My Quest for “Career Bliss”–Yes, it Exists!

a guest blog post by shopgirl of shopgirlanonymous.com

 
 

My daddy could sell ‘ice to an eskimo’, or so I was told.  Growing up, I remember my daddy was a jovial person.  He laughed more than any human I have still yet to meet, and he always donned a smile that extended across his entire face.  I would trace the deep crevices that had cratered in a sunburst pattern from his eyes at only 35.   He was my love, my hero, and held all my admiration.   I asked him to marry me over and over again.  Call it childhood instinct, but I knew our time together would be short.

 

It was a Sunday night, 5 days before my 11th birthday, when we received the tragic call; my daddy was dead.  The day before my birthday I sat nervously locked away in a back corner, hiding from his corpse displayed for the viewing pleasure of all those that had loved him as much as I did, “He died doing what made him happy,” everyone kept saying over and over and over again as they passed me. Looking back at my life, I can tell that statement became a subconscious mantra.

 

My childhood was not the happiest, and the option to do what just made you happy was not exactly conducive.  My mother was left in piles of debt with an 11 year old, 5 year old, and newborn infant.  My job was to help clean the house and take care of my brothers, I had to repress the pain and understandably step up and take my role as oldest sibling.  Each night as I lay down in my bed I could finally weep over his smile.  How much I longed for someone to laugh or smile, or to be able to genuinely laugh or smile myself, but for a time I had lost the ability. My stepfather loves to remind me that when I was teasingly asked at 13 if I wanted to marry some crush of the month my response was, “whoever I marry, I want him to make me laugh.”

 

My grandfather was founder of a bank in Houston and as I hit teenage years I would spend my summers working there. At dinner time my grandparents would build me up, “You will be a banker, there is no more accommodating field for a woman to climb to the top.” They would groom me for a position they had in mind for me at my grandfather’s bank.  Each day as I sat behind my desk my soul would fade, I would find myself venturing onto Livejournal to just write, my heart was not in my work, and I was miserable.

 

Once at the university, I finally began taking only what made me happy.  Although by my later teenage years my responsibilities for my brothers had faded, it was a difficult state of mind to shake.  It was difficult to just let go and be a child, but in the dorm, for the first time I experienced a euphoria of freedom.  I began to really laugh.  I began to take whatever classes sounded like they would make me happy, and bring great interest to me.  If  a friend said a prof they had in astronomy was amazing I signed up for it, if I read that a women’s writers teacher was the bees knees on a school review I would apply.  I took whatever sounded fun at the time with no real direction.  Finally in my Junior year, I was called into an advisors office who said I had to declare some sort of major, we looked at my plan and with my credits English junior high education was my calling.

 

I married a man at 21 that made me laugh, I was only a sophomore in college at this point.  We bought a house, and though his salary paid for our home he wanted my equal contribution and requested I get a job.  I applied at my favorite store in the mall, the one I visited every Tuesday night for inspiration and story ideas, and within weeks was their new lowly sales associate.  The man who hired me was the most jovial man I had ever met, he had that distantly familiar genuine twinkle of happy in his eyes.  He let me know that my job was to make my customers’ day.  I was inspired, my job was to bring joy to customers!

 

I was encouraged to dance, I was encouraged to laugh, I was encouraged to reach out to each and every individual and bring a smile to their faces.  I was given the opportunity to listen and to care. I was able to take the sad and mistreated and inspire or reignite a light within. I felt my mantra come to life.

 

With great consideration and pain I left my retail career (now an assistant manger) after a year to student teach where I was told not to allow laughter in my classroom. I was told to teach the children how to answer questions on a test, not to teach them the correct answers. I was told I could not encourage their own laughter and clowning. The principle would walk in if she heard laughter and tell me she could not concentrate, that we had to work silently in my classroom.

 

This was the career path I had chosen, this is what I had studied for.  But one night I sat and thought of my last conversation with my father.  I remember there was no time that I saw him with more confidence and excitement then when he was describing to me his successes as a traveling sales man.  We lived in the desert, and he sold scuba equipment which ripped him from our home for weeks at a time.  He showed me all the sales he had made, how suddenly we were going to be able pay off debt, and how someday soon we would own a red suburban (his dream car). He had such a passion and talent for sales, and so had I. For his final breath he was standing in the pacific ocean with his best friend, just off the shore of California, putting on his flipper to begin another dive.
 

I didn’t want to die doing what I felt I had to do. I was going to spread smiles and laughter, I was going to return to sales.

 
 

Featured photo is owned with all rights reserved to the guest blogger, it was taken in a trip to Grand Cayman

A Dose of Reality… Yet Again

I had the perfect excuse to work from home today. The property manager conducted the very first inspection of the unit we are renting. I did actually work but I also realised, now more than ever, that my ideal life is waking up to a day like this. Working in my sleeping clothes; having breakfast, lunch and snacks without the time constraints; freely surfing the net about an idea that suddenly pops into my mind without worrying if my boss or an officemate is looking over my shoulder to see what’s on my screen–all this is just perfect.

I definitely want to work. I’m not actually sure if I can last a day without getting in front of my computer to make myself busy with something worthwhile. But I guess after some time, people eventually tire of the normal 9 to 5 routine and the ordeal of waking up in the morning to go to the office, waiting for the clock to strike closing time. Specifically for me, who’s an introvert (lately, I’ve been receiving feedback and psych test results saying I’m an ambivert or an outgoing introvert), I love working on my own. I don’t have issues dealing with people and working in teams, only saying as a matter of preference, I’ve always loved being in control of a specific work from its beginning through to the end and having the fulfilment to call it your own. This may sound vain but I enjoy working with myself, participating in those productive discussions happening inside my head. This is why I always believed I’m an artist and I was aways meant to be one.

Unfortunately for me, I was born and educated in a third-world country where that career path is a luxury and only those born to rich families who would almost always have the right connections can realistically assume they’ll make it big. Talent is definitely not all you need in the third-world. So I worked my way up through a more profitable, practical and safe profession. It enabled me to save and get most of what I basically need. Most times, it afforded me with more than what I need. These types of job can bring you to places, countries you can only dream about if you’re a struggling artist (especially writer) in some far-east country whose foreign exchange currency rate doesn’t even appear in the banks’ boards. Ultimately, this type of job gave my husband and I (both working in the same field) the privilege to live in a first-world country while we are still young. For that, I will always be thankful. Not out of sheer gratefulness though, I’m still doing the same thing I used to do since I got out of the university to fend for myself.

Today, I got two emails about job opportunities (in the same line of work, of course). I have not replied to either of them. I wished to move to a new job because my current one doesn’t really pay much (not complaining here, I’m just fully aware how much more on the average similar positions pay), but deep down I secretly wish there was another option for me. I was hoping to get a job that will allow me to do something I really love doing. So I went looking for opportunities for writers. Most of them either require experience (which I don’t have because I spent all my professional life becoming an expert of something else) or involve writing for companies–asks you to promote brands, products, company websites, etc. The latter is not a far cry, in essence, from what I currently do with so much less money.

There are opportunities for writers with no experience which, I can tell upfront requires tons of work but pays as little as $1 per page. On the average they would expect 10 articles a week. If I’ll do that full-time, I could possibly achieve their targets (and mind you, the topics are not the least bit exciting as you might have imagined). But doing it full-time means I have to give up the salary I currently get for a maximum of $30 per week, assuming I write 3 pages per article and turn in 10 of them per week. Wow, I definitely can’t live on that. I don’t know how full-ime writers could have survived their days when they were all still starting out. I read some articles written by full-time writers honest enough to admit that they were able to pull it off only because they are lucky to have advantages that didn’t need to be part of their hard work–either with their parents or spouses who may have financed them before they made it big or at the least provided them with all the connections or head-start they needed.

Realistically speaking, success in this highly competitive, low-paying field with a highly saturated market demand may be just a chasing after the wind. Maybe for most, writing (or whatever their passion with some inclinations towards the arts is) were just only meant to be a hobby. This is not yet heaven yet, after all.

I can say blame it on commercialisation, industrialisation and the market economy, And yes, I’ll say this as a well-informed, sufficiently-educated economics graduate. But today I prefer to be a realistic layperson, so I’m blaming my fundamental need to provide amply for myself and my family, and my fear of treading the unknown to start somewhere bottom-low, even lower than when I started out with where I am now. Oh yes, I’m just a coward. So I’m responding to those two head-hunters who sent me those emails about finance job opportunities and for the time being, forget about ever having the same work-from-home everyday lifestyle that I had a taste of just for today.

Yeah, I know… LIFE!

 

Featured photo is from barclaylittlewood.com

My 2,000-Year-Old Valentine: an Inkspill

A guest blog post by American Kate of thewarmjournal.com

A Shocking Discovery

It began in Romans. It was Valentine’s Day, and I was immersed in the New Testament. I was so full of scriptures on the love of God, they seemed to be overflowing out my ears. Love, love, love, and more love; I was flying high in Romans 8. But at the beginning of the next chapter, my eyes screeched to a halt. Romans 9:3-4. Had I read it right? I scanned it again to make sure, and then once more, still shocked by the words. The apostle Paul, continuing after his glorious discourse of the 8th chapter, said this:

“. . . I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers . . . the people of Israel.” (Romans 9:3)

My reactions were threefold. Horror, admiration for the kind of love that could make such a statement, and finally, obsessive thought.

Think About It

Imagine, believers, what it would be like to be “cut off from Christ”. To no longer have the kind whispers of the Holy Spirit guiding you from the inside. To lose your covenant with God. Imagine being cursed, doomed, condemned; lost to Him forever. Imagine never being able to get Him to turn His face toward you, after being intimately acquainted with His love and irrevocable righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). 1 John 4:16 says that we have known and believed the love God has for us. We know it inside ourselves. Imagine losing that knowledge; that faith. To be nothing but an ache, never satisfied. To know that every unbeliever and backslidden Christian on earth has endless opportunities to run into the Father’s open arms—but not you.

The very thought makes me queasy. It is past my full comprehension.  I wonder how Paul could care about his people so much that he would be willing to trade his salvation so they could have theirs. For my part, there is only one thing I would never let go of, even for the salvation of an entire nation: my covenant, salvation, relationship (whatever you want to call it) with God. I don’t want to admit it, but I just couldn’t. My life, body, relationships, or livelihood, maybe. I’d like to think that with the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit living in me, I could give all these up for love. But I could never give up God Himself. He is my one true addiction. I make no sense without Him. He is the author of every good thing I have become. Without Him, I am nothing. Without Him, there is no such thing as me.

Good News

I would like to point out that the tormented existence I’m describing will NEVER happen to you if you accept Christ into your heart. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your life is like or what you have done. You can always come to Jesus. He waits, arms wide open, to wash your filthy soul and stained reputation.  He will clothe you in robes whiter than snow. He wants you even more than you want Him, and He will never stop seeking to adopt you as His own. God’s door is open, so that you and I can come running to Him. Seek the Lord while you can find Him, call on Him now while he is near, and you will not be put to shame (Isaiah 55:6, Psalm 25:3).

And if you already know Christ but find that you have strayed from His commandments, then remember that you can always return to His love. He is ever-forgiving and would never turn you away (John 6:37). His love is available to anyone who will take it. If you have accepted it, rejoice! You will never, ever have to sacrifice that relationship. The day will never come when you must choose between keeping your salvation, and giving a loved one theirs. It could be that you end up risking your life for such a thing, but not your salvation. Rebirth in Christ is yours forever. Paul mulled over the concept of exchanging his own salvation for that of his people, but he never had the option to do so.

Love Enters the Picture

In light of this, why is Paul’s remark even in the Bible? On the surface it seems irrelevant. But as we know that the Scripture is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and that every word of Paul’s letters was given him by the Holy Spirit, there has to be more to the story.

And there is. It is meant to point us towards Jesus. I had not meditated on this verse for five seconds before it occurred to me that the awful proposition of Romans 9:3 had already happened. Just once.

There was a man who loved God with everything he had. God favored him and called him His “beloved Son”, in whom He was “well pleased”. This man was connected to the Father in every possible way. In point of fact, He is in His very nature, God (Philippians 2:6). 1 John 4 states twice that “God is love”. Well, we call this man Jesus Christ, and He is love. Love is the very substance His spirit is made of. And it’s because He loved us that He chose to be separated from God on Calvary.

Peace With God

Let me explain. When I speak of a Christian’s “relationship” with God, here’s what I’m talking about.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” (Romans 5:1)

Think about it. We. Have. Peace. With. God. That means two things: we are (or can choose to be) at peace with the Creator of the universe; and the Creator of the universe is at peace with us. This is huge. It’s what both God and mankind have craved since the third chapter of Genesis. No matter what happens, I can count on peace with God. I can count on His listening ear, on His lavish and gentle hand in my life. No force in existence has the power or the right to steal my peace. If I have peace with God, then I can have peace about everything and in every situation.

The Price of Peace

Back to Christ’s separation from God. I believe this is a key piece to the “punishment that brought us peace”. In the past, I tended to only consider the punishment Jesus took for us through the crucifixion. But on Valentine’s Day, the very worst torture Christ ever suffered was revealed to me; something worse than just dying in the flesh. He was cut off from God. Since Christ is God, the sensation must have been akin to that of sawing off His head with His own hands. (Even this description is inadequate. How much more pain can God feel than the sensations of human imagination?) Part of the eternal relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Christ found Himself forsaken. He was severed from the presence of the Father, away from His sight and His love. I finally understood the meaning of Christ’s words on the cross, words that had confused me all my life. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Christ, laden with all the filth of the ages—every sin of the past; every sin of the future, was exactly what Paul described. Cursed. Cut off from God. He, love personified, became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13). God couldn’t look at Him. He turned His face away from His Son.

You are Never Forsaken

At that moment, Jesus was taking our place, our punishment. So the pain became not ours to bear—it became His. He was the one who cried, the one who suffered, the one the Father turned his back on. It was supposed to be us—that was supposed to be our cry! We are the ones worthy to be forsaken. But in that great exchange, He cried our cry for us. So you will never ever have to say “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The Lord wants His children to know that our greatest fear, alienation from Him, was destroyed on the cross. When human beings are estranged from God, we become nothing more than bleeding mutations; helpless. Jesus cried out, but there was no help for Him. Remember, He endured that so we would never have to. Bottom line? God will NEVER forsake you (Matthew 28:20). He got punishment. We got peace. Don’t ever let yourself think that God is turning His face away from you. He has never and will never turn away from His children. He will always listen to you, always watch over you, and always be there for you.

This belongs to us. The Bible says so. The war between Heaven and earth is over.

Love Brings Freedom

I often call my salvation my “peace with God”. And I often call that peace freedom. I suppose you’ve heard the phrase “freedom isn’t free”? It’s true. Freedom always costs something. As far as I have been able to discern, true freedom has only ever been purchased with blood. And mine was bought with the blood of Jesus. You see, to make peace with God after all that mankind has been guilty of, somebody had to be punished. The problem is that even if we got what we deserved and the entire earth was nothing more than a heap of ash in outer space, we would still have unpaid debts of sin. We overdrew our accounts, and it was going to take nothing short of the perfect blood of Jesus, God in the flesh, to wash the evil away. Even more important than that, however, is John 3:16: “. . . God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son . . .” It’s obvious that God’s reason for sending His Son, our Prince of Peace, the author of our freedom, is because of love. His will is for no one to perish (2Peter 3:9). He wanted to defeat our sin with forgiveness, not wrath. So God the Father chose to punish his own Son. Jesus: fully man, fully God, fully obedient to the Father. His pure, sinless blood paid the price of punishment God’s glory required on our behalf.

We couldn’t do the good we knew we ought to. We couldn’t sort out the chaos we’d created. We couldn’t fix what we’d broken, return what we’d stolen, or unlock the shackles we had made ourselves. So He did it for us. After all that, still we were precious to Him. We will always be precious to Him. To Jesus, we are more valuable than His own life. That . . . is love.

Our Happy Ending

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6, emphasis added)

And what happened after all this? We were made the righteousness of God in Christ. We wear His cleanness like a robe (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 61:10). And, thank God, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17). Peace Forever. It’s one of the titles of history’s great love story—that between God and man, wherein sin was defeated and love prevailed.

Many thanks to sassycare for her sterling advice, edits, and expansions.

Featured photo is taken from http://theprayingwoman.com/2015/02/23/10-simple-steps-to-healing/healing/

Taming Sorrow

How can anyone be so lonely deep inside her heart when all there ought to be is content? How does anyone fight such internal battle? An emotion springing so naturally from the soul yet is only ought to be shut down everyday for fear of being ungrateful? How can anyone be so blessed yet be so empty?

Who can grasp the heart of an artist? Who can decipher her soul? Who can stand being ignored over and over and over again by the thing she loves most yet hold on to the awareness of her own worth? Who can keep her sanity when all her thoughts never ought to be shared with another; when not a stranger, not a soul, all the more not a friend must hear her heart’s own cry?

Contentment, even love, is a choice; so who dares indulge the enduring void hidden behind the smiles, the laughter, the kind words? But if these feelings ought not to be felt, why were they ever planted there? Is not the farmer infallible? Is there a good reason for such secretly poignant feelings? Can gratefulness mask the longing? Or should it be wilfully shun out from being, in its entirety, without looking into the roots? Is it meaningless to let it linger?

It often passes. And crying often turns into careless laughter. Then hope the morning wakes her with all the feelings gone. When finally she’s shaped up to the mould of her hopeless situation, and she drowns herself successfully to the delights of the world, when the seemingly endless advantages of practical, uncomplicated life succeed; perhaps the uncanny thirst will cease. When that time comes, the world will see her more alive then she ever was. At that moment, the artist will die–all her passions buried with her.

 

Featured Photo by Madrid-based surreal photographer, Elena del Palacio

The Heart of Things

He killed himself. Sensei committed suicide. The question is “why?” With the first few chapters, I thought of no other reason but the fundamental loneliness of man (as I’ve come to label it) but when I reached the main part of the book, I learned it was because of dark events in his past that piled up into an unbearable suffering–one that revealed a more profound truth not just about him, but about all of us, humans.

We often hear the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” but the opposite is also true: The road to the best kind of “heaven” this fallen world can offer is paved with evil and selfish motives. The happy and successful life, as this world defines it, often has hidden behind it the underlying ugliness that is humanity. I will try to spell out this truth for you using the events in the book, the title of which I shall try not mention for the sake of its future readers. But I shall call him Sensei, all throughout this post, just as the author did.

In the flashback chapters, we find Sensei in the middle of his story living with a widow, Okusan and a daughter, Ojosan.

Before meeting them, he was disillusioned with the world through the deceit of his own relatives as an orphaned boy. It gave him the impression that all men have dark motives especially when money is involved.

After meeting Ojosan, his perspective changed. Love changed him. But he can’t trust both mother and daughter yet, he was convinced people always have bad motives when they show you good. But in time, his love for Ojosan grew stronger and his views of men changed.

He had a friend who lost everything, disowned by his own family. Out of the kindness of his heart and his sense of responsibility for what happened (because he encouraged him to do something his family didn’t want him to do), the latter being the more likely reason of the two; he asked him to live with him and paid for his rent and food, convincing the two ladies to let the friend stay if he pays for him. They accepted not because of the money but because they learned to love Sensei as their own.

One day Sensei’s friend, K, did what he could not do himself–admit that he has fallen in love with Ojosan. Even when he had more than one chance to admit to K that he felt the same way for Ojosan, Sensei cannot admit that he had also been in love with her ever since. He was a coward and so he did nothing to tell K, evading the gentlemen’s fight for love. But he could not entertain the thought of losing Ojosan to K either…so he did the following:

1. He tried to talk K out of the idea of pursuing his love for Ojosan, never mentioning that he did this because he wanted the woman for himself.

2. He lied about being sick to get Ojosan and K out of the house to talk to Okusan behind their backs, more especially behind K’s back.

3. He asked Okusan for Ojosan’s hand, fully aware that even before K came to live with them, Okusan wanted to marry her daughter to himself because she trusted Sensei from the start.

4. Rejoicing for his success over K, he cannot help but be pleased with his achievement. He finally got the love of his life. And though he believed that he is inferior to K in all aspects, he finally won this one thing over him—and the one thing that matters most.

5. All these time, he did not bother to tell K what he did. Worse, his conscience was no where in action the whole time. All he was, was pleased and triumphant.

6. Since the wedding arrangement was all set, Okusan and Ojosan’s treatment of the two changed, the difference became more pronounced—with special treatment for Sensei, of course. All along, Sensei didn’t bother to tell K, leaving him clueless. He enjoyed his victory over K all the more.

Okusan told K eventually without Sensei’s knowledge. And as could be expected, he was devastated. Being the only person left in the world he could trust and depend on, Sensei ought to have been more responsible for K. Instead he destroyed him–for love. Upon knowing about it, K didn’t mention anything to Sensei. He was, as his usual self, calm. And on that same night, he killed himself. With a brief suicide note thanking Sensei for everything he’s done for him and asking for a last favour to arrange for his burial, he asked him to extend Okusan his apology for all the troubles. He never mentioned Ojosan even once in the letter, carrying his love untold to his grave.

This dropped the bomb on Sensei. He felt guilty, and now he’ll never get the chance to apologise to K for all the evil things he’s done him. No one knows about it, only himself and K. And now that he killed himself, no one will ever know about all these. Okusan and Ojosan will never know of K’s love for Ojosan.

After about seven months, Sensei married Ojosan. He got a bigger, more comfortable house and lived with them there. All went well, and the bad motives, the darkness that looms in the background of the marriage never surfaced in their lives.

Then the guilt that never really went away soon ate him up as it grew bigger than he can handle. He decided to kill himself in the end. He left the author a long suicide letter revealing the full story of his life and its secrets. The last sentence on it was a dying wish to never reveal all these to any other soul so long as his wife is still alive. He would not take a chance of her ever knowing about all these.

There are two contending views on this. On the one hand, he loves his wife so much and as he once mentioned (when he did not allow her to see K on the suicide scene), someone so beautiful and so pure cannot see something so ugly without losing some of her beauty. He was determined to preserve her innocence—in such case, the motive was selfless. On the other hand, he wants to protect his self image. He was determined to preserve the way his wife sees and looks up to him with all the goodness he thought he is—in this case, the motive was something selfish. It was left for the reader to decide.

I choose to believe the former. He loved his wife so much that he never wanted to destroy her image of life and of the one person that mattered to her, Sensei. He mentioned in his letter that if he had revealed the story to his wife and mother-in-law, he is sure they would have forgiven him. It would have eased him of the burden of guilt he was carrying for a long time. It would have been the easier way out. Indeed, the truth would have set him free. But then again it would have also been more selfish. Unloading himself and transferring part (if not the same amount) of the burden to his wife who would have felt terrible about herself had she known the truth about the two friends. Instead, he chose to suffer and carry his secret to the grave. In his letter, he wrote that he would rather have his wife think he has gone mad thus committed suicide  than let her know of the truth. In this regard, it made more sense that he loved her more than himself. In fact, he wanted to die a long time ago to ease him of the suffering. Imagine how every time he sees his wife’s face, he was reminded of his own ugly, disgusting self. Yet, he dared not leave her. He felt a very deep hatred for himself and an insurmountable loneliness that he thought death can be his only hope for relief. Yet he withheld it so long from himself. The reason he said, was because when Okusan died, his wife told him: “In all the world, I now have only you to turn to.”

K’s last sentence in his suicide letter was “Why did I wait so long to die?” In Sensei’s life, the answer was, because he loved his wife so much. Only when he met the author, to which he wrote the long letter about his life did he finally allow himself to die. Because, I think, it was only then that he found someone he can trust, someone whom his wife can turn to when he is gone.

The marriage and life of Sensei, though seemingly well and good from the outside, was hiding behind it something dark—the ugly motives and fallen nature common to us, sinful humans. It shows how easily we give up on our morals, how we can let our conscience be swallowed up by the people’s recognition and the world’s approval—if only for the idea that society accepts us as “living a good life”. In that sense, Sensei was bad. For the rest of his life, he suffered and repented of it. He went alone to K’s grave monthly to cry and apologise for what he did.

Going further into looking at his character though, I would say because of all his reasons for staying alive; absorbing all the suffering upon himself, protecting the innocent till the end; Sensei’s character was redeemed. In love, he did right.

And then in the end he finally chose to kill himself, which to me in every way is selfish and wrong. It appears as if he was doing the world a favour of ridding it of the evil person that he is. But that’s a lie. He might have deceived himself if indeed he believed that. The ulterior motive of the suicide is selfish—it was to end his suffering. And then he passed on the burden of keeping the secret away from his wife to someone else, the author. In the end, the selfishness and evil prevailed. Masked in love, his weakness won.

Indeed this book is a story that talks about the heart of things (in its most literal translation). And to me it talks about the things of this world–the truth about us, our story, humanity and our hopeless and sinful state. We will never be capable of redeeming ourselves because it has become ingrained in us–our being selfish, cunning and evil since the fall in Eden. And people who realise and truly, truly grasp the weight of this ugly truth without taking in that opium of society—social humanism, the notion that we are all capable of being good without help from outside or from a higher being—fall into a very deep sense of loneliness, the only cure for which, in an ordinary person’s view is suicide.

This is why humanity needs a saviour, it always has. The story of Sensei only shows that the evil of mankind can only be cured by selflessness, innocence and purity—by true love. THAT is Christianity to the core. No other religion offers humanity a Saviour to redeem us of a situation so hopeless and full of shame, to rescue us out of our own selves that have become too heavy for us to bear. All other religion would have failed to appease what Sensei felt. They would preach to rid himself of his bodily desires and accomplish a list of things in order to be forgiven, all of which he would still not have deemed a fitting retribution for what he’s done. Nothing else but death will be.

Had only someone told him that he never needed to carry the burden himself because someone bigger than him already did it for him, he would have been able to spare his own life and live a new one. He was not the one that needed to forgive, it was not his authority that mattered. It was God that should have been appeased, that his soul was longing to make peace with. And to do that, God already did for him what needed to be done—to die to pay for his sins. THAT is the one good news only Christianity claims.

The book is a tale that gets to the heart of the loneliness, fear, and guilt that accompanies love, individuality, and betrayal.** It shows us that we; left to ourselves, no matter how grand and glittering we make of our lives in this world; are selfish, hopeless and bad and we could never make it in this world on our own without getting lonely beyond what our hearts could bear and eventually killing ourselves. The core of the human heart, even if we cover it up with beautiful photos in social media and our vain obsession over living the ideal life, will always have a hint of this ugly thing that goes with being human. We need a redeemer because the ugly truth is, the heart of things…is nothing short of darkness.

 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. […] the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 3:23 and 6:23, Holy Bible NIV

 

 

 

This post is in response to this week’s Blacklight Candelabra writing challenge, Mephistopheles and the Road to Heaven.

“I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.”
—Mephistopheles (In Faust I by Joann Wolfgang von Goethe)

(Spoiler alert: Click link only if you want to know what book is the subject of this post.) **quoted from bookrags.com

 

 

Featured Photo is one by the Swedish photographer and visual artist Tommy Ingberg as part of his photographic series, ‘Reality rearranged’ (2010-2013). It was taken from the article by Andreea Saioc published online in the website theglobalpanorama.com.

Just Another Ordinary Day

And finally, I’m back to writing! I’ve been MIA for the past week immersing myself into studying for last Saturday’s exam plus it was month-end so I got busy at work, I really couldn’t make time for blogging. I actually can’t believe it’s only been a week, it felt like a month. I missed doing this so much. Ahh, the sacrifices you have to make for education! Well at least (and it’s more than a consolation), I passed. Yay!

Last Saturday after the exam, two deliveries I’ve been waiting for came–the last pieces of furniture I’ve ordered. So after three months, I can say our place feels cozy now, closer to the home we’ve left behind when we migrated. I remember the first night we slept here, we had nothing but our luggages and all the clothes and shoes inside. A quilt, a couple of pillows and some sheets. We had no bed, no couch, no tables and chairs. Okay, so before you judge us, here’s what happened: we’ve ordered everything before we moved in but to some unfortunate circumstances last Christmas season, the well-known Swedish furniture store messed up with their delivery services so we didn’t get our orders–which means most importantly, we didn’t have a bed for nearly two weeks. We slept in our room, on the carpeted floor, on only some sheets and a quilt. It’s quite funny now thinking about it. We really didn’t know delivery services could be that bad here during Christmas holidays. No other furniture store would want to take new orders that time. We ate on boxes we got from the few necessities we bought from the nearby mall like plates and mugs. We sat on newspapers. We had no TV, no internet connection, nothing. We really started from scratch. Well, almost from scratch (we had clothes at least). And when we reminisce those days now, we just smile and are pleased that we have some interesting stories to tell our future children and grandchildren. Looking at the place now, we’re just amazed at how gracious the Father was to us. Indeed, God was faithful and is always with us, carrying us through every day of this journey.

A very good experience we could never have had back where we came from was having to assemble every item we buy all on our own. You see we’re quite spoiled back in Manila. It’s a service-oriented country so a lot of things get done by the merchants for their customers. Well, now that I think about it, that was at the expense of the labourers. The employees, probably merchandisers, are being asked to assemble furnitures as part of their job, and they get no additional pay for that. Here, the customer pays only for the goods. Assembling is another thing and if you want it, you have to pay for it separately, which I think is fair ’cause then we know the workers work only for what they’re actually being paid for.

Okay. So going back to my weekend. I passed the exam, we got our furnitures, which we assembled for half a day (and we still have a couple of tables to unpack from their boxes which we had no choice but to schedule for next weekend)–and there went my Saturday.

On Sunday we finished the laundry, went to Church and visited the place of our friend–my buddy who I introduced to you on my post Of Goodbyes and a New Beginning (if you remember). And then I’ve worked on the project I still have on my to-do list from Blogging 201, the one about buddying up with other bloggers. I’m working with a few co-bloggers whose works I genuinely love for this one and I’m hoping I could get to share it with you soon. I’m expecting the work gets all done by this weekend. That took my whole Sunday afternoon but I don’t mind, I had so much fun working with other writers.

And then there’s Monday…again. Another day in paradise! I went to work. I got a new work station, which was supposedly all ready by the time I came in this morning but wasn’t, so I decided to move my things myself and set-up my desk and screen, laptop and all. That was a lot faster and more efficient than waiting for those guys from IT. It was quite busy and I’m sure you’ll die of boredom if I tell you the details of my daily finance life so I’ll cut it there. The highlight of my Monday as always, is coming home and watching Friends with my husband. A couple of episodes of that comedic masterpiece is just the perfect topper to any weekday. We had dinner with Rachel, Ross, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Monica and then relaxed in the comfort of our now complete living room. We drank some wine, which my husband gets for free as perks of his job…and then here I am–just writing my thoughts away. As if writing a letter to an old trusted friend and telling her about why I’ve not been able to write for a while. And wow, doesn’t this feel good? Haven’t noticed I’ve come up with one full post already. Writing like this–just letting thoughts out, thinking as the words are as if just coming out of my head on their own into the screen– is a leisure everyone should always, always be entitled to. Such simple pleasures in life.

Okay, so that’s it. No spectacular topic, no list worthy of sharing to the social media world, just me, sharing a small piece of my life with you. Just my way of saying, I missed you.

And hey, this is how a day in my life looks like and I’m loving every moment of it. I hope you enjoy yours, too!

Lots of love from down under,
sassycare