Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Love

"Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love", which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate event."

- Louis de Bernieres

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Worshipful

My devotion today is about worship, waiting, and working, and how these three are meant to happen together, not separately. This is from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. We are not to jump from worship, waiting, and then to working, but to worship while waiting, to worship while working, and wait while worshiping and working, etc.

My thoughts today:

It is important to keep a worshipful heart every moment even when we are not physically sitting down and in a praying position. Worshiping needs to become a kind of lifestyle, in which whatever we do, we worship, through joy and sorrow. Not to say that it is to deny the sadness that life can bring us, but in the sadness to still worship and declare God as being sovereign and in control of the situation.

It is, however, also important to set apart time to worship in the midst of busy-ness and the noises that the world brings to us. This will quieten our heart and mind, so before we start our day, we have reminded ourselves that our focus for the next 24 hours will be on worshiping God through whatever is in front of us.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Power of Music

I have always known that music is a great power that moves both the spirit and soul in unimaginable ways. And music moves us in both directions, to make us do and think of the good things, or to make us do and think of the bad things. For example, music can make us feel angry, sad, happy, calm, worshipful, grateful, etc., and it can heal us as well.

Today it hits me why music can be used for negative things, and probably a mean to reach out to kill people's emotions and feelings, or at least mess them up.

Think about this: Lucifer used to be the music master in the heaven! He created awesome music that filled the heavens. Yet he became prideful and wanted the glory for himself, so he was banished and sent away. Now that he is the father of devils, of course his greatest tool is still music! He uses music these days to confuse the youth, to bring negative emotions in people, and to stir up feelings that will hurt and destroy one another.

We must be aware of the music that we are listening to. After all, music touches the deepest parts of our souls, and moves the spirit in amazing ways. Let's all use music to glorify God!

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Theory on Spirituality of Gender

I suddenly had this thought while showering. Try to link these pieces of information together:

1. Woman was created after Man
2. Devil tempted Woman, not Man
3. Amongst most of my friends, there are more devote female Christians than male ones

This is the conclusion that I arrived, but please don't quote me for any debatable issue. This is merely an interesting picture that I see in one evening in less than one minute of thinking.

1. Woman was created after Man
- As days go by, God created more complex creatures that become more similar in His image
- This means that Woman might have been more spiritually inclined, or has one key that leads her thoughts, attitudes, desires, or whatever it is, to connect to God even more easily

2. Devil tempted Woman, not Man
- There must be a reason why Devil chose Woman, not Man
- Perhaps it is Woman's understanding and sensitivity towards spiritual things or about God in general, thus making it easier for Woman to fall; almost like how if someone has tasted honey, s/he will want another taste
- So maybe Woman heard from the Devil and understood; might not have the same outcome if Devil had come to Man
- Similarly, if you want to make someone fall, you tend to trip someone of the highest "status", because the fall will be greater; in this case, it's Woman's spirituality that the Devil wants to taint, perhaps because Devil understood the danger of Woman's capabilities

3. Amongst most of my friends, there are more devote female Christians than male ones
- This is a personal experience, I have not looked into the literature to see if there is any scientific basis to the ratio difference, etc., or if this claim is even supported

But think about this!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Came to Practice

I feel like a true psychologist now that I am in Jakarta living under the same roof as my family.

I feel upset with how things are and though I may have the answers, I can't change them. I feel upset living amongst the dysfunctions of those around me while I try to keep myself a step away so I can stay level-headed without getting dragged into the mess. I make sure my third eye is constantly awake so I know what is actually going on, rather than just reading the current happenings. I practice patience when I point out certain parts that can be improved yet these people practice avoidance by changing topics.

There are times I feel hurt, unheard, and tired. Yet I try to remain professional so I don't get affected while doing other tasks in life that need to be done. It is difficult, because after all, it is my own family that I'm talking about here, so the dysfunctions affect my lifestyle, and it occurs every moment of everyday. It is unlike dealing with a single patient one hour once a week. It is more like working with a patient almost 18 hours everyday. After a while, I learn to make sure I have enough private time to recuperate from the constant dysfunctions. I learn to pray even more.

What I learned in school, ironically, came to the greatest use when I get back home. This will help me get through life here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Creepy Generation

I finally live with a TV after a very long period of time. These days, I turn on my TV for music, since I haven't bought any music player at home (my room is pretty empty since I have not lived here for a very long time).

Yesterday, the songs I heard on KIIS FM in LA was showing on TV. Excited for some bits of good LA memory, I went to sit in front of the TV. The first was Britney Spears' "I Wanna Go", which I found rather vulgar and weird - totally one of the humans-turning-into-robots kind of era. I mean, I watched Terminator before, which is very futuristic as well, but it wasn't even the least bit of Britney Spears' kind of weird. And of course, I haven't closely watched her ever since her debut, so I was surprised when her face looked like it had gone under the knife.

Then, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" came up. That was even weirder. It was so creepy that I had to turn it off half way. May I even say that it's rather satanic? I wasn't sure if it was me that was uncomfortable with those kind of creepiness, or if I'd been too far removed from the media industry that I no longer see the norm.

I wonder if this generation is turning creepy like that? Or is this an argument of acceptance in the midst of all these creepy things going on?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Humanity

I am not a victim of any traumatic events, like domestic violence, molestation, murders, or even thefts and robbery. Sure, I have seen these experiences through my past clients, but I have only experienced the more "minor" ugly side of humanity, like betrayals, destructive gossip, and things of a more "minor" damage in one's life, or at least that's what I think.

Yet, I can't help thinking how a part of me hates humanity and its ugliness, while a part of me still keeps the hope that we can be much better than this. This hatred is amplified when I'm back in Jakarta, when everyone works in such an inexplicable way through bribery and things of the such, where one's life can be bought with money.

But thinking of how I've never been a "true" victim of humanity's ugliness in a sense that I've never been traumatized to an extent that a lot of people have been, makes me feel ashamed of this hatred in me. It makes me realize that Jesus, who was in the situation where He had the right to hate all humanity, was able to choose to love humanity... And that's beautiful, though extremely difficult to do. And I know how difficult it is because I have yet to reach that kind of situation before my desire to refuse loving humanity surfaced. And ironically, these are the thoughts coming out even after doing self-reflection of the ugly things I've done to others as well.

I wonder, how then, will I be able to have that kind of heart, to continue loving and believing even all the bullets are shot at me, especially when I know I can hate that part of humanity, and my love is limited?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happiness

Lately I feel that the search of happiness is overrated. Or just happiness in general: the fact that people want to be happy and seek to do things that make them happy.

Maybe we cannot search for happiness; maybe it comes when we are faithful doing the small things in life, like saying hello to the clerk, serving other people, doing our work diligently, cooking a home-cooked meal, taking a stroll in the park, being busy studying for exams, loving one another, cleaning the house...

Maybe it's not even happiness that we are looking for, but contentment disguised as happiness, because after all, being content is difficult to accept when the culture is all about consumption and greed.

Maybe happiness is not even that important, because it is not the end of the story, only a passing emotion in this journey of life.

So why all this fuss about happiness?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

1000 Rights

When I was very young, a teacher told me the story about a righteous man, who has built schools for the poor, fed the starving, and helped the community grow. Everyone in that place knew about his kind heart and the good deeds that he has done for each person who has lived there at some point in time.

One morning after he has not slept the night before because he was working on a new school building project, and was really sleepy, while driving towards his office, he did not notice a woman coming out into the street. Caught by surprise, it was too late and he was unable to avoid hitting this woman. This woman fell to the ground and died a quick death. The man was then brought to the judge for his misdeed.

The judge, of course, knew all about this man, thus the question was, how to deal with him? Must he be punished for his carelessness? Or would his punishment be made lighter?

Back when I was young, I remembered hearing many responses from the class, most saying that he should not be punished, because he has helped the community and it was not intentional, some saying that he should be punished but make him receive a lighter punishment, considering all the good things he has done, while others like myself kept quiet because we did not know how to respond.

My teacher then said, the man was punished for his misdeed without lighter sentence, because the 1000 right things he has done do not make 1 wrong action right.

That was one lesson that stuck in me for the longest time. The consequences of a wrong must be paid for things to be made right, while doing the right things are our responsibility. The reward of doing the right things must not come from the possibility in getting an excuse to compromise with a mistake we may make in the future, but that intrinsic motivation that comes with seeing God's people progressing towards the good. This is perhaps why when we do things, we have to do them as though it is for God, and not for humans, thus we give our best to do the right things even when there seems to be no other worldly reward. The reward, then, will be that precious smile of God that one day we will see.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Crossing the Road

I was walking around today at my own leisure pace, for I was in no rush to get anywhere or to do anything. I was really just trying to hit my 10,000 steps a day (the global corporate challenge that my friend is making me participate in). I was also trying to stay outside my house as long as I could, since my house is filled with many stressors related to thesis-writing.

So often when I crossed the road, I would not even wait till the pedestrian sign turned green when the road is empty, especially on the smaller streets that make it a little safer to do that. And of course, everyone was doing it, so it would be weird if you wait till the sign turn green, actually. Plus, I was always in a hurry to get to a place, so I will always hit the crossing button multiple times, as though it would help turn the light green faster.

Today, however, I waited for the sign to turn green before crossing the street. This was true for all the streets I was crossing. People were crossing the road before me and it was weird at first, but slowly I felt a strange sense of liberation. The freedom to choose to wait until the sign turns green, the freedom to live as a responsible resident and pedestrian, the freedom to choose to act in a non-normative way.

I wonder if this was true in the Christian life. At first we seem to think that living or choosing to act in a certain non-normative way is weird or even limiting, but slowly we feel that freedom, because we are liberated from societal pressure to act in a certain manner, and so we can behave in a way that reflects integrity and wisdom instead.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not A Waste

I looked back and understood why God made me take this route.

My Business degree, Psychology degree, Japanese degree, Public Policy degree - typing these degrees out really makes me feel like I'm crazy. But now I understand, or at least partially, why I was to go through all these degrees.

Academic world is a safe and predictable place to grow. I learned about numbers and entrepreneurship from Business school. I learned to listen and be observant with my Clinical Psychology degree. I learned to be analytical and objective through my Public Policy degree. My Japanese degree is a bonus!

So let's just say that I am a little slower than others in terms of character building and learning about life. Looking back, it's funny how God used my love of school to guide and shape me. But this convinced me that whatever I've done, am doing, and will be doing, I'm definitely not wasting my time. There is a sense of relief in knowing that God is making an investment in me through all the experiences and encounters that He has and will place before me.

I hope you too, when you feel stuck in a moment, will have faith that you are never wasting a moment. All is due in God's time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Words of Encouragement

I remembered last year, I was bogged down with so many activities that life required of me. I was juggling 2 schools, research/dissertation proposal, practicum, and of course, other things in life.

Life was so busy that my apartment was a mess, and I was in an extreme stress that I thought I was borderline depressed. I was missing my lunch almost everyday, lacking sleep even during the weekends, and work was piling up no matter how much I buried myself in work.

A dear friend from school who was doing his practicum together with me at the same site, said this to me, "You can do it, Karlin. If there's anyone who can go through this, I would think it will be you".

Those simple words gave me an enormous strength to finish well. I'm not saying that I will do that all over again, after all, that was not a wise decision to be filling up my life with so many activities at one go. But the words of encouragement from a friend who understands what you are going through, and words of encouragement that came at a time of need, is more precious than gold.

So dear friend, thank you. I hope to be that friend to someone else who needs words of encouragement. Let's all practice speaking blessings to each other!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spirituality of Hiking

Spiritual Lesson #1
When the going gets tough, a good company can turn an 8-mile trail into a short walk.

Spiritual Lesson #2
At the beginning, the uphill slope may be unbearable, but as we go on, we build the stamina and become used to the hard path we walk on.

Spiritual Lesson #3
We know that there is an end with a beautiful reward, but we can't see the end with our eyes, only with our faith, and through guidance and marks along the way, we are able to know which direction to head towards.

Spiritual Lesson #4
As much as we want to reach the end as quickly as we can, enjoy the hike and the beauty of what comes our way.

Each Encounter is Meaningful

We often do not realize that every person we encounter in the public is not by coincidence. It has been designed. To meet a person on the same day in the same hour, minute, and second, especially when you have personal contact and exchange with that person, is not an easy thing to do. If we think about it, almost all our meetings have been intentional and planned. That is how difficult it is to meet someone.

April 28, I was in LAX on my way to PDX at night. Since I am addicted to Foursquare, I posted my location. After I arrived in PDX, I received a text from a friend. She said that she was in LAX when I was there, and another mutual friend was also in the airport. Imagine 3 people who know each other being in the same location but was unable to meet, even after one of them knew my location.

That struck a chord in my heart. Every person that I encounter, speak to, or exchange smiles with, is there for a reason. It is not that easy to accidentally meet someone. Perhaps I could have said a word of encouragement, or give a friendly gesture, to help brighten someone's day. Perhaps I am placed there because they need a word from me, or they have a word for me. Imagine that vast network that God can use to save souls and to speak His word into our lives.

Being the not-so-friendly person I am in the public, perhaps it will be difficult for me to reach out my hand and start a conversation, what more to evangelize. But perhaps I can start with a kind smile, a positive attitude, and a joyful heart that may bring others the kind of peace that they need from someone who knows God.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Think Outside The Boxes

Haven't you heard so many people saying, "Think outside the box!", that sometimes it just means to be creative? I was trying to break down this concept of thinking outside the box and whether there is a box in the first place, and realize that maybe it is about thinking outside the boxes. There are multiple layers of boxes that one has to peel.

1st box: this is the project, or whatever that you are working on. The scope has been set, the issue has been defined, and the boundaries of solutions have been determined by past data and experiences. If you stay here, you're pretty much doomed, and your employer will find other people to work with.

2nd box: this is the social norm. No matter how great your idea is, if the society cannot appreciate or accept it, your solution will not be realized. So your solutions are usually contained in this box, outside the project boundaries, but within what is acceptable. This may be unfortunate, for many times, the society will soon accept that out-of-the-2nd-box idea, but maybe just not during your time, for your idea is still very new.

3rd box: mental capacity. Even if the society accepts your crazy idea somehow, you have to go beyond the other big box. This is your own mental capacity, the educated mind that has been fed with a lot of information, training, and skill sets learned. So even if your out-of-norm idea has been accepted, it still is within the realm of our own capabilities. I believe that only when God shows you what is to be, something that is out of the reasonable realm, that you have gone beyond this box. God is the mind opener here.

So as Christians, we have to think outside of all these boxes and go to God, for the solution that He has in mind is far greater that what we are capable of thinking. He will also connect the dots, that we will be able to look back and say, "Ah, that was God". And that, will be the most amazing thing ever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mighty Women

I was talking to a good friend one day when I came to a realization that I really am who I am because of the people I have met and grown up with.

In Michigan, I was constantly surrounded by mighty people: men and women who are in love with the Lord. These are the people who have shown me their struggles in their walk with God, and their faith, sincerity, humility, and sacrificial heart. There are also people in the community who are showing so much love even when they do not know the Lord. I was never aware of all these things until I looked back.

The women in the community was amazing. These are women whom I want to grow old with, supporting and encouraging one another through hardships and celebrating each other's goodness through joyous events. I shall give a couple of examples (their names have been abbreviated, but if you are familiar with the community, you will know who I am talking about).

MP: She is a woman with such a strong character. Her willingness to learn is like no other. I have been blessed in her care, learning to be more aware of my gender and my behaviors. Her inner strength is to be admired and learned. Her life has been a reminder to me when decisions have to be made in my life. Giving guidance and advice to others come second nature to her as her big-sister side takes over.

DK: She is a self-sacrificial woman, perhaps one of the most self-sacrificial women I have ever known. I remember that every birthdays, she will bake a cake from scratch, with a lot of gladness in her soul to give something that she prepares herself because it is more meaningful that way, and never asking anything in return. Giving her time and effort to others come second nature to her as her motherly side takes over.

LS: She is the most considerate woman in my life. I have always been impressed at the way she will give way for others to enjoy before she takes her portion and serving others while she places herself last. The most amazing part is that she is not even a Christian, and it always makes me wonder what amazing godly things she will do if she is one!

EC: She is the most non-judgmental woman whom I have ever known. She has taught me that there are always two sides of a story, and it is always important to give the benefit of the doubt and give people the chance to defend themselves. Never fearful to correct a wrong, she stands by her values with a strong stance. She was not a Christian then, but now that she has become one, I have seen great things that she has done for the Lord.

These are only four examples of the closest people I am with, whom I shared my struggles and pain with, and still there are many other women in the Michigan community that I have failed to mention here. It is no wonder that I have grown so much during my time in Michigan.

I give thanks to God for placing me amongst these mighty women. They make me strive harder to be a better woman for God's works, and to be a woman after God's own heart.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Re-Cleaning

I was cleaning my apartment today when I asked myself, didn't I just clean my place a few weeks ago?

I realized that cleaning up is a process. Things that have been cleaned don't stay clean. It has to be re-cleaned over and over, such is the nature of this world: everything is ephemeral.

Similarly, things in our lives need to be re-cleaned. They need to be reflected upon and reevaluated. Good actions can become habits that no longer encompass the original passion; good motivations can become bitterness when they don't reach the result desired; good behaviors can become standards for judging others; good faith can become pride.

So let's re-clean our lives everyday, reevaluate our thoughts, reflect on our motivations, and be aware of each aspect of ourselves. Watch ourselves every moment, or like what my old Professor used to say, "What awareness? Just pay attention!"

I Love to Run

I used to love to run
I would run, a lot
On the red track in my school
I would run as far as my legs could carry me
I would run...
And run
Until my legs gave way
And it felt good
Until I reached the end
And then there's nothing
Always nothing
Except the good feeling of running until my legs gave way
Cos' at the finish line
There's nothing as magical compared to when I was running
There's the wind that gave way
As I ran head on towards the start
And then there's the sound of my heartbeat
So loud
Thumping in my ears
Only for myself to hear and listen
And then there's this feeling
If I ran faster, and longer
Maybe, maybe I'll feel something else
Maybe it can change something
Maybe there will be something different
Maybe I will meet something new
So I ran
I ran, and I ran
Until my legs gave way
Until I reached the end
Until... There was nothing
At the end

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Giving Up

While driving to school today, and praying to God after what seems like a long time since I prayed about this issue, perhaps my attempt to escape from addressing this with God, I felt a nudge to bring it up, to open up this can of worms. And I found no worms when I opened the lid, but enlightenment and relief.

I realize that the more I want something, the more I should give it up to God. It is exactly because I want something so much, that I should give it up all the more to God, because He can handle it in the best way possible. I realize that in my whole life, things that I really wanted, had been given graciously by God after days and nights of prayers, and the process of letting go.

After I thoroughly let go, then I received. I received perhaps not what I initially wanted, but then it became something I truly wanted. Or more like, sometimes I received what I really wanted at that time, and realized that maybe that wasn't what I wanted, but it was something I ended up needing. For example, my Ross Business School application. I wanted to enter to badly, but when I entered, I thought I made a huge mistake. Later on, I realized that this was something I needed badly. Or even my UMich application. I wanted to enter USC so much more, but ended up receiving something better than USC by entering UMich, and then getting a graduate degree in USC instead. I could only look back and say, "That's God!"

So I should give up to God this rock in my heart that is becoming a burden a little too heavy for me to bear. He knows my desires, and He shall grant me whatever is best. Theoretically sounds really easy, but I needed a reminder of all the wishes He has granted me in the past to make me surrender once again.

But this is different from being idle. Plans are necessary to get the thing that you desire. What I mean by giving up, is the fact that if what you wanted is not realized, you are okay with it, with a full understanding and a trusting faith that God knows what He is doing, and what He is doing will always result in the best outcome possible.

So I pray that you too, will be able to give it up to God the thing you desire the most, exactly because you want it so badly.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Capacity

Every night I pray that God will give me wisdom, humility, meekness, and a heart filled with gratitude.

I am not wise because many times I do and say the right things at the wrong time and the wrong things at the right time. I am not humble because I am often overly confident of my abilities to get things dong in a perfect manner. I am not meek because I have my own strong opinions on many things and I stand on the side of justice, so I often fight for these principles. I am not grateful because I always forget what I have and complain about the things I do not or cannot have.

I am wise because many people come and consult me for advice, and I can help connect the dots and help them find the answer they are looking for with non-judgmental eyes (or at least I suppress these judgments while my brain is at work). I am humble because I seek help when I cannot contain my workload and admit my weaknesses when I hate to. I am meek because I listen and obey my family's requests, following faithfully the duties and expectations thrown at me. I am grateful because every morning I give thanks for another chance to live.

Maybe this is an issue of capacity.

It is not whether I have or not have it. It is about expanding my capacity for these things: to gain more wisdom, more humility, and to be more meek and grateful. It is the process of stretching the magnitude of these virtues, so they can be applied to all aspects of my life, and I will breathe wisdom, humility, meekness, and a heart of gratitude.

This makes me more hopeful, because in retrospect, I can see these virtues growing in me in the past couple of years, and so I can expect that I will grow even more in these things if I were to faithfully seek them the way I have been.

Similarly, don't lose hope if we have been praying for patience or passion, or any other virtues in our life that we seem to not have, because these things are growing in us at the moment we asked for them from God. But exactly because it is growing, we won't see much of the difference until something in our life requires that virtue to act, that we will realize it has been there all along, growing silently and permeating into all parts of our lives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Let's All Laugh

I was in Michigan in the past weekend, and it was an interesting time because I had a good laugh at a lot of things.

First, my crazy departure. I had a full day of presentations, and when I was done, our class had a dinner party - at a Korean BBQ! Imagine my horror when I realized what a stink I would be at the airport. So I rushed to the nearest Nordstrom to change into a new outfit that was meant for Michigan, and tied up my hair in a bun as tightly as I could to prevent any smell from escaping.

Not having been flying domestic, I was sincerely surprised at the strict measures of the security. It made me mad - such a waste of resources, when there can be more things done with the same money invested in the x-ray machines. That's when I realized that people's fear are something that is easy to manipulate.

Then, I found out that my flight was delayed. Imagine my extra horror since I was all ready to take a shower and clean myself off the BBQ smell. So I grabbed a magazine and sat quietly. I was honestly enjoying this whole crazy mess, until the lights in the airport went out, and we were all sitting in the dark. Uhh, awkward. People around me started cursing and getting all frustrated. I was probably the only one in the whole area who started cracking up uncontrollably. I mean, seriously, what a day! What are the chances of everything going wrong at the same time? I found humor. It's almost like God teasing me, saying, "See, you think you got everything under control?"

I have had a lot of laughing moments in Michigan. But this next one I'm about to tell is the classic one.

I closed off my bank account, since I am leaving the country soon anyway, and there is no longer a need to keep a bank account in the Mid-West. While walking out -ironically I wasn't even on blackberry messenger and had my eyes looking ahead- I banged my face against the glass door. I literally heard my nose's cartilage making a cracking sound. My tears automatically streamed down, and my first question to my friend was, "Am I bleeding? Is my nose crooked?" When she said no, I started cracking up. This is for laughing at others when they crashed into the glass door. Now it's my turn to laugh at myself.

Oh, what a hilarious trip.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Loving, Instead of Achieving

A recent conversation with an old friend made me reflect on my understanding of romantic love between two people.

Since young, I believe that when a man and a woman get together with God's blessing, it is ideal that one pushes and encourages the other to attain greater achievements in the world, either sharpening one's skill, increasing one's wisdom, encouraging one's compassion, or helping each other towards the common vision. The other person's presence in our life should make us achieve greater things.

This friend of mine, however, brought up a point that made me consider that again. She said, what if God brings a man and a woman together so they increase their capacity of loving each other, and maybe, though they are not as productive, not as successful in this world, it's okay, because through the things that they go through, they become more loving towards each other, and towards other people?

I had to stop and think.

Maybe it is okay, after all, that we are not achieving as much. Maybe it is okay that we are not striving so hard towards success. Maybe it is okay that we are not so task-oriented. Maybe it is okay that we are not as efficient as when we are each an individual unit as a single person. Maybe it is okay that we are not as productive. As long as we increase our capacity to love each other, to have our character molded in that way, and in the end to love others more through this experience...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Thought on Perceived Reality

Bishop George Berkeley's famous phrase, "to be is to be perceived" suggests that the things that exist in the world is merely perceptions of reality. Things exist because they have been perceived by someone. By thinking or having an idea, we have immediately perceive it.

James Boswell disagreed with his famous sentence, "I refute it thus!", and a phrase from an unknown source cited, "If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" This was an attempt to show that things can exist independently from the perceiver.

My thought, as a response to that sentence, is that, well, how do we know that there is a sound when a tree falls in the forest? Because we, or someone out there, have perceived it so, through past experiences, or connecting the dots of cause and effect. Thus, for us to even ask the question, the reality has been perceived. I have not read anything that Berkeley wrote, but I believe that Berkeley's idea on this matter is much broader than that single example.

I am not a follower of Berkeley's, I merely had a thought while reading these people's stories.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cinderella

Sometimes I wonder. When the clock strikes 12 and Cinderella left the party, how did she feel? Did she wish that she had never gone to the party, or she felt blessed to have gotten a glimpse of the other side of the world that she never belonged?

Sometimes I wonder. When Cinderella got home, not knowing that the Prince was looking for her, and she was doing her daily chores at home, what was she feeling? Was she reliving her glamorous night in her mind? Did she become greedy and want more of that experience? Or was she able to live the way she did before she went to the party?

Sometimes I wonder.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Deserving

My devotional today was about us deserving God's love because we are His children. Like parents who love their child, the child does not need to do anything to earn that love. The child deserves the love because of the identity of being the child of the parents. This, to me, is a real eye-opener. So often times when we pray, we say things like, "Thank you Lord for giving us these blessings, we don't deserve your kindness and love", etc.

I am used to living a Christian life that is undeserving of God's love, for example, doing so many things as a Christian. Slowly, I'm forgetting that I'm Karlin, who is God's daughter, before I became a Christian. I don't have to do anything to receive His blessing, love, kindness, etc. I don't even have to try to be His daughter, because I am. I must not forget this Karlin just because I am a Christian.

Why this concept of deserving is difficult to accept, I'm not sure. While I always live with the undeserving aspect of Christian life, I don't even remember when was the last time my church teach us that we deserve these things. We deserve this just because. Just because God is gracious, just because God is the loving Father, and just because God is just being God.

We deserve God's love because we are His children and have been created to be beautiful and lovable in His eyes. Knowing His humble character, I believe that it is His pride and honor to have us join in His banquet, and to bless us in all the ways that He wants to. That is how great our God is: showering His blessings upon us just because.

Ironically, while writing this, I am battling whether or not to describe how we are truly undeserving because God doesn't have to do all He did for us. This tells me how much the doctrine of undeserving has permeated into each cell of my brain.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Envy/Jealousy

I'm not going to make a point about how the two terms are different - Melanie Klein already did that in a very specific manner. What I will reflect is the way to deal with it.

Lately I've been envying a lot, because I realized that many people around me seem to have everything together; they are on a path of certainty and security, or they seem settled with life, and they seem to have it all going, etc. There are just people in your life that you see and you wonder how blessed, fortunate, or lucky they are, and of course in your own definition of what these mean.

I think acknowledging this envy is important. This is what Klein said. To be aware of your envy may help prevent you from destroying relationships with those whom you love. But there is another thought.

Example. If I were to envy someone because of the expensive watch that he wears, my envy will not be satisfied by purchasing the same watch. My envy will go away after I make a purchase that is better than what he has. After that purchase, I can no longer go downward, I will continue envying someone with an even more expensive watch and make comparisons until I own the best and only watch for me. Then, I will start envying another man's pair of shoes. The cycle continues.

I thought, what if, after acknowledging my envy, I learn to be satisfied and content with what I have? Won't that solve the problem? Because now I know that feeding my envy will not save me from it, but instead will continue to fire my endless desire.

But learning to satisfied or to be content is not the easiest thing to do in the world. Everyday, especially lately, I have to ask God to remind me about His goodness and all the good things He has provided and blessed me with. As I look towards what others have and fantasize about living their lives, I forget that there are other people who are looking towards me and fantasize about living my life, because I live a blessed life as well.

So rather than being caught up in a cycle that I wasn't meant to be in, I might as well focus on myself and remember all the goodness that God has poured in my life, and believe His promise when He said that He has everything figured out for me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Samson and Delilah

Listening to Regina Spektor's song made me wonder, what was the relationship between Samson and Delilah? Had it been one-sided all along? Was Samson really the sole victim in the Bible story that we read?

This made me realize that whenever I heard this, I would start blaming: blaming Samson for his weak-heartedness and blindness towards beauty, and blaming Delilah for being unfaithful and manipulative towards Samson.

But now I wonder if Delilah ever loved Samson, if she once and again tried taking his power away for a reason. I wonder if she was threatened, or was afraid, and was unable to tell Samson what went through her mind. I wonder if every night when she asked Samson the question about his power, she wished that he would once again lie to her, and would be relieved every morning when she found out that he had lied. And I wonder if she was heart-broken when Samson finally gave her the true answer behind his power. I wonder how the conversation between them went? I wonder what happened to her when Samson died?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Everything Is Illuminated

Different thoughts surged after I read this book. There were so many sentences that I had to re-read, or times that I had to put the book down to digest what I just read.

Sure, there are many profanities in the book, but beyond that, there are so many truths. I didn't quite get the details of the story, like who is Jonathan's grandmother, if his grandfather died with his wife and child, etc., or maybe I got the facts mixed up. But regardless, there are so many things that made you think: about God, life, injustice, traditions, fear...

One of the thoughts I was left with is: everything is the way it is because everything was the way it was. I don't think it means that nothing's changed, or it would have been "everything is the way it is because everything is the way it was". Rather, it's about how the past lingers in the present, and the present is the way it is because of what happened in the past.

The other thought: if God exists, He must be sad, but if He doesn't exist, then He must be sad too. I have never thought of the latter, because I've been convinced that He exists as long as I can remember. Perhaps it might be interesting to re-see the world in a way that God doesn't exist. I believe it will give me a very bleak view of the future, the way it was before I met Him. It has been such a long time ago that I lived without knowing God, that I forgot what an amazing grace it is to be living and believing in God.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Short Prayer

I am at a point where I'm scared that God will say, "This is not for you, let it go", because this is something that I want badly. I haven't wanted something this badly for quite some time now.

This makes me wonder, where did all my faith go? Why do I place more importance in this desire, rather than God's promises? O God, give me faith in Your words, that Your master plan in my life is much more beautiful than my perfect plan.

Help me so I can rise above this insecurity.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Freedom and Responsibility

I wonder if freedom itself is a type of power. Remember the saying from Spiderman, that with great power comes greater responsibility?

Freedom too. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility. God created us with freewill, and we have responsibility to guard that freewill through the choices that we make. Another example that may be easier to understand: I have more freedom in the US to do the things that I would have never done if I were to stay at home with my parents, yet I have to take care of myself, buy and cook my own food, clean my own apartment, do laundry, etc.

Soon, this kind of freedom will be gone when I return home, and at the same time, I don't have all these responsibilities. I would not be able to come home after 9 at night, nor drive to the mall myself. I would not be able to wear certain type of clothes, and I have to behave in a certain manner. Yet, my food will be served, my clothes washed, my room cleaned, my car driven, etc. Till now, I haven't a clue which is the better of the two.

Perhaps in the small box that I am about to enter, I will find another kind of freedom. After all, we are created to be free creatures, in different ways.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mourning

My grandmother passed a few weeks ago. This is the grandmother whom I loved very much, and I remembered vividly growing up with her nagging, cooking, etc. When I was younger, I remembered despising her for "being annoying", or in other words, "caring".

Born into a wealthy family, her first predicament was probably the fact that she was born really pretty, and she was known as the flower of the village. Thus, her being sold at a high price to the wealthiest man, who is my grandfather, as his third wife. Imagine her hanging out with the children of my grandfather's first wife because they are of the same age, it feels pretty weird.

My grandfather then passed, I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing it was due to illness, and everyone including all the relatives, cheated my grandmother of all the wealth she has, while she has to take care of eight children, though some are already grown up by that time.

I remembered my grandmother living with us in Jakarta for a while, I'm not sure why, because when I grew older, I remembered her not wanting to live with us because her traditional mindset will not allow herself to live with her daughter instead of her son. When I went to Singapore at a young age, school has started before my maid's documents were approved. There was no one to take care of us, and my grandmother volunteered to be with us. Perhaps that was the first time she cooked and cleaned on a daily basis.

She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early last year. It was a miracle that she was able to live a year after the diagnosis without chemotherapy and only oral medications. We did not tell her about the illness, but I'm sure she guessed it at the end of her life. She looked well when I went back in the Summer last year. She was able to talk to me and walk around; she looked happy. In December, she was all skin and bones, and was not able to get up at all. She was hospitalized so many times. I could see that she was in pain. It was heartbreaking to see the disease sucking the life out of one of the most energetic lady I know.

Close to her parting, she said to prepare a bowl of salt and light so she could walk in the dark when she moved on. She said a young boy said so. It was probably her oldest son that did not survive long in the world. It was the most heartbreaking thing she could say, yet she said it with such a calm heart. It was as though she did not fear facing this life that had given her a hard time, and when she was finally able to enjoy life once more yet life did not give the chance to her, she smiled anyway.

My Mom said that she would rather her own Mom leave in peace, rather than go through all this pain. That was the most mature and strong-willed words to say, which made me admire my Mom so much more. She was calm, taking care of many things with the funeral and all the other necessary things to be done, although I can imagine her breaking inside. She was the strong one, and she had to be the support, and I could only image the facade she put on while handling these matters. It breaks my heart.

When I heard the news, I was having a 2-week intensive in school, leaving me with no time to think about this at all. I thought about going home to join in the funeral, but I would not be able to make it in time since I am 2 days late due to the time difference, and the others have left to her burial place. Also, the superstitious side of my family requires me to not join in the procession because of my birth zodiac of a tiger, in which if I were to attend, it would not be good for both the dead and the living.

I thought that was good, for if I were to have a breather and had time to think about all these things, I would break down. I love my grandmother so much for all the things that she has done and given to my brother and I when we were young and did not know better. Unknowingly, now that my intensive is over, my emotions come back all at once.

I guess avoidance does not work as a long-term strategy. I guess the best way to mourn is to face this pain that I have tried so hard to avoid. I have yet to cry a single tear for her, and yet as I write this, I feel my heart giving way. I'm not even sure if I am strong enough to talk to someone without crying. And I don't know which side she has ended up at, though I surely hope that I will be able to see her again in heaven. I trust that God knows the heart, the deeds, and all the noble things she has done to bring His Kingdom to this family, though she was not a believer.

My mourning has just started, and I don't know when it will end. I guess I shall take my time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Loving Yourself

I realized that loving myself is really difficult. It is not the extreme manner of me hating myself to the point that I want to smack my face every time I look into the mirror. It is the little things in life, like getting annoyed with the way I respond to an incident, or wishing that I could be better, although they may not be bad things at all.

On the other hand, loving myself also does not mean I go splurging and indulging. It does not mean mere enjoyment and taking a long vacation, although honestly I think that it will be a great excuse to get out of life's responsibilities.

I wonder if loving myself means bringing my whole self to an equilibrium, to the center of balance, or to God. It is like not doing too much or too little of something, or to take care yet work this self, to forgive yet remind the self, to constantly get up after every fall and learn to become wiser at every step along the way.

It is difficult to love this self. But love and forgiveness walk hand in hand. I think that only when I keep forgiving myself again and again, multiple times in a day, that I may learn the unmasterable skill of loving myself.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Believing in What You Do

After doing some reflections, I think that in the process of getting my degree in Clinical Psychology, somewhere down the road I am losing my faith in the field. It is not that I think it doesn't work - it obviously does and it seems to have helped numerous people in their struggles. However, I just think that, somewhere deep within me, I have begun to question the real value of therapy amongst other things.

This makes me think about the importance of believing in what you are doing, career-wise. It is necessary to look at things with a critical pair of lens, but it is important to be able to say, "I think what I'm doing is valuable" at the end of the day. Perhaps my inability to do that resulted in the digression in my pursuit of education in this field. One leads to another, and here I am, stuck as a Policy Analyst because at the end of the day, I am able to say to myself, "I'm helping people make a wiser, and a more moral, decision".

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves that question more often, to remind ourselves the value of what we are doing, and in order for us to not be distracted from reaching the end goal!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Intuition

I realized that I am a pretty intuitive person. There are times when I cannot really explain the logic behind why I think something is going to go wrong, or when I meet someone and I feel that something is different about him or her. Often, I disregarded this nudging feeling, because after all, it's not good to judge without supporting facts, right?

Wrong. I have learned my lesson. I have learned that it is not about judging. It is about intuition, or gut feeling. Perhaps we are all equipped with this radar that we often disregard because we are so scientific-minded. I'm not saying that it is not good. I'm a scientist-in-process myself, and I believe the importance or empirical evidence. But there are just times, when something is nudging my heart, and I have regretted so many times for not listening to it.

I want to learn to be more sensitive to that nudges. I want to sharpen my intuition. I think that I have come to believe that science + intuition may be more powerful than one of them standing alone.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Responsibility

Maybe I'm too harsh with people, but I sincerely believe that no matter what you face in life, you have to deal with things responsibly, especially when it comes to your work.

Imagine a situation where a man working in an office received an emergency phone call about his wife that has passed away due to a car accident. Sure, I sympathize with him, and he deserves all kinds of understanding, love, and compassion. It is never an easy thing to lose a loved one, and a sudden one at that. It is heart-breaking and terrifying.

However, I still believe that the man has to finish up the pile of work on his desk. So the man can do 2 things: 1) suck it up and finish up the work, or 2) ask for help from his colleagues, talk to his boss, try to extend deadlines, etc. Either way, something has to be done so the work is still completed somehow, because time waits for no one. It will not wait for the man for the day when he is finally able to accept the death of his wife.

Is it really that difficult to be responsible when it comes to work and life? I have a feeling that people nowadays are not taught enough about responsibility, but learned too much about rights, for example using law to exert the right that ought to be ours. This kind of attitude seeps in to other aspects of life, and the sense of responsibility is lost.

Every little thing adds up, and that sense of responsibility will build our reputation of trustworthiness and reliability in times of need. Let's all live our lives with a more responsible attitude.