Spiritual Reflections

Breaking Cycles, Becoming 2013

It’s already 2013, and as I looked back in dismay – there were a lot of things I failed to do. Again.

As the year started in 2012, I was planning to buy myself some gadgets that I really, really needed. And so, I looked forward to the 13th month bonus (since my company doesn’t give a Christmas bonus for us contractual employees). That included a graphic pen tablet (so I can upgrade my graphic design skills), a 1TB external/portable HDD drive, an affordable DLSR camera (or just the waterproof digicam, particularly the Olympus Tough haha), OR (yes, or not and) a new mobile phone (or smart phone) – since the one I’m using (a simple but dependable Motorola phone) was just loaned from a good friend of mine years ago.

Alas, I didn’t get a chance to buy myself any of these.

And somehow, thoughts of self-pity or self-chastisement creep up at nights, accusing me, “Why?!”

Yet, somehow God comforts me with the same question: “Why?”

Envy.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to desire for gadgets or stuff. We deserve to enjoy what we earn, by spending it to what gives us satisfaction. Our satisfaction comes in meeting different needs, and that includes material things – like video games to entertain us, better appliances to make our work or lifestyle easier.

Our material desires come from valid necessities. But materialism, this unquenchable desire, begins with envy: it twists our desires to justify an illusory necessity. It slithers in to our thoughts, whispering ideas of perceived advantages – yet stealthily mocking the inner peace we find in what we already have.

When thoughts of “I wish I had that” overwhelms our “Thank God I have this”, envy drags us to an insidious cycle of endless dissatisfaction.

I’m not sour-graping for not being able to afford some things; in fact, I realized I actually could – if I chose to (and discipline myself towards it). I realize I could easily save money with what I earn; people who earn less than what I do surprisingly have more savings than I already have – which somehow seems deplorable. So where did all my money go?

Well aside from food (yes, as much as it is my best expression of Hallelujah-Lord-Thank-You-For-Work, I do need to trim down), I sheepishly admit that I’ve been spending too much on other people (haha) – particularly, our church youth. Not that I regret it; in fact, now that I reflect on it, I realize that what I spend on them is more than just ‘a spiritual investment’. It is my personal overflow of how God has touched my life when I was a youth myself, and how much I desire for them to feel that same blessedness – so that when they grow older, they will also overflow that love to the next generation of young people.

So yeah, I tend to be extravagant. Blame that to the people who also spoiled me before – that’s what I learnt from them, after all. But it is in this radical extravagance that God washes away my selfish and envious thoughts to bring me back to His feet.

How can I compare a new mobile phone to a smiling, grateful face?

How can I compare a new laptop to a simple, momentary yet heartfelt “Thank you”?

How can I compare anything in this world to knowing that someday, God will use my small ‘spiritual investment’ to help someone grow a little bit, enough to plant a simple seed in his or her heart, saying “God is real; God is good.”?

It is good to desire for 2013. It is easy to envy in 2013. But I choose to be satisfied for what God has in store this 2013.

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