Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Full Stop.

I can’t say that some writing days are bad. Because as an artist of any kind, I think we bear the privilege to see life from a different perspective. Where no days are necessarily bad, they are just more challenging and less conducive for us to produce art. Having said that, every part that makes that particular day beautiful and ugly are still worth observing, understanding and pondering upon. So, I won’t say that there are such a thing as bad writing days. 

But I do want to pour my thoughts on days when it gets so challenging to overcome this cloud of emotions and facts and just life in general, that the best thing we could put on paper is a full stop. Not even a short paragraph, not even a sentence, not even a word. I don’t even think there’s even a letter that would fit the situation. A comma won’t do because it opens a conversation. A question mark goes the same. An exclamation mark would signify some sort of an attack. A colon, semicolon, apostrophe and the rest just don’t seem to make sense. Except for one: A full stop. 

I love this particular punctuation because it perfectly explains the halt that all artists need to go through. A moment (or moment(s) because they will definitely happen more than once) that allows us to rest and rethink. Recalibrate the reasons we embark on this artistic journey to begin with and start again. Find those deepest parts of us that inspire us in the first place and go from there to, not so much start from zero, but resume what we have paused for the sake of our sanity. 

I think, it’s not just how our minds are wired. How muses, even though they are technically there around us all the time, require a rested mind to go through ourselves and connect the wires in our heads to create something beautiful. It speaks a lot about the way we live. That even in the most in-order, minimum-risk and routine lifestyle, we still somehow need to pause and have a moment of silence. This is when we come clean and be true to ourselves. This is when all the ugly breakdowns, the screaming and roaming around the room feeling sick of reality come in. And when they do come in, the most powerful encounters within us happen. Because we are finally willing to accept the fact that we are at a full stop, in need of a new sentence to resume. A new goal, a new spirit, a new heart. 

And until we accept and embrace our full stops as times in our lives when we are being refilled before we move forward to take another step, we will continue to operate drained, tired and sick of being alive at all. Because we just don’t really see the point at it anymore. But when we do allow the silence to sink in, we begin to slow down. Give ourselves space to make sense of things and listen. 

Psalms 23: 1-3 (MSG)
God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath

and send me in the right direction.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Talk about Love.

Unexpected conversations are the best. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love the spontaneous topics that friends bring up on the table, and how one simple question can lead to a whole deal of real talk and heart-to-heart sessions. When I say heart-to-heart, it has nothing to do with sentimental topics, it’s just the kind where you tear a little bit of your skin and show the world who you really are. The things you really think and wonder about, the kind that only certain people know. So, over the course of the past few weeks I have had the privilege to get to know new people and make new friendships. And I have to say, it has been so refreshing to sit down with people I never thought I would ever get to know, and actually hear them share what’s in their heads. 

This week, I was given the honor to hear a friend’s story on how he came to know Jesus through his community. What got me excited and filled with joy was that he decided to believe in Jesus because he saw that love was evident in this community. The way they showed affection to others, to him and to each other moved him. I didn’t get to see and experience first hand the kind of love he experienced in his community. I wasn’t in his community and frankly it wasn’t through community that God encountered me. But, man, love is powerful. Have we forgotten this? Because I have, to some extend. 

I think the church has never been so vocal and upfront about Jesus until this day and age. I think more than ever now we are given the freedom and access to easily proclaim what we believe through so many different channels. And it creates a room for us to move like never before to reach out. Which is amazing, because what the early church needed to do to reach thousands we can accomplish using a click of a button and a bunch of complex-interconnected network. But have we forgotten the true essence of it? That it was never about all the fancy lights and cool songs. It was never about the programs and events. It wasn’t about the size nor the buildings. Not that they don’t matter and I don’t like them. But it’s just, the essence of it. At the core, it was always about one thing: love. 

I wonder sometimes if we are losing our power to reach out because we forgot that the only way for the love of Christ will ever get through to other people is for us to actually love them. And I’m not saying it’s possible for us to truly love them the way Christ would. I mean, HELLO? We are not 100% like Him, yet. We are striving to become more and more like Him everyday, but we are certainly still so far away from being like Christ. But even if we are still miles away from being like Christ 100%, it doesn’t give us an excuse to forget that love is the key. It doesn’t allow us to escape that we (me!), followers of Christ, bear responsibility to at least, give a glimpse of what true love is like. 

If love is patient, then an extra dose of patience will do more than you think it would.
If love doesn’t keep a record of being wronged, then an extra dose of forgiveness can bring a bunch of healing. 
If love always assumes the best out of everyone, then perhaps an extra dose of positive thinking and just a little bit less of prejudice will go a long way. 
If love gives without tire, then perhaps an extra cup of coffee for that friend who is going through a hard day will work its magic. 
And so on. 

I don’t know, there’s too much of love to talk about in just several paragraphs. But I’m all the more empowered to love. It was so encouraging to see friends, who look crazy and wild on the outside, experience a touch of love that brought them to Christ. It was encouraging because it proved that God is real and love is real. That God works in love, with love and through love. 

Yes. Coffee and raw conversations are the best!

Monday, May 9, 2016

So I Keep Calling.

(More poems on Instagram: @levinamo)

Dry season sucks.

Dry seasons are those times when you feel like God is far away. Like He is just not within your reach. It’s like being in a relationship with someone, in good terms, but not knowing how get the call through. Like you miss them so much, but you just don't know how to get to them anymore. Every means of contact seem to fail. All messages unread, phone calls either they don’t get through, or they go to voicemail. (Well, of course this analogy is inadequate to properly picture our relationship with God. Because He is always there and He never leaves us. But, I guess, it’s one of the best analogies I can think of.)

See, as much as I’m having a hard time to understand this, but dry seasons are for real. They are not necessarily all bad through and through, because even dry seasons are used to forge us and shape us to become a lot of things. For example, let’s say God wants to teach us to get serious about our devotionals and private times with Him. But yeah, dry seasons are for real, and they just suck the life out of you. 

For me, dry seasons make me somewhat disoriented and dysfunctional. It messes up my clarity because at times when I feel like a lost puppy in my spiritual walk, I lost sense of where I need to go, what I need to do and what I need to become. Sometimes, I even feel like I don’t know what having faith means anymore. And the crazy thing is, dry seasons for me don’t usually come at the bad times. Often times it comes when life is steady. It’s like that gap when you are sitting down at an amusement park waiting for the next rollercoaster ride to open. And in this gap, you just don’t really know what to do. In my case, I just lose my spirit to wake up in the morning. I can’t really think. I can’t write. I don’t feel inspired and I constantly want to be somewhere else, wherever I am. Because every place doesn’t seem to get me closer to where God is and it distresses me. 

But if God has promised He will never leave us, then He is always there. So, the problem isn’t Him, it’s just us. We are simply, maybe, too clouded with our own emotions, bad days, disappointments, the list goes on. It’s like trying to call someone, but our signal jammed because we are in a place where it won’t pick up reception. Or, maybe we are calling from a place that’s too noisy, that we can’t hear what the other end is saying. Then in this case, until we are at a place where there is good signal and it’s quiet enough to hear, that is when our spirit is in tune with God and the noises of our thoughts and feelings have died down, we will be able to hear Him again. 

So here’s what I’m going to do, and what I think everyone that’s going through a dry season should do too: 

I’m going to keep calling. 

I’m going to hold on to my phone and keep on hitting redial until I can finally hear Him loud and clear once more, until I find flowing water in this desert of my dry season. And I’m going to believe that in this waiting period that seems to go nowhere, my feelings play no part in the fact that God is always taking me somewhere further in His promises.

Deuteronomy 31:6

6 “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”

Jeremiah 29:13 

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”