Forfeiting Your Crown

Been reflecting much upon the crown of righteousness that God promises believers on the day of the Lord . It is the reward for living a life that pleases God. Paul puts it well in Philippians [ 3:13 – 14 ] “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So, what does it mean to forfeit your crown? That prize that God has called us heavenward to?

Many times, I have lost sight of the prize, taken my eyes off the goal, and found myself way too lost. I have felt the prize slipping through my hands. Instead of fixing my gaze on things above, I got so engrossed in the fleeting things of this world. Refer to [Colossians 3:1]. So, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the million dollar question came to mind; Is all this worth it? I mean, are temporary pleasures of this life worth trading my eternal crown for? My heart sunk because the answer was way too obvious. That’s exactly what happens when we take our eyes off Jesus. We lose sight of what really matters, we lose our sense of direction, our vision becomes blurred. I’ve tasted both worlds. I know too well what it means to be led by the world, and I also know way too well what it means to be led by God. My conclusion is; Life’s journey with God is way lighter.

Life without God is more painful, filed with regret, no sense of direction, no sense of what is right or wrong and a lot more. Because, you look to yourself or others for everything. You believe you have control over your life and can be on the steering wheel of your life. The result is frustration and being overwhelmed. You are not your own and it was never your weight to carry. God can be trusted, He is not man that He should lie. He can be counted on. His promises never return void.

I’m reminded of the story of Peter, when Jesus walked on water. Jesus asked Peter to walk on water, toward Him. Peter got out of his boat where other disciples were, and started walking on water toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he became afraid and began to sink. Immediately, Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. Refer to [Mathew 14: 26 – 32] I saw myself and many other Christians in Peter. We have a sense of direction for as long as our gaze is fixed on Christ. Soon as we take our eyes off Him, we lose our ground and begin to sink. Many things contribute to our distraction; Fear, doubt, pride, lust, greed, anger, hatred, to mention but a few. These things can totally blur our vision from the prize. We often try to make excuses to justify these negative emotions. But God has given us dominion over all things. Plus, Jesus left us a helper – The Holy spirit, to help us with our weaknesses. [Romans 8:26]

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” [1 Corinthians 10:13]

We have also too often forfeited our crown by letting other people to set the standard for us. We let ourselves get swayed by their versions of the truth while we pay little or no attention to the real truth which is God’s word.

As Christians, we often underestimate the cunning and clever nature of the devil. I think we expect him to come at us so directly, looking all “beastly” and all lol. But he instead actually comes at us in all kinds of subtle ways. He can come at you through the things and people you love and trust most. He can come through anything and everything. This reminds me of how the devil came at Samson through his “wife” – Delilah! The rulers of the Philistines wanted so desperately to over power Samson. He was however too strong for them. His strength was enviable and unmatched! The rulers then devised a way of plotting Samson’s downfall, through Delilah! They promised her shekels of silver if she could lure Samson into revealing the source of his strength. When Delilah first asked Samson about the source of his strength, he gave her wrong answers. Delilah then used this to guilt-trip Samson.

“How can you say ‘I love you, when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your strength.” [Judges 16:15] “With such nagging, she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it. He told her everything.” [Judges 16:16] And that’s how Delilah turned Samson over to the Philistine rulers! I’m certain that’s something Samson would’ve least expected!

Samson had been blinded by his lust for women [Delilah], which clouded his judgement and made him susceptible to her wicked skims.

Many of us can relate to the story of Samson, in one way or another. We have let other people steal our power from us. We are guilty of taking our eyes off God for fleeting things. We have made idols of things for which we’ve had to pay a very hefty price.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after wind.” [Ecclesiastes 1:14]

Samson thought he was invincible, and underestimated the power of the enemy. The enemy took advantage of this to get him. “Therefore, let him who thinks stands strong, take heed lest he falls.” [1 Corinthians 10:12] As children of God looking forward to receiving the crown of glory, we cannot afford to take anything for granted. There is a constant battle for our souls. We have to guard our crowns jealously. We just never know where the enemy will attack from, we need to keep watch at all times. As we go about our every day lives, we interact with different peoples, from all walks of life, with many different beliefs. Some may not be so good influences on our spiritual walk. It doesn’t make them bad people, instead we need to interact with them with grace but also stay alert and guard ourselves so we don’t fall off the narrow path. Be conscious of what you entertain.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” [Proverbs 4:23]

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” [Philippians 4:8]

Nothing is worth forfeiting our crown of glory for. We cannot throw away our eternity just like that. I pray that God’s grace abounds even more in our moments of weakness. I pray that we all keep our eyes on what truly matters, take charge and become unapologetically intentional about our eternity. Even when we fall, may we not grow faint, but instead find the strength to pick ourselves up and continue pressing toward the goal. As we look forward to that day when our master will say to us, “Well done my good and faithful servants!” [Mathew 25:21]

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.” [Ephesians 6: 10 -14]

Cheers.

Scars

Many of us have major insecurities when it comes to wearing our scars so openly. I mean scars on the skin. But of course scars can be both physical and emotional. I’m focusing on the physical ones for now.

A mark left (usually on the skin) by the healing of injured tissue.

English Dictionary

To be honest, scars can be very unpleasant to look at. Most scar tissue is much darker than one’s skin complexion. It even gets worse for some of us with light skin. Having for long been a captive of this major insecurity, I thought I should share my new found perspective on scars. Maybe another struggling soul will embrace it too.

For the longest time, I’ve had a discomforting skin condition. I wouldn’t want to call it Psoriasis or Eczema, but it is something along those lines. Since about the age of nine, my skin has always been broken and scarred. A boil was always popping up somewhere or just an allergic reaction. Something was always going on with my skin.I just can’t clearly remember when I last had a clear skin. My light skin complexion, was filled with pronounced dark patches. It was uncomfortable. My self esteem suffered so much as a result.

Initially, it didn’t really seem like a big deal till when almost everyone who saw me would not have a conversation with me without asking, What’s wrong with your skin!? With a look of concern. Of course they meant well, but it also made me realize how much my skin disorders were visible to not only me, but to all. And they were actually causing alarm. I then became very conscious of them. I would always attempt to cover them up as much as I could. Thank God, in Highschool, we wore stockings most of the time, so my legs were covered. For my hands, the sweater always got me sorted. Out of school, I made scarfs my best friends. I had scars from different issues. Some from allergic reactions, some from boils, some from accidents and others I just didn’t understand.

Wearing a lot of clothing in the bid to hide broken skin and being self conscious all the time, started to wear me out. I felt my skin needed to catch a breath. For how long was I going to continue in hiding? What if the scars never left, would I hide for the rest of my life? In fact, my esteem at some point was so bruised to a point where I only stepped out of the house when it was really unavoidable. Just so I didn’t have to be met by stares of concern and pity wherever I went. This kind of life was really wearing me out. One day when I had had enough, I told myself, Just do you. Wear what you want and walk with your head held high. Wear your scars boldly. They are your story. Besides, you are worth so much more than confining your identity and worth to your scars.

Of course it is easier said than done. But I began slowly, taking one day at a time, one breath at a time. I covered my scars less and less each day. I would wear a T-shirt and step out, leaving the blemishes on my arms exposed. Of course when someone on the street would stare, I would still get an impulse to quickly cover the blemishes, but with each passing day, I learned how to embrace them more.

Interesting how I now even have “My Favorite Scars!” They are permanent reminders of the circumstances under which I got them. Let me tell you about a few of these favorite scars and their stories.

There is one on my back. It reminds me of when I was preparing for my final High school exams. We can all imagine what that pressure is like. But as if that wasn’t enough, a large painful boil sprouted out of no where on my back. I chose not to let it deter my concentration but it was too painful to ignore. I took some antibiotics, with time it healed. But the scar has since remained. It will forever remind me of my High School and how I excelled regardless.

The second Scar I love is on my “Chest.” For this one, I was at home one afternoon trying to mingle maize flour (Posho) for the first time. I used to see mum do it and when the Posho was ready, she would turn the saucepan upside down so effortlessly and very quickly. I admired how she did it. I wanted to do it too. Turning the saucepan over became a tag of war for me. I risked pouring its contents in the process. I leaned in toward the saucepan a little more than I ought to have. It was very hot, but I wasn’t about to give up, I had to turn it over just like mum. I mean, if she can, why can’t I? I thought to myself. I wasn’t an expert enough though, the contents of the saucepan were falling out. In the state of panic, by reflex I chose to save the food and got burnt. The scar has lasted more than ten years now! Each time I look at it, I smile to myself remembering that funny incident.

The third favorite scar is on the back of my palm. I got it in High school. The compound of my dormitory had a rough terrain. I slid and fell to the ground one evening, landing on my hand. The small stones cut through my hand, bruising it. They cut me quite deep. But now, years later, I have a beautiful scar which could easily pass for a birth mark.

Those are just a few examples of the many others. Scars are not just discolorations on the skin, they are stories. They are signs of victory, they are signs of healing. I’m here to simply encourage others out there who might be captives of skin disorders or any other insecurities. People who might be too self-conscious and hide away as much as they can. Your insecurities do not define you, you are much more than your physical appearance. Your worth should be determined by what is inside of you. Otherwise, wear your scars boldly and with grace. Do not be too hard on self. Those right there, are your survivor stories.

When We Tell Our Stories

Every one of us has a story. Each of us can tell their story in a way that no other person ever could. Many times, I have felt like keeping all my stories to myself. My argument was, If I kept my stories to myself, then I wouldn’t have to come off too vulnerable. And being vulnerable seemed like being weak, and being weak meant you are fragile and can easily be attacked or taken advantage of by whoever would want to use your vulnerability against you. I figured, to avoid all that, don’t tell the story at all, keep it all to yourself. But then, whom does that profit?

As I read more and more, I would find some answers to things I’d been grappling with, addressed by someone else who has gone through a similar situation. And because they shared their story, I was able to draw reference and learn from them. There are many powerful impacts of sharing and telling our stories:

Telling our stories can give Courage. Imagine you’ve been so afraid to do something and then you read a story of someone who has gone through a similar ordeal and were able to gather their every ounce of courage and did it. You’d also become empowered to do it, because then, you know someone who was able to do it. It is no longer an impossibility as you had initially thought. If they managed to do it, you too can!

Sharing brings Healing .When you tell your story (of pain), you lift a certain weight off of your chest. Or when you listen to or read a story of someone else who went through your similar pain. You would relate to their story and feel like you are not alone in the fight. You might also draw strength from how they overcame and fight your way to healing as well. Some people get their healing from telling their story(s). Because then, they do not have to bottle it all up and get bogged down by all the things they are not letting out. Sharing your pain with someone can actually be therapeutic. I believe this is the very essence of support groups.

Sharing can be a source of Inspiration. I can only imagine if there was no literature of people sharing their life’s journeys and stories, everyone keeping their experiences to themselves.No sharing, no encouragement, no nothing! I have drawn so much inspiration from the stories people have shared, people I’d never have interfaced with under any other circumstances. For example, one of the most recent inspirational books I’ve read is, Oprah Winfrey’s What I know For Sure. The world would’ve missed out on a lot of relevant wisdom had Oprah decided to keep the experiences and wisdom she’s accumulated over the years to herself. But because she told her story, many people across the world can be inspired.

When we share our stories, it is proof that we are human. It’s after I grew a little older and read a number of stories that I accepted the fact that celebrities are human like the rest of us. I would find it almost unbelievable for a celebrity or a “well to do person” to have moments of sadness, depression, hopelessness. I imagined such problems were for the “ordinary” people. I would find it extremely odd to know that some very successful influential figures went through a season of abuse at some point in their lives. I just didn’t think such people also had vulnerable moments. People do not walk around with tags on their foreheads showing all that they’ve gone through in life. So, it’s easy for others to think that they have it all together and all. Our stories show that we are only human.

Saves others from making the same mistake(s) you made. For example, if you had fallen prey to fraudsters, when you come out and share your ordeal with details of how you fell victim, many others will pick some lessons and be more vigilant so as not to fall prey like you did.

Share knowledge. Life is a journey full of unending lessons. With our different experiences, we can share knowledge and help each other. We can never be too knowledgeable in any area of life. Some how there is always something we can learn from another person. Amazing how God works! As we share with each other, we exchange more ideas and gain more knowledge.

Sharing can be a source of Strength. You can be at your lowest point and then you read a story that pushes you back afloat above the water you were sinking in. A story that makes you feel like the author is holding your hand, offering a shoulder to lean on as you trudge on. A story that makes you feel the author hugging you through the pages, or patting you on the back, whispering “You got this, It’s gonna be okay!”

We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.

Brene Brown

Some stories bring peace and warmth to the heart. A perfect example for me would be the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. Each time I feel so hopeless and carried away by the daily struggles of this life, I withdraw a bit and read at least one or two stories from the collection. They really are heart warming, true inspirational stories about ordinary people’s lives.

When we tell our stories, we liberate and give permission to others to tell theirs too. Reminds me of the “Me too” movement that trended so much on twitter a while back. People came out to share their stories of abuse. It all started with one person sharing theirs and she liberated others to do the same.

When we share with each other, we learn empathy. As we all know, the world today is filled with so much cruelty and apathy. Ever had an attitude problem toward someone which changed after you got to know the person’s story? Yeah, me too! It’s usually because we are so quick to judge and draw baseless conclusions. If only we gave people a chance, lifted the veil and saw the things they actually grapple with, we’d judge less and empathize with them more.

You never know what someone is going through, be kind. Always.”

Unknown

Finally, when we share our stories, we make this journey of life lighter. We are basically holding each other’s hands. There is so much power in sharing, of course if it isn’t taken advantage of by ill intending people. It would be so absurd if we all went through this life without telling our stories and experiences in our own voices. You just never know which life your story might change. Let’s keep telling our stories.

Family Reunion

Strained parent-children relationships are not a strange subject to many of us. Those who are lucky enough, resolve them, but the majority do not. They end up tucking them away and forever harbor resentment. It is sad that some people even take these unresolved issues to their graves. Children crave to be understood, loved and shown they matter. Parents too, crave the same! Family dynamics and other patterns may affect the communication between the two parties, hence failure to understand each other and be empathetic. Unfortunately, these strained relationships do not just affect the parents and their children, their effect spirals into other relationships; with workmates, friends, spouses etc. The authors of Family Reunion, Sharland Trotter and Robert Kuttner, delved into some of the issues surrounding strained family relationships. This book is a must read for anyone. If you haven’t read the book yet, worry not, I am going to share some of the well articulated insights from the book, below.

All of us want to be the heroes of our own life story. No audience to that drama is more intimate than our own families. No emotions are more charged. No set of hopes and fears is more poignant. [Ref: David Copperfield – Charles Dickens]

Children and parents spend a lifetime yearning for each other’s affirmation. It hardly bears saying that life often mocks these hopes.

In a healthy family, there are clear boundaries. Children are neither pawns in their parents’ marriage, nor are they made responsible for rescuing it.

People are capable of growth and constructive change at all stages of life.

Parents of grown children are themselves capable of growth.

It is therefore normal for grown children to hide much of their inner lives from their parents, who still represent all powerful authority figures from childhood.

Even in their twenties, adult children can teach their parents a lot. And parents, if they can put aside their role as authority figures, can learn from grown children and take these teachings as a sign of a job well done.

A family narrative helps shape individual identities. Our first and probably most profound sense of identity is formed in the context of “Who am I in this family.”

Children see parents as both all powerful and vulnerable. Even at a relatively young age, children sense their parents’ vulnerability and seek to protect them. These patterns, motivated by love and compassion as well as fear, can become barriers.

A great many people in families are imprisoned behind walls of mutual distance, because it is the least painful alternative they can imagine and nobody has offered anything better.

Some families talk more than others. In all situations, one can cope by choosing to flee or grow. Fight is a false solution, because distances invariably mask unresolved issues that haunt not only the immediate relationships but patterns in other ones.

Overly entangled/ distant relationships between adult children and parents usually reflected profound, long entrenched patterns of relating that spilled over and often proved disabling or emotionally impoverishing in other contexts including; relations with lovers or spouses, children, colleagues, bosses and friends.

Many of the here and now conflicts people have with their spouses, lovers, bosses, partners, or children, are in part emotional reenactments of unresolved conflicts with parents.

Make peace with your parents, not primarily for your parents, but for you.

Unspoken fears are generally more terrifying and disabling than spoken ones.

A person with a weak sense of self tends to look to the approval of others for his well being. Daily life becomes a constant source of anxiety because even minor tasks or decisions will be overly influenced by a desire to please. When “poorly differentiated” people tend to gravitate to people with similar styles, relationships are usually circular and painfully full of conflict, because each excessively looks to the other for validation.

The most important thing about the past is that it is the past. And the past must sometimes be grieved – and sometimes laughed out.

Which of us has looked into his father’s heart? Some experiences of our parents are ultimately unknowable, and in this life, no family achieves perfect communication.

The family in which one grew up is the best place to learn more about oneself.

The older we grow, the more we begin to see our parents as ordinary people who struggled just as we struggled. Rather than the mythic and often fearsome figures of childhood. Divested of their magical power, the parents need no longer be unrealistically idealized or denigrated.

However unsatisfying the relations in the family system, people are deeply invested in them. It is easier to suffer than to risk making a change in family patterns.

Even parents in their seventies and eighties are receptive to the invitation to improve relationships. Indeed, older parents have often been suffering in silence, despairing that their grown children could ever understand, much less appreciate them, or that negative patterns could be improved.

And it is possible much earlier in life for either generation to take the initiative to change old, unsatisfying patterns.

Yet a great many adults, probably a majority, often find relations with their extended family a source of disappointment rather than comfort.

It’s clear that most young adults need to experience a good deal of growth and maturation before they are motivated to give their discarded families of origin a second look. Often, they need to endure the struggles, and joys of raising their own children, or to navigate other life passages.

In many unhappy families, children have long served as distractions or as props, or as scapegoats for marital conflicts.

Parents, often relatively later in life, can do a lot of growing up. Grown children need to keep their own minds open to that possibility, and welcome it.

All of us find security in being with people we know well and are apt to feel anxious and insecure in a crowd of strangers.

Severed attachments, whether through early death of a parent, divorce, institutionalization, or abuse, can cause deep emotional loss in young children and can impair their own capacity for emotional attachment as adults.

Parents are both positive and negative role models. Many of us grow up determined not to repeat our parents’ mistakes.

Children exposed to abuse when they were young worry about being abusive parents. But most of us have a fair amount of capacity to influence our own destinies.

By taking the trouble to learn something about who our parents were, why their own efforts sometimes fell short, and by working hard on other relationships, we can become more compassionate people, and better parents. Even for those who suffered from weak or ambivalent attachments as children, empathy can be cultivated.

By compassionately engaging our families of origin, we can promote healthy change in ourselves.

No matter how toxic our childhoods, we are creatures who can influence our destiny. Some of us may have to work harder than others to earn such relationships.

If we, as parents, wish close and mutually respectful relationships with our grown children, we too need to change our own acts.

Each generation of a merchant family needs to define its own course and radically differentiate itself from the one that came before.

In too many families, impasses like the re-union fiasco are not unusual. Hurt feelings are not voiced; anger, though keenly felt, is buried and never resolved. The risk of breaking down barriers to emotional communication runs deep. Such a risk contains both hope and fear: the hope for a more enduring honesty and openness, the fear of inviting potentially overwhelming conflict, dissolution, humiliation, and ultimate abandonment.

Better talk to your mother, and now, because you don’t know how much time is left.

By identifying with her child, a woman also identifies with her own mother, and thus experiences and re experiences herself as a cared for, and by extension, a caring person.

Family Reunion is an amazing multi-generational self help book you wouldn’t want to put down once you start.

Book Of Life

“Life comes with no manual,” we often say to ourselves, “we’ll live it the best way we know how.” To a large extent, this is true. Just that, having no manual means you figure out stuff on your own completely. Like; buying a gadget with no user manual, you end up fidgeting and making assumptions, if you’re lucky enough, you figure it out, otherwise you could end up messing it up instead. Likewise, our lives too are like those gadgets. Because we have no manual, we try to make the best we know how of our lives. Sometimes, we make the right assumptions, sometimes we don’t. More like a game of chance. We got no script to follow when we were born. However, every manufacturer knows that he is the one who best understands how his product works and so has to provide some explanatory notes to users, so that they can understand His design and intention for the product. We too, were never meant to forge our way through life blindly. God, our maker, actually gave us a manual to be our guide through all issues of our lives – The Bible! It may not directly tell us what to do and what not to the way it could’ve been laid out in a script, but it offers all the guidance we need.

Within the covers of the Bible, are the answers for all the problems men face.

Ronald Reagan

It’s really amazing how the Bible seems to have solutions to all questions. I used to wonder, who exactly the authors of the Great book were. How could they have written something so accurate and so relevant for the times such as these? Moreover, they wrote it more than hundreds of years back, where times should have been quite different. But, that word still remains unshakable and absolutely relevant even today! I was answered by the quoted scripture below.

All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:16

The Bible is God breathed, more reason it is so accurate!

The Bible does not only call us out on the wrong things we do, it also actually shows us the right things to do.

Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

God’s word guides and directs our every step. Just as you’d need a lamp to see your way through the dark woods in the dead of night, so do we need God’s word to show us the way through our every day life.

Do you need comfort through your trying time? Are you on the verge of giving up? Do you need courage? Deliverance? Provision? Nothing is too great or impossible for our God. Refer to the story of David and Goliath. Are you weary and heavy laden? He says:

Come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.

Mathew 11:28

Do you want to offer thanksgiving? A Psalm will come in handy. Are you sick and need healing?

If such a prayer is offered in faith, it will heal anyone who is sick. The Lord will heal them. And if they have sinned, He will forgive them.

James 5:15

How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying the word of God. It’s easy to get caught up in all that the world has to offer. We can easily be swayed back and forth, because we live for ourselves and have no standards or sense of direction whatsoever. But the word of God keeps us grounded and accountable.

Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.

Ecclesiastes 11: 9 – 10

Questioning your existence? Questioning the season you’re in at a particular point in life? just so you know, you were ordained by God and you are no mistake! God saw something that needed to be done on earth and He made you! You have value, you have an assignment, you have a purpose! Just ask Him to reveal to you what it is.

Whatever season you’re in, be consoled by the fact that, everything works for good.

And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Keep this book of the law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

Joshua 1:8

And finally brethren; Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

Stay blessed!

Aha Moments

These are points of great realization or insight. I think I would prefer the latter. Aha moments for me, are those magical moments that make us marvel at the beauty of life. Simple, but yet very priceless moments.

Like; that moment when you’ve just finished reading a very good book or watching a good movie. You wish it didn’t have to end and harshly slap you back into the real world.

Moments when you lie on your mat on a dark night, watching a galaxy of stars while the rest of the world is still and quiet.

When you take a long reflective walk listening to your favorite song at maximum volume.

That moment when you enter your beautifully laid bed with clean, fresh, ironed bed sheets for a definitely soundly night’s sleep.

It’s those Sunday mornings when you get to sleep in a little more and not have to be cruelly woken up by an alarm.

Moments when you have a very hearty laughter, you even drop on your knees and shed a few happy tears.

It’s those moments when you have 2 a.m conversations with the love of your life.

Moments when you meet an old friend after so many years, and it seems like you were apart for just a little while. You laugh hard as you reminisce about all the beautiful times of the good old days.

It’s those moments when you finally face your fear of heights for the first time.

It’s that moment when you are selected as the most suitable candidate for the job amongst hundreds of others.

It’s moments when you spend the evening listening to your grandmother’s priceless stories of her younger times.

That moment when you finally get home after a long day to a warm bath and hot steaming tea in your favorite maroon mug.

It’s that moment when you finally figure out the solution to that complex problem that’s bothered you for weeks.

That moment when your loved one triumphs against a terminal illness.

When you finally learn that skill you have always wanted to learn.

It’s the rainy cold nights, with your socks on, sweater and about three layers of warm clothing, sitting by a fire place, reading a good book.

It’s those moments when you go through old photos and re-live the moments, at least for that while.

It’s those nights when electricity goes off and the whole world is dark and quiet, and the only source of light is the kerosene lamp. Having conversations in the dim light with your family members and laughing at all the funny stories till late into the night.

It’s those moments when your team emerges as the winner in the competition.

It’s that moment when your favorite celebrity allows to meet and have lunch with you.

It’s being on a rooftop, so many feet off the ground, having a magical view of the city night lights.

It’s that moment when you remember an old joke your late father shared with you when you were still a child. You still find it funny decades later.

It’s that moment when a mother holds her new born child in her arms for the very first time.

That moment when you turn on the radio to find a song that brings back special memories.

It’s when you have a deep, authentic conversation with someone.

It is walking along beautifully lit, relatively empty streets on a Sunday night.

It is getting into a bus, sitting by a window, headphones on, volume up listening to a beautiful song, watching the trees rush by as the bus moves at 140 km/hr.

It’s that moment when you cross the entry point into your home town and suddenly feel the change of atmosphere. It’s now a warm and familiar air that seems to say, “welcome home child.”

It’s running a race and finally crossing the finish line.

It’s sitting by the lake, enjoying the breeze and tranquil lake wave sounds.

It’s watching the sunrise as the morning fog clears.

It is watching the sunset.

It’s those moments when you tick off your answered prayers.

Those moments when you’re busy minding your business and a random beautiful memory crosses your mind and makes you smile a little on a dull afternoon.

When you watch a beautiful sad movie that makes tears well up in your eyes.

It’s that magical moment when your father walks you down the aisle, as the love of your life and the rest of the congregation look on in awe.

It’s moments when I write such a beautifully reflective piece on a peaceful chilly evening.

We most definitely live for moments such as these.

Pay It Forward

In one of the many inspirational videos on social media, I came across one which was too good not to be shared. In the video, an “old” man helped someone who was struggling. Well, not struggling per se, but they were not breaking even financially.

A father and his little daughter, about seven years old, went to a supermarket to do some shopping. It was the little girl’s birthday and her father had promised her a cake. She was excited. They picked the items they had come to buy and joined the queue to the counter. At the counter, his items exceeded the money he had. Which meant he had to take back some of them. The cake was the most expensive item, so he told his little girl that he was sorry but they had to take the cake back. She was so sad. Meanwhile, the queue was getting longer and people were growing impatient. He paid for the items that he could afford, held his little girl’s hand and made for the exit.

One of the people in the queue; the old man, had paid close attention to all that had happened. He had noticed how deflated the little girl was when her cake was taken back. He abandoned the queue and rushed off to meet the little girl and her father. He caught up with them. He greeted them and explained how he had observed all that had transpired. He handed them a package. It contained an even bigger cake, some other items they had left behind and more. The little girl lit up! Her father on the other hand, was dumbfounded and really reluctant about taking the package from this stranger. After collecting himself, he asked the old man thoughtfully;

“But how could I ever repay you for this?”

The old man replied;

“No, you do not have to pay me for anything. The only thing you can do for me is to pay it forward, bless someone else too.”

This applies to many of us as well. At some point in our lives, someone went out of their way to be kind to us. Some of these people seem to have it all. You wonder what you could ever do to repay them for the help they rendered to you in your moment(s) of need. Well, you need not repay them, but you could instead also bless someone else who might be in need of help in one way or another, as long as you are in position to.

It’s amazing how one person’s act of kindness can change the course of your life. Today, follow their lead, pay it forward.”

Unknown

Words

What you had intended for a joke, sent the rest of the audience bursting into hearty laughter, while it left the subject of the joke feeling belittled and less than.

Each time she attempted to speak her mind, you hurled insults at her and shut her down. And now you’re wondering why she never gives her opinion on any matter, much less her own feelings. Too late, the damage’s been done.

Fearing for the trouble that might ensue from not responding to that email on time, you got your hands to type a response when you were not in the right state of mind. And now you wish you had waited till you could clearly think each word through. But too late, the damage’s been done.

Carrying an unpleasant load of your past that you wish was just a nightmare. Each time you look at that little child, you see her father’s image in her – the man who robbed you of your teenage innocence. You can’t get over that night he took advantage of you. He didn’t live long enough to reconcile those differences, so his little daughter will pay the price. A day never goes by without you reminding her of the fact that her father did you wrong and it was never your intention to have her. She wishes she could undo the past, but what power does she have? So, for your birthday, she decides to take her own life as a present to you. Maybe then, you won’t have to constantly be reminded of your past. She left a note saying, “I hope today you’ll get back the happiness that eluded you when you had me.” Tears well up in your eyes. “What have I done?” but too late, the damage’s been done.

“You’ll never amount to anything useful, you are going to end up just like your dad!” Is a statement he’s way too familiar with. He used to try, but each time he failed, there someone was to re-echo his “destiny.” And now, he’s drinking and gambling his life away too. “Why should I bother, it’s obvious no matter what I do, I’ll never amount to anything good indeed.” He threw in the towel. Too late, the damage’s been done.

Every time you run into her, all you can find to comment about is how her weight is out of place. Her beaming smile fades into a thin frown. Her voice suddenly gets lost. “Why the sudden change in mood, are you okay?” You ask. And now you wonder why she can barely sustain a conversation with you. Too late, the damage’s been done.

Due to conflicting interests, you agreed to bear false witness in court. And now, an innocent man is on death row. Your conscience haunts you, because you very well know he didn’t do it. You were not even in the same town on that night of the murder. The decision is irrevocable. Too late, the damage’s been done.

Embracing Your God Given Temperament

I believe many of us have wished to be someone else or to change someone else to be like us at some point in our lives. I mean in-terms of the aspects that are natural like personality and appearance. Your Temperament is your basic nature, especially as it is shown in the way that you react to situations or to other people.

I know someone who has an outgoing personality. She loves to talk. I think someone either commented on her talkative nature or she made a self analysis and concluded she needed to tone down and be like other “less talkative” people. So she would suppress her natural persona and try to be someone else. Ironically, those were some of the most miserable days of her life. She later came to the realization that there was nothing wrong with her. It was okay to be an aggressive, talkative and expressive person, as long as it was in a good way. That was who she was. She became more self aware and let her unique attributes serve as her strength and not weakness. She is more confident in her identity.

I have also had many of those moments where I just wished I could change my temperament. Like, I wanted to change the fact that I was a “soft” person. I hated the fact that I was an empath and absorbed the energies in my environment(s). I wanted to change the fact that I wore my heart on my sleeve.

“How were others effortlessly able to be so emotionally closed?” I would wonder.

I envied them for not being “weak.” I would then attempt to be numb as well, but all in vain. It was just not who I was.

I realized God created us all. He made each one of us uniquely with the perfect blend of attributes for our unique assignment here on earth. We were never created to all be the same. So, we needn’t question why God made us the way He did. We shouldn’t be fighting so hard to change our temperaments. Instead, we should try so hard to embrace the glorious unique beings that we are. God makes no mistakes, you were made perfectly to suit the purpose God intended for you. For example if God’s purpose for you was to be a Pediatrician , you would most likely have a natural love and concern for children. If His purpose for you was to be a Leader, you would most definitely have a more aggressive and choleric personality. Trying to change your temperament would be messing with God’s design and Purpose.

Woe to him who quarrels with His maker. Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?”

Isaiah 45:9

May we embrace our God given temperaments and of those around us. May we not view them as weaknesses but as strengths for fulfilling our divine purpose.

How God reveals Himself to us

There were times when I couldn’t help wondering what God really looked like? Was He really there? Why was He hiding Himself from us? Why did He prefer to remain a mystery? Was He human like us? How does He expect us to believe that He is there without revealing Himself to us?

Well, I paused a bit, refocused my lens and there God was! I had been looking too far all along.

He was in the eyes and gentle smile of a little child. He was in the leaves that rustled on trees. He was in the whirlwind that swept through the neighborhood. He was in the eyes of a mother as she held and stared at her new born. He was that stranger who offered to pay your transport fare when you were stuck. He was that old weird man who pulled his car over and offered you a lift when you were stranded by the roadside in the middle of a thunderstorm. He was that discerning voice that whispered clarity in your time of confusion. He is the sunrise in the morning. He is the sunset in the late evening. He is the raging and calm sea. He is the rain. He is the lightening and thunder on a stormy night. He was that invisible fourth person who stood in the furnace with Shadrach,Meshach and Abednego. It was God who calmed the lions when Daniel was thrown in their den. He was right there with Daniel.

God’s heart is revealed in all of His creation. He reveals Himself to us in subtle ways. We just need to pay a little more attention, refocus our lenses and take a closer look.

God is all around us.