My Rearview Mirror

Regrets.  I had my fair share of these and the last is not far from memory.

A friend of mine decided one day to stop talking to me. I believe she’s made up her mind for a good reason, though I never got to find out what it was. I waited for a conversation to take place to have some understanding, a sense of clarity, but my hopes ended in vain.

When somebody you talk to every day suddenly ignores you, it hurts. You get these questions in mind, questions I myself didn’t know how to handle at that particular time.

A confrontation could have helped, but I took a more cowardly approach, that was,  to ignore her too.  At one point I just gave up and turned my back on something I could have saved.

Weeks passed and my frustration slowly healed. I intended to pick up where I left off, but I figured it was too late. I knew then that my friend and I were definitely going to part ways.

My few attempts to win back what I’ve lost felt more like sowing a seed and never seeing it grow. It was a fruitless exercise.  I look at myself and sighed, “Guess, you’re trying too hard on this one.”

For the second time, I gave up. Maybe it’s water under the bridge. It’s over. It’s done and I just had to deal with it.

I came to terms with my limitations and confided to another friend.  I asked for a bit of advice on what to do.  She said, try acceptance, and try forgiveness.  All I can muster was, “Oh. Alright.” – my thoughts still quite disorderly.  Obviously, these aren’t medications you can buy from a local pharmacy. It.took.me.time.—to process, to understand, and to appreciate the beauty embedded in these two words:  acceptance and forgiveness.

Acceptance means to embrace something for what it is now.  Forgiveness is to let go of the hurt and surrender the guilt.

Oftentimes we want to go back to how things were.   That’s what I wished for my case.  I know I too have made a mistake, and it cannot be undone. But the more I thought about the actions I took, I realized I must have done both myself and my friend a favor.  We talk now but not as much as before. Since the interaction’s quite limited, we have done away with one thing:  the negative talk about our common “enemy”.

We were once united by a common dislike against one person. The negative talk has taken a toll on me and it affected my work and the quality of my thoughts. Now that we don’t have the luxury to justify each other’s complaint, we’re both forced to be quiet about our grudges.  It’s something that, for me, has turned into a blessing.  Less focus on the bad meant more focus on the good.

Mistakes can be repeated until the lesson has been learned.  I will strive to do better next time around. But for now, I need to forgive myself for the immaturity, the cowardice, the ego and the pride I had held dear. To my friend, I hope she finds it in her heart to forgive me too, as I have resolved for the same forgiveness in mine.

Today, I’m deserting the hurt, the guilt, the regrets and the lame efforts to revive something that has died. What was broken can no longer be fixed.  It can only be made new. So this is me giving a new beginning to my friend, releasing her from my clutch, so she could blossom into a wonderful and strong woman she’s always meant to be. Let bygones be bygones.

As I glance into my car’s rearview mirror, I noticed the things that looked so huge just moments ago have now become so small, ‘till slowly, it faded away.  As I drove further up the road new things came in sight.  Some pretty, some not.  But I thought to myself:  “Well, this is “Now”, and I will cherish every minute of it.”

How God Shows Up In Not-So-Typical Ways

You don’t find God only in Church.

After three years of active community work, I’ve decided to take a break.  Coming to this conclusion is never easy. It means I won’t be able to see my favorite people on the planet, play music, lead worship or just be there to be a friend to someone.  I felt at a loss. You see, I’ve grown an attachment towards what I do and the people I do it for.  As years go by, it becomes harder and harder to let go.

When everything you do is done as a worship to God, no amount of effort, time, or resource is ever wasted. Every act becomes meaningful, every thought, significant, every breath, an offering.

An elder in the community once told me that any attachment to what’s material or can be seen, is not from God. Wherever God leads you, there’s always a mission to do. So just go and carry with you a servant’s heart.

I struggled with this idea and wanted to stay where I was. I thought, if I’m called to do something new or different, God will let me know in ways that I would clearly hear and perfectly understand.  Surely I was expecting something big to happen to move me. Something that can never go by unnoticed.  So I waited.

Then I remembered Elijah. He too waited on God. The windstorm, the earthquake, and the fire came, but God wasn’t in there. Until something unexpected came along. A gentle breeze.

As luck would have it, that’s how He came to me too.

There was no grandiose event or glorious moment. But in both ordinary places and spontaneous occasions, God gave a series of divine appointments.  

With Whom And How?

Strangers and no-strangers I bump into on regular days.

Dates with myself.

Alone time with Him. 

He showed up in places and moments I never would have expected. 

It’s amusing to know that God can surprise us like that.  I’ve never been more aware of Him than these past few days.  From, 

  • the glitter of the morning sun, 
  • the stillness of water as I walk by the lake, 
  • the scent of fresh flowers, 
  • the feel of wood in my hand, 
  • the glow of the night skies, to
  • the quietness of late afternoons,

 

God’s presence is so real, so tangible. It feels like I could almost touch Him.

Certainly, there is something larger than life. Something greater and significant is going on than the demands of every day.  When you quiet the noise around you, that’s when you hear it. When you wait openly and intently, that’s when you receive and fully understand it.

We never stop being with God just because we’re not inside the church or in the company of believers. He is alive in us and is with us wherever we go. We can always talk to Him and about Him, and bring Him to a friend, a stranger, a family, or to the person living next door. 

 

Divine appointments.  God may call you for it too.  Be ready, and when He nudges you just say yes.  No fear, no excuses, no doubts, no holding back. 

 

 

Question:

Was there a time in your life when God asked you to do something unexpected? How did that invitation go? Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear your story.  

 

Few, Less And More

“I took a backseat and just allowed things to happen as they should, watched time pass by as it meant to.  This intended pause just equated to rest at first but then it gave me something more- a sense of clarity to what I really want and what I need to let go”.- sundaewrites

 

I was in high school when my dad first taught me how to drive. After some time my brother and I would always compete and insist on taking the wheel to drive around town.  Some years more, I needed to start driving in the city.  Coming from a small town where I’d have to deal with slower traffic, fewer cars, smaller roads, driving in the city with more travelers on the road, was really a big deal for me.  I implored dad to help me master at least one route- from home to work and back, to the extent that I’d feel more confident about it.  Without hesitation, my dad agreed but on one condition. He’ll stay in the back seat while I drive. This made me feel really nervous but I agreed anyway, knowing it’s something that I have to deal with and overcome.

 

So off we drove through a number of turns, mentally mapping out the road so I’d know my way back.  My dad agreed to just drop me off and trusted me much to reach home on my own at the end of the day, “unscathed”.

 

I was used to having my dad in the passenger seat, but with him seated at the back made me feel less secured and less confident. Once in a while I’d look in the rearview mirror and see his eyes focused on the road. For some reason, he’d instinctively know when I’d feel confused or quite unsure of how to make it through the busy streets. On those occasions, he would lean forward and with his head next to mine, would gently coach me.  Oblivious to the noise and chaos outside, my dad’s voice remained calm, certain and trustworthy. Leaning into his words took away the panic and fear. I was sure I could drive on and make it through.

 

Some weeks later I asked dad, “Why did you choose to sit at the back and not beside me”? He said, “So I could see what you see. That way, I could guide you better”.

 

At first, it didn’t make sense. But thinking about it now, my dad was right. There’s a wider gap between the driver and the passenger seat, compared to, where my dad was seated leaning forward.

 

This experience taught me a great deal about assessing my own life. From time to time I’d mentally take a step back and see my actual self, heading towards somewhere and figuring out if the road indeed leads to my true north. Sometimes this requires a thorough review of what I’ve accumulated in my life at every point, and then stripping myself away of almost all of it, barring the essentials.

 

I know it’s a long road, but if I’m to truly enjoy the journey, I have to travel light, I have to be more present, and take every precious moment in as if it’s the very last time.

 

So this is it for me.  

Fewer photos, more experience.

Fewer words, more meaning.

Fewer complaints, more thank you’s 

Less hate, more love.

Fewer distractions, more quietness

Less of everything, more of my true thing.

 

Question:

How about you my dear friend?  What trade-offs are you making? What have you said no to so you could say yes to something far more important and meaningful? Comment here. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Happy New Year From A Stranger

“There was a moment there when his eyes were almost red and teary. I wasn’t sure what it meant but I felt there was a glimpse of sadness, and at the same time-  a glance of reassuring hope”.- sundaewrites

 

 

 

The best surprise you’re ever gonna get is just around the corner, waiting to land on your hands at the perfect time! Trust me, you’re gonna love it!

Mine came in a package I never expected, but deep down I knew it’s meant for me like Somebody really had me in mind when the gift was picked, wrapped, and finally shipped for delivery.

The working hours have been cut short today. Major roads are going to be closed before dusk. People are rushing to strategic places to witness fireworks, light shows, and water shows. Phones have been ringing nonstop for restaurant and cafe bookings.  Malls are crowded with locals and tourists, and groceries, oh yes, queues are longer, trolleys are stuffed more than ever, check out scanners are beeping faster than I could even blink!

The New Year!

Yes, the last day of the year has arrived, and everybody is looking forward to greeting the new year with a bang! You hear music, and noise everywhere and almost everyone is pumped up and induced to talk louder. But for one still moment, a kind gentle voice caught my ear.

“Happy new year”, he said.

“Happy new year to you too!”, I answered back, hurriedly.

Man: “I really don’t know how to cook, but I will try. My family is coming over”.

Me: “Oh, that’s great. So what do you have in mind”.

Man: “Some potatoes, salad, some meat. How about you?”

Me: “Just bread, cheese, and chips. No cooking required”. I smiled. “So you said your family’s visiting”?

Man: “Yes, for a few days, and then they’re going back. I’ll be left alone here. It’s always work, work, work for me. How about you”?

Me: “That sounds like me too. But I made up my mind to find sort of a balance, starting next year, or tomorrow, if you may”. I’m struggling with it, but I’ll do my best.”

Man: “Read books. That’s what I do. I don’t watch tv shows, and I don’t even have a smartphone but when I read even just a few pages, I feel happy. When you get closer to knowing, and learning, it really feels good. It makes me feel good. And I have God, you know. All these are going to go away anyhow, but I have God, I’m happy and I know I’ll be happy”.

Me: “I agree. I’m a believer too”!

Man: “I know. (smiling with approval). I wish you again a happy new year!

Me: “Same to you. Can I shake your hand”?

Man: “Yes”!

He had a huge grin and even placed my hand on his forehead. I bet if he wasn’t shy at all he could have given me a hug. I know I should have. But the encounter just caught me by surprise!

Did I tell you that during this conversation we were actually at the check out counter, and my card has been rejected maybe four times? The card machine showed an error message and I had to key in my PIN every single time. That gave me like a five-minute delay.  A delay that has been purposely used by the universe for this stranger and me to talk.

There was a moment there when his eyes were almost red and teary. I wasn’t sure what it meant but I felt there was a glimpse of sadness and at the same time a glance of reassuring hope.

God’s divine appointment. I guess that was one of mine. Sometimes these appointments are disguised in disruptions.  But when I heard that kind gentle voice, I felt the sincerity of the man’s heart.  I knew then God was at work in that ordinary but magical moment. The world stood still as he and I exchanged words about our cares and sentiments, but in that small window, of time and space, we’ve given each other a genuine sense of comfort, unadulterated love and the highest form of respect one soul can give to another.

It was unexpected. I was unprepared. And the best part is, I was blessed.

A chance encounter.

A meaningful experience.

An extraordinary way to end the year.

Warmth overload.

My Little Dune

I was maneuvering my car out of the building one day when I came face to face with an unexpected obstacle- a large pile of sand dumped on the driveway.

I was struck.

For a moment I tried to understand why someone would actually think this was a good idea.  Flustered, I eased my way out, fortunate enough to get some help from a  man nearby.

The drive to my workplace went on, in what felt like a trip to Anger City.  I kept thinking about the situation and the sensible options that the men responsible have had and should’ve taken.  “It’s a thoughtless act”, my mind pleaded.

Halfway through my journey, I caved in. I’ve acknowledged the fact that, it is what it is, yet hoped to change the situation if I can.  I prayed, really hard, just because it’s too difficult to pray when you’re on the verge of getting mad. I asked for patience, for forgiveness, for tolerance, and I prayed for a miracle.  Yes, a miracle- for a wonderful day despite an off start.

Less than half an hour, the brewing anger was gone. I parked the car and did my devotion.The issue slipped my mind until I came home later that day and saw the sand pile still there.

The area it now occupies reduced by a foot and a half. Not much, but certainly was an improvement.  I stepped out of the car, a bit frustrated. I approached the man-in-charge and discussed the problem with him. He quickly said, “Everything will be gone by morning”. I trusted his word and retired the night peacefully.

I woke up the next day hopeful as always and guess what I found at the parking area.  You can’t miss it, sand pile still there! I thought everybody else must have complained. The rest of the cars in the area are much bigger and longer than mine.  Well, I had two options at that point in time, look for a shovel and deal with it myself, or just drive my way out again like the day before.  Sadly, I didn’t have the luxury of time to play hero, so I opted for the latter choice.

Experiences such as this made me realize two things.

First:  Knowingly or unknowingly, we create unnecessary obstacles for people around us. This happens when:

-we refuse to help a genuine need even if we can,

-when we irresponsibly carry out our tasks,

-when we don’t deliver our promises on time or when we don’t deliver at all,

-when we don’t go the extra mile even if our strength allows us,

-when we don’t put in the effort to exceed a leader’s or a client’s expectations or at least meet what’s being required.

In other words, this is the case whenever we fall short of the ideal standards we all do know.

Second: When we get too consumed with our own little world and our own comfort, it’s easy to complain about the slightest of nuisances.  This stems from being used to a pampered existence.

We rarely give allowances to people’s mistakes.

We find it difficult to forgive a  non-life-threatening wrongdoing.

We give our all, to petty fights.

We argue a lot.

We quickly go into tantrums like a kid not getting a candy treat on Christmas day.

We got this far knowing this shouldn’t be the case. We are blessed enough to breathe, to walk, to smell, to eat and to see.

The basics. The important.

As I was still brooding from the past days’ trouble I discovered an extra 100 bucks in my bank account. Puzzled, I checked to find out what it was. Surprisingly, I got a cash back from the bank for debit card purchases in the past two months!  Awesome, right?!  Then I realized, perhaps God knew all along that I’d be pretty annoyed when the sand pile incident happens. So this is Him telling me to not sweat it out and get over it. And maybe, just maybe, He would have liked me to go and buy myself an ice cream!

So, that’s what I did. I suppose I’m not so grown up after all, 😀