Monday, March 31, 2014

A to Z challenge

I've decided to try the A to Z challenge in a bid to get myself to write something every day. It runs for the month of April, and every day (except Sundays) you're supposed to write something based on a word which starts with one letter of the alphabet... starting with A and ending with Z. We shall hope it will not be a hangat-hangat tahi ayam thing, which I'm exceedingly good at.

Since the challenge starts tomorrow, and I haven't had time to think of a theme, I'm going to be completely random. Which is pretty much what this blog is all about, anyway. Total randomness.

No clones wanted

Increasingly, I think online dating sites have gotten it all wrong.

See, most of them focus on helping you find someone with common interests. But we have two issues here:

  1. Most people have pretty generic interests (reading, watching movies, travelling) so it doesn't really help in selecting someone from a pool; and
  3. Not only is it possible for me to cultivate an interest in something my partner really likes to do, but people's interests also change over time. I may enjoy travelling now, for example, but after some years I may tire of it and try pottery, instead!

I used to think that when I'm looking for a partner, one of the most crucial criteria should be common interests. Now I no longer think so. Mainly because I realise that while I may not have any fixed sort of exercise regime now, if my partner were into fitness, I would be happy to work out alongside him. People can change and adapt. It doesn't all need to be in place from the get-go.

Plus the fact that while I do think it's important to share some commonalities with a partner, I think it's healthy to have your own interests and do your own thing apart from him, too. I don't think ALL our interests need to be similar. Perhaps one or two major ones should be, so that we would be able to do some activities together (and enjoy doing them together). But by and large, I'm not too worried about us possibly liking different things.

Dating coach Evan Marc Katz confirmed this line of thought for me in this blog post, where he said we should look for a complement, not a clone:

    This may not come naturally to you, especially if you’re a smart, strong, successful woman who thinks that you “deserve” a man who is smarter, stronger, and more successful than you are.
    Essentially, you’re trying to date yourself, with a penis.
    That kind of thinking is a huge blind spot for many women.
    If you’re out working 60 hours a week, you don’t need a guy who does the same. You might need a guy who is your complement, a supporter, a nurturer, your biggest fan who is your strength when the going gets tough. He makes you laugh. He listens to you. He gets you.

He further adds that "Your biggest problem is not who you are inside. It’s your picker," because the man you're looking for or trying to find is probably not the right one for you. "When you choose someone with a complementary energy, the puzzle pieces just fit and the whole thing becomes easy."

By and large, I think that personality matters more than activities, hobbies and interests. When I try to mesh my life with a guy's, it's our personalities which will determine how we truly get along, not our common interests. And even with personality, I'm going to need someone who complements me. As this other writer suggests, you need someone who is able to sort of balance you out a bit (just as you'll balance him) and provide some sort of challenge and excitement just by being different and encouraging you to try things you might never otherwise have thought of doing.

So I really do think all the dating websites have gotten it wrong. Compatibility is not about sameness or similarities. It's not about finding someone who is your mirror, or your clone. It's about finding someone who complements you. Now for the million-dollar question: how to go about finding someone like that?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Walk in your identity

"The real reason we avoid time with God", the title read.

The truth is that we have too narrow a view of what it is like to spend time with God. We think in terms of reading the Bible, praying, going to church. On the other hand, we have been taught that God is omnipresent; He's with us everywhere we go. We cannot ever outrun His presence. As the psalmist wrote, "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there" (Ps 139:8).

We fail to see the dichotomies in our own thinking. If God is everywhere, if He is always with us, if we can never stray from His presence, are we not then spending time with God at every moment?!

What is needed is not to "spend more time with God", as I often hear many guilt-ridden Christians whisper. It is to become aware of Him and His presence in our daily lives. To know that whatever the circumstance or situation, He is there.

For too long we have been chased by the guilt of not doing enough and not being enough, when the fact is we have been accepted by God just as we are, and cannot earn His love or grace or mercy. I know I have often felt guilty for not praying enough, not reading the Bible enough, not evangelising enough, not being involved in missions (or even wanting to be involved in missions). It has to stop.

This is false guilt, keeping us bound in a performance trap. How much is 'enough'? You can pray for an hour a day, but there are those who pray for two. You may read the Bible every day, but only spend 10 minutes on it, while others linger for half an hour. Why are we comparing ourselves to everyone else? Where in the Bible do you see Jesus or any of the apostles setting any such standards?

The writer of the article states that we tend to slip into legalism, yet doesn't realise that she herself is still bound by the legalistic thinking of having to do certain things, and do them enough. She talks about how we should want to spend time with God because we should want to strengthen our relationship with Him. She says, "You can’t really get in quality time with God by just getting up five minutes earlier than usual. You’re going to have to intentionally set aside some time in order to really dig in." It's all about doing, doing, doing.

We've gotten it all wrong. Life with God is about being. It's in who you ARE. You are God's child. You are loved beyond all reason. You are accepted just as you are. You have been created in His image, fashioned with care. We have to learn to live in the knowledge of who we are. Embrace this identity. Know what it means to be called a child of God. Be aware that He is with us throughout the day. That with every thought, every whisper in our heart, every word spoken, we're communicating with Him, because He's there, and He hears us.

Of course I'm not saying that it's not important to read the Bible, or go to church, or set aside time for more formal or deeper prayer. But I'm saying that we should not look at these things as yardsticks to measure -- consciously or unconsciously -- how spiritual, faithful, or close to God we are. What a "good Christian" we are. Because we haven't been called to be "good Christians". We have been called to be children of God, and to love Him.

Think about the way you relate to your parents. You are always connected to them, no matter where you go, and you always walk around in the knowledge that this connection exists. You can't sever that from your consciousness because it's part of your core identity, from the time you were in your mother's womb, and later when you first learnt the words "mama" and "papa", or "mummy" and "daddy" (or whatever you call your parents). You may not live with your parents, in fact you may even live very far away from them; but in your heart, they are present, and your knowledge of them, the fact that you know they are somewhere out there in the world, affects your thoughts, words, and deeds, for good or ill. You remember what they have taught you, the values you've been brought up with... you do go home to spend some time with them, or call them up to connect with them, but when you aren't doing that, the connection and consciousness is still very much there.

That's how it should be with God.