Yay, I finally got a working blog page navigation thingy on my revamped blog. Woohoo! On the downside, it somehow or another has resulted in my entire list of buddies blogs to disappear. Ugh. I'm too lazy to work on filling up that list right now. I just wanna blog.
Last Friday I went to a cell group (which is now officially called LifeNet Groups in my church, but that always reminds me of LNG, i.e. liquid natural gas, and that kinda cracks me up) for the 1st time in a few weeks. Some things going on in my cell group, resulting in it being disbanded so I am now in another cell group, although these days I don't really feel like going anymore for reasons that I will explain somewhere along the way here.
But I went to cell on Friday anyhow, and the topic of discussion was the famous Psalm 23. And so the leader tells us that we're supposed to read the whole psalm, then think about which line of the psalm taught us something, explain why and also share how we could apply whatever it is we 'learned' to our lives. We were given about 5 minutes to read through and think about what we wanted to say. So for 5 whole minutes the group was pin-drop silent while we read through but I'm sure our brains were all frantically thinking of something reasonably intelligent to say if we were asked. Fortunately I actually did think of something to say, although it wasn't so much on how that verse could be made applicable to my life. I kinda misunderstood what we were supposed to do as I was thinking we were just supposed to share about our thoughts on that verse that 'hit' us, and I was the first one to share my thoughts, so I didn't have a chance to correct myself.
The line that struck me most was the first line of Psalm 23:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want"
I just found out that other versions of the Bible translate the 2nd part as "I lack nothing" or "I have all that I need", which wouldn't have invoked similar thoughts in me, coz' the part that kinda boggled me was the whole idea of not wanting anything. Coz' I don't think it's really humanly possible to not want anything. People always want something, whether it's new stuff, a relationship, good exam results, a promotion, a feeling of gratification... heck, even a suicidal person with no hope wants to die. How the heck does someone not ever want anything?
Then I was reminded of a conversation I had before with a Buddhist friend. This was not the type of Buddhist who worshipped little statues or gave altar offerings... he never bothers with any of that. The only reason why he calls himself a Buddhist is coz' he accepts the teachings of Buddhism, one of which he explained to me and I found quite interesting, was that in order to attain true happiness/bliss, we have to learn to not want. The reason for this is because our desire for something is usually the same thing that causes us grief or unhappiness.
He gave an example of a guy he knows... a rich guy who earns a comfy five-figure salary every month...more than what most people earn in a year. You'd think this guy would be very happy... but far from it. He's always unhappy and complaining that he doesn't earn enough money...but the thing is this guy doesn't even spend the money. He just earns a hoopla of dough every month and keeps it away, spending most of his time making more money rather than enjoying what he has made. For him, he only wants to make the money. That's where he gets his kick, and he has a goal of how much he wants to make. But for someone like him, even if he does reach his 'target' salary, he STILL won't be happy... because then he'll just continue wanting more. And he'll never be happy because of it.
But letting go of our 'wants' doesn't apply only material things, my friend explained. He also gave the example of his mother, whose favourite son is my friend's eldest brother. Unfortunately the eldest brother has never shown much appreciation for his mother, although she has helped take care of his children, cook food for his family, etc, etc. And because she wants to receive some form of appreciation from him but never gets it, she always complains about it and feel dejected. My friend simply advises her that if she wants to continue to dot on her son and his children, she should do so without expecting anything in return, since it only causes her grief.
So I shared this little conversation with my Buddhist friend with the cell group... and at the end of it I said that it was an interesting teaching, but Psalm 23 goes further. Coz' it not only tells us that by having God in our lives, we will no longer want (or need) anything... but at the end of the psalm, it also says "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life". And so Psalm 23 tells us that God not only provides us with what we need and make us not 'want', but goes even further by providing us with love. And that's one up on Buddhism (with full respect to my Buddhist friends).
The truth is, I said all that coz' it was a nice comfy text-book answer... but honestly I would have had so much more to say on the topic of 'wanting' that would have been much less fine and dandy, but I would have been opening a can of worms, most likely giving my cell leader a headache and potentially raising doubts in the others about their faith, which would have been BAD. This is part of the reason why I kinda lost my steam for cell group. I find it unconducive for asking difficult questions coz' either no one can really answer (or at least give some good opinions as food for thought), or I worry how the difficult questions will affect the faith of others. But I like opening up cans of worms. >:)
DISCLAIMERRRR: If you are a new Christian / Christian who doesn't like hearing difficult questions about your faith and just think all Christians should just have blind and not ask such silly things, please stop reading now. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Listening to my Buddhist friend, I thought that the concept of being happy by learning not to want really made a lot of sense to me. I don't consider myself a person of high ambition and wanting a lot of new stuff... but nevertheless, there are some things, as in inmaterial things, that I do want. I wanted something so much that I have prayed for God to provide it (and I don't plan on sharing what it is here, coz' a girl needs her secrets. ;)). But after such a long time of not getting what I prayed for, I ended up being disappointed. I know that I'm not supposed to treat God like a Santa Claus, asking Him for stuff and kicking up a rebellious fuss if I don't get what I want. But I do think that want I asked for was a good thing... you know... in line with his will or whatever, coz' in a way it would hopefully have helped me grow in my faith as well.
The unfortunate result has been that now I try not to ask for anything when I pray now. I still pray in other ways... thanking God for a blessings, talking to Him when I need to bitch about something but I don't want to tell people, etc, etc. But asking Him for anything now is difficult for me... just coz' I don't want to be disappointed if I don't get what I prayed for. I absolutely abhore that feeling of disappointment, whether it's due to people or God. I would almost say I have a fear of disappointment, which has led to me developing a 'fear' of having too close relationships. It's not a good thing, I know, but shit happens.
Even then, I still do pray every now and then for something, with some sort of miniscule hope that it will happen, even though Christians always say that when we pray, we should believe in complete faith that it will happen, but I really can't do that coz' I also believe that God can up and decide that what we asked for is not the best for us and just not give us what we asked for. And voila, my complete faith would be completely crushed coz' on the surface level, it seems God decided to take my prayer request and shove it in the backburner.
Now my prayer is more along the lines of "Please God, provide for me what I ask for, but if You don't plan to do so, then please God, take away my desire for this thing I'm asking for so at least I don't feel so crappy". Even then, my prayer for request no. 2 is still not answered and I still feel like crap for not getting what I'm asking for.
That in turn has brought up the question in my mind... did God decide not to take away my desire for this thing I really want, but am not getting, because:
A) He insists on not doing everything for me so I have to figure out how to deal with it myself which helps me develop 'character'
B) He doesn't have the power to take away my desire ~(:O)
C) He wouldn't take away my desire because He created humans to have free will and removing my desire is akin to removing part of my free will
D) He derives some for of entertainment in watching me pine away for something I can't get
Ok, I'm not that serious about the last one, but the thought does pop into mind after a while.
Nevertheless, if there's one thing I believe I have never lacked in, it's hope. I still hope for the thing that I want, and even though I do get disappointed and have a beef with God sometimes, that hope keeps my desire, and my faith in God, somewhat afloat.
Well hey, I ended with a somewhat feel-good note. That wasn't too bad eh. :P Here some lolcats to make u smile.