Saturday, November 7, 2015

My biggest fears of the past are now my strengths.

As I wore my formal coat for the third time today in the last 7 weeks, I couldn’t help but wonder how different God’s plans are from our own plans. When my husband picked out this coat for me in Thailand a few months ago, I protested. Why would I need a formal coat when I’ve got no needs for it for as long as I am here? And I surely didn’t see the necessity for it in a hot country. How ironic is it to buy a formal coat in a tropical country to be worn in another tropical country. But my husband insisted just because it fitted me well. He eventually won.

When there was a need for me to dress up in formal attire for the first time 7 weeks ago ever since landing here 8 months ago, I had a coat in my wardrobe, all thanks to my husband. I was asked to coordinate and speak to about 100 national and international audiences. I was ready with the formal attire on that day, but I was the least bit ready with what I should be talking about, and yet, many complimented that I did a good job on speaking.

And then 3 weeks ago, there was another necessity, and my formal attire was ready, of course, with my trusty formal coat that I didn’t want in the first place. This time round, it was to speak in front of 1000 odd audience who were well-experienced pioneers and leaders. I was partially prepared time this, with some serious last minute changes. Once again people complimented.

Today, I was an emcee once again, this time at a Christian college graduation ceremony. Out came my formal coat, yet again. I had neatly packed it away thinking I wouldn’t need it here anymore. How wrong was I. At the end of the ceremony, every single person I spoke to, acknowledged my work and literally praised me. I only smiled sheepishly and thanked them for their generous comments.

In these 3 occasions, people have always asked me similar questions. How is it that you speak so fluently? I like how you are so bold. Your English is so good. Do you not feel nervous at all, especially in front of so many people? I’m mesmerised by the way you speak. You’ve got such a good voice. I like your accent! (Disclaimer: These are the exact words that people have complimented me with, not my own words at all).

Each time someone complimented me on my talking skills, I never got it! If you ask me, I’ll deny each and every one of those statements. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher had to put me right at the back of the class cos I couldn’t gather enough courage to ask the girl sitting next to me to move so that I could go to the toilet. I’ve always had stage fright up till my postgraduate studies, and even after. I’ve never participated in any debates or impromptu speeches. I’ve never been fluent in public speaking. I remember skipping classes when it was my turn to give a presentation. I’m always nervous in voicing out my opinion when there are more than 3 people listening to me. I’ve always been shivering on the inside when I have to be a part of a presentation due to compulsory grading system at university. I was never late for classes because I didn’t want anyone to look at me.
My weaknesses of the past are my strengths today. All of a sudden, the tables have turned miraculously. Everything that I hated doing before, I now enjoy doing it. In fact, I now willingly want to do everything that I hated doing before. I hated teaching, I now find myself drawn towards teaching. I couldn’t bear to speak in public, but I am pulled into it now. I hated having people look at me, I’m now willing to place myself on the stage.

But I didn’t practice to become better at it. I didn’t even work for it. If you had asked me ten years ago about my goals, public speaking wouldn’t have been one of it. All these are possible only because God ever so graciously made it so. He is the Lord who transforms. He is the one who enables. He is the one who equips. He took my weaknesses and transformed it into my strengths, because He wanted to use me in that. Till today, I still don’t get what people mean when they say I spoke so well, but I get that it’s the heavenly intervention that has happened. And that’s all that matters.

I’m putting away my coat today, telling myself never to assume that I might not need it again in the near future.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

God is good all the time

Internet-less nights become sleepless nights. As I was searching for some songs on my phone to give me company to go to sleep tonight, I realized I only had one song stored in my phone, unlike in my laptop or in YouTube. That one song didn’t help me to sleep; it only got me thinking even more.

It’s a song written in Tamil by some young youths whose testimonies I am uncertain about. All I know is that they wrote this song in times of adversity in their lives and families. In phases of such hardship, they chose to praise their creator and maker, acknowledging that God is all-powerful and mighty, that he is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, and that all the earth should sing of His praises because His goodness is uncountable.

I’ve regularly heard people say, God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. It’s become a common term that sometimes we don’t stop to think the depth of such a term. I myself have said it many times, without realizing its genuine truth.

Recently, I heard about a father who didn’t want to wake his 7-year-old daughter at 5am to send the mother off to the train station, just because she was in a deep sleep and he didn’t have the heart to disturb her. If an earthly father can love his child this much, how much more will our Heavenly Father love us.

God is good ALL the time, all the time God IS good. In times of success, God is good. In times of failures, God is good. In times of prosperity, God is good. In times of adversity, God is good. In times of joyfulness, God is good. In times of sorrows, God is good. In times of security, God is good. In times of uncertainty, God is good. Whether I get what I asked for or not, God is good all the time. The Lord who is good during our high times, is good during our low times as well. It is actually during times of difficulties that we need to understand that God IS good, because he sustains us from feeling even worse than we think we are.

Today marks 6 months of being married. Despite the difference in time zones and views, and uncertainties about future plans, God’s goodness has prevailed throughout. Right from the beginning of wedding talks, till this very day, God has been good.

As this song is playing on repeat mode on my phone now, I cannot be anymore convinced, that GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD. And I cannot be any more thankful for His grace.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I am Mrs Laxman

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve been known by several names, nicknames included; Chumi, Lakshmi, potato baby, Lucky, pint size, bulb nose, gunda. I am particularly very fond of Chumi and Lakshmi. Unlike the nicknames that speak for themselves, Chumi and Lakshmi depict who I am. 

Family and friends who know me as Chumi, know that I like chinese food, I love my bubble teas, I’m lazy and laid back whenever I can. Official acquaintances will tell you that Lakshmi means business and will get what she wants regardless of the circumstances.

While I was in school, Chumi and Lakshmi were two distinct personalities in me. Those who know Chumi will not know Lakshmi and vice versa. Off late however, both the personalities have merged to become Chumi Lakshmi. If you give me a chance, I’ll show you that Chumi Lakshmi is an achiever. I’ve been the man of my house for over 2 decades, and I couldn’t be any more proud of it even if you think I’m too bossy for a girl.

Regardless of fussy comments from relatives and so-called well wishers, I’ve never been embarrassed of being frank or open minded. Don’t come and tell me I am a girl and thus I should tone down. It will not be received well! Hey, I’m not the one being rude, you are the one who’s being too sensitive.

It was during this glorious, high riding season of Chumi Lakshmi was it that I got married. Despite the many names that I already had, I had a new name now that everyone seemed fonder of, Mrs Laxman. No big deal you would say, especially when I was smiling on the outside. What no one could see was that I was boiling on the inside.

I didn’t even want to get married to begin with. But when wedding talks were happening, I began to accept it, because I knew this was according to God’s perfect plan for me. But my ego wouldn’t accept it.

To me, being identified by my husband’s name meant Chumi Lakshmi is no one without Laxman. Whatever Chumi Lakshmi has accomplished over the years is all gone. Whoever knew me before, didn’t know me now. I am expected to leave behind this whole person I have loving built over the years and take on a new identity, all within a night.

Being the feminist that I am, this was definitely a tough one. I would smile politely when someone called me Mrs Laxman, but I would be furiously boiling within me. When someone sees me, I want them to see me for who I am, not see me as a wife to so and so. I used to wonder why is it that all my married friends were so happy to take on their husbands names and forget their own individuality. I was so surprised they were willing to change themselves, their own preferences for the sake of their husbands. To me, the husbands were nothing but selfish men who wanted their wives to leave their own life behind and take on a new life as the men continue with their regular routine.

My ego didn’t give in for many weeks. I never spoke about it to anyone though. I was careful not to disclose it to anyone at all. But I was struggling within me to accept what the premarital counselling taught us, to give in, to love, to understand. I just didn’t know how.

After 4 months of marriage, I understood how. During one of our conversations over Skype, I had asked my husband one of my usual weird questions. ‘Would you mind being introduced as Chumi’s husband? Would it matter to you that people identify you as my husband instead of, me being your wife? Like Mr Lakshmi, instead of Mrs Laxman?’. The answer that I wanted to hear came within a split second. It brought me to realisation. He is proud of me, that’s why he’s willing to take on my name. Am I not proud of him that I am not willing to take on his name?

Of course I am proud of my husband. He’s accepted me with all my flaws, patiently putting up with my temperamental nonsense, and yet is so loving and understanding. He’s broken every view that I had of a man. He doesn’t supress me in any way; it’s quite the contrary actually. My whatsapp status msg says ‘I am a David, I am a Benjamin and I am a Gideon’. A man who can accept his wife identifying herself with 3 important men who are fighters deserves a pat on his back.

Today, if I were to introduce myself to you as Mrs Laxman. I wouldn’t be boiling on the inside. It only means that I am proud to be known as Laxman’s wife. The Christian premarital counselling taught me what to do, but my husband taught me how to do it.

Hi, I am Mrs Laxman =)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

On presents ...

As the rest of the family and I were wishing one of my aunt’s for her birthday on the family WhatsApp group today, one of them asked what presents she got from the husband and son. To which she said her husband himself is a gift. Well done on being noble mami. Too bad the rest of the world is not like that.

My response to that was spontaneous, not that it would have been any different even if I thought first before speaking. What more could you expect from someone like me other than to have my way in it. Pls don’t spoil the market for the rest of the world, especially me.

Here I am, 2 weeks after my birthday, still holding on to my husband’s amazon log in and adding things to his wish list which will ultimately head over to the order basket, while short listing the list of things I could possibly ask my mother as my birthday present.

I genuinely started thinking why is it that I’m so obsessed with presents. I don’t remember when I first started this, but all I know is that I never stopped. I think I tried to stop asking twice, but it never worked, I asked for something as a present a day after my birthday, or maybe that was during some Christmas time. There was once when I actually cried cos my mother didn’t get my any Christmas presents when others kids got a lot and were telling me about it. Erm, minute detail to note here is that I wasn’t a kid when this happened.

There were times when people were making fun of me because of my lists.  Actually, people still are. Did it bother me? Not at all! Otherwise I wouldn’t have replied to my aunt this morning the way I did, would I?

There were also times when I was told it was wrong to expect from others. I partially agree to that. But my mother and husband don’t fall under ‘others’ category. So that’s not applicable to me.

There was once when someone said, “Chumi, you are so old now, and you already have everything you want! What more could you possibly want?!!”, which got me thinking.

I actually have more than what I need and want, and yet, I still want presents on my birthday. I make excuses that it’s my birthday and start creating my lists for the year. Could it be because I grew up and got used to being showered with everything I asked for? Most likely. But the thing is, it’s not like I only get things for my birthday. If that were to be true, it would be my birthday every day of the year because I get everything I want all the time!

Is it only children who should ask for gifts and receive presents for their birthdays? Absolutely not! Even if it is, dear mum and husband, I am still a child for both of you, so there’s no way you will ever see the end of my lists. =D

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When you don't feel like doing something, do it.

 When my alarm woke me up at 7am yesterday morning, it was a reminder that I had made plans to go to a new place that morning and I was going to spend sometime with my G’ma after. I had hundreds of reasons to not go out that morning. I slept late, I was tired, it was too early in the morning to get out of bed (7am is early when you are not working or studying anymore), it’s a new place, I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, I can surely sleep in on a Sunday, it’s ok if I don’t go today, I can meet them some other time, I am lazy …. Were some of the examples of that hundreds of reasons. The fact was that I was lazy and I was taking things for granted.

I eventually decided not to play dead while lying there on bed and cheating myself and got out of bed at 8.15am, rushed to get ready and left home at 8.50am. During my 45 minutes journey, all I could think of was about bed and breakfast. It’s was a Sunday morning and the roads were free… obviously.. cos everyone was sleeping in except for me.

The moment I stepped in to this new place that I was sceptical about, I changed my mind. It was good for me to have been there, and it was surely necessary for me to be there that morning. It was eye opening to see that worship doesn’t have a standard procedure, and it was overwhelming to experience such worship. It was refreshing to meet and greet people from all walks of life and share experiences with them. It was nice to feel welcomed and to see that people were sincere in doing so.

More than the service that morning, I enjoyed the company that afternoon. I was so happy that I made it that day, kept my word and finally met up with G’ma. Sometimes it would seems harmless to cancel on someone or delay catching up with someone due to some unforeseen circumstances, but it is quite harmless. It is not enough that we always think of them but never make an effort to contact them or meet. I’m definitely guilty of this. There have been many instances when I have been always thinking about so many people, but I’ve been so lazy to even send them a quick message saying I’m thinking of them, or I appreciate them.

It’s not nice to not be appreciated or to be forgotten, or even feel that way. If you feel this way, then chances are others also feel the same way too. My lesson learnt for the day was to never be lazy in corresponding. Sometimes it feels ok to just be frank about it and say that I’m bad in keeping in touch. But it’s not a nice habit to maintain though.

At the end of the day, I’m only glad I made it yesterday to meet G’ma after years of procrastinating and only thinking about it. My long drive back in the traffic was worth it because it was a moment of reflection and realization of several things.

If you don’t feel like it, it means you have to do it. It will only make you feel better.  And do not take people for granted! It means so even when you didn’t mean it!