Fight for Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23

This verse has been preached a thousand times in a thousand different ways. But such are the joys of the Bible being living and active – there’s always something new to get from it every time.

Allow me to tackle this today in a different way.

I have recently gone through a process with the Lord wherein He took me to different places in my memories – memories that I somehow managed to forget were there. At first, I was apprehensive and tried to run away. I wasn’t quite ready to face where I was being taken and wanted to protect myself from the hurt that I knew was coming.

The Lord then had to talk me through it. “I’m not trying to break your heart. I’m trying to bind up your broken heart.”

I was confused because I was at a perfectly good place. At least, I thought I was. The Holy Spirit then kindly made me understand that there were issues I buried from years ago that I thought were already dealt with but in fact still had roots, and it was time to deal with them before they come back up rearing their heads. I really didn’t quite think they were worth paying attention to because the blows I took were not as horrible as others have received. However, we all break differently and such comparison of brokenness doesn’t invalidate the trauma.

There started a process that was painful, to say the least, but was also enlightening. You see, I thought I was protecting my heart by putting up walls and keeping it safe, but the truth is I was actually killing it.

We’ve taught ourselves to not talk about things of the past; to not think about things that hurt. We say what’s done is done, but does that really make it over?

There is constant talk about how the love of the Lord is like a soothing balm over our injuries and yes, that’s true. However, His love is also like disinfectant fiery over our wounds because His hands need to take the bullet out and stitch up the holes.

It hurts, but it’s necessary if we want to live.

If we want to really protect our hearts, then we have to stare all the painful memories right in the face and not look at away. We have to go back to those moments and bring the Lord with us.

It gets scary because we do have questions and regrets. “Why did I do that, how could I have been so stupid?” “Why did the Lord allow that to happen to me?” “Why is life unfair?”

And so it’s important to hold the Holy Spirit’s hand through all of it; we need to be aware of what He is saying about all the things we went through. We also need to be reminded of the fact that the enemy comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He is actively working day in and day out to snuff out your hope and your spirit.

It might sound threatening but reality is, he’s threatened of you. He’s scared of all the things that you could become and is terrified of you reflecting all of God’s goodness and glory. Therefore, he has set up a thousand situations to take you out and has placed a million lies in your head, telling you you’re not good enough, that you’re unwanted and a burden, that it’s all your fault and that it happened because you had it coming anyway.

But one quick look at the Bible will tell you that even before the Lord formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew you. While you were still a sinner, He died for you. And His heart is to bless you, heal you, and give you life that is lived to the full.

You’ve probably heard of conspiracies regarding the Illuminati and that they make agreements with the devil so they can have the life that they want. Making such transactions with Satan is not the only way to have an agreement with him. Each and every time you agree with his lies towards you and even towards others, you are entering into an agreement with him.

We have to cut ties with those lies. This is not just about having low esteem. This is spiritual assault at its finest and this is why we have been implored to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

Notice the term “take captive.” It’s a term that belongs to the vocabulary of soldiers and the military. This is because we are in a fight and we have to understand that trying to ignore the battle or deny the war does not mean we will be spared from it.

One of the common translations for one of the names of God “Jehovah Sabaoth” is “The Lord of Hosts.” The literal translation for this name is “The Lord of Angel Armies” and I like that a lot better. The Lord has been constantly accused of being a bystander, but He has been anything but. In fact, He has always been the frontliner, going forward as the sacrifice for the rest of the people.

We look at all the defeating blows humanity has received and point fingers because we have bought into the idea that we don’t have to fight because we have Jesus, but that is heresy and just another lie the enemy has managed to infiltrate in our culture. It’s like someone from the Navy saying, “I don’t need to fight, the Commander will do all of the fighting.” We have been called to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) and to take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We have to realize that we have been slated into this war and were never meant to play civilians; we were meant to be warriors.

A verse that I commonly hear being quoted completely on its own is Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” as Moses told the people of Israel. What people fail to pay attention to is the context of the verse, because in the next verse, the Lord told Moses “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

You have a part to play. You have to keep moving forward. Don’t allow the enemy to belittle the things that the Lord has placed in your heart. Remember that Satan does not want you stepping into all that the Lord created you to be and will do anything to prevent that. He will try to break you down, discourage you, meet you with failure and dishearten you.

Wonder, love, grace, joy – the world wants to take it all away from you. Hell will fight you over what heaven has called you.

There will be doubts. You may be fronted with shame and judgment. Satan may even use people to mock you and look down on you, but don’t lose heart. Think of Joseph’s brothers and how they were so threatened of Joseph that they plotted to kill him. If you’re in that situation, know that it only cements the fact that there is a good future waiting for you and that if you push through, there is glory to come.

“So, it becomes the devils business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes. He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage, we will never be able to claim our rightful spiritual heritage. He knows also that while we continue bound in this kind of enslavement we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.
We must face up to the issues and attitudes and doubts which constitute our fears, that keep us from being happy and victorious Christians with the true liberty of the children of God. We seem to quake about many things. In the first place, are you still afraid of your past sins? God knows that sin is a terrible thing?and the devil knows it, too. So he follows us around and as long as we will permit it, he will taunt us about our past sins.”
-A. W. Tozer

This also helps us be sensitive to the fact that everyone has their own battles. So be kind, be gracious, and love one another as Christ has loved you. Stand together in prayer and hold the ropes for each other. The Lord knows we all need it.

Don’t be afraid to bring to light all that you’ve hidden in the shadows. Don’t put your heart under a shade and hide it away. Don’t buy into the lies of false humility and shame.

Allow everything in your heart to shine and break through. If we truly want to protect our hearts, then we fight to keep them the way the Lord designed them to be – loving, selfless, brave, and free.

“As for myself, I have learned to talk back to him on this score. I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible-but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good -forgiveness and cleansing and blessing- everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!” Everything that is bad and that is against me I got from the devil -so why should he have the effrontery and the brass to argue with me about it? Yet he will do it because he is the devil, and he is committed to keeping God’s children shut up in a little cage, their wings clipped so that they can never fly!”
-A. W. Tozer

The 2018 New Year Post

Prayer and fasting week just ended yesterday and I was pondering on how God answered all my prayers from the previous year – and how, in a sense, He didn’t.

My ultimate prayer has always been that His will be done in my life, followed by bullet points of specific wants and requests that I have. All bullet points for 2017 were answered, some with a yes, some with a no, some with a few modifications in between. But one thing’s for sure, His will prevailed and with that, I couldn’t really ask for more.

I think everyone who reads this blog knows how I always thought I would have been married by the time I’m 21. Not that I prayed for it last year, but hey. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got the job I never knew I wanted, am living alone for the first time in my life and discovering more of what I actually want to do.

And I have just one thought: I’m really, really glad I didn’t get married at 21.

(I’m pretty sure my parents are too).

How gracious is He, to withhold the things we think we want so we can have the things we would truly want in the end. I’m glad I didn’t get everything I ever asked for, because then He gets to give me so much more.

So sure, I have my list this year. In fact, I was specific and very particular about my requests, and I have faith that they would come to pass.

But if they don’t, I have faith that He will give what’s better.

For our faith is anchored on Him, whose kindness and goodness is immeasurable. Our hope is in Him who knows and has the best for us.

I’ve seen Him put to death my greatest dreams and I’ve seen Him resurrect them in ways I never dared imagine. He can do it again as much as He wants to. I can die to myself, over and over and over, because then I get to experience Him breathing life in me again.

I have completely no clue what’s going to happen this year, but I know that someday when I look back, I’m going to be glad things were the way they were. For this we know: God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

In His will, there’s absolutely nothing to fear. The anxiety of uncertainty may try to come at you, but God’s already got you. You can surrender, you can let go, you can trust.

We can lose our control as long as we know that God has it all under control.

I am fully convinced that God wants the best for us more than we could ever want it for ourselves. If that’s the case, then how can it ever not turn out okay?

So, 2018, are you ready for what God’s going to do? I know I am.

My Best Yes

I don’t really know what to say when people ask me where I’m at in my life right now so I simply answer,

“in between.”

But really, what does that even mean?

Earlier this year, God gave me a vision of being pulled out from where I was and being placed in a new land, accompanying the verse about Abraham. I received that word and said yes, completely. I told Him to hold my hand and pull me through, and I said He could push me if He had to. I asked Him to bring me out of my comfort zone and to make all things new.

You guys, this is the part where I say be careful what you ask for, because He really does answer prayers.

He did make all things new – in every way possible. In fact, He wiped the slate clean. Soon enough, I found myself smack-dab in a place where everything’s quite literally out of my control. Things I thought I always knew about my life and myself suddenly became unsure. Anything and everyone that somehow represented a form of my comfort zone, God asked me to release. To say that this season is nothing like I thought it would look like would be a huge understatement.

I quickly realized that I had to say no to say yes. I had to say no to certain relationships, certain opportunities, and certain wants in order to say yes to what God was asking of me.

So as much as I joyfully embraced the adventure at the beginning, soon enough I struggled with the realities of it. I had so much difficulty with where I was that I had to frequently remind myself Whose I was. And when I approached Him with questions, He told me straight up,

“You asked for it.”

Seriously, be careful what you pray for.

But it wasn’t until I went back to the province for a 2-day visit that I grasped the intricacies of my pain.

A couple of hours before my scheduled trip back to the city, I was hanging out with some of the students and volunteers. My dad walked up to me to say an early goodbye because he had to take care of some things and he wasn’t sure if he would see me before I left. The moment he did so, I started crying uncontrollably. None of them knew what to do, not even I. I was partly embarrassed because there were other people there, but I couldn’t stop myself. My dad took one look at me and knew.

“You don’t want to leave, ‘no? You don’t have to go. Just tell me if you want to stay. You can stay.”

The tears kept on coming, but I fell silent. I knew what I truly wanted.

“No. I have to go. I need to go.”

I wanted to stay, but I wanted God more.

I understood then the choice that I made three months before and decided that I wasn’t going to change my mind. I knew that even if I had to keep saying no to my plans, my timeline, my options, my comforts, I would choose this path all over again. I would say a million nos if that’s what it meant to give my full yes to Him.

It’s a trade-off, it always will be. The same way He traded the golden streets of heaven to die for me.

How can I not say yes to Him? How can I not choose to be faithful to Him, to what He has asked of me?

He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.

Even when it hurts, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s difficult, I choose to be faithful.
Even when I don’t understand, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s nothing like I planned, I choose to be faithful.

I can choose to be faithful because He is faithful.
I choose to be faithful because He is faithful.

I choose to be faithful, knowing He will prove Himself faithful.

I’m a natural planner, but now I have to let myself take it one day at a time. So each and every day, I go back to my original yes. I remind myself why I said yes in the first place. Then I say yes all over again.

And when I have difficulty with where I am, I remind myself Whose I am: I belong to a good Father and a great God who wants nothing but the best for me.

Yes, He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.
But let me not forget that He makes the broken beautiful.
Let me not forget that He loves me more.

I may not completely know where I’m at, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I know I’m where God wants me. I know that He is molding me, shaping me, preparing me. And I’m pretty sure He’s in the process of writing one epic story.

We can be confident in this: that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

For as it is written:
what no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived,
the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
-1 Corinthians 2:9

Break.

"It's okay. Break. It's okay to break. It's okay to be broken."

How many times do we have to tell ourselves that our brokenness is forgivable?

This, this is one of the greatest things He has taught me. That we can be undone, and it's completely okay.

Some pain could be self-inflicted. Some pain could be world-induced. Some pain could be completely out of your hands. But none of those actually changes anything.

Pain and brokenness will either demand to be felt or they will demand that we feel nothing at all.

So feel. Beloved, allow yourself to be broken. Maybe you've been holding it together for the longest time. But you don't have to, not in front of Him. Let the tears come. You don't need to be afraid of what is broken, what could be broken, what will be broken. Not when He is not afraid of broken things; not when He is redeeming and restoring everything.

Let His love re-define you and the meaning of your brokenness. Let Him love you in your most disappointed, hurt, confused places. He wants to. Rock bottom becomes your stepping stone if you decide to walk it through.

I remember this song by Leonard Cohen that says, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.

Let the love get in. But you have to break first, fully.

Then let all the broken, seemingly scattered pieces fall into place. Let Him put your pieces back into place.You can press your scars against His nail pierced hands and know that this, this is Someone who is not afraid of broken, this is Someone who understands pain.

You may think that you can't afford to feel because you have to be a leader first. You have to be a parent first. You have to be a sibling first. You have to be responsible first. But it costs so much more to forget that before all of that, you were God's child first. And He wants you to be super real with Him. He isn't surprised by how low you could go. You'd be surprised by how His love can chase you down there, even deeper.

Didn't you know that your broken heart breaks His? Didn't you know that you refusing to break open your heart breaks His?

And the Father has His arms outstretched, Christ comes to us showing the scars in His hands, the Spirit whispers inside us, "it's safe here."

Why do we need to fear being messy when it's never more than what our God can handle?

Break. At His feet. Before His throne. Offer your brokenness. Then watch Him fight for you. Hear Him speak grace and truth to you. Listen to Him tell you, "go in peace" (Luke 7:36-50).

You may be busted, but you are beloved.
You may be guilty, but you are not condemned.
You may be broken, but you are chosen.

So rather than pushing people away because "you don't understand my pain and you have no idea what I've been through", why don't we let them push through our hearts and maybe then we'll see them pull through for us?

It's fascinating to me, how the bread we eat and the juice we drink during communion represents so much more than we think they do. Wheat and grain have to be crushed in order to make the bread we commune with. Grapes had to be squeezed and pounded in order for us to have the juice that we drink. All the sweetness, the oneness, coming from broken.

We share this together – all this broken, together.

And all this pain and suffering, they all do things to us. They make us defensive. Bitter. Mean. Because, as they say, hurt people hurt people.

But everyone's hurt. In ways we will never know and in ways we won't fully understand, everyone is hurt, has been hurt, and will be hurt. And if we don't start responding in love in the face of pain, if we keep putting up walls rather than allowing the cracks, if we don't start reaching out instead of slapping away, if we'd rather make people break than be broken together, then the cycle will keep going on.

Hurt people hurt people.

Someone, somewhere, has to be brave enough, humble enough, to break the cycle by being broken.

Let that someone be you.

The truth is, there will always be someone who has something bad to say about you, something bad to do to you. Love anyway. The moment we feel most appalled, most disappointed, most repelled is the moment we need to love anyway the most. The heart that repels us the most is the heart we need to love the most.

Because we all need love when we feel we least deserve it – and that's exactly how God loves us anyway.

It's two-way, a cycle, this circle of love and life and pain.

Rather than comparing and criticizing who has the right to be broken because "I've been through worse but I turned out better", why don't we break our self-righteous pulpits instead?

Do you really have to give someone a piece of your mind when they need a piece of your heart? What if that person is not necessarily being difficult, it's just that she's having difficulty? Because we know it gets harder before it ever gets easier, and people need someone to help them through and tell them that it will get better if they don't give up when it's hardest.

Beloved, we will be known for our fruits, not our judgments.

So the ground has to be broken to produce crop and the seed has to break open to produce wheat and the wheat has to be broken to produce bread.

And Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).

We break ourselves open and we die to ourselves.

And then He puts us back together, the way we were always supposed to be. He binds us all broken people together.

Because, if anything, seeing how deep our brokenness makes us realize how deep His love is. And I deeply believe that what the enemy meant for evil, God will turn into good. I deeply believe that He can turn your bad broken into good broken. I deeply believe that no darkness nor evil nor spirits nor anxiety nor fear can keep you from His love and peace. When we are wounded by the world, we can find shelter in His Word.

And then we will know, truly, Christ was broken so we don't have to be.Our undoing will be our remaking.

The origin of the word suffer means "to bear under." To suffer means to bear under what we cannot control. Which is why we would rather avoid suffering at all. But we can bear under that which is beyond our control because we know that above all is the One who is in control. Whatever has been and whatever will be, we are being held securely in the hands of Him who is the Prince of Peace. We are held in the arms of the One who holds all things together.

Whatever we are wrapped up in, He sets us free.
Whatever we are accused of, He has taken the condemnation.
Whatever we lack, He will provide.
Whatever we have failed, He will redeem.
Whatever battle we face, He has declared victory.

For where we are weak, He is strong.

We imagine needing to go through things on our own, but in the darkness, in the valley of death, He is there with us. There's no season that we have been in, no season we are in, and no season we could be in that He will not go through with us. In the desert, in the valley, in the fire, He is right there with us. When everything is up in flames around us, He is right there with us in the middle of our burn.

It's not up to us to overcome our brokenness. We don't have to be okay before going to Christ. Rather, it is Christ who will have us overcome our brokenness and who will make us okay – even when things don't seem okay.

And now we who are broken, scarred, limping, we can be brokers of healing because we know where the wounds run. We know that compassion can heal what condemnation could not. We know that God will use all things for our good and His glory – from testing to testimony.

Taking it from apostle Paul, whose daily involved being stoned, flogged, persecuted, and imprisoned: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

He can say that because amidst everything, here is his mindset: I am not a victim. And you are not a victim. Beloved, we should stop acting and thinking and living from a place of victim. And I do get that – that it will take time before we get out of that slave, victim mentality. But we'll let His love lead us through.

We confront our brokenness and own our beloved-ness.

For everything, everything, everything will work together for our good and His glory – even if we don't see it just yet. There will be stories to tell on the other side because we were never meant to wallow in our pain, we were meant to overcome.

He puts all our broken pieces together to form His body and we find His marks on each other. Let it sink, balm through the cracks: Christ is in you. You have the hope of glory in you.

And if we trace every scar, we can find there written along the lines:

Wounds run deep, but His love will always run deeper; the world will fight you and your own self will contradict you, but He has won the war – this Scarred, Victorious Savior.

And His triumph is counted as yours.

Beloved, Let Him Go

Just a little confession: I am in no way an expert at this. I have loved and I have lost and I have spent months and years in an emotional limbo, hopelessly stuck in a place I don't even think I want to move on from because it's the only place I can still find him.

But maybe that's exactly why I have to speak to you about it. Because, my dear, it's 2017 and my heart breaks just watching you bringing the pain and confusion into the new year. Just when you thought you can begin anew, you found yourself in the same cycle again.

It's ironic when you know that breaking up was what's best and the relationship was already doing more harm than good, and yet here you are still at the same place you began.

It's a tug-of-war, you see. Your hands grasp so tightly to the rope, fighting to hold on and at the same time fighting to let go. You push and you pull and you always end up finding yourself bleeding and calloused and oh so tired.

And you know what, it's okay. It's okay that it's hard. It's okay that it hurts. The pain is valid. It's normal. We all need to go through our own journeys, with our own processes. Please go at your pace for wounds take time to heal. Two steps forward, one step back, it's fine. As long as you keep moving.

But if you're honest to yourself and you know that you're not even going anywhere and you're just stuck there, then let me be honest here too. The battle isn't really between you and him. The battle is between you and yourself.

You have to actually want to get over it, sweetie. From deep within you, you have to decide to. It's impossible to help someone who doesn't want to be helped. It's you who gets to make the decision to stop replying. You make the decision to take captive every thought and stop imagining the 1,000 ways the two of you can reconcile and get back together in the far off future. Most importantly, you get to choose whose hand you're going to hold: his or His.

This isn't about actively getting yourself into church activities or finding laughter when you're out for fellowship. Those can help, and they're good, but they're not the answer.

He is.

I don't want to make it sound easy because it's not. It's actually incredibly difficult. However, it's also rather simple. I'm not saying that the moment you choose God, all your feelings will miraculously go away. It doesn't work that way. But beloved, He works.He will work through your emotions and He will work through your situation and you will see Him working this heartbreak for your good.

It's terrifying letting go of what you're so used to. Some days, you just miss having someone to love you. Some days, you wonder whether you'll find a relationship that great again. Some days, you get frightened once you realize that all your plans that always included him are now scrap. But then, that's a wonderful place to start again.

Endings make for good beginnings. 

I beg you, close the door. You need to. Losing him might mean finally finding yourself – and much, much more. Don't chain yourself to the past and miss out on embracing all the future holds. The world is waiting for you to fully step into who you are. You were not created to retreat. There's a million opportunities ahead of you, an endless array of open doors and chances, so stop holding yourself back. Stop holding on to a guy you always believed would die for you when there's One who already did. This Guy, He's not just a band-aid for your broken heart, He'll take all the broken pieces and put them back together. You shouldn't treat Him as a soothing balm when He is the cure. You may have thought love meant grasping, but now there's a love Who would hold on to you. And this Love, just a little tidbit, His hands bled for you too. 

Palms closed tight keep the shadows in. We capture the light with open hands.

Breathe in. Breathe deep. Exhale.

No matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how stuck you feel sometimes, no matter how many times you have to decide over and over again.

Slowly, fingers uncurling, relinquish. Let go.

Not because he found someone else, not because you want to find someone else, but because now, you are found.


Welcome the new.


It’s Christmas and Everything Seems Dark

“Why are there no lights out?”

It’s early December and I was pouting to my brother how everything is as Christmas-sy as it should be except the new city mayor decided not to waste money on lights and decors this year.

A few days after that, we were on the drive home when he complained about how everyone had their headlights on full bright because it was so dark outside. I put my head out the window, strained to see, to catch even a glimpse of light, but there was none. No street lamps, no stars, no moon. Just the blackest night.

Christmas was supposed to be full of cheer and luster and sparkles spilling, so why did there seem to be no light in sight?

News recently broke over Aleppo, the 4-year war reaching its pinnacle and I sat there in the lunch table, everyone laughing and talking as my eyes were glued to my phone, pictures of people dying, my fingers scrolling, scrolling hoping to find something that will help make sense of everything. Christmas banners were hanging over us and I can’t stop thinking of how the civilians were made into chess pieces, clinging on to freedom banners, desperate for a sense of hope.

Hope. How to have hope when hope has failed you before?

I lie in the middle of the dark, masking the pain of broken plans and expectations as I stare at my journal, wondering what happened to God promising that this year will be far better than the last. I ache, wonder, ponder, the same way I broke down in the arms of a friend for the first time this year mere days before, letting the dam crack just a tiny bit in her compassion as I admit that I was so tired of waiting and hoping. I was never the hopeful sort in the first place because of my tendency to be very realistic.

And yet, still, I can’t seem to snuff out hope.

For there, in the middle of the mess and my so-called realism, a small sliver of light started fighting its way through my broken heart and I couldn’t do anything to force it back down.

Then I’m reminded that Christmas is not about everything being light and bright. It’s about that one star hovering over the manger, steady for those who have eyes to see. I recall how myrrh, the third gift of the wise men, is most commonly used for embalming – myrrh was presented to baby Jesus as the foreboding of His death. And that act in and of itself appears brooding and gloomy but it tells me one thing: Christmas isn’t about simply His coming, it’s about His coming to die that we might see that still, small light.

For right there, from the darkness of the womb, He emerged to the light of life. 33 years later, from the darkness of the tomb, He emerged to give us the light of eternal life.

This is the God who, from the very beginning, spoke out against the dark…

“Let there be light.”

Christmas reminds us that from darkness emerges light, always. Christmas reminds us that darkness will never overcome light. Christmas reminds us that even if the promise takes 4,000 years coming, it is still coming.

Here is a God who chose to come in the middle of a genocide, as a refugee, as a carpenter’s son. Here is a God who chose to die through the worst form of torture, lawful justice withheld from Him. Here is a God who not only knows our suffering but has been through world’s suffering.

Here is our God.

We can still hope because we know Who we’re hoping on.

Two days ago, my friends and I were walking to the park late in the evening to have a picnic when there, I saw.


Thousands of lights up along the streets and up in the sky. Shimmering, gleaming, radiant against the dark.

I breathed out against the chill.

Darkness couldn’t do anything to light because darkness is simply the absence of light. Fire up a small candle, put on a small bulb, and darkness has nothing on light. In fact, it is in the darkest darkness that light would be seen brightest.

The pits of failure, depression, anxiety, fear, and shame are real and they plunge murky and deep, but His love is real-er and it plunges so much deeper. His light will always chase you down. His power is made perfect in your weakness.

Because, Emmanuel.

The Bright, The Star, The True Light is always here with us, glowing, burning deep within our hearts, iIlluminating the dark.

Hope, against all hope.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:2, 6‬

This Is Who You Are

Take a long look in the mirror right now and tell me what you see.

Hips too thin, waist too fat, arms too flabby.

Look closer. Tell me what you see.

Eyes too far apart, nose too flat, acne scars too deep.

Closer. Look deeper. Don’t you see what I see?

There, right there, swimming in your eyes, reflecting the very depths of your soul.

Beautiful. Breathtaking. The image of the Maker.

You are not an accident. You are not a mistake. God did not create you for the sake of creating. God did not create you out of boredom.

Nothing could come to being out of boredom.

No, like a masterpiece in the hands of an Artist, you were created out of inspiration and love and color bursting. He picked you up and held you close. Face-to-face, nose-to-nose, He breathed life into you. Air from His lungs flow in yours.

Fearfully and wonderfully made – this is who you are.

But maybe you could no longer recognize the face in the mirror. Maybe you’ve hidden behind layers of makeup and clothes and success, afraid that your flaws may be seen; playing your part well, thinking that if you can convince other people that everything is okay, you’ll believe it too. You’ve labored away, hammering walls to keep discerning eyes out and building shiny Christian-dreams of perfection only to find yourself hitting the glass.

Have you shattered?

Love, He does not mind picking up the pieces. He can deal with your mess. Christ didn’t come for those who have it all together; He came for those who don’t. You can let Him hold you together. Your jagged edges and broken fragments won’t stop Him from keeping you close.

The scars in His hands ought to be enough proof of that: He loves you just as you are, not as you should be. There’s no longer anything to prove, because the cross has already declared:

Broken, yet chosen – this is who you are.

The world can try to tell you that you are not enough; that you are hopeless and horrible and shameful. But there is only One righteous to judge and in all His blinding glory and holy, He has His arms wide open waiting for you.

No condemnation. Just forgiveness.

He does not cower from the skeletons in your closet. He is not put off by the darkness of your past. His love is far brighter than that. His sacrifice is enough.

Fully known, truly forgiven – this is who you are.

No more striving to find a place in this world. No more fighting for approval. God has written this story and has put a period to your happy ever after; you know how this tale ends.

Beloved, allow yourself to be loved.

Because the truth is, it’s not about who you are; it’s about who He is. It’s not about what you do or don’t do; it’s about what He has done.

Accept it.

Irrevocably, wildly, unconditionally loved – this is who you are.

The Father’s love reveals who you are.

His.

You are His.

Do you now see?

Rape, Catcalling, and Abuse: This Is My 20 Minutes Of Action

I honestly don’t know how to begin writing this. More than a year has passed since the Stanford rape happened yet it has only been days since the issue blew up when the verdict was passed, and since then I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It wasn’t just that the rapist got a light sentence, it wasn’t just that this case is high profile although I have always had great interest in those. It was the fact that the father of this boy went ahead and downplayed the crime that his son did – and they both went as far as hiring professional witnesses, manipulating statements after finding out that the victim couldn’t remember anything, and re-victimizing the lady just so they can find something to use against her.

I have been looking for a way to participate in actions against the sentence from this side of the world, only to find out a couple of hours ago that amidst the public outcry, his 6-month sentence might even be cut in half as stated by county sheriff. And so resigned, I decided that the best form of action I have is to speak up and address something else; something that goes beyond speaking out about faulty justice systems, entitled schoolboys, and rape culture because there are already so much of that (although I have also done quite that on my Facebook page 🙈).

Our sexually-stimulated culture has been desensitized to both men and women being objectified. Ogling someone of the opposite gender can be done blatantly with no repercussions; catcalls and hot stares follow the footsteps of almost every person who ever dare walk the streets alone; fear and anxiety prickle through the body whenever the darkness of the night begins to hide the light.

Low whistles, undressing gazes, and “accidental” brushes have marked my almost every turn since I was 11, a mere freshman in high school. I have had guys who appeared well-mannered approach me in places I deemed safe, proving my first impression wrong when they start crossing personal boundaries. It didn’t matter if I was wearing my school uniform, loose sweater and jeans, or a tight-fitting top and short shorts – they were relentless. At first, I was a fireball – snapping and angrily staring back at whoever dares to hoot at me, only realizing afterwards that the aggressiveness arouses boys even more and so I have learned to keep my mouth shut. I have learned that should I make the wrong move, I would be accused for “stimulating” these boys by the way I dress, the way I move, or the way I speak. I have learned that maybe the best way to stay safe was to keep quiet. I have learned to ignore the stares, brush off the suggestive words, shake away the lingering hands, and quickly walk straight ahead with my head steely held high – barely batting an eyelash while my friends and siblings get riled up and angry for my sake. Each and every time they do, I tell them not to, acting like I was okay even when my heart and body were rigid. I tell them to shake it off, always pretending that being near strange males did not make me feel paralyzed and paranoid, never sharing how many times I only pretend to be brave. I don’t tell them of how often I have to convince myself to give guys I don’t know the benefit of the doubt still; of how hard I have to fight my defensive stance in desire to be gracious and not be judgmental. I tell them to let it be because getting upset won’t change a thing and having accepted that fact, I have gotten used to it. 

When was it ever okay for human beings to get used to this – being treated like an animal displayed in a zoo? When was it ever okay to steal a person’s dignity with a single look, a single word, a single touch; with 20 minutes of action?

The image of the Creator sketched into the face of the beloved – vandalized. The worth the Savior has declared when He died so humanity can live – denied.

How can we go back to the design of the Father, leading children in the way that they should go – mothers raising kids who know the value of women, fathers raising children with strength that serves others? How can we not be like Adam and Eve who looked for someone to blame, and instead learn to be accountable for our actions, humbly accepting the mistakes we have made and the consequences that come with them?

People, the decisions we make when we are “provoked” only speak of what is truly in our hearts. An attractive person passed out drunk isn’t “asking for it.” A woman dressed provocatively or a man walking around topless doesn’t mean they want to be jumped by a breathing organism who can’t keep hormones under control. Act like you are of honor because you are, no matter what the circumstance. Your actions are completely your own. Take responsibility for your body so precious that it had to be paid for in blood.

Because men, this is how God loves women: that when He chose to enter the world, He chose to do so by entrusting Himself to a woman. He believed in her strength to stand with her head held high amidst rumors and scandals. He hid Himself inside her womb and allowed Himself to be cared for by her love and gentleness. When a scandalous woman laid at His feet and His disciples were outraged, He defended her, protected her, and lifted her high in spite of her reputation. He never would have leered at her or made sexual insinuations. When He rose again, He decided to reveal Himself first to women, commissioning them to testify even when no man would believe in a woman’s testimony at the time. He made them heroes and gave them regard in a time when culture wouldn’t. He saw them for who they are – human beings of respect and value completely in their own right. Who are we to not do the same?

And women, this is how God loves men: that He chose to reveal Himself in masculine form. He entrusted to man the task and authority to rule over His crearion. Time and time again He had believed in a seemingly ordinary man’s ability and proceeded to use this man to bring change that impacted peoples and nations. The Bible has acknowledged good-looking men several times and yet aside from fleeting mentions of that fact, they were ultimately upheld for their accomplishments, their character, and their integrity. He Himself walked the streets of earth as a man with no impressive physical acclaim, wanting to be known not for how He looks but how He loves. Men have failed Him over and over again yet He continues to trust in their strength amidst weakness. He taught them how to be men, He never gave them an excuse to not be men, He never robbed them of being men. Who are we to not do the same?

This is the truth – that every crevisce of every being to walk this planet was carefully crafted by God; that Christ’s body was battered and His blood flowed out in torrents just so His love can be felt by every soul. And as a people, let us not allow the world to destroy what He built. Let us make our voices heard. Let us make our lives speak. In a world where only 3 out of every hundred rapists are arrested, let us fight for justice. In a nation where 1 out of 4 experience physical or sexual violence, let us fight to speak up. In a city where we have to keep looking over our shoulder in fear, let us be unmoved in courage. In a generation that pushes obscenity and vulgarism, let us be undeterred in purity and respect. In a culture where everyone bends, let us stand. Because this, this is the heart of a true Father.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
-Micah 6:8

For everyone interested in this particular Stanford case, you can sign a petition ousting the judge through the White Houses’s WeThePeople here or through change.org here. If you live in the United States, you can file for a recall by mailing a complaint. Please send me an email or a message through the contact box placed somewhere on the right of this webpage and I will send you the format and the details. I know it may not seem like much but at this point, this is the most action we can do and it matters. Thank you!

Featured image from The Guardian article, photo by Tessa Ormenyi. Note that I wrote this in such a way to acknowledge that both men and women experience rape and abuse. I understand rape culture and its bias against women but I chose to state things in a way that highlights value and respect on both accounts.