Friday, October 21, 2016

Just Because.

Two, simple, everyday language kind of words: just and because. I’m not even talking about the just of justice. I’m talking about the adverb we use all the time, the just that means: simply. And I’m not going to start talking about because, because you know what it means.

And yet the power they behold once put together into a phrase: just because

I’ve heard it too many times. Just because.. 

You are a woman, therefore you are weak. 
You are of a certain race, therefore you don’t belong. 
You are not a size zero, therefore you are to be ashamed. 
You are single, therefore you are to be pitied. 
You dress in a certain way that’s different, therefore you are ugly. 
You are not as rich, therefore you are less and below others. 
You have done many bad things, therefore you are unworthy to be loved.
You messed up, therefore you are a disgraceful mess.

It goes on, and on, and on.

An endless chant of shame, of rejection, of envy and of guilt. It’s too loud and clear, the message our world is telling our generation is this: 

Just because you are being exactly who you are, 
therefore you will never be enough

And the worst part of it all, I believe the extension of the message goes to say that: Since you will never be good enough, you are to do your best to be someone else that is already accepted and leave who you are at rest. 

I was a part of that just because, and in fact I still fall into it many times. And I’m saddened by how powerful these statements can be when spoken over people’s self-worth and identity. Because they are not true. Because they are simply an expression of how broken and disappointed our world has become, how desperate we are to encounter a love that nullifies all the pain humanity has come to know. 

For me, in my walk with Christ, I come to learn there is only one just because that has the right to rule over my life. For me, it sums up the kind of position I should take in times of calamities and uncertainties, which is to be at rest and know God is in control. And that just because is this: 

Just because God loves me, therefore I have all I need. 
(John 3:16; Psalms 23:1)

I wonder if we start to walk our lives with the mindset that we are valued and accepted by an unfailing, unending love. Replace the world’s common just because(s) with God’s truth and promises. Turn our complains into cries of prayer and acts of worship. If we do this, I know for sure that what was an endless chant of shame, will become an endless declaration of grace. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Shame Train.

I am amazed at what shame can do. 

And to some extend, I’m no longer surprised by it. Shame is very powerful. It screws with the core of who we are, convincing us that we should hide ourselves because who we are is not worthy. In my personal walk, shame has clouded me with feelings of inadequacy, discontent and ugliness. I’m sure there are still many more to mention, but these three are sufficient to show how bad shame can be. 

For past few weeks, I couldn’t write. Or maybe I could, but my writing pieces have lost its soul. I couldn’t sense the honesty behind it anymore. It was difficult to break the barriers and bring my own heart to the surface, because I was already scared to find out what would emerge to the surface before the first word came out. And I think recently, I figured out why: I was writing from 

I thought that shame would only stop me from sharing to others what I’ve written. But I was wrong. Shame convinced me that it was better for me to write for others with my heart closed. Hidden from any exposure that would allow people to see me for me. 

Now the more I think about it, the more ridiculous it becomes. Because I couldn’t see who wins when I stop creating art. I couldn’t see who benefits if I stop writing. I couldn’t see how not opening up, and producing writing pieces that are lacking substance and passion, can actually speak to other people. It doesn’t make sense. What shame is doing to me makes no sense. 

There are so many verses in the Bible that point us to understanding who we are in Christ. I won’t list them here, but here are three things I came to learn: 
  1. We are beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalm139:14)
  2. Shame was a result of sin, not a part of us (Genesis 3:7)
  3. We have been set free from shame by the blood of Jesus (Romans 8:1)
I’d like to think that once this realization comes, I can breakaway from shame that easily. I thought wrong. To be honest, I think I am still somewhere lost in the train station. Off the shame train, but not fully on freedom train yet. Or perhaps, I’m not even off the shame train. Perhaps the train has just stopped, and I’m still standing on the door, wondering if I have confidence to get off the train. Unsure if I have enough courage to embrace freedom once again. 

But then again, isn’t this what we go through every single day? A daily decision to get on the right train, so that we will arrive at the right destination, closer towards our God-given purposes. 

I don’t want to hide, I hope you don’t too. 

Matthew 5:14

"You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.