Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crush management

crush [kruhsh]
1. The state of being infatuated. Intense, all-absorbing, short-lived passion for something or someone.
2. The object of such an infatuation

Crushes, and how one handles them, are so revealing. They are telling ways to look into the state of a person's soul.

Here are some things to remember when you fall into one of those intense, all-absorbing state of being infatuated:

1. This too shall pass.
I know it may seem impossible. The songs on the radio and chick flicks are no help. But crushes do not last forever.

Do I still have a crush on Hans? Um. I hope not.
I can already see you protesting. I shall explain.

2. Because having a crush is not love.
A crush is more about you, and less about the other person. This is why you can have a crush on a person you hardly know at all. Fantasies about crushes generally seek to fulfill our own desires, a self-centered attempt to satisfy our own longing or lack. Love is the complete opposite. Love is intensely and intentionally self-forgetting and self-sacrificing.

When I said yes to Hans' proposal, my crush on him was greater than my love for him. At the altar, I promised to love him all the days of my life, come what may. As I get to know him over the past few years, I am learning to see him for who he is. I get to see new sides of him—as a husband, a father. The new knowledge increases my love for him, and grace helps me to love even when I don't feel very loving.

3. If a crush is not love, what is it?
Hunger pangs. Your soul is hungry. That and your hormones are talking. We were created for relationship. It was not good for Adam to be alone. It is right and good for us to long for companionship. We were created for that.

The hunger is not what's bad, but eating garbage to satisfy the hunger is. Whether you are nibbling on some trashy fantasies or stuffing yourself silly with another wrong-headed relationship, garbage is garbage — none will satisfy.

4. What are you hungry for?
Acknowledging and identifying our hunger is an essential life skill. What are the idols in my heart? What am I lusting after? Am I seeking affection? Am I seeking people's respect or approval? Do I lust after the desire of men? Am I seeking security and comfort? Am I wanting to escape from my current circumstances? Am I bored and restless, without purpose and end?

5. That crush of yours cannot satisfy your hunger.
In fact, not even the most self-sacrificial husbands and the kindest wives can satisfy your hunger. No one on earth can. There is only One who satisfies. The Bread of Life, who was broken for you. He proposed not on bended knees, but with outstretched arms, praying for you. Not with a diamond ring, but with his shed blood for your sins. He died in your place.

6. So, guard your mind, guard your heart.
Another life long skill to master: holding our hearts accountable. Keep your heads on. Learn to ask yourself honest questions and give honest responses. Pay attention to what makes your emotions run wild; what makes it hard to keep your head straight?

Is it chatting for hours into the night? Then, stop. Is it being in the car alone? Get a ride from someone else, walk. Sitting together? Walk away, sit somewhere else. Talking too much about things too personal? Flee from temptation. Don't linger under the forbidden tree. Train your minds to walk away, stop daydreaming. It's called self-control.

Be honest with yourself about why you do what you do. Is this another attempt to satisfy our cravings with garbage? Don't worry about offending him "in case he likes you" or hurting her feelings "what if she likes me?" If they are also striving after godliness, they would appreciate that you are trying to keep your minds pure.

When temptation is in your face, the way temptation annoyingly does, fight. We were created to be warriors and rulers. We were not left to be weak and helpless. We have been given everything we need to to live godly lives. We lack nothing. We have no excuse. Temptations and sins are coming from the within. The problem is not your crush. So, fight sin.

7. What if (I think) I am ready for marriage, and this is more than just "a crush"?
I think that would make an entirely different post. In fact, I think people have written books answering this question.

When a crush comes crashing in, be sure your soul is filled.
Do not live on hungry souls.
"Take, eat, this is my body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."

Monday, September 3, 2012

A letter to the King's Daughter

Dearest sister,

I received word that you have been weary. I am writing in hopes to remind you of who you are. You are the Daughter of the King. Let your confidence not be in yourself or in other human beings, but rest your hope in the Gospel -- by which you have been rescued.

Our Father did not create us to be weak and powerless. He has given us strength to work and minds to think. Remember your charge. The children of the King are to be fruitful and have dominion over his creation. We were created to be rulers.

Therefore, the daughters of the King must know the King's law. For how shall we rule if we do not know the will of our Father? His Word gives life. Let his instructions cover our tongues and our lips like sweet honey. Be quick to apply it first to ourselves.

Remember our Father, and how he rules with patience and mercy. Remember our eldest brother, the Firstborn of our Father, and how he ruled. The cross was his throne, where Prince of Peace was glorified. He ruled by dying in our place, in order that we might be his family. Rule likewise in God's kingdom.

Look around you, for this is the domain to which you have been entrusted by the King. Is your domain your home? Is it your work place? Is it your school? Who are the people you see everyday? Who are the people nearest and dearest to you? What are their needs? How can you make your sphere a brighter, lovelier place?

Be ready to give grace, as the recipients of grace. You are an ambassador of our Father, you represent the King. Be a hostess wherever you go. It does not mean you are necessarily outgoing, or that you have to be the leader. Being a hostess simply means that you are attentive and mindful of other people. Do not wait around or expect others to be kind to you first. Engage people in conversations. Be watchful for those who might be in need of a friend. Being "shy" is sometimes another excuse to be self-centered. 

Our Father calls his children to be fruitful. So do not be idle. Never be doing nothing, always be doing something. Be busy with good works. Be certain about your purpose and your end. Labor with hope and joy. Go after things that last forever. Seize every opportunity to serve others. Make things for them, write to them, cook for them.

Dress as the daughters of the King. Present yourselves in a befitting manner, for we live and stand in the King's court. Our eldest brother suffered shame and nakedness in order that we might be clothed with his righteousness. So, cover yourselves — with humility and good works.

Love your brothers, for they are the sons of the King. Respect and protect them. Do not lead their hearts astray. One of them may be your husband (someday). As for the rest of them, you don't know to whom they belong. So, back off. (Until, of course, you know for sure he is yours to keep)

The daughters of the King rest in the King's thoughts towards us. We rest in our relationship with our Father. Therefore, we give, we love, without expecting to be loved in return. We do not need to freak out about today, or worry about tomorrow. When other hurts and despise us, show grace in return. Have the heart of an ocean, and not be shallow and easily disturbed — like a puddle.

Be self-aware, especially of the motivations in our hearts — why we do what we do. When we find sinful and self-glorifying intentions, repent. Let all reflection turn into repentance and thanksgiving.

We are passionate creatures. We were given emotions to love God and love others, though our tendency is to love ourselves. Resist morbid introspection, a.k.a. dumpster diving. Resist sentimentalism. Resist self-pity. These do not bear fruit. Do not work up all kinds of emotions and daydreams, indulging ourselves for the sake feeling something. When we fall into despair, lift our eyes to cross. When we feel needy, give.

Weary though you may be, keep your eyes on the cross and keep walking. Walk with your sisters, and occasionally — dance! Run! Rejoice always! For we belong to our Father, and Christ is our Brother. Remember who you are, by grace, you are the King's daughter.

Much love,
Your sister

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A cure for the delusional

So I thought I was a pretty thankful person. I appreciated life, generally speaking.

When I complained (which was often), I tried to end my whining and groaning on a cheery note. e.g. "I am so grateful I get to learn about blah blah blah." Rule of thumb when whining: Always end with a smiley face. =)

To be sure, I was sincere, I think -- both with my smiley faces and the giving of thanks. But it wasn't hard to be grateful when things were going well. It's like when I thought I was a pretty good person back in high school.

A seventeen year-old me, laying in bed after school, reading fictions, writing in my journals about how life was not going the way I expected. No real responsibilities. No one depending on me. It was easy to think of myself as a kind, patient, and happy person.

My self-image was at best delusional.

As it turns out, I've been delusional about my sense of gratitude as well. For these past two months, the little conveniences of life were systematically removed, one after another. Some for a few weeks, some for a few days. I swallowed a fat slice of humble pie and it was not yummy.

My sense about what is lovely and wonderful has been redefined. Here are a few of my new favorite things, in case I forget this lesson and suffer from conceited delusions again (not too long from now, I'm sure).

1. A pipe under our kitchen sink was clogged with plaster.
Don't ever think, a home could work without a kitchen sink.
I love my sink, even when it stinks.

2. Refrigerator, often overlooked.
Without it, I could hardly cook.
And no cooking is no good.

3. There may be tantrums, big or small.
Our own walls now contain them all.

4. Hanan spilled yogurt smoothie all over himself two days in a row. I nearly laughed (but I didn't) because my husband just bought and installed my very first --
mean, lean washing machine!
It's shiny and it cleans!
And it makes me happy, like caffeine, and dark jeans.
The children calls it our TV screen (we don't own a TV).

I am reading one too many Dr. Suess books, I think, words that rhyme sound happier, somehow.

For the record, I am typing this while sitting at my very own desk, in my very own chair, with my own very own cup of Earl Grey -- for the first time since June 30. I never knew I loved being at a desk so much.

happy sigh.

I am grateful. =)