Dilemmas of Christian Living

This post has been in the making in my mind for some time now. Something happened today and the words just tumbled out of my head onto the keyboard. I have tried making it as coherent as possible. But if I don’t make too much sense, I would love to know your views on the topic.

So you’ve met Jesus. And you’ve found heaven. All the consolations and heavenly hugs make you giddy with joy. You just want everyone else to have the same joy from knowing Christ. Your mind is occupied with God. You want to keep talking about Him to others. You feel like your life is finally on track.

But the euphoria lasts for only so long.

St.John of the Cross in the Dark Night of the Soul says:

the soul, after it has been definitely converted to the service of God, is, as a rule, spiritually nurtured and caressed by God, even as is the tender child by its loving mother…. but, as the child grows bigger, the mother gradually ceases caressing it and hiding her tender love, puts bitter aloe upon her sweet breast, sets down the child from her arms and makes it walk upon its feet, so that it may lose the habits of a child and betake itself to more important and substantial occupations. The loving mother is like the Grace of God, for as soon as the soul is regenerated by its new warmth and fervor for the service of God, He treats it in the same way…

And when God starts treating you like a grown up, the struggle begins. And it IS a struggle. To stick to His way, which is narrow and how!

A lot of us fall on the way. Some get discouraged and give up. Others, knowing that it is OK to fall, will get back up and keep going on. Only a few recognize this spiritual aridity as grace of God and use it for a greater good.

Most of us in Christ know what is good and what’s bad. We are generally aware of what the Lord expects of us in sticky situations and with difficult people. It still takes special push to bring us to our senses.

Especially for me, I am the gravest of the sinners. Even after knowing Christ, I am full of pride. A lot of times, introspection leads me to the same conclusion – that I lack perseverance, patience and humility.

1)                  I am troubled if someone doesn’t think good of me.

2)                  It hurts me if my family doesn’t include me in some plans.

3)                  Sometimes it hurts me if my friends don’t give me time or an ear when I need it.

4)                  I get irritated when people act unfriendly and difficult.

5)                  It even hurts me many times if things don’t go my way.

And I realize that it is all self-love.

Loving God alone brings peace of mind. Trusting Him assures you that “all things work out for good for those who love the Lord”. If God is the centre of your life, all of the above will not cause ripples in your life. And yet, when we are living in the world we are living in, being constant in Christ is a walk on tight rope. You are faced with so many small and big dilemmas.

Tell me:-

1)                  What does living holy and Christ-like entail?

2)                  Do you listen to secular music?

3)                  Do you watch secular movies?

4)                  How do you handle the guilt over watching and listening to it?

5)                  Is it OK to sometimes want to be ahead of others?

6)                  Someone at work pulls strings to get a promotion. Do you voice your protest or be quiet surrendering the injustice to God or is it OK to be indifferent because you are not so ambitious yourself and so you don’t really care.

7)                  How do you treat your desires and wants vis-à-vis the merit in self-denial?

8)                  How do you stick to a prayer routine when the cares of life leave you with no time or mental strength?

9)                  What about your impatience with your family and friends? You realize that more often than not you are being unfair to them and yet you struggle to control your emotions and temper.

10)               What about the temptations in relationships and personal life? Where and how do you draw a line?

11)                Should living Christian life mean that you will overflow with love for everyone, all the time?

12)                Does it mean you obey God all the time? What if you fail sometime?

13)                Does it mean you sin less than other people in the world?

Have you ever had any of the questions confusing your Christian Life?

Some days I think I have an answer to all these nagging thoughts. But I understand it cannot be all that simple.

What I keep realizing often is that the answer definitely lies in denying yourself and pleasing God alone. However, realizing and acting on it are two different things. And I am still not able to fully put myself out of my mind and replace thoughts of self with thoughts of God.

I try. God knows I make that effort hoping that someday the ‘I’ will be completely replaced by ‘J’. But for now, I am like:

the tiny child who is learning to stand up, but doesn’t know how to walk yet. Absolutely wanting to reach the top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot in order to climb the first step. But his trouble is of no use! He falls back down without being able to advance. Well, you be that little child. Through the practice of all the virtues, lift you little foot in order to climb the stairway of saintliness, and don’t imagine that you will be able even to climb the first step! No! But all the Good Lord asks of you is good will. From the top of those stairs, He looks at you with love. Soon, won over by your useless efforts, He will come down Himself, and, taking you in His arms, He will carry you for all time to His kingdom, where you will never leave Him anymore.

The above quote is from the words of counsel of St.Thérèse who is my measure for human love towards God. And I live each day in the hope and struggle that with some help from Heaven, I would someday affirm and live the following as the saint:

O Jesus! When you travelled on earth, you said: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest.” O powerful monarch of the heavens, yes, my soul finds rest in seeing you clothed with the form and nature of a slave (Phil 2:7), lowering yourself to the point of washing the feet of your apostles. Then I remember those words that you said so as to teach me to practice humility: “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do…The disciple is not greater than his master. Once you know all these things, blest will you be if you put them into practice.” (Jn 13:15-17) I understand them, Lord, I understand these words that came forth from your gentle and humble heart; with the help of your grace, I want to put them into practice.

I want to humbly lower myself and to submit my will to that of my sisters, not contradicting them in anything and without seeking whether they have the right to command me. O my Beloved, no one had this right where you were concerned, and nevertheless you obeyed not only the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph, but even those who tortured you. Now I see you bringing your annihilation to the full in the host. How humble you are, o divine King of Glory… O my Beloved, how gentle and humble of heart you appear to me hidden behind the veil of the white host!…

O Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.

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Letter from a son

Don’t worry that your children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you.

My friend’s son has moved out of his parents house to attend college and was unable to attend their 25th wedding anniversary. He therefore, sent the following email:

Dear Muma and Papa,

Usually on occasions like these, one sends gifts and cards to show the love that there is for those closest. At this point of time I hope to be a little more explicit in telling you how much I love you both, and there simply isn’t  anything I can buy and/or send that would do that job accurately enough for me.

But first, a little about me. When I came to Bangalore I did think that I would be leaving the person I am behind and becoming a reformed individual, ready to face what the world is going to throw at me. Exciting as that may sound, having spent an ample amount of time here, I have come to realise that the individual I am, doesn’t need much improvement. May not be the best at everything, but I do have the characteristics that really matter. Those are the things that no one can teach you at this stage in life, but they come coded within from birth and are enforced only by family. You have made me how I am today and am forever grateful to you for that. You have taught me how to handle every situation, good or bad, how to look beyond the obvious and how to think using the mind and the heart. Wherever I reach in life (physically and mentally), the one constant thing that has always been, and will always stay there, is you.

I may not call everyday, and sometimes not even message, but not an hour goes by when you are not with me. Even when I say to someone after a long day at college, ‘lets go home’, I always correct myself and say ‘lets go to the hostel’. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is with you.

Even on my birthday, I was upset that I was unable to meet you and for that matter, even talk to you at length, because of the work there was that day. I did come over the very next day, and that was great, but during that time, I did realise that life is going to be like this. That work is going to take priority, but never preference. It will take you far from family, but it can never take you apart. And here I am in the same situation on your anniversary, feeling rather upset that I am not around you, consoling myself that the only thing good about this situation is that you celebrate this anniversary the same way you celebrated your first 🙂 Was also upset when you had to cancel the anniversary celebration because of factors outside of our control, but even at that time, you taught me through example about how to handle myself in such times. I look forward to meeting you in December.

You have been my earliest and best friends. You have always given me something to aspire to be, and I’m sure life has given you hardships as well, but you have always shielded me from them, even if I didn’t want you to. Somewhere inside one of my biggest worries is whether I would be able to ever match up to the both of you as a parent one day, and whether I would be able to always offer the best to my family, like you have.

Muma, you have always been there as my strength. You somehow manage to love me at times when I’m not very fond of myself. You always have just the right thing to say, be it the thing I need to hear, or the thing I want to hear. And how much ever I hate to admit it, you are always right. You always put all of us ahead of yourself. Even right now I know you are thinking about when I managed the time to write this letter to you, and why I am not studying instead. You are the force that holds us together. The strength that keeps us moving forward.

Papa, throughout my life, you have been my hero. If I am able to be one tenth the man you are in your mind, and in your heart, I would consider myself more than successful. 

Your ability to make us smile and laugh is one of the greatest things in the world. You have always been the light that shows the correct path. The face reader we had met some time ago could spot just from a photo of you that you are truly the ‘Kalyug ke Raam’. To us, this information came as no surprise, was just good to hear it from someone else. I still remember the days when I would wait for you at around 6PM and you would come home and I would come running to you. The size of that little boy may have increased, but inside I am still the same person.

So here is wishing you a very very happy anniversary.

As someone who has seen the both of you throughout life, I can say for sure that i have truly been in the company of pure love, of two people no better suited for anyone but each other. People who in their own way are great as individuals, and even greater as a couple.

Here is to celebrating the 1st 25, and looking forward to the next…

Warm regards,

 your son

As I read this poignant note, I had to take atleast 2 breaks to compose myself and to continue reading. I felt that if my son would feel even half of what is written above then I would consider it my parenting success.

The reason for posting it here is to let you parents out there have a feel of what your children may actually be thinking of you and haven’t really let you know. Children are very perceptive. They observe you. They learn. They emulate. And it’s for keeps. A quote I love to remember is:

Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

 

Some guy has really done his homework and has come up with this…..

“We’ve always heard that women have a lengthy list of rules for men to follow.  But introducing here is a list of rules us men or, as you ladies would say “the neanderthals” of CavemanCircus.com have come up with”, he says.

“These are our rules! Please note – These are all numbered “1” ON PURPOSE!  

 1. Men are NOT mind readers. Our lack of mind-reading ability is not proof of how little we care about you.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports or news, It’s like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. A headache that last for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. “Yes” and “No” are full sentences and perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1.  Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you’re fat, you probably are. Don’t ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted in two ways and one of those ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something OR tell us how you want it done.
NOT both.
If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions, and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is. 

1. If it itches, it will be scratched.
We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing”, we will act like nothing’s wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine… REALLY.

1. Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as- Football or Cars.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!
P.S.:  Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight, but did you know men really don’t mind that?  It’s like camping.

Well, I am not sure how many guys would agree with this and how many women will laugh at this… But this guy seemed to mean business… 🙂