an opened can of worms

there is something very wrong with the way we deal with relationships.

we think that pain and drama and martyrdom are part and parcel of every relationship, as if those are necessary evils to be swept under the carpet and only brought out during bitching sessions with the girlfriends at the coffeeshop. we think that a family isn’t complete without a tale of shame and regret. we think peace is impossible without hate simmering under the silence.

just a couple of days ago, i told a friend of mine that i would do anything to get out of here for a few months at least. it’s not that i’m not happy here, it’s just that i am starting to feel the effects of being here for too long, especially during this period when i should be learning to keep my mind open and my heart humble.

how can i do that here?

here, in this place where having an opinion and expressing it is a sin…how is it even possible for me to avoid the fate of my forefathers who were buried with years of regret because they knew no other way to live?

here, where a misplaced word can dig up a mountain of hatred and a realisation of one’s own shortcomings brings about anger instead of humility…how can i learn to look at myself first before getting hurt at someone’s insensitivity?

shame and honour? those are man-made treasures that are vanity. acknowledgment for one’s work? empty needs that only serve as building blocks for a pedestal on which we place ourselves…a lesson that i need to learn as well.

i have to admit that i am naive to believe that family dynamics are simple. even if i view the world in black and white most of the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that others see things the same way.

conflicts are never solved through civil, discreet discussions with the person you have a problem with. regrets are never worked out by reason or spirit-led means. instead, they are stored, with no room for forgiveness and prayer. they are stuffed into a closet till it can hold no more…until a misplaced word or an expressed opinion throws the door wide open.

i don’t blame the ones i love. they learnt to shout instead of talk. they learnt to be silent and harbour regrets. in the same way, i consciously try, usually unsuccessfully, to stop screaming when i have to defend myself. it is only recently that i have learnt to deal with conflicts in a fruitful manner and try to weed out what’s relevant and what isn’t in an argument. i have no regrets about my decisions, even if i do repent for some of them.

but there is something terribly wrong with the way we deal with relationships.

when we look to ourselves – our flawed selves – and to the equally flawed people around us, we lose focus on God and what He can do in the ties that bind us as family, blood or otherwise. we forget what forgiveness and grace can do for broken hearts and silent tears. we choose to ignore the power of His peace upon raging tempers under calm skin.

i know that this will blow over by the time i return from east malaysia next week. wounds reopened will be resealed by scar tissue formed from worldly reason and not by the fresh skin of God’s touch. if i could regret one thing, that would be the very thing.

there are many things i am sorry for, but i do not apologise for choosing to break away from the curse that is the “traditional” way of dealing with relationships. it was not the best way for me to make my point, but how else could i have done it?

again, i do not blame anyone for the response elicited by my article. we reacted in the only way we know how – in rage, in anger, in shame.

but this just strengthens my convictions that this family needs God, so that it will no longer be the only way we know how. so that, for once, we’ll be held responsible for our own reactions and see the plank in our own eyes before removing the splinter in our brother’s.


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