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Tunes for Tuesday – Doubt

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Doubt is something that I have struggled with for a very long time. In many ways, I still struggle with it to this very day. It’s hard not to doubt yourself. It seems as if the whole world is against you. My world tells me that I’m not skinny enough, I’m not good-looking enough, I’m not white enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not Christian enough, I’m not *insert anything here*. It can be very crippling at times. You don’t want to make a mistake and that fear of making a mistake can be so paralyzing.

It is amidst that background that I want to share this song with yall. It’s a song that perfectly encapsulates things that I have felt… and want to feel in the future! I may have struggled with doubts in the past (heck, even to the present!) but I would really like my future to be doubt-free! I am thankful for friends who continually encourage me to see myself in the way that they see me. I am grateful that I have people in my life who are willing to say the hard things I need to hear so I can be a better person. I am glad that I have loved ones who tell me that I’m good enough… and not only good enough, but that I’m great and that I should never forget that.

It’s hard not to settle for lesser things because you have this feeling at the very core of your being that you are probably not going to amount to much so you might as well settle for anything… or anyone… who comes your way because that’s the best you’re going to get anyways. It’s hard to believe that you will amount to something when you have always felt that you are a colossal failure… someone who is barely keeping it together. So many times, I have felt like I am barely hanging by a thread. I could not fake one more smile when all I wanted to do was curl into a little ball and cry my eyes out.  When the doubts overwhelm me to the point of apathy, I am reminded that somehow, someway, somewhere along the way, I have believed a lot of lies about myself and that I need to let go of the lies so I could live in my truth. The truth is, I am loved with an everlasting love by a heavenly Father who knows my name and cares for me. I am loved by people all over the world who somehow sees the best in me even when I couldn’t see it.

The battle to overcome our doubts and fear of failure is an ongoing one. I hope this song can encourage you in the journey to release yourself from lies and walk in the truth that you are loved.

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New Year, New Me?

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2017 has come upon us. I remember January 1 as if it was just yesterday. I was full of hope, full of expectations, full of the thrill of the unknown. I really wanted this year to be different from last year. 2016 was not the best year for me. It was full of stress… well, more stress than usual. I found myself in a mental and spiritual space that was not the best. It was suffocating, it was unnerving, it was challenging. I isolated myself from others because… well, because I found it easier to stop caring. I’m an extraverted person and I definitely put myself out there. I care about others and as much as possible, I try to support others especially when they’re going through a difficult time. But there comes a point when you realize that when it is your turn to need help, it seems as if there is no one there. No one’s got my back, so to speak. Of course, this may, or may not be the actual case. I wouldn’t want to categorically say that I didn’t have friends who tried to reach out to me or were supportive during this time. However, perception is reality. Unfortunately, this was the reality I lived in.

As time progressed, I definitely got out of that horrible space. I was happy to be rid of 2016, with all of its hurts and pains. I was ready to shed the old Sid and was preparing for the new Sid of 2017.

Not even a fortnight and I seem to be back in the same, old patterns. In some ways, I’m not surprised. It’s a bit ridiculous and overly optimistic to think that the simple passage of time will bring about the necessary changes in my life. Maybe 2017 is the year of acceptance. I need to accept who I am (whatever that means!) and that whatever answer I find to that question, that I would know that I am accepted and loved by me. I think most of my life has been about trying to find love in all the wrong places. I want to be loved by others. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, there is something fundamentally wrong about not being able to love yourself.

Loving one’s self has been an arduous and tumultuous journey. I don’t know why it’s easy for me to look past other people’s flaws and failures, but can’t seem to let go of my own. I think it’s easier for me to believe that no one can love me than to believe the opposite. There are times when I would be walking and unintentionally catch the reflection of myself in the mirror and wonder why I’m still around. I feel like a waste of space… that my very being is consuming precious oxygen that should probably go to someone else who is more worthy or deserving of it than me. Or, that my physical appearance is so ugly or my voice is such a torture to be heard by those around me that I wonder why they tolerate my presence. Sometimes, I even wish that I was anorexic or bulimic so that I could have a skinnier body so that I don’t have to hear one more negative comment about my weight from family and friends. Trust me, I know how destructive these thoughts are… and how they are lies that I choose to believe. But when you are constantly fighting to believe the good about your self, it’s a little bit easier to go back to your default mode of self-loathing and self-hatred.

Here’s hoping that 2017 will be the year that I can learn how to truly love my self. I want to be able to see myself through the lens of my friends who have told me how smart I am, how kind I am, how amazing I am, or how good-looking I am. (Apparently, I made it to a friend’s top ten list hahaha) Most importantly, I want to be able to see myself through the lens of a Father who loves me and cares for me. He sees me as the apple of His eye and someone who is a co-heir of Christ. He sees me as someone who is precious in His sight.

I’m not going to lie, I am a bit skeptical that I will get that far. But, at the very least, I’m going to make the important baby step to move forward in that direction.

Let’s do this, 2017!

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Back to School

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It’s weird to think that I’m entering my fourth year of Ph.D. studies. I feel like it was only yesterday when I was starting this journey full of hope, dreams, nervousness, anxiety, trepidation and excitement. It’s one of those moments where you are just stunned that you’re actually living the dream. You’ve dreamt of this moment and now it’s finally here and you are in it and it is just so dang surreal. Questions of how did I get here and am I good enough to make it swirl in your head. The answers shall reveal themselves in due time. But for now, all you have is the now and it is intoxicatingly refreshing.

Four years later, fatigue takes over and one feels like almost fainting. The end is both so near and yet so far. I have realized things about myself that I haven’t known before. I am amazed at the opportunities I have been given and it is truly astounding to me that I get to do what I do. I remember guest lecturing at a class taught by my supervisor and seeing faces that I have gotten to know during the school year and I’m thinking how in the world did I get here? Am I actually standing here and teaching these students? Recently, my paper was accepted for SBL (Society for Biblical Literature) and I will be heading to San Antonio, Texas this November to present my paper. And I’m struck yet again by that question of how did I get here? You go to these conferences and you look around and you see all these presenters and wonder if you’ll ever get to that point in your own academic career when you’ll be the one presenting at these fancy conferences… and then next thing you know, you’re doing exactly just that.

I have also been able to meet and develop friendships that have changed me. I’m thankful for my workout buddies who have played such an instrumental role in my consistency in going to the gym these last two years. I’m thankful for roommates who have given me the opportunity to practice patience and mercy lolz I’m thankful for family and friends who have seen the journey that I am in and have chosen to walk alongside me to encourage me and strengthen me. I am truly amazed at how blessed I am to know and have so many stand up people in my life.

About five years ago, I had coffee with my supervisor and asked him if he was willing to take me in as one of his doctoral students. You always hope for a yes but until you ask, you don’t know what they will say. Thankfully, he said yes and the rest, as they say, is history. (If you didn’t get that joke, I don’t even know if you know me at all!) I wouldn’t be where I am today without his supervision and encouragement. It’s great to know someone is on your side and will be there to support you and champion you, instead of trying to make your life a living hell. I’ve heard horrible stories with grad students and their supervisors… it is tough out there if you feel like you have to compete with your supervisor.

I’m truly thankful that I get to do what I get to do. I know I complain and grumble a lot about the amount of work I have to do. However, amidst the difficulties, I realize and acknowledge how truly blessed I am to be able to do what I am doing. Four years later, I’m still the same student who walked into Orientation Day, somewhat dazed and confused, wondering what the future holds. I have no clue what tomorrow may bring but I do know Who holds my tomorrow. And for that I am eternally thankful.

 

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2016 – The Year of Going Back to the Basics

Hello 2016. It’s me. I was wondering if we can have a brief talk about how things are going to be this time around. 2015 wasn’t exactly the best. Situations I never thought would happen happened. Feelings that I thought were gone reminded me that they were still lingering. I managed to surprise myself, and I don’t think I mean that in a good way. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom either. Started going back to the gym regularly thanks to awesome gym buddies. Realizing to a greater extent what “love covers a multitude of sins” means. Affirmed by my supervisor that I’m doing well. It was a story of ups and downs.

This year, I want to go back to the basics. Somehow, life got really complicated. I want to go back to a simpler time when things were less confusing and I knew what was going on. A huge part of that is finding my inner center and working on living out my true self. While many people have different ways to achieve this, for me, this means finding my identity in Christ and learning who I am in Christ. It means making sure that I’m reading the Scriptures on a daily basis and taking the time to meditate on His Word and spending time in prayer. In the busy-ness of life, it can be easy to let these spiritual practices go to the wayside, but it is when things are at its craziest that I actually really need to make sure that I am engaging in these soul refreshing activities. I want to develop a sleeping routine that allows me to be able to get the sleep I need so that I can have the energy I need for the hectic day ahead of me. I want to develop a work routine that allows me to get my job done but also allows me the rest I need. I want to make sure that my Sunday is a complete day off from work. I need to be reminded that I’m a human being and not a machine, so I need to treat my body with caution and care. I want to read books that I don’t have to read, but want to read on a variety of topics. I want to read for the pure pleasure of reading!

At the end of the day, I cannot control what will happen to me. Nor is it healthy for me to try and control everything in my life. The only thing I can control is myself… and that is something I haven’t been really good at doing. I want to learn greater self-control. I don’t want to be mastered by my emotions; I want to master my emotions! I want everything I do to be intentional rather than simply being reactionary. I just want to be a better me. So here we go 2016… let’s get this year of new blessings and new opportunities started!

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When Worlds Collide: Doing Theology within a Community

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This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the Pappas Patristic Institute’s summer program as a Teaching Fellow in training. We had the option of choosing from a number of available courses so I decided to go with “Theodore the Studite and post-Chalcedonian Christologies” (taught by Dr. Thomas Cattoi) and “The Problem of Evil in the Writings of the Fathers” (taught by Dr. David Goodin). It was a great experience of studying and examining the primary sources as a community of learners and students.

One of the difficulties of studying theology within a community is the problem of pride: We all think that we are right in our particular understanding of an author or their work. This type of attitude is not conducive to learning, much less practicing the art of humility. Doing theology within a community can become problematic because it forces us to realize that others’ interpretation may be in stark contrast against our own interpretation. There is a tendency to become incredibly defensive and sometimes, downright hostile in certain situations. Trust me. I know. I have seen it time and time again. “I am right and that’s all there is to it” becomes our primary exegetical tool. There is no room for diversity of thought nor is there room for multiple interpretations. The desire to maintain a level of orthodoxy becomes an excuse to display arrogance and condescension masked in “spiritual” form. Sometimes I wonder if it truly is the “zeal of the Lord” that consumes them or their “zeal to be in the right.” In the way they act, there surely isn’t a lot of godly attributes to be seen and heard.

Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why I really enjoyed my time as a Teaching Fellow in training. It was great to hear so many diverse opinions and interpretations as we delved deeply into the texts that were given to us. And by diverse, I don’t necessarily mean that they were so diametrically opposite from one another… there is diversity even in similarity. What others were saying was not necessarily any different from how I would interpret a certain passage. Instead, they highlighted a different facet, approached it in a different angle than what I am normally accustomed to doing. There is beauty in diversity. It doesn’t mean that the concepts of right and wrong are unnecessarily jettisoned as if they didn’t matter. It just means that we need to be open to understanding things in ways that may seem foreign to us. By doing this, it allows us to think and cogitate about what others are saying rather than reflexively shouting down their ideas.

This summer program also convicted me about the power of leadership in being able to transform others. Through the leadership of the Institute’s director, Dr. Bruce Beck, and the numerous teachers who taught the various courses, we were constantly reminded of the need to struggle with the texts and acquire an attitude of humility and a posture of learning. The teachers were reminded not to take a lecture approach. Instead, we were asked to “come and reason together” à la Isaiah 1:18. As a result, I have come away with a humble heart that is more willing to hear someone out rather than use Scriptural passages as a cudgel to drown out their voice.

Not bad for a week of learning.

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Announcement!

Hi everyone,

My recent article on shame has been published by Bedlam Magazine. Woohoo!!!

Click here to read more about it or visit bedlammag.com.

I would love to hear your thoughts about it. Feel free to comment away =)

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Tunes for Tuesday – October 22, 2013

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Hey everyone,

I cannot believe how blessed I have been in having legit crazy awesome talented friends! I’m so proud to know these amazing guys. If you haven’t heard about Finding Chuck, today is your day! Check out their video below.

Check out their website, like their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter!!!