I like the way the sun falls on my skin. The shadows that wrap around are also captivating. It seems to make even the smallest things meaningful.
She’s like a sponge!
This is what my mum would say when she told others how quickly I had picked up English. Though I still had my struggles, my young brain hurriedly absorbed the new language, culture and customs to keep me afloat.
I used to smile proudly whenever mum said this, as it seemed like a compliment. It made me feel like I was gifted.
I felt like I was gifted when people noticed me as I sang. I felt like I was gifted when they noticed my poems and stories, when they clapped after I had spoken on stage, when they gave me certificates at school.
But soon enough, I began to doubt. Many around me showed what it meant to be truly gifted and I couldn’t help but despair after endlessly comparing myself to them.
I know now that everyone has their own sets of insecurities and miseries that rise from them. But I lost track in counting mine. I could see that I was indeed a sponge, full of holes through and through.
Around the time I struggled with my inadequate talents, everything else about me seemed just as flawed. No matter how many layers of makeup or fancy clothes I would put on, I could never regard the girl in the mirror to be “pretty enough”.
My faith and my relationships also broke apart during this time and I thought everything was entirely my fault. There seemed to be nothing I could find attractive about myself, so when people walked away, I couldn’t blame them.
I set up resolutions, printed out motivating posters, wrote in my journal and did everything I could to be a better version of myself. I wanted to be a better sister, daughter, friend, Christian, student, a better person. But I was never good enough to fill in any of the categories.
I lost my temper way too quickly, was never smart enough or strong enough to continue marking my habit trackers.
Binge eating habits got the worst of me as I desperately sought for comfort in the short and hidden indulgences at night. Depressive thoughts and emotions slithered in, filling my hollow heart entirely.
No matter how much I tried to sweep them away, I would never be able to completely destroy them. Their eggs I had missed would slowly hatch and devour me instantly.
As I look back, I can only say that it was entirely by the grace and mercy, love and patience of my good God I was able to heal this much.
Though I still suffer from my old thoughts and habits from time to time, I can now say with confidence that nothing can separate me from the love of my Father (Romans chapter 8, verse 38). His amazing peace surpasses my anxieties and sorrows always.
But I must say that it took quite a few years for me to come this far. It wasn’t easy at all. I want to share one of the biggest truths that brought me here, which can be found in one of the apostle Paul’s letters.
Here, he talks of what he calls his “thorn” – “…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 7-9a).
What a statement! Whatever this thorn was, it had greatly pained him and three times the most patient and humble apostle begged for a release. Yet, the only answer God gave him was that He had given Paul enough. But he also adds that God’s power is made perfect in his weakness.
The latter message was surely what gave Paul the encouragement and strength he had needed. This truth was so great that he was now even glad in his sufferings –
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 9b-10)
What a God!
Who would ever tell us that our ugly imperfections are perfect? What kind of god would ever say that it is in our weakness he gets the most glory from?
I had always known about this message, but only when I was in my deepest agony was I able to grasp it fully.
I had always wanted to feel accepted, belonged, loved but with the way I was and how I viewed myself, I thought this would be impossible. I was ashamed at my shortcomings and didn’t believe I would ever be happy with me. I constantly sought to change and improve myself and felt hopeless whenever I failed.
But here was God telling me that I was fine.
I was fine
Oh, how free I felt when I heard Him say this. He was telling me all along, but I guess I never truly heard Him.
Only when His love melted my stone-cold heart, could I see that He loved me just the way I was and exactly because He knew I was weak, He died for me in my place. He loved me when I was still a sinner and loved me the same even now (Romans chapter 5 verse 8).
What’s more, He was telling me He wanted to use my weaknesses. What I wanted to hide and get rid of, He wanted to use for His glory.
Like the Sun that shines on even the smallest things and makes them look beautiful, God illuminated in me and He wanted to shine through me. The Creator of the Sun, the Most Holy of holies, the Most Perfect One was calling me to be His light (Matthew chapter 5, verse 14).
Because I am as porous as a sponge, God’s brilliance fills and dazzles. My countless holes are made whole in His glow and mysterious power.
Therefore, I will boast greatly in my weaknesses – though I am never pretty enough, kind enough, faithful enough, smart enough or good enough, because of this great God, I am enough.
That is enough.
Sunny is as a weak as a broken reed, a flickering candle. But Abba God shows His abundant mercy again and again by incredibly loving this hopeless being. Soli deo Gloria.