Garden Motif. L’udovit Pitthordt. 1905-1910. 

Dear friends,

How are you faring? Please forgive my silence recently. Due to fatigue and artistic stagnancy, listening to music has felt more cathartic than blogging in the past two months. 

Regarding academics, I’ve settled into the rhythms, the pace of classes and after-school routines, of the second semester. Although the heaviness of workload oscillates, I have (relatively) adjusted to the environment of my school, for which I am incredibly grateful. 

Time, it seems, continues to race, unrestrained(Are we really approaching March?). I experience each moment, each day, yet still cannot grasp the full reality of their transience. How rapidly the moment of a violet sunset or an enlightening discussion is crossed off a calendar, relegated to a memory of the past.

I turned a year older in December, and, while I do not often meditate upon the numerical value of my age, I have sensed the subtle shifts of maturation within me. I feel it in the expansion of my awareness, especially in regards to my self. Like most adolescents, I struggle with questions of identity, of the essences of my being. At times, I’ve wrapped my identity around my productivity, relationships, physicality, and ideas. At other times, I absorbed the emotions of others to the extent that I could not distinguish myself (and my feelings) from that of another, resulting in a marred self-knowledge. Yet, in these past months, God has gently guided me to a deeper understanding of myself. This has arisen from a genuine honesty I have cultivated with myself and him. As I have refrained from suppressing my emotions and intuitions, I have confronted piercing truths, both difficult and beautiful, that have stretched me and provoked thought. I wanted to share three rich truths I’ve been wrestling with these days. 

1. The many masks of pride. It is perilously easy, I have realised, to perform a humble act with pride. As I have volunteered in my school community, I have honed communication, management, and organisational skills. I have established friendships with my peers and experienced joy in serving others. Yet, I have also felt a quiet, brewing sense of resentment. Of a growing hyperfocus on the workload, the appreciation unspoken, and the help unbestowed. I have compared myself to those who do not aid in the work or alleviate the burden, measuring their worth by the number of times they show up to a shift. I have cleaned counters while allowing bitterness to tarnish my mind, assuring myself of my excellence relative to others, longing for someone to validate the energy I had exerted. In the midst of this weary duality, I have felt Jesus touch my heart and gradually redirect my focus. By reflecting on evidences of his compassion and humility found in scripture and his presence, I recognised the pride that had laced my acts of virtue. I recognised how differently Jesus’ humility manifested itself. How he cared for the fundamental needs of others: food, cleanliness, health. How he elevated the lowly — the apathetic and the oppressed. How he served when no man was watching. How he loved without seeking validation. I desire to emulate his humility in the way I serve. 

2. The peace of surrender. I have long struggled with the idea of surrendering to God. I like to feel in control, to maintain order in my life and harmony in my relationships. I often feel the burden of caring. Of ensuring the welfare of my friends, of ensuring my value in the eyes of others, of ensuring I am doing enough. But, as I have come to realise, I cannot control the actions and perceptions of others; I cannot alter their mindsets or feelings; I cannot derive my value from their affirmation. I can only trust in Jesus. Instead of solely focusing on how I can reach out and alter lives, I focus on Jesus. Through relationship with him, he will instill an aroma within me that draws the lost, the hungry, the weary. I need not worry if I am doing enough; he will continue to form me and reveal his good plans in his own time. 

3. I am becoming. A few days, I glimpsed a poster that read: “Becoming is better than being.” ~ Carol S. Dweck. The words emerge in my mind as I reflect upon the beauty of growth. There have been times when I have rejected the necessity of change. In my arrogant ignorance, I thought I had reached a point of comfortable stagnancy; I did not fully realise my faults and, thus, perceived no need for growth. However, I now recognise the beauty of the space of becoming. I see my needs and my sins, but, rather than bury or evade their existence, I have the freedom to repent and continue on, wiser by the grace and truth I have grapsed. I am not static, fettered by shame or self-righteousness. I only grow, ever learning, ever bowing, ever watching, ever bumbling toward the light.

How about you? What have you been thinking about? What are some ways you have been growing?

Do comment down below if you have thoughts. I love to hear from you.

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