Oct 29, 2011

so wipe those tears away you aren't alone

“It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don't have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in."
- Naomi Shihab Nye

you take my hand and drive me head first, fearless

The fearlessness of love belongs to people who know the pain is as much of a guarantee as the happiness but blindly dive into love anyway, embracing life, daring Death.

Don't seek to take so much control over your life, all that predictability, over-discipline, not daring yourself to hurt. Life is the beginning of death, but that doesn't mean we don't give it a shot. Dare, dare to fall head-first, knowing you'll reach the bottom where your brain and guts and heart will splatter on the earth, because all that matters is that you'll know what it's like to fly.

He said 'Then don't make me your world. Make me something smaller, until you're sure."

But I remember she once said just let go. Love is beautiful when you let go and live it like you'll never get hurt.

Amazing music video.

Oct 26, 2011

Oct 25, 2011

valentine's day on loveless lane

(for e)

On the way home you take the long route, through loveless lane. It was Love Lane once - Lester-Laura Love Lane, as the both of you used to say, with your arabian coffee and aunty may's scones - but now it's only loveless.

On the other side of the street you see a girl with a bunch of roses, red like a beautiful blood stain on her cream dress. The boy whose arms are around her waist whispers love in her ear, and they smile in giddy glee as they turn their backs to you and walk into the coffee house, leaving behind a trail of sweet pure honeymoon milk that all too soon turns into yellow sour staleness in your heart. You remember how that felt, the honeymoon phase of overpowering sweetness sprinkled with pretty phrases and forevers.

(what you don't see is that thirteen days later she says look nick i'm sorry but actually, i just got dumped by bryan and needed a rebound and a date for valentine's day. but you do know that i'm not the kind who's serious about things like that, right? so i hope you don't feel too bad about this. i just needed someone for a while, but i'm okay now, so yeah thanks. and nick watches her walk away in the same cream dress, and wonders if she remembers the night they made love in the park. if nothing was real about this then what on earth was she thinking then?)

You pass by the Italian restaurant and your sixteen-year-old junior walks out, with her boyfriend number three hundred and seventy-something and that chanel bag and the lovely killer heels. Pretty Boy kisses her porcelain cheek and she laughs her flirty laugh and as they wait for a taxi their flirting verges on obnoxious. They're both very good-looking, dripping with cash, a little flushed from that good wine, both not serious but looking for a pretty thrill.

(what you don't see is the steak she forced back up her throat in the toilet and her obsession with make-up, because she knows it's her face and her figure that gets the expensive boys, that gets the cash and the expensive gifts, that gets the expensive boys... and nobody will ever recognise her when she works at taka on saturdays, because she's got no make-up on then, and beneath the slabs of foundation and concealer and eyeliner is a dry pimply small-eyed plea.)

You make yourself walk past that shady alley, because you just have to, even though you know you'll see things you don't want to see. There, there's a couple making out like there's no tomorrow. Hands tugging at hair and jeans. Almost violent, those wild mouths, sucking teasing moaning. All that passion in a dirty alley. All you couples, get a room for goodness' sake.

(what you don't know is that they aren't a couple - just two broken-hearted friends, losing themselves in an attempt to satisfy their thirst for lips and legs and of overwhelming lust, and a hunger that reaches deeper into the soul - for love, acceptance, a hunger to know they mean something in this world. twenty minutes later they break away and break apart, because their thirst is satisfied but the hunger pangs scream out in longing; they get what they want but not what they need.)

You reach home, where all the single kids are hiding. Mum and Dad are out and you don't want to think about your sister and her candlelight dinner. You go onto Facebook. Someone you once knew just posted a picture of herself in her boyfriend's college tee holding a bunny soft toy. She's in her boyfriend's room. And he's right behind her in a singlet making the heart sign with his hands.

You've had enough of this lovey-dovey overload.

(what you don't know is that she's been living with him for the past three weeks. her house is a hell-hole, dad's always either drunk and shouting or asleep if he's ever home at all. and when he comes back she can tell because the shouts - slurry dad, exasperated mum - continue for at least half an hour, before something shatters and mum storms out. three weeks ago she decided this was not the way any child should live. she ran while mum was out to escape the hell-hole herself and dad was in his slurry drunken stupor.)

You go to bed in tears of loneliness and think, it's always me. Everyone's so blissful and happy and the world forgot about me. Why am I the only one who gets misery.

Oct 24, 2011

the result of heavy distractions + running on empty

It's like before the O's when I started failing my English essays. I started freaking out. I'm not freaking out yet (although I actually need to start panicking really), but my essay skills are going down the drain. A month ago my fellow JC2s were already busy rushing out essays like a photocopier, reading the syllabus for the thousandth time - or at least not sleeping the days away like I was, trying to escape from the arrows that pierced my mind while I was awake, doing at most a quarter of an essay a day.

Been trying to speed things up. I did four essays today, none of which were of a satisfactory standard. I've lost all ability to formulate a good essay. Not that I really had it in the first place, but now my essays are getting even worse. I've been getting Cs all along. I really do need my 18/25 to come along sometime soon, but it just isn't happening. It isn't happening, and the Cs and Ds I got at Prelims, pre-moderation, were what I got when I was working at my hardest. Not that that was much at all, as compared to what the others are doing. My mind takes a zero-tolerance approach to studying, I'm really really really not the mugger type. I lost what little I had gained after the Prelims and it's all gone now. I'm really not meant for this. I'm still blogging for goodness' sake.

Maybe for Econs I can pin my hopes on the bell curve, but the only other students that take the Renaissance Lit paper are from - wait for it - RJ and Hwa Chong. Okay seriously. My class, 2AH, is competing against the cream of the crop. I'm a tiny unnoticeable sad grain of wheat barely out of the soil....or whatever. I was at the 28th percentile in my cohort for Lit for both the Term and H2 exams. Of course, now I've got amazing seniors to inject doses of genius into my bloodstream, but my essays just aren't working out. I've lost what little I had. I need to start getting more than 14/25.

Are there other JCs that offer ELL other than AC, RJ, CJ and Hwa Chong? I'm competing against people with amazing skill, with insane drive. The competition is far too strong. I'm losing what little essay-writing skills I had. I'm trying to do more essays now, but I realise I've also lost my content knowledge in all my subjects. I need to go back to my notes again. No time no time no time fourteen more days and I'm trying to get the drive to study but I don't know. I've never been a mugger. Time to start running, zooming, full-speed to try and regain what I lost at Prelims and work towards 16, then 18, then 19/25 essays.


Calm the heart calm the heart calm the heart
with God's reassurance
and leehom ballads and slow quiet songs

Oct 22, 2011

Our warped definition of love

(partly to Tim)

I always used to think, you know how the Bible and everyone always tell us to love God, love God, love God, but how can you force a feeling? Love is a feeling and you can't make yourself feel something.

But love isn't just a feeling. It's a behaviour. It's about doing things in people's best interests, wanting the best for them, sacrificing, giving. That's loving.
Loving with actions even when you don't feel like it is the highest form of love.

Offering to come all the way to my house far far away to help me out with something small because he knows I need it. Going all the way to the other end of Singapore to hear a crying friend out. A whole cell group's collective effort to help her retrieve her phone and get compensation for the broken SIM card. Texting me every day to make sure I'm okay, help me heal. Sacrificing a forty-minute break to hold me while I cry. Willingly rejecting a free lunch to talk me out of my pain.

Much more than a feeling, love is a behaviour. That's why we can choose to love. That's why the Bible can command us to love. You can't force a feeling but you can choose to carry out acts of love. You can choose to give thanks to the One whom you know has given you the strength and peace you needed when you asked for it. You can choose to give in love.

Something really interesting:
1 Corinthians 13, we all know, is all about love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud...
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Etc etc etc. It all sounds like a crazy, far-fetched, unattainable form of love.

But in the King James Version of the Bible, which is the first English-translated version of the Bible during the reign of James I (yup Renaissance stuff, this all started when I was looking through the Lit Compendium), all the instances of the word 'love' you find in today's Bible versions was in fact 'charity'.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth(wants) not itself, is not puffed up...
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

The Bible was translated from Greek, and apparently 'agape' is translated into both 'charity' and 'love' in the KJV Bible. So it's so evident that charity and love are very closely linked. In today's definition of the two words, they're less similar: charity is giving, and love is...loving. You can do one without the other.

But the concept here is sacrificial love, love beyond self, love beyond passionate feeling. Giving out of love - giving because you love. Love for the poor, the homeless, people you don't know and people most of us don't want to have to deal with. It's not just about giving out of pity.

Pretty interesting.

Oct 20, 2011

Shooting Stars - Carol Ann Duffy

After I no longer speak they break our fingers
to salvage my wedding ring. Rebecca Rachel Ruth
Aaron Emmanuel David, stars on all our brows
Beneath the gaze of men with guns. Mourn for our daughters,

upright as statues, brave. You would not look at me.
You waited for the bullet. Fell. I say, Remember.
Remember those appalling days which make the world
forever bad. One saw I was alive. Loosened

his belt. My bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear.
Between the gap of corpses I could see a child.
The soldiers laughed. Only a matter of days separate
this from acts of torture now. They shot her in the eye.

How would you prepare to die, on a perfect April evening
with young men gossiping and smoking by the graves?
My bare feet felt the earth and urine trickled
down my legs. I heard the click. Not yet. A trick.

After immense suffering someone takes tea on the lawn.
After the terrible moans a boy washes his uniform.
After the history lesson children run to their toys the world
turns in its sleep the spades shovel soil Sara Ezra…

Sister, if seas part us, do you not consider me?
Tell them I sang the ancient psalms at dusk
inside the wire and strong men wept. Turn thee
unto me with mercy, for I am desolate and lost.

You - Carol Ann Duffy

Uninvited, the thought of you stayed too late in my head,
so I went to bed, dreaming you hard, hard, woke with your name,
like tears, soft, salt, on my lips, the sound of its bright syllables
like a charm, like a spell.

Falling in love
is glamorous hell; the crouched, parched heart
like a tiger ready to kill; a flame's fierce licks under the skin.
Into my life, larger than life, beautiful, you strolled in.
I hid in my ordinary days, in the long grass of routine,
in my camouflage rooms. You sprawled in my gaze,
staring back from anyone's face, from the shape of a cloud,
from the pining, earth-struck moon which gapes at me

and I open the bedroom door. The curtains stir. There you are
on the bed, like a gift, like a touchable dream.

Oct 18, 2011

can i hold you again tomorrow?

Sometimes when the other person smothers you with love, your capacity to receive love becomes satiated and you have so much love from the other side that there's no space left for you to love. It's like creamer in a bitter cup of coffee. A little bit is good, more is great, but then it becomes too much it overpowers the taste of the coffee itself and then it becomes too grossly sweet, undesirable. You forget the initial bitterness of the coffee; in fact, you can't even believe it was ever bitter to begin with because all you're tasting now is excessive sweetness, so sweet it makes you cringe. From bitter to good to awesome, but beyond that it's too much.

You don't even have the chance to worry or wonder or miss. It's like force-feeding you with chocolate. Chocolate's great, but it's too much, the sweetness is so excessive that it becomes sickening and you forget what it's like to actually want chocolate because you really just need to get away from it now.

Not going to admit to that ruined side of me anymore. No more stupid frail dependency, apologies and tears running over. It's gross how low I bring myself. My life means more than this.

On a side note, check this out: The Rape Of Men
pretty thought-provoking, these gender expectations that we will always hold.

Oct 15, 2011

girls sing about love guys sing about sex

too often it was either hot or cold when i really just needed warmth

but i remember you talking about your first memory and primary school and you happily showing me your secondary school photos and 'what if you meet someone like me?' and the way you looked at me with such a comfortable gaze and 'were you gonna let go?' and 'i can see my reflection in your eye' and the first hug and your super-cute nervousness and 'you're pretty in your own ways' and your regret and apology that night
and 'can i tickle you for five minutes? please?'
and 'i don't care if you look unglam...i think you'll look cute'

and i know it was more than that, something sincere, something 'serious', as you used to say.


The eighth came and went and I didn't realise.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to feel free around you again. Will I be able to let go of my insecurity and trust you with myself again, as completely as I had managed to do not too long ago; finally fully give my glass soul to you only to have it dropped the next day? Because through the countless times you've set my heart aflame before unintentionally stamping out the fire of joy again, I've learnt to take guard; when I let go of my insecurity and dare to be free is when you take it away from me.

I've actually been feeling pretty fine recently, I don't think I've cried since the day I told you I wouldn't anymore. These things just come back once in a while and I guess there's the need for the occasional bout of emo. I mean, the memories come back every day, but I usually don't feel sad about them anymore. After the A's everything will be okay. Whatever's meant to happen will happen, things will work out on their own, I might resolve to let myself be taken again, knowing full well the crash will come soon enough. But it won't be fatal this time, armed with the knowledge that God's my priority and He's the one that has all of me; that as long as I put Him first, He'll guide my path - He'll let me fall but not too hard.

Mark 2:15-17
Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, 'Why does he eat with such scum?
When Jesus heard this, he told them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'

I love how my church is one that really reaches out to people from all walks of life, and how so many of those who are really strong members of the church were once...pretty messed up. Gang leaders, drug addicts at sixteen? Loan sharks? Fourteen-year-old gang members? Victims of emotional and physical abuse at childhood? These stories seem almost fictitious to me, but these people are very real, and they do exist, and I love the fact that my church is one that reaches out to people who aren't the kind you'd associate with things good and holy, because God transforms these people and uses them for His purpose. Through God, even the darkest of lives can be transformed to become beacons of light.

God can't bring someone up if they haven't fallen. We can't know light if we haven't experienced darkness. His strength is made perfect in weakness. Yeah, they seem like duh-what's-new sayings, but the message felt so real today. When I say something like 'Yes, God, give me your strength' I know full well that I'm indirectly asking for trials. How else can I truly experience his strength? How can he reach down to me and pick me up if I haven't fallen? Jesus' healing miracles could only be performed on those who were sick and needed healing; how could He perform a miracle on someone who didn't see a need for it?
He freed the man from the legion of demons that took control of his life, making him roam a graveyard and cut himself with stones for years. He freed the woman who had been made crippled by an evil spirit for eighteen years. He let the blind see, he brought the dead back to life. These people got to experience God personally in an amazing way. Would they have gotten to if they hadn't been struck by soul-tormenting evil spirits / disabilities / death?

The price to pay.
I ask for trials, but only because I know I'm armed with the shield of the Holy Spirit, and I know He'll carry me through and I'll ultimately emerge a stronger warrior for Him.

Oct 2, 2011

Skyscraper - Demi Lovato

Skies are crying, I am watching, catching teardrops in my hands. Only silence as it's ending, like we never had a chance.

Do you have to make me feel like there’s nothing left of me?

You can take everything I have, you can break everything I am, like I’m made of glass, like I’m made of paper -

Go on and try to tear me down; I will be rising from the ground like a skyscraper.

As the smoke clears, I awaken and untangle you from me. Would it make you feel better to watch me while I bleed? All my windows still are broken but I’m standing on my feet.

You can take everything I have, you can break everything I am;

Go on and try to tear me down; I will be rising from the ground.

"It's like the body has a self-defence mechanism. Now, whenever a negative what-if pops up, it's like I'm walking through a forest in my mind and suddenly I nearly step into a trap. And then my mind's defence mechanism makes me run away from the trap and towards safe happy ground. I'll be like, no no no don't think about that and immediately happy past memories will reassure me."
"That a sweet self-defence mechanism. It's amazing how your thoughts are so vivid and clear. I'd like to take a walk in your head."
"You wouldn't. It's a beautiful tragedy."

I give my life to honour You

In times like these we choose to praise You.
For it's You, it's You who really matters; You are worthy of our praise.

Pastor Kong talked today about the months where he went into depression during the time our church was a very dark state: persecution. The source for his depression was a feeling of abandonment by God. He had given so much to God - been in the ministry for 25 years and he's always been busy doing God's work, saving souls, preaching powerful messages, and he felt like he had been used by God. Taken by God to do so much and get so little rest - and then discarded when He was done with him.

Much later on, after he finally had an encounter with God again after months, he was preaching again, in Sumatra, and he was talking about the crucifixion of Christ.

It was a really dark period, wasn't it, Jesus Christ hanging on the cross, abused and afflicted, a crown of thorns adorning his head. And in Matthew 27:46 (and Mark 15:34) it says: Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, saying "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" which is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

He was in the movement of the Spirit as he was preaching this in Sumatra; it wasn't in his prepared notes, his speech was just flowing, he was overflowing with passion, energy, punching at the air, kicking at the ground, in a passionate flow of words. I know what that's like, he's like that when he's preaching sometimes.

And he continued preaching: But in the pain and cries of his Son, God Himself knew: if only you could see - you need to go through this so that you can become the Saviour of the world.

As Pastor Kong preached this, he froze. And then he wept. He realised that the words that God had put into his mouth was in fact His message to him. 'My God, why have you abandoned me?' he often questioned in his depression, and the answer was that he had to go through this affliction before he could truly become His powerful servant.

The anguish before the breakthrough. The trial before the triumph. I always love hearing Pastor Kong preach and it's always a blessing to all our lives, and it's great that he'll be preaching for the whole of this month. It's great having him back again.

When my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2

You know, up to this point I kept thinking, when you start talking to me again, when you want me back again, you'd better be really sorry, and a simple apologetic text isn't going to work. You'll pay me in happiness for all the tears you've been bringing me the past week. You will make me feel really wanted, and I will feel loved. I'll get myself some self-respect, some dignity.

But then I was just thinking about it, and I thought about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The son demanded his share of his inheritance, went away and spent it all in wild living. Yet when he came back, poor and undeserving, his father didn't have any resentment towards him; he ran to his son and kissed him and called for a feast in celebration of his return.

And that's how God is, that's how he forgives - he forgets, and the angels celebrate upon the true repentance of a sinner. No grudges, just love and forgiveness awaiting. And I know, too, that when things are okay again, I won't even care about the apology, because I'm just waiting, and when you want it back, even if I want you to be sorry and try to make up for the hurt you've caused, I'd have forgiven and forgotten everything already. Instantly. That's the way love works.

I've resolved to put God first in my life. I really mean it - I always mean it, but I never really fulfill it. This time I really want to make things work. I know that in all the tumult of life, He is the only one being that stays constant. Our church is going to be reading the New Testament together: 4 chapters every day and we'll all finish in time for Candlelight Service, 16 Dec. I do hope I keep to this plan. I'm not sure about sticking to it during the A Levels, but I'll make up for it if I don't. I've learnt through painful lessons that when I want something that might not be what God knows is best for me, it turns out badly. I want to lift up my life to God now, that whatever I do is what He wants for me, so that they will prosper in His name and He will use me as a beacon of light to shine upon His name.