Why am I still here? (Or the Five Truths of 2015)

 

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Here’s to 2016. Better than before.

A blank page is a daunting, unforgiving thing—a clean slate open to all the possible ways one can fill the gaping void. It is both a terrifying and exciting prospect to get the chance to start afresh. While Don Draper “only likes the beginning of things”, let me boldly say that with God willing it, my faith journey and endless attempts at reviving this blog will not go down the same cynical route. So as Jon Hamm finally ended Mad Men with his Emmy (and the Golden Globe), so shall I finish what I’ve set out to do.

 

 

Rather than postponing this further for lack of a more creative presentation, let me list down the truths that hit in the year just passed, as culled from my 2015 journals. One person’s platitudes may be another’s revelation, so take what you will from here.

Seasons are not just marked by the passing of time, events or even people who come and go, but by a change of heart.

No five years of my life have been as kaleidoscopic, transformative, yes even chaotic, as the ones lived here in Singapore—and what a blessed thrill. God has given me the courage, strengthened my heart and renewed my spirit by living through these changes. I remain grateful for past and present relationships, and brim with hope for the bonds to be formed. And I can only enter and embrace new seasons, by acknowledging the passing of the old, the lessons it brought, and the purpose it served.

Have the humility to accept and face what needs pruning and disciplining in one’s life.

It was time to stop circling around the same issues that have caused repeated downward spirals in my life. No longer would I delude myself by masking my sin as mistakes, bad habits, life’s little inconveniences, or even human nature. No longer would I cram my chaos into a box with a lid that could barely stay shut. Instead, God carefully handled all of the pieces so I could come to terms with my brokenness for what it was. What a liberation for this heart to finally break free.

Authenticity and vulnerability are gifts to be nurtured—they open us up to others and allow people to enter our lives as we come into theirs.

There is a difference between guarding oneself and the heart, and keeping a guarded front and a hardened heart. I will not allow past hurts to stop me from giving of myself genuinely and generously. A friend and counselor once told me (and she also paraphrases from Brene Brown), “We all have a story to tell, but not everyone deserves to or gets the privilege to hear it.” I do not want to be a sad sack of an emotional cliché, so may God help me channel these emotions into worthy pursuits and passions.

Learn to love, forgive and live with oneself. Say sorry, accept apologies and mean it.

I broke the trust of those close to me, acted insensitively, isolated myself to avoid pain, but through it all, God was merciful, abounding with love and blessings, and restored me to even greater heights.

“What if I forgave myself, I thought, what if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was also what had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”                     

 – from ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed

 

I don’t have to ask the last two questions that Ms. Strayed posits. For God took me through and saw me through that wilderness into the clarity of His great light.

Never lose sight of what is good and beautiful in the world. And anchor that goodness on God’s standard for holiness.

I have yet to finish Pastor John Bevere’s book “Good or God”, but from his unforgettable weekend preaching at Church—there truly is nothing good for me, apart from You, Lord. So let’s revise that. Never lose sight of what God deems good and perfect for your life.

And if I may subvert my own title, just because I can’t resist a bonus track—the verse for the year.

“For God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control.”

(2 Timothy 1:7)

 

More than just an awareness of my continued existence, it overwhelms me why I continue to be here. I am not standing here by my own sheer willpower or discipline, not only because of the love of family or friends, old and new. I am here not because of man, but because of God. You, my Lord, my Savior, my friend, my one true Love, my Healer, my Truth, my Joy, my Help, my Strength. You, who remain faithful, even when I wavered, rejected, and chose to go my own way.

I could not have imagined that the moment I started this walk I would find myself where I am now, having gone through a cyclical process of breaking down, rebuilding, breaking down yet again and into renewal once more. This is no misguided detour from the life I had formerly known. God continues to lead me back on the path He’s set me on.

There is an unmatched intensity of faith and love in someone, when you know your life is entirely dependent on their existence. And there is no more comforting truth that my heart belongs to Him alone.

Why am I still here?

By grace, He alone brings me to where I stand today. Still here. Still trusting. Still hoping. Still keeping the faith. Still running the race to the end.

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