When people talk about waiting on God, some, like myself, sometimes have the wrong perception that we don’t need to do anything and just lying around waiting for God to solve our problems for us.
I remember when I first became a Christian, I had heard a story about a person whose home was flooded and he had climbed to the top of his roof, waiting to be rescued. He prayed to God and asked God to save him. An hour later, a rescue helicopter appeared and dropped a rope down for him to grab and climb up. The man declined, saying that he was waiting for God to rescue him. The same thing happened two more times before the flood waters rose and drowned the man. The man got to heaven and asked God why He didn’t save him. God answered, “I did. I sent three rescue helicopters to rescue you.”
Sometimes, I feel like I am waiting for God to do the work for me. I expect Him to one day heal me of my brokenness. As my friend said to me, there are some things in this world that won’t be fixed in this lifetime. I am still in the process of learning to wait on God, but not to idly wait for Him to appear. God sometimes give us the resources to face and battle our demons, but if we turn a blind eye to them, we miss the opportunities God had given us to do great things in our weaknesses.
I may not be able to pull myself out of depression alone, but I know that if I can just reach out, God will get someone to grab my hand and help me pull through.
Tonight, I had the revelation that I was not seeing myself worthy as God sees me. I claim to be identified first as a Christian but is blinded by my own guilt and shame to see me as who God sees me. God had given me the gifts that I have, even my passion for writing and my desire to see the young ones to be growing in Christ, so I can be a great witness for the gospel. I can make a difference, and I know that I can get through with God’s grace and God’s strength. He had never left me and in His mercy, I am convinced that God has a greater purpose for me than just to dwell on my brokenness and sin.
A part of my journey, I believe, is about turning around the tides of my temptations and desires and to use them to honour God and God’s people. Instead of dwelling on those thoughts, I can occupy my mind with the truth, and to learn to sacrifice my rights to please God, serve others and for the sake of the gospel.
Caught between the black and the white
Unknown which direction the wind blows
My heart sings for a freedom to fly
But what I sees is the cross of Christ
I stand between yesterday and tomorrow
The past is blurred and the future is unclear
My heart aches for the approval of others
But I can only see Your nail-pierced hands
In the darkness, I cry out for love
But I long for solitude in the noisy world
My heart thirsts for blood and glory
Yet I remember that first sight of Your grace
Torn between the right and the wrong
Torn between the my faith and my dreams
My heart yearns to be free from this pain
But God you are sovereign, I give you my life
Save me from my deepest temptations
Let Your mercy rain down on me
I need you Lord, nothing without You
Reach me and heal me, for all of my days
The world has a somewhat set stereotype or mould of what it means to be a Christian. Sometimes, even us Christians has a view of what we should be and live like. I am not talking about taking Jesus as our role model and being more like Him. I am talking about how we behave in church, how we should pray, how we should worship, what gifts or talents are acceptable to God, and so forth. We learn to put boundaries around how we perceive God to like us, setting these great but unrealistic examples of what we think godliness and holiness mean.
The truth is, we should thrive on godliness, righteousness and holiness. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
But holiness is unachievable without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are born sinners, thanks to the fall of humanity, so we cannot be holy on our own terms. But because Christ died for our sins on the cross, God looks at us not for our brokenness or imperfections but through Jesus who made us holiness through his blood.
But that’s not really what I want to talk about. I really want to talk about the trap that we Christians have of our self-image. Modern churches have emphasised the spiritual experience in worship, particularly music worship. People have thought of prayer as speaking formally to God with a “Dear God” beginning and an “Amen” end. Ministry is seen as a job and only in formal settings such as prayer groups or bible studies.
With the above three examples, I have been struggling to find a way to break the chains of tradition, not because I think they are necessarily wrong but just not the only way to do things. Sometimes, we need to look at the other side of the issues presented. I know what you are thinking. Here she goes again with the controversy. But it is fun!
Worship is not about us. It really is not for our enjoyment, although emotions can be a result of our worship to God. Worship is about praising and pleasing God because He is worth it. It is not the fancy fog machines or ripping guitar solos that tickles His fancy. I am sure it is the words that we sing and the heart behind the worship that is more important. We worship together to learn about God and to worship Him. Everything else is a result that comes out of our geniune passion to praise Him.
Prayer is a two-way communication between God and us. It is not just us rambling on to God about our problems, although we definitely should be open and honest about our struggles. Prayer includes formal prayers that we say aloud in a group or by ourselves, but prayer is also about what say to God in our minds, the ones where we have casual conversations with Him like we would a normal person, not like a letter. Don’t underestimate the power of spontaneous prayer, especially the desperate cries to God, because it is in those times that God sees our true intentions in prayer.
Many people, including Christians, think of ministry as a job, ones that are done by pastors, evangelists or missionaries. However, ministry should be a part of every Christian’s mind. Ministry is not just about teaching Sunday School or leading a Bible study group. It is about sacrificing the time and energy to care about other people’s lives. Christians are always talking about “doing life together”, but in order to do life together, we need to invest in people’s lives. I know we all live busy lives, but if we truly want to build up the kingdom of God, to make disciples of people, we need to be able to encourage and support each other, and the only way to do that well is by spending time together and to talk about the victories we have won in Christ and the struggles that we need help with.
What I want to conclude with is to leave the Christian stereotypes behind. We should be a counter-cultural revolution, turning the tides of the world for God. Break what others expect you to be in following God. We can be much more than what the world thinks of us because we are God’s chosen people and God is with us. I am not a typical Christian. I don’t think I will ever be a “typical Christian”. There are so much sin and struggles in life that sometimes I doubt I would make a good testimony for God. Yet, God had held onto me all these years. I have cried and complained, have sunk to the floor in despair and in desperation, and in the end, I realise that this is me as a Christian. I will continue to battle my demons and will continue to fail and sin. But when the day comes when Christ returns, I will be a perfect Christian then.
Felt the need to vent for a bit. I have been thinking recently about the fact that people have been giving me A LOT of advice lately and they have been pointing all to the same direction. This is not to say that they are not good advice, because they are. But sometimes the sheer number of them makes me feel like I can’t deal with anything like an adult.
Perhaps, I am like a child, really wanting things to go my way. Or perhaps I am regretting how this whole thing started. The thing is, I feel like ever since I opened the can of worms, things had become harder because I can’t sweep them under the carpet or ignore them anymore. I feel like before then, I could at least be “alone” about it all and not have to deal with the accountability to other people, which is not very responsible or godly.
A part of me believes that because I have opened this part of myself and become vulnerable, I leave myself open to letting people in and become emotionally dependent on those people. Then I leave myself open to temptation and the territory where I can fantastise and go into sin. Then I leave myself open to despair and pain because I know that these are the wrong things to think about.
So I do the only thing I know how to do, to run away from the situation and to hide in a dark corner until my feelings go away, if they ever do. Every time when I think I’ve hit rock bottom, I end up falling deeper in the chasm of self-hate and helplessness.
Sometimes, I feel like the battle with my depression, more importantly my other struggle, is losing at times. I have a good week then I plunge into a bad cycle for a few weeks. So am I making progress? I don’t exactly know. I guess though that for every morning when I wake up, I have won a battle against death the night before, and when I get up to fight the same demons, some people call it bravery and courage. I call it life.
Sometimes, silence is deafening.
Over the last ten or so days, I have wanted to stop writing; thought I could take my mind off of things I shouldn’t dwell on. I felt like trying to get rid of an addiction, my mind and heart aches of the pen and how the words wanted to flow out of me. My blood screams of the writing that I tried to surpress.
I have realised that writing is a part of me. As writer Isaac Asimov said, “I write for the same reason as I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.” No matter how much I try to surpress my urge to write, I keep coming back to it. There is no obvious reason for me to write, I do it because it is a part of me. To deny it is like denying a part of me. Not that it is all who I am but it is something that God has given me a passion for, and that has become a part of who God made me out to be.
To not write, I have given in to silence. And it screams louder than any voice can muster. Silence gives way for darkness to consume the soul. It magnifies our own personal desires and allows us walk in temptation alone, making us more open to sin. Silence is deafening because if we are not careful, we miss the signs that silence gives off and miss the opportunities to love those who needs it the most when they are silent.
I pray that my passion for writing continues, that God gives me the words to write and the inspiration to speak out against silence. Words spoken may be forgotten easily, but words written on paper makes a lasting impression on the paper.
After much thought, this will be my last blog post for a while. I am taking a break from writing. It is not because I am giving up on writing. Far from it. I realised that I needed to refocus my energy and my thoughts to what really wanted to do at the moment, to realign my goals with God’s will in my life, not my own dreams and desires.
Over the last two months, I have been really selfish in that I have been focusing on all of my energy on my struggles and have shifted my focus not on God’s grace and strength, but on my sin and weakness. Instead of seeing the opportunities I had to build up others, I have been blinded by my own personal counterfeit gods.
I could continue to dwell in my own self-hate, that is the easier way out because it comes naturally to me. But as Phillip Yancey once wrote in his book, the act of grace is somehow unnatural to us because we have been programmed for sin, guilt and shame. Yet, God had presented me with some amazing opportunities to take my eyes off of my own personal demons and to help make glimpses of heaven possible on earth.
Perhaps, this is what it means to seek God’s righteousness and kingdom first. It doesn’t mean that we should ignore our own struggles, but learning to use them to grow to become more Christ-like and to help build up others in Christ. Through that, we may be able to find the truth in the beautitudes, and ultimately comfort that God can help ease the pain of our struggles.
I have decided to take this time to focus on the things of God, to learn truly what it means to sacrifice our rights for the sake of the gospel. I see kid’s church, and I see the opportunities to invest in these kids and to help them build a life with solid foundations and trust in God. I see beach mission as an opportunities to face my insecurities and to learn to place the gospel at the centre of all of o ur conversations. I see the workplace as a field of mission that is waiting for to hear the gospel. I see my volunteer time as an opportunity to continue to learn from the persecuted church.
I know I will still have the ever present struggles of my sin and brokenness. But because I see that as a lifelong journey that I need to learn how to walk, I can still be contempt in the truth that there is a purpose and destiny for me in God’s kingdom. I may not be qualified, but in my weakness, God’s power is magnified.
For the last two nights, I have been playing this idea over and over in my head. The truth is, when I first started, I was wrapped up in the idea of suicide notes and had actually thought about writing one. I know, when I say that, most people look at me as if I was some psychopath who is depressed and delusional, and is in need of serious help. As someone put it, I am in a really dark place and it has become something which writing cannot fix or solve. Most people would grab my hands and tie them behind my back so I wouldn’t do anything “stupid”. Maybe I am crazed and cannot see clearly. Or perhaps, hear my story and you may judge me afterwards.
When I decided to write a suicide note, it wasn’t really my determination to end my life, although that thought had passed through me more than once. It would have to take a lot of self-hate, lonely nights and the depth of the dark valleys to actually convince me to take my own life. So why did I decide to try to write a suicide note? I am not 100% sure myself but I know that there are several things that was going through my mind.
1. As a writer, but also a sufferer of depression, I have the slightest insight into why people write suicide notes. I am fascinated with the idea that we can attempt to put in words things that we have always wanted to say to other people, but perhaps never had the courage to say so in person.
2. I want to know what was going on in my mind, if I had known when I was going to die, I would want to process exactly what were my thoughts.
3. I wanted to experiment with human emotions. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I had actually decided to commit suicide. The leaving of a note would ignite so much emotion in people, so much raw emotions and I wanted to understand our relationship with each other.
4. Maybe a small part of me is “practising” for the real thing, so it ever happen. I am still not sure if I can say this for real but I think a small part of me wanted me to go through with this.
In the end, I gave up that idea and decided to write about what I’ve found. As much as a dive or fall I fell off the cliff of sanity, I couldn’t even began to pick up the pen, or touch the screen, to start writing. I didn’t know where to start. I had so much to say and reflecting on the past, I realised that writing a suicide note was a way of crying out for help. Some people may disagree. But I feel like if you had the time to plan out a suicide note, you really have to reflect and process everything, and perhaps that can trigger a last desperate cry for help for people to listen and take notice.
I had looked at some suicide notes from the internet. I don’t know how many of them are true but that’s not really the point. Many of them had the author writing to their family and friends that they love them. Some say that they don’t want to be a burden to the world. Some pour out their problems, most are lonely and feel like no one could help them. As I read these suicide notes, or letters, I cannot help but wonder what must have gone through the authors’ minds as they write them. There were two categories of words that came up frequently:
1. Sorry, forgive me, I love you, I appreciate you…
2. Pain, suffering, dark, hurt…
It pains for me to think that our world has come to a point where people feel like death is the only answer to pain and suffering. My heart aches. It realises that while I battle with depression and my temptations and desires daily, I am not alone. It realises that the pain and the hurt I feel now, you know that invisible stabbing pain in the heart, it will get better and one day, it will disappear. To find so many people who didn’t get a chance to see that hope because those around them didn’t notice the signs that they are suffering, it is tragic and it is devastating.
Often, however, it is too late. Suicide notes are often written just before the act. It actually leaves those still here with a sense of guilt. Because they had left a message for their loved ones, I feel as if they wanted their loved ones to find out why they took their own lives. I can’t help but feel sorry for the people who would have to read the notes, what must be going in their heads. How terrible they must feel about not being able to know that others were crying out to them and they did not notice.
In the end, I couldn’t do it. Learning the experience of writing a suicide note had made me realise how much belonging and affection I really wanted, how processing the thoughts of suicide down on paper made me realise that there is still hope and that there is another choice out there. I realised that if in the future, if there was so much that I couldn’t bear no more, I will not write a suicide note. I don’t want others to have the guilt of not being able to help. I don’t want them to have regret in their minds for me. I sincerely hope, however, that that day will never come.