August 2008


Disappointment and dashed hopes are inevitable in this world. Not everything is perfect. Not everything will go “according to plan.” Sorrow will follow; that is a given.

As crazy as it may sound, it those moments of sorrow and grief, sadness deep enough for me to cry off my waterproof mascara, that I ultimately cherish the most. Yes, the feelings are awful but if it were not for the moments of sorrow that put my waterproof Diorshow to shame, I would not be able to lift up my heart to the Lord and cry out with David the prophet and the king when he said,

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
My eyes waste away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away…
…I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.
But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’” (Psalm 31:9-10, 12-14)

It is moments like these that make me determined to shake the ground and the earth with my prayers–to make it resonate with the sound of my cries. It is moments like these that bring to light my shortcomings and my faults. Why must my prayers be earth-shaking only when I feel sorrow? When all is well, why am I content to simply throw up my dues to my Creator and Savior without the same focus or fire?

I cling to God in times of adversity, I literally place Him in a death grip and refuse to let go. So why does my grasp loosen when the storm has passed overheard and the sun starts to emerge?

It is safe for you dear reader to assume that I am going through a bit of a rough time at the moment. Today, just a few hours ago, I was having it out with God and asking Him why He didn’t answer the prayers I had sent up to Him months ago asking Him to not allow anything to begin that would ultimately end in sorrow. I have had much loss and grief in my life over the past two years and my frail heart could not stand anymore. So I prayed and pleaded, asking to be spared from any more situations that would bring about more sadness. But I do not have His wisdom, and I trust it far more than I would even dream of trusting my own. I stand here, months after I had made that request, with fresh tears in my eyes, and yet I thank Him from the very core of my being.

If it were not for this sorrow, would I be lifting up heart to Him as much as I am now? Would I know the depth of His comfort and how He can ease a soul in despair? Would I have become aware of my shortcomings in the manner I hold onto Him everyday?

You see, the point is for me to cry out and lift my heart up to Him in the same manner as I do now in sorrow when I am happy, content, ecstatic, ambivalent, ordinary, tired, energetic, lackadaisical, at a loss for words, entirely verbose, when nothing is happening and when everything is happening–at every moment of every day until the last moment of my very last day.

And that is how I am refined. This is how we are all refined.

“I will bring [them] through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is my people,’ And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:9)

If He places me in the fire, my soul will rejoice. I will emerge a finer grade of gold, more worthy to be called His daughter, more worthy of His salvation. Far more worthy to lift up my eyes and heart to the heavens and say “The Lord is my God.”

Today I pray for…

solace, wisdom, understanding, freedom from the contraints of my mind and my emotions, forgiveness and understanding from others, peace of mind, and some flowers.

because if it was, we’d all be in big trouble…

“I am not at ease, neither am I quiet, neither have I rest; But trouble cometh.” (Job 3:26)

Today has not really been my day and neither was yesterday. Or the day before that… or the week before that, the month before that, the year before that… Life and the world have generally pummeled me for the past two years or so. Just when one not so pleasant experience or event ends another begins (all of varying magnitudes, of course.)

I am not interested in recounting what happened when and where and with whom. Most of the details are hazy now anyhow. Instead, I want to focus on my reactions to everything, because after all, they say you really know a person’s true colors once the individual is placed in some sort of adversity.

My reaction to the adversity that kick-started my two rocky years was one of sorrow and fear… and one of rocky faith. At first I prayed and clung to God with all my might hoping and wishing and praying that He’d answer my prayers and resolve things the way I wanted. After all, He did say “ask and it shall be given to you”–at least that was my reasoning at the time. When things did not go the way I had hoped and prayed for my faith took a sharp nosedive. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe anymore. I just didn’t understand why God would let bad things happen. But bad things have been happening the world over since the beginning of time… my question was actually, “Why would God let something bad happen to me and the people in my life? I love God and I go to church and I pray, therefore I must be immune, right?”

It became clear then that my faith and belief was far shallower than I thought, but it would take some time for me to reach that realization. At first I was angry with God and all that I believed, then I was exceptionally sad, and finally I hit apathy. All the while, I still went to church and prayed and read the Bible but I had a bone to pick with my Redeemer. Things were not getting better; if anything, things were simply getting worse and worse.

I decided to switch gears at that point. Maybe I was praying for the wrong things. Instead of praying for bad things to stop happening maybe I should just pray for good things to happen. So I prayed. I wasn’t particular… anything good would have sufficed. Maybe I was going to take the LSAT and score a 180 and turn out to be the legal prodigy of the century. Maybe a great guy was going to come along and sweep me off my feet (I’ve since stopped holding my breath for that. I don’t think I was made for sweeping.)

The world-shattering great thing I kept praying for wasn’t happening. Yes, good things did happen, but not of the magnitude I was hoping for.

I had it all wrong.

It was then that I began to search for the pattern in my prayers, in what drove my faith and I was sorely disappointed when I found out what motivated me—THINGS. I wanted bad things to stop happening, good things to happen, things, things, things.

You would think that I would have felt enlightened and begun to work on rebuilding my relationship with God at that point, but I had to go through one more step before I got there. I became even sadder then. I was downright deplorable. God gave me salvation, grace, love, and life and all I wanted was for him to give me stuff. I was a spoiled little brat. I remember crying a lot during this stage. It was almost an unconscious attempt to purge myself of all my mistakes and misconceptions through my tears.

After that I found myself empty of everything, of all thoughts and conceptions of faith, religion, God. And I began to rebuild, to reconceptualize, and to just breach the surface of understanding. God gave us salvation, love, and grace. That is more than enough. Things don’t matter. The focus must always be on the One who loves you. Things will come and go, but He and His love will always remain.

Things haven’t gotten much easier. There are still bumps in the road. But I am loved by Love Himself. So come what may… let the world rage against me, I’ll sing with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

Today I pray for…

…Love in all its depth and perfection, patience in the face of the unknown, wisdom, perseverance, forgiveness, hope, joy, strength, humility. I pray for the ability to always walk the second mile when only asked to travel for one, to give without exceptions or expectations, to love most purely and simply, to never demand, to always believe. I pray to only speak kind words and always offer up a gentle spirit. I pray for you, always. I pray for your everlasting joy today and every day. I pray for internal peace for all because world wars always start on the inside of a single individual.

Sometimes what we want to say has already been said by someone far more eloquent, so there is no point in attempting to rehash what has already been perfected. Today I offer you the last two sections of “Eurydice” by H.D instead of my own words.

VI

Against the black
I have more fervour
than you in all the splendour of that place,
against the blackness
and the stark grey
I have more light;

and the flowers,
if I should tell you,
you would turn from your own fit paths
toward hell,
turn again and glance back
and I would sink into a place even more terrible than this.

VII

At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that;
I have the fervour of myself for a presence
and my own spirit for light;

and my spirit with its loss
knows this;
though small against the black,
small against the formless rocks,
hell must break before I am lost;

before I am lost,
hell must open like a red rose
for the dead to pass.

(If you’re interested in the whole text of the poem it can be found here: http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/eurydice/)

You’re only gonna get what you give away. (So give Love.)

Currently Listening to: Goodnight by Dry Kill Logic

now does our world descend
the path to nothingness
(cruel now cancels kind;
friends turn to enemies)
therefore lament,my dream
and don a doer’s doom

create is now contrive;
imagined,merely know
(freedom:what makes a slave)
therefore,my life,lie down
and more by most endure
all that you never were

hide,poor dishonoured mind
who thought yourself so wise;
and much could understand
concerning no and yes:
if they’ve become the same
it’s time you unbecame

where climbing was and bright
is darkness and to fall
(now wrong’s the only right
since brave are cowards all)
therefore despair,my heart
and die into the dirt

but from this endless end
of briefer each our bliss–
where seeing eyes go blind
(where lips forget to kiss)
where everything’s nothing
–arise,my soul;and sing

– e.e. cummings

Have you ever walked down the street, following your ordinary route, on an ordinary day only to find yourself absolutely awestruck by the extraordinary appearance of the person in front of you? Everything is the same, and then Beauty herself comes walking down the street and all you can do is stare. Such physical beauty is rare but it does exist, and we venerate and praise it more so than most other traits. The grand cosmic joke lies in the fact that those who are deemed beautiful are merely winners of the genetic jackpot. Yes, we live in world overflowing with beauty enhancement products and cosmetic surgery but all those things can only take an individual so far and the end result almost always looks artificial. True beauty created by nature becomes even more blindingly radiant against the backdrop of the artificial.

The conundrum of physical appearance has always perplexed me. Never has one thing been so important and simultaneously so irrelevant at the same time. My first encounter with the appearance monster took place around the time I was 11 or so. I was always a pudgy child but suddenly other people started to notice. They weren’t so pleased with my appearance and they were quite intent on letting me know their opinions. This was followed by angst filled early teen years where I cursed the way I looked in the mirror every single day. The fact that I’d lost 65 pounds and grew several inches didn’t make much of a difference. I only saw ugly. And ugly I was for a while.

It wasn’t until my late teens that I finally made peace with my looks. I was by no means beautiful in my own eyes, but I was fine. And then the most peculiar things began to happen. People, both men and women, would stop and stare at me as I walked down the street. (All I could think to myself was that I couldn’t be so unattractive as to induce rampant gaping.) Eventually, people began to vocalize what they were thinking when they would stop and stare. And one day, suddenly, I was being flooded by variations on the phrase “You’re so beautiful!” It became stranger when model scouts stopped me on the street.

But I… I was still only happy to wake up every day, look in the mirror, and think to myself, “I’m ok.” That may not sound like the world’s most positive thought, but to me it is the most neutrally, healthy way to view my external appearance—to be grateful for what I have been given and to just feel fine.

The positive feeling was unceremoniously and quite unexpectedly pulled from my hands for a bit within the past few months or so. We all have our vanities and my one vanity was my hair. I had long, dark, loose curls that fell down to the middle of my back. I loved my hair. In one fell swoop, I decided that I was going to go chop it all off and donate it. Within half an hour of stepping foot into the salon, I had a chin-length bob. I just didn’t look the same. That night, I took my curls and placed them in a padded envelope and wrote out the name and address of the charity on it and left it on my dresser. The next morning when I looked in the mirror, as I picked up the envelope in order to take it to the post office, I was shocked. I didn’t look the same. My prized physical attribute was gone.

The drastic change received mixed reviews. Lots of people liked it but those who hated it really hated it. I mourned my hair for a couple of weeks and then finally knocked myself out of it. I was being silly. Hair grows back. And I… well, I was still ok. And that’s all I ever hope to think of my external shell. If I begin to think too highly of it or conversely begin to demean it, then I have lost sight of the grand purpose of it all. When I am gone, no one will clearly remember the shape of my nose or the brown of my eyes, but they will remember the strength of my words, the quality of my character, and the depth of my love. (And those who only remember the size of my waist or the length of my legs have missed the point entirely.)

This has been around for a while but I only came across it recently. It made me smile… as cheesy as it may sound, after watching it I was reminded that Love truly knows no boundaries.