Tag Archives: affirmation

What if I lose everything?!

I almost lost this blog a few weekends ago, and I was terrified. If you’re reading this then you know that it’s back up (like, obviously) but more than anything, what the experience showed me was my own vanity and things that I need to work on in myself. I mean, it’s just a blog! I should get a life 😁

It all started when I saw an advertisement for a task that would require storytelling and I was so excited to get on it. One of the requirements on the application form was for a link to some of my past work. Now I’m ashamed to admit this, but in that moment I felt really proud to put in the links to my recent stories-turned-books (Have you read Portal and The Curious Case of Doctor Maundy? Please do!There’s a behind-the-scenes series on writing I’m planning to put up here, so follow the page too so you’d be the first to know when it’s up. Gracias! 😁 🙏🏼). And when I say that I was proud, I don’t mean that in a good sense.

So I came over here to do a little touching up on the pages so that any visitor would see excellent and quality work … or something. I made a couple of edits here and revisions there when, all of a sudden, I found that I couldn’t save changes anymore. After trying a few more times I assumed it was just a fluke so I stayed off the ‘Net for a while. It wasn’t until I tried logging in again when I saw the message in a red block on my dashboard.

This blog had been suspended 😳.

I tried to access the URL on different browsers, but it said the same thing.
Now I’m usually generally chill, and I deliberately take myself away from undue tension, so I wasn’t anxious at first. I just figured there was something I needed to do to change this and that I’d figure it out soon enough. Maybe there was one of those Terms and Conditions I usually don’t read that I’d violated, I thought, so I scanned through them. As far as I could tell everything was in order.
As the hours turned to a day and nothing had changed I gradually realised that this was a serious problem. I came face-to-face with the possibility that I could actually lose this catalog of articles, stories and writings dating back to 2013.
The thought of it all shook me to my core.

What if I actually did lose everything?

Before I get to how we got it back up, I should point something out. This period and looking at it all showed me a bit about problematic perspectives I held.

What do I really have?

I realised that I had considered the blog as a possession of mine, something I worked to build, and an extension of myself. Sometimes I look back at the archives and feel that “started from-the-bottom-now-we-here!” feeling. This blog has been an experience all on its own. Many life experiences have occurred in its day. I’ve had days with so much traffic and dry spells stretching for months, but it’s all been part of the experience that’s been building up gradually. I’ve been learning what works and what doesn’t. I’m learning not to judge based on responses, but to also write in reader-friendly ways. I had every right to see this as my own.

Or did I?

Perhaps it’s valuable, and it is. But if the loss of something ‘valuable’ to me was going to affect me, then that says more about me than about the thing itself.P.S.: Someone reading this is wondering, “Dude, It’s just a blog! Get a life!” And writing this out now, I see that you’re absolutely right! I feel like an idiot now, but I hope you can learn from my idiocy.

My Value

Seeing how the thought of losing this made me feel less of myself made me realise that I had, somehow, tied my value and esteem to this blog and, by extension, to my accomplishments even offline. And that’s definitely not a good thing.
I find that many times I feel down when I’ve not got something new going on, or when I’m not being praised for something. And that’s completely unhealthy and destructive.I apologise if I’m being too open about my flaws here. I find that this year I’ve been doing that a lot.It’s subtle, but if my perspective of my value is defined by my accomplishments, then that means that I have also been determining the value of others based on their accomplishments. And as the cycle goes, I would also judge my value based on the applause, rejection or indifference of others.

This is the core of an inferiority complex. It’s something I was sure I had dealt with, but I was now seeing signs of it peeking out again.

Who Owns it, anyway?

In recent times, I’ve been encouraged towards, and am considering and planning the conversion of this blog to a full-fledged website. The thought process of it all has made me go back to the beginnings of this platform and to be reminded why it exists.
This is not really my own. It’s never really been mine!
Many things on this page have changed over the years, but the tagline has not.
Life, Hope, Faith … with some humor.
It’s my playground to show my works, but it’s really a channel for the Real Owner to reach others through me with the creative tools He gave me. It was an extension of myself because that’s how I’ve learnt to see myself: I am God’s Instrument to reach the world, and every of my platforms will do the same.
But what’s at the core is my life.
It’s my heart.

Jesus told the story of the rich fool, the guy who defined his security based on what he had. He described the man as “…he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21) I certainly don’t want that to be me. I want my life to be one that blesses and lifts others, yes, but it’s nothing if my life is not a delight to the Lord.

Like Jesus also said, “…where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34). If the Lord is my treasure, then that’s where my heart will be. That’s Who would define my desires and life’s purpose and esteem.

What does it say about me?

I am learning to remind myself where true value lies. I am valuable, not because of anything I’ve done or can do or will do, no. I was valuable long before I could do anything! I am valuable because of the One that made me, that knows me, that loves me. That owns me.

I am valuable to God.

My favourite verse, and more like a lifeverse for me over the past couple of years, has been Isaiah 43:1:

“…Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

You are Mine.
I am His.My value is not tied to my accomplishments or possessions. Like Jesus said,
“…Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” (Luke 12:15)

For a child of God, you never really lose. If we lose anything good, by God’s grace it can be restored and we can get back up again. That’s the promise of God’s Word. Remember Job? Everything he lost was restored by the end of the book, in doubles!
Proverbs 24:16 tells us that a just man may fall seven times, but he rises up again.

But you know what?

Even if what was lost is not restored, even if our hopes and dreams don’t materialise the way we would have desired, God’s promise is that His own can still be secure and at rest, stable and unshaken. Hebrews 11 tells us about the wonders and exploits done by many by their faith in God, but it also tells us of many who through their faith in God were able to go through trials and mockings, imprisonment, stoning, temptation, torment and even death.

They lost so much, but their true treasure was never taken away. Their true Treasure could never be taken away.
I want to be that strong and stable on the inside.Like Psalm 46 shows us, God is our home and refuge, and He is the One alive in us, like a river flowing through a city, bringing springs of gladness. Even if the things that have defined our stability are ever moved out of place, we will not be shaken. We can always be glad.

It would hurt, and real loss should hurt. But with God, that’s not where the story ends.

We can always be at rest.

What am I learning?

I’m learning to understand true value. When I underestimate anyone or anything, I devalue them in my eyes and lose out on some of God’s greatest gifts, treasure in “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7). When I overestimate them, I make them idols and I project my expectations on them, thus missing out on what God would have used them to be or do, and unable to see the bigger and much more that God has for me beyond that thing/person. Idols keep us from seeing what’s really important. I do the same to myself when i underestimate or overestimate myself. I’m learning to know what God sees, and esteem as He does.

I’m learning to enjoy every moment. The Bible lets us know that while “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” (Matthew 6:34) God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22,23). Every single day has an allotment of God’s supply for me and for you. We can actually enjoy His peace and rest, our own God-given Garden of Eden experience where I never feel the need for validation or affirmation because we’re constantly reminded of His validation and affirmation of us.

I’m learning to Live. Jesus said that He came so that we can have an abundant life, life to the full (John 10:10). I can face life trying to meet targets and deadlines and expectations, or I could actually live, and in so doing meet those targets without being shaken by the strain. To breathe in all that He’s got for me so that I can breathe out all that the world needs. And all of this both deliberately and ‘subconsciously’, I’m able to relate well with people, see myself and see them through God’s eyes, and without judgment.

I’m learning to be Free. Free from the allure of accomplishments, from the limitations I’ve known about myself, from the fear of failure or judgment, from the shame of my past mistakes, and free to lay hold on the ‘something better’ that God has for me.I’m learning to receive what He’s got for me freely, so that I can freely give. And, yes, even if it means I’ll never get it back. I’ve got Him, and He’s got me. And in the final analysis, that’s enough.

The blog will continue. I will keep doing things for the Lord by His strength and ability. I will keep creating things. But we can, and I will also have times where I’m not producing anything per se, and I will still be secure and joyful through it all.

That being said, Lord willing, you can look forward to a major release toward the end of the year 😉

And I’m also learning to clear the clutter. But that’s a post for another day. I think I’ve bared my heart beyond comfort enough here 😅.

Oh yeah, I sent a message to WordPress and the community personnel reached me to explain that my browser had was generating spam from my serial saving, and it was automatically suspended. So they got it fixed. Thanks, WordPress. 😁

So what are you learning, or what have you learnt, about loss and value? How do you handle it? Please share.
And thanks for reading!!!

FACES OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY: King Herod

KING HEROD
“When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed and troubled, and the whole of Jerusalem with him…” Matthew 2:3
Herod the Great was the designated king of Judea in the days when Jesus was born. Judea was already a client state of Rome and Herod was once a governor of one of its territories, the Galilee territory. When a conflict arose he hurried over to Rome to obtain favour with Caesar and, when Rome responded to quench the uprising and end the status quo hitherto, he was placed as ‘king of the Jews’, sent to rule over the entire country. He is largely remembered for his very ambitious and very expensive building projects such as the building of the cities of Caesarea, provision of water supply to Jerusalem, building of about five fortresses, and most especially the expansion of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, a portion of which still stands today as the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall). He sought to make Judea befitting to the standards of the world of his day. He also enriched and gifted other nations, creating a name for himself. These projects brought much employment to the people of Judea.
Son of an Idumean (or Edomite) father and a Nabatean (Arab) mother, his family was circumcised and converted to Judaism. But his decadent lifestyle undermined any religious identification he sought to portray.
The building of the Temple, and his marriage to a Jewess named Mariamne, was all a lobby for the favour of the Jews. But he didn’t stop there. He still lobbied for favour from the pagan population of his land and from Caesar, constructing a Roman Eagle statue over the very gate of the Jewish Temple (an abomination to the Jews), and also building the cities of Caesarea and Sebaste (formerly Samaria) in Caesar’s honour with many pagan idols and shrines. All his building projects were funded by a very severe taxing system that weighed heavy on the people. So while he transformed much of Judea, his motives were anything but selfless, and the people weren’t fooled.
He knew he was ruling a nation that resented him, so he was very paranoid for much of his reign. He had a secret police to monitor and report the general feelings of the populace, a bodyguard of about 2000 soldiers among other units, and he had his opponents forcefully dealt with. He actually had his Jewish wife and her sons for him executed on charges of unfaithfulness and incitement of revolt. So much for Jewish favour there, Herod.
For all his achievements, scholars report that he suffered through depression and paranoia throughout his lifetime. It was in these days that a contingent of Magi, a priestly order of astrologers and royal advisers from the lands of the East, came to visit him. Prepared to host such dignified guests, he was shocked when they declared that they were seeking someone who had been born ‘King of the Jews’, as they had seen his star rising all the way from their lands, and that they had come to ‘worship’ him!
“King of the Jews? I am king of the Jews!” He sent for them and when they had come, he confirmed their quest. It was clear they were seeking someone, and it was definitely not him.
It was all he could do to mask his terror behind a pasty smile. Of course he knew about the expectation in the Jewish conscious of a Messiah that was to come and deliver them from their ‘oppressors’, a term Herod knew many would call him. He mostly dismissed it as the superstitions of a weary people, but the possibility had always stood out in his mind.
Could it be true? Or had these men just come based on the rumors of another possible uprising? News of his turmoil spread to the rest of the city, and everyone else was troubled. They knew that, when Herod fears an uprising, there’s going to be blood in the streets.
Meanwhile, as his people entertained the Magi in an adjoining room, Herod paced. He had to tell them something, or these guys would consider him an uneducated idiot. He had to show these Magi that he was in the know of everything going on in his land. He wanted to find favour in the eyes of these men too. So he sent for the chief priests and learned men in Jerusalem. “So … about this Messiah you all keep talking about…” he began. “Where do the Scriptures say he will be … born, so to say?”
Without missing a beat, they replied him. “In Bethlehem of Judea, your majesty. For so it is written by the prophet Micah, ‘And you Bethlehem…’ ”
But Herod’s mind was already blanking out. He could see the priest’s mouth moving but his pulse thumped in his ears. He rubbed his beard. “Bethlehem, you say?”
His mind was in overdrive. He knew what he must do, but he had to be discrete.
With the priests dismissed he met the Magi privately. “How long ago exactly did you see this star rising?”
“About two years.” They even gave him the exact date, but much of their astrological jargon was gibberish to him.
Could he be late already? He directed them to Bethlehem, telling them to return when they’ve found the child, “…so that I too can come and … worship him.” He felt sick just uttering those words.
That night he stared out into the sky. It looked as normal as any other night sky. He had so much, he had accomplished so much, yet he felt so alone in the universe. No matter how much he tried, he much he acted, he never fully felt appreciated. Now someone else had been chosen to be king of the Jews. A child?! It brought a bitter taste to his mouth. He needed to end this.
But the days passed. And the Magi never returned. Herod was furious. The rejection and flouting of his orders stung. He ordered his soldiers to invade Bethlehem and its surrounding hills, to kill every boy two-years-old and under. Surely that would be his boot to squash this ant before it became a problem (spoiler alert: God sent angels in an undercover mission, i.e. while Joseph was asleep ‘under covers’ ;), to warn him to escape with the child and his mother to Egypt before the soldiers arrived)
But the massacre never brought Herod the satisfaction he craved. He died not much longer, but his last days were wrought with much turmoil and political intrigue. Quarrels with his eastern neighbours brought him into displeasure with Caesar Augustus, a relationship he had laboured to build for years. His health dwindled into a ferocious temper as his insides withered. He felt so much excruciating pain that he even attempted suicide. He is recorded to have said to his sister and her husband, “I shall die in a little time, so great are my pains; which death ought to be cheerfully borne, and to be welcomed by all men; but what principally troubles me is this, that I shall die without being lamented, and without such mourning as men usually expect at a king’s death.”* He ordered that a multitude of distinguished men be invited and, upon his death, they should be killed so that there would, at least, be some mourning in the land. Thankfully, upon his death, his son cancelled that order.
He lived his life seeking the favour of men and died that way. He even tried to kill the One who had come to give him a full and abundant life. He didn’t know.
Herod’s story is a picture of many today. We live in a self-conscious culture where everyone wants to be affirmed and appreciated by others. It is a human desire which, in itself, is not bad, but is also sad. On the social media, for example, it is easy to judge our relevance and fulfilment by the number of likes and retweets on our posts and selfies, to feel hurt or that we did something wrong when we don’t get enough or any, to try to please men so that they can favour us. And this has been translated to how we live our lives. If we could, we would even want to know how many people would mourn us if we died!
It is why many are suicidal today. And it is not a joke.
We all want to be affirmed, because no matter how much we try, there is a void inside that cries for more.
And, as the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. Our desire for affirmation tends to lead to selfish disregard for the well-being of others as we crush them in order to obtain some acceptance. We may not all execute those that hate us, but it has become the base evil of humanity. It was the root of the first murder, when Cain killed Abel because he didn’t get the favour he desired. It is the core of every villain, both in fiction and in reality. At their core, everyone, be they heroes or villains, wants fulfilment. How we go about obtaining that fulfilment tells on our very natures. The hero obtains fulfilment in helping others, while the villain obtains fulfilment in hurting others.
It is why people cheat, slander, betray … assuming that putting others down automatically lifts us up. But all it does is send us all sinking into miry clay (or quicksand). It ruins relationships and marriages too, when each person is seeking their own gain, focused on receiving from the other instead of giving, and judging them based on personal needs.
The void in man is a form of death, and it is a consequence of the sinful nature. There is nothing we can do to fill it, and it always cries out for more. Only Jesus can fill it, and that is what He came to do. God came that we may be whole, complete in Him, fulfilled and full-filled. He came so that we can have Life and live it to the full (John 10:10).
He fills our hearts with His love (Romans 5:5) and lets us know that we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10), lacking nothing. In Him, we see our true selves: beautiful, loved, accepted, affirmed. We are His own, and He is ours. The more we grow in Him the less we will base our fulfilment on the approval of others. Rather we will realise more and more, and it will be more real in our mindsets, how He fills and surrounds us with His everlasting and boundless love. We have never really been alone, and we never will be.
Immanuel.
Herod did not realise that he had a front row seat on God’s plan to answer the cry of his heart. Don’t miss out on the opportunity God has presented before you too. Call to Him. He is closer than near, and He hears. He wants you to know Him much more than you think. He’s got so much for you.
And, from this place of affirmation in Him, we can more effectively be a blessing to others. This is the kind of life that can give to others without expecting appreciation or reward, and would not be hurt if it doesn’t come. It is the kind of heart that can be slapped (or cheated), and will turn the other cheek. It is the confidence that will put out its best foot forward in love, knowing that it might be stepped on but not minding. It is the life that can break through cold hearts, and warm and comfort them with love.
It is the life Jesus spoke about. It is bizarre and crazy, like walking on water. But it is also supernatural and amazing, just like walking on water.
He showed us what it’s like, dying for us when we were still ungodly, sinners, in enmity with God and without a promise or care of responding to His love. He rose to make the way that we may be united with God in Him, by believing in Him. The way is still open today.
Remember that, this Christmas.
You are loved, and can love.
#7DaystoChristmas
*Source of Herod’s dying quote: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 6, note 5 (translated by William Whiston)