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Thoughts For Today

So, you want to change the world?

Sometimes we look so far ahead at grandiose ideas to change the world, that we overlook the changes we can make in ourselves.

It doesn’t have to change the world
If it changes you
If it changes enough of yous
It will ultimately change the world.


Available as quote poster in my shop:

By the way, it reminded me of this poem:

I want to change the world

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realise the only thing I can change is myself,
and suddenly I realise that if long ago I had changed myself,
I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

Author: Unknown Monk 1100 A.D.

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Navigating life's challenges & emotional pain

Why is it so difficult to forgive?

I wonder how many people have zero unforgiveness in their hearts? Is it possible?

Or will we journey through life, forgiving someone but soon enough there’ll be someone else we’d place in our “unforgiveness’ queue?

Whatever it is, unforgiveness stinks. It makes a corner of our hearts dark.

For some people, boy, you know they harbour unforgiveness in them—it shows.

The more dangerous ones though are those who shove their unforgiveness away; there, stuffed in between the crevices of their heart—while they go on with their lives—cheerful face on.

Not knowing that somewhere in their hearts, the unforgiveness is like a termites infestation. Those destructive little critters eating away from the inside, unseen at first, yet will eventually bring destruction to the outside if left undetected and unresolved.

Have I frightened you yet? Because I have sure frightened myself.

Why is it so difficult to forgive?

Because some of us don’t really understand what forgiveness is. And how to forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting.

Let me begin with one of my pet peeves—when people say, forgive and forget. I don’t buy it. Unless one is unfortunately struck with amnesia or something similar, we’ll remember what others did to us. Forgiving others doesn’t mean we forget what happened. Oh, but how I wish that’d be the case. Then I won’t have to wince in pain when those memories trigger. Or feel like punching them in the face.

So I gotta choose—to allow those thoughts to torment me, or learn to say, “God, thank You for reminding me to forgive as You had forgiven me.”

Forgiveness doesn’t mean letting the offender mistreat you again and again.

What about repeated offences? It’s one thing to forgive someone for a one-off incident, it’s quite another to have to deal with repeated hurts. Let’s face it—some people are just mean-spirited. These people exist. They could even be in your family. Another type of person could be those who are plain unreliable or immature in his or her ways.

I know people say, walk away from friends or people who continuously hurt you. But what if the person is family?

In my case, I have no option of cutting those strings off. To cope while struggling to forgive, I had to keep a distance (sometimes physically). Just so I don’t be a martyr and place myself in front of those people and say, “go ahead and slaughter me with your words and actions; my God is big, and He’s with me.” Are you kidding me? Of course, my God is all-powerful, and He’ll heal my wounds—but He didn’t give me a brain to not think and not have the wisdom to keep being subjected to lack of respect and nasty treatments.

So, forgiveness doesn’t mean letting the offender mistreat you again and again. And it doesn’t say that you need to play the victim role and let the person walk all over you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean there won’t be justice.

Another reason why it’s so difficult to forgive is we want to control. We might think that if we forgive, it means that we are ok with the offence. So we wanna control our “rights” to their “wrongs”. Gripping the offence tightly in our hearts gives us a false sense of justice.

Knowing that God is the final judge helps me to tame that resentment monster. I’m not saying I’m rubbing my palms with evil glee, waiting for God to punish the person. I’m practising letting go of taking things into my hands and releasing them to God instead. The former, bad for the heart; the latter, excellent for sanity.

Forgiveness doesn’t depend on them saying sorry.

Forgiveness is not about tit-for-tat either. Often I don’t wanna forgive because I want that person to know how wrong they are. But waiting for the person to change is giving the other person control over us and our sanity. So, forgiveness is not based on others’ actions but our choice.

Forgiveness is not a feeling.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’ll no longer feel the pain, ever. Also, you don’t need to feel happy before you can forgive. (Or have to feel you have to like the person.)

Forgiveness is a process, not a one-time event.

My repeated prayer to God was, “Father, I know I need to forgive, but I can’t. Though I can’t, I still choose to forgive. But Father, please heal my broken heart. Help me.” That last line became the bridge on my journey to forgiveness. “Father, please, heal my broken heart.”

However, we wanna be careful and be real with our emotional struggles especially when the pain is fresh. When my heart was shattered into pieces and engulfed in the fire of pain; although I know the Bible has many scriptures on forgiveness, and Christ has demonstrated the greatest love and forgiveness to me—I still can’t forgive! I was an emotional wreck.

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one who inflicted it. And yet, there’s no peace without forgiveness. 

Marianne Williamson

So, be kind to yourself as God knows your condition. Be careful not to merely cover your wounds and hinder the healing process. Forgiveness is a process, not a one-time event.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation.

Not every relationship will have reconciliation after forgiveness, though some do. Even if there’s no reconciliation, we still can choose to forgive someone. If you ask, “what’s the point of forgiveness if we can’t reconcile?” Just remember the termites in your heart, chew chew chew, bite bite bite.

Do I do all that I’ve shared?

Even though I’m convicted to the core of what I’ve written, sometimes there’s a stubborn side of me who prefers not to do any of the above. Preferring the safety of darkness; locking myself in as a willing prisoner.

That’s when I whipped up the greatest weapon ever—prayer.

Whether I feel like it or not, I’d choose (ok, sometimes I had to force myself) to pray for the people who’ve wronged me.

Sometimes I pray in my own words. Sometimes I use a guided prayer.

Often what started out as a reading of those printed words on the guided prayer turns into my prayer. It became real from within me. It became a cry to God. To change my heart. To heal where it’s needed. To feel compassion and love for the other person. To ask for forgiveness for myself and claim responsibility if I’ve played a part in the strained or broken relationship.

I find my heart slowly changing towards the person. For some, I even see changes in the person! Now…one might wonder; is it my heart who’s changed or is it them?

Whatever it is, this is the truth: 

One can’t sincerely pray for another person and remain angry at them.

Prayer to forgive others.

If you have someone to forgive, and you wanna take a step forward in the forgiveness process, I’d invite you to think of them now. And pray along with this prayer:

Lord, I bring to mind (name)
I bring him/her before You

I feel hurt by them
Right now I confess any negative feelings I have about them
I forgive the wrongs they have done towards me
For any deliberate or unintentional things they have done
That have caused me pain
In the best way that I know how, I fully forgive them

I release them to You 

Now that I have forgiven (name)
I choose not to hold any grudges towards him/her
Thank you that as I am praying now
You are freeing my inner world to live again
Free from resentment, pain and bitterness
Filled with joy, freedom and love

Amen.

(the above prayer for forgiving others is from www.lords-prayer-words.com)

I sometimes use this prayer for forgiveness too. 

Dear heavenly Father,

I thank You for Your love and kindness toward me. It is Your kindness that has led me to repentance, turning from all my sinful ways and turning to You. I admit that I have not been kind, patient and loving to others when they have offended me. I have allowed bitterness and resentment to grow in me, separating me from others and You, Father.

At times, I have forgotten this unforgiveness in my heart. This unforgiveness festers deep within me, at times beyond my conscious reach. This affects every aspect of my life and gives the enemy a right to torment me as stated in Matthew 18. I confess that this unforgiveness and bitterness is affecting my life and relationships today. Because of these past hurts, I acknowledge the inability to love or trust others to any depth.

I understand that forgiveness is not an emotion but an act of my will. I now choose to exercise my will to forgive others as You, Father, have forgiven me. Father, I know that You are a searcher of the heart. I ask You to search my heart. Reveal to me any hidden and secret unforgiveness or bitterness toward others that have hurt or offended me.

I choose not to be ruled by a spirit of bitterness. I choose to forgive and have a spirit of peace and love in my heart. I repent, forgive and release these people right now. I ask You, Heavenly Father, to forgive me and restore me as I forgive those who have offended me. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bring everything to our remembrance.

Dear Holy Spirit,

I am asking You to bring to my remembrance anyone I have to forgive and I will forgive them in Jesus’ name. Amen.

(I’ve lost the link to the original author/article. My apologies as I’m unable to give credit to the original author/article.)

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.”

–  Reinhold Neibuhr

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Categories
Poems

One step at a time—my daily bread (poem)

I was feeling kinda tired. Overwhelmed. Thinking of the present, and the troubles-to-come.

What happens if my husband gets more ill?

What happens if he leaves me first?

What happens if…

What happens if…

This poem was written in this breathing out of helplessness. And my neediness for the certainty of the Lord. To take one step at a time.

One step at a time. My daily bread prayer. This poem was written in my state of helplessness in life and neediness for God.
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Thoughts For Today

What is enough?

In our (capitalism) world of bigger, better and FOMO, are we pressured to strive for more—without pausing to think—why?

What are you striving for? When is it enough?

Why do we want more?
What do we want more?
At what cost is our “more” costing us?

Have we considered what is our enough?

What are you striving for? When is it enough? What is your enough? Click To Tweet
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Navigating life's challenges & emotional pain

Will there be a day where all the doors in our heart are shut off to the world?

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can really hurt me.

This old saying from the 1800s, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can’t hurt me” was meant to be used as a defence against verbal bullying. It was intended to help the bullied person develop resilience.

Will there be a day where all the doors in our heart are shut off to the world?

I wonder—what’s the full devastating effect in the person, years on. Saying it doesn’t hurt him or her when it does.

It’s silly to think our hearts are not delicate.

That it’ll be able to withstand verbal punches and kicks. Especially true for young kids. Kids absorb the words said about them, and it remains in their memory decades on. Often, without them being aware of it. And they carry it with them to adulthood.

As adults, we too are slapped with intentional, hurtful remarks. Or unintentional, careless words.
Sometimes it happens when we open up our heart to share something, and our vulnerability is met with unhelpful comments.
Sometimes, the mess of someone repeatedly hurt and disappoints us.

Do those things happen to you?

My defence is to close that door to the heart. I don’t want to do that. It’s a defence mechanism. But one door after another closes.

And I wonder, would all the doors in my heart, one day, be shut off to the world? Would you shut off your doors too?

But I’d say—don’t.

Keep one door open, always.
Keep one door open to the One who created you—just as you are.
Who loves you—just as you are.
Keep that door open to the One.
Because that’s your lifeline.

That’s your key to eventually reopen the other doors in your heart.
Keep the door open to God and let Him into your heart.

Keep one door open to the One. That's your key to reopen the other doors in your heart. Click To Tweet
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Thoughts For Today

Thoughts for Today | Today is a gift

Thought and encouragement for today: Today is a gift from God

Today

Today is a gift from God.

I’ll accept it.

Unwrap it.

Appreciate it.

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Navigating life's challenges & emotional pain

FOMO in the Bible?

Who would have known that God talked about fear of missing out, FOMO, in the Bible?

FOMO in the Bible? Matthew 6:30-34
This piece was inspired by my conversation with God, on what’s gripping my heart. It seems that God is saying to me, “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to My giving“.

When I read this verse, “don’t worry about missing out” in the Bible, I can’t help but think of the FOMOs in my life.

Those things that occupied my mind, that kept me worrying. They even drove the way I live my life. Such a huge difference from the peace that God is offering to me. 

What is FOMO?

According to Wikipedia, FOMO is “the apprehension that one is either not in-the-know or is out of touch with social events, experiences, and interactions”.  And in Urban Dictionary, FOMO is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out”.

Oh, FOMO is also triggered by the consumption of social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. No surprises there. Ever felt some weird, lousy feeling after one too many scrolling of what’s happening in other people’s lives and why can’t I (fill-in-the-blank)? Even when the COVID19 pandemic has cancelled many things, the fear of missing out persists. 

I see FOMO from a wider perspective though. I see that because of the fear of missing out, the symptoms of FOMO lurks its head in many areas of our lives. 

Here is my take on the symptoms of FOMO:

Often feeling what you are doing at home, at work, never seems to be enough, to whoever’s standards, or your expectations.

Constantly driven to do more, more, more. (For what, actually?)

Nothing seems to be enough in life. If it’s enough, it lasts only but a while before you get up and chase the next shiny thing.

Difficulty in making decisions. Arghh!! I want it all!

Wanting. Just keep on wanting.

Difficulty to enjoy being in the moment.

For me, I suffer from thinking what I do is not enough. Who I am is not enough.

I fear that I’ll miss out on greater things. And that has gripped me in how I live my life.

I chased after what is not true. And unhealthily compare me with other artists’ work. That has marred the joy of creating. I’m tired. I’m done.

I wanna stop chasing now. God, help me.

What is gripping your heart, your life, and you?

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Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.

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Thoughts For Today

Quietness

I’ve been thirsting quiet for a few good years. Not merely external quiet, but that internal centeredness.

As I closed my eyes, to shut out the noise. To hear. The words came.

"Quietness is found by those who searched for it." Click To Tweet

I pictured a volume control to quieten the internal noise. So, I drew it.

Do you search for quiet?

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Stories

The last time I saw my father

The last time I saw my father, I was about thirty-five. I haven’t seen him in years. My parents separated when I was three. Heck, I could count with my one hand, the number of times I saw my father in person.

On that evening when I last saw him though, he was wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt, cancer-skinny, tall. 

The last piece of memory stored in my brain server was of me, nonchalantly giving him a casual hug. Like how you would hug an acquaintance when you part from a meeting. Nothing to be sentimental about. My father pulled in tighter to hug me back. I still can feel it.

I didn’t know it was his “I’m sorry”, “I love you”, “I want to be your father”, “It’s too late”, “I’m dying”, all rolled into one, don’t-let-go hug.

I didn’t know. Because nobody told me. He didn’t either. I didn’t know then, it meant goodbye for good. It wasn’t a get-together dinner but a goodbye dinner. My brain didn’t register that. My paternal family were there, was my mum there? I couldn’t recall.

The arrangement to meet up started with a phone call from my father’s sister in Penang. “Your father has cancer,” she said. “Can you come back?” she urged.

Did she inform me only when he hasn’t got long left to live? Or did she inform me the moment he received the diagnosis? Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

I went back to Penang. About ten of us met over dinner. It was at my aunt’s Nonya restaurant.

Vaguely, I remember seeing him sitting opposite of me, across the big, round dining table. As if we are strangers. Seated together in one table. Yet with enough space between us to observe each other in a cautious distance.

There were no moments, no talks, nothing to fill over twenty years of gap between a father and a daughter. Just—curry chicken, tao eu bak (dark soya sauce pork), and other Nonya delicacies.

I couldn’t recall any of the conversations at the table that night. It was as if, there’s this programming of me being able to automatically detach myself. I don’t know when I was given this superpower curse. I don’t even have to will it. I just detach.

My heart and my mind, what should be one faculty—disconnected—each giving inconsistent instructions to each other. There would be bleeding of pain and trauma within me, but you can’t see it from my facial expression. It’s like my heart saying to my mind, and vice versa, you are on your own now. Don’t give me the feels. Function, damn it, function!

Story of the last time I saw my father

I’ve never known him. It didn’t occur to me that I wanted to. Nobody told me much about my earlier life. Looking back, I could have been sheltered from history. My young brain might not have been able to understand anyway.

But the thing is, decades later, I still haven’t received the much-delayed white paper of my childhood years.

Where is it? Where’s “Melinda Yeoh’s Childhood White Paper”?

What I have is, if you can imagine, bits and pieces of scribbled information on Post-It notes of my earlier life. My father was a mystery; my growing up years was a mystery.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the chance to go on an archaeological hunt. To dig up unknown pieces of my life. Hell, if I could find one photo of how I look like as a baby, it’ll be good.

I didn’t ask anyone much. When I could have. I mean, hey adults, look at me, I’m an adult now. I can handle this. Tell me. But, I didn’t ask.

I took in whatever pieces of information given to me, stored it in my brain server. I didn’t process it. I just stored it.

For a person who questions many things and loves to question, I asked little information about my childhood apart from what I’ve been given. Received input. Stored. Done. Move on.

The next time I saw my father a few months later, it was seeing him in a coffin. He died from cancer.

My husband and I arrived at the funeral parlour around 8 pm, having driven four hours from Kuala Lumpur.

I remembered where we parked our car. About 500 metres away from where the parlour was. I got out of the car, the gravel ground felt unstable beneath my feet. It was dark. I squinted at the garish fluorescent light at a distance.

My brain wasn’t thinking. Guess what. Automated mode on.

I walked towards the funeral parlour, to my father’s side of the family, all I hardly knew. Greetings after greetings. Smiles. I peeked at my father in the coffin. More solemn greetings, smiles. And I took a seat at my aunts’ table.

My aunt asked me if I’d like a beer. Sure, of course, I would love a beer. Did I get the liking for beer from my father?

When I finished half the can of Carlsberg, I walked over to my father. Peered down at him, still don’t know much about this dude who’s supposed to be my father.

And of all the things I could have said, without thinking, I said this in my heart, “Well. Cheers to our first and last beer together.”

Then, my automated detachment mode failed.

That’s the instance when my heart and mind stopped going in the opposite direction. They connected; they were one.

I felt my heart’s cry and there’s nothing that my mind can do to act otherwise. My eyes went wet and warm. And I felt the pain. The pain I’ve never knew existed. A loss of something…someone…I’ve never had—a father.

Barely 2 minutes later, the automated mode was quickly repaired and engaged full-on. Stoicism won. I walked back to join my aunts. And finished the remaining half can of beer.

p.s. For those of you who need an ending to a story, or who need the moral of a story, there’s none I know yet for this story. It’s something I’ve allowed to surface from my soul, to allow God to deal with. And to share with you who’s reading this.

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Thoughts For Today

Take a break

Take a short break at work today. And do something that relaxes you.

Silly dance is ok.