

"Why didn't you propose to her since you are fond of her?"
"No la, I just live here, I eat here all the time. I bought her Hagen Daz, those small tubs in a box. She shares it with the others. She knows exactly what I eat and prepares it nicely for me...I will buy her..From Nov when I got to know her, I come nearly everyday. Sometimes more than once..."
 "Sounds like you found a mission"
 "Ya now so boring, don't know what to do... I wanted to give her money but she won't take it. You know she said 'O, my father is sick' or this kind of things...So only during New Year I can give her angpow, she won't take it. See? This kind of person you know. Then I knew she liked chocolates. I know her schedule each day.... "
lone man are often lonely 

So yes, in fifteen or so minutes, I found out enough and, I needed an exit strategy --  because he is pining for someone but he is unaware. He is in need of love but cannot identify it when it comes. He is retired and purposeless but he is not ready to hear any inputs. When I left, he was kinda mid-sentence!

Would you pray for this retired 50+ man who is obviously lonely, lives with his mom and sister, is financially stable, has a father in the aged home, AND really needs a life purpose plus a true friend !

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it..."~ Genesis 2v15
"The LORD God said, 'it is not good for the man to be alone...'.." ~ Genesis 2v18

23 Feb 2015

Falling out of love because we fix on the failings..and the One Failure that turns us into Success

No more love.

The cat's wound was inestimable. Laying on her side, the cat seemed bemused by the attention she as getting. Yet, who cannot help but stop and stare. She had a huge gaping hole in her stomach which revealed all her innards. There was movement; and I realized to my disgust and horror that maggots were already squirming. It was a marvel that the cat was still conscious. But she did not mew. A kindly man came with a small container of water and tried to flush out the maggots. The cat winced and then simply laid her head down…

My mind returned to this real-life incident because I was thinking about my wound.

It probably happens to most, if not all, marriages. The love simply runs out. I had tried hard not to go in that direction. But finally, I had to admit, the feelings had long run out. O, what a huge gaping hole I felt within me. It was unbearable. I hated myself for loving so poorly; and for being able to stop loving (for so it felt). No matter what I filled my day with, this reality swirled around within me like a haunting tune I could not stop humming; and this suggestion kept seguing in: 'get out, move on'. 

The big D word hung over me like a metal sheeted cloud. Light was finding it hard to break through.

But still, Light did. Small, faint shafts, a glimmer here, a spot there.

And of course, I was not the only one. The D word fell out of our hearts. When we heard it, a tremor shook our now wan souls. After all, we knew the Word. We knew the real-life stories. But most of all, we knew God makes a difference. But how?

We had to deal with the daily grind.
We had to struggle against a constant assault of negativity.We had to fight guilt, despair, anger, hopelessness.

But God did not zap these things away. Instead, he nursed the wound, slowly, gently, carefully. 

While I cried out regularly with my barrage: 'His fault!'; God's Word dew the barren landscape.

'Whoever wishes to gain his life loses it. But whoever loses his life for my sake gains it.'

'Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another.'

'For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you….'

Slowly, repeatedly, I had to come before God and confessed. I blew it - yet again. It did not seem like I would succeed. It was dismal. We were too different. My heart was numb. I had a wound so deep. Often, it seems my valiant efforts went unnoticed and unrewarded.

I did not love. And I was unwilling to.

God's Word began to make clear the cost of loving. 

Yes, we have all heard to said: to put the other first blah blah….it was mostly blah to me. Not hogwash, for I know it is true; not just because of other folks and how things turned out for them. I know it is true because that is precisely what my Saviour did: Jesus did put us first; He relinquished His heavenly rights for us, out of His love and obedience to God! Jesus shows us that a Greater Love can bring about all loves.

So loving my spouse and loving God are bound together. It is all Love or it is not. But I have met my Waterloo. I cannot win this one. I dread to think that I am failing to love the One who has loved me when I was just a bundle of cells floating and forming in the darkness of the womb. "For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen" - 1 John 4v20.

There was no dogding when the Light becomes so spot-on accurate.

'O God, I am wretched! I simply cannot . do . it!'

And then, suddenly, I could. 

Very little. Very unsteadily. Inconsistent. But it comes.

Yet it is not our willpower that will save the day, or the marriage. It is God's Will that does it. When we align our wills with His, something happens - God's power in invited into the situation.

Now I see it: God's grace preserved us. Many times we would have totally broken; but His grace broke through and we mend just enough to cease hurting each other. All this time, God was slowly and gingerly, lovingly and patiently working at my wound. No, he does not throw water hoping to flush out the infection (yes, that's it). He remembers that I am but dust. 

To restore my soul and close the wound required his expert hands and the timeliness of his healing touch. 

I have slowed. I am more rested. I am more hopeful.

Whereas I tried to do what a wounded soul could not - love heroically
Whereas I kept doing what a wounded soul does - question, fight, struggle, cry, get cynical, curl up in self-defense.

God brings us again and again to the One Failure that will turn us right side up and lead into true Success: we are unable; but, are we willing?

I cast myself daily into my God's strong arms. At times, I can almost feel Him hold me. Other times, He seems awfully quiet. Over time, one thing is sure, the wound is healing, there are more bright spots than dark ones. Hope starts to float about in the air and the spaces.

Some days I wake up with a smile on my face as I contemplate an even greater wonder and an enduring Success so sublime: Christ is being formed in me (imagine that!).

reflections of Light require that
 we face it

Your Turn: what has given you hope when a relationship has been less than what you desired?