“I learnt about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable chemical laboratory to monitor the nitrate levels and the ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enough enzymes to make a rock grow. I filtered the water through glass fibers and charcoal, and exposed it to ultraviolet light. You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful. Not so. Every time my shadow loomed above the tank, they dove for cover into the nearest shell. They showed me one “emotion” only : fear. Although I opened the lid and dropped in food on a regular schedule, three times a day, they responded to each visit as a sure sign of my designs to torture them. I…
“The last week has been quite painful and unsettling for me. If all that could go wrong could, it did. From losing my phone to writing a paper I didn’t prep well enough for to doing work where I felt I wasn’t giving my best. I started telling myself the same lies that always seem to show up when failure happens, “You messed up. Not good enough. You’ve let people down.”
However, it’s also been a week of learning a lot more about failure and discipline. Discipline has caused me to become a more grace-filled human. I never thought discipline would be the thing to teach me about grace but it has.
Habits don’t form without failure. Relationships don’t grow without failure. We don’t become who we were made to be without failure. It’s necessary. Failure will either be a catalyst that propels you forward in the direction you need to head or a roadblock that keeps you standing in one place. No one starts something new and gets it right the first week. Discipline doesn’t evolve overnight and that’s because building discipline coincides with building character. Neither are quick and instant.
You need to give yourself grace to fail. Give yourself grace to be in process. You need to be able to fall down or mess up if you ever want to be a stronger person. The strong isn’t one who never messed up. The strong person messes up and keeps going anyway. The strong person never quits.
Think about the amount of small things we mess up on a daily basis and how hard we knock ourselves down because of them? You ate the cake. You missed the workout. You forgot about the meeting. You didn’t prepare enough for the test. It’s all a lot of small stuff but we kill ourselves with criticism to make ourselves feel just as small as the issue.
Failure is inevitable. It happens to all of us. What matters more is how you speak to yourself when the failure happens. Are you kind? Do you give yourself grace? Are you the only one in your world who doesn’t extend grace when you mess up?
Be careful with how you speak to yourself this week. Note the small talk happening in your head when you get it right and when you get it wrong. You might fail six or seven times before something finally sticks and you see a change in yourself. That’s okay. It matters that you keep getting up and showing up. It matters that you learn to speak to yourself with more grace and kindness. Don’t underrate kindness. The notion “be kind” doesn’t just invite you to be kind to your neighbor or friends. Be kind is a statement for yourself. Be kind is something you need to practice when the small talk turns on in your brain. Be kind to yourself and be good to others.”
After a whole year of constant teasing and nagging, the men of the Glorious Choir finally achieved the impossible – we got Joby and Allan to treat us to dinner. As soon as they relented, we headed off to an all you can eat pizza place, known for its delectable pizzas.
Twelve boys and forty-five pizzas may not make any sense, but it was worth it.
Towards the end of our feasting, Joel, who had said he’d be late, walked in. It was almost closing time and his was the last order before the kitchens closed. He flipped through the menu quickly and chose.
Ten minutes later, his pizzas began arriving one at a time.
“Sir, three cheese pizza”, said one waiter.
“Bacon and prawns, Sir”, said another.
“Sir, Caesar’s salad pizza”
“Barbeque chicken pizza, Sir?”
“Sir, chocolate banana pizza”
“Whoa, hold on a minute. You ordered a pizza with chocolate and bananas?” one of us said, looking at him with disgust.
“Bro, trust me, it’s delicious”, said Joel.
We laughed, ridiculing his strange tastes.
When the pizza actually came, we laughed even more. It looked hilarious. Just some chocolate sauce spread across the base with four slices of banana placed on top – it was so strange.
“What’s wrong with you, man?” someone asked, still laughing.
Joel just sat there, smiling, the pizza in front of him- “How about you try a slice?”
Immanuel, who was right next to Joel, took a piece, and very reluctantly, took a tiny bite. His eyes closed, and as he chewed, a smile slowly spread across his face. He leaned back in his chair and heaved a deep sigh. His face said it all: Divine!
We jumped up, every last one of us, rushing towards the chocolate-banana pizza trying to get a bite. The laughter stopped; it was serious now, the need to grab a piece before it ran out outweighing friendships. Scratching and pushing each other, some of us were fortunate to get a bite of what I can only describe as pure bliss. The others watched as we ate and lost ourselves in the deliciousness of that little bite we managed to get.
“One more chocolate – banana pizza”, one of us screamed, looking at the waiter.
“For me too”
“Make that three”
“But sir, the kitchen is closed.”
“Please! Only one?? Can’t anything be done?”
“No sir, we’re sorry”
Joel smiled at us with a benign ‘I told you so’ expression, and finished his meal.
We were so wrong about the chocolate-banana pizza. We had laughed, so unnecessarily, and had judged because it sounded strange. We thought Joel was stupid to order it. We laughed at how silly it looked. We judged preemptively, even though we’d never tasted it before. But now that we had, we realised how good it was, and we wanted more. We laughed at something we didn’t understand, and at someone who did, but now we were the ones who wanted it.
It was simple.
We had tasted, and had seen that it was good.
‘Philip found Nathaneal and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, the One whom the prophets foretold – Jesus of Nazereth, the son of Joseph.”
“Can anything good come from Nazereth?” Nathaneal asked.
It’s been around a year since I last met people from college. After graduation, everyone got busy with their jobs and studies, that plans to meet up became quite rare.
So you can only imagine my joy and surprise when Nikhil Reddy called, saying it’s been a while and that he would love to meet up.
And so, I decided to make a dinner plan. I texted whoever I thought would be free. Somebody suggested meeting in Indiranagar, and no one really objected to it, so that’s where we decided to meet.
The only question now was where in Indiranagar. The one place I’m quite familiar with is Glen’s Bake House and so, I texted everyone –
“Glen’s Bake House?”
The replies came soon enough.
“< thumbs up emoticon >”
Only Nikhil Reddy’s reply was not so enthusiastic. Maybe the place I suggested didn’t have food that was spicy enough for him, or maybe he just isn’t a fan, I don’t really know.
“Soumya Indian Style .. rice batting beda? Meals and chicken fry?” was the reply.
As comfortable I am with Glen’s, the idea of chicken fry spoke to my heart. I wasn’t eating lunch that day and the thought of some fried kababs made my mouth water. Eating at Soumya Indian Style sounded like a good idea.
“Let me check with the others”,I said.
So I texted one of the others asking her if she’d want to have meals and chicken fry at Soumya Indian Style instead.
“In Indiranagar? I don’t mind. Sounds better.”
The decision was made. Meals and chicken fry at Soumya Indian Style; or atleast I hoped the decision was made. I hoped that no one would really have a problem with it. I knew I had to let everyone know that we’re going to meet there and just keep my fingers crossed, hoping no one will say, “no, that’s not what I want.”
So I began to type out the text, telling everyone where we were meeting and at what time. The only problem was I didn’t know where Soumya Indian Style was in Indiranagar. Apparently, nobody did.
I looked on Google maps and I couldn’t find it either.
So I texted the one person who knew, the one who had suggested going there in the first place.
I texted Nikhil – “Soumya Indian Style it is. Where is it?”
Anyone who knows me knows I cannot survive in the city without GPS and maps. Whether it’s a place I’ve been to fifty times or just five minutes from my house, I’m heavily dependent on online maps.
My sense of direction is truly awful. A chat with any of my friends who have been with me on my bike or in the car will quickly prove this. They’ve often tried to explain directions to me, and I’ve patiently listened to everything they’ve had to say, only to ignore it all and follow my maps.
One of the reasons I rely so heavily on online maps is the feature that shows us the quickest way to get to our destination in real time. It gives me other options as well, such as the shortest path, but not necessarily the quickest, and other alternative paths, in case I leave my primary path for some reason.
In the past, I thought this feature was unnecessary. Recently however, I’ve realized how important it is, considering the number of times I’ve left the quickest path – when I’ve trusted my own wisdom by taking the shortest route the map shows me – believing that my riding skills would take me to my destination faster, although knowing Bangalore traffic, this is next to impossible.
The feature has been surprisingly helpful when I’ve tried to follow the map, but have unknowingly gone off the quickest route by following other vehicles on the road or simply by being distracted.
It’s this feature of online maps that seems like it’s almost speaking to me, gently calling me a fool and saying, “Look, I am showing you three ways to get to your destination. I am also showing you the quickest way, as well as how much longer any of the other routes take. Please, trust me. Take the route I’m suggesting. Go this way…..
….but if you accidentally or intentionally happen to lose your way or follow the traffic onto a route that’s not yours, then here’s another route for you to take. It will take you to your destination, but you will be delayed.”
Isn’t that awesome?
Do you want to know what’s even better than that?
Your Heavenly Father wants to guide you the same way. He tells you, “My child, here is the way. It is the best way. It may not be the shortest one, but trust Me, it is the one that’s best for you. Please, do not rely on your own wisdom. Take the path I am calling you to.
Do not follow the world once you are on it, for many will stray from it, and you will be tempted to follow them. Stick to the path I have set for you.
Yet, if in your weakness you do go off track, here – I am redirecting your steps to Me, to your destiny. Get back on it. Come.”
He gently calls out to you. He knows you’re going to make mistakes along the way. But in His mercy, He forgives you.
Remember, no place is too far for Him to redirect you back onto the right path.
But here’s the thing – the more you go off the path, the more delayed you’ll be…
“Is there any prayer that is not answered – sooner or later, directly or indirectly? I think there is nothing called an unanswered prayer and I am speaking from experience. But first- let us see what the Bible says about this.
In the story of the raising of Lazarus in the Bible (St. John 11), the prayer of Martha and Mary to save their dying brother seems to have been ignored by Jesus even though he was known to be a close friend of their family. He remained where he was when the desperate call for help came to him!
What a seemingly cruel gesture on the part of Jesus who was known for his compassion! How the sisters’ faith in him must have been shaken. Even they, in spite of their close relationship with Jesus must have questioned the efficacy of prayer.
“The Bible doesn’t set different standards of purity for men and women. It’s society that does. If you’re a woman who struggles with lust, know that you weren’t born with a manufacturing defect. You’re only as much in need of the Blood of Christ as a brother who struggles with the same issue.
Maybe something that happened in your childhood awakened your sexuality way before its time, maybe you’ve suffered abuse – all the devil has done is pervert and distort a natural need inside you. He stole something that Jesus intended to be a beautiful, whole experience and turned it into your worst nightmare – these experiences weren’t meant to be accompanied by shame, guilt or regret. So if there is anyone you should get mad at, its the Enemy. Not yourself, not whoever else you have been blaming.
You aren’t any dirtier than the sinner next to you…