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Saturday, August 13, 2005

What Price?

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What price, my body?

I recently encountered a few comments about my physique. It reminded me of what young children use to do in schools. For a child who is on the heavier side, he/she would often end up being the butt of his classmates’ jokes. They will be called various names associated with animal kingdom. For the lightness of a being, like me, our fate is no better. We get objects inspired name. As far as name calling goes, the more creative the names gets, the uglier the language, the more pain it inflicts.

So it is no wonder why beauty treatments, or rather aesthetic science as it is called nowadays are gaining in popularity. Someone asked a very good question recently, “why is it that Aesthetic doctors gets paid more than doctors that saved lives?”

Whatever happened to beauty is skinned deep?

I guess people just didn’t believe it anymore. I didn’t know that botox treatment is available to common folks like me. Until recently, Madonna no longer have the exclusivity of a good thing. Wrinkles, freckles, sagged skinned, too big, too small, too tall, too short. From cosmetic folks, to spa boutiques, gym, aesthetic science and even some religion are positioning themselves as the godess of beauty. Gone are your beauty woes, seek them and be beautiful. The idea that I look beautiful, therefore feel beautiful seem to appeal to both male or female alike.

I am a victim

Since “rebonding” (a technique that straightens curlyy hair were out), everyone went wild over it, especially those who were borne with unruly hair. I am one of them. I went for it, and experiened a momentous slick straight hair. The moment of turning my head felt so divine. Believe it or not, I instantly felt beautiful!
I suppose, the only excuse I can find is that we Asians just do not know how to appreciate natural curls, or it could be that as human beings, we’re just so dissatisfied with ourselves. I did my rebonding, but 6mths later, my stylist commented that I should cut it and let my natural curls spill. It was a tough one for me. I felt that since rebonding, I no longer have to care how my hair went each time I step out of the house. To be specific, I don’t even comb my hair anymore!

However, after rounds of persistent nudgings by my stylist, I finally caved in. She layered it, so my natural curls revealed itself. Fact of the matter is, I never knew I could love my hair the way it was created. It dawned on me that my creator is a pretty good artist himself. So why doubt his workmanship? I guessed God made us different not just so we look different, but so we have strengths and weakness that can complement and support the others in the community. He made us different so that we can learn to love those who are different, including ourselves.

If not beauty, then what?

Since beauty seems to be closely related to parts of our anatomy to a certain extent, I would like to think that the biggest culprit is our eyes. Our eyes are prone to wander. They look at objects of beauty and led our heart to believe that for all things to qualify “beautiful”, it has to follow that ‘benchmark’ or ‘standard’. Hence we judge others and ourselves on the same. Sometimes we are harsher on others, sometimes harsher still on ourselves.

So we see people rushing to go under knives, or to invest a huge sum of money for a complete make-over. Surely the motivation must be pretty major. Underneath the need to be beautiful may very well lie a desire to be transformed, to be accepted, to be admired, to be loved. Well, to me the motivation seems common enough, I guess everyone who is a human being needed that.

The question is, “can we actually ‘buy’ acceptance by going under the knife, or pouring thousands into making ourselves look good? I tend to be a little more skeptical in this. Are we trying to gain the acceptance and love of people who are superficial or are we insulting the intelligence of those whom we think will accept us based on how we look? If I am going under the knife or ‘invest’ thousands of dollars, I want to make sure that the goods I get are genuine and so are its functionality. I certainly don’t want something that looks good outside but faulty on the same inside.

The fact of the matter is that beneath that layer of skin or the body that we see everyday lies a very very precious thing call the heart. Come to think of it, our eyes has so convincingly lead our heart by the nose … literally, to believe that acceptance has got everything to do with our body and nothing to do with our heart. A picture of acceptance captured my heart so often is when I take the bus. I see parents holding their babies with such love and adoration even though their babies look so helpless, are pesky or disobedient at times. The picture reminds me of our heavenly father. Some of us may not have perfect figure or perfect physique, some of us may be handicap. But like a parent, God is a fair God, he accepts and loves us JUST THE WAY WE ARE. Isn’t that such a freedom truth? Isn’t that unmerited favour? Doesn’t that include everyone? Wow!

Think about it, such acceptance will even make beauty cheap isn’t it? Because to me, if the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings of the universe had already loved and accepted me regardless of how I look, why would I still be chasing after the love of mere mortals? Wouldn’t that be cheapening the love that God has freely gave?
Someone once said, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of you, what matters is that you mean the world to someone. And that someone is the Majestic God who created the universe and created you and me.

Piano & me

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I was fasting today and God showed me something slightly after, as I was reading the chapter on “the power of acceptance”, God showed me again how I fear failure because of my weakness. It was in line with the theme God was revealing to me last wk, I believe the work is not complete and he is still revealing in me on this particular issue.

Last keyboard lesson I was faced with much pressure as it took me about 2 weeks to master a certain rhythm. I feel quite inadequate compared to the rest of the class as they all seemed to catch everything so quickly. So for the last 2 wks, the usual me who will rush home to practice everyday after a new song, took many days off from practicing, mainly as I felt too discouraged to pick it up. I began to have doubts in my mind, feeling that I was inadequate, feeling that I’ve never been very good at anything I do. And God took the wks of experience to purge many weakness I have. I realized that I have been trapped in a mindset since young that I have to be the top of the class in everything I do. I rose very young to be the first lead child singer for a then SBC drama program, I passed every audition with flying colours, actually as far as I remember, it was effortless as well. I lapped up praises from adults and peers alike. After which, in my early teens I failed in one singing competition and I never sang anymore. It broke my heart. A media mentioned of the falling of a child prodigy made a big dent in my life. I couldn’t eat for a day. At 10years old, my dream of being a singer dashed. At 12, I picked up another hobby and began to win competitions here and there. But I never broke through in my fear of failing.

In our life, we win some, we lose some, and then there’s the in-between. Even the knowledge of this could only help us to comprehend the workings of the world superficially. Now, some 19 years later, God probed again. When Holy Spirit works, he gently but surely purge from deep within our souls, because in the beginning he was the word, the word which is his truth sets us free.

Let me continue my story. I was whispering a song on the holy spirit and he spoke to me. God was not looking for perfect people, he was looking for faithful people. I must say, for someone who is not gifted in discipline, whether it is perfect or faithful, these may seem like an insurmountable mountain.

But the Grace of God provides where we ourselves cannot. Throughout the years, God himself helped me greatly in the area of discipline. I had learnt to be faithful despite my feelings, despite the circumstances. Travelling on the same path faithfully and diligently is a result of faith which God has planted and watered in my heart, causing it to grow over time. It did not come easy, and it did not come instantly. Now I am blessed with a husband, gifted in discipline and thus faithfulness that comes with it. I continue to learn from him on this journey of being faithful.

Because I am a creative kid, I am like what most Singaporean parents would say “stupid” in this academic craze world. It was not possible to think I am smart and then not feel smart, because the whole equation just doesn’t work! God revealed to me the weakness he placed in people is for us to depend on him, and not for us to look down upon. I also understood if I could not accept the grace and acceptance that God had offered to me, I could not accept myself or be gracious to myself for my own weakness and hence unto others as well. So it is so with whatever un-christlike way people treat one another, it is because they themselves are first trapped in the same way, that they subconciously expect others to be “trapped” like them.

Most of us, because of our weakness, we try harder. Basically we miss the freedom perspective that Jesus so freely gives us. Now I know that even if I am given a set of poor memory and the lack of a mathematical mind, the greatest thing is that I have a Big God I can depend on. Since I am married, I might give this perspective as well. Just because our spouse may be gifted in the area that we’re not does not give us the excuse to depend on him alone. God’s intention is that we can first depend on the holy spirit and experience the freedom that his truth brings. My husband is gifted both with excellent memory and a sharp mathematical mind, whereas for me, I can rest assured that creativity is not a bad word. I am just a child soaked in an abundant grace of God. What I cannot do, I can because Jesus lives in me. When I am weak, I am strong! How powerful is that?

Plasma TV

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Heard of the quickest evolution ever taken place? Or the most subtle invasion into your wallet and self-esteem? Welcome to the well-known, unknown world of technology and its gadgets. If it thrills, your wallet spills, whatever speeds, it also whizzes. A million tech gadgets out there and even current ones being manufactured can vouch for it. Yep, they’re borne with a snazzy personality, slick skinned and are cool in more ways than one can ever imagined. Look at how people light up whenever they hold a new gadget. Yet for a less than 12 mths infatuation later, or some lesser, they’re into something new, something more snazzy than the first, saved for some whose pocket has been busted since they sacrificed for their love at first sight. Sour grapes who turned mister miser overnite would say, oh well, I have enough of a good thing. Anyway I don’t need it. Indeed, all that glitters are saved for those with a reservoir –sized of “disposable income” – loosely translated “can be given away anytime for anything”.

A look at what we had or need previously 10 or 20 years ago versus what we “need” now. Technology gadgets today are feeding the emptiness of a soul more than an empty household. Who needs a plasma screen unless one is severely myopic. And even if one is so, it would be hilarious to think of enlarging everything around just to be able to see! Honestly, just who are we kidding? With the ooohs and aaahhhs and rave reviews of what people would be reduce to without the most up-to-date gadgets, it is a wonder we don’t see gadgets sitting on the altar. Perhaps the altar is one that is unseen, but nonetheless it exists right inside a men’s soul! Enslaved by tech gadgets is an understatement. If tech gadgets could stretch out and hug us, it would easily be our next-of-kin. Guess how much time we spent with it, opps! Does it go by gender, or pet name? Perhaps it is by some strange satisfaction of being able to accomplish a task or a function that we feel a little more elevated than mere human beings. It puts us on par with … er… machines?

Statistics shows that more children are spending more time in front of the play station, or own handheld games. The numbers in the adult category are similarly gaining in numbers. No human beings should go on a strictly no tech gadgets diet, in my opinion. But there lies the “soul” distinction of who calls the shots. Interestingly tech gadgets as they are so affectionately called do have the ability to cause addiction. It lives to this date, much to the hilarity and excitement of inventors to be able to create a cult following, purely challenging and pushing the boundaries of human capabilities and the limited time-space on this earth. Tech gadgets has the ability to take one out of boundaries, explore the unexplorable and make what is impossible a possibility.

As if the mind-boggling functions and features are not enough to cause us to think that we are more powerful that we think. Owning it certainly brings that association closer to the heart, or some might think, a reality. Let’s go beyond what a handphone might do nowadays compared to the ones in the first generation.
Owning a super duper handphone that looks close to a handheld spaceship certainly does wonders for your self-esteem. I wouldn’t claim a culture of shopaholics these days, rather a generation of frail & starved souls. Ownership is a big thing, it has the tendency to feel like an extended part of your being and therefore the sense of ability thereof. Strange creatures we are, but true.