Being manipulated, but hopeful still

6 03 2011

Reverting to decision-making as a result of the current assignment I am working on with this programme, and I recall again the words of Selina in our last session, that I need to learn to make decisions of my own. The only thing harder than making hard decisions is starting to make any decisions at all.

The decision to move out was made about 6 years ago, and it has taken that same amount of time to put the words into action. And now, the choking anger that rises as a result of what goes on here is suffocating, and heavy in the back of my throat are the many words that are dying on their way out.

It is appalling to me that someone who is so decisive and so full of the potential for leadership struggles with what should be insignificant issues. Decision-making should come easily to someone like me, but it doesn’t. On the route to becoming self-sufficient, and dealing with daily obstacles, there is a lot to be broken about.

But I will stand firm, because I have hope. Things will get better, and then I will look back upon these days and smile.


Current anger

27 06 2009

ranting-fishI’m sitting at my desk working on my dissertation, and then it’s dinner. Afterwards, we’re all laughing to the show with the most _________ people performing their most _________ acts, and then she turns around and snaps at him.

Does she not understand that there are only so few is so little time left, that any moment we have together may be the last moment we recollect when the same things we laugh at, or talk about, or the experiences we share, are no longer? I had to leave the room; staying would have meant saying something that I would have regretted. It’s always something, and then there’s something else. Right now on my playlist the song that’s playing is “Love Is Not Enough” by Nine Inch Nails off With Teeth and I’m struck by the ___________. For someone so forgiven, I have an awful lot of rage in me.

Right now I’m waiting for my boss to email me back and tell me whether I can have those two days off to see that concert. It’s a fickle reason to miss work, sure, but why August 3rd, anyway??

And another thing that’s really bothering me right now is how my brother and I seem to not be communicating without one or both of us losing our temper in some way. And I remember how we were in Phuket, and how everything seemed easier, and all the time I had been thinking about how if we were back home, it would not be “this easy” to converse, and be back the way we were.

And yet another thing that’s bothering me is how I have no inspiration for the dissertation: I have been stuck at 100 words for the past I-don’t-know-how-many days, because I read through what I’ve written, hate it, and wipe it all out. This summer writing period is not turning out to be as productive as I need it to be.

But I’ve kind of made a decision about something permanent, so if everything works out the way I hope for it to then I’ll be going ahead with it.

So, a continuation…

9 08 2008

So I was talking about Crossroads International last night, and it was an immense experience because of the new perspective from someone in a slum. We had to make stacks of 10 paper bags, and sell them to the shopkeepers, who were basically lord over the land kind of thing, and they may or may not accept them. So the money we had to make was like:

  • 100 for food
  • 130 for rent
  • 30 for sanitation (which was optional, but if you didn’t pay for it, and went behind the slums instead, you ran the risk of malaria and measles and other diseases, which 2 of my family did)
  • 500 for education (which, again, was not essential, but if you think about it, it really is. Without education, the cycle of poverty never breaks… and it’s such a tragedy)

They were 10 minute sessions, and if you couldn’t pay rent, you had to go and live under the bridge, which took more money to get out of, and was further away from the shops. After a while, an announcement was made that we could opt to sell one of the children to a sneaker factory and make 250 off of them, but we’d never see them again. It became a life and death situation for me, and at one point, I shouted, “WE ARE NOT SELLING ANYONE! JUST MAKE THE PAPER BAGS – WE’LL BE FINE! WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND WE’RE NOT SELLING ANYONE!” It got quite intense, and even though we couldn’t pay the rent for one of the sessions, we were able to keep everyone alive, and nobody was sold. The shopkeeper I had to deal with at one point found one bag unsatisfactory, and ripped that one up. He then threw the rest of the bags in my face, and the whole experience was heinous. But. We didn’t give any shady hugs or massages… and for that, I was thankful.

But what I got out of it was how when desperate, it’s so easy to compromise on morals and ethics and values, and just do what’s easy. I’m not judging that; it’s just that a group of highly educated adults made decisions they wouldn’t normally have made, merely to survive in a simulation. There were people who stole from one another to metaphorically put food on the table, and there were others who thought hugging for 50 was no big deal… it was heartbreaking when I had to think about a mother making that decision to sell a child so she could feed the other children… and a story was told of families that allow horrific things to be done to young children by tourists and the like and whilst crying in the next room as that thing was done to them, praying that the child would not remember those sinful, evil things being done… God, it was just so… horrible. On the one hand there was always the thought that I’d be able to leave the situation and get back into the comfort of my home, and be fed and provided-for, but on the other hand, there was the sheer desperation of not being able to feed my children, and all that that entails. It was a shocking, horrible experience, but so valuable.

And because of the decisions I had to make, and because of the choices that lie before each of us, tonight at Solid Rock, I gave the introductory talk on decisions and choices, and then we watched Shells, the 20th Nooma video. It asked some huge questions of me, and I thought hard about my answers. I love it when something asks difficult questions, which might not even have concrete answers. Although I’m one of those people who prefer steps and stages that are tangible and accessible, tough questions about faithand belief need to be asked, and we need to wrestle with them to really understand what our purpose is.

I think I’m learning that bit by bit. What my purpose is, and what I’m living for, those are questions I’m asking of myself day by day. Eventually I will have the same answer to the two questions, and eventually, they will be the ‘right’ answers, but for now, they’re honest answers, at least.


6 07 2008

I was given the Nooma video called Shells this morning and I just finished watching it. There was a sense throughout lunch that I was meant to come home and watch this DVD on my own, and not another movie, even though I wanted to say yes to Hancock, or Kung Fu Panda.

That sense of something more just brought to mind why I was given the video. I have been unable to pick up the starfish for the shells in my fists. More, more, more, is the voice in my head that I have to do everything, whether it be on my own, or with people, or doing something that I am “meant to be doing,” because I… can. So often in the past three years I’ve felt so frustrated and upset over the lack of time I have… but the video made me realise that I don’t






and it’s killing my head right now because I don’t know how to distinguish between what’s necessary, and what comes under “the few things that God has put into” my life, from what I’ve put into my life, and what I’ve been stressing out over. But which are entirely of my own doing, my own action of saying yes when I could say no, or not being able to say no when I’ve already said yes too many times. The gesture of looking at the watch constantly, but in the greater context of picking his child up, was beautiful to me. Not because of the urge to keep track of the time, but because of why he was doing that.

I’m going to go off and think heavily about this. I think I need to.


the different

6 01 2008


last night, i was speaking with one of the youth, and they shared that they had been going through a time of questionning and doubt, and that it was hard to feel faith-full, like before. i wished i could have some kind of answer that would definitively solve the questions at once, the riddle of what happens when we don’t feel loved, or faithful, or whatever. answers like:

  • just plough on, and keep believing – eventually you’ll “feel it” again;
  • it’s okay, don’t worry. it’ll work itself out, and then you’ll have a great story to tell;
  • maybe you’re not reading the bible enough… have you tried job?;
  • perhaps you could try singing more worship songs and you’ll start believing again?;
  • the struggles are God’s way of telling you to start growing, so start growing in your faith; and
  • well, it happens. just hang on in there

the above replies (because they are surely not answers) all came to my head in a mad rush after the last words finished being spoken. sure, they’re easy, and they’ve been said a million times to me, to people i’ve talked to, and written in christian books i’ve read. do they help? i’m not so sure. in fact, i’m pretty sure they’re about as useful as ‘a ham sandwich at a bar mitvah’ i think there aren’t such things as pat answers when you’re dealing with faith, like you can’t just throw out a couple of well-phrased lines, no matter how recycled they are, and expect that everything will work out. i think the answer will always be out of these two:

  1. it’s okay to question.
    one reason is it’s how we show that we’re thinking about things, important things to do with where we are and who we are. if not, then we’re just sheep in the worst sense of the noun – we’re just following whatever is trendy, or easiest.
  2. we’re being honest, by bringing all that “junk” back to God.
    He can handle the truth – He was the beginning of all that, after all. if we’re not bringing the truth back to Him in our lives, our questions, our acts of worship and everything in between, what are we doing? mike pilavachi writes in when necessary use words: changing lives through worship, justice and evangelism, “too often we don’t know how to handle people’s cries to God. we worry that they’re not being reverent and are therefore offending God with their questions; but the psalms make it pretty clear that God wants us to pour it all out to Him – every emotion. Jesus didn’t have much time for people who were so busy putting on a show of holiness that they forgot to get their hearts right before His Father.” (37-38) and that opened my eyes in a way they hadn’t been opened in a long time.

God can handle the truth. if what we’re bringing to Him is what we think He wants to receive, and we’re shielding the questions or doubts or worries we have because otherwise we wouldn’t seem faithful enough, or strong enough… then we’re not bringing anything worthwhile.