Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Note

Last night, I wrote this to some people I love and trust:

Today I am heartbroken. Today I am overwhelmed. I am not normally afraid. But today I am frightened.

How do I continue to expose myself to all the hurt and injustices of the world – within my neighbourhood, my church, my place of study, my country, countries overseas, within my very life – and not simply be swallowed up by them? I cannot. How do I advocate for the humanity of my brothers and sisters, without being exposed for the hypocrite I am, with a life that often diminishes the humanity of others? I cannot. How do I answer God’s call to love my neighbour when I feel like I am coming from a place that seems so loveless? I cannot. How do I even just relax for once and accept that I am not the one God intended to ‘save the world’? Most days, it seems I cannot even do this.

I struggle to be gentle in nature, because I am also violent in attitude. I see so many holes in the attitudes and actions of those around me – a government that is broken; a church that is equally fragmented; Christians that are unknowingly racist; faith that is privatised and separate from other places in life; ignorance and apathy to the plight of the suffering; a gospel preached that is otherwise than the Gospel, when Jesus’ simultaneous heart for me and for the poor, weary, hungry and hurting are divorced from each other – and I see them through eyes of judgment, ignorant of my own gaping flaws. My high horse is well-fed. I do not know how to see others through the eyes of Jesus. Often, I do not know how to see or accept how Jesus sees me.

It seems very tempting to see my life before I met Jesus as easier, better, simpler. I never felt so guilty. I never felt so burdened. I never had to think so much. Often, the things I feel like I want to do now, I could just do then. I feel like I’ve built up whatever life with God looks like into its very own shiny idol. I have allowed relationships to become items on checklists, faith to become job, and have not actually allowed love to be free. I could keep looking back and turn the past into an idol too.

Still, I know that my life is forever changed for the better. I know that despite my blindness, I have caught a few brief glimpses of the Kingdom and they have captured me like nothing else. I ask the above questions and it seems I must answer with, “I cannot.” But ask me if I can stop foolishly chasing after this God who has changed my life, and I will also answer, “I cannot.”

I could resolve this note, round it into something nice. But I think today, it is appropriate to sit in this fragile space. Tomorrow, I may feel completely different, but right now – and more than usual lately – this is where I am at. My writing is melodramatic, but my feelings are real. I share this note with you because I trust you and respect you. I guess it’d be good to know other people feel like this too, so I don’t let you become superhumans in my eyes as well. And if you don’t, that’s ok. I’ll just imagine you in tights and lasers shooting from your eyes from now on.


  1. Wow Ben. This is great (in a depressing, really relevant, 'why is everything is so freaking hard?' kind of way).
    Good too see you blogging again! Am looking forward to future posts.

  2. For some reason I'm really curious about the context of you writing this to whoever you did, and its reception.

    This describes more accurately than I could how I feel at the moment as well. A constant battle between myself and others and hypocrisy and heart.
    Yes your writing is melodramatic, but I like it, and I find hope in this, because it reminds me that there are people (eg. Ben Chong) who inspire me, yet feel like this, and aren't superhuman. For whatever reason, this encourages me.

  3. Blair: Hello friend. Thank you for sharing my feelings. I guess it's been good even just sharing this note with people, and hearing that other people get into this space too. I don't know how, but it leaves you feeling a little more hopeful.

    Emily: I probably won't explain the context here, but ask me some time and I will tell you. The reception has been loving, for which I am grateful. Thank you for your comments too. We should talk more.