Tag Archives: father

Hey, Littlest

11 Feb

My students – well, not mine. But it’s either that or calling them ‘the kids’ which is misinterpretable to the uninitiated, not the least of the reasons being that there are about forty of them!

Anyway… Start over. My students keep asking me if I have any nicknames. What is my favorite shortened version of my name? Did my family really call me by name…? My name is a three-syllabled thing. Shorter than Elisabeth. Longer than Charlotte. Not Anglo-Saxon. But it’s not hard to say and it always strikes me that people who complain about saying it, complain not so much because it’s ‘long’ which is what they think they’re complaint because 😉 but because it’s ‘foreign’ and when someone’s name is foreign AND long, I mean that’s just way too much trouble. Not only do you expect to learn something non-English, non-American – you want us to not even make it easier on ourselves…

And yet, no one complains about say, Giovanni, Madonna or even Angelina Jolie. Just something I suspect, but I daresay no one even notices as a prejudice in themselves. I am not unsuspect in this either. Me too!

But it is true. My family really always has bothered to call me by my whole name. All three short syllables of it. And the only other nicknames they gave me were terms of endearment.

And pretty unusual ones at that. Ever noticed some terms of endearment come more naturally to some people than others? I could never say ‘darling’. I don’t know why. I try – even to a puppy, I can’t manage it with a straight face.

😀

My mother often calls me ‘her baby girl’ or just her baby. I’m not baby anymore, that’s for sure. I’m definitely not any more the little, plump, curly-haired thing you hauled on to your lap that that phrase brings to mind! Lol.

But it’s the kind of protective, stepping-in-for-you surge of emotion that probably brings that phrase to her mind. And it’s the knowledge of that affection that can still make me clog up when she writes completely ridiculously sentimental stuff like:

xxx.xxx@gmail.com

I love you, my baby girl.

_____

I mean seriously – how can I ever read my email in a library?! Haha. But my eyes still well up, because I know she does love me. And I miss her.

So no. I got the whole three syllables plus a whole lotta love in eeeeven LONGER terms of endearment from that source. So still trying to find a response to my students, my mind tracked back to my dad.

The dad is pretty stoic in some ways. He’s the kind of dad who, when faced with the teary-eyed, trembling lip precursor to a good cry, will quickly and staunchly pat you awkwardly on the back and say ‘Now, now’. In as soothing a tone as he can manage. He gave pretty decent hugs though – if you managed to get one off him as his daughter, he’d grunt comfortably and give you a hug… Before, of course, patting you strongly and firmly on the back with a ‘Now, now’ equivalent.

Yet he’s also pretty emotional when he’s emotional.

And then my mind tracked again to the father who’s always been near. I must admit my father unashamedly hovers. Like he did at creation. Good habits die hard 🙂

I have so much love to be thankful for. The father, my mum and dad… Today I’m thinking about them. My dad’s nickname for me was a Tamil variant – Chinza – that simply meant ‘a little person’. I figure he didn’t lose out on the protective streak either. But it’s a diminutive (look that up, if you need to). In English, it would sound sorta like ‘Hey, Littlie’ but not in any demeaning way that that could imply. When the dad wanted a game or to pick me up or to go on a drive together, he’d often start with ‘Hey, Chinza!’

Hey, Littlest.

It is one of those words I’ve never heard without love. So last night, I pushed my bike up the hill considering my rather-unsharable nicknames. Considering proofs of love I knew. And I think my head became quite silent inside. God stopped me. My father stopped me.

Hey, Littlest.

I love you more than anyone else. More than you can ever know. 

What’s blind about trust?

26 May

I remember this time when God gave me a vision, a revelation of what it meant to trust…

I didn’t have to wear sackcloth or travel to Nineveh, but I did see the same picture every time I shut my eyes. The memory of the picture was strong, but sometimes it wasn’t a memory. It just swiftly slid in before my closed eyes.

There I was, standing on the edge of a cliff. With –nothing– before me. Nothing. Just a very long drop. I remember checking the second or third time I kept thinking of that picture and seeing it to see what was below me. There really was nothing.

The path to the edge was very short. There didn’t seem to be much else before the cliff edge. Perhaps a curtain of trees. A very impenetrable curtain anyway. Because all I knew was I was desperate and terribly scared and unable to take my eyes away from that heart-plunging drop into nothingness.

And I needed to walk out from that cliff.

But God’s will for me – or my sense of it in that moment of visualisation was pretty strong. I was convinced despite my shaking fear that I needed to go forward into what was, as far as any sane man could see, empty space and the world’s biggest fall.

Later on that week, I think I was able to imagine another faintly discernible cliff edge beyond the abyss. I wouldn’t say it was beckoning me – if anything, it was worrying to think that that was what I was going towards. I had no idea what I was walking towards or what it held.

But I stepped out.

Because God in my head was so undeniable and consuming. I took a step forward and nothing happened, while I hovered precariously with one foot gingerly testing the gravitational resistance of air. But I decided this – one of two things would happen. I would fall and God would hold me. And I already knew the best place in the world was in my Father’s arms. Or I would fall and hit the bottom if there was one and I might know nothing after that. But I would rather (although minimally rather, and for this I asked for some growth in love) that fall into God knew what than live between the curtain and the edge having turned away from God. I’d rather that than live anywhere without this God. So – um – the me in the dream (I was fabulously skinny in the picture, of course) stepped down on air with my happy first foot and took the second foot off the ground.

I dropped.

For the fraction of a moment – okay, or even a whole moment – there was a fall into nothing but I wasn’t afraid. Given my choice, I had this resignation that I recognised in that moment. And then I was standing. And walking.

Ever dreamt you were falling only to wake up and find your bed solid beneath you? It was kinda like that – a vaguely familiar feeling.

So I walked on air. Or rather what looked to me like a pretty multi-coloured, white light rainbow type bridge that didn’t go any further than each last step I took.

And in the moment between the fall and the standing, I heard these words: ‘Unconditional trust’.

To me, they were new. I’ve seen them being written about since, but they were new. Unconditional love was a given in my mind – but trust? Oh, that needed data for a sceptic. And yet, and yet – that day I had my data in the force of God’s love. I can trust nothing more.

The love of God

12 May

The love of God is brutally honest in its claim of your everything. God never wanted a casual relationship – ever. He has never once, in all of history, asked for it. You will never ‘date’ the bridegroom of your soul. He knew, he purposed, he chose, he sought!

When I was a young girl – 13 or 14? – I asked his Holy Spirit to know human love from this example. I wanted purpose from the start of a relationship. I still do. I didn’t want the other way around because we only compare the two loves because God made it a metaphor… And this example was so pure and so perfect and so undeserved and yet so indispensible to me.

Indispensible for survival. I cannot imagine my world without Christ in it.

It has never been a passion of a moment. He knew before we ever remembered him that he would find us. It’s never been the fluttery, heart-warming, giggle-worthy emotion we now, sadly, often associate with love. To show you I am not on a high horse, I will say this – human love is a beautiful thing. It is a metaphor of God’s love for us. No less.

This God-variety of love is a love that courts your utter vulnerability because he has become irreparably vulnerable.

The veil was never un-torn.

The stone was never rolled back.

And in his eternal, willing vulnerability – a God that I can wound, a God that I can reject, a God that I can embrace with all that I am and in whom become fully who I am – I am now always, unchangeably, and forever, myself… slowly understanding there is no fear. Not in such perfect love.

He is strong enough in his desire to prise open my closedness. To draw out the aching, gaping shreds of flesh that I choose to hide under old gauze. There is pain in that release, but only because I hold on so hard. Until, gently as he holds me and unfurls my clenched fists, clenched in fear and unbelief, the realisation hits me that I am home and I can let go of the props of sojourn that I have foolishly turned into my weary foundations. Bag, shoes, the inertia of motion, the tokens of travel – down. I am home.

If, in this love, you will touch and taste and leave behind because you find the pain of release too hard, I have learned this – God would only have your all. It is a choice.

iAnalyse

7 Apr

I analyse. Incessantly. Mostly myself, mostly critically, ‘most all the time…

Here is what I have come up with. I have upper-middle class sympathies and inclinations, I am quick to recoil from the failings of society that can be massed into a statistic, I have several of my own failings that sadly are less open to scrutiny. I don’t know if analysing my categorisability will make me want to fall into another category… In fact, I don’t think it will. But I am intrigued by the quirks of judgement that go with categories and labels.

Teen pregnancy, alcoholism, addiction, lack of a college education – Lord, may it never come into our lives. And I agree – amen! I don’t want it there. But but – there is little said about the domestic friction, the violence in Indian homes, the gender dominance, the deep-seated resentment of familial structure and dependence – these things, we will never bemoan openly.

I’m not bringing down the standards. Far from it. I’m saying in giving ourselves obvious standards, social standards, we find it easy to be the new ‘genteel unhappy’…

The Lord weighs the heart…

And then there is more to my self-analysis. This is the real cruncher. The level at which I analyse most of the time… Just plain ol’ me. I don’t know where you are on this spectrum – but you can be objective about your thoughts, about your beliefs, you can tell when you’re irrational, you can tell when you’re instinctive, you. can. criticise. and be your worst opponent in an argument.

This is a blessing. I kid you not. I mean, it’ll take you a while to find out but it really is… Because when it comes to accountability, you’ve already done the hard work. I am also grateful for the times when this isn’t self-induced but instead I am listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, convicting, moving and gently nudging to acknowledge truth, to hear His heartbeat and not my own.

And although it hurts, and although your self will try to take over and be merciless, I love that vulnerability in the presence of God.

I give you all my pieces, Lord. Hold me together. And take the unbroken parts and break open the flaws set in stone… Change my heart.  Find it here, as I lay myself before you. I give you only broken worship. There is no one else I trust, but You – Your Holy Spirit and His revelations, and the people you use and nudge me to listen. Hold me close into wholeness then. I do, I really do – I give you all my pieces.

Churched Christianity

24 Mar

This happened several days ago. She told me I was getting old. For certain things in life… Most of my friends in the workplace and at university were/are older than I. I am older than her by a year. Everyone in the course last year that I want to join next year was four years older than I, at least. I say these things not to defend myself. My first reaction – like yours – was to wince and nod. It was to accept the constraints. I do think I am getting old. And I know with another part of me that that is untrue. There is a difference between realism and this willingness to believe the least of yourself. But it hurt to hear it because most other people outside of church do not think so. Most of my friends don’t normally share this view either!

But I have a pretty convenient system of half-forgiving things and forgetting about them – I mean things interfere less with your to-do list that way. I don’t know if ‘forgiving’ is the right word or if there is such a thing as half-forgiveness either 😉 I mean, what I did was basically be ungracious in my own mind.

I simply decided to think this friend was perhaps not as mature as I was, had different definitions about culture and society than I did, had different constraints on what it was to be a woman and different ideas about “having life and having it to the full”. ← That’s all. All beautiful things to have, and all rather easy for me to think and not remember this little commandment.

Ah but look at the new NIV’s rendition of this, which sometimes – some very few times in my life – does make sense.

I think it does especially for people who are used to considering themselves below everyone else, less than average, less than ideal, not anyone’s idea of beautiful… So many women I know do this. I know some men do too, but I don’t know enough who will tell me to say ‘so many men’ 😉 We forget how much God has planned for us and we cut ourselves short. We imagine we’re incomplete without that house or that car or that husband.

We accept the constraints that people give us.

What is horrible about all this is that nowhere does it grow as much as it does in the church. We live in accordance with the church, not God.

We worry about how ‘churched’ we look and are. Our witness fails to be about God’s calling on our lives.

NO – I was not equating a husband, a car and a house but I am trying to point out that we do equate them. To often. As if everything in life is about planned acquisition, the next step, moving on, the natural stages.

Who gave us natural stages? Not God. Not really. Isaac was born well beyond natural, people laughed at Noah’s idea of building a home, Eli’s sons didn’t pick up on the whole dynastic paradigm of churches today… they went pretty wrong and God saw it, unlike our churches… Jonathan would rather have put his life in danger, let God’s purposes be fulfilled than be his father’s son. David chose to follow God out of the expected life of Jesse’s son, out of his sheep and his music, to building up a nation that needed it.

In my generally three-cornered conversations, this was one of the times I managed to stop and listen to God and to be honest with my friend. To be more gracious. Oh – that does not come naturally for yours truly as it does for her friends 🙂 ! Sigh. I told her we were only too old/frumpy/inadequate/whatever other excuse for some ‘Christians’ – it was the saddest thing I had to say. She agreed. Because, of course, it’s not ‘good’ to want more, it’s not ‘good’ to want to change the world, it’s not ‘good’ to be loud about poverty and homelessness and illiteracy and oppression, and it’s not ‘good’ to be discontent with wrong and injustice… Oh, discontent is sin… of course.

Think again. Pray. Again.

These ideas we have about a person’s possibility in the world – they come from a limited idea of what God can do.

You know that willingness to believe the least of yourself? It sounds to God like you’re believing the least of Him. And He’s fighting for you because he thinks

you

are

wonderful.

Stat.

Fighting for you

19 Mar

Hey you!

You are worth fighting for. Yes… you.

Has anyone ever given up on you? Have you given up on yourself? Ever had a conversation where someone simply throws their arms up in the air, and walks away? Have you been that person to walk away? Maybe you’ve even forgotten these moments… maybe you didn’t even think they were giving up on you, because they never even tried.

Were you that kid at school whom no one bothered to ask how his college applications were going? Or sports scholarship? Or dance auditions? Did they assume you weren’t trying? There is that little twinge every time someone passes over you, refuses to talk to you – has nothing to say… to you. Are you the one no-one ever fought for?

Have you been the friend whom I stopped talking to? The friend whose conversations were getting so hard I didn’t want to try? Or were you the friend who hated my humour so much, you never called back? Or the friend who never returned my texts because life got busy? Were you the friend I grabbed hold of once school was over for that last crazy summer, but then forgot about as soon as I found different friends? That friend who stayed in grad school while I got a job and. neither of us. even. tried?

Sometimes we look in the mirror and we think ‘ordinary’. We look out of our window in the mornings and there’s hardly any excitement we notice in our hearts and our spirits. But it’s wrong because there is this wonderful love story that’s been brewing in our lives since forever. And we slip past it because we aren’t looking at his face. Imagine that?

Imagine this.

Someone did stick around and wait for forever – just so he could have you. Someone never gave up on you, they never stopped trying – in fact, you weren’t even visibly in the picture when he started.

Someone is urging you to try, get up, off of the floor. Dust off the powder, gather your bags – it’s time. He is watching for you, watching out for you all the time. His eyes never leave you – they can’t. He’s never let you go, and he longs to hear you. And he’s always listening, always caring, always.

He is fighting for you. I come to the end of my strength, and I think: He’s never going to let go. Really. He wants me that much. He will

keep us from falling,

present us perfect before his throne with overflowing happiness,

show us his glory…

He will. We don’t even have to fight – he’s done it all.

Ever been in that moment of worship, lost in just how breath-taking he is?

Imagine this, just imagine – God looks at you when you’re with him, and he goes W-O-W. He really thinks you are beautiful.

See him. See yourself.

Prince Caspian – favourite passage :D

12 Mar

This is a beautiful passage from Lewis’ Prince Caspian. I often feel the little throb of happiness when Lucy recognises Aslan and runs in and snuggles with him. You live for those moments!

So before I say more clumsy things, here is Lewis in his immensely more beautiful style…

 

Lucy woke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine, with the feelingthat the voice she liked best in the world had been calling her name. She thought at first it was her father’s voice, but that did not seem quite right. Then she thought it was Peter’s voice, but that did not seem to fit either. She did not want to get up; not because she was still tired – on the contrary she was wonderfully rested and all theaches had gone from her bones – but because she felt so extremely happy and comfortable…

“Lucy,” came the call again, neither her father’s voice nor Peter’s.She sat up, trembling with excitement but not with fear. The moon was so bright that the whole forest landscape around her was almost asclear as day, though it looked wilder.

She got up, her heart beating wildly, and walked towards them…

Lucy felt there was a tune in it, but she could not catch the tune any more than she had been able to catch the words… But there was, at least, a lilt; she felt her own feet wanting to dance as she got nearer. And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance.

“They are almost awake, not quite,” said Lucy. She knew she herself was wide awake, wider than anyone usually is.

She went fearlessly in among them, dancing herself as she leaped this way and that to avoid being run into by these huge partners. But she was only half interested in them. She wanted to get beyond them to something else; it was from beyond them that the dear voice hadcalled.She soon got through them (half wondering whether she had been usingher arms to push branches aside, or to take hands in a Great Chain with big dancers who stooped to reach her) for they were really a ring of trees round a central open place. She stepped out from among their shifting confusion of lovely lights and shadows.

A circle of grass, smooth as a lawn, met her eyes, with dark trees dancing all round it. And then – oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.

But for the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, butLucy never thought of that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew was that shewas kissing him and putting her arms as far round his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane.

“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her.She gazed up into the large wise face.

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

Obedience (again)

27 Feb

I read this today over at (in)courage. Always a blessing.

Hurthle cells are mostly benign, but until they’re removed it’s impossible to know.

It’s about a type of cancer that I hadn’t heard about either, like the author – but what’s interesting to me, outside of the thrust of that post, is that one sentence.

How many things in my life are ‘probably’ benign? How many things do I allow to fester because I think they might go away, they won’t cause harm – not really? Sometimes ‘good’ is an enemy of the ‘best’. These are cancerous cells – they need to be removed. Sometimes we flirt with danger, not because we like it but because we think it won’t touch us.

This obedience is also obedience but it takes a lot of work on our parts too.

 

Lord, help me to throw out the little cells that may not be bad but are not good either. Those things that do not give you glory, and I assume are harmless. Those things that seem to have no purpose and therefore seem to work no wrong. Father, help me to be wholly yours. Take away the pain in the pruning. Take away the desires for the things, people, interactions and life that aren’t in your perfect will, that do not seek to give you glory and are not what You want for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Obedience

26 Feb

I found some kindred-spirit poetry today. This little treasure:  http://lucishaw.com/poetry_obedience.html. It is always such a delight to find soul that one can befriend in writing. I have had moments like Luci Shaw’s in that poem.

I have been thinking a lot about focusing on God, leaving behind distractions, seeking to hear His voice. It sometimes seems easier to come by on the mountaintops, than at your office desks or family homes.

In hearing God, we are free. We are liberated. Because it isn’t us any more. It is him. In my interactions, in my relationships, with the people I love, in the goals I pursue, into the sticky idea of being that has come about by my clumsiness, dark as treacle but bitter. He speaks. He speaks, and I cautiously expel a long-held breath because the weight of my inadequate words isn’t holding me up any more.

No, his words are, instead.

And I am free.

To me, where I am at now – words form the substance of this morass of all my to-do lists, and of course, my conversations. Conversation is central to living, I think. And the most beautiful conversations are those with this God we serve, however they happen.

Recently, I’ve also been having several conversations about what I believe and why. A part of me is very glad about this. Yes, it hurts when you find you must explain yourself so fundamentally to a friend who must know you well… and yet, for that same reason, I am reminded of the beauty of God’s own word. And hold fast to the hope he brings through it into our hearts! And I am glad to have this friend close enough to talk about it 🙂

It also reminds me that God never tires of our words and our tears. He is infinite enough even for the introvert in me. And the joy of finding his understanding is my special token of peace. That is why I am glad about obedience. I think that is Luci Shaw’s reason too. Among others.

My to-do lists are filled with applications. I am gladder still about obedience and I pray I remember that!

And I am so blessed that he has promised this.

Admissions Decisions

26 Feb

I woke up to a pretty happy email today. *Shrug* I don’t know what it means but that’s okay 🙂

I have bantered with God so long about what to do next. We’ve laughed and cried over it. I’ve had things He whispered to me so long ago pounding in my head, making me wonder how I could ever have forgotten them. I still wonder. And I put that all together, with the things that seeking a career – in the detached ‘progress-only’ kind of way that the structures around me taught me, because foolishly I was paying attention – have led me to…

And I’m trusting God to work it out. In His way, in His time. Because that is how He makes all things beautiful.

Admissions decisions – have you heard from them today?

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