Archive for ‘faith’

September 7, 2010

What Are Your Addictions: BMV Blog


Proverbs 31: A line at a time

At the BMV blog, we are doing a series of Bible Studies based on Proverbs 31. So if you are wondering where I am, you can find me there. I did the last post on verses 5 & 6 of the chapter. I know, what does Proverbs 31 have to do with addictions right? Well, visit us and find out.

July 26, 2010

What Do Your Scars Say?


It is virtually impossible to go through this life without any scars; we have all, at one time or the other, been wounded by life. Some of us have the badges outside where people can see them and for others, these wounds are buried so deep inside they have not even had the opportunity to heal. Some of these wounds were inflicted on us by other people while some were self-inflicted. Whichever the case – whether people or self inflicted – they hurt.

Most wounds eventually heal. Not all. But most. Still, while they heal and may not hurt anymore, the memory of the pain may still be as fresh as though the wound were still bleeding.

These scars could come from a variety of wounds: a broken home; a relationship gone bad; a bitter divorce; a betrayal, loneliness…whatever the source, I think wounds to the heart are the hardest to heal. Probably because the damage is internal and many times, difficult to detect so it festers. Also because many times, we cannot help prodding and poking at these wounds until they start to bleed again. And even when they do eventually heal, it takes some time for the scab to fall off. Needless to say, these scars are the evidence of life.

I have not been exempt from life, somehow in my short existence, life has managed to leave it’s mark on me. Although many of the scars were people-inflicted, the majority were self-inflicted. I got into things I should not have and read meanings that were not there into situations that did not exist. Real or imagined, these wounds hurt a great deal and I have the scars to show.

I went to Church recently and the Pastor decided to preach on scars. Well, not on scars exactly but they came up. He said a lot of things and I cannot put them all here (don’t ask me why). But something caught my attention. He was speaking about destiny and said we are all meant to be examples. He went on to define the Greek word for example which meant Tupos.

One of the meanings of the word Tupos is SCAR. So you get where I am coming from. This is what he said:

“Your scars can also be an example; There is something about what you are going through that will help someone”

That got me really thinking. It was one of those ‘Aha’ moments in my life. I have gone through some stuff that made no sense to me. I kept asking God, why He would allow someone He loves enough to send the only child He had to die for, to suffer like that. The whole thing was crazy! On an intellectual level, I knew and believed that all things happen for a purpose but when it came down and personal? I just felt tormented. Period.

But even though I grew up reading the Bible and I had read this countless times, when I heard again the way Jesus told Thomas, who had been doubting, ‘touch my wounds’ (John 20:27) I just melted. OK, He did not say that literally, but when a man tells you to put your finger into the wound at His side, I think that should qualify.

Jesus was also wounded, physically and emotionally. He was betrayed by those closest to Him; His friends deserted Him when He really needed them; even His father whom He was REALLY very close to, turned His back on Him. I cannot even begin to imagine how He felt hanging there on that cross, being given a criminal’s death, while His mother watched. Like being sentenced to death by hanging and your mum is just there, weeping helplessly and you know all you have to do is say one word and that torment will be over but you just can’t say anything. So you look on helplessly.

Jesus had to go through all that so we could identify with Him. For that moment, God turned His back on His son for our sakes yet He did not stop trusting in His father. At least we know that regardless of what we are going through, He is not going to turn His back on us. We have that assurance. Whatever we are going through cannot be as bad as what Jesus went through for us.

In the same way, we need to embrace our scars. They are like a signpost saying

IF I COULD GO THROUGH THIS, SO CAN YOU!

It gives meaning, it gives perspective to my own scars and even my wounds. It helps to know that all that madness was not someone’s idea of morbid humour. If I can help just one person stand because I fell, then the falling was worth it. If just one person is healed because I was injured, then the injury makes sense. No, I am not a saint. I will not willingly allow myself to be injured even if I know it will help someone. My pain threshold is remarkably low. But I will not prod and poke at my scars either, neither will I be ashamed of them. They are my testimony.

June 11, 2010

A Lover Or A What?


No, I do not mean the kissing type (that is the luh-vah); well, there’s that I guess and it has its advantages. But I am talking more about the state of heart which is usually possessed by the Lover. Fact: Not every one who is in love is a lover.

Lovers are those who find it easy to love and to open up their hearts and emotions to the object (or subject, whichever) or their love. They experience things on a higher emotional level and have a deeper connection with the right side of their brain.

Because of this emotional-ness of the lover, it is often thought, fallaciously, that women are generally lovers. I beg to differ. More and more men are getting in touch with their emotions these days and even those who were emotional in private are finally coming out of the closet. Besides, there are cynical women and those who tend to over-rationalize things.

What is the aim of this rambling? My Spiritual Profile. Yep. Two years ago I did a test on a site to find out what my spiritual profile was. According to the test results, I was a Lover. I blogged about it. So I went back again to see if somehow, maybe through a change in environment or a change in weather perhaps, I might have evolved to say, a Thinker? Nope…still a Lover. Which is OK I suppose, as I love being  one. They describe Lovers as

people who naturally connect with the Holy One through their emotions.They feel deeply that no matter what they do or do not do, they are held safely in the embrace of God’s love. They focus on the generosity, mercy, and compassion of God and believe that even when judgment or justice seems called for, God’s response is one of tenderness. They seek to relate with the Holy One through inner reflection. They tend to be more emotional in their prayer and in reading the signs of God’s presence. If they were to meet God face to face, they would want to open themselves completely to God’s intoxicating love and show their love in return.

All these from 10 questions. And they were right, I am an emotional person. True, I try my best to hide that aspect of myself from others (blame it on conditioning) but it is there. I find it hard to pray without crying…God’s love overwhelms me.

But that is just one aspect of the human character. Because I connect with God emotionally, I used to look at people who didn’t and wonder what was wrong with them. I knew rationally, that there is no right or wrong way of connecting with God but because I come from a family of Lovers (who are so emotional about God) I just naturally assumed that was how it was supposed to be.

However, the test reveals some other profiles such as Companions who they said naturally connect with the Holy One through their relationships with others. Or Thinkers who connect with God through the use of their intellect. Thinkers especially, find it hard to relate to God through emotions and affections. There are other profiles like the Mavericks (I like that one), who are not afraid to stand out. Whether they understand their faith or not, they are ready to act it out and take action regardless of the consequences. There are the Believers and the Seekers too.

The test does not seek to stereotype anyone. We are told to think of the questions as the first mark on a canvas, which traces the edges of our spiritual lives and how we relate to God. We are told that

…this quiz also reminds us that we are all works in progress, that portraits begun in black and white come alive when we add color. We need space to change and grow, and ways to help us fill out our lives and move ever closer to the Holy.

Thus, your responses are not simply conclusions, they are beginning points for new discoveries, brilliant adventures and fruitful growth. In answering these 10 Questions, you can both discern more clearly who you are, and discover new avenues for God’s creative spirit to work within you.

So, are you a lover or what? If you are interested, click here to take the test. Me, I am a Lover – Not a fighter.

May 28, 2010

Know Thyself: Own Thy Hurt


The Greeks, those great philosophers, have a saying; know thyself. There is nothing more suitable towards self knowledge than objective introspection, which is what the Love Dares afford. Each dare acts like a sandpapering process, peeling away the known surface to reveal a previously unknown layer beneath. And in a situation where some festering has occurred, you can imagine that what is beneath will not be pleasant.

To a large extent, we all believe in self awareness, or at least, most of us do. Yet even to the most introspective of us come shocking eureka moments when we discover new facts/emotions/levels of existence which we had absolutely no idea existed. When that happens, we can either embrace the knowledge and act on it or we resist and suppress. Either way, this new discovery will not go away.

That is what I found out working through the Love Dares. I had to take a step back to acknowledge and deal with the self I was uncovering. She was not a very beautiful person, I can tell you. Yet beautiful or not, she was me and over the years I have come to love that person. This made dealing with some of the stuff I uncovered, not quite as stressful as it would otherwise have been. One of the things I am re-learning by taking the Love Dare is that love does what is best for the loved one.

With that in mind, even though I could have decided to repress or suppress these new, previously undiscovered facets of myself which I did not like, I knew it would not be the best for me so I have begun the process of dealing with them.

Something else I have discovered: if you are sincere in your quest to walk with God, He will pick you up when you stumble.

One of the unwelcome things I discovered about myself was a lingering anger; it had lingered so much it was beginning to fester. I had tried, in the interests of harmony, to bury it deep inside and to a large extent I guess I succeeded. Only, it had this habit of rearing it’s head at the oddest of moments and one of such moments was a few days into the Love Dare. Generally, I do not keep grudges. But that is because I like to talk things out with a person and let that person know how I am feeling. Once I manage to do that, I am fine.

However, in this instance that did not arise and I found myself taking out my hurt on dh. So I went to God for help – I have a happy disposition and I wanted to keep it that way. Typical of God, he stepped in. First I had to release the hurt to him. I admitted I was hurt and that I had no idea how to stop being hurt. I was also doubly hurt because I could not talk about it. Then began the slow healing. Gradually, the sharp hurt became a dull ache. I even found myself poking around it to see if it still hurt; I guess it does but it is no longer septic.

Then out of the blues, dh brought it up. I was shocked; not because he mentioned it but it was like I had asked God for help and he was going way out. Funny, that is exactly how he operates but it still takes me by surprise. He knew that the final act of healing for me would be to talk about it to someone I viewed as connected to the hurt even if that someone was not directly responsible for the hurt. So we talked.

I will not say I am completely healed – you never know those things until something comes up. But I can say two things:

  1. I do not hurt as badly as I used to
  2. From this experience, I have discovered more of myself and even though I do not like everything I am uncovering, I can honestly say that I love myself.

So, how well do you know yourself? And if you do, do you love that person?

May 27, 2010

Sometimes, Love Makes You Cry


How do you hope in and believe the best of someone who is not living up to his/her responsibility. When a person has continually and persistently let you down (this could be financially, emotionally or even spiritually), it is hard to keep believing the best of that person; to look him/her in the eye each time and say even though I know you’ve messed up, I trust you to make it right.

That is my dad’s greatest strength and (in my opinion), his greatest weakness. No matter how many times people let him down, he still believes that there is something worthwhile about them and gives them a second (and third, fourth, fifth, ad nauseum) chance. I found it hard to take in as a child. And people who do not know better, continue to take advantage of him.

There was this young man my dad took in. His name was Joe, but my brothers and I nicknamed him CJ (Crazy Joe). He grew up on the streets and made a life as a hustler; he met my dad and said he really wanted to change. Looking back now, I know he really did want to change. The only problem was he kept stealing from us. He would steal and run away. When things got hard, he would crawl back weeping, begging forgiveness. And my dad would take him back. EVERY TIME.

Once he was to do the laundry in the house. When he did not turn up for lunch, we all thought he had gone on a stroll or something. By dinner time, we knew CJ had done it again. This time around, he ran away with all the clothes he was supposed to launder and probably sold them. It was months before we saw him again. When he showed up, he had full blown AIDS. Once again, my dad took him in. He left us just before he died.

CJ is just one of many strays my dad brought to our house. No matter how badly they behaved, my dad always saw something in them that was worth believing in. I found it hard to take in (still do as a matter of fact) but that is how we, as followers of Jesus are called to love.

It is so easy to love when the object of our love is doing well and pleasing us. When that person starts to misbehave or even ill-treat us, then the true test of love is seen. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says Love… believes all things, hopes all things…

Over at the group, Rosheeda broke it down like this:

  1. Love holds tightly
  2. to the conviction of the goodness, inherent power and ability of its object, and
  3. accepts all things as true, genuine, and real;
  4. it holds dear its desires,
  5. with confident expectation of obtainment in all things related to the object of its desire

Popular opinion says that if someone is not treating you right, let him/her go. Now, I absolutely do not condone abuse of any form – physical, verbal, mental or emotional. But I believe that if the person you are with is being abusive, you are still called to love that person. Just do it from a safe distance. You have to be alive first and able to love yourself before you can extend that courtesy to another person.

That being said, in a relationship (between a couple, family members or friends) it is impossible to be happy with your partner all the time. There are times when he/she is not living up to scratch. We hurt each other not because we are cruel but because we are human and being human we will fail (If we do not fail, where does grace come in?).

Sometimes, Love Makes You Cry

However, the mandate to love is strongest in the midst of that failure. When we have been let down badly by someone who we had a lot of faith in, it is then that we are to have even more faith in that person. We are supposed to ask for the grace to see that person as Jesus sees him/her and in so doing, we are able to hold on to God; trusting Him to make that person as He sees him/her.

Rosheeda said something that really made me think; she said

So I have made the conscious choice to speak over him what God says he is. If i can’t have faith in Sweetheart, I CAN have faith in God.

By the way, I’m always quoting Rosheeda because she is the one moderating the Love Dare over at the Being Mrs V group.

But that, for me, is true love. When you cannot believe the best about a person, you can still believe the best about the God who brought that person to your life. God is LOVE. He will never do you harm. Everything He brings your way is for good. Have faith in Him. Trust Him for what you believe the person you love will be. What are the positive things you want to see in that person? Speak them over the person’s life and trust God for them.

Which brings me to the next dare, LD 7 – Love Believes the Best

Get two sheets of paper. On one sheet write down all the positive things you can think of about your man. On the other, all the negatives. Then fold the lists and put them in a safe, private place. Dont’ throw them out because we are  going to use them later.  Take one thing from the list of the positives and thank your man for being that to you at some point during your day.

I guess my dad was able to look at CJ and see his potential, see what he could become. I would like to think that CJ died knowing that there was someone in this cruel, cold world that loved him unconditionally.

Have you ever lost faith in someone? it could be a spouse, child, sibling or friend; what are your hopes for that person? Or do you have an experience like that of my dad and CJ? Please share with us.

May 20, 2010

What Are You Willing To Invest?


Where do I start? Today’s dare has left me feeling very indignant. I am not pompous or proud (usually), and I certainly do not think of myself as better than others. But I must confess that I do have a generally good opinion of myself and a reasonably high self esteem. That is why this is considerably harder than the previous two dares. In fact, I am tempted to say that it is the hardest dare but I have not seen the rest; so only God (and Rosheeda) know what is coming next.

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it is not so much the dares as the state of the heart while doing them. Without that heart-state, it is merely going through the motions. At this point, I am not sure I mind going through the motions too much. I think that is why God sort of took time out to pass a message across today, in the busy city of Kuala Lumpur.

Pavilion - Kuala Lumpur

My mum and I, driven by my brother decided to visit the heart of Kuala Lumpur. We went sight-seeing and generally hung out at the mall. On the way back, I brought out my phone and decided to do some catch-up listening to the Daily Audio Bible podcasts. The reading was from Joshua 10 and it was about the deception of the Gibeonites; when they tricked the Israelites into signing a peace treaty with them. When they were finally found out, they agreed to become servants of the Israelites (Let’s take a minute to note the word servant. OK).

What struck me about that passage though was the next part when one of the nearby kings heard about this peace treaty. His reaction was noted in Joshua 10:2 (NIV) –

He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters.

I tried to understand why such men who were reputed to be ‘good fighters’ and who had the strength of numbers on their side would surrender even before battle. Why would they rather be servants than try their luck at the battle field? I did not get it. I was particularly entranced by the humility displayed by this people.

I knew there was a message but I could not seem to streamline it into coherent thought. So I shared with my mum and she gave me this Hausa proverb:

He who is patient will cook a stone and drink it’s broth.

Wow. What sort of patience will it take to not only cook a stone until it is soft but to also extract broth from that stone? Anyway, she further broke it down a bit. She said although the Gibeonites could have taken their chance on the battle field, there was a great possibility that they would lose and if they did, what would happen to their families? So they decided to humble themselves and make a treaty. They even agreed to become servants; they displayed great patience. Then she said something; that when you are patient and you know what you want, you will get it eventually. That struck a chord. I will get back to this.

As part of the reading, I also listened to a passage from Luke and this was what it said:

Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” Luke 17:9-10 (ESV)

I went to check out the meaning of servant and this is what I found (Forgive the many quotes but this is important):

  1. One who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another
  2. a person in the employ and subject to the direction or control of an individual or company

So how does this all tie with the Love Dares (LDs) and relationships? Let’s start with the Gibeonites. It did not matter that they were a strong lot and had many seeming advantages over the Israelites, they looked at the long term plan and decided they wanted to preserve their cities (their homes). So they agreed to become servants (submissive and subject to the direction or control) of the Israelites. They practiced patience.

What I gleaned from all this was that in doing the LDs, I would have to have the heart of a servant towards my husband. The Luke passage says that a servant is not thanked for doing what is commanded and even after the doing, his thought is one of unworthiness. So I am to have this heart towards my dh in patience because I have a goal, which is to preserve and build up my home. The man may not be all I want him to be right now. Matter of fact your man may be irresponsible and generally fall short of what a man should be. But if you bear the heart of a servant towards him and serve God by serving him patiently, you will eventually see the results you are praying for. Nobody said it was easy.

The LDs certainly are not easy. Yesterday’s dare though came in an unexpected way. Showing kindness at 5:30 am in a country where the sun does not rise till 7am is cruel and unusual punishment. But somehow, I was able to. In order to understand the grace factor here, you have to appreciate the fact that I am a morning person. NOT. I know the same grace will be made available for LD3.

The Verse:

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. Romans 12:10

The Breakdown:

  1. Be committed to one another
  2. in unrestircted loyalty and unwavering commitment to what best serves another, as is natural and becoming of those related by common ties and interests,
  3. displaying the value and affection in which one is held,
  4. always acting as to protect the interest of another;
  5. give one another superiority in rank, position and privilege,
  6. with respect to the RIGHT to demand and to receive satsifaction of your commitment to another.
  7. Do these things as evidence that you hold eachother in a high postion and attribute to them special worth.

I said earlier that I was left feeling indignant; that line in red was the fella responsible for that feeling.

The Dare:

GO SHOPPING! That’s right. Go shopping. Make an investment in your man. It doesn’t need to be big or extravagant. Just get him something that says ‘I was thinking of you and want you to know’. (The first time I did this, I literally bought an extra candy bar because I knew Sweetheart would enjoy the treat; we like the same kind of candy, so giving him the extra bar was a sacrifice of a treat for MYSELF the next day. It cost me a dollar.) And if you can’t afford to really shop, invest your time. Make him something. Write him a quick note on pretty paper. Cook a nice meal. Just do SOMETHING to just to show him you love him – no matter where you are in your relationship or how you feel toward him right now.

I am still feeling indignant as I write this, but it is just surface indignation. What I am really feeling is overwhelmed. I am just a woman who is trying to get from one day to the next and make a positive impact in the process. I promise, I do not have a secret cape hidden somewhere. God is going to have to come through for me on this BIG TIME!

In our present cultural awareness as citizens of the world, do you think it is at all possible to have the heart of a servant towards your partner/spouse? Share your thoughts, let me know what you think. Are you doing the Love Dares or have you done them before? Please let me know; leave a comment.

This has been an extra-ordinarily long post. If you read till the end, thank you.