“Relax”

The masseuse has been telling me to relax. Relax my ankles, relax my shoulders, relax this and that. My immediate response would be “I relax already!”, only to be rebutted with a proof that I hadn’t.

I really have no idea why I’m so tensed up. It’s not like I feel it or not like I make a conscious effort to tense it. In fact, even when I made an effort to relax (oh the irony), I was still too tense for the masseuse to do what she needed to. She ended up having to put her entire weight onto my ankle to fix it into place.

I wonder why though. It’s as if my fight or flight mode is always turned on. Really wonder what made me the way that I am – too serious, too tense.

They suggested knocking me out for the next session so that I will be sufficiently relaxed. I approve of it.

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“Relax”

Haste Makes Waste

I remember there was this year during a church conference, God gave me a vision as I was worshipping Him. It was a vision of me busy figuring how out to capture the scenery before me. I was so busy with my camera that I neglected to enjoy what was before me. I was then told to take a pause and enjoy it for what it is; don’t miss the moment.

I guess this vision kinda became quite literal and apparent to me during one of my trips last year. I was in Taiwan with a friend and we had a pair of mushrooms that glow in the dark. The minsu owner very kindly lent me his tripod because he saw that I had a DSLR in my hands and figured that I’m into photography. My friend and I brought the mushrooms back to our room. While she watched videos on her phone, there I was trying to figure out the settings on the camera to get the best shot. Switched on the lights, switched off the lights, got the torch, hit that button, rearrange my set-up, google for photography tips – put these on repeat. When I was finally satisfied, I asked her what time it was and was surprised to find out that 2 hours had gone past. Sorry heh.

That, though, made me realise there is some truth to that vision.

Fast forward to the recent episode of the ankle injury. Other than forcing me to take a break, it certainly taught me to slow down. 

Initially, I treated it as a joke when I thought to myself that I learnt that not all things can be rushed, such as buses and trains. So many times I’ve watched them pass me by right before my eyes. Yet there’s nothing I could do unless I don’t mind falling flat on my face. And even if I wanted to run for them, I could only afford to limp further with each step.

And these few days, when I put my phone down to spend time with God, I would be close to close off in prayer and pick up my phone again in less than 15 minutes. Quite a few times I thought I heard God saying to me, can’t you just wait? Okay, I can… (less than a minute later) So what am I supposed to think about or do right now? You know my mind will drift right?

And then back to my activities. If I couldn’t slow down last time, I think it has gotten worse.

I got off crutches lately, over the time I spent with my grandparents in Ipoh. Slightly before that, I started practising walking without aid and without limping. The extended (because I need not travel on my own and hence not need a crutch) practice in Ipoh helped me to be more confident and comfortable in walking. 

After the Ipoh trip, I began to pick up pace. December – I have just a month and a half left to have my ankle ready for long hikes and swims in the sea in Thailand. I got to recover as quickly as I can. It hurts less in the day and as much as I can, I try to walk without limping and quickly. My ankle often ended up hurting at night after walking too much by the end of the day.

Just this afternoon, I stood up and felt a sharp pain on my knee when I placed my weight on that injured foot. I thought it would go away after some time – you know like how sometimes our body has random but temporary pains? But it didn’t after an hour, and it got me worried. I googled and found out that apparently, a bad ankle injury can lead to injuries on the knee as it tries to compensate for what the ankle cannot do. This is not funny anymore man. And this has to happen just 4 days after my appointment with the specialist that I’ve waited 2 months for.

But yes, once again, it’s another reminder to slow down. Feel the pain, take time to nurse that injury.

Also coincided with the (recent) constant reminder to take time to feel the heartache, to acknowledge it, and take time to nurse it.

It seems like learning to slow down has been a long journey for me. Time and again, I’m reminded to slow down and take time. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. I just keep feeling the need to be doing something, to be occupied. Slow down, yes I will try. Tried walking real slow from church to the train station just now.

O God, I pray that the pains in the ankle and in the knee will not stay with me. I love and I cherish my active lifestyle and I want to get back to it. Heal me, I pray! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Haste Makes Waste

Wood

Sometimes I can’t help but to feel that I’m a block of wood. I don’t even know if feel would be the right word. I find it difficult to feel what people are feeling. I can’t always “feel the groove” or “just draw what you feel like”. Not easily excitable. Thought I would figure out how to smile when I grow older but it still feels awkward these days. Each time I take a photo, I’m just wondering if I’m doing the smile right.

What am I? I feel uneasy and out of place on planet earth.

Wood

Living for God

Ever since Jerald spoke to me about finding the vision of my life, this idea has been lingering in my mind. I want to, but how? I imagine it to be something that I would definitely need to take time to be alone to do, but just by sitting there alone may or may not enlighten me in that sense. So what does it take to help me find a statement that would echo throughout my being?

What is the purpose of your life? To live for God! That’s what I’ve always said, and that’s also what I’ve taken for granted. When Jerald spoke to me about that, I began to ask questions about what living for God would mean. I don’t mean looking for the answer for all mankind, but the answer that would come from WX.

I began to see us as puzzle pieces. Each of us are designed with a unique calling. When we live our lives the way God had intended it to be, when we fit into the place where we are called to be, we help form a fuller picture. A fuller picture of… Heaven perhaps? Of what this world was intended to be like if all of us play our parts in the Kingdom of God. That is why, I believe, we have different interests, different passions, different talents, different gifts.

What would move me? What would propel me to go beyond my comfort zone? Michelle has said a few times that I am someone who runs towards my passion, who has a drive when it comes to something that I believe in. What would that be?

Living for God

Blackout

Was in the Northeast Centre today, somewhat because of its wheelchair friendliness. The moment I sat down in the service hall, Christopher came over and we had a little catch up. He asked, “How have you been?” To which I replied, “Quite good, because I had a 7 days MC and could work from home, so I had more time to rest.”

And during worship, two things came to mind.

The first was yesterday’s thought process at the traditional Chinese medicine clinic. The past few times I had a sprain and visited a TCM clinic, I would bear with the pain and smile and say, I’m okay. Yesterday, I totally shot up when they applied pressure on different parts of my leg, and I was shouting in agony, “ttt…ttt.ttttt…疼!疼!疼!” The doctor (CY’s mom actually) even asked me, “真的有那么疼吗?” 有!

Ya I said that. But when they were applying pressure on my legs, or when they did acupuncture on it, I tried my best to bear with the pain. It was very tempting to ask if we could take a break because I was in such pain that I had to grab my jeans and my hair to stop myself from moving about. But I told myself not to call for a break, and let them do what they needed to. It’s painful but it’s just for a short while and my leg will get better. I got through the 1 hour with that. At the end of the 1 hour, I was asked to try standing and walking. I couldn’t walk probably because I haven’t walked for 10 days, but I could stand without feeling as much pain as before! My leg got significantly better!

When I got home, it occurred to me that that’s pretty much like the pruning process that God puts us through, isn’t it? The past year has been a struggle to be honest. It got to the point that I got so tired and wanted to pull out of ministries and even community – like yeah, up till the week before I injured my ankle. I told some of my friends that sometimes I had wished God would take me home because I don’t know how long more I would last the race.

I wish I could press the pause button as and when I wanted, but I couldn’t. If I said I would surrender and trust, then pray, pray that I would learn to be still in God in the midst of the pruning.

The victory is sweet though. I don’t know if I’m entirely out of it, like finally, but I know God has been reassuring me of His presence, of Him still being in control. I’ve been immensely touched during worship and sermon for reasons I don’t understand. I feel drawn and captivated by Him once again. I have found freedom from my sins as well; this freedom is sweet.

The second thing that came to my mind during worship was that perhaps, this injury didn’t happen at a bad time, at all. I kept thinking it’s a bad timing to be injured. It’s a period when I’m rushing an annual report for my client and it’s a period where I have to be on ground pretty much. It forced everything to slow down as I spent the bulk of my time sofa-ridden almost everyday from 6 Sep till 13 Sep. But it suddenly occurred to me that God was trying to stop me in my tracks. At the rate I was going, I was close to breaking down. He had to force me to stop.

During those few days of not being able to move much, I had time to sit on the bed and have my quiet time. I could take time to simply, take time. I had home-cooked food almost everyday. I slept early, I woke up when my body felt recharged. Hence the reply to Christopher, I’ve been feeling quite good.

Immensely grateful for a God who loves me so so much. May I never lose the wonder of the cross.

Blackout

Thoughts at AES

Within 15 minutes, I have read 2 quotes on how struggles and adversities make us a better person. These were not found in Christian places nor seen on a Christian’s Instagram account. Yet.

It struck me how my pre-believing friends have been challenging the notion of Christians thanking God, even through adversity. To them, it seems like a facade, or perhaps some sort of a naive optimism.

Yet, isn’t that what you believe in too? That adversities make us a better man. That what does not kill you makes you stronger – though a Christian might even say that to die is gain. If you can believe that trials can be for our good, why can’t Christians believe the same and give credits to our God for walking us through tough times? #youneverwalkalone

Perhaps this is a sign of an adopted belief. Ya I just coined this term on the spot because I can’t think of a proper term for it. We hear others’ opinions, thought it’s cool, thought it fits in with what we wanna argue for anyway, so we simply adopt the statement and claim that it’s our belief. 

This gives rise to self-contradictions within us, without us realising. We don’t realise that it does not fit in with a part of what we believe in.

Thoughts at AES

Covenant

In a culture where promises are easily broken or even forgotten, what would a covenant look like?

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On a side note, I’ve been hearing the word “covenanted” attached to different relationship-related words ever since I came here. Covenanted friendship, covenanted life group.

I’ve been here for almost 7 years but I still don’t understand how those terms came about. Prior to coming here, I understood a covenant as one that is made between a man and God. So what does it mean in those contexts of friendships and life group?

I always understood a covenant as something more than a promise. A covenant is like if you break it, you die, and if you don’t die, it is only because of the mercy of God. Because you are in a covenant with the Almighty God who keeps covenant. Though, ideally, promises should not be broken as well. Well it’s true that as humans we fail, but this does not give us the licence to take our covenants lightly either.

If a covenant is meant to be kept, how should I interpret relationships that almost vanish once we are done with a particular life group, or broken friendships in church? Do I take this as the fallibility of humans – though a teacher I’m acquainted with would argue that if it was possible for Jesus Christ to resist temptation, we could too – or do I take this as there’s so such terms?

I have no idea how long I spent laying wide awake on the bed last night considering this thing about covenant. I thought about putting on a ring again, this time round no longer just a symbol of sexual purity. I took it off a year and a half ago because it occurred to me that waiting for that ring to be exchanged on the wedding day has two flaws in it – 1, it is almost like telling God, “I keep my purity and one day You bring to me a good husband okay?”, which God had never signed such a deal with all of us and 2, the strive for purity should not just be restricted to a sexual one, but also in our thoughts, our motives, etc. 

This time round, perhaps, a reminder of who I am even as changes take place in my life (e.g. moving between jobs, meeting new people with different value systems, etc.). I hope to not be obssessed with the pursuit of wealth and influence, to the point where I hurt people or that I live to simply achieve more for my own well-being. The temptation, to be honest, is not absent from my life. I was shocked when I realised I kept counting how I could make more dollars and cents though that did not make sense to me. The capability to manipulate is something which I know well enough as well; it has been God that I keep myself accountable to concerning this part of me. The ring, if I do get it, shall be a symbol to remind me to keep my heart, my thoughts, my motives, pure and genuine. A reminder rather than a covenant because, I have no faith in myself haha.

I also thought about how if one day I have a chance to public speak again, promises would be something I would love to address. Emotionally charged after an inspiring sermon, we lift our hands at the invitation of the preacher to make a covenant with God. How many of us actually give a thought to the covenant in the next few days? “I will always be there for you” – a cliché I resist from saying because I simply can’t be always there for anyone – yes even a spouse – and neither can you. Only God can. Resist because sometimes, you really feel like writing that in a birthday card or send it in a text to comfort a friend, that sorta thing. (So I write about God’s faithfulness in that person’s life instead haha) So unromantic, I know, I know. But I would rather work towards trustworthiness, that when I say yes to you, you know that I mean yes and I try my best to keep to it.

It is not the fallibility of man that I’m against. It is the lack of weight that our promises/covenants carry. That, the intention of keeping it – whereby it is no doubt especially effortful at times – is often absent.

At the end of this, I’m still curious and would wish to know, how did the terms ‘covenanted friendship’ and ‘covenanted life group’ come about? Truth be told, I’m somewhat disillusioned at this point in my life. If not for God, I will be out of a church.

Covenant