Singing Through Suffering and Shame

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” ~Acts 16:25-26

Sometimes, we think we have to be in a “good spiritual place” to worship God; we have to look our Sunday-best, feel celebratory, have our best voices to come and sing. But that’s a false idea. Paul and Silas were imprisoned and tortured right before their earth-shaking worship session. They were definitely not looking their best, and we can imagine they were definitely not feeling their best either, with the bruises of being beaten with rods still smarting that night (Acts 16:22-24).

But they sang anyways.

And in singing and praying, they were freed – literally. It was when they sang through their suffering that God worked most powerfully.

How often do we sing through our suffering? How often do we choose to enter church in a state of spiritual yearning and hurt?

After committing adultery, deceit, and murder, King David was driven to his knees in shame and guilt after Nathan rebuked him (2 Samuel 12:9-14). David was at his lowest point; this deed was one of the biggest failures in his life. He could have chosen to cast his eyes downward, away from God’s good holiness. He could have chosen to wallow in his shame and guilt.

But instead, David chose to sing Psalm 51.

And after allowing David to suffer the consequences of his sin, God restored and sanctified him.

How often do we choose to sing in the face of our own failures, of our own guilt? How often do we choose to fear the glory of God in a state of spiritual shame?

Worship through song and prayer is powerful and liberating. Glorifying God is a form of release, a form of abandoning any semblance of dignity to prostrate oneself before the face of God’s good holiness. God does not command us to be squeaky-clean worshippers, to be guarded and holier-than-thou; He is the only One who is truly holy.

God wants us to come before Him without hesitation – in all our ugly sinfulness, failure, and shame; He wants us to come before Him in complete surrender and awe to His glory, goodness, and perfection. In coming to worship before God in our weakness, we experience His power, sanctification, and conviction all the more powerfully in our hearts.

And coming to worship Him in complete surrender means doing so in reverent solitude and in sacred assembly. Worship means getting away from the crowd by experiencing His presence alone in your room. Worship also means allowing yourself to look like a fool before others, whether it be singing loudly with a croaky voice in exultation or sobbing as others sing around you.

At the heart of worship is surrender. In complete surrender, we lose ourselves in God’s goodness and glory. In complete surrender, we are transformed, sanctified, and convicted.

All to Jesus, I surrender;

All to Him, I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him;

In His presence daily live.

~I Surrender All – Judson Van DeVenter, 1896

Casting New Year’s vision, instead of making resolutions

Resolutions are often optimistically ambitious.

We like the idea of a fresh start: New Year, new me – and so we generate methods by which we’ll make “new me” happen. Go to the gym, get better grades, take more risks, travel, take up a new hobby, find love, etc. And of course, this year WILL be the year we’ll finally fulfill those goals we’ve had for the longest time. We’ll go after what we want because we have the power to get what we want; all we have to do is choose to do so.

Right?

Well, it’s right if you want to guarantee failure.

Let’s face it: we’re mostly terrible at keeping New Year’s resolutions. By the end of January, those new running shoes are sitting in the back of the closet, that new online dating profile has been abandoned, and the fridge contains more frozen pizza and takeout leftovers than vegetables. (That last one might be just me, but I digress.)

We make earnest promises to ourselves; we often get a renewed sense of hope that we’ll be able to act on our own willpower. But then we end up losing our steam and giving up far too early. Resolutions end up simply becoming reminders of how we’re inadequate at bettering ourselves. Circumstances and sheer apathy take away any previous determination.

God-given visions turn into actions

How about instead of making resolutions, we cast visions for our year?

Vision is Biblical; God cast vision for His plan of salvation in the Old Testament through prophets—vision of a Messiah. In the New Testament, He casts vision of a Church so vast and diverse, it spans the world. And in both instances, God is the completely loving, sovereign maestro of those visions; both of them came true, even the latter still being completed before our very eyes.

God gave vision to the prophets and the apostles. And when they caught vision, they took action, being inspired and empowered by God to go forth and work towards that vision.

There are so many aspects of our lives that could use some vision fire—our spiritual lives, our relationships, our careers, our families, etc. We’re talking about vision that forces us to take risks and walk on water, vision that forces us to keep our eyes on Him.

When we decide what we desire to accomplish and witness in this year, we need to call on God to reveal His specific vision for us, to show the methods He wants us to take to be a part of that vision.

Psalm 37:4 commands, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It’s when we call upon His wisdom for our lives that proper action begins to happen in our lives; as we willingly align our desires and values with His own, we become more empowered and motivated to GO and DO.

Casting vision means letting go of our desire for control over life, over circumstances that are beyond our control, and over impulses and temptations that we cannot overcome on our own. Losing ourselves in God’s vision is so much more freeing than being shackled to lists of goals we forget about by the middle of the year.

Vision is collaborative.

Vision involves us reaching out to those around us and reaching up towards God to accomplish the big picture goals of the vision in our lives. Unlike resolutions, visions aren’t loner ideas, so it’s definitely best not to work towards it alone! In sharing our visions, often God intersects us with people with whom we never thought we could ever meet or work together.

Because vision is collaborative, we have a semblance of accountability; we have people keeping us in check if we stray from the direction God calls us to follow, if we take our eyes off the prize. Individual visions overlap with each other, and it’s beautiful to see how God orchestrates circumstances to accomplish wonders through us and in us.

Vision is flexible.

God is unpredictable; His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), but we know He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). While it’s good to have goals and methods by which to accomplish them, it’s not good to rely so heavily on those goals and methods that it’s so difficult to switch directions. Life itself is unpredictable, and it can get messy and damaging to stay in one direction when circumstances push us towards another. Resolutions, in their idealistic specificity, sometimes don’t fit with changes that happen to us as the year happens.

The beauty of vision is that we can maintain a big-picture mindset, even as circumstances change around us. God doesn’t reveal everything He envisions for our lives right away. He is constantly at work behind the scenes of our lives; like an audience at a play, we will never know the intricacies of the circumstances by which the story of our year plays out—we are only witnesses to its magnificence.

So in 2016, instead of making resolutions, ask God to reveal His vision for your life this year. Ask God to empower and motivate you to work towards the direction He wants you to take, and pray big things for this year. We have access to a loving God of great power; it’s almost heretical to not pray big. Expect the unexpected and get excited for all the possibilities God’s vision will have to offer!

Temptation, the Constant Battle Within: Part 2

Now that we know the right attitude to which we approach temptation, let’s talk about a few gritty truths about dealing with temptation. These truths are hard facts that as believers, we will have to come to terms with at some point in our journeys, depending on what personal trials God allows in our lives.

1. You will want to give up and give in.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’ ” ~ 1 Kings 19:4

Elijah was a prophet of God who, right before this passage, witnessed God defeat an army of false prophets and rain enough heavenly fire to scorch a water-soaked altar. And yet even after victory in a spiritual battle, right here in this passage, we see him yearning to lay down and die.

Just like Elijah, there are those points in your walk when you want to give up. There come those moments where you feel defeated before you even begin fighting the battle, those moments where you feel you’re too weak to resist, and you just want to let the darkness overtake you.

It’s in those dire moments that you must cry out to God the loudest, when you call upon the Holy Spirit to pull you out of the mire.

2. You will fail multiple times.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” ~Romans 7:18-19

Failure against temptation is inevitable, tragic, and frustrating. But it’s an ages-old truth that each one – from the decades-old believer to the new believer – will fail at resisting temptation. The Apostle Paul himself recognized his innate tendency to fail.

And in light of God’s sovereignty over our lives, it’s a fact that God allows us to fail and face the consequences.

We are shackled to this earthly self, this self that is still exposed, vulnerable, and yearning to fulfill sinful desires. We are not yet fully sanctified; we won’t be fully sanctified until we see God face-to-face.

Thankfully, in the midst of our failures, we can take comfort in the knowledge that our failures aren’t the be-all, end-all of our transformation in Christ.

3. After failing, you will want to hide.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” ~ Genesis 3:8

Our tendency to hide has been a natural inclination we have towards failing temptation since Adam and Eve! It’s ironic that we try to hide from the God of the Universe when we know He is fully aware of everything we have ever done and will do.

Yet hiding from God is such a natural reaction to the shame that comes with failing against temptation. We can’t face the holiness and goodness of the One who loves us when we know we have failed against Him.

But it’s through Christ that we have the privilege to come openly before God in that broken, failing state – knowing He will always forgive and sanctify us.

4. An ongoing temptation may never go away.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” ~ James 1:14

This is the toughest truth to swallow about temptation.

Temptation preys upon the darkest parts of ourselves, those parts that may remain a part of who we are as long as we live on this Earth. And as we progress in our journeys, the Enemy will continually attack us through those avenues.

It’s frustrating when you pray for God to remove a particular temptation in your life, only to discover that you’re still dealing with the same struggle. You feel weary resisting the same problems over and over again, and it almost feels like God has forsaken you in this struggle.

But He hasn’t! Dealing with recurring temptations doesn’t mean that you’re a hopeless case; it may mean that God has allowed this trial to recur so you can rely even more on His grace. It may mean that God wants this trial to be a part of your own testimony to encourage others dealing with the same struggle.

Most importantly, dealing with the same struggle doesn’t discredit your ongoing sanctification and transformation through the Holy Spirit.

In fact, it may mean that through the fire, God is refining you even more.

So take heart! Call upon the Spirit, and fight, knowing you are being transformed for His glory – even in the midst of failure.

Temptation, the Constant Battle Within: Part 1

War.

That’s what comes to mind when I think about temptation.

Temptation is something that every person faces. But for those in the Christian faith, it’s a seemingly endless struggle; succumbing to temptation is a constant source of shame. Paul says it best in Romans when he talks about how the holiness of the old Law revealed to him his own innate sinfulness.

For I delight in the law of God in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” ~Romans 7:21-23

And it’s so easy to wallow in solemn shame and complacent awareness of our sinful desires. It’s all too easy to pray desperately and suffer quietly in our shame for our failures in facing temptation. But it’s this easy, soft attitude that makes us even more vulnerable to temptation.

We find ourselves failing to resist the same sins over and over again, repenting frantically and often feeling hopeless and frustrated.

But while it’s easier to fall into an attitude of despondent complacency and endless frustration, it’s so much better and more effective to take on a willful, proactive approach to temptation.

Fight it.

We are our own worst enemy – this sinful flesh in which we are trapped until the day we get to Heaven. And alongside temptation, the Devil equips our sinful selves with whispers of fleeting pleasure and empty promises. It’s a terrifying battle we could never face by ourselves.

But being in Christ calls us to fight against this nature; Christ, having faced the same, even greater temptations and triumphed against them, enables and equips us to be able to stand firm against temptation. While He continually sanctifies us in His grace even on Earth, He still recognizes that living the sanctified life while trapped in a sinful body can be overwhelmingly exhausting.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~Hebrews 4:14-16

We are called to strap on the armour and pick up the weapons He gives us. It is so good that we do not go into battle unequipped and alone; if we do so, we will certainly face our own demise.

Paul recognized the state of this battle as not a war against our fellow human beings but against a great spiritual darkness working in the world and within individual people.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” ~Ephesians 6:10-13

The battle against temptation is a reality Christians can’t ignore. The sobering guilt of falling to temptation is only the first step in fighting the battle. After conviction, we must move into a state of sober, righteous anger against the adversary and take active steps to resist that which can come all too naturally, those parts of ourselves which can be so easily preyed upon by the Devil.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” ~1 Peter 5:8-10

We must remember that while we wage battle on temptation during our temporary time here on Earth, we are encouraged in the fact that Christ has already won the war on sin over eternity.

Stay strong, fellow warriors – we are already on the winning side, even if we feel like we’re losing.

The Cracked Vessel

But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” ~Paper Towns by John Green

A clay jug is no sturdy vessel. They’re ridiculously breakable, and once they break, you can still see the cracks when you fix the pieces together. Whatever you pour into the jug will leak out through the cracks. And there doesn’t seem to be any point to having a clay jug if it can’t hold anything without leaking.

Yet human souls are like clay jugs.

I’m talking about how we are just as fragile and breakable as a clay jug; we are just as cracked as a broken one. But we still hold this treasure within our cracked selves: the love of an infinitely powerful, everlasting God whose light shines through our jagged, sharp brokenness. I can’t fathom why God would choose a cracked vessel like you or me to hold such a precious thing.

But, see, like John Green said, once the vessel cracks, the light can get out.

We are temporal and flawed but if we weren’t, how else could God’s light shine through us?

For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” ~2 Corinthians 4:6-7

A perfect vessel holds everything together, but it doesn’t pour—it is at a standstill, and it cannot release what is within. God uses our cracks to shine through, and when we give ourselves up to Him completely, as cracked as we are, their light overflows and spills through every pore, every fibre of our being.

Sometimes it’s easy to dwell on the cracks and forget about the light, but that doesn’t deny the existence of the light coursing through us. Sometimes it’s easy to feel useless and completely broken. But however flawed we feel, God still has a will for our lives; God still has a purpose for us, even if we can’t see past our cracks, even if we can’t feel the warmth of the Light.

It doesn’t matter how many cracks we have or how big they are because the Light shines through all of them.

It’s humbling and empowering at the same time—we have nothing in the universe to be proud of except for the all-encompassing grace of Christ who sacrificed Himself so that we can experience the perfect love of God to the fullest. We can never rely on our own strength to carry us through life, and the cracks in our nature prove that time and time again.

But we have a power to rely on that overcomes any weaknesses and insecurities that prevent us from living in joy, as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians. We mustn’t dwell on our cracked selves when the Light shining through us is so much better to focus on.

Some Thoughts on Perfection

Perfectionism: (nouna disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.

In pursuing an unattainable standard, our own fragility becomes exposed, and we shatter.

I go to a school where perfectionism is an infectious attitude. A majority of students I know strive to make everything, from ridiculous brainstorming activities to critical academic essays, perfect. And I’ll admit it; I strive for “perfection” too. But what does it actually mean to be perfect? What is the standard by which we measure perfection? What does it cost to attain this “perfection” in all that we do, in all that we are?

There are always those certain kids in school who everyone calls “perfect”. They’re the ones who are in a million different extra-curriculars, always seem to have positive disposition, and still maintain a ridiculously high grade average.

But I refuse to call these people perfect.

They are excellent in what they do and in how they present themselves to the world. But they are definitely, most certainly not perfect. We seem to foster the idea that perfection comes from results and appearances. However, I do not believe in this. In fact, I think that this idea of perfection is, ironically, completely imperfect. And those who strive to achieve those results and maintain those appearances have the potential to self-destruct spectacularly.

I say this from personal experience, from those late nights editing essays and studying notes to get that just-right mark at the cost of my mental health.

I’d like to denounce the human idea and pursuit of perfection (idealistically and hypocritically, of course, but I think anyone’s choice to believe in any ideals will always be at least a little hypocritical).

What we can only really strive for is excellence, which in itself is purely subjective and dependent on both the individual and the collective. Excellence exists because things like grading systems and award ceremonies exist.

Perfection demands objectivity, and objectivity cannot be attained by any human means. Perfection can only come from God, a Being that stands completely independent from any human standards. I’ve found that despite my imperfect pursuit of perfection, I can never transcend my own broken self the way God transcends this world. Yet despite God’s infinitely impossible standards, He/She/It accepts me, fallen human nature and all. Why?

Because this divinely perfect Person comes with the awesome gift of Grace and redemption.

When humanity strives for perfection, whether in the creation of a societal utopia or in one student’s determination to get a 90 in her/his math class, we tend to forget to that we can’t actually reach that standard. But we still strive for it, forgetting we still need that cushion of grace and redemption to fall back on. Pursuing perfection can be a one-way highway to a temporary glory jump off of a cliff or it can be a rough, never-ending road full of frustration.

I’m not perfect; no one is except God. Ironically, I still strive for something I cannot attain to its fullest. But I know that I have that Grace, the one thing that redeems me from the brokenness of my ridiculous pursuit.

For that, I am thankful.

Confusion, Confidence, and Conviction in Christ

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ~Hebrews 11:1

The world, with all its infinite complexities and contradictions, is a very uncertain place. How do people come to certainty in what they believe in, whether that is condemned or glorified by those around them?  How do people come to have faith? According to the Bible, faith is mystical, unfathomable, and yet so certain. In a society where everything seems to be explicable by science, spiritual faith in God seems outdated and ridiculous, out of place in a time of facts and statistics.

And yet millions of people cling stubbornly to it, sacrificing their lives for it. Millions of lives are changed by it.

Why?

Are people of spiritual faith lacking in basic reason and logic? Are they so pathetically desperate that they need an “imaginary” authority to hold their lives together? After all, spirituality is a crutch, a blinding cloud, isn’t it?

As a teenage girl born and raised in aforementioned society, I object to the common assumption that spiritual faith is the equivalent to ignorance and idiocy. For all the logic and facts of the world, people are most moved not by statistics, not by intellectualism, but by their experiences: within themselves, with other people, and with the world as a whole. And thus, faith, that mystical, certain entity, is made concrete and real through such experiences. It is so easy to simplify and ridicule spiritual faith when you’re someone on the outside looking in. There is something real and true in spiritual faith, in the Christian faith, in the Person of Jesus Christ, otherwise millions of people across human history and space would not have died for it – they still die for it.

I’ve listened to and read so many testimonies, so many stories of coming to know Jesus Christ. People from all walks of life, from all cultures and ages, come to believe, to have that certainty that God exists, that Jesus Christ is Life and Truth. They went through trials and tribulations of all kinds to get to that point in their life and in their faith where they know and believe with the entirety of their beings. Does the fact that it is their experiences and not their intellect that validate their faith make their beliefs any less valid or any more ridiculous? I should hope not.

I envy them; I haven’t had the experience or wisdom of years to come to that certainty, that assurance, that conviction. I’ve been privileged enough to be raised in a loving family, in a first-world country. I have time to consume all the ideas presented to me by the world; I have time to settle into smug intellectualism and uncertain spirituality. I’m surrounded by peers who do so six hours a day, five days a week; how am I not influenced by such attitudes?

And yet I am not outright sold to this world.

I’ve been grounded in my faith by the choice to believe in what is not seen, in what seems to be so uncertain and unlikely but what actually is the most certain thing in this crazy universe. It’s been proven time and time again, but sadly much that is will be lost, for none who live now will strive to believe in it. God help me, I will not be one of those. I want that certainty through experience; I yearn for it. And I will go after it; I will go after that faith, that truth, that life – that which can only be found in the Truth, the one Person who embodies it all, the “founder and perfecter of our faith”.

I know that as I do, I will stand in good company.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~Hebrews 12:1-2

An Open Letter to My Middle-School Self

To my middle-school self,

The first thing you’d want to know is if you stay friends with the co-author of the past few pages of this notebook. GOOD NEWS: you do remain friends! Granted, a distance of thousands of miles puts somewhat of a damper in maintaining and furthering that intimacy you once had together way back when Facebook wasn’t a thing in your life. Yet the two of you became friends at such a pivotal point in your own timelines that the closeness of your bond is still there, strangely enough. Friendship can be a bizarre and wonderful thing, as you’ll discover later on.

Secondly, you’ll also be wondering how you turned out, what you became, Me from the Past. Well, you’re still a writer – albeit a much BETTER writer than back then (Pro-tip: stop using excessive adjectives!).  But overall, you’re still becoming someone, and I’ve learned that you’ll never stop becoming someone until the day you die. I’d like to think, though, that you/I are/am on the way to becoming a better person overall in faith, family, and friendship. You’ve certainly achieved more common sense/courage/(over)confidence than you had before. For example, you can do some pretty kickass oral presentations WITHOUT CRYING HYSTERICALLY IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE CLASS! So BRAVO.

Naturally, as the older, more mature you, I’d like to offer some advice as you go through the trials and tribulations of the most awkward/ridiculous years of our life so far.

First off, speak upWhether it be questions, comments, criticisms, or concerns, whether speaking with a teacher, classmate or friend…remember that when you have something to say – SAY IT. It’s a lot better than staying silent and succumbing to other people’s opinions all the freaking time. Granted, you may take it a little too far and end up talking too much, but that’s something you’ll deal with later.

Also, don’t be ashamed of being alone, but don’t be afraid of talking to people either. You may think that there’s something wrong with you when you feel dread before going to a party where you don’t know anyone; it is okay. That will be a normal occurrence for you. Sometimes being alone is what will help you recharge and learn. But also realize that every person is just like you. They all have insecurities, quirks, dreams, etc. There’s nothing to be afraid of with them.

Finally, keep writing and keep believing. Your faith and your writing are what keep you grounded and sane. No matter what anyone says, remember that truth, love, and hope belong to you in the Person of Jesus Christ. Don’t be discouraged and ashamed when other people reject/mock your faith. Instead, get angry and burn, not with hatred but with a glowing, unapologetic zeal for God and a fierce love for souls.

You still have a long way to grow, my friend, both then and now. But with God leading the way, you will not falter.

Love from your future self,

Wren

We Are Not Meant to Be Alone

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” ~Genesis 2:18

A beautiful, candid portrait about loneliness. Credits to ~Naksatra, from deviantArt. Found here: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Alone-16560985
A beautiful, candid portrait about loneliness. Credits to ~Naksatra, from deviantArt. Found here: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Alone-16560985

We are not meant to be alone in this world; it’s made crystal clear from the beginning of creation.

And I think that’s a beautiful truth.

But connecting with people always gets messy.

Lately, I’ve been wondering about relationships – familial, romantic, platonic, etc – are worth pursuing. Is it worth the pain, the frustration, and the heartbreak to go out on a limb to connect? (Heck, I’ve been contemplating this question all summer, to the point that I wrote a play about it.)

And the answer has been  there since the beginning of time.

We are not meant to be alone.

God made people for each other, to fit with each other like pairs of gloves. But we are not perfect people. We do not want to be vulnerable; we want to always be in control. It’s why we may find it so hard to connect, to be around and with other people, because of our fallen nature. Personally, I have a tendency to constantly get into conflicts with my family, the people God has biologically put me with. Why? I know they will forgive me; I know they will always love me. It’s a twisted little truth.The pain and the frustration of relationships comes as a part of the package whether or not we like it; sometimes we inflict it, sometimes we receive it.

Relationships never turn out like the lovey-dovey, feel-good relationships we see on TV and in movies. People are not characters; they are infinitely more complicated. Sometimes the pain and problems never get resolved; sometimes they never get closure. The way I see it, those conflicts are inevitable as well. Friendships and romances are the criss-crossing of the fabric of people’s lives, and these threads unravel and come apart. 

Yet, regardless of the fading scars of past relationships, those people we have crossed with have had a vast influence on who we become, who we are, and who we were.

Who would we be without the family, the friends, the teachers who have come into and gone from our lives?

We would be lost and drifting, soulless and sad.

To conclude:

We are all differently broken down, semi-functional, rusted out love machines.” ~Hank Green

Let’s Get Big

Imagine the smallest thing you could think of. An electron, a proton, an atom, a molecule, a nucleus perhaps?

Then get bigger. Imagine a cell, moving and functioning, a microscopic fragment of life. Next, a beating heart, nestled in a creature, millions of cells combining into tissues all working together to pump blood and oxygen. Imagine that heart pumping blood to the legs of a human being, legs that are moving, running, walking. Then envision the man those legs belong to, a human being striving for their own personal goals, living each day, and eventually dying.

Now let’s get even bigger.

A tree growing; its tall branches reaching toward the sunlight.

A mountain, majestically enormous; its snow-covered peak stretching past the clouds.

An ocean, spreading between continents, with depths as fathomless and unknown.

A continent, a vast land sprawling across the Earth’s crust; its terrain scattered with countries, with cities, with people.

Then, there’s Earth itself.

Our Earth, an enormous planet where four deep oceans, seven continents, thousands of mountains, billions of trees and people, countless beating hearts, countless cells, infinite atoms, and infinite molecules all reside.

An immense giant orb of life floating in the deep void of space, revolving a colossal sphere of burning, whirling hot gases, what we call the Sun.

You can’t get any bigger than the Sun, right?

Wrong.

Imagine, if you can, a star even more massive than the Sun.

A star of stupendous proportions almost bigger than our Solar System—Betelgeuse.

Betelgeuse is an ancient swelling red supergiant, alive with infernal heat, bursting with temperatures 7500 times hotter than the Sun.

A star in the finale of its life.

Finally, imagine a galaxy, where countless planets and stars are in place: swelling, moving, exploding.

A galaxy that resides in the biggest thing of all—the Universe.

It makes our achievements, our goals, our issues seem so insignificant. We human beings, in retrospective to the Universe, are dust. While we might be proud of getting on the honour roll at school, somewhere in the Universe, a star ended its life cycle with a brilliant bang, a spontaneous combustion of light and heat.

So if our achievements mean nothing in the end, if our goals and ambitions are a striving after the wind…what’s there to live for?

The question isn’t what but Who.

Because even with a Universe of epic proportions, there is Someone even bigger, greater, and more AWESOME.

God.

The One who created the Universe, the One who, with the same hands, forms the stars we see in the sky, and breathes life into plants.

And the crazy part is that this Someone, the Creator of the Universe and of life, cares about us, here on planet Earth. He cares for us so much that, even though he was greater and bigger and more powerful than ANYTHING in the whole Universe, He chose to become one of us.

A human being.

He chose to become like us.

Us, with our selfish, empty dreams and desires.

Us, with our evil actions and thoughts.

Us, born and living as a part of a world of depravity and sin.

Only, the difference between Him and us is that He had none of the above characteristics.

While a supernova happened somewhere across the galaxy, He was born in a smelly stable, under the very same night sky.

While a star evolved into a powerful black hole, He was chatting at a well with a Samaritan woman who had five husbands.

And while a black hole bent light and space, He, the creator of the Universe, hung, dying on a Roman cross—as a man.

It’s crazy.

The Person who orchestrated the life cycle of a star and breathed life into every animal, is the same Person who would get whipped, beaten, and suffocated for a world of people who could care less about their own souls.

And why would he do such a crazy thing?

It all boils down to what matters most.

Love.

It’s as simple as that.

Mind. Blown.