I’m sick…

“I knew it was nothing.”

Most women do not readily admit weakness – we may really still be damsels in distress but most of us do it under cover of warrior princess or superwoman. In the end, we have the “usual” humdrum of everyday life and then, there are the bad days. You wouldn’t notice the difference because if you did then my full face of glamouflage isn’t working as it should.

To put things simply I’m not okay. My body is mutinying against me, my skin is breaking out, my emotions are partying like its DEC 31, 1999 and its not fun.

I’ve finally decided to cough up the cash to go to an oby-gyn to get myself checked because over the past half year, my menses have not been normal. I’ve always been very attuned to the workings of my body and so I knew that there was SOME sort of imbalance, I just didn’t know what it was.

My period has been lasting 2 weeks at a time leaving me emotionally unstable, bloated, always tired, craving and too maxed out to exercise. I go home and all I want to do is sleep. But sleep is hard to come by and sleep isn’t giving me rest.

The doctor tells me I have menstrual disorder due to hormonal imbalance and gives me progesterones to get things right again. He mentions some side-effects but I’m just happy to hear that my womb and uterus are okay.

That, doesn’t mean though that I am okay.

There’s something wrong with me but its not a physical sickness – its an imbalance that is keeping me from living a happier life. And that gets to me. Some days, I just wanna remember the last time I was happy. Like carefree happy.

I know this sounds like the rant of an angst-ridden teen so I’ll stop soon I promise. I just needed somewhere to rant. To make this struggle real somehow.

I hate it when people look at me like I’m overreacting. I hate it when they won’t even acknowledge what this thing is doing to me. The meds by the way are totally messing me up too. It just feels like nothing is real until you are SICK sick. But heart sickness, mind-sickness, those aren’t readily seen but they’re as real.

My Master Cleanse 2013: The Whats, The Whys, The Hows and the What to Expect

I’ve tried to put off writing this mammoth of an entry for until I was at least at halfway point of the detox but today there was a shortage of things to do that required very little physical exertion and not involving my credit card. So, here I am… Hopefully, by end of this entry, I’ll be more open to doing other productive things today.

At the risk of sounding like my father and betraying my profession as a teacher, here is an outline of what I want to write:

  1. What: My Dislaimers and claims
  2. Why: My Motivations for doing the Master Cleanse
  3. How: Some tips for people who are looking to doing the master cleanse
  4. What to expect: A sneak peek at the “first three days” of the detox.

What: My Disclaimers and Claims

Before anything else, let me just make a couple of disclaimers:

  1. I am not a nutritionist.
  2. I am not an expert on the master cleanse.
  3. I am not trying to make anyone else do the master cleanse.

However, I can give you first-hand information on the experience of the cleanse since I have successfully completed it more than 5 times. So, you could say, that while I’m not an expert, I am a proud veteran.

What I have learned, I have gleaned from various sources. When my parents introduced me to the cleanse, I read the book (heres’a  pdf version) by Stanley Burroughs. While it is quite old, it answered some of the important aspects of the cleanse. I would, however, strongly recommend going to themastercleanse.org website if you are interested. Three words: They.Have.Videos.

Why: My Motivations for Doing the Master Cleanse

The lure of my first time around the Master Cleanse was simple: the promise of weight loss. And lose weight I did. However, the reason I’ve kept on doing it –  is due primarily to what I gained during the experience…

The Master Cleanse, for me,  is less about losing weight and more about gaining control over my life and my body.

I live a very stressful life. It is probably a product of my own life choices as opposed to just being a hazard of my profession. The stress is further expounded by my natural “bear”-like predisposition i.e. after a lot of stress, I store fat and then proceed to do nothing. All of this take a heavy toll on my overall well-being – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. By end of every school year, I look and feel 20 years older (at least).

Doing the cleanse, helps my body to get back to a semblance of balance. My body is leaner, my hormones are less rampant, my cycles (digestive and reproductive) run smoother, my skin is glowing, my mind is clearer and my overall predisposition is refreshed and invigorated.

Ironically, not having to eat, gives me more time to think about food (and other important things). The cleanse reminds me that food should be for nourishment and should not be used as a distraction/excuse from dealing with real life issues and problems.

It has me thinking about myself. I get to evaluate how I have treated myself. Unfortunately, I suffer through bouts of self-hate throughout the year. I tend to IMPLODE first — attacking myself when things get rough.

It has me thinking about what is going on around me. Once my digestive system isn’t protesting anymore, I find myself listening to the soundtrack of “everyday life”, my eye is drawn to snippets of simplicity around me. Besides introspection, I get to do “extro-spection” – about life, about God, about the future, etc.

Of course, it isn’t just a philosophical/psychological/spiritual retreat.

I get to know my body a lot better. Have you ever gone to bed with no food? Its a veritable cacophony of gurgling, rumbling and splashing in there. During the cleanse, you learn to listen to your body. You become intimately in tuned to your energy levels. You find out the times of the day when your hunger starts. Best of all you learn the importance of discipline and preparation.

How: Some Tips for People Who are Looking to Doing the Master Cleanse

If you’re reading this far in, I am assuming that you have done the necessary fact-finding into the subject (and no, I’m not just talking about the recipe to the lemonade), considered the risks and have made the decision to try it out.

No matter how many times I’ve successfully done the master cleanse, preparation is still imperative to success.

  1. Clear your schedule. The first three days is the hardest so make sure that you can hanker down somewhere not having to do much. You are more likely to quit in the first three days. Trust me, I know from personal experience. Steer clear of any major “food events”. Unless you’re a masochist, you wouldn’t want to do that to yourself. 
  2. Write a to-do-list. You will have a lot of time in your hands. You will need something that is not too physically strenuous to pre-occupy your mind with. ESPECIALLY the first three days.
  3. Prep your body. The days leading to the start of your detox, start eating simple foods as opposed to processed (i.e. vegetables, fruits, soups, juices), this will prevent your body from the shock of having to quit solid food cold turkey. Initially, you will experience dizzy spells, hunger headaches and cravings like none other. By getting to know your personal digestive cycle, you can prevent yourself from going “hungry”. For example, I usually prepare my morning lemonade the night before so when I wake up, its ready. But heed my advice, no matter what: keep calm and drink more lemonade.
  4. Prepare for breakdown. Remember that The Master Cleanse is a detox – and not just a physical kind. I’ve experienced some major emotional breakdowns during cleanses. But I have learned to anticipate them, to be open to them and as a result have experienced major breakthroughs. Talk to someone you trust, log on to a forum, write in a journal – GET. IT. OUT. You’ll feel a whole lot better.
  5. Get support. The Master Cleanse Detox is controversial. There will be people who will not be supportive. Some will even try to set you up for failure (so mean!) Having support will help you keep your commitment and give you the reinforcement you need when you are vulnerable.

What To Expect: A Sneak Peek at the First Three Days of my Detox 2013

Note: Every person is different. Every detox is different. My detox experience varies from year to year. This is just a “snippet” version of the first three days of this years’ detox.

Day 1

  • Ate too much last night.
  • Feeling groggy – not a good start.
  • Didn’t drink my first lemonade early enough.
  • Had to go out and walk around Central.
  • Hunger headaches and stomach aches all day
  • Terrible, TERRIBLE, first day.

Day 2

  • Feeling much better today.
  • I lounged around the house, watching TV, reading online, sleeping, etc.
  • I tried to do some weights and do errands for mum – felt more energetic at night.
  • no headache but towards sleeping time, I felt dizzy.
  • Could sleep much. Went to the toilet multiple times. My stomach feels upset.

Day 3

  • Didn’t wake up to hunger.
  • Have to go to Central to buy more maple syrup. After that, I’ll go around and shop some more.
  • Ecstatic to find that I’ve already lost 3 pounds – I usually don’t start losing weight until the 4th of 5th day.
  • My stomach is flat already and my face is slimmer. Feeling pumped!
  • My tongue feels and tastes strange. Its covered in white.

Conclusion

To end, let me reiterate that doing the Master Cleanse is a personal commitment that I have made. A venture that I have gone through at least once every year for the past 5-6 years and hope to – for the rest of my God-given life.

I hope this was informative, reassuring or at least entertaining to read. I’ve managed to use up at least an hour and a half on this – which I am very pleased by because today (Day 4) has been awfully slow.

I have a bit of stuff that I want to do so I am ending here. Perhaps in a few days, I will write about my progress so far and regale you of some terrifying stories of past “hiccups”. Til then!

The Ups and Downs of Living all by Your Onesie

Its been more than a week since my parents left for their vacation and I started my life as a “single woman living alone” – I’ll have to admit that there are ups and down. 

Up: There’s always something to do:

I like preoccupying myself in the evenings. Besides the obvious “Harry” (my British Shorthair cat) chores, I do random chores around the house and prepare my food for the next day.

Up: I’ve been enjoying cooking

I’ve never been the epitome of domesticity and truth be told, my skills in the kitchen leave much to be desired. Oh sure, I can prepare ingredients but putting them all together is a science that I’ve never really had the chance, desire or reason to delve into. But since living alone, I’ve taken up the challenge of cooking my daily lunch/dinner. I was thinking that I could buy from the school cafeteria but I’ve managed to get this far – without buying pre-packaged food. 

There are some things I’ve learned about myself:

  1. I enjoy cooking. 
  2. I enjoy eating my cooking.
  3. I’m interested in learning more about this.

Up: I’ve been working out consistently

My evenings are a whole lot more productive lately so I’ve been running 7 km on my elliptical machine (20-25 mins) 5 days a week and I think I’m just about ready to get back into blogilates “beast mode”. 

I love working out. I love feeling like I’m doing something good with my body. I’m trying not to weigh myself too often (I bought a weighing scale a few weeks back — to keep myself in check) because I’m not working out to lose weight (Keep reminding myself!). Working out makes me feel better about myself. It gives me positive body image. The more I like myself, the better I feel. The better I feel, the better I look – at least that’s how I think. 

I wish I could say that there were no “downs” in this period. But I guess you just can’t win it all. 

Down: I find that self-pity and loneliness are never too far from me

One moment, I’ll be all happy and proud of myself for yet another successful and “healthier” week. I weigh myself and find that I haven’t lost a single pound. Bummer.

Last Friday, I got sick and my throat felt like sandpaper. I had fevers on and off throughout the weekend. It was hard. I’m 27 years old and all I could think of was, “Mummy! I want my mummy!” (sigh) Oh the luxury of having the parentals around. 

I don’t hate staying at home but its a sobering thought – that I’m going to an empty house, waiting for no one to come. Sometimes it gets to me. 

I haven’t lost sleep yet nor have I cried about “being alone” – primarily because I know it won’t be forever. Come to think of it, three weeks has come and gone so quickly. 

But sometimes, it still gets to me. Yeah. 

I put on the TV so that I don’t have to endure the silence. Its not like I can start talking to Harry now can I? 

Down: Temptation is at every corner

Being alone makes me very conscious about the way I spend my time and what I do with my body. In fact, I’m more self-aware now that I’m alone than when I have people in the house with me. Strange that.

Unfortunately, I’m a creature of many weaknesses and truth be told my “resolve” isn’t that strong either.

Some days, I win… some days, I lose.

Regression and Return

Its been a year since the last time I was here and a lot has changed.

In so many ways, I have regressed to who I was even before this blog began. I won’t say that I haven’t had any progression because I have – but only in some areas. The expression, “One step forward, two steps back” comes to mind.

There is no defense I can offer myself, I suppose the best thing to say at this point is just that “nobody said it was going to be easy”. The idea that true transformation happens overnight is not only false but a dangerous delusion.

Its funny because I haven’t touched this blog for the simple reason that I had nothing “good” to report. But “Seven-Fifteen” was never meant to be a blog just about my victories… I forgot that I had meant for it to be a platform on which I could display both my victories and my defeats.

But now I have an urge to return. I am not saying that things are getting better – they are not. I am even more plagued now than I ever was. I have no delusions regarding my resolve to fight my own battles. What I do know is that I serve a God who is more than capable of keeping me – even to put me back together should I break apart. He is altogether trustworthy – the most!

So consider me fearless only in this regard. I know who my Father is. I know that He is good. And even if I do not deserve it, I know that I can trust in his “name and heart”.

So the prodigal returns home.

Live. Live Today

Sometimes I find myself echoing the feelings of the writer of Ecclesiastes.

Smoke, nothing but smoke.
There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke. 
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, 
a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? 
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives, 
but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old planet earth. 


The sun comes up and the sun goes down, 
then does it again, and again—the same old round. 
The wind blows south, the wind blows north. 
Around and around and around it blows, 
blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind. 
All the rivers flow into the sea, 
but the sea never fills up. 
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place, 
and then start all over and do it again. 


Everything’s boring, utterly boring— 
no one can find any meaning in it. 
Boring to the eye, 
boring to the ear. 
What was will be again, 
what happened will happen again. 
There’s nothing new on this earth. 


Year after year it’s the same old thing. 
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”? 
Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story. 
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday. 
And the things that will happen tomorrow? 
Nobody’ll remember them either. 
Don’t count on being remembered.
{ Ecclesiastes 1: 2-11 > The Message Bible }

“What do you do for a living?” — is a question that is often asked. But I always felt it oxymoronic – coz if we were to follow the logic of this question, we would come to the conclusion that “life = work”.

But if one were to “live for work”, you will find (in time) that you are not “living” at all.

I remember staring into the darkness of a fire-exit and screaming out these thoughts, “… If this is life, then I have no wish to continue living it…” Its funny coz I was barely 12 then and I had already despaired over the thought of having to wake up every day – forced to live a life without purpose, without meaning.

Because even then I understood that without purpose, there is no point to life. I wasn’t “suicidal” – no. I merely yearned for my life to have meaning. There just had to be more… why else would I still be alive?

When I found Christ (well, when Christ revealed Himself to me) – I found that purpose and finally, “life” began. I remember chanting those words “We are the warriors of the New Millennium”, singing songs like “History Maker” and “Spirit of Revival” — filling my heart and my mind with the sense of purpose that I craved – that I needed.

I learned that I was part of the generation that would “shake the nation” -we would bring the change the world needed. I was “chosen” to represent Christ. I was a ticking time bomb strategically placed. When it was my time to “explode” – everyone in my blast radius would have no choice but be affected – infected – with Christ.

Sounds kinda ominous. Like some kind of weird propaganda. But seriously,

I didn’t just chant it. I didn’t just sing it. In my heart, I really believed it.

Its funny because my future was clearer to me when I was 13 than now that I am 25 because of that very reason.

Sometimes, in the attempt to “make a living”, people forget to “live”.

Steve Jobs died today and so many people “mourn” for the loss of yet another great life. And rightly so – coz he changed our lives to the point where we might not even remember what it was before the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad… who knows what other creations the world will now never come to know…

It seems the entire world is in mourning and I find myself thinking, rightly so. But not because Steve Jobs is dead (and because I will never get an iPhone5 approved by his genius…)

What use is there to mourn for those among the dead?

If we mourn, let us mourn instead – for those among the living who have never really lived. 

I write this, not so much for those out there who are reading this, but to myself.

I can’t help but remember all the promises I made to myself – that I would live my life to the fullest – if not for myself – then for all those who don’t have the chance to do so.

For the children of the Shan who may forever be forced to live life inside a refugee state – unable to exercise the right to freely pursue life as they so desire.

For the “Karen”s of the world – taken too early — even before they had a chance to make something out of it (a story for another time).

How many more must die until I fully realize the gift I have been given?

I don’t know why God decided that Steve Job’s time was over and mine was not. I don’t know how to justify that logically. But surely, he knows something that I do not. So, I must preach this word to myself.

Even as a heavy cloak of death hangs about me – even as my bones creak and my withered muscles shake, my whole being seems to be reaching out in desperation screaming,

Save me. I want to live. I want to live today.

Wanted: A Real Man

Today was one of those days when everything seemed orchestrated.

After almost two days since the unfortunate crash and burn of this year’s detox (a blog post for another day), I decided that even though I had no one to hang out with and technically nowhere to go – I was gonna go out and have fun… by myself – if need be.

So I put my pretty dress on and I carefully put on my makeup (coz I didn’t want to carry it in my bag – as per usual), prepped my bag for a nice splurge. I even packed my diary and a nice book with me – just in case I ended up loitering in a cafe somewhere (that was another great option).

The sun was in its last blaze of glory and so I put on my shades. There was a skip to my step – it was like this day just couldn’t get any better. Not so. I flipped open my phone to find a missed call from a friend of mine. I call her – she answers right ahead and asks me if I’m free to hang out. Ah, bliss.

This friend of mine – so near and dear to my heart – was (is) undergoing a painful end to a once celebrated union. In a world where 50% of all marriages end in divorce, this should not have come as a surprise. Still, it did not make things right.

Call me old fashioned but I still dream of princes who slay dragons and free the princesses from endless sleep and in champions who fight for the honour of their fair maiden. But if I were to open my eyes and face the stinky bean curd, the real world tells me, the princes are dragons that enslave their princesses and the champions fight for nothing else but their own honour.

That is not to say that I think women ought to spend their entire lives wasting away in towers waiting for prince charming to save them. I am not saying that we are incapable of fighting our own battles and defending our own honour.

Gender roles (especially in marriages, family units, society) are a touchy subject and are often subjective. But thankfully, the Bible gives us guidelines that can help us:

Ephesians 5: Instructions for Christian Households

 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

No one is exempt from submission.

In the Bible’s model of a household, everyone submits. The women submit to the men (who are placed as “heads of the family” by God) and the men (and therefore, the women in their care) are ultimately accountable to and submit to God. Without a firm understanding of this simple truth, abuse and inequality would ruin a household.

This means that women – we ought to submit to our husbands but more importantly, we must submit to God. If our husbands (or men in our lives) tell us to do something that is not in line with God’s commands – there is no reason for us to “submit”. True submission to our husbands is to obey God.

And if you are like me and you are single – it helps to remember that until we find ourselves a husband we are placed, by God, under the care and “head”ship of our earthly Fathers (as to whether or not they are good heads is another discussion).

Also, this means that men do not have “ultimate say”. Having them as heads does not give them the right to dictate the lives of women as if it was “his way or the high way”. God holds women in high regard and have placed them under your protection. Men have, therefore, no right to abuse their power because these women are not “their property” but “in their care”.

Both men and women must ultimately submit to the authority of Christ. Women, in the way that they serve and Men, in the way that they lead.

While we are all equally loved by God (Male or Female), we are assigned different roles and responsibilities:

[1] Husbands are the head of the family.

[2] Women should submit to their husbands.

During my very short study in psychology (on the topic of marriage), I learned that marriages are not built on equality but equity.

If we were to strive for equality in a relationship – it would be unfair for both parties because the same demands will be made of everybody regardless of individual differences in capacity. And regardless of the outcome, everybody gets the same piece of the pie. This is COMMUNISM.

Equity is a better thing to strive for in marriage because by its very definition – equity is justice. There is consideration given for diversity (the inherent differences in the physical/emotional makeup of men and women), there is equal opportunity given for each to participate and to gain from the relationship.

Now, before a feminist cries out in righteous indignation. Let me explain the underlying stipulations which will allow a marriage to reach that state of equity:

[1] Husbands are the head of the family

  • This is a God-given privilege and responsibility (you are not the head because it is your right as a man – you are head because God says you are)
  • They are instructed to follow the example of Jesus (you cannot just do as you please, however you please)
  • They should love their wives as Christ LOVES the Church (He gave His life for her – for her cleansing and restoration!) and as they love their own bodies.

[2] Wives should submit to their husbands

  • This is a God-given privilege (i.e. you are protected) and with it comes a responsibility (i.e. you must submit in everything)
  • They are instructed to submit in the same way they submit to the Lordship of Christ (in essence, your submission to your husband is a reflection of your submission to Christ)
  • Your submission must be done with willingness and respect.

The ultimate goal of marriage is not to please Men (or Women) but to glorify God.

This system of submission is not only for our sake but ultimately for the sake of the glory of God. If we should ask the question, “Why should we do it this way and not in our own way?” the answer is this:

We should submit — to each other — NOT BECAUSE of culture, not because of gender, not because of age, not because of social norms, not because “YOU WILL BE DAMNED IN HELL IF YOU DON”T”.

We submit because it pleases God.

So, we lead as CHRIST does, we serve as if it were CHRIST we serve.

We submit to please God.

The Fallen Reality

I was waiting for the ferry when I came upon a most heartbreaking scene.

A man and a woman were fighting – they seemed to be a young couple (boyfriend-girlfriend).

The man was exponentially raising his voice, his body was towering over this woman in a stance that showed me that he was physically trying to make this woman SUBMIT.

The woman was cowering in fear, her cries were mixed with terror and anger. There was little she could do but repeatedly say “Let me go!”.

At some point, the scene turns even more alarming when the man resorts to emotional harassment – using violent actions (like throwing a glass bottle onto the side with force and moving “as if” to hit her).

Finally, the girl cries out for help…

So many looked on. But no one came.

At that moment, I wished I were a man. Because I wanted so desperately to stand up for this woman. To defend her honour. To be her champion. But unfortunately, I was frozen in fear.

Finally, I got on the ferry. I called my dad – just to hear his voice – because unknowingly, I must have been trying to remind myself – though there are many posers out there, though they are a rarity in these days – real men do exist. And hopefully, there is one out there – for me.

Right now, I turn to my dad for strength and protection. He is my champion. He is my “head”. Its not too farfetched to think that – despite all his obvious faults – he represents my ideal. Will I have to leave my Father’s ‘covering’ for another? Someday. Maybe.

But, I have decided that I will not submit just to anyone. In fact, I can’t.

I want to marry a REAL MAN – a man totally submitted to God.

These Paths

I did originally plan to name this shot “God Bless The Broken Road” just coz the moment I saw it on my photo reel that was the song that sprung up in my mind ( Note: This is the usual way that my photos get named. )

But in the end, inspiration steered me elsewhere. Besides,  I thought the name didn’t really quite express my intention in the photo. In any case, here is a lengthy and (others might say) hopeless drawn out treatise on what went through my head while I was processing this photo and long after…

We all have places we want to go. That is, we have goals, ambitions, dreams that we pursue. Whether or not they are worthwhile pursuits – is another blog entry. But often times, we find that it takes quite a while to get there.

The images that come to your mind may vary from Israel’s long 40-year-stint in the desert (check) to the journey of the Fellowship of the Ring in Lord of the Rings (check).

Instead of going straight to where we intend, we usually end up going round in circles, meeting with all manner of hindrances in our way, ending up in ditches and dead ends, even finding ourselves walking in totally different directions…

The sad part is that often times, we never realize that we have steered so far away from original course – well, until its too late.

After a particularly difficult bit down the road, we look back and only then can we see what we have just come through: may it be thicket of thorns, a dark tunnel or narrow cracks in some wall that just appeared out of nowhere… All in all, we often stop to wonder to ourselves, “did I really have to go through that?”

I like to think that God and I have a very close relationship – we’re on talking terms. Not the “hi.hello facebook friends” status. We’re “face to face, spit on your face” type of friends. I like to believe that we are well above talking round in circles. Which is why it always frustrates me when I don’t get answers to some of my “important questions”.

My personal (written) journal is littered with ramblings and rants dedicated to one single cry, “why?”

Why me? Why NOT me?

Why then? Why now?

Why here? Why there?

Why him/her? Why not? 

Why…? Why..!? W H Y?!

Thankfully, God doesn’t charge us for our outright gall in questioning the ways he does things. As a much younger Follower, I found it difficult to trust God to lead in certain areas of my life. Years later, I’ve grown in my ability to trust in Him but sometimes, my trust is lacking.

When you’re in the middle of especially hard paths, you will find yourself going from a brave “There is a point to this!”, to a consoling “There MUST be a point to this!”, to a more doubting “Is there a point to this?” and finally to an adamant, “What’s the (bleep) point?!”

But contrary to popular belief, God doesn’t gamble with our lives. He doesn’t make us go through hoops and whatnots just for his divine amusement. I am convinced: Everything. Every little thing – is a piece of a grand plan. We just can’t see it because we’re in the middle of it all.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  (Acts 17:26)

Our location in place and time – they are all marked out by God. Whereever we are, no matter how “lost” and “overwhelmed” we feel – we are ultimately under God’s watchful eye, our lives under his watchful hand.

You have heard it said that God would never let you have a burden/struggle that you cannot bear. My dad tells me, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes, he leads us to places just to remind us, how much we need him.

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Whenever things are hard and we cannot see our paths so clearly, we move our question from WHY to WHERE?

Where are you? Where are you, God?

But its not like God “hides” for the purpose of hiding. Its more so that we might pursue with ardor and expectation. He hides in “plain sight”. He builds the tempo up to a climactic FINDING.

The expression that God leads us to walk down the “straight and narrow” is easily misunderstood if we do not consider that God’s perfect plan for our lives is not always the way we decide to walk. Following Christ (who is our True North) will ever lead us straight to God but following our will will lead us to death. The combination of both ensures that the “straight and narrow” feels like a rollercoaster.

I often pray that God would spare some of the younger generation the arduous paths I had to take, the lessons I had to learn the good old fashion “long and hard’ way but part of me knows – that is not my decision to make AND this is the way that life threshes the wheat from the chaff.

So, as I look back at all that I have gone through, I cannot help but think. “Wow God. What a ride. I really wouldn’t like to do THAT again but thank You. For helping me through. For showing me the way. For not letting me go…”

I thank God – sincerely – for these paths He has let me walk on. They help me to appreciate life’s true treasures. They help me edit the way I feel, the way I think, the way I live…

I’m not saying that “all paths lead to God” – by no means! But I do believe, as an old youth pastor had exhorted,

If you obey Him, You will never “lose your way”. You will always find yourself in the centre of His will.

Even if, you are not sure where you “ought” to go. I think the Lord grants us leave to take a step of faith and “fill in the blanks” – to go until he says to stop. Seeking His will, trying to find “the path” he has laid out for me – is no longer an “idle” activity. I find myself walking while waiting. Doing the things that he has already mandated me to do – waiting for further instructions.

If I seek Him, I will find Him. If I follow Him – in the way that He has set out – I will eventually find myself in the Halls of the House he has prepared for me.

I am thankful. Sincerely grateful for the fact that the Lord never decided to make things all drawn out. That He, in his infinite wisdom decided that I was to embark on an adventure rather than a static and boring “non-stop flight”.

Because the reward is not just reaching your destination, but in the sheer joy of having travailed the distance, having passed through the fire of struggle, having fought through the battles, having learned hard lessons, having lived the “full” life that He promised.

My only prayer is this:

That my steps my hold onto your paths… that my feet may not stumble away from them… (Psalm 17:5)