Tuesday, July 31, 2007

To love yourself

It's a surprising discovery, then, to find out that one of the hardest things to do is to love yourself.

She had never really thought it would be so. To love a filthy beggar, yes. To love someone who is uncouth, and rude, and offends your sensibilities. To love someone who irritates you in every little thing they do.

Those she understood the trouble with loving. You would naturally love those whose qualities you admire, or those who show special kindness towards you. Who loves a backstabber? Who cares for a liar? Who desires a murderer? Who is head-over-heels, madly-drunk-in-love with an aimless slacker?

I do, she realises. However terrible I am, or could be, I still love myself.

But is that real love? Will real love ever allow one to be less than one's full potential, will real love ever be content with letting someone slide, suffer, live a miserable life?

To truly love oneself, she decided, is more of a parent's love than one's love for a beloved (at least at the first bloom of love). In a beloved, you accept them fully despite their flaws - in fact, they are all the more beautiful, vulnerable, adorable for having flaws and you adore them for it. You downplay and whitewash the cracks in the painting and you exclaim over the colours and composition, even though to others it may look like a drab piece. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, after all. Your eyes have fallen prey to your heart, they are no longer true to you, or maybe they are truer to something more true than sight.

But, for a parent, though they think their child the best in the world, will always seek to guide and correct their child's flaws. They will take the burden upon themselves, be willing to spend countless amounts of time and money just to grow their frail seedlings. They will scrimp, and save, and suffer in order to fulfill their child's dreams. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they never stop believing that their child can be successful, can be mature and their comfort in old age. And if they fail, they will usually blame themselves. Even though they did all they could.

To love yourself, you want the best for yourself. Not just in material things but intangible things: the deepest friendships, the highest skills, the best character. If you really loved yourself, you would do anything to achieve what you regarded as the highest plateau of humaly achievable success.

If you really loved yourself, and you knew that the highest motive and greatest purpose of your life was to imitate Him, you would do anything to reach it.

Which is why, she concluded, it is really hard to love yourself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I'm feeling so blessed and contented now that I'm wondering when it will stop.

Lately I've been involved a lot in church activities, seeking God, serving and stuff...learning how to worship Him. There are times when I can almost feel His presence with us. I don't know how to release completely to Him yet. I don't know where my spirit is, but wherever it is, I believe that it is growing stronger in Him. And I hope that as I spend more time in His presence and desire Him more and more, my spirit will be more attuned with His and less with the world.

There is a sceptical side to me, and it comes out sometimes when I really want to get into worship. I recall phenemenons such as mass hysteria, breakdowns or bloodlust in a heavy metal concert (I'm not against heavy metal on principle, just using it as an example), crowd mentality that can influence people and make them act in a way they usually wouldn't - the insidious prevalence of peer pressure. Could this 'spirituality' - so-called - be induced by myself?

And I need to keep telling myself, no, no. There is a path that we must walk by faith and not by sight. If this is not the ultimate truth, what is? If this cannot fully satisfy man, the presence and personal relationship with His creator, what can? An understanding and a belief that cannot be explained or dissected, only felt. Like the stirring of a breeze, a whisper in the wind - only occasionally we catch a glimpse of eternity, and fall silent at the majesty that is above all we could imagine.

But we know that beyond the veil, beyond this life, there it is. Glory and holiness that will captivate us for eternity.

Just wait, and pray, and believe.

There it is, there it is.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Too Much Fancyness

Today is the third time in these few weeks that I've attended a formal Chinese dinner, and the second night in a row. And thus, I made this new observation:

I don't really like Chinese dinner food. It's like all supposed to be expensive and everything, but sometimes the food just tastes bland without any rice or other carbs, and also there's so much seafood everywhere - almost in every dish - that somehow, even after 6 or 7 courses, I don't feel completely full. Whereas sometimes even one plate of rice or one bowl of noodles can make me feel oh so bloated.

And the whole sit-down dinner thing. You get crammed into a 10-person table often with people you don't know very well, the music is booming with the bass cranked up, the emcee is boring/irritating, everyone's just waiting for the speeches to end and the food to come...and what's more, you have a limited range of movement because you are wearing pretty clothes and pretty makeup and pretty hair and just about doing anything besides sitting still as a rock will upset the elegance karma somehow.

I'm glad I'm still 18 and usually the youngest at a table. Seriously, I don't know how adults stand it. The interminable periods of waiting waiting waiting...the inactivity. I can't take it, I must do something or sms. You run out of conversational fodder with your seatmates at some point, and then everyone just stares at each other or blankly at the stage/wall. That is the time I pull my handphone out of my clutch and start to sms, a little discreetly. But sometimes get carried away, then not so discreetly lah.

Maybe when you grow older, you get more...sedate. Which is why you don't see 40 year olds going clubbing till the wee hours of the morning or young hip urbanites throwing a 10-course Chinese dinner for their birthday party. It's the circle of life, reflected in our tastes and bodies and personalities and ability to withstand long periods of non-stimulation.

But until I reach that period of life, I'm going to avoid going to more formal dinners.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm not a good writer. Seriously I'm not.

Of all the times when one has to feel lowly, inadequate, lost-for-words - it has to be when one needs, or rather is forced to because of her own big mouth, to write an article.

An article for a competition no less.

A 1,000 word article.

My words are starting to tumble over each other and every waking moment I just want to get it done. But must be brilliant, mind-blowing stuff because if not, cannot win competition, and if so, have wasted my time and effort.

No, actually. I will press on, I will type it to the 1,000-word mark line! Even if I don't win anything, the writing experience is good for me.


Sunday, July 15, 2007



What I would do to have my halo and robe of light now!

I want to be transformed, to be changed, to leave all this grubbiness around me, inside me...

It's true, you know: people are hardwired to be selfish. I know I have a wonderful family. I know I have good, true friends. I know I have a God-given, blessed opportunity to further my education in the one place I wanted to more than any other.

And yet, when I read about other people's successes and triumphs, a little part of me says (ok, maybe not that little):

"Why isn't that me?"

What la TP. Why when you see starving children you don't say "Why not me?" Why when you see people hungering for God, or maybe even just desperate for shelter, for food, for safety, and other people go to help; you don't say "Why not me?" But instead you just sit and say, "Good thing there are such kind people in the world." The unspoken thought is, "As for me and my family, my friends, my classmates, my dog, my internet connection, let's just all be thankful that we need not live in poverty like them. For God has so blessed us that we have every good thing under the sun and can we even sit comfortably at the mamak stall, drinking teh tarik and criticise like a pro on how the country is falling to pieces."

I am so ashamed of this part of myself. Ok, rather, myself.


By the way, I realised yesterday that Blogpost has no 'password protected entry' function. What is this man, blogger. This is a very important service to all your bloggers. However, maybe this is good also as I learn to be careful in what I say. Either that or I'll try to work my way around it.


I had a really happy -or to use church lingo, blessed - time in church today. Co-song led -church lingo for "you're actually back-up singers but we call you so to make you feel more included":P -(OH another fault of blogger-no smilies!!) for both services, then lunch with youth then had youth cell. Tiring, but enjoyable. I would have stayed longer after cell but had headache so decided to retire. Then went home and slept like the dead for 4 hours (whee! bliss) .

People truly make the difference in whether you want to go back to church or not, whether you want to join a youth group or not. My desire is to be that kind of person who sincerely cares for each and every person I met, lovable or unlovable, talkative or reticent, smiling or grumpy, clean or scruffy, normal or la-la...whatever. And then, to be able to point that person to Jesus, "where my strength comes from".


Have a great day, Gentle Reader. (A phrase I picked up from a historical romance novel. I still have doubts whether people really wrote like that. But it's nice to throw it in once in a while, ain't it?)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A long way home

I'm back! In dear old Ipoh once again after a 6 day journey to the country down south for my cousin's wedding. (Some people have asked me how the wedding was. Well, I did 'chumcha' -serve tea-how appropriate!- at the tea ceremony for the first time. At first I thought I'd have to kneel to do so, how horrific and potentially embarrassing that would be, but no, I can stand up. Phew. The wedding was a church service, short and sweet and SWEET. The groom sang to my cousin! Personally I would want a wedding with more oomph, something that showcases my and my intended's personality -but that's just me. Maybe they do it this way because they are such a sweet loving couple.)

Anyway, I had a lot of time to think and mull during the long journey to and fro (7 hours one way) and during frequent bouts of waiting for this and that. Sometimes when you think too much, it's like exploring the mansion of your mind - an 18 year old cache of thoughts and ideas and beliefs and passions and experiences. Sometimes you chance upon an attic and you find things buried deep, things you had never realised and you don't really want to acknowledge as being part of you. Our trophies we gladly put on display, but what have we hidden deep within?

You realise that though you profess God with your mouth and sing praises to Him, you haven't let Him take full control in your life. John Piper writes in his book, "Don't Waste Your Life" (yes, the title lets you know clearly what it's going to be about)

"You may not be sure that you want your life to make a difference. Maybe you don't care very much whether you make a lasting difference for the sake of something great. You just want people to like you. If people would just like being around you, you'd be satisfied. Or if you could just have a good job with a good wife, or husband, and a couple of good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and a quick and easy death, and no hell - if you could have all that (even without God) - you would be satisfied."

Stop and think for a moment. Would you?

To tell you the truth, I was only two steps away from saying, "I would".

Add to that statement, graduates from a top university, earns a load of money, does her bit to help the marginalised in society, gains recognition in her chosen field, the respect and admiration of her peers....I do not know if I would say no.

In a way, it reminds me of Satan tempting Jesus in the desert.

" The tempter came to him and said, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.'
Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.''
" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.'
Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."
Matt 4: 4-5, 8-10

To have everything, except God....would I take the bait?

Another extract from John Piper:

"I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader's Digest, which tells about a couple who "took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells." At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn't. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life - your one and only precious, God-given life - and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: "Look, Lord. See my shells." That is a tragedy."

Look, Lord. See my shells.

Doesn't it chill you?

However, there is hope. We need not have only shells to present to our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of reckoning. But what a tragedy if only then we realise that the things we have been thirsting and working for all our lives, fall into nothing in the face of eternity with Christ!

I think some teenage Christians are too fond of just singing the words "I live for you" or "Everything I have I give to you" or similiar sentiments. Truly, giving yourself, all of yourself, to God is an ongoing, daily thing. Sometimes we falter, sometimes we feel discouraged, but that is the way of the cross.

This book (given to me by a kind friend of my sister's, Raj) really opened my eyes to the truth: that living for God is so much more all-emcompassing, demanding, and joyful than I ever thought it could be.

Once I finish it (I'm about halfway through), I shall blog more on my thoughts about it. Don't worry, not all my posts will be so serious and soul-searching. If you find this overly serious. All the same, it's good to spend a little time thinking about eternity.

By the way, after I finish this book it is free for lending to anyone who is interested. Just take good care of it lah.