Sometimes, we give ourselves too much credit. Our pride can blind us from the truth. We believe that we are the most important thing in the world. I think about where society as a whole is headed. The rise of social media had shifted the focus towards individualism and the me-world. I don’t mean that individualism is necessarily bad, but when we make the point of making us happy first is somewhat a dangerous mindset. Social media, although having some good intentions, is essentially about self-promotion. As a human being, our need to be seen and heard are very real, but when that consumes us and takes us away from Christ and serving Him, that is where we need to stop and really think about what we are doing.
I have heard a lot of people talk about “my story”. I am in fact someone who think of it as my story. That I am the protagonist or the hero. Look, I don’t believe it is wrong to say that we matter, because we do. God created us for a purpose. We all have stories and experiences to share. But when I make the story of my life just and all about me, I am denying the real truth. My pride as a writer wants to take all the credit for my story. But that means that I am not acknowledging God’s soverignty, nor am I glorifying Him.
We may think that our story is all about us, but truth be told, without God, we wouldn’t even exist. Without His soverignty, we will not be where we should be. Without His grace, we should have beem given the death penalty. I read the stories of the Bible, how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, how Joshua led them to the Promised Land, how Paul was imprisoned for the gospel. The real protagonists of these stories are not Moses, Joshua or Paul, but God Himself. It is God who orchestrated the stories, how He gave them the capacity to trust and follow Him.
I look back on my own life. I see the points of which at my most desperate times, God was the one who saved me. All of the steps that I have walked on, He guided me. He knew where I was to go to, and even in my depression, I believe that He was alongside me, silently holding my hand even when I couldn’t feel it. In my struggles, He becomes the one who I learn everyday to turn to, because on my own, I wouldn’t have made it. But with God, I keep on perserving.
I write, not to tell my story, but to tell the story of God. To tell the story of how God saves, loves and guides those who are weak, who are lost, who are sinners.
Learning who I am, how I process information, thoughts and emotions. Today during counselling, I had a minor revelation regarding self-discovery. I thought it may be more appropriate to use some pictures to illustrate this discovery.
The poker hand is held on by both hands. The cards are unseen and the hands are covering the joker card. I see the cards as parts of me, personalities of me that unite together to become me. I am holding onto the control of my personalities and emotions. If I let go, the cards will fly about and end in disaster. Perhaps I should let go with one hand. That way, I can spread out the cards a bit more so I understand who I am but remain enough control not to let emotions to overwhelm me.
More importantly, I realised that emotions are like a card game. If you don’t look at your cards, you won’t be able to be truthful about the emotions that you have, and make the right decisions regarding which emotions you show to the world. And those emotions will affect how the game is played and how we respond to the other emotions that others show us.
The staircase represents a road to recovery from depression. I sometimes feel like that I can’t get up the stairs alone. We all need support at points in our lives, especially in times of darkness and despair. We may feel guilty or shamed to ask for help, but we cannot walk the journey alone. There is hope at the top of the staircase, the green leaves and the promise of a better future. More importantly, by letting others help us, we become more appreciative of helping others.
Sometimes, I feel like I am trapped inside the house. There is a sense of security in hidden in my own thoughts and not letting others in. Other times, I feel like I am locked outside of the house, with no way of getting into some of my thoughts. I feel like I have thrown away the keys to my heart, deliberately locking up certain memories and thoughts. But what I crave is to open the door and come and go easily between the inside and the outside. In order to do that, because the keys have been misplaced for so long, the only way in is to slowly break down the chains, window bars and the security door, all of which are defense mechanisms I have learnt to keep myself “safe”.
Finally, a journal with scrunched up paper. I see it optimistically as the start of a journey towards recovery and management of depression. I have started to process and to acknowledge my emotions, although it is still a work-in-progress. The book in the background reads “Man’s Search for Meaning”. How appropriate as I try to understand myself and learn how to do relationships and build trust with others.
I hope these illusions are useful to you. Everyone will see different things in them, but I found them to be insightful and helpful in my own search for meaning.
The second part of the gospel is just as important as the first, because without the resurrection, the gospel is as good as dead. If Christ did rise from the dead, then Jesus didn’t defeat sin or death; he would have just been a normal guy who died.
His resurrection means that He cannot be conquered by sin or death. He is more powerful over them. It is through His sacrifice and His resurrection which gives us the sure hope that we are welcomed into God’s kingdom, and will someday be in His presence for all eternity. It is also this that gives us the ability to trust and have faith in Him, knowing that He did all that was necessary to get rid of sin once for all.
There is nothing we could have done to receive this, which is the beautiful thing about God’s grace for us. We cannot gain this through our works, and we cannot wipe this fact away. The resurrection essentially showed Jesus as the final authority of the world. That He is the author, the king and the judge of life. But the story doesn’t end there. The story of life is still writing, because we await for the day when we are united with God in the new creation, praising and glorifying Him as we should.
So the question is, do you believe that Christ died for your sins? Do you believe that Christ rose again and conquered death? Are you willing to trust Him with all of your mind, all of you body, all of your life, and all of your soul? Are you willing to give up the earthly desires in this life to wait patiently for the joy of eternal life in God’s presence?
Whenever Easter rolls around, I think about what it means for me. Good Friday is always a day of reflection and this year, it is no different.
But this year, I see the cross more clearly, I see the nail-pierced hands og Jesus Christ holding out for mine, I see the precious blood that He sacrificed for us washing over me. I am under His grace. For so long, I stay hidden in the darkness because it is familar to me. But when God’s light shone upon me, I was too blind to see the arms of God opened wide for me.
Everything that we have and receive is because of the cross. It is the perfect solution to bring together love and judgment, using death to bring life, letting light penetrate dark, using good to defeat evil. Without the cross, grace could not have happened and God’s justice could not have been fulfilled. And without that grace, how can we give grace without having to have experienced it first.
We will still sin, because we still live in this fallen world. But Christ’s crucifixion has brought us forgiveness from God. He used His blood to wash away our sins. He took all of our transgressions, past, present and future, to the cross and sealed them through the nails that drove into his body. We are washed clean through His blood, we can finally stand before God and receive all that He has promised us before Jesus Christ saved us.
I honestly think that I am not cut out for relating to anyone. It seems that every relationship (friendship or otherwise) I had turned out to be bad because of me.
Honestly, I think I am either consciously or unconsciously trying to sabotage those relationships. I think I put of a too high expectation on my friends. I always talk about how important my friends are to me but I now believe that I am just being selfish.
Yes, you read correctly. I AM SELFISH! I AM POSSESSIVE! I CARE ONLY ABOUT ME BECAUSE I CAN’T SEE ANYONE ELSE BUT MY PROBLEMS!
My depression is just a front for getting and wanting attention. My depression is a burden to others because I only care about myself. I go for help but people roll their eyes at me and tell me to go away. I am afraid of rejection, of abandonment, of separation. Here is thing. I expect people to drop everything they are doing and come running to my aide. It doesn’t work like that because everyone is afraid of my depression and my problems. They are too busy with their lives to care about my own. No one will come to my rescue because I am not important enough for them to do so. If I was in the same situation, I would do the same. Because as I said earlier, I am selfish.
My double standards don’t end there. When people are too busy, I get unjustly angry and I fall apart, becausw no one cares. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not. I am like a 10 year old kis throwing a tantrum because I am immature.
I feel like I don’t deserve any friends. I feel like I shouldn’t have friends. When I don’t have any friends, I can die without feeling the guilt of letting people down. I feel that all the time. That I have let everyone down. That I don’t care anymore. Sometimes, the thought of letting go is so much sweeter than what my emotions are telling me.
Maybe, just maybe, I am deliberately trying to make anyone run away from me so when I die, they won’t miss me.
I feel that creating a safe space where there is just me is difficult. Not because it is impossible, but because it is very risk-taking to do so on your own. I want to be free, to be able to feel without judgment or feeling guilty for them. Yet, as I step into this new territory, and test out the waters, the fear of the unknown scares me. The fear of uncertainty brings out an anxiousness in me that is like a washing machine trying to wash clean dirty clothes.
So this got me thinking. After last week’s intense counselling session, I often thought about the idea of what it means to have a safe space. The interest thing is, I don’t think it is just about a physical place where we feel safe from danger. I had the wrong idea that I needed to be safe from emotions as well. Some people call it a barrier around the heart, but my counsellor creatively calls it my little firefighter, ready to put out any fires my emotions tends to cause. Safe spaces actually often means to access those feelings we are uncomfortable with. What is important to remember is that emotions are tools that have been given to us to allow us react and make decisions.
The problem I have is that automatically, I go to my cognitive thinking space and try to logically and rationally think through issues. This may help with part of the issue but I often leave out the impact and effects that it has on me. They get bottled up and I hold onto the emotions until they become unhealthy. So how then do I change that mindset and learn to focus my emotions and what is happening to my body as I feel? I think a part of it is to be in safe space. I understand that I become defensive when there is an issue that I am very sensitive to. My little firefighter inside will automatically be on alert and stop any signs of “stepping over the emotional boundary”.
I think safe space for me is to have a place where I can voice my feelings and thoughts, and having them heard and acknowledged. My counsellor allows me to do that in a place where she quietly listens actively to what I have to say and allows myself to discover who I am. Safe space is so I can feel knowing that it will be safe. Safe space is needed so I can slowly test the waters of acknowledging and expressing my emotions, making them a part of who I am. It is so amazing to know that you are accepted and loved, and that your emotions are valued. It is a precious gift not to be taken for granted or lightly.
I pray that you will be able to find people who will work and develop a relationship with you, be able to give and receive mutual trust, and ultimately create a safe space for you to be free and open to who you are. But above all, I pray that this will give you the insight to let God be your safe space, because no matter what you do, He still loves you and desires a loving, trusting relationship with you.
At Bible study the other day, we talked about being the light in the dark places of the world. How we can bring people into God’s Kingdom? It sort of struck me as a blow to the head because I think about my shortcomings, my sins and my struggles, I don’t know why God would choose me to a witness for Christ. Yet, in His grace and His soverignty, He did.
I often think that my depression has pulled me to some really dark places, so far that I might not be able to make it out alive. I can’t possibly imagine how my despair and hopelessness could be the message of joy and hope of the gospel. Yet, as I reflect and discover who I am, I find myself in awe of how God works. It is true, my depression could bring down others and their emotions and attitudes, but more importantly, I found God had pulled me closer to Him than ever before. My message may not be all happy or joyful, but there is hope in pressing on to the end of the Christian race, and there is courage in choosing to cling onto God despite the storms and darkness.
Some people laugh at me when I talk about how my same-sex attraction and my faith go hand-in-hand. They look at me and wonder why I choose this choice depsite my feelings, or as they say, who God made me. Over the last few months, I have reflected, prayed and wondered, and the only conclusion I can reach is how much it has brought me closer to God. Many people don’t understand why if God made us this way, why shouldn’t we engage in homosexual behaviours? I have been thinking about that. I sort of realise that our emotions and our feelings are merely information that the brain and the body gives to us. We are tempted, which is a fact of life. Yet, it is not the temptation that is sinful, but whether or not we yield to the temptation.
That aside, in my struggles with same-sex attraction, I have learnt that I am dependent on God and I need His grace to sustain me. I learn about obedience, preservence, even vulnerability. I learn that I will fail and I will stumble, but in all that, God is still holding onto me.
At times, I don’t know where I would have been if God didn’t choose me as a child of His. Perhaps, I would have committed suicide a long time ago. Even at times now, I feel like I have no faith left to give to God, but the grace of God has always held me, and He had never let me fall otherwise. I am always reminded of that story where at the lowest points of our lives, there is only one pair of footprints in the sand because God was carrying us in those moments.