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Dare We Not Desire?

rembrandt.return-of-the-prodigal-sonThe older brother is the picture of the man who has lived his entire life from duty and obligation. When the wayward son returns from his shipwreck of desire, his brother is furious because he gets a party and not a trip behind the barn with the broadside of a paddle. He tells his father that he has been had; that all these years he hasn’t gotten a thing in return for his life of service. The father’s reply cuts to the chase: “All that is mine has always been yours.” In other words, “You never asked.”

Rembrandt captures all this powerfully in his now-famous painting The Return of the Prodigal Son. In this painting, the elder brother stands a step above the reunion of father and son. He will not step down, enter in. He is above it all. But who receives redemption? The scandalous message of the story is this: whose who kill desire – the legalists, the dutiful – are not the ones who experience the father’s embrace. The question is not, Dare we desire, but dare we not desire?

(an excerpt from, The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge)

8 mins · Edited · Like

Adam

I had been in a series of romantic relationships, and it’s a lie to say that I did not get hurt, dumped, and rejected. I am also fooling myself if I say that my trust with men is flawless, blameless, and unbreakable. Actually, it’s the total opposite. After my break-ups, I used to see men (in generalization) as manipulators, liars, and users. [I’m sorry for those men reading this article. I might be hurting you for generalizing, but feel free to continue reading.]

And so, I really made this huge defense, metaphorically speaking, in front of me to protect myself from getting hurt the same way again. Defenses such as, avoiding to wear clothes that would make me look stunningly beautiful; fleeing from any conversation and proximity with a guy; pretending that I could do everything for myself without any help from someone, especially a guy; and even appearing to be ‘smart’ enough so that men would be intimidated to approach me.

At a certain point of time, I knew I was winning. Men could not get to me any closer. Simple ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ were enough to end any conversation. However, when reality strikes, it really strikes hard. The countless nights of tears and fears are too overwhelming. Truth is, companionship is one of the deepest desires of humanity, and I know I am not excused with it.

Michaelangelo.the-creation-of-adamI have tried to prove that fate could be changed in me. However, I have learned that the more I act, oppositely, the more I lose myself, adversely. With all those defenses, I realize that they taught me how to lose myself, little by little. I was starting to lose my confidence, my hope, my connection, and my life to love; not until I understood that, establishing defenses to avoid getting hurt is as good as raising a white flag. It might somehow give you a sense of protection and connection, but its effect is frightening for fate is surrendered into the hands of a stranger who could be the worst traitor one could ever had.

From then on, I never looked upon men the same way again. As Les Miserables stated a simple yet powerful words, “to love another person, is to see the face of God”, my eyes have seen that men are as valuable, as loveable, as wonderful, as incredible, as indescribable, and as good as their Maker in their own and unique ways.

-Samantha

Vulnerable Love

Permission to Hurt

Love takes risk; it’s impossible to love without taking into account the possibility that one way or another, one party will fail the other – deliberately or accidentally.

I’m not saying that when we love, we should always hurt each other; definitely not. But what I am saying is, our natural tendency to fail ourselves and even the people that we love most. It’s a fact not an opinion. I have never met a couple nor a family who ‘perfectly’ loves each other and who has pain in its absence. Every growing relationship learns that pain is part of gaining more and loving deeper. Someone who misses that point misses half of his life from learning the essence of pain in relationships. Consider the following facts:

One, pain warns us that something isn’t right. When we neglect this, we are prone to danger and much worse than that, we are already in danger. I had this experience when I accidentally cut a small tip of my pointing finger using a paper cutter. The pain was totally inexplicable. I realized, if there’s no pain, I would totally ignore my wound and would just let blood flow from my finger which could harm me even more. Same thing in every relationship. If we ignore a small portion of our hurt because  of our being ‘too much understanding’, time will come that small wound can be infected in ways which we do not imagine; and the last thing we know, we are nearing the end of a breaking relationship.

immortal love

Two, pain leads to healing. Pain brings not just negative effects in our lives but it can also bring positive things. When I cut my finger, I asked the nurse why was it still aching when medicine was already applied? She told me, “It’s because your cells are doing their job to conceal and repair the broken tissue.” I know it might sound a little bit weird, but I think that’s the best explanation I heard in that state. When we are in pain, all we have to do is to feel its sting. We cry. Others talk about it; and many drown themselves in their own ways of coping. It is in our deepest and darkest state that we learn to let go and move on. Thus, personal healing follows, and we emerge as wiser and better individuals. However, if we choose the opposite, we choose to kill ourselves. We lose hope.

There could be a lot more facts that we can learn from pain. What I have written are just examples to prove that in every relationship, it’s impossible not to get hurt. So, we must always be reminded that each time we allow people to come in our lives or even when we love, we are giving them permission to hurt us and make us better individuals. You might ask, “Why am I so certain about this?” It’s because, more than two thousand years ago, my Ultimate Lover took all the shame and pain to reconcile with me even though I do not deserve it. Thus, such act of love has made me a better person of today than yesterday.

“…looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

True Love

“One of the great experiences of life is that first experience of being in love and being loved. Of course our parents love us. They have to, or so it seems, and siblings, too. But the first time someone loves us for no other reason that that person has in some way perceived our true beauty, our true lovableness, we float. We are ecstatic. For we have seen in the eyes of the lover something of our own true beauty. The only way we really see ourselves is when we see ourselves reflected back to us from the eyes of one who truly loves us.” (Irene Alexander, Learning Grace by Living Nakedly)

love

When the time comes that you feel that your lover is the person who has perceived, accepted and embraced your true beauty despite your tons of ugliness, never let go of that opportunity… ’cause you would never know when that same feeling will pass your way again. And if that feeling of ‘being in love’ fades away, don’t get tired of wishing and waiting for it to happen again; just like its Creator, it has its own season of growth, death, and revival. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

 

Catch Your Wave

I just had one of the best moments of my life, and that’s surfing! For an ordinary person like me who doesn’t know how to swim, surfing could be a no, no; of course, anything could happen during the session. However, as I watched the beautiful scenery of waves being tossed in the air and the bright rays of the sun inviting me to join the party, I had decided to give surfing the chance to teach me some things that I have to learn.

As we, my instructor and I, approached the sea, I thought, “Will I be able to stand up on this surfing board? If I would, how many tries it will take me?” And so, a simple plan was created and that was to count all the attempts that I would have.

surfing board

I always had tremendous wipe outs, and I just laughed so hard for myself. When I reached 10 attempts, I felt shame not because I couldn’t stand up on the surfing board but for my trainer who kept on encouraging and teaching me to never give up and just keep on trying. When my counting reached 14, I told him, “I’m on my 14th and still, I can’t stand up on this board!” He told me, “Stop counting your mistakes. Let’s get back to zero. Okay… hold… ready… and go!” AND I DID IT! I felt for the first time the waves underneath my board; I saw the seashore coming closer; and I heard my instructor gladly shouting that I really did it. It took me 14 attempts and on my 15th, surfing has taught me a lot:

1. Stop counting your mistakes; Start hoping for a good ride. Focusing on my mistakes will do me no good. It will just give me ideas on how to fail all over again. But when I started to breathe and hope that I would be able to make it, somehow I know that there’s a sudden shift of perspectives.

2. Always protect yourself when you fail from another danger. My coach taught me that if I get out of balance and fall, first thing to do is to protect myself from my own board for I am more important than it. Indeed, I am more important than my failures. So in every mistake, I must make sure that I am giving importance on myself by protecting it and not be consumed by my failure.

3. Learn to catch your good wave. Not all waves are good. I got wiped-out once by a not-so-good one… and it’s annoying and frustrating. The not-so-good wave first appeared to be exciting because of its hugeness. However, in the middle of my ride, it just led me nowhere and another wave overpowered me. I was reminded that there are people and opportunities which appear to be just like that kind of wave. Before engaging with them fully, I must make sure to give my full blast little by little or else, they will just trample me.

4. Ride with the waves and it will lead you to the shore, safely. My instructor told me, “I notice that your movement is not that straightforward. Usually a beginner would just have straight direction but you have some twists and tricks following the waves.” I answered, “Yeah. It’s because I play with the waves and it is fun.” Sometimes when problems are at hand, people panic and they have the tendency to go before them. But I have learned that all we have to do is to know how to balance and ride with those challenges. If we are able to ride with them properly, we will notice that they are the same aids that will help us get back to the shore, peacefully.

5. Be courageous enough to take the risk. Before my instructor and I departed, he told me that not all people can survive surfing. If one’s heart is weak and will just focus on his failures, he can’t stand surfing and will not enjoy the joy that it brings. He’s right. If I was still too weak to accept my defeat, I couldn’t engage with God’s nature. If I decided not to join the session because I was so afraid of anything that might happen to me, perhaps, I missed half of my life by letting go of a wonderful opportunity which was not given to everyone. Same with life… there are moments that we need to take risk before we get to see the results. All we need to do is to have is a discerning and courageous heart to accept whether defeat or victory.

After my first stand on my board, I still experienced to fail a lot of times. But what matters most to me right now is the time to be engaged with my waves all over again…

Sonnet 147

My love is as a fever, longing still IMG_0284 (1)
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly express’d;
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

-William Shakespeare

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