Friday, February 27, 2015

Plenty of Fish

The moment I decided to attend the Christian singles mixer party my friend was hosting, I hadn't pictured myself as the only female attendee for the first part of the evening. But there I was, the wall flower, sitting encircled by a half-dozen eligible men in a dimly lit bar inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's the Raven, awkwardly making conversation with help from an icebreaker game. Scarlett O'Hara surrounded by adoring beaus I was most definitely not. When the other two women showed up, they sat together at the bar and put their icebreaker games in their purses, meaning I won the door-prize for the women by default.

I tried not to think about how disappointing this event might turn out for every one, and focused on small talk and polite conversation about work, hobbies and interests. One man turned out to be not only a winter camping enthusiast but also a registered nurse who was an expert in foot care nursing, having run his own business for over ten years. I was able to glean some valuable information from him as I am also a foot care nurse.  Another man was a recent immigrant from Lebanon who was a scientist who worked in the food industry. Yet another was an outdoorsman who was a machinist. They all seemed like decent people. A couple men offered to buy me a drink, but I declined as I rarely have alcohol.

Gradually the small crowd dwindled to four people, counting the hostess of the event. We sat at the bar and discussed our work and cultural and family backgrounds. Since I had won a gift certificate for the bar, I attempted to buy a drink, but it is hard to order something that has no alcohol or sugar at a bar, and bars apparently don't charge for water garnished with a lemon. When I realised that this elementary fact should have been obvious to me, I was rather embarrassed to have offered payment. My next thought was to order a drink for some one else, as I didn't think it likely I would be returning to this venue, but the two people I asked had already imbibed their personal limit of one drink for the evening.

At ten the music was cranked up, but no one was dancing. Conversation became more difficult due to the noise level. My friend and I made plans to go back some time to use the gift certificate, and we exited the bar together along with the last man to leave the singles mixer party, who happened to be the registered nurse. He offered me contact information so I could ask him for professional advice regarding foot care. It wasn't the evening I had expected, especially since the last event my friend planned had had ten times as many people show up and more of a gender balance. Still it certainly was a stretching experience, and more of an adventurous Saturday night than I am used to having.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


There are two totally different ways to look at life. One is of a history of failures, setbacks, disappointments, and missed opportunities. The other is a story of lessons learned, challenges faced, holy encounters, and blessings in disguise.
 In the last little while I have had two disappointments. The one today I didn't handle very well, and in a moment I seemed to have lost all the progress I thought I had made. Negative things came from my mouth and they seemed very true and realistic, but in fact, they had the truth all twisted and distorted. 
This may be a challenge I have to overcome, but it is not the end of my journey. God does have a good plan for my life, but my life at times includes learning from failures, struggling through setbacks, dealing with disappointments of things I have wanted but are not God's will, and sometimes missing the mark. Through it all, God is working all things for my good and he is drawing me closer to himself. 
God knows the desires of my heart, and he created my heart. He is good, faithful, and true and as I delight myself in who he is and what he has done, he will fulfill the desires of my heart and also recreate my heart to be more in tune with him. Some of my desires may change in the process and as my life unfolds, I may understand better why God has said "no" or "not yet" or "wait" for petitions I have made to him. God wants me succeed at the things he has designed and purposed for me to do and he knows the end from the beginning. If I ask for his guidance, direction and wisdom, I can trust him to answer my prayer. He is able to do so much more than I would ever ask or imagine.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

How to Find One's Life By First Losing It

Being self-absorbed comes naturally. If there is a mirror in the room, chances are I am checking out my reflection, even as I am conversing with other people. When I get a hair-cut, I want people to notice and compliment me. Since I lost some weight, I weigh myself with even more frequency. Often in conversations, I catch myself bringing the discussion back to myself, which is my favourite topic though maybe not as fascinating as I think. Though I receive many spontaneous compliments, sometimes I am guilty of fishing for one. At times, I spend so much time looking inward, I fail to notice people with needs all around me.

Self-denial on the other hand, goes against my natural tendencies. How I can give of myself sacrificially to others is not immediately obvious to me in any given situation; More on my mind is how will this affect me and my plans or how does this person feel about me.

Selfishness is my default setting. If I don't try to put myself in another person's shoes or attempt to think of others, I won't consider their needs above mine.

It is all too often all about me. That's why I find Jesus' words so challenging as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson: "Any one who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I  am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?"

I guess if I am truly following Jesus, instead of just talking about following Jesus, he will lead me in this way of self-sacrifice and show me how it is done. He has already demonstrated a love that was willing to suffer, to empty himself, to give his life as a sacrifice. In his life, he was a servant, obedient to the Father. Even though he was God, he made himself nothing. My life has to become about him and about the people he has placed in my life. I need to radically change my focus and only then will I find my life as it was meant to be lived.