Tag Archives: life

Gift of hope

Whatever you do, no matter the circumstances, don’t lose hope. All other virtues are premised on this one and this is in the sense that desperation makes us do things we wouldn’t ordinarily do. Desperation makes good people do bad things. For instance, hunger could make a person steal if they do not have better means of obtaining food.

Love as we know it, also stems from hope…A person whose heart has been broken so many times will be afraid of falling in love again because they are afraid of going through the pain that’s already too familiar, if things go awry. On the contrary, where someone has hope, they will embrace a potential love because they are hopeful things will turn out fine.

When things are not going on as well as we may want, what keeps us going? It’s hope; hope of seeing better days. Lately I keep reading stories about people who have come so close to taking their own lives because they were suffering from depression. From my understanding, hopelessness is what triggers suicidal thoughts.

While I may not have gotten to that point where I felt the urge to end my own life, I have battled depression before and I know, only too well, the state someone is usually in…one finds themselves in a situation where no single thought triggers happiness…everything feels bleak, and wherever one tries to comfort themselves that the future will be better, all they see are misery-laden days.

When someone wakes up every morning, feeling like they have nothing else to live for, hopelessness engulfs them and the next thing that prevails over them is the thought of ending their own lives. Hope strengthens our spirit to fight through unpleasant situations.

In life we can’t always be on an upward scale, because failure and pain are just an inevitable part of life; and I bet, this is where the saying, ‘it’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times  you pick yourself up’ arises.

My maternal grandma passed on five years ago, and everytime I think about the months leading to her death, I usually suspect she died a depressed woman. A few months before she died, mom brought her home so we could take her to hospital. She had been unwell for a while and her two sons who she lived with upcountry seemed to have neglected her.

Moreover, the two had been fighting over the ownership of her land. Given how peace-loving grams was, I usually imagine those clashes between her sons sent her to an early grave. She abhorred violence and they wouldn’t resolve their disputes amicably. Sadly, when she fell into depression, they didn’t seem to notice.

When mom learnt she was sick, she went for her and brought her home. I loved her so much, and I even had the honour of being named after her. Looking at her, I could tell all was not well with her. Even while sitted next to her, I would get the impression she was miles away because she had this bleak stare. At night I would sit by her bedside, trying to give her examples of all the good things she could look forward to, so despair wouldn’t suck her into its dark abyss.

As days passed, she got better and she started insisting she wanted to go back home. We didn’t want her to go just yet, but we figured she was feeling disillusioned because she was in a foreign place. Since we wanted her to be happy we agreed to let her go. A few months later mom and I visited her at her place and shortly after, we heard she was sick again.

Before we knew it, she was gone! When she was well, she was very lively. So when I think of hopelessness, she comes to mind and I hate what it does to someone. The way I see it, though grams never jumped off a cliff or stood in front of an oncoming train, she died because she lost the will to live.

She didn’t have the strength to fight illnesses when they ravaged her frail body and eventually when death knocked, she just opened without putting up a fight. I usually feel she could have lived for many more years if she had been happy. Hope would have opened her eyes to the endless possibilities that the future held.

The worst part about depression is that it’s very easy for one to fall victim, yet it is relatively difficult to get out of. Hope is that priceless shield which protects us from falling into that chasm. When I’m feeling low, I remind myself of the Bible verse, which says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, but with prayer and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God”.

From my own experiences, I know it’s very easy to lose hope; but one thing I’m learning, is to look up to the man of sorrows. Jesus would have despaired in life because He already knew the painful death He was going to be subjected to, yet He didn’t. Everytime we feel despair gnawing at us, we should ask Him to help us. Because we too can be victorious like He was.

 

Matters Faith

Matters faith

In my opinion, when it comes to matters faith, there are basically two categories of believers, who can further be grouped into four other sub groups:-

  1. The suffering believers
  2. The content believers

The suffering believers are fundamentally those who are immersed in unimaginable perils or typical glitches that could be feeling a little weighty at the moment. They can be divided into two:

  •  those who drift further away from God because they believe He abandoned them and that’s why they’re suffering;
  •  then of course there are those who trust God more at that time because they put their faith in Him to find a way out of their problems.

The content believers are those who are satisfied with the current state of affairs. They can be divided into two:

  • those who drift away from God when they are happy because they are in that bubble of bliss, which bursts eventually and it’s only then that they realize that they can never live without God; think the prodigal son…
  •  then again there are those who get closer to God at this time because they believe it’s only by God’s mercy that they have been able to enjoy the good moments in their life.

Point is, whether we’re struggling beneath the weight of overwhelming miseries, or are in a place in life where we feel life couldn’t be better, the situation we’re in, whether good or bad could determine the relationship we have with God. And it’s a choice we make…

Sometimes when life is too good we drift further and further from God, when we’re too caught up chasing the pleasures of life. One wakes up in the morning but because they are in good health and have servants at their every beck and call and money to indulge their every whim, they forget to say thank you for it all.

Truth is, we don’t always have to present ourselves before God when we need favours from Him. It’s only right that when He grants us our desires we thank Him; and even for those irking situations, because if we remain positive, we’ll see the good in those painful moments.

Unfortunately, our sinful human nature deters us from doing so. More often than not, I have heard a sick person say they can’t wait to get better because in more ways than one, the illness is curtailing their lives in ways so unimaginable.

When they recuperate, they realize that being healthy is not something that should be taken for granted. Looking at it from that perspective, I believe that while the majority of us might hate being in less desirable situations in life, we can choose to look at it from the ‘glass-is-half-full’ perspective: it’s only when we’re freezing during the chilly weather that we realize how much we need the sun; and when the sun’s blistering hot and we can’t stop whining, that’s when we realize we need the rain; we momentarily forget how much we detest mud.

In short, unpleasant situations in life make us appreciate the really good moments. As it is though, in life nothing is constant. Today someone is seated at the helm of a prestigious company; next thing you know they’re church-mouse poor because the company was declared bankrupt;

or maybe one is so healthy today, and tomorrow they’re moving from one doctor to another hoping to get a different diagnosis because they’ve recently discovered they’re suffering from a chronic illness. Such is life; no one knows what the next minute holds.

One thing I know though, is that the God who was there before those who came and went before us, is the same one who still reigns. He makes the earth rotate in its axis, clothes the ground with beautiful greenery and flowers.

If one is in a situation where they are struggling, they should remember the same God who provided for them before is still the one who reigns and will therefore grant them their heart’s desires when the time is right. So one shouldn’t let despair get the better of them.

If on the other hand one is feeling really blessed because for some glorious reason everything is falling into place, they should remember to hold on to God, because He who gave them all that gladdens their heart could take it all back if He deemed it fit; say when someone becomes too arrogant because their bank accounts are bursting at the seams and they could buy anything money can get them, so the need to be humble escapes them.

Whatever stage we’re in, we should remember nothing in life is constant; and as the cliché goes, ‘life is full of surprises’. What we need to always remember though, is that God never changes; and neither do His ways. If we don’t have what we need today, it’s not because He hates us. And when humility feels like a needless task because we have everything we could possibly want, we should remember that tomorrow could be a very different day.

Either way, we need God. When we’re happy, we should thank God and remember to treat everyone else with kindness. We shouldn’t wait for life to deal us tragic blows for us to grasp the whole concept of humility; and if we don’t have, we shouldn’t be bitter, despising all those who are blessed, because when our time comes, God will bless us too.

Young and heavily laden

Life ain't always beautiful

This past Sunday after mass, instead of going back home I passed by the salon to get my hair done. I found my hairdresser fixing another lady’s hair so I even had time to go to a fast food restaurant for a quick lunch. By the time she started doing my hair it was already getting late. Mom called to ask where I was and later she came so we could go home together. She showed up with a neighbour’s baby, who is only nine months old.

Minutes later, a lady, who I assumed was the hairdresser’s acquaintance-based on how free they seemed with each other-passed by to wish her a good evening. When she saw the baby, she gleefully said she had twins of the same age.

Mom asked her how old her babies were and she said they were slightly over a year. Mom then told her the little girl was only nine months old. The lady nodded understandingly. “She’s younger than mine,” she said.

“It’s not so hard raising twins especially if one has someone to help,” mom said comfortingly. Again, I believe she said this because the lady seemed so young.

“I don’t have a nanny,” she said, seeming completely unperturbed.

“So who did you leave them with?” Mom asked, sounding a bit surprised.

“One is asleep and their older sister is taking care of the other.” The lady looked so young; it was hard to imagine her with an older kid. I’m assuming it’s because of her physical appearance that mom asked her how old her eldest child was and she said she was seven. The lady went on to say she had gone to buy food and needed to get back home soon. “I didn’t feel like going out today, but I had to because if I didn’t my children would suffer as I’m the sole breadwinner.”

“Don’t feel discouraged, babies are a blessing,” mom told her reassuringly.

“I consider them a blessing. It was hard after their dad got locked up but I still think of them as a blessing.”

“Why was he locked up?”

“He wasn’t even guilty of the offense they accused him off,” she explained nonchalantly. “He was arrested for illegal logging and since he could not afford the bail, he was sentenced to six months behind bars. When I went to see him some officer told me to sleep with him in exchange for his release but I refused. I wasn’t going to compromise my dignity for his freedom.”

“Couldn’t his boss bail him out?” Mom asked.

“The licence is too expensive. Since his boss knew that he just hid, letting him take the fall.”

That’s just so unfair. I thought. His boss let him take the blame when he was perfectly aware he was innocent. “You know, women are so bad,” she continued, a far off look in her eyes, as if in retrospect.

“Why do you say that?” Mom asked.

“They keep asking me how I can go for this long without getting laid… if I don’t miss it. But I tell them I’m too busy fending for my kids to even think about it. When my husband comes out I’ll be here waiting.”

“You are a strong woman,” mom applauded her.

“Life has been so difficult, especially after he got arrested. When I was giving birth I temporarily lost my mind.”

“Did you check into a mental facility?” Mom asked, a concerned look on her face.

“No, by the time I left the hospital with my new-borns I had already recovered.”

I was only looking at her through the mirror, but I could clearly see she didn’t seem bogged down by all the misery she had been through. I even thought she was too calm for someone who had three kids, a partner in prison and struggling financially, and with some mental illness.

“How old are you?” Mom asked smiling. I think talking to that lady and listening to her poignant story had her awed, like I was.

“I’m twenty seven.”

“You’re so young,” mom said, completely taken aback. I was shocked too. “And you’ve gone through so much.” The smile on her face faded away, and in its place was a forlorn look. “But don’t worry, life is like that sometimes. We only need to persist. Problems were not meant to last, right?”

“Yeah, it could be overwhelming. But I have my God with me. So I know things will be ok.”

The lady’s attitude really impressed me. She had gone through so many difficulties, yet she still remained optimistic; managing to laugh, even when I thought life had dealt her tremendous blows.”

Her attitude inspired me. When we go through traumatizing situations we become so negative, but this lady wouldn’t let tough moments drag her down. She was resilient, willing to overcome whatever challenges that sprung up in her life, including a mental illness, which I deduced had been triggered by too much stress.

It’s all in the blood: Cure for ageing

cure for ageing-vampire therapy

Scientists may have found a cure for ageing after all. That means people might not need to result to constant use of Botox so as to hide wrinkles anymore. Experiments done by teams at Stanford and Harvard Universities point to a possible cure; it’s all in the blood. So far the experiment has only been conducted on mice and it seemed to work.

The blood of young mice injected into older mice seemed to rejuvenate them by improving their memory, as it seemed to recharge the brain, and they run longer on the treadmill. All these are characteristics associated with youth; talk about ‘young blood’. It’s attributed to the protein, known as ‘GDF11’, present in the blood. High levels of the protein in the body improves body functioning.

cure for ageing

The experiment has not been tested on humans yet. If tried and successful, it could cure effects of old age like Alzheimer’s. If it doesn’t turn out right as expected, however, it could have serious side effects.

This scientific finding had me thinking about life’s paradoxes; people don’t want to die, and they still don’t want to age. The way I see it, ageing isn’t so desirable. Many people detest the obvious symptoms of ageing: wrinkled skin, receding hair lines, weakening muscles, effects of gravitational pull on some certain body parts, greying hair, memory loss, impaired sight/hearing, loss of teeth…etc. It is understandable why one would want to get cured of them.

A few years ago a cousin of mine told me he hoped to die before he turned fifty because he didn’t want ageing to mar his good looks. He was a teenager at the time. I don’t know if he has changed his mind about the issue but given that now he is in his twenties, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a change of heart as fifty doesn’t feel so far away anymore.

What we need to understand is that ageing is a normal part of life. When life sprouts, there will be ageing eventually if the person doesn’t die young. Mary Engelbreit said, “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it”. I feel we should apply this quote in this ageing issue. Whatever we do, no matter how hard scientists try to find a cure for ageing, people will still grow old. It is something we need to accept. Ergo, we should start looking at it as a blessing.

Personally I don’t mind ageing; but then again, one might argue that it’s because I’m still enjoying my youth so I wouldn’t really know how it feels to suffer any of the unpleasant ageing symptoms. It’s true, I’m in my youth, but at the same time, I do know how it is like to become a whole different person thanks to advancing age.

Currently my dad’s grandmother is still alive. I’m not sure how old she is but I’m assuming she is in her late nineties or early hundreds. I knew her when I was still a small kid and she was much younger than she is right now. I was less than five I think, and even though I don’t remember much about her I remember her being a very strong, lively woman. She used to enjoy singing and dancing and was even a member of her local church choir. Last October I saw her. The wrinkles on her face did nothing to conceal her beauty; I imagined she must have been so beautiful in her youth. As it is, old age has rendered her blind, toothless; she can’t walk on her own and therefore has to be wheeled around in a wheelchair.

When my paternal cousins and I gathered around her three years ago, she could barely remember us. We had to introduce ourselves, telling her whose children we were because it was easier for her to make the connection that way. Naturally she can’t cook or take care of herself, so she lives with one of her younger sons. Her last of eight children is dad’s age.

When I saw her, I thought about the cycle of life; one comes into this world tiny and dependent, grows into someone strong and as years pass by, grows old and weak, dependent again. Someone who gets lucky enough to live through the full cycle leaves this world as they came, weak and dependent.

Is my great granma happy? She might not have all the comforts of her youth, but I would say she is. She inspires me to think of ageing as a blessing. In my opinion, she is abundantly blessed as she has lived to see five generations. She has seen her great-great-grandchildren. That’s a blessing. With the way things are nowadays, it’s a blessing to live that long.

The experiment has me wondering; if it’s successful, won’t babies become an endangered species? Their blood will obviously be on high demand and that means there could be more kidnappings…etc. And again, I’m thinking, what if it triggers the ‘vampire syndrome’ in humans, making the better of us blood thirsty and all, in the quest to remain young?

Maybe the whole cure for ageing thing will be advantageous to many, but it could also give rise to dreadful repercussions. In light of this, maybe we should maintain status quo; we shouldn’t upset the balance of things…but that’s just my opinion…

 

 

Beginning of Lent

Yesterday, 5th March was Ash Wednesday. It was the first day of the forty days’ Lenten fast preceding Easter. The ash used is made from burning Palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. It’s then blessed by the priest, who then puts it on people’s foreheads in the form of a sign of the cross. The ash serves as a reminder that human beings came from dust and to dust we shall return.

ash wednesday

Additionally, in the early days before soap was discovered, ash was used for cleaning. In this case therefore, the ash also symbolizes cleansing. In ancient times, the use of ash was an outer manifestation of mourning and repentance. In Job 42:6, after realizing his mistakes about questioning the will of God Job said, “So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes.” Ash therefore shows that a sombre mood characterises the Lenten season; purple vestments are used by priests.

The three pillars of lent are fasting, reflection/penance and alms giving. It’s a period where people are called to reflect on their relationship with God. Sin separates us from God; it’s precisely for this reason that the need for repentance is greatly emphasized. It’s also a season of self-denial. People are encouraged to give up the things that pull them away from the grace of God; things they feel weaken their faith as Christians. If, for instance, anger makes you do things you regret later, give up on the anger.

The faithful are also encouraged to sacrifice the things they love. Basically this is a time of repentance; therefore we should deny ourselves those things that afford us pleasure in life. Whatever one chooses to sacrifice, they are asked to give it to the needy.

The forty days’ fast is an imitation of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, where He was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4: 1-11), immediately after His baptism. He went there to prepare Himself for the great mission He was about to embark on. During this Lenten season, we are reminded of our mortality, so we can realize the need to reflect on the relationship we have with God and repent our sins before it’s too late.

We are reminded not to put too much attention on bodily things; on material things, because they all shall pass. We’re reminded not to attach so much importance to physical things, because it’s the soul that matters. It’s the soul that carries on with the eternal journey when this life is no more.

Even though I write so much on Christianity and spirituality, I am not oblivious to the fact that not all my readers are Christians. But I hope this post inspires everyone who reads it somehow. I don’t ask that everyone converts to Christianity, but I hope that each one reflects on the lives they lead; one doesn’t need to be a Christian to help the needy, and neither does one need to be a Christian to aspire to be a better person.

Humans are synonymous with sin; our nature predisposes us to imperfections. This period is simply a time to reflect, atone for our wrongs and help those in need. One doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christian to do that.

OBEY, if you will

ten commandments

If you will, you can keep the commandments, they will save you. If you trust in God, you too shall live. He has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you wish. Before a man are life and death, good and evil, and whichever he chooses will be given to Him. For great is the wisdom of the Lord; He is mighty in power and sees everything. The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, and He knows every deed of man. He has not commanded any one to be ungodly, and He has not given any one permission to sin (Sirach 15: 15-20).

This was Sunday’s reading in church. I chose to share it because it reinforces a belief I’ve always upheld; that no matter the situation, one has the power to choose; and this particularly applies to people who feel like they have to do something to please others or fit in, or one adopting some behaviour because that is what they were predisposed to by their surroundings.

If you will, you can keep the commandments– this words help anyone reading them understand that when God is dealing with us, He doesn’t impose His will on us; he has given us the power to choose. Whether one follows the commandments or not, that’s up to them; the good thing about following the commandments though is that by doing what’s in accordance to God’s will, we win His favour; and that will be translated into blessings, while here on earth, and eventually, eternal life. That is what I feel matters most; achieving salvation; spending forever by His side.

If you trust in God, you too shall live– Emphasis on the word ‘if’. Again, that’s a choice one has to make; to trust in Him or not. I’ll tell you why-one of the reasons-I love God. Just imagine, He has the power to smite anyone who disobeys Him, He is The Almighty, yet He doesn’t force anyone to trust in Him, or love Him. He loves us so much that He lets us make that choice. Now that’s upon every individual. He Himself says, He is a jealous God, but still, He doesn’t go wiping out all those who worship/believe in other gods.

Before a man are life and death, good and evil, and whichever he chooses will be given to him-it’s all about making choices. Whoever wishes to have eternal life will follow him; and whatever one desires, good or evil, that is what they will get. Sometimes when we mess we pin the blame on others: “I’m violent because I grew up watching my parents fight,” etc… but truth is, everyone has the chance to choose what they want. If one chooses violence, that is what they will get; if one chooses to be involved in crime, making others’ lives miserable, that is what they will get. If one chooses to ride against the current; do something good even when others around them are doing wrong, that is what they will get.

Whatever we ask for, we shall get. Sometimes making some choices might be tough especially if there’s no one there to offer support; however, I feel if one believes in something and desires it really bad, they shall get it.

He has not commanded anyone to be ungodly, and He has not given anyone permission to sin-but if one wishes to sin, or be ungodly, that’s their call. He has given us the freedom to choose; we can obey Him or not. But He would be happier if we obeyed, because like a good parent, He knows what’s right for each and everyone of His children. And unlike our earthly parents, His infinite wisdom makes Him privy to what lies ahead; He sees everything. So if we trust in Him, and live by His precepts, it’s happiness and life we choose.

Life happens when you’re busy planning life

making plans

‘Life happens when you’re busy planning life.’

The first time I heard this statement, my mind went back to a date I never had with a guy I really liked about two years ago. Naturally, I’m one of those people who don’t just do things on impulse. If I’m hooking up with some girlfriends, I’ll have to plan for it. If it’s an appointment I have with my hair dresser, I’ll have to plan for it. If I’m going shopping, I’ll have to plan for it. Spontaneity isn’t a word I’m too conversant with.

I really can’t say it’s a good thing. Some might argue it’s good to always plan for things in advance-I thought so too, but not anymore. Through experience, I learnt that sometimes it’s actually good to do things on impulse. The problem with some things is that if you actually sit down to plan when you’ll do them, they’ll never happen.

Two years ago, I met this guy when I was at work. He worked for a popular radio station. After talking for a while we just clicked, and he asked me out. I didn’t even think twice about it; I definitely wanted to spend more time with him. You know, there are those people who are so easy to like; he was one of them. The problem however rose when we started setting the time for our date. Somehow our schedules collided. When I was free he wasn’t, and when he was, I wasn’t.

He suggested we should just leave the possibilities open so if he was free he’d call me up to ask if I could avail myself. That proved difficult because at times he’d call when I was tied up with something. I had to explain to him that I had my activities all planned out (It sounds boring I know, trust me). He on the other hand told me he was an in-the-moment kinda guy. Whatever he did, he did when he felt like. He made it clear that he wasn’t really into planning and all. At the time I was like, “What? Planning makes things easy.”

He dropped by my workplace, and we managed to set an actual date. We agreed to hook up later that evening. Everything was going on fine, until I sprained my ankle. I wanted to ignore it but the pain was too much. I just rang him to cancel; there was no way I was going on a first date with him limping.

It was around Christmas. Later that week my family and I travelled out of town for a couple of days. When we came back the Christmas festivities had relatively cooled off. I’d asked my boss to give me a few days extra and the understanding man he was, he had agreed, so I reported back to work later than everyone else. It was almost time to usher in the New Year. Soon, everything went back to normal, the holiday spirit died down, waiting for another twelve months so it could resurrect.

There was too much work to be done and even, though I’d thought December was a busy month, January proved worse, not because there was too much work to be done, but because generally, the month feels like a Monday; a mundane, lethargy-inflicting day, after an exciting weekend. The connection we’d fostered the first few days faded away. I got tired of all the rescheduling, and I imagined he felt the same way too.

The relationship we would possibly have had ended before it had begun. I could tell he was a fun guy to be with, but it just didn’t happen. Maybe if I hadn’t been too keen on planning, if I just lived for the moment, I would be telling an entirely different story. Maybe I made wrong deductions, but given that to date we’ve never hooked up, I concluded that sometimes it’s actually good to just do things on impulse.

From a Christian’s perspective I could decide to look at it from the, ‘God didn’t want us to go on that date perspective’, but normally I feel my ‘planning’ got in the way. So I do agree, that life actually happens when we’re busy planning it. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, so if one gets the opportunity to do something today, they should just grab the chance. Maybe I’m wrong… maybe I’m not…