Grace and Gratitude

Commonly when we do things for other people, in whatever ways it might be in, we typically want something back. In light of seeing God’s grace (a free gift that we do not deserve) for us through Jesus Christ, Christians have learnt what loving grace is: it is caring for someone else without expecting anything in return. Whether it be saying something encouraging, giving someone a present, giving someone a lift or spending time for someone, we know that it is real genuine love if we do these things without wanting anything in return. Love is selfless and with the idea of grace permeating the whole of a Christian’s life, the balanced “equation” of receiving what you give out no longer holds. To some degree, the golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is talking about doing things you “hope” others will do back for you, but they may not necessarily return that favour. The golden rule is about giving than receiving.

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Till the Light Shines Through…

Mandy has been coming to my young adults group at church for the past three weeks. What the?! Yes, “what the?!” indeed. It was something I was partly nervous about when she asked me about it. Yet at the time, I was excited and technically I was the one who did invite her to come. I somehow had forgotten about the potential fears and mishaps that could happen; I was more happy over the fact that Mandy could finally return to church had start to have a church life again.

 

The fears of whatever bad could happen really did slip my mind. The last time I met her in Hyde Park, nothing was wrong; it was as if there was no concern about any troubles. And I did think, even if unrealistically for a moment, that things would be okay for her from that point on. But intuitively somehow I knew there was more to come.

 

On the first night she came (two weeks ago), it was a nice social, nice light environment, we had a lo of laughs and a few games. This was exactly the perfect start she needed right? Considerably I thought what happened that night was reasonable as well; her arm shook a few times throughout the night. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it so I was a bit taken aback by the sight of it over and over again. And now standing at where I am two weeks after, I see I was a fool to have been worried over something as small as that.

 

The week after things started to get worse but still within expectable standards. It was my first time seeing someone have a seizure; and when it’s someone close to you there wriggling on the floor, it really cuts deep into your heart. Luckily Mandy did tell me what to do the other day, and it really was worse case scenario for me; I walked Mandy out of the room and then she had the second seizure for the night. I was a bit shocked when I saw it; I almost hesitated in fear, nearly not knowing what to do, she had to prompt me to cushion her head before I actually snapped back from being stunned.

 

Things subsided and standing here again I realised it was nothing to be shocked over; it was as she had described it to me; it just seemed different when I actually saw it. Luckily I had already gone through the explanations with everyone during the first week; I do wonder if they were freaked out like me? I’m glad Yvonne was there, I’m not able to constantly watch over her the entire night so it was good to have someone play the guardian for a while.

 

And tonight, well, you tell me what you think happened? Yes, unfortunately things did get slightly worse, again. She had several more seizures, and that freaked me out a bit more. Frankly, i was more concerned with how everyone else would see her; would they view her as a freak? Would they see this as a barrier to accepting her? My most inherent fear was that she’d find it hard to fit in with everyone because there was something weighing her down. And I really don’t know how everyone sees her from their perspective. I found it hard to fit in with these people like a few years back. I don’t know what held me back but I really felt isolated from them; it felt bad, that was the fear I had for Mandy too.

 

Her dad had to come in because she was still shaking for a long while after she had called her dad. He came in and she collapsed into another one. I know that she didn’t want her dad to see her like that. I know she wants her parents to believe that she is okay. I know that she thinks her parents will stop her from coming to church and other public places if there’s a chance that she’ll fall into another seizure. I know she didn’t want any  of that, to take what she already has so little of.

 

And I wonder as things became worse over the course of three weeks, whether or not Mandy should still be coming back to our young adults group. I wonder if it would be better to tell her to give up trying to have a normal life, in fear that things may get exponentially worse next week. Personally I believe things will get worse next week when she comes and the logical and rational thought is that she shouldn’t come back anymore. But such a thought is made out of human reason, not out of faith.

 

I believe it foolish to think that we would give up on Mandy after a mere 3 weeks. We would not be acting out of faith if we gave up after this level of “oppression”. I do believe things will get worse in the weeks to come; she might even have a really bad case of it and impale herself on something or rather; it can become that bad. And as much as I care for her safety and wellbeing, she knows it better than me that the right thing to do is to act out of faith and have her keep coming, praying to God that He will see her through it all. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll be fine at the end of it all. But we won’t know until we try yeah?

 

And for once I almost began to think like a parent; it does make rational sense to tell Mandy not to come anymore, I understand now the “rationality” in my parents’ decisions. And yet I’ve ma de a deep oath to never become as faithless as they have, and I had to find deep conviction tonight that I should be acting out of faith too, to support Mandy as she goes through week after week at our YA group.

 

I also wonder if I could show to everyone else at my church what “pain” is like. For surely, the words “sympathy” and “empathy” are meaningless. Showing sympathy and empathy is nothing at all really. Everyone is affected by pain differently, even the same pain may affect different people in different ways; there is no way to be able to comprehend what someone’s pain feels like. I hope people at my church can come to learn this fact; that they can be more understanding of the suffering people around us endure, and how fortunate we are that God has kept us from the suffering that is everywhere else in the world.

 

Even for me I’m starting to take a brighter approach to life; being more thankful for what I have and knowing that through faith all the things I thought were huge bur dens to me, can be made to seem like nothing in God’s eyes. That is why Mandy is important to me because she is able to help me realize this fact.

 

That is why I am determined to stick by her side; and whatever pain may come in the weeks ahead, I am compelled to ache myself over and over to see her through it all. I expect things to be worse next week; and maybe the week to follow as well. And even then I won’t let my heart shudder away in fear at the sight of her. I am determined to see her to the end of everything that has been hindering her life. And I hope everyone can understand that we can have a strong emotion to do what we can for our friends. Then let it be from today onwards, that I make a pact to see her to the end of it all, till the light shines through…