Delight

The first thing that caught my eye was a crate of wine bottle carcasses. I’ve been drinking every day since I got to the UK and I have never once been bored. It is not the wine I like so much as the leisure with which it is associated. We talk about French etiquette, Tom Hardy, the future of agriculture (apparently we’ll be farming vertically, skywards), things I know nothing about. They take pleasure in blue and white china tea sets, in sparkling water with a slice of lemon in it. Dorset’s red cheese and peppered crackers after dinner. It is never too much trouble.

I am so beside myself; it’s been perfect. I’ve been so present on this holiday. I mean, I am never thinking of being elsewhere, rarely dipping into the past or the future. Rarely in need of anything or anyone. I feed on my family’s love of culture, history, art, and good food. On my grandparents’ wisdom. I am so FULL.

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Synchronicity

I’ve been feeling like I’ve put a cap on my faith, a roof to what’s possible and reasonable to expect in my life. I’m drawn to this particular issue because I’ve been seeing this Faith theme pop up everywhere, from an article I’ve stumbled across, a random sermon online, to a book I’ve been reading called Synchronicity: The Promise of Coincidence.

I’m determined to flip this thing around. The more outrageous my prayers and hopes, the greater the power of God I can see revealed. Because He is capable of more than our wildest expectations, if we only ask. However, as I’m writing this, I feel it is careful to ask with the right sort of attitude. With honesty, trust, and humility. A profound understanding that we need His guidance and a deep gratitude for His care and love. He answers not because we deserve it- not because we go to church, not because we clean our trays at McDonald’s so that no one else has to- but because He is good.

‘Truly I tell you that if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and has no doubt in his heart but believes that it will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’.
– Mark 11:24

Our God is a God of miracles, an unseen supernatural being with whom we can communicate and witness the work of in the material world. I remember believing as a child that the world was full of magic; I flipped through my books on mermaid and fairy sightings, immersing myself in a world where they could be found in countryside cottages, in the hollows of trees or by secluded rock pools. It was my favourite thing to do, fostering a sense of excitement for these enchanting creatures. I loved the Harry Potter books, where there is no limit to the wonders of life, an epic reality where dreaming is synonymous with creation. I wish to redirect that childish, misguided faith and bring openness and expectation to God.

Synchronicity speaks of God’s many thoughts about us, His plans and provisions. It is the idea of perfect coincidences which are in fact, not coincidences at all. I learnt a neat little fact: there is no word or concept of ‘coincidence’ in Hebrew. Only the word ‘mikreh’, which means ‘a happening of God’. Every moment is significant. When good things happen, give thanks, for they come straight from His hands. Sometimes, little ‘signs’ appear just to remind me that He is present and watching. And it has proven helpful in deterring me from sinning a couple of times. Sometimes a web page doesn’t load, the phone rings or a door is knocked on, so I get a chance to rethink what I’m doing. Every time, it is for my good.
When bad things happen, they prepare us for more of Him. They are opportunities! Last week, I strained my right leg doing exercise. Pulled a muscle. And I remembered what this yoga instructor said to me earlier that week: “if you ever tear a muscle or hurt your leg, once you recover, you’ll be more flexible than you were before”. This experience serves as an analogy for what my friend said the other day when I confided in him about my struggle with lust. It was so special: think how He must love you to let you have these desires, this challenge, so that you may experience Him and know Him better. So that I will learn to rely on the One who brings victory. I will trust in His unfailing love.

Here’s a snippet from an awesome article I read today:

The true disciple is an expectant person, always taking it for granted that there is something about to break through from the master, something about to burst through the ordinary and uncover a new light on the landscape.

And I think that living in expectancy—living in awareness, your eyes sufficiently open and your mind sufficiently both slack and attentive to see that when it happens— has a great deal to do with discipleship, indeed with discipleship as the gospels present it to us. Interesting (isn’t it?) that in the gospels the disciples don’t just listen, they’re expected to look as well. They’re people who are picking up clues all the way through.

Rowan Williams

I have started to pray: give me a big faith, God. A hope against all hope. I want to be excited for each new day, because I get to experience more of You.

No hard feelings

Today, I made a couple of mistakes. Two, to be exact. First, I was all packed and ready for my Muay Thai class. Wrists wrapped, full water bottle, a change of clothes. I got there, peeked through the locked door, and saw that the only semblance of a human being was a hamstring stretched across the floor. The one instructor who’s stretch I interrupted opened the door and regarded me with mild amusement. Sorry you’re an idiot, he seemed to say. Apparently I have to call to make appointments. I had mistakenly generalized the expectation that classes would go on with or without me, as is the case with bigger and more established gyms. I blabbered on about what I didn’t know, quickly resigning myself to the fact that he wasn’t going to give me a private lesson. Come on, I’ve come all the way here. And I’d worked up a sweat coming up the stairs. He called me ‘pretty girl’. What a waste of my #athleisure.

As I was about to leave, I spotted another poster: FIT! GYM! PERFECT! I made my way over to the place, as half-assed as my now singularly wrapped wrists. I’ll cheat my way into a free trial gym session, I decided. What did I have to lose? I smiled my best Duchenne smile, approached the receptionist and said “so do you guys do trial sessions or what?” She handed me over to the manager. And he brought me to an office with a table and two chairs. He’s a friend of celebrities, a retired Kong Fu artist and stunt double. He’s well traveled and speaks to me as a father would about potential. The next thing I know, I’m befriending the entire place, his buddies who are good at salsa, the woman on staff who shows me the sauna in the changing room. He greets a gym-goer, whom I recognize as someone who graduated the year I finished my first year of highschool. We both do a double-take. For some reason, I let the manager in on the secret. I know that guy! And he is more than happy to share with me the details of the Graduate’s life- he’s a really great jazz musician; comes from a family of them, Filipinos. He’s been going to this gym for years, have you met his girlfriend? At the end of it all, when he’s circling the prices, I am the one who feels cheated. This is a members-only gym, he said, finally. From the beginning, there was no chance of a free trial. From the beginning, there was no chance of my joining. I wonder if he could sense the reticence. Deception stinks; I can’t tell if I’ve made a friend…

Life lesson: when you’re a liar, you have a general mistrust of others.
Glorious moment: when Colbie Caillat’s ‘Bubbly’ played at the gym. Ye get pumped!

Goalz

I’m kind of deathly afraid of planning. There’s just so much to be done I don’t know where to start. I am not a goal setter. I am not a SMART targets kind of girl- I just hope everything will fall into place, getting through the worries of each day as they come, concerning myself with what people are relying on me to finish. Like, I have to complete this arrangement for my acapella group. I have to event-plan philanthropies because it’s part of my job description. I know that organization is a necessary skill- one that will help me flourish. You’ve got to cut up the onions before you fry them and order the spices before you throw them in the pan. It’s all about efficiency.

My counselor reassured me by saying that every single person learns to plan. We don’t pop out of the womb knowing how it’s done and how to do it well, which means that I’m not a lost cause. I’ve already had a mini revelation at my growing competence from planning and choosing a hiking trail for tomorrow. Along with our hike-friendly picnic goodies. It’s a small thing, but it’s something. I’m not depending on anyone to give me a breakdown of the itinerary or lead me to the correct bus stop. It’s nice to feel well-informed and proactive.

Goal setting helps us keep track of progress. I wholeheartedly believe that progress is a key ingredient for happiness- so why am I not doing the obvious thing? I stumbled across this motivational quote on Instagram: Only through organization can you find more freedom. Counterintuitive. Structure brings clarity and in that space you will discover freedom. Thanks Brendon Burchard! Speaking of, I used to keep care about the follower/following ratio but now it seems the most meaningless restriction. I’ll follow 10k accounts if I want to.

 

The naked truth

I used to use cutesie names like ‘peenee’ for the ghastly penis. I’d put up a disclaimer before admitting to anyone that I was a horny teen- like dude, this is so embarrassing but I can’t stop thinking about the peen. But hey, I’m happy to speak of such things in the past tense; I’ve learned a couple things.

I’ve always admired the way people owned their words and spoke about sex and masturbation without any hint of discomfort. Because it meant that they accepted a part of themselves that I couldn’t. It was a confusing time; though I cringed upon hearing about sexcapades, I was drawn to these raconteurs. I wanted to know- it was our common obsession- but I’d feel a little suffocation in my chest, a stab of jealousy even. Why does she talk about getting off as if she were talking about walking a dog? How dare she? And why can’t I be like her? I didn’t want anyone to be okay with sex as long as I wasn’t.

Two years in college has changed that for me, because I’ve realised that the worst thing I can do to myself is deny a part of my nature to the rest of the world. I’ve met so many people who have had similar experiences: early curiosity and sexual discoveries coupled with the corrupting influence of crude friends in elementary school. I know I’m not alone in my bouts of extreme horniness or in my ever-present appetite. A part of me used to think it was abnormal, that I and those who spoke openly about it were deviantly sexual… but not only is this simply untrue, it can be incredibly damaging. It helps to know that statistically speaking, it’s so normal I could cry for every time I cried out of self-disgust. Horny ladies out there, I am with you. It seems that everyone denies ever having watched porn or having wondered about girls, but I promise it’s more common than you would ever have thought.

It’s a bummer that so much shame and guilt comes from misunderstanding sexual desire and its God-given purpose. I am thankful to have met Christian women who are honest with their struggles! Thank God for making us relational beings, for intimacy, pleasure and love. Sex shouldn’t be a taboo, a non-Christian thing, a topic visited only after marriage. We are doing girls a disservice by making them deal with the issue of sex alone, in private, under a veil of secrecy. It surprises me to look through the Old Testament and see how sex was once a family matter. The whole town celebrated the marriage consummation! It wasn’t embarrassing, it was a fact of life. Although I would ABSOLUTELY HATE to have my parents wait outside the door to check my sheets after the honeymoon bang, can we please bring back an attitude of openness towards sex? Strip (haha) ourselves of shame and have a conversation?

Let’s be honest with ourselves and those we love.

Humble

To the one who has given me everything, I will hold back nothing.
My life is no sacrifice in light of your goodness. Thank you for every blessing I do not deserve.
Your vision is perfect. You are my song.

‘By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me– a prayer to the God of my life’.
– Psalm 42:8