As I was walking home from TCM I was thinking about all the things I do to be presentable in society- don’t overeat so that I will remain a respectable US 6/8, wear at least concealer and lip balm so that I don’t look like a vampire when I’m under the sun/get comments like “are you sick?” Avoid offending people with my honest opinions so that I can remain connected to society. After a while it gets quite tiring. Perhaps this is why I like being alone, I can just be my bare-faced self with messy hair and very dark undereye circles. There’s no need to be anything or do anything when I am alone. I feel the same way in church- my scars, my past, my neurotic cattiness, my feelings. Everything is laid bare.
I was considering if I should put up my thoughts every week on the bible passages discussed, and my main concern was that it would be too personal. But then again, I would like this blog to be a reflection of how I think and the things I struggled with in the years to come, so why not? It is a witness that I actually lived a life and I did not spend my time freely and carelessly.
A disclaimer before I start thinking aloud: I don’t know many things about church and God, I don’t know what I don’t know, but I am learning slowly. I neither want to force my opinions on anyone nor do I want to ask other people to learn as I do. But attending service and DG every week is a choice that I make, along with all the other choices I make on a daily basis- eating, sleeping, wearing clothes. Will I defend Christianity to the death? No, I would like to be alive. Literally. I do admire those who live and die for religion and their beliefs about God, but I also believe that no one will ever understand Him completely, and it is better to not kill others for my beliefs, or break off relationships because I don’t share the same beliefs as other people do.
I am quite wary of those who claim to be saved and want others to be ‘saved’. My salvation is my own business, although please feel free to guide me, but asking me to donate to a random mission trip for a church based in Nepal that you believe in, via paypal, is not something I am comfortable with. Some people (like my mother) believe that we should be putting down everything to jump at a chance of contributing, because there is nothing more important than eternity. But I tend to think long-term. My business mind always steps in and ask “Why am I doing this? What will be the outcome? Will this be sustainable? Who are the stakeholders?”
Because I take the time to think through everything, I look for people who are similarly rational and slow to anger- hence I’m quite comfortable in ARPC. Which is not to say that it is a smooth process every week, I think every week I just leave the group thinking “I am lost and this is tiring…” But the quality of the discussions and the acceptance from others, which is not the same as acting like unthinking sheep, is something I am willing to stay with. When it comes to how I spend my time and energy, as my favourite author Terry Pratchett says in Wintersmith- “This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
Okay on to my thoughts. We studied Luke 18 last week- it is the parable that is often quoted when people are trying to get rid of their materialistic desires, how it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Pastor C. was dissecting the passage and one of the things he said that stuck to me was “poverty is not the mark of true discipleship, honesty is the mark of true discipleship.” I guess the past few years really served as a “gracious intervention” and not an “unwelcome intrusion”, taking away the coverings that people have put on me/self-imposed standards of what I should be. Looking at myself not from the viewpoint of society: you have this, this, this, this, wonderful life you are leading. But looking at myself honestly, what are the things which I find very hard to let go, what are the things that I want very badly? What is that one thing that I am scared of, which will strip me of my self-sufficiency?
I read a quote somewhere about a general who led his troops to fight against the Persians and they were severely outnumbered. They were at the edge of the water, and the general ordered the boats to be burned, leaving no escape route. He told his underlings that either they go home in Persian boats or die fighting. So as Pastor C. was talking about the things we won’t let go of, I realised that maybe, maybe I should just burn all my boats and trust in my next step. Right now, as I am looking for a job, I realise that I am still hoping to start from a level higher than other people. I don’t feel comfortable leaving HR even though I know that I definitely don’t want to stay in HR for longer than 3-4 years, I think I will be bored to death. But because of my experiences, I know that it won’t be too difficult for me to do well in HR. There is still that “status” anxiety, I would like to be known as someone is good at what she does. But changing industries would mean that I, once again, am going to start from the bottom.
“Your faith has healed you”, and I am someone of little faith. Or little actionable faith. Eternal life is not something we can earn by “doing” things. Instead, he framed it as something that God has to do to let us in. I look ahead and I wonder what else is in store for me. At the very least, I am not the only one who is clinging on to what little I have now.
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18)