Walk with Me – Vocation Revisited

Towards the end of last year, I wrote on the topic of vocation, wrestling and asking the question on how I am to be part of the Body to bring Him Glory. Remembering the recurring verses and prompting to just “walk with the Lord and watch how He does it”, I think I have a better idea of what it may mean 6 months later (albeit still struggling to walk it).

So I also mentioned in my previous posts that my Lupus is on a flare. It has been for a while now and I have started more aggressive treatments since. To cut the long story short, the disease is yet to be brought under control as my body is not responding to the multiple revisions of drug treatments over the months. The process have been devastating and my body feels every bit of it – exhaustion. So what has it got to do with my vocation?

It was during one of our weekly life group meeting sometime in January where I gave an update on the status of my flare. Upon hearing how my condition has not improved, a dear brother proposed that as a life group, we will fast lunch for a week and pray for me. The whole group supported the idea immediately. To be honest, I was caught off guard and did not know how to respond. I was extremely touched by the group’s love but part of me feels unworthy and unsettled, fearing that the group may be discouraged if nothing spectacular happens at the end of the week. As I think further to my emotions then, I realise that the feeling of fear crept in because the outcome is something I have no control in – I can’t achieve better outcome just by having more knowledge or try harder. In other words, there is nothing I can do and it is totally not me. This makes me realise how much of my confidence stems from my knowledge and ability to do things.

So my life group fasted lunch for me. For a week, each of us forwent our normal social lunch outing, fasted and prayed for me. We exchanged our insights and reflections after we prayed, amidst our hunger and struggles to abstain from food (haha!) – suffering is lighter when shared with fellow starving brothers and sisters :D. It was quite an experience for me. I got to read and hear their heart, and witness their faith, love and hope growing for me. I was touched. While I agreed with all their prayers for me, I was worried for the same reason shared earlier. I remember very distinctly that on one of the lunchtime prayer session, I prayed to God that no matter what the outcome of the week-long prayer and fasting on my condition is, may it bring Him glory. I may not know how it would work, but that God will meet each of my brothers and sisters and do His wonderful work in their respective spiritual journey. That was all I could pray because there is really nothing else I can do – desperate cry!

Two verses which I clung on tightly since more than a decade ago came back to mind as I prayed in desperation.

“1 Timothy 4:4-5 – For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”

More than a decade ago when battling another Lupus flare, I came across the two verses above which led me to claim to God that I am good. My circumstances and all the bad that I was going through, because they have been laid at the altar through prayers of my community, my life have been sanctified by the word of God spoken in faith and is Good. I dare called myself Good for God’s purposes.

These 2 verses came back to me as I was praying that afternoon and I cried out to God to “#MakeMeGoodAgain” (pun intended), regardless of whether I am healed.

At the end of the week, we had a life group celebratory cum break-fast dinner. As I hear the accounts of my fellow brothers and sisters on their respective encounter, wrestles and communion with God in the week of praying and fasting for me, I was very humbled and at the same time encouraged. I caught a glimpse of the Good that could come out from my life. God had worked in His marvelous ways and His name was glorified through my life story. And the best thing is… that I did not even have to do anything. All that I am to do is to live my life as I am called to be – to walk with God and watch how He does it…. and in that, learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Isaiah 55:8-9 –
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30

 

emotions and self

In an attempt to make sense of human emotions, psychologist Michel Cabanac proposed the definition that “[E]motion is any mental experience with high intensity and high hedonic content (pleasure/displeasure).” In an everyday human term, emotion is more commonly defined with reference to a list: joy, fear, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, etc. Emotions are complex and often express itself through our physical and psychological behaviour. What the human eye is able to see is the outcome of that expression, in which the bearer allowed themselves to express. What is often not seen nor understood about a certain emotion is the source contributing to the intensity of the experience. Our robotic society has judged emotions as stumbling block to efficiency. Phrases like “Don’t let your emotions affect you!” and “Leave your emotions at home” have become a baseline in which we exist. Non-display of intense emotions qualify us as functional human being who are stable and efficient where as those displaying emotions (especially of displeasure) are deemed as weaklings.

Is emotion all that bad a thing? What if having emotions is part of what it means to be living?  There is definitely more to emotions than that! Emotions bring human experiences alive and real. I am not going to go into that but what I have increasingly become more aware is the role of emotions in telling us who we are. Every human is capable of feelings, or being aroused. However, what differentiate us from another is the intensity of our sensory arousal and the way we respond through our behaviours. For example,  the same event or incident could warrant completely different responses.

Firstly, two individuals could be equally aroused by an event or incident. However, the manner in which the arousal translates to physical and psychological behaviour between the two could be entirely different. For example, at the sight of a very messy living space, a homemaker who loves to see that her home in order could respond by (1) scream at her children for making a mess and blame the husband for not controlling the children or (2) join the play with the children, and together with the children, clean up the mess after. How we respond to our emotions tell us much about who we are inside. It is probably a good idea to pause and take a deep breathe before we react on impulse at every intense arousal, be it of joy, sadness or anger. You do not want to jump for joy at the edge of a cliff (celebrating you’ve made it!) just to fall to your death. Wisdom and priority has much to do in how we respond to our emotions. Emotions provide us a window to reflect and refine ourselves.

Secondly, the same incident and event may result in one an intense arousal but does nothing to another. Our intense arousal or non-arousal reveals much about who we are and what we care about. Our subconscious respond to external stimuli and expresses itself in the form of emotions. If we are not bothered, we probably will not feel much at all. We only respond to matters that mean something to us. So the next time somebody is angry at you, know that they care and is bothered by you.  Haha… Similarly, when you feel something very strongly (pleasure/displeasure), it is a sign that it means a lot to you.

While every human is wired differently and uniquely, we are motivated and irritated by different things. There is much talk about finding our passion and pursuing our dreams but most are left bewildered unable to pin-point the area of our passion. I believe our emotions can shed some light here. Let me elaborate.  Ask yourself the question. “What irks you?”, and then “Why?”. Ask another person the same two questions and chances are, the answers to the questions are different. The answers probably explains why the person spend most of his/her time being preoccupied with the things he/she does. For a music producer, bad music probably irks them and for a nurse, a person in pain. Because of the displeasure the music producer feels at the thought of hearing bad music for example, the music producer has taken upon himself the responsibility to produce good music. For the nurse, the displeasure she feels propels her to want to help individuals in pain. Does a person’s occupation defines who they are? No. On the contrary, our natural response to the external stimuli propels us to choose the work in which we will spend our time and energy doing – being big or small. More often than not, we will find ourselves able to do them quite well, probably because subconsciously, we are more serious in doing those things and are more willing to learn. So the next time you find something that irks you, ask yourself “why” and it may be worth while to ask a third question: “How much time is spent “fixing” that?”