On The Year Ahead

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Per the internet, if you are not Donald Trump or Andy Murray, 2016 was probably a rough year. It was for me. Amongst other things, Mum left earth and there was nothing I could do about it. We can only control a small fraction of life and that sucks. We do our bit, life does hers and if we are lucky enough, the stars align to create something that is without an untimely and a sorrowful conclusion. But everything ends and sorrow is ingrained in the fabric of life. 

It seems, we are perpetually warring for and against life’s uncertainties: success and failure, Joy and sorrow, and so on. We do have (to an extent) control of the work put in, the friendships we make and break, the places we go and books we read. But, life is a careless wind unperturbed by people's dedication to happiness. A curve ball could be thrown at any time and God save the one who is unable to catch it. Yet faith teaches us to believe, in spite of and in protest against fear and defeat. I suppose it is what drags us, weary athletes, to the end of the marathon, heaving with punctured lungs and broken bones. Faith is why we look forward to things that are not there. And we must hold on to it like our lives depend on it. It is what fuels the New Year’s optimism. 

It is ever-present in the congregation at a church’s crossover service. Churches are usually packed to the rafters with faithful and exceptionally jolly people, excited about the new start January 1 provides. The pastor will declare the New Year a year of success, promotion and victory, and we will shout thunderous Amens! And dance profusely, sweating away former anxieties and putting on latent ones, that will, if we are lucky enough, remain latent. For me, the best part of the service has always been peering through the swarm of bodies for my parents, especially mum, at the dawn of the New Year. She was hardly happier than she was on January 1 and thus beamed between 11:30pm and 12:30am. Maybe it was because every year of being alive was miraculous. We hugged her in turns– my brothers and I, and she often smiled with her lips folded in, as if to hold a reckless laugh or hide a dangerous blush.

We recently moved to a much bigger church. The kind that holds two Sunday services and has a mid-week morning event with over 1000 attendees. If we weave through the avalanche of bodies in one piece, my brothers and I will make it to dad in time to keep half of the tradition alive. And although one never really 'moves on' from the loss of a loved one, life does. The speed of life means that there is a hesitation to celebrate the start of a new year. In a way it feels like I am leaving mum behind with the year. Ah, but life goes on.

As for 2017, I hope we look after our mental healths. I have learnt the hard way to protect mine at all costs. The brain is the CPU and can, like every other organ in the body, become unwell. I hope we protect our faiths and ruminate on knowledge like never before. I hope we ask questions of our beliefs and pursue personal understanding and that we are not overwhelmed by the multitude of doctrines in our religious or spiritual spaces. I hope we are kind to one another and that we help others without fanfare and the want of reciprocation. I hope we protect our dreams. And realise that the fear of failure is fine if we have figured out what we want to do. I hope we figure it out if we already haven't. And who knows? perhaps 2017 will be the year that our stars align. I hope we all hold on to hope and faith.

I hope we all have a happy new year and beyond. 

Photo source: Pintrest

 

Even When It Hurts

Taya Smith
Taya Smith of Hillsong United

I often claim to rediscover Christ through song (worship). Not that I ‘lose’ him or backslide, rather, I attain newness that comes from spiritual melodies after a prolonged phase of internal struggles, doubts, and existential battles. But in reality, Christ finds me again. There’s peace in those moments (the type the world cannot give). An intangible and yet ever accessible serenity.

It is the beauty of worship, the peeling of the all human layers so that the spirit vitalises the mind and by so doing, the body. I dream of capturing these moments in a bottle to keep for the rainy day, for when routines wear me out. For when tears abound and for when it feels like God has forgotten to give this beloved, sleep.

I usually get to a point of brokenness where the only remedy is the message of grace and unending love. And more often than not, the medicine is in the self-forgetting ambience of worship that allows for vulnerability. That allows us to receive from the ever-giving supply, without considering ourselves. Shedding like serpent for new skin.

“Even when it hurts, I will only sing your praise.”

Image source: crowdalbun

Have a merry Christmas 🙂

Today

crying

And there I was, eyes like a nimbus cloud, head facing the earth. All 80kg of man and testosterone. There I was by the aisle of a supermarket, sobbing like an infant for no reason. Pre-birthday blues maybe, but not really. I wanted an answer for a temporal nothingness, I wanted to rid myself of me. And maybe crying was the means to an end. Why do we tell people to stop crying as though it will alleviate their pain? What if the pain is intangible and the tears are simply reflexive?

I walked out of the supermarket and there was a nimbus cloud in the sky when my head faced the heavens. I looked to God for answers, and as I cried my words, the clouds cried into my mouth. I am not on a search for happiness, and the idea of a search for self has become an exhausted thought. I am not looking for myself anymore, and it is probably because I have found me. Or maybe I haven’t.

God probably answered as he always does, but I did not hear. Or maybe the answer was that there was no answer. Maybe the chemical imbalance in my brain had other ideas. I was not feeling lonely or unloved. I just was: the way I am when I am like this; void of a problem to touch but with many intangible problemites swimming in the pool of my subconscious.

I had to restrain myself from crying for the fear of “are you okay?”. But in my room, where the doors are shut and the only voices I hear are the ones in my head, my pillow will be soaked. I will arise tomorrow, feeling better than I was today. And I will hope that the visitor who lives in me, does not remind me of a certain intangible despair.

Photo credit: Pinterest