The next day

“Here  you go.”

“What’s this?”

“A letter I wrote to myself. I want you to read it.”

Dear Me,

I’m sorry for shoving you into the closet.

I’m sorry for not liking you and loving you enough.

I was too focused on dressing up my ego that I forgot about you.

I know you don’t need me to show you off to the world, and I won’t even think about it.

But, I promise to be true to you and be a good friend.

Nothing can harm you.

And there’s nothing so impressive in the world that you don’t already have, or that you aren’t already.

You are God-made and God-loved. 

Nothing can be better than that.

Yours,

Now-i-know-better-Me

A moment later, she took my hand and said, “Come on, let’s enjoy this afternoon together.”

As we sat on the bench

“Why do I shy away from meeting new friends or avoid hanging out with them?”

She sat there a bit upset.

“Well, let’s see. “Sometimes, it’s all about expectations.” I began.

You expect to be somebody else other than yourself.

“This requires a lot of effort. It won’t sit right with your soul. The whole time, you’d be pretending, shoving your true self into the closet, and for what? Even if people end up liking “you,” they’d still be enjoying a “made-up” version of you.” 

“So, what should I do it instead?”

“Show up as you, the polite, respectful, unpretentious, unassuming you. Those are your genuine character traits. Don’t apologize for them or try to hide them away.”

Your expectation of who people are or how they’d be like.

“Our ego loves to gauge itself whether it’s higher or lower, greater or lesser, better or worse than others. Why? Because it likes to know where and how to position itself against others. Then, it either gets a sense of pride or feels so insecure.”  

“How should I manage that?”

“Receive people as they are, or, as they present themselves, without judgments, expectations, and your personal agendas.”

She pondered for a moment, looked at me, and smiled.

“I’ll come back tomorrow to see you.”

“I’ll be here.”

My Little Dune

I was maneuvering my car out of the building one day when I came face to face with an unexpected obstacle- a large pile of sand dumped on the driveway.

I was struck.

For a moment I tried to understand why someone would actually think this was a good idea.  Flustered, I eased my way out, fortunate enough to get some help from a  man nearby.

The drive to my workplace went on, in what felt like a trip to Anger City.  I kept thinking about the situation and the sensible options that the men responsible have had and should’ve taken.  “It’s a thoughtless act”, my mind pleaded.

Halfway through my journey, I caved in. I’ve acknowledged the fact that, it is what it is, yet hoped to change the situation if I can.  I prayed, really hard, just because it’s too difficult to pray when you’re on the verge of getting mad. I asked for patience, for forgiveness, for tolerance, and I prayed for a miracle.  Yes, a miracle- for a wonderful day despite an off start.

Less than half an hour, the brewing anger was gone. I parked the car and did my devotion.The issue slipped my mind until I came home later that day and saw the sand pile still there.

The area it now occupies reduced by a foot and a half. Not much, but certainly was an improvement.  I stepped out of the car, a bit frustrated. I approached the man-in-charge and discussed the problem with him. He quickly said, “Everything will be gone by morning”. I trusted his word and retired the night peacefully.

I woke up the next day hopeful as always and guess what I found at the parking area.  You can’t miss it, sand pile still there! I thought everybody else must have complained. The rest of the cars in the area are much bigger and longer than mine.  Well, I had two options at that point in time, look for a shovel and deal with it myself, or just drive my way out again like the day before.  Sadly, I didn’t have the luxury of time to play hero, so I opted for the latter choice.

Experiences such as this made me realize two things.

First:  Knowingly or unknowingly, we create unnecessary obstacles for people around us. This happens when:

-we refuse to help a genuine need even if we can,

-when we irresponsibly carry out our tasks,

-when we don’t deliver our promises on time or when we don’t deliver at all,

-when we don’t go the extra mile even if our strength allows us,

-when we don’t put in the effort to exceed a leader’s or a client’s expectations or at least meet what’s being required.

In other words, this is the case whenever we fall short of the ideal standards we all do know.

Second: When we get too consumed with our own little world and our own comfort, it’s easy to complain about the slightest of nuisances.  This stems from being used to a pampered existence.

We rarely give allowances to people’s mistakes.

We find it difficult to forgive a  non-life-threatening wrongdoing.

We give our all, to petty fights.

We argue a lot.

We quickly go into tantrums like a kid not getting a candy treat on Christmas day.

We got this far knowing this shouldn’t be the case. We are blessed enough to breathe, to walk, to smell, to eat and to see.

The basics. The important.

As I was still brooding from the past days’ trouble I discovered an extra 100 bucks in my bank account. Puzzled, I checked to find out what it was. Surprisingly, I got a cash back from the bank for debit card purchases in the past two months!  Awesome, right?!  Then I realized, perhaps God knew all along that I’d be pretty annoyed when the sand pile incident happens. So this is Him telling me to not sweat it out and get over it. And maybe, just maybe, He would have liked me to go and buy myself an ice cream!

So, that’s what I did. I suppose I’m not so grown up after all, 😀

 

Ordinary

Photo by Daniel Lerman on Unsplash

There is beauty in it too.

One Sunday afternoon,

kids playing,

parents laughing, 

barbecues cooking;

neighbors strolling around the lake,

stretching, running, riding bicycles;

some unpacking groceries,

drying clothes,

watering plants,

telling stories,

sipping coffee, 

smoking,

waving,

calling someone;

No fancy lights,

elegant clothes,

exquisite food, 

stylish backdrop;

just blue skies,

fresh air,

pink flowers,

green grass,

small trees,

chirping birds,

these people,

and myself, absorbing it all.

Is it worth it?

It’s the cold, windy month of February from where I live, and a few days later, I am celebrating my birthday.

Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

I can’t help but think back on the day I was born. Were my parents happy? Was I? What did it mean to the world? What did it mean to God?

Days and years later, the answers to those questions might have slipped through unnoticed, never to be thought of again. 

We immerse ourselves in everyday living.

If we’re lucky, we get to grow up in supportive, loving environments where we feel safe and, most days, happy. 

However, we could have had it differently, too, dealing with poverty, terror, abandonment, or abuse.

Then we become teenagers and adults, ready to take on the world. Some of us “mature” fast, while others don’t at all, or maybe just not yet.

We go through different human experiences.

– Being in the world and of it, pursuing all sorts of things: titles, accolades, fortune, power, and pleasure.

– Losing and winning battles, whether physical like cancer, emotional like grief, mental like anxiety, or spiritual like sin.  

– Forging and breaking a connection with another living thing, be it human, animal, or plant. 

We create. 

We destroy.

We progress.

We regress.

It’s the cycle of life, the circle, the evolution; however, you want to tie the pieces together.

Is something we work hard to get worth what we’re giving up?

Is the pain we choose to endure worth the reward?

Is success worth every failure?

Is living worth dying for?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

I can only speak of my own reality.

And while you too have answers based on your own view of the world and life experiences, I’d like us to ponder on these questions more deeply.

Because like a long-distance train, we may keep on “chugging” a little longer, and then, it’ll be time to pull the breaks. When we do, I believe most of us would want to know we ended at the right stop.

Yes, significant shifts happen in life. Like tectonic plates of the earth re-arranging, they’re easily felt, and they wake us up. But there are subtle turns, too, urging us to take notice- like birthdays.

“The two most important days in our life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain

Birthdays, to me, will always remain special. It’s kind of a reset button, calling us to go back to the root of it all.

Have we expressed ourselves genuinely since the day we were born?

Have we strayed from the path made visible or shaped it as we went along with the tools we were given?

More importantly, did we come to know the intention behind the path?

sundaewrites

When I picture myself coming out of my mother’s womb, I see myself crying because finally, I’m independent, separated from my mom, and will have to be on my own sooner or later. It was a scary state to be in, but I knew I needed to adapt.  

I cry because it feels miraculous to be born, magical to be on this planet called earth, fortunate to know that out of a billion combinations, the universe impressed my ID tag and chose to manifest through me. 

I cried because I was handed a purpose, kind of like a mission to fulfill, though that wasn’t very clear when my eyes caught the first ray of light. 

Were my parents happy? I like to think they were, though I doubt they knew what they signed up for. Parenting is tough. Nevertheless, they were the right parents for me.

What did my birth mean to the world? Well, I don’t want to fill in the gaps. However, this is where feedback can be helpful. So if you have something, I care to know.

What did it mean to God? A lot. He made me in His image and likeness, and that’s a big deal. So my desire is to let His face shine through wherever I go.

I know I fail often, but every single time, it’s worth another try.

On Getting What You Want

The subtle mistake is coming from a place of lack.

Getting what you want or achieving your goals is like chasing happiness. It becomes elusive when you run after it.

But when you start with “knowing and believing that you already have it”, it becomes possible to create. Think about a seed finally realizing its capacity to grow into a tree.

Framing our wants positively is important too.

I still hear most people unconsciously focusing on what they don’t want.

“I don’t want to die with a mountain of debt.”

‘I don’t want to lose my job.”

“I don’t want to be alone.”

These may sound harmless but if you don’t want this or that, what do you want?

To be financially independent?

To be so good in your job?

To be supportive and nourishing in your relationships?

When you use statements that clarify what you want, it turns into something you can act on. You are moving towards something instead of running away from something. Remember, where your focus goes, your energy flows.

ACT. This is the most obvious clue to translate your desires into reality.

Things don’t magically appear in front of us. 

Goals don’t materialize overnight.

When we focus on our big goals, most of us either get lost in daydreaming or think, “Who am I kidding? This isn’t possible at all!”  

Well, self-fulfilling prophecies like that could work, just not in your favor.

Break it into pieces. That’s how we can tackle a goal we perceive to be huge.

Think about one thing that you can do today that supports your goal. Using the above examples you could:

  1. Think of an expense you can cut down or eliminate, then add that available money to pay off debts.
  2. Learn something that relates to your role and practice it.
  3. Put your phone down. Listen and be present when a loved one talks to you.

These may seem like small steps, but if you look closer, as you do them you’re already becoming the person you desired you would. The journey IS the destination.

Lastly, celebrate your wins, even the small ones.

Include each win on your “Wins-List” or write about it in your journal.

Why? Because these are your trophies. They are proof and reminders that if you did it once, you can do it again. You can replicate your wins.

Most people ignore daily achievements, but it’s the daily things that get you to where you want to be. As you go along, your confidence grows. You become more willing and able to take further shots in life.

When celebrating your wins, remember to include your “squad” or “people” too. They could be your loved ones, teammates, or friends.

There’s something so satisfying when you share victories with people who fully support you.

How?

  • It gives room for positive reinforcements;
  • It gives an opportunity to acknowledge, and thank the people who’ve been with you the whole way through. 

Trust above helps you today. Create a wonderful life.

Time

We get too hung up comparing ourselves with others in terms of “pace”- how fast or slow we move through life. And sometimes we get disappointed too when plans get “delayed”.

It has to do with how we experience time.

But think about this.

The ancient Greeks have two words for TIME.

1. Chronos – which means chronological/sequential time: the time of clocks and calendars

2. Kairos – which means a proper/ opportune time; the right time.

So whenever you catch yourself fixated on Chronos, perhaps invite Kairos in and ask, “What time is this for?”

…for deeper insights, read Ecclesiastes 3.

How God Shows Up In Not-So-Typical Ways

You don’t find God only in Church.

After three years of active community work, I’ve decided to take a break.  Coming to this conclusion is never easy. It means I won’t be able to see my favorite people on the planet, play music, lead worship or just be there to be a friend to someone.  I felt at a loss. You see, I’ve grown an attachment towards what I do and the people I do it for.  As years go by, it becomes harder and harder to let go.

When everything you do is done as a worship to God, no amount of effort, time, or resource is ever wasted. Every act becomes meaningful, every thought, significant, every breath, an offering.

An elder in the community once told me that any attachment to what’s material or can be seen, is not from God. Wherever God leads you, there’s always a mission to do. So just go and carry with you a servant’s heart.

I struggled with this idea and wanted to stay where I was. I thought, if I’m called to do something new or different, God will let me know in ways that I would clearly hear and perfectly understand.  Surely I was expecting something big to happen to move me. Something that can never go by unnoticed.  So I waited.

Then I remembered Elijah. He too waited on God. The windstorm, the earthquake, and the fire came, but God wasn’t in there. Until something unexpected came along. A gentle breeze.

As luck would have it, that’s how He came to me too.

There was no grandiose event or glorious moment. But in both ordinary places and spontaneous occasions, God gave a series of divine appointments.  

With Whom And How?

Strangers and no-strangers I bump into on regular days.

Dates with myself.

Alone time with Him. 

He showed up in places and moments I never would have expected. 

It’s amusing to know that God can surprise us like that.  I’ve never been more aware of Him than these past few days.  From, 

  • the glitter of the morning sun, 
  • the stillness of water as I walk by the lake, 
  • the scent of fresh flowers, 
  • the feel of wood in my hand, 
  • the glow of the night skies, to
  • the quietness of late afternoons,

 

God’s presence is so real, so tangible. It feels like I could almost touch Him.

Certainly, there is something larger than life. Something greater and significant is going on than the demands of every day.  When you quiet the noise around you, that’s when you hear it. When you wait openly and intently, that’s when you receive and fully understand it.

We never stop being with God just because we’re not inside the church or in the company of believers. He is alive in us and is with us wherever we go. We can always talk to Him and about Him, and bring Him to a friend, a stranger, a family, or to the person living next door. 

 

Divine appointments.  God may call you for it too.  Be ready, and when He nudges you just say yes.  No fear, no excuses, no doubts, no holding back. 

 

 

Question:

Was there a time in your life when God asked you to do something unexpected? How did that invitation go? Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear your story.  

 

How God Shows Up In Not-So-Typical Ways

You don’t find God only in Church.

After three years of active community work, I’ve decided to take a break.  Coming to this conclusion is never easy. It means I won’t be able to see my favorite people on the planet, play music, lead worship or just be there to be a friend to someone.  I felt at a loss. You see, I’ve grown an attachment towards what I do and the people I do it for.  As years go by, it becomes harder and harder to let go.

When everything you do is done as a worship to God, no amount of effort, time, or resource is ever wasted. Every act becomes meaningful, every thought, significant, every breath, an offering.

An elder in the community once told me that any attachment to what’s material or can be seen, is not from God. Wherever God leads you, there’s always a mission to do. So just go and carry with you a servant’s heart.

I struggled with this idea and wanted to stay where I was. I thought, if I’m called to do something new or different, God will let me know in ways that I would clearly hear and perfectly understand.  Surely I was expecting something big to happen to move me. Something that can never go by unnoticed.  So I waited.

Then I remembered Elijah. He too waited on God. The windstorm, the earthquake, and the fire came, but God wasn’t in there. Until something unexpected came along. A gentle breeze.

As luck would have it, that’s how He came to me too.

There was no grandiose event or glorious moment. But in both ordinary places and spontaneous occasions, God gave a series of divine appointments.  

With Whom And How?

Strangers and no-strangers I bump into on regular days.

Dates with myself.

Alone time with Him. 

He showed up in places and moments I never would have expected. 

It’s amusing to know that God can surprise us like that.  I’ve never been more aware of Him than these past few days.  From, 

  • the glitter of the morning sun, 
  • the stillness of water as I walk by the lake, 
  • the scent of fresh flowers, 
  • the feel of wood in my hand, 
  • the glow of the night skies, to
  • the quietness of late afternoons,

 

God’s presence is so real, so tangible. It feels like I could almost touch Him.

Certainly, there is something larger than life. Something greater and significant is going on than the demands of every day.  When you quiet the noise around you, that’s when you hear it. When you wait openly and intently, that’s when you receive and fully understand it.

We never stop being with God just because we’re not inside the church or in the company of believers. He is alive in us and is with us wherever we go. We can always talk to Him and about Him, and bring Him to a friend, a stranger, a family, or to the person living next door. 

 

Divine appointments.  God may call you for it too.  Be ready, and when He nudges you just say yes.  No fear, no excuses, no doubts, no holding back. 

 

 

Question:

Was there a time in your life when God asked you to do something unexpected? How did that invitation go? Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear your story.  

 

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Happy New Year From A Stranger

“There was a moment there when his eyes were almost red and teary. I wasn’t sure what it meant but I felt there was a glimpse of sadness, and at the same time-  a glance of reassuring hope”.- sundaewrites

The best surprise you’re ever gonna get is just around the corner, waiting to land on your hands at the perfect time! Trust me, you’re gonna love it!

Mine came in a package I never expected, but deep down I knew it’s meant for me like Somebody really had me in mind when the gift was picked, wrapped, and finally shipped for delivery.

The working hours have been cut short today. Major roads are going to be closed before dusk. People are rushing to strategic places to witness fireworks, light shows, and water shows. Phones have been ringing nonstop for restaurant and cafe bookings.  Malls are crowded with locals and tourists, and groceries, oh yes, queues are longer, trolleys are stuffed more than ever, check out scanners are beeping faster than I could even blink!

The New Year!

Yes, the last day of the year has arrived, and everybody is looking forward to greeting the new year with a bang! You hear music, and noise everywhere and almost everyone is pumped up and induced to talk louder. But for one still moment, a kind gentle voice caught my ear.

“Happy new year”, he said.

“Happy new year to you too!”, I answered back, hurriedly.

Man: “I really don’t know how to cook, but I will try. My family is coming over”.

Me: “Oh, that’s great. So what do you have in mind”.

Man: “Some potatoes, salad, some meat. How about you?”

Me: “Just bread, cheese, and chips. No cooking required”. I smiled. “So you said your family’s visiting”?

Man: “Yes, for a few days, and then they’re going back. I’ll be left alone here. It’s always work, work, work for me. How about you”?

Me: “That sounds like me too. But I made up my mind to find sort of a balance, starting next year, or tomorrow, if you may”. I’m struggling with it, but I’ll do my best.”

Man: “Read books. That’s what I do. I don’t watch tv shows, and I don’t even have a smartphone but when I read even just a few pages, I feel happy. When you get closer to knowing, and learning, it really feels good. It makes me feel good. And I have God, you know. All these are going to go away anyhow, but I have God, I’m happy and I know I’ll be happy”.

Me: “I agree. I’m a believer too”!

Man: “I know. (smiling with approval). I wish you again a happy new year!

Me: “Same to you. Can I shake your hand”?

Man: “Yes”!

He had a huge grin and even placed my hand on his forehead. I bet if he wasn’t shy at all he could have given me a hug. I know I should have. But the encounter just caught me by surprise!

Did I tell you that during this conversation we were actually at the check out counter, and my card has been rejected maybe four times? The card machine showed an error message and I had to key in my PIN every single time. That gave me like a five-minute delay.  A delay that has been purposely used by the universe for this stranger and me to talk.

There was a moment there when his eyes were almost red and teary. I wasn’t sure what it meant but I felt there was a glimpse of sadness and at the same time a glance of reassuring hope.

God’s divine appointment. I guess that was one of mine. Sometimes these appointments are disguised in disruptions.  But when I heard that kind gentle voice, I felt the sincerity of the man’s heart.  I knew then God was at work in that ordinary but magical moment. The world stood still as he and I exchanged words about our cares and sentiments, but in that small window, of time and space, we’ve given each other a genuine sense of comfort, unadulterated love and the highest form of respect one soul can give to another.

It was unexpected. I was unprepared. And the best part is, I was blessed.

A chance encounter.

A meaningful experience.

An extraordinary way to end the year.

Warmth overload.