Looking Back at One Year

Welp, we’ve officially reached a year since I had my injury that started all of this. This year has not gone like I had expected. In fact if you had told me last May that 365 days from then I’d still be unemployed, unable to walk for long periods of time, and dealing with the further diagnoses’ of NASH and Fibromyalgia…. I might have given up right there.
 
This year has not gone like I expected… There have been many tears, sleepless nights, close calls, and hard discussions. There have been days where I’ve felt like I would give anything to make the pain stop even just for an hour…. there have been days I’ve wondered if I’ll ever have an income again. I’ve taken direct hits to my pride in places I never even knew I had pride.
 
Becoming a burden on those you care about, losing your freedom to do what you want, gaining weight no matter how hard you exercise or how much you change your diet, being open about mistakes in the past, being barely able to even do your own chores, not being able to help others do heavy lifting or shoveling of snow etc because you physically can’t keep up, wondering if you’ll ever be able to be self sufficient, wondering if you can ever be a breadwinner in the home, wondering if you’re even worth marrying or could even raise a family, getting judged as “just not trying hard enough”, the fear of going bankrupt, the fear of getting cancer, the fear of never being able to walk again, the list goes on…. but at the same time, it was all pride.
 
My situation may not have changed and my health my be in shambles, but even if my situation is still the same after a year, I am not. God has been working hard on me, and I don’t know why. But there are times in life when we aren’t meant to question. They’re times when we’re just meant to rise up to the challenges He presents.
 
I have become more organized, more studious. I appreciate the fleeting aspects of life, that I don’t have to stand alone. I used to believe that as long as I could have a house and a family and live a peaceful life, then that would be enough. Now I realize that I don’t want that, and can’t just settle for mediocre. I want to push myself to what only God can do through me.
 
I’ve realized that blame is pointless. It’s not about whose fault it is, but about what you will do moving forward. People can waste their lives obsessing over those who wronged them, those who couldn’t understand them, God for letting it happen…. but what do they gain from it? Can being angry at someone undo what was done? Did those who wrong you even do it JUST to wrong you? Chances are they were acting as best they could. And quite honestly it wasn’t other people who decided whether you rise or fall but God. And God does all things for your benefit, not your loss, so why blame him and miss the strength He is teaching you through it?
 
The truth is that all the things around you…. finances, relationships, health, comfort, future, world order, peace, chaos…. they are all nothing but waves crashing around you. Nothing but a distraction that doesn’t even matter. Keep your eyes on God. The rest doesn’t matter. Keep your eyes on God and He will strengthen you to endure waves that come at you, or may even block the ones you are not ready for.
 
How can I know this? Because it was not by my own strength that I have made it this far. I believed that all things would end come December, and yet here I am still standing. Things are still pretty bad, but this has been a peaceful walk compared to what it could have been. Compared to what it should have been. God is still working on me even though I fail Him time and time again.
 
Yes this road is getting to me. Yes there are days that I break down. But can I truly despair? No… because no matter how bad things get…. no matter how hopeless the future looks… I truly believe that God could undo all of this by tomorrow morning if He so wished…. but even if He doesn’t. Even if things continue to get worse (which I pray that they don’t) I have come to realize He will be with me to help me endure… and to protect me from that which I cannot.
 
There are a multitude of speakers out there who have been through rough times and are now on the other side. But I think it’s equally important to speak up when you’re in the midst of the storm as well. It is easy enough to say things like “I lost my job and it was the best thing that happened to me because now I have this successful company!” or “I was destitute in $80,000 worth of debt and now I’m a millionaire!” but… what can that give other than a brief moment of encouragement? It is good to hear that there is an end to the tunnel, but isn’t it better to hear what the person did to get through it? How they coped on those days when they could barely wake up? Or on those nights when they were so stressed that they couldn’t sleep? To realize that they were stressed and hurt…. and it’s alright to be human like that? That feeling too weak to move forward at times doesn’t mean that you never will?
 
And so if I can encourage anyone else standing in the midst of the storm, I’ll speak now. Because to ignore all that happened this past year would be to waste it.
 
My hope and prayer is that I become strong enough that I will rely on God just as desperately in a time of plenty and blessing, as I do in a time of pain and want. I’m not where I want to me, and there are days when I’m tired or scared…. but even still… God is in control. Whether I am blessed or cursed, does it really matter? Does my current situation limit what God can do through me? Does my current situation deem my worth? Even King Nebuchadnezzar was raised to a seat of power by God, and then later had it taken away by God. Even though he believed it was his own doing.
 
So no. While I do want to live without pain, or have a lot of the stresses crushing in on me to disappear…. I’ve come to realize it is not my ability that will determine which way life will go…. God will bring me out of this if He so wishes, or provide for me to endure if He decides for me to stay.
 
God never asked for us to provide results, only to do the best we can with what we are given and to keep our eyes on Him throughout it all. and quite honestly, that is labour enough! So, as we pass the one year mark, no I am not where I want to be… but I am where God has placed me which means I am where I am meant to be.
 
Amen.
Advertisements

I Blinked…

I was driving along the 400 a few days ago, when all of a sudden a car appeared right in front of me, clearly not aware (or caring) that I existed.
 
Now thankfully, I grew up in the city, and therefore was pretty used to such homicidal driving styles, and as such, was able to slow down, even on icy snow, enough to not get a newly reshaped front bumper… but I had to ask myself, “How did he appear out of nowhere?” and then it dawned on me…
 
I blinked…
 
Now, a normal person would have just left it there, but anyone who knows me should realize, that I am most definitely not normal… so it really got me thinking….
 
I blinked…
 
See, people know about blind spots…. They know we have areas we are naive and unwise in… we invest millions in technology and training to minimize the effects of those blind spots (much like how we install mirrors on the sides of our car and train ourselves to look way back before turning so we can keep an eye on our blindspots) but that doesn’t change the fact that….
 
We blink….
 
This usually doesn’t affect us much. It’s usually something we don’t have to pay much attention to. After all, we usually only blink for a second, and we can usually catch ourselves afterwards pretty quickly… but as any gamer can tell you…. a lot can happen in the fraction of a second…
 
and so we blink….
 
we miss stuff… we get blindsided by things… We make incorrect assumptions due to corrupted observations. It’s not always bias. It’s not always pride. It’s not always incompetence, laziness, stupidity… sometimes…
 
We just blink…
 
I think this is important to realize. ESPECIALLY in today’s modern age. I see so many people running themselves into the ground with anxiety. They have to micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives or their children will rebel! They have to micromanage every part of their finances or they will be blindsided by debt. They have to micromanage every calorie of their health, or else they’ll end up overweight, sick, and dying of cancer…. but here’s the thing…
 
You can learn every technique, manage every detail, download every app, buy every fitbit, protein shake, gross kale combination, and non-everything recipe book you can find… but at the end of the day….
 
You blink….
 
You can manage your health as well as you can, but then one accident will send you down a rabbit hole of slow recoveries and missed medical issues because….
 
you blinked…
 
You can save every penny. Squeeze 50 cents out of every nickel, live as frugally as you can… but then one lost job and bad economy later, you find yourself having anxiety attacks every bill you get, because…
 
You blinked…
 
You can focus on “Fixing every mistake your parents made with you.” Read every pinterest article. Be the most empowering parent you can possibly be giving your children every frivolity and experience you feel you lacked in life, yet still have them rebel against you and say they hate you when they hit teenagehood because while you were focused on what to do you missed that….
 
You blinked…
 
You can do every thing you can imagine. And study further to learn things you couldn’t imagine… but no matter how responsible, strong, or mature you may become…. you will never be able to fix the fact that you are human…
 
You will blink…
 
And that’s why we can’t take the stress and strain of the results of our lives on our own shoulders. We were never designed to be able to handle such a vast and broad thing. Our perspective is tiny and limited. No matter how much experience we gain, we will never be able to grasp every detail we need to to know what the result will be.
 
But that’s okay. Because God knows that we are weak. He made us this way. God never asks us to “Make this happen.” God tells us what He’ll do through us and asks us to trust Him enough to follow Him as He does it…. And it’s hard… and it’s scary…. I write this honestly not knowing if I even have a future worth seeing…. In all honesty, if I was to carry it all on my shoulders there would be no point… I am way too small and far too many of my plans have fallen short by this point… but I’m going to keep following, and I’m going to keep trusting…
 
Even though I can’t say I feel it every day… God is with me… I may not see any freedom… but I would not have lasted this long without Him… It is honestly one of the hardest lessons to learn…. but at the end of the day I give me best… that is all I am ABLE to give… Sure, I’ll look back, and there will be things I SHOULD have done differently. I’ll see things I was dumb on. See things I could have avoided… I already do… but as I’ve kept saying…
 
I blink….
 
So I’m not going to rely on my eyes which blink. I’m not going to rely on my ears that misshear. I’m not going to trust my sense of touch that can go numb…. I’m going to trust God, who says to keep moving forward and trust in Him… because if I do that, the results are His, and it doesn’t matter if…
 
I blink

In His Hands

You know… when I really think about it, there’s absolutely no difference between living a life of comfort and ease, and living a life where every day is a battle and any moment everything could fall apart.
 
No matter how rich, powerful, or well off you are, God could wipe you out in but a single word. No matter how weak, broken, or destitute you are, God could raise you up just as easily.
 
Whether we have freedom or captivity, our hope for the future remains the same. For it was never on our abilities that we were to rise or fall… But by the hand of God.
 
So do not take pride in your standing, and think “I did good and now I am safe to do what I want”…. even though it is easy to do so.
 
Do not despair and say “God save me! I am going to drown!” Even though it is so very hard not to.
 
Your situation hasn’t changed. Your potential hasn’t changed. Your future hasn’t changed. You were, are, and forever will be in God’s hands, whether you follow Him or not. Find comfort and humility in that.
 
Amen

How Long Is The Storm

As I read the story of the disciples in the storm where they cried to wake Jesus so he could save them… I can’t help but wonder…
 
If their faith hadn’t faltered, would the storm have gotten worse?
 
Would it have continued until they were battered and beaten against the walls of the ship?
 
Would it have continued till the ship was battered apart into pieces?
 
Would it have continued until they had floated to land, cold and scared?
 
If this was the case… wouldn’t God still have protected them? But the path would have been quite a trial…
 
CS Lewis once wrote “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” and I find I can relate to that a lot… especially these days…
 
As my funds whither away to nothing… as my attempts to move forward get beaten back one after another… as my paths forward get increasingly less and less as my health checkups reveal problem after problem… As my daily prayers go by and still my circumstances don’t change…. I think it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed….
 
I am not strong… I simply have forgotten how to give up at this point… there are days I feel like a mutilated corpse, dragging itself forward by muscle memory alone… but even still… even should this whole life prove for not… God is still in control….
 
I see His hand in the little things in life. I see His comfort come when I ask for it. Though the giants still stand before me, and their execution axe are nearly at my neck…. though I feel chained to the ground by past stupidities and circumstances, and in spite of my cries God will neither loosen the chains nor defeat my attackers… it is impossible to say His hand is not present… it is impossible to say He is not in control. It is impossible to say He has abandoned me or Cannot save me… God is God. God is good. God is always here…
 
But it is also impossible to say I am not scared… I know God will look out for me. I know God will always be there… but that doesn’t mean there aren’t paths I’m scared to go down…. that doesn’t mean there aren’t paths I’m not scared to trust God even if He decides to take me down them. It doesn’t mean there aren’t paths I pray day after day and night after night that God will pull away from me lest I be forced to face them..
 
This is probably a lack of faith… This may be even why He does not bring them away until He proves that He is still God when brought through my fears… but that is where I am currently at in my state of human weakness.
 
But God is still God… God is still good. For all who go through life problems. For all who suffer and strain. For all who fear in spite of weakness…. I don’t know if I can say you’re right or wrong… but I can say you’re not alone…. I can also say that while Jesus did scold the disciples for their lack of faith, He also did dispel the storm in the end… Though I write this from the center of the storm. Though I write this at the peak of exhaustion… All I can say is pray. Give your best and trust in God. At the end of the day it was never your shoulders this was all resting on anyways. God is in control. Let Him be.
 
Amen

A Prayer of Exhaustion

A prayer for when pushed past your limits:
 
Lord I am scared. I am worn out, defeated. I wake up dreading each new day, I go to bed late not wanting the day to end. I’ve given you my best, but it consistently has fallen far short as has been needed, and quite honestly I can’t even tell which way is forward anymore let alone how to get there.
 
But still YOU are GOD.
 
I pray that you save me. That you give me a path forward. For I am weak and cannot walk this path anymore. But even moreso I pray that if this is truly the path you would have me walk that you give me the strength to move forward. For how many could you save through one servant’s suffering? How many years of blessings could you bring in turn for this short period of pain?
 
I am broken, and in pain. I have lost so much yet still fear losing more. Each time I feel I’ve hit bottom, I am shown that there is still lower I can and will go. But more than my fear of losing what I have… I fear leaving your plans when they are still only half finished.
 
No matter where I am, nor what I have, nor what I am dealing with, you are watching over me, and you will provide. Even if many of my things I think I need go unanswered… even if I feel powerless watching those around me hurt and suffer knowing I have nothing left to give them… you will still provide when it is truly needed. You will let me feel the heat. You may even let me scorch. But you will not let me be destroyed.
 
Lord I pray again for I am scared. I am truly afraid and terrified. Yet I have seen your hand working so clearly throughout this all. I have seen you again and again working even if not in the areas I wish you were. Lord I am scared. I am scared. I am scared. These giants in my life are far larger than me. And I lay here chained in place half by my own doings. Lord forgive me for what sins I have done to bring me to this place, but also do not let your work be hampered by my own weakness. Lord to me these chains are lethal. Choking and restraining. To you they are brittle. Petty and weak.
 
Lord. I pray not for you to save me. Though I truly desire to be saved. I pray that you use me. That you use these circumstances to help me grow, and to encourage those around me. What a waste of suffering it would be if you brought me this far just to bring me back to where I left off. Lord I pray. I am not some victim struggling to survive. I am YOUR servant! Servant of the most high God!
 
Lord, if you are willing, I pray that you take this meager life, and use it to create an impact that only you can. For what do I have but you? What can I get that is not from you?
 
Lord, strengthen my heart, widen my understanding. Let these things soften me to become empathetic, not harden me to become bitter. Lord I am struggling. Lord I will fall. Lord I already have many times. Please Lord. I am yours. Do your way with me.
 
Amen

Proof in Pain

What do you do when things keep going wrong?

I don’t mean you get called out for the corners you cut, at least then you would have the comfort in believing that things would be better if you pushed yourself harder… I mean, what do you do when you push yourself far beyond your limits daily, you address every sin you can think of, you organize yourself, you face things you don’t like doing, cut things out of your life that hold you back, pray daily and hard, read your bible daily and intently, seek wisdom of others, and you still fail! (Not that you are perfect but if life required perfection, which ones of us could stand?) When the problems that keep coming up aren’t from lack of foresight, but incredibly unlikely things which mercilessly barrage you and threaten to overtake you. “If it’s out of your hands, why worry about it?” Is comforting until most of your life is out of your hands… until you find yourself continuously backed into a corner… as your own strength and endurance is continually taken away from you, as the size of your problems only seem to multiply…

What do you do when life is unfair, there is no hope, and the harder you pray, the more ridiculously hard life gets?

You find hope in that…

Because there is no logical reason for all of this to happen… because it is totally unfair to suffer so much when others who work half as hard end up 10x more successful and relaxed. Because it makes no sense that the harder you pray for deliverance, the harder your suffering becomes…. it makes no sense unless you consider life simply trying to tell you to grow up and take life in your own hands.

But why would life try to say that? Why would a non sentient state of being alter the forces of our world just to get that point across? The only way is if there were an entity of great power trying to make one give up hope that there is an entity of great power. The only one who would benefit for the denial of their own existence is one who wishes to destroy you, or the devil. The only reason the devil would work so hard to make you give up would be if there was one he was trying to keep you from seeing.

The world says, “Because there is suffering there is no God.” I say, “because there is suffering there MUST be God!”

Take faith, walk strong, pray!

In the Belly of the Whale

What do you do when you’re in the belly of the whale?

I see a lot of posts, and hear a lot of advice from people who laugh and give nostalgic smiles, and say things like

“I used to be like you… full of dreams, full of passion. But I realized that life didn’t work that way. You need to buckle down and work hard. Put aside your passions until your can afford it. Put a fire under you and take on the jobs you don’t like… because even the best jobs are going to have days you don’t like! But God is faithful to those who work hard. Those who have ambition. Those who take life into their own hands and instead of waiting for him to do something make something with what they have! Remember the parable of the talents!”

But the problem is… what if your dreams and passions are to keep food on your table and a roof over your head? What if it’s not about doing work that’s unpleasant, but being overwhelmed from crying yourself to sleep as your body continues to break down one thing after another? What if you’re dealing with the sins in your life, trying to make responsible choices, but then thieves come, investments fall through, unexpected expenses keep popping up with health and things breaking?

5 years ago, I tried to live life according to my dreams… I took a job offered to me that would bring me closer to the person I was dating, I got an apartment that I could afford and seemed sturdy and safe. My plan was to work my way up and muscle through the grunt labour for a year or two so I could apply for better jobs and put my business diploma to use. Then when I was self sufficient I would marry my girlfriend, and we could live a nice, simple life, trying to help out those in our community around us by sharing with what God had blessed us with.

But as I worked there, I discovered something worrisome. I discovered that my best was below mediocre. I discovered my body was physically not capable of keeping up with the bare minimum requirements needed to keep working.

For an entire year I pushed myself. I lost about 60 lbs (40 of which were in the first 2 months), I saw my doctor, I exercised, I ate well, I pushed myself to the point that I would pass out for two days straight, and was often coughing up blood from the exertion barely being able to speak anymore… and yet not only could I not keep up with those who would simply be chatting or goofing off… my numbers were actually getting worse! I tried applying for other jobs, but my employee profile was tied to my ability to do my job, so my resumes would be instantly thrown out before they were even looked at. I was given a tough choice… quit with no job, or risk permanent damage to my body….

I chose the former and moved back home… then ended up working 6 hours a week for a year which put me into further debt. I wasn’t just a victim… I shop when I’m stressed… sometimes it’s for investments I think can help me move forward, sometimes it’s for distractions to distract me from reality around me. I got to my eyeballs in debt in spite of my applying everywhere and trying every angle I could get… Finally I fasted and prayed, and the next day I was offered a job as janitor at my church that I hadnt even applied for.

Around that time, I started studying Japanese. Originally it was just a step towards learning many languages (make your first your hardest and all other languages will be easy) but during that time, God slowly put Japan on my heart more and more. Till finally I asked Him to send me where He wants and He put Japan on my heart….. But I was up to my eyeballs in debt… and graduated college not university which makes immigration tough! And I knew my parents would hate the idea considering how much trouble I was already in!

So I backed out, justifying it by saying to God, “If you can provide the way there and win over my parents, I’ll study the language because thats all I can do!”

And I continued running… hiding and waiting for there to be less and less obstacles in my path… God offered many opportunities for me to follow… People who seemed eager to help me, contacts in conversation schools and churches… but I put them off… because I was scared… because I felt I couldnt do it… I was Jonah running from Ninevah. Though not because I feared Ninevah, because I feared the land I was in right now.

When I had the injury back in May, I realized I couldn’t run anymore (literally) I realized, it wasnt about trying to find a safe path to follow God… I needed to follow God so HE could lead me down the safe paths. And so I applied for University… I did serious research. I confronted my parents. I studied seriously…. I took myself from If God makes a way” to “I WILL follow Him!”

But now I am in the belly of the whale…. it must have been hard for Jonah… to finally decide to follow God and realize it was beyond his power to do so…. I understand that fully… But what do you do in those situations? When questions like “Where will I live, where will I work, how will I afford these next 2 years until I can go?” Fill your head.

You pray. You pray and you follow God.

The whale that prevented Jonah from going to Ninevah is exactly what got him there.

Pray and follow God. Trust in Him, not your own understanding. Human wisdom and pride are poor companions for following God. Focus on what you can do now. Let God worry about what you can’t do.

You are not making the path. You are following the maker!

You can do it. You are not alone. Amen