February Grit

Everyone faces mountains. Mountains sometimes represent insurmountable problems. Valleys, interestingly, are popularly used to communicate life’s low moments. Not the same meaning, but still thematically close to that of mountains. Regardless of the terrain on which you journey, there are bound to be some challenges. I would like to think February is usually the month where most people typically slack off on new year resolutions and hit walls of reality; facing both new and old mountains and valleys. Fortunately, having lost interest in plotting year-long strategies of fighting my greatest enemy–myself, I almost have no regrets from February. Well…maybe except not being able to check off all of my daily to-dos. But that is okay…I guess. I made some interesting re-discoveries last month about responding to uneven terrain that I would like to share.

grow a bigger vision

If your current challenge is disabling your senses then you are not thinking big enough. When faced with a force that challenges your current vision or dream, aim higher. This is obviously counterintuitive, but hear me out for a minute. This quote sums it for me:

“Ask God for a vision so big that without Him it is impossible.”
(bibleinoneyear.org | day 35)

Expand your mental capacity and grow a vision so big that you cannot possibly realise it on your own. This forces you to then trust in a higher power to make things work in your favour. I choose to trust in God and His omnipotence, and I ask Him for help every day. In other words, think bigger and use external resources in your arsenal to help you move forward.

work hard, be intentional

Do everything in your power and capacity to get results. Sometime last year, I told an interviewer about a difficult project I worked on and how I managed to make it successful. He commented that if it was not difficult then it would not have been worth doing. Reflecting on this memory over the past month, made me realised that even though I returned jobless from that interaction, I had gained something more valuable than employment–a renewed mindset. I need to embrace hard work and to be intentional about getting sh!t done, and done well. Hard work pays and what most don’t realise, and I usually take for granted, is that working smart is actually hard work. Do not downplay the importance of investing a lot of your energy into producing excellent results. If you put your head to it, the results will be smart.

fall forward, bounce back fast.

I have always loved Penn’s 2011 Commencement Address by Denzel Washington. Especially what he said about falling forward. It is not easy gauging where you fall when you fail. The pit of depression is a target that is really hard to miss. Falling forward is easy when you have a positive attitude of acknowledging the fall and noting the lessons. It is even a greater feat recalibrating your emotions and preparing for the next flight…or fall. I read somewhere that confidence is an effect, not a cause. When I see my failures as stepping stones for future successes, I gain confidence in my abilities and in the truth that I am getting closer to perfection.

Experiences, as uncomfortable as they may be, help refine your character and test your resolve. You learn to understand yourself a bit more. And history tells us that knowing and mastering yourself is one of the most powerful yet difficult things you can achieve.

So, when you pray for grit, pray also for understanding for this is the key to triumphing in the next terrain.

Lazuli

It was darkest at the time. He was not asleep. He never sleeps—a fact that I am still yet to accept and appreciate. I love to read. Especially when it was time to care for and protect the jar. Oh, the jar of pure joy and happiness! I read my favourite stories of ancient conquests and enigmatic tales aloud during my watch hour. I would not always read. I danced and sang in my hushed husky voice. I was always shy when I remembered that He was still watching. Regardless, there was something magical about every night’s watch. They were never the same.

Bittle was always there too. But asleep virtually all the time. I was not shy of Bittle. Today, she perched on the top of the monolithic glass pillar beside the jar. Lazuli peacefully rested there, as it basked in the direct moonlight, reflecting calming rays of blue around the room and on Bittle’s white fur. Today, Bittle sleepily stole glances at me with one eye, intermittently, and then went back to her comfortable routine, as I tried to dance my worries of the day away. I guess she noticed how much I was still recovering from today’s bout with the baker.

Being a homeless orphan in the village of Zova has its ruthless perks. It was pure elation, however, 36 moons ago, when I met the Wise Keeper of the Glass temple. I would not forget. With warm, kind eyes he gave me an offer to steward the Glass Temple which only reveals itself to the pure in heart and spirit. I did not understand all his many instructions. For some reason, he kept stressing that more important than any precious thing in the temple was to discover who the Creator was and to discover his immanence. I did not understand his words nor was I ready to trade my excitement for deep thought or understanding. And now, standing and contemplating the value of the magnificent jar, His knowledge or existence was the last thing my senses would consider.

Could the jar be the permanent end of the daily woes? Yes, there are other rooms and elements not fully explored but Lazuli is what I know. Lazuli would trade for a fortune. Bittle was wide awake and glaring at me, confused, with her wide eyes which glittered in the soft light, as I made my way up the glass pillar. It was strangely sturdy. She glided down from her spot on the translucent monolith, floating gracefully like the white flying cat that she was. Bittle, having landed soundlessly on my shoulder, started pawing my eyelids close and desperately reminding me that He wouldn’t be pleased. I was determined, and she gave up, softly disappearing into thin air like she always did when she knew she would not win.

I was now a foot’s reach from Lazuli. The slippery climb up the pillar was close to an end. I flung my hand to reach for the base. A split second after the fourth try, I was in awe of the momentary burst of myriad tints and shades of bright green and blue, as the jar of joy and happiness fell to my face. There it was again, elation at its peak. I let go and spread my arms to receive the precious jar. It connected with my forehead. I saw blue, bright red and painful blackness.

I jolted awake, immediately realizing the gravity of my transgression. My eyes were already tear-filled and a bit bloody. I broke down into uncontrollable tears and deep sorrow, cradling the five pieces of the jar in my lap and arms. I had done the unthinkable. He would not forgive. Between my sobs, I could faintly hear Bittle and a familiar voice. I could not place a finger on it yet, but it was there. He lifted me up and promised to fix Lazuli if I would only promise to know Him. Lazuli would never be perfect, and I accepted this fate. Many promises were made that day. The other rooms and precious things seem to appear more clearly now. They seem equally exciting. He said not to get overly attached. I understood.

Lazuli carries the scars of the repair. I carry the scar and the pain. Though I still steward the Glass temple, I do not walk alone—Bittle is always good company but His presence makes the difference. Wise Keeper, I understand His immanence.

Post-modern worship

A right title?

worship-hands copy“They were many in the congregation. The auditorium was filled with whispers and cries and prayers amidst raised hands and bent knees. The atmosphere was solemn and saturated with goose bump-raising worship. The slow and moving tunes that the instrumentalists artistically created was emotive. The lead choir singer began to hum a tune into the microphone. On cue, the choristers, identifying the tune, continued with the song. The DJ (disc-jockey), located beside the organist at the side of the stage, started a slow but regular sample beat which gradually picked up pace in speed. When the beat reached a considerably apt beat, the preacher began to speak, interlacing the song with rhyming words crafted from the word of God—spoken word. The church was filled with song as the congregation sang along and raised their holy hands to the heavens. After the first chorus, a lady touch in her spirit stepped out from among the choristers on the stage, took a microphone and began to rap! Then it happened! The church was all the more energized and moved, voices grew stronger and louder in earnest worship as worshipers began rocking and jamming with the beat, most with their eyes closed and arms waving in the air…!”

DJ
Take a look at how loads of people are swayed by the lyrics, styles and beats in “worldly music.” That’s why I don’t really get convinced by those who claim they listen only for the beats. The song comes with the whole package! You love it because of how it makes you feel and, for deeper listeners, what it makes them think about.It was a conversation about how creative some hip-hop beat was, while @franklin_25_8 and I listened to points of “eargasms”. Jamming to the track was inevitable. Our random conversation unexpectedly but gradually took a different turn to why gospel music was not this appealing to the youth of today. Maybe it was the way the media presented it to the world or probably solely its innate “dope-ness” or both. Why are most gospel rappers’ beats not as “dope”? Possibly their themes are not as interesting as other hip-hop songs? Then the what-ifs sprang up. What if praise and worship was done hip-hop style. What if these gospel rappers were as lyrical and thematic as Kendrick Lamar and had beats as imaginative as Kanye West’s. We crafted this post-modern worship scene in effect.

So what if this worship scene was what we saw in church on a Sunday morning? What would go wrong? Because as far as I’m concerned, if Christians, really and earnestly communicate their thoughts and sincere words of worship to the most high, they will be heard. However, the question of whether it would be accepted by God as a suitable form of worship came up in our discussion. Does God have a laid out set of ceremonial acts in which he wants to be worshiped? To answer that question, it will be best to inquire from the Lord himself, we concluded.

The conventional Christians would definitely look down on this with critical disdainful eyes of disapproval. The new wave of contemporary Christians who relate better to the new and upcoming genres in Christians music are the ones who would most likely be the most patronizing of this manner of worship. Should this actually be defined by conservative societal practices or thoughts? Less than two decades ago, no one would have imagined that there would even exist >>gospel HIP-HOP<<! I mean, really gospel hip-hop? After all those truth about hip-hop videos which criticized not only the artistes of the genre, but the genre itself, a new kind was born—one for Christianity!

In any case, post-modernism is catching up with us gradually. I wouldn’t be surprised if I enter a church one day and see a hand full of people standing like they do when the choir starts to sing; waving a hand and clasping their chest with the other in response to the rap of a Christian minister on stage, mid-service. And they would be as moved as any person in today’s “normal” church would be.

It is coming. It is inevitable and will soon be ineffable.

PS: I was listening to Lecrae’s Gravity while writing most of the article. You should check it out!

Lingo semantics:

dope: (adj.) really cool and worthy of jamming to. [noun: dope-ness]

Jam: (v.) the act of rocking to dope music. [continuous tense: jamming]

eargasm: (n.) the wonderful feeling in your ears when you hear dope music which makes you want to jam

-8:49am, 6th June, 2013.