This morning, I was passing through MacDonald’s (not my normal route), to get to my bus stop. I can’t help but notice an old lady sitting at a corner, drinking from her mug. Catching a quick glimpse of her, I was about to hurry through the exit, when something made me stop and turn around. I walked back to the old lady in the corner. She was scruffy, with an umbrella, a walking stick and 2 large bags of what looked like garbage (or perhaps scrap paper and cardboard for recycling?). I just felt prompted to do something for her. So I asked if she needed anything. Initially she declined, I asked again ‘Can I get you a burger?’ She replied ‘fish burger’.
As I trodded back into the front of the counter and started queuing, I had no idea why I was doing this, it was a work day morning and I was hurrying to work. So there I was standing in line and I thought, ok, I’ll just buy a burger, pass it to her and get on my journey. However, I heard a voice telling me ‘get yourself a breakfast, sit and eat with her’ I replied ‘God, I already have breakfast in my bag, I’m in a hurry’ Yet, I felt I had to go sit with the old lady, so I bought breakfast.
Returning to the old lady, I sat down, passed her the burger and a hot tea. She started speaking ‘You know girl, I can take hardships.’ I was lost for words. She continued to pour out to me, how she was working a cleaner and used to have 4 to 5 jobs a week but now she’s only left with 1 job due to weakness in her leg. To add on to her troubles, an unknown man had been taking money from her and she felt compelled to give to him, a few dollars at a time. She told me she didn’t understand why but she could not resist giving him a few dollars, not that he threatened or solicited from her, just that he would always say something nice to her.
As she talked, I asked God to help me, give me the words to say to her. When she paused, I looked her in the eye and asked ‘Do you feel lonely?’ She looked surprised and said, ‘How do you know?’ She teared as she said ‘Every night, I feel I’m getting mad from feeling so alone.’ This had me fighting hard to control my tears, I am familiar with the sting of loneliness too. At this point, I asked her did she believe in Jesus, she said yes. I told her that Jesus loves her and asked if she wanted to receive Jesus Christ into her heart, to which she was hesitant. Then, I asked if I can pray for her leg, she replied ‘Yes, and not only for my leg, can you pray that God will take my loneliness away?’ I said ‘Sure’. Holding her pair of hands which were slightly deformed by arthritis ( I wondered when was the last time someone touched this pair of hands), I prayed for her physical healing, and that she can come to experience God’s love, joy and peace. As I prayed, I felt God sees her as His precious daughter and I spoke that out to her. She revealed that she had been hoping to meet someone who can help her with the loneliness problem. Showing deep appreciation, she said she felt a load had been lifted up from her. I assured her God is always with her and He cares for her, she just has to call out to Him.
Before I left, I tried to ask her for a contact number but she said she had no phone and was reluctant to reveal much about where she stays. When I left her, I only knew she stays around the neighbourhood, I’m not sure if I’ll meet her again, but I trust God will heal her physical body and her heart.
While I continued on my way to work, I marveled at this ‘divine appointment’. It wasn’t in my plan to be there at that time, at that place this morning, but I happened to be. I’m thankful that I can be a messenger of God’s love. If a fish burger and 40 minutes of my time can make a difference in someone’s live, I’d gladly do this any day. This is what makes life worthwhile, not wealth, not getting hitched, not having kids, not career achievement or wining the lottery. The satisfaction of doing something that counts for eternity surpasses any sense of achievement this world can give.
Are you lonely?
Do you feel left out, rejected, alone?
Loneliness feels so cold yet stings like a hot scorching flame.
I know too well the pain of loneliness. The feeling that gnaws you and injects such immense pain into your soul that you wish you could just be free from it right away. It was so bad that I often cried to God to remove the pain, the deep-seated loneliness in my heart.
But The Lord didn’t take my pain away, no matter how much I pleaded.
He is using it to refine my life, just as fire purifies gold (Malachi 3:3).
Loneliness became a reminder of the cross, the sacrifice of my own desires for those of the Lord. That I should lose my life, lose myself for Him – to die to myself – which is utterly tormenting. So I start embracing the cross and the death of myself. I keep telling God to – have His way in me – that He is the centre of my life.
Every time I proclaim that, I felt a whole new strength, to carry on.
I finally realized that life wasn’t about my desires, but it was about showing the love of Christ to others.
The pain I am going through allowed me to identify with others’ pain. I can fully and totally feel first hand how it is to live through the pain of loneliness, rejection, abandonment, disappointments and broken relationships.
To anyone going through any of these, I understand it is not easy. In fact, that is such an understatement. But I truly understand how it feels now.
There is a saying that goes “Someone needs to go through hell to get the keys to unlock the prison to set others free”. Perhaps, we will get there one day. For now, everyday, I pray for strength to keep the faith and that this loneliness will cause me to fall deeper in love with Jesus. Till the day, if it may come, that God decides that I’ve passed this test.
It was a normal summer Saturday morning. Ok, perhaps not so normal perhaps, as I had to drag myself out of bed and travel halfway across the other side of town to meet a prospective client.
It was one of those days in which I wished I should have gotten ready faster and left the house earlier. Which is why I agreed immediately when my dear sister (although we’ve much sibling rivalry at times) happily volunteered to give me a lift as she was heading out. She dropped me halfway to my client’s place so I could take a bus to my destination. To cut the story short, I was well on my way, arrived at the bus stop and after a few minutes the bus came.
Upon boarding the bus, I immediately noticed an empty seat beside an old lady at the front. I smiled to her, she smiled back and I plonked myself down right beside her. She’s dressed very prettily in a dress, silver white hair elegant combed back. The wrinkles on her face and arm tells me that she’s probably around the ripe old age of 90 (I think).
Before I realised how rude I was to be staring at her, she started talking to me. She introduced herself as Florence (First thing I thought of was Florence Nightingale and wondered if she was ever a nurse). And of course I told her my name. Then we carried on with our mini conversation as below :
Old Lady : Oh isn’t it a lovely sunny day?
Me: Well, yes it’s indeed a sunny day (hmm.. so much so for weather talk, it sure is sunny but I’m not sure about the lovely part)
Old Lady: Are you in a hurry Macy?
Me: Yes, in fact, I’m rushing for an appointment.
Old Lady: I am going to the Church just round the next corner, I thought you might be interested to come with me. But, well, since you’re in a hurry today, I want you to have this ( speaking which she reached into her handbag and wanted to pass me a Christian flyer).
Me: (I said smiling), I’m a believer too.
Old Lady: Oh, really ! Praise the Lord (she’s smiling so widely with a sparkle in her eyes). You know God is Good. In life there’ll be ups and
downs, sometimes you may find yourself in a muddy pit. Don’t be discouraged, God will pull you out of the pit.
At this point, my spirit immediately felt comforted, yet I was close to tears.
Flashback to the night before, I really don’t feel like coming to this part of town but had no choice as the appointment had been fixed (and afterall, the client always wins). This was a place with many memories of a past relationship. I remembered even praying to God before bed the night before to grant me strength and peace in my heart.
The next thing I knew, the old Lady spoke again
Old Lady: Macy, can we pray for a while?
I nodded my head.
Old Lady: Dear Father, thank you for Macy and I pray that you’ll keep her and bless her. Amen.
After the prayer, she said goodbye (still with that sparkle in her eyes) and got down the bus.
And although this old granny is a complete stranger, it was one of the most wonderfully short and sweet prayer I’ve ever had someone said with me. The morning started out a little grey for me but meeting the old lady just lifted my spirits up. Though we only spoke for a while, and I don’t even know her, I felt so divine! Amazingly, I felt God’s presence with me. It’s such a peaceful and comforting feeling that I can’t explain.
Moreover, the old lady is so full of joy and life at her age!! That spirit and sparkle in her eyes is something that makes me really say ‘Wow’ , almost like being star struck (or even better). She’s just so inspiring.
I believe she must have been sent by God. How wonderous ! How marvelous !
Very often, we ask God to speak to us, give us visions, reveal to us in dreams. But somehow, I think today God chose to speak to me through a lovely old granny.
I will always treasure this wonderful memory in my heart. Perhaps, one day when I’m that old, God will still use me to encourage some younger woman out there feeling down and out and lonely, to remind her that she’s never alone, that her beloved Father in heaven is watching over her with Love.
Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When we think about abuse in a relationship, we often think of bruised faces, scars on arms and legs. What we commonly think of or are more familiar with is physical abuse. There are many forms of abuse and any form of abuse is cruel.
Unlike physical abuse, emotional (or psychological) abuse is not obvious, it is subtle. Quite often even the victim does not recognize that he/ she is being abused. Although emotional abuse does not leave black eyes or visible bruises, it is often more seriously damaging to the self-esteem and will of the person being abused.
Physical abuse scars a person’s body but emotional abuse scars a person’s soul. Often, physical abuse is accompanied or follows emotional abuse. Emotional battering is used to wear the victim down – often over a long period of time – to cause so much confusion to the person abused so as to undermine his/ her self-concept, to a point that he/ she is willing to take responsibility for the abuser’s actions and behaviour towards him/her or simply just accept it.
Just as there are many forms of physical abuse, there are many varieties of psychological abuse. They include isolation, crazy-making, verbal abuse, belittling and other humiliating or degrading behaviours. Though the abusive behaviours may not be easily recognisable by themselves, they are readily identified by recognising the effects they have on the person being abused.
Emotional abuse has the aim of control and dominance. If a person constantly feels as though his/ her feelings, needs, opinions are being devalued, are given no credence, chances are the person is experiencing some form of emotional abuse.
The long term result of emotional and psychological abuse leaves the victim feeling confused, unsure of his/her own judgement and ability to make decisions, sometimes even to the extent of believing that he/ she is going crazy. Accompanied by these are often low self-esteem, as the victim’s own needs and opinions are often put down, criticised or disregarded. Depression and even suicidal thoughts set in as the victim feels so trapped in the situation (especially in a close relationship). Ironically, the victim is often being made blamed for the abuser’s bad behaviours and hence may experience a deep sense of shame and guilt.
Emotional abuse is controlling and wields an invisible prison that keeps the victim in bondage. In many cases, the victim would have been so manipulated in their thoughts to even recognise that they are being threatened or controlled. Over extended periods of time, the victim loses all sense of self-direction, self-will, self-confidence and eventually becomes dependent to the abuser and does everything to please/pacify the abuser. This then perpetuates the vicious cycle of abuse and the abuser gets to keep his dominance over the victim.
Emotional abuse is such a subtle form of control and domination which leaves no visible marks, yet has a profound effect on the emotional and mental well being of the victim. Victims often feel trapped and so emotionally hurt but cannot point a finger as what is wrong. Many people have found that once the emotional abuse is no longer effective, physical violence follows. Many victims suffer in silence – the repressed emotions which left unaddressed often manifest in ill health.
If you or anyone you know is in some form of abuse, please seek help immediately. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the problem will get better or be resolved with time. Value yourself and your loved ones enough to stand up for your own right.
The Freedom Programme© in the UK is particularly good at showing up all the myriads of ways in which emotional abuse is used within abusive relationship. To find out more, check out the Freedom Programme.