Non-essentials

February 25, 2008

For someone who has only been running for a week, I’ve sure accumulated a lot of gear.  It’s very bad because it creates this psychological dependency on things that aren’t essential to the run.  I knew I had a problem when I spent 15mins looking for one of the bits of my Nike + ipod kit (1/2 the time I was supposed to have spent on the run!).  Totally ridiculous seeing how the route I was going to do is exactly 4km and anything I needed to know about speed/pace could be adequately calibrated by looking at my watch and doing some quick mental math.  So dumb!  And isn’t the whole point of running so that I can do it anytime/anywhere as long as I have a pair of sneakers?!

(Probably already obvious that the content of this blog is about to get more random as I update on my attempts to be a gym bunny / hamster.  Wish me luck!  It’s going exceedingly well so far.  I’m almost surprised.  Haha.) 

Contentment

February 24, 2008

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want but the realization of how much you already have.”  

Contentment is sitting in my kitchen on a hot afternoon, reading the newspaper, sipping a glass of ice cold water, listening to my neighbours’ cute kids play hide-and-seek and knowing that I have time for a short nap AND a run round the park.

It’s kinda hard to count to ten when you don’t actually know how to count so she was just making up numbers as she went along.  Too cute!

Some interesting points from last week’s sermon about what it means to be meek. While I didn’t agree with everything preached (too long to go into here), I thought the description of the “traits” of meekness was very good.
Basically, according to the preacher, a meek person should have –

• The right knowledge of their spiritual condition
• The right understanding of how they are assessed
• The right balance of their passions

The definition resonated with me because the misconception that meekness is weakness and passivity just irks me. If you’ve ever held yourself back from retaliating at someone who lashed out at you for no good reason, all the time knowing that you could have retaliated and inflicted damage and still maintained your moral high ground, you will know that meekness takes a great deal of strength and self-control. It reminds me of Aristotle’s point that “anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy”.

It also seems to me that meekness is not one of those character traits you can drift into, as in you have to decide to be meek. That said, it also seems like a ridiculous character trait to have/want without some powerful external motivating force. I mean, what kind of idiot has power and chooses not to exercise it right? Which is why I think the 3 point definition of meekness is a great biblical description of meekness – knowing who you are, knowing whose opinions matter and knowing what you should do. Actually, it sounds like a pretty succinct rule of thumb for Christian living.

As a side point, I realized today that sometimes the indifference can be mistaken for anger. Maybe it is easier to think that people care enough to get angry rather than the more insipid real reason that they just stopped caring and can’t be bothered anymore.

Reality bites.

Hope

February 22, 2008

If you are a leader, there is a pretty good article on Hope by John Ortberg in Christianity Today.

Some friends and I were at a photography exhibition on Sunday and had the opportunity to chat with the photographer – a charming and animated chap with a happy, playful glint in his eye who told us about photography and life in a Chinese village. It was great talking to someone who loves God, loves people and loves life. The way he spoke about his cell group as the “epitome of Christian ecumenicalism” with such humour and affection frankly made me slightly envious. But this chance encounter with a random person nudged my spirit to consider a realm of infinite possibilities. Somewhere over the rainbow where the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

In some sense, I think that’s the kind of leader John Ortberg was talking about – someone who “breathes energy and hope” into the lives of others. But the cynical side of me still chuckled when I read an article in the NYTimes which had this to say about Obama, “…His Hopeness tells rallies that we are the change we have been waiting for, but if we are the change we have been waiting for then why have we been waiting since we’ve been here all along?“. There is nothing like the waters of reality and cynicism to douse the fires of hope and idealism.

“3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:3-5

I suppose that is why I love this passage so much. It is not my intention to go into Bible exposition here but I just wanted to point out that the King James version uses the word “experience” instead of “character”, which gives an interesting texture to the logic of the passage. The experience of persevering through tribulations actually produces a hope that does not disappoint. I like how the logical outcome is hope (and not despair and depression, as you might expect) and that this hope is not all rainbows and butterflies but it has been tested in the realities of life and emerged rock-solid.

Now to find more people with happy, playful glints in their eyes! 🙂

We won!

February 21, 2008

From the Channel NewsAsia website

Singapore has beaten Moscow to win the bid to host the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).”

YAY!!!  *dances around the office*

Who am I?

February 20, 2008

Here’s a poem entitled “Who Am I?” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who wrote it when in prison for participating in the resistance movement against Nazism. I love the honesty and tension in the poem. I’m now extremely keen to read more of his work. His most famous work, The Cost of Discipleship, starts with the phrase, “Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace”. Those 2 sentences had me at hello.   Enjoy.

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine!

Letting go

February 17, 2008

“… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”
Philippians 3:13

This verse has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now and the realization that I am slowly letting go is dawning like a gentle sunrise. Baggage is a real bitch. And how can I possibly have baggage at the grand old age of 26? But I definitely came into the year with issues in my life that I need to sort out.

This is going to sound uncharacteristically fatalistic but there is a certain peace in coming to terms with the past:  Being okay with the paths you’ve walked;  Seeing in retrospect the purpose in them; Knowing that you made the best decisions you could have at the time; Realizing that you chose wisely;  Knowing that you gave it your all each time and God knows (and you couldn’t give a rat’s arse what everyone else thought anyway); Wishing the people who were jackasses to you well (I probably shouldn’t call them jackasses anymore);  Realizing that some people just didn’t have the same blessings of excellent friends and role models to show them what friendship actually means; Being happy and relaxed and not the horrible, crazy, bitter, angry person you had feared you’d become; Enjoying the journey and eagerly anticipating the destination.  Coming to terms with “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” is extremely liberating.

And going to the gym has been fantastic. Pathetic, I know but it has been a very long time since I’ve regularly taken this much time out for myself. I lead a very bipolar life and a very extroverted one for a relatively introverted person and to be able to spend an hour or more a couple of times a week alone with my thoughts and my God has been just wonderful (the secret reason why I wanted to start running).

Life is definitely good.  And 2008 is looking to be a stand-up year.