a letter to the lost

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Dear you,

It’s not okay, and everything won’t work itself out.

There are moments in our lives when we no longer know where we stand, where we’re going or know if we were ever really moving at all. You wonder, “what do I have to live for?” There is no meaning in everyday, and no excitement for tomorrow. You just live. But living as if not living. In moments like these we shut the world out because everything around is too difficult to bare. The constant movements of cars, the once beautiful sounds of birds and trees, and the people. Family and friends who you once found comfort in are now too exhausting to endure. So you shut them all out.

You think you want to disappear because it’s so much easier to be alone. There will be no disappointments, no arguments, and no one to answer to. You work, eat, sleep and go about what is required of you for the day. Nothing more and nothing less. It matters little if the sky were clear or heavy with rain. Your mind turns to autopilot and you black out the world and wonder, “what do I have to live for?”

Clinically they would diagnose you with depression but you’re not sad, you’re just lost. How others perceive you on the outside are only based on your behaviour which may fail to correlate how you really feel inside. They never seem to understand do they? Sometimes we’re unsure of why we act the way we act or say the things we say. We move to an apartment less convenient for work because we ‘needed a change’. We flake out on events because ‘we’re too tired’. You need help but help will never come. A firefighter will never put out a fire that he didn’t know of and was not dispatched to rescue. You never called and perhaps nobody ever will. So you live, because the sun will set tonight and rise tomorrow. As it does everyday.

If life was not meant to be lived in isolation then why do we want nothing but to be alone? If we were all meant to have a purpose, then is that purpose heaven sent or autogenous? If you died today, would that be okay?

Sincerely,

Me

sharing is caring

“Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours” – C. S. Lewis

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Since we were little, our parents and teachers have told us “sharing is caring”. It’s so simple, yet, sometimes we let our fears of rejection, judgment, vulnerability, and acceptance hold us back from sharing. Personally, sharing is much more than just showing someone they are important. Sharing is life’s purpose.

“Nothing in life matters if it can’t be shared or given away.”

Today’s culture is very much focused on self-satisfaction. Doing what is best for yourself. If there are areas in your life that are lacking, focus on yourself first. We strive to become better, stronger, smarter, faster and driven by society to thrive on idealistic standards. It consists of wanting and having. You want a dream job, a high salary, a nice car, vacations, holidays, stuff and more stuff. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting these things but what does this all mean when you have them?

  • What is a dream job if it takes your time away from spending time with friends and family?
  • What is a high salary if the only thing you spend it on is accumulating things? A bigger TV, fancy dinners and luxurious vacations?
  • What is a nice car when your concern is how others perceive you in it?
  • What is a vacation when you spend 2 weeks laying on a beach somewhere drinking margaritas all day?

What I am trying to say is, why want what we want if we can’t share what we have? Your high salary paying dream job that allows you the luxury of travel and extravagant materials are only temporary self-satisfying fulfillments of joy. They don’t mean anything because at the end of the day, in terms of secular worldviews, we all end up in the same place. Dead. The problem isn’t about what we want; it’s why we want them. We’re so focused on having that we miss the true joys in life. For example, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many people who have a strong desire to travel. They want to travel to as many places possible, see the world, live a nomadic lifestyle moving from countries to countries. I have no objection to travel, in fact, I would strongly encourage it but what does it mean? You get to see visit all these places to satisfy travel hungers, take on new challenges, experience different cultures and then die. It’s a bit selfish isn’t it? Something like travelling offers so much enrichment to our lives it would be greedy not to share it, talk about it, write about it, or maybe even teach it.

Shifting our mindset

When you ask yourself why you want the things you want, what are your answers? Is it for your satisfaction or is there a greater purpose?

I want to travel the world. Why?

So that I can share stories with my children and show them how nothing is truly weird, they just don’t confirm to normality. Normality being that the majority of societal views has agreed on for cultural acceptance. That Mexicans eat 12 grapes on New Years at the stroke of midnight. And in an Indonesian tribal custom, the young adolescents have their teeth shaven down to make them all even in belief that it will rid evil spirits.

I want to make more money. Why?

So you can buy a nicer car? A nice suit? A new watch? I say “yes!” buy these things, you’ve worked hard for them but that should not be the reason for why you would like to earn more money. How about take your family on a vacation? Or perhaps a higher salary to donate to charities or fund a research or project you believe in?

Even something as simple as, I want to learn how to cook. Why?

So you can be well fed or do you want to learn how to cook for your husband/wife/children? Or perhaps you want to be able to host feasts, parties and gatherings for your closest friends?

Erwin McManus, an American author, lecturer and pastor once said, “people are not generous because they are never truly grateful”. We say we’re grateful yet many of us live selfishly by supporting the things we want for ourselves. But life isn’t about you. If you lived in isolation, by all means, live for you. The downside to living for yourself is that you are not worth a whole lot. Your value exists because of the people in your life. Much like a piece of gold cannot establish it’s own worth without the people who see value in it. In essence, the world and the people around you give you more than you can comprehend yet you say, “I’m keeping this for myself”.

Sharing is caring and nothing in your life really matters until you care to share.

 

when we believe in something greater than ourselves

“Faith in Faith’ he answered. ‘It isn’t necessary to have something to believe in. It’s only necessary to believe that somewhere there’s something worthy of belief.”

– Afred Bester, The Stars My Destination

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So much of the 21st century culture is focused on ourselves. We do what we think is best for us. Forget X and Y generation, we’re labeled the narcissistic generation. The idea that ‘I’m better than you’ has become so normal it’s socially acceptable. Why rely on anyone when you can rely on yourself? Why trust anyone when people are the very root of life’s greatest disappointments? I’m just going to live for myself. Because I know what’s best for me. Sounds about right doesn’t it?

Unfortunately life consists of ups and downs. You can’t have the highs without the lows. We all have different experiences, opportunities, events, and challenges but one thing we share in common are those moments when we simply don’t have an answer to why things happen. Why did my family member pass away? Why did I lose my job? Why am I not succeeding? Why did my husband/wife leave me? Why am I sick?

There are two types of people when it comes to faith. Those who ask why and those who simply accept things for what they are. They don’t fathom beyond the very surface of events. These people generally lack empathy because asking why denotes the intention to understand conditions, reasoning, perspectives and so on. It is our very nature to try and understand the world around us. We create systems, laws, formulas, equations, and definitions to understand everything that exists through our senses.

Humble

Believing in something greater than ourselves says, “I don’t know all the answers”. It’s a humble choice to admit you don’t know. In today’s society, we fault when we don’t know. When your boss asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, it can hinder your professional skills assessment. If your children ask you questions you don’t know the answer to, it can inhibit their trust towards you. Admitting you don’t know takes courage. I believe everyone (with the exception of psychopaths who lack empathy) have questions about life. What is our purpose? Why am I here? Where we differ is what we put our faith in that answers those questions. For some people, they can answer these questions on their own – Individualism. For others it can be Scientology, Buddhism, Naturalism, Christianity, etc. Whatever it may be, these people have made a choice in faith that these ideas, theories, or truth(s) have provided sufficient response to their questions about life.

Hope

Hope does not come from within. You cannot create hope for yourself. Hope comes from the doctor who tells you he is confident in your surgery. Hope comes from knowing that your family will be there and that the sun will rise and set tomorrow. For some, hope comes from a higher spirit. When you say you know what’s best for you, you don’t need hope. Why would you? Believing in hope means believing in external factors that are not manifested from within. However, I am confident that in those moments of despair, grief, and loss, hope is your only option to treading life’s waters. You can’t believe in yourself and believe that hope exists because hope is greater than you.

So where does your faith lie? Can the people of our generation acquit their self-deception to knowing all of life’s answers? When we strip away everything we have – family, friends, job, hobbies, money, everything that we hold valuable, what is left?

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

– Thomas Aquinas

 

 

love is not a feeling

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

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What if we’ve got it all wrong? What if love isn’t a feeling? It’s a choice. A conscious decision we have to make to love someone we truly care about.

Sometimes we get mixed up with lust, attraction, affection and love. Love isn’t instantaneous. It endures time, overcomes obstacles, sacrifices, and is utterly selfless. Our culture have come to use the term love in such broad definitions it’s easy to love and say you love. I love pizza, I love riding a bike, or I love reading, and so on. We even confuse sex with love. When two people physically connect, that’s called love. Frankly, it doesn’t take a lot to tangle. Sex is not love, sex is sex. So what is love then? And how do we know when we’re in love? I am no expert on this, and I can’t say I know what love is. But in effort to uncover love at its true meaning, maybe we should eliminate everything we’ve come to accept of what love actually is.

Love is not a feeling.

The definition of a feeling is an emotional state or reaction. Love produces feelings but is not the object of such emotions. You can be sad, mad, or joyful from love but that is not what love is. We have expressions of love like, “I fell in love” or, “I can’t help it, I just love her” – like it’s some ditch that appeared and we simply fell into and can’t get out of. If that were true then how do people fall out of love just as easily as they fell in? If our love for others was simply based on how you feel towards them, how feeble is that relationship? Feelings change, moods change, and somedays we just don’t feel like loving.

Love isn’t about you.

The greatest love is selfless love. When you can put someone else in front of yourself and say, this person means more to me than I to myself. If you say you love someone for “everything you do for me”, or “I love it when we’re together”, or, “I love that you support me no matter what”, you only love the other person as an object of them in the condition of giving for you. You don’t love them entirely for who they are, you love them for who they are in the presence of being with you and what they provide for you. You really just love you.

Love is a choice

Matthew Kelly in The Rhythm of Life says “Everything is a choice, and our choices echo throughout our lives…and into history…and on and on into eternity. ” We are hardwired for love, acceptance and belonging. Even in our most primitive being, humans bonded with one another to increase the chance of survival. If we want everlasting love, it is a choice we have to make every single day. Because feelings falter, moods change, emotions come and go. But if we choose to love, there is no obstacle it can’t overcome. Choosing to love doesn’t just mean choosing to show affection, emotion, or simply reacting in a loving way. Choosing to love says, I choose to give you my time, I choose to be more patient, I choose to do what it takes to put you first, and I choose to try.

But is it worth it?

When you ask this question you are really asking, is this person deserving of my love? If knowing your first love is God’s love, do you think you are deserving of his love? Most likely the answer is no. But he offers it anyway, and freely to us sinners. If God can sow love on us despite our shortcomings, sins, and pitiful lives, how can we not share a love that is also selfless to others?

sunshine and rainbows

I hear this all the time. “You’re in Australia, travelling and experiencing the world, what’s there to complain about?” “It looks like you’re having the time of your life!” Have people not realized in this day and age that everything we share on social media is selective? The reality of it is that what you see has already been filtered even before the photo edits. We tend to take everything presented to us at face value. These articles here and here share just how much of the story we’re missing. I had posted the photo below during my recent travel to Bangkok, Thailand. Staying at Lebua State Tower, one of the city’s finest hotels was absolute luxury. Yet every single day of that trip, I cried, wanting to book the next flight out back home. Vancouver home.

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Overlooking Bangkok City

You’re thinking now, “well how am I supposed to know?” if the individual who posts these “perfect” photos are only selecting the best to show? The idea isn’t to play mind read with the photos but take what you see with a grain of salt. Yes, a picture paints a thousand words but many of those words are left unspoken. There are times I look at my Instagram page and think, “wow, people must think I have a pretty awesome life”. And I do. But it’s not sunshine and rainbows all day every day.