Culture

Cloudy with a chance of breakthrough

by Fiona Teh // July 30, 2018, 7:16 pm

It looks cloudy from where I stand

Have you been thinking about giving up?

Maybe you don’t actually want to give up, but you can’t help thinking about giving up: On a dream, a job, or a friendship. It gets so tiring, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t help when the voices in our head tell us that we’re lame, or even pathetic, to feel the way we do.

Let’s look down for a moment. Maybe a bunch of fears have gathered in knots too messy to work through, and you don’t even know how it got this bad. And your vision is so clouded from the tears you’ve been crying.

So let’s change the metaphor. If there’s something you just can’t seem to deal with, or is paralysing you with fear – picture it as a 500-pound gorilla that is rattling away in a cage in front of you.

And the best way to deal with this threat is to swing open the door and face it.

“As unique as we all are, an awful lot of us want the same things. We want to shake up our current less-than-fulfilling lives. We want to be happier, more loving, forgiving and connected with the people around us.” (Brené Brown)

It should be illegal to compare our struggles; we do it ever so often even though it is zero percent beneficial. Our struggles never look the same, so why do we have to be pitted against each other?

Perhaps the law of life is that the things we want are on the other side of a struggle – the fact that we do struggle doesn’t point to ineptness or defect – it simply means a better place does exist.

The good stuff is on the other side of a struggle: We have to struggle with vulnerability in order to learn what love looks like, in order that we look more like love. And sometimes there are 500-pound gorillas to face-off with as we move forward.

Nobody is perfect – and that knowledge is grace in itself. There are gorillas to face, but there is also grace to carry us through.

If I had projected the trajectory of my life solely based on past experiences, I don’t know if I would have kept on hoping, or even kept on going.

And what about faith? A lot of life is lived in faith – complete trust or confidence in someone or something – even if we don’t necessarily identify as people of faith.

We make holiday plans, better ourselves, look forward to the future, and try to make our lives count – but none of us know when it’s all going to be over for us.

The absence of faith will be crippling, and we can’t move forward without it – a sense of trust in the unknown future. And a sense of adventure, I’d add, even if past experiences have given us every reason to stop in our tracks.

“The distance a man has got on his journey is of less consequence than the direction in which his face is turned.” (Alexander Maclaren)

I experienced journey-fatigue very early on, and I wondered from time to time if the things I had gone through just in the first twenty years of my life were “normal” or were they “a bit much”.

But who could I compare my journey with? Who can say what normal is? Is there a sovereign arbiter of justice I can trust?

Life can feel like a long, long journey. But if we’ve learnt to trust the wisdom of those who have gone before – it is short. A mist. A mere breath. Here today and gone tomorrow.

But it isn’t meaningless if we have hope. Real, fruit-bearing hope you can taste and see.

If I had projected the trajectory of my life solely based on past and bad experiences, I don’t know if I would have kept on hoping, or even kept on going.

We need a plan to cut through the momentary fog when the future overwhelms us more than it excites us.

The nature of the future is hiddenness – it is always a “not yet”.  It can be frustrating but it can also be incredibly freeing to know that.

What matters is how we walk into the unknown. If we embrace the future and the potential it holds for freedom, we can release the old, battered wagon that carries paralysing memories of failures and sins.

Holding onto them coerces us onto lesser paths broad enough to accommodate our mistakes yet are ever taking us further away from where we want to be. Watch out for these paths on your map of life: Self-condemnation Road, Hopeless Street, Failure Avenue etc.

“Let the sense of our own weakness ever lead to a buoyant confidence in what we, even we, may become if we will only take the grace we have.” (Alexander Maclaren)

Take the grace we have. Against all odds, tomorrow is a new day. Let’s begin with the premise that this is what we want as people: We want to be happier, more loving, forgiving and connected with the people around us.

Some days are going to be harder, and some days we are going to need help. We need a plan to cut through the momentary fog when the future overwhelms us more than it excites us.

Aim for a moment of clarity and sheer belief – what dare I do if I believed in myself? How dare I love if only I believed I am loved. 

It’s a new day tomorrow. 

And if it’s still looks cloudy from where you stand, I think it’s cloudy with a chance of real breakthrough.

Look up.

Turn your face towards the sun. Feel its warmth. Even in the darkness, know that the sun will rise again tomorrow. That’s what the grace of God is like: Life, hope, and strength for another day.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

About the author

Fiona Teh

Fiona is low-key hilarious, a dog person, and she loves a good chat with strangers – particularly at Yakun. She also believes that everyone should know that they are absolutely worthy of love.