Creatures of habit, craving pattern and crafting stories, we try year after year to form relationships of correlation and graphs of linearity with the happenings of the year. As with the passing of each year, the countdown to the next deserves immense celebration – in an age of extreme poverty in many parts of the world where children barely live past the age of five, in the midst of the refugee crisis that reshuffles the geographical placement of people all over forced from their homes by circumstances, and in a time of amplified busyness that suffocates our minds and souls; we truly have to count our blessings in making it to yet another year. For years, I have ended the year with a piece that celebrates the year (see for 2014, 2015, 2016); this year I am convicted to depart from the compilation of achievements and memories that will fade away in a matter of time. I have been assured of their brevity, realizing how little these trophies and titles amount to who I am.
Shifting the focus unto the lessons of the current that I am learning in this season, my prayer is that this piece will inspire you to consider: What are the lessons that you can be learning in this time? How are the happenings in this season impacting your character that will last over time? Let’s fix our gaze on the things that will remain valuable and even more so with the passing of time, as we step forth into the new year. It is with immense privilege of sharing my story from this season that I write this piece. I overflow with gratitude towards the infinite grace that I am a blessed recipient of, coming with a heart of lightness and rest: I celebrate 2017.
I am learning that the way is not always easy. Difficult roads lead to beautiful places – unexpected twists and turns sometimes lead us on a vertical drop to rock bottom, but it is in the valleys that we uncover our solid foundation and revisit the very basis of who we are, of what we believe. Departing from home was an emotional challenge, the safe harbor and its beauty too close in sight that I was reluctant to let go of the comfort. Who I was and what I believed had become so strongly associated with this place I called ‘home’ that a single step beyond its boundaries evoked fear and hesitation. The truth is, who we are is an exploration of a place so deep that it is independent of our geographical placement: the accent, the pace of footsteps, the humidity and the food all too unsubstantial to fill the crux of our identities. They are only the wrapping paper of a beautiful gift; to keep it wrapped is as silly as to receive a wonderfully wrapped present only to leave it unwrapped for years and years because we are content with the sparkle and glitter of the paper. Or because we find the task of tearing apart the tape and paper too much of a hassle. In all this time, the wondrous gift beneath awaits. Unwrap the present – just as the work of unwrapping the paper is necessary for the unveiling of the gift, so it is with the uncovering of our innermost selves. It is in the confrontation of difficult situations that the unwrapping of our captivating souls begin.
In 2017, coming to Sydney for my university studies was one of the most difficult decisions to make but it saw, too, the birth of countless miraculous beginnings that remain the best decisions of my life. The bravest decisions take faith: we don’t have to completely understand or see all of what lies ahead fully (this is impossible for most decisions we make daily anyway). We have to take the step and trust the way. The first step of faith has taken me to unimaginable adventures of wonder and I am walking on the way still.
I am learning that the truth is to be seeked. We all have an inkling of truth: when we think to ourselves a “got to be” statement (“there has got to be more to this”, “what she’s doing has got to be wrong”), we are preaching our convictions of truth. The promise is that the truth will set us free and as we long for freedom in our lives, we are all called on a journey of seeking truth. The oblivion that blinds us is the greatest enemy to our freedom: it threatens our full and abundant lives because it evokes indifference. When we are oblivious, we are unaware of the broader perspectives that lie beyond our mobile phones, beyond our daily conversations with friends who are like us and way beyond our homes or families. In that oblivion, our understanding and knowledge end at the borders of our devices and an illusion of vastness is created by the endless scrolling of our feeds. What we feed grows and when we feed this oblivion, we are growing a sense of indifference – it is where we don’t know, and on top of that, we don’t care. Indifference nips our search for truth at its very roots because we have no concern about what is true.
In 2017, I was inspired to search for truth. If truth is truth, it is absolutely true. Truth remains true regardless of people’s sentiments and thoughts, it remains true in spite of popularity and not because of it. The truth that stands firmly with certainty is a safe place to put my trust and confidence. I am learning that to take ownership of my story is to take on the responsibility of living one in truth. This determination does not end at its declaration; it only begins. As we decide upon the end of oblivion and indifference, we have to declare the beginning of our search. It is wholehearted devotion that says, “I’m all in.” I wake up these days declaring, I don’t know what lies ahead today and this day is filled with uncertainty but I will be thankful for every breath and actively seek out what is true in every moment so I might live fully in truth.
I am learning that the life of fullness is worthwhile. Our lives are these and our lives are now. They are what they are at present; all at the same time, they encompass what has past and hold hopes for the future. There is a story of a man named Nehemiah who lead workers in rebuilding the fallen walls of Jerusalem a long time ago. As he assigned people to work on the different parts of the wall, he called each of them to work on the part of the wall that was closest to their homes. Perhaps, if we consider experiencing fullness in life as the grand project of building a wall, where we have to start is right where we are. We have mastered the ‘ideation’ part of concocting the masterplan – we have some idea of what we want our walls to look like – we almost meditate on it with longing every single day. We are meditating on them as we look with yearning at the Instagram posts of others’ or as we make “if only” statements that point at our future. What we have overlooked all too often, though, is that act of building that wall. The grandness of the project all too daunting, we settle for imagining.
Dreaming is easy, we do it every day. Doing is the challenge and yet without which, living does not even begin. We remain in mere existence. The life of fullness awaits our willingness to start where we are and do what we can. Transform your dreams into actions – extend the dream of a lasting relationship with a commitment to love those who are already around you, extend the dream of attaining a job that “changes lives” with a commitment to influence those already in your circles, extend the dream of becoming that person with a commitment to grow the person that you are at present. Make a promise to do, the dreaming will come to fruition. As we step forth bravely into the new year unsure of what lies ahead, may commitments pave the way to unwrapping the greatest present of this Christmas season: the gift of our lives.