Conforming or Not

We know it was risky and he too was well aware of it, I hope. He came running to leap forward and jump into the river bank below. But then, he stopped at the edge of the river wall about fifteen meters high.

“Jump! Jump! Jump! You can do it,” we shouted. We cheered him to give it another try.

He looked down calculating in his mind whether he’d be able to reach the water. There was a huge deposition, near the water, caused by the recent mud sliding. He couldn’t get his pride killed easily.

We cheered him again. I don’t remember who started it. We wanted to let him do it by any means, it seems. We, bunch of boys, conformed to let him jump so that he might learn his lesson.

This time, more determined, he went back. And he came running as we are still cheering for him. He jumped from that height!

THUD! A sound burst! He couldn’t make it to the water! He was reeling in pain. The clapping and cheering had stopped suddenly.

We quickly swim to the other side of the river. We stand nearby him. There was no immediate help available. We don’t know what to do. After sometime, he came back to sense. It was huge relief for all of us.

This happened during our pre-teen and early teen years. We easily fall prey to what is commonly known as peer pressure. We try to avoid being different and bear the wrath of ‘the brutes’ among our group of friends. Especially when we’re going for a swim, away from home, in the river nearby the hills.

Having not protested against the unwanted cheering and clapping, which caused great pain to one of our friend, I regretted a lot. Yet I am glad he has learned his lesson and does not sustained any irreparable damage to his body.

Conformity:

Conformity, in other words, is succumbing to pressure groups. To conform is to act in accordance with the prevailing standards, attitudes, practices, compliance to the surroundings, and the likes.

It is one of the most difficult stages to overcome in life, especially during our pre-adolescence or adolescence period. In our adolescence years, we wanted to be accepted, have friends and abide by their or our rules.

Grownups, like you and me, must have been through these stages in our life, I hope. However, the way we have experienced and overcome the same would different. The time has come now, for us to help our young ones when they been through this stage.

My young friends, if you are still in this phase, do not get discouraged if you cannot get conformed to your surroundings. This is one of the many tests of life you are about to get passed with flying colors. It is important to not get carried away with the swarm of flies.

In case, you are faced with dilemma day in and day out, ask our God for His abiding help and presence. The hormonal changes and the adrenaline rush are not easy to get by, but it can be conquered.

Do Not Conform:

It is enjoyable, pleasurable, and easily addictive to conform in the ways of the fallen world. Everyone enjoyed doing sinful practices, although with guilt ridden heart. The pleasure and enjoyment can be short-lived.
Now, let see what the Bible says for a believer to follow:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

‘Dare to be different’, in a good way, in the likeness of Christ is what the Bible is teaching. Do not depend on your own interpretation of God’s word, it can be hugely misleading.

We have lived in the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air. All of us lived among them at one time, following the desires of flesh and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3) But we have been saved by the grace of God.

Not conforming also means to not go with what the majority are doing in a place or time, if our deeds would demean our faith as well as others.

Participation and separation in the fallen world is a pilgrimage in progress. (2 Cor. 6:17) Our participation to the world must not discourage others nor should our separation hurt other person, in our path to follow Christ.

The Lullaby Singer

“Papa, sing me a song. I can’t sleep,” said my children. They are requesting a lullaby that I used to sing.

So, I get near them and sang lullabies, making my voice as soft as I could. Before I know, their body softens and they slept peacefully. It works like magic. And I enjoyed every bit of it.

It is a good time for building strong relationships. A good time to cherish that someone in the world really enjoyed your presence and voicing around them. It is a great privilege, being able to do that, I would say.

Wait, what is a Lullaby? A lullaby is a song to lull young ones to sleep. While its primary objective is to put young ones to sleep, the wordings could be a reflection of the surroundings, happenings, and cultural perspectives.

You don’t need to be a good singer in singing a lullaby. It is rarely accompanied with musical instruments. The tune and words can be easily modified to suit what the Lullaby Singer wanted to express. A certain cultural traditions had their own wording and style of singing though.

Love is the ingredient of singing a good lullaby. It is a good way of shaping young thoughts, assuring our love and security being their parents. With certain modifications or my modifications, this is one example here:

Sleep Baby Sleep, My dear darling Baby
Oh my dear baby I love you, sleep baby sleep.
Your Papa and Mummy loves you, sleep baby sleep
The angels are watching you, sleep peacefully
My dear baby, I will always love you
Sleep baby sleep……..

You can keep on adding words and verses, till your baby slept or till you are done with expressing your love. Sometimes, it can be in the form of a story too.

The Lullaby Singer could easily thrived in any kind of society, be it modern, post-modern, pre-modern society. Even in the age of technology, we are still raising human not robot or some programmed character.

Reminiscence of our childhood, a lullaby could bring back. The love, of my parents and grandparents, easily flashback in my minds. They would put me in a handmade cradle or carry me in their back while singing a lullaby gently.

The soft patting on my backs and their back becoming softer and more comfortable as the lullaby proceeds, are my favorite childhood memories. I believe you have your cherish moments of the same experience.

Recalling those precious days; we lived in a village nearby the hills. When darkness was about to descended, Foxes barking or screaming from the nearby foothills can be heard. The hens panicked and rushed inside their pen. May be inspired by this, here is one lullaby, I could recall:

Sleep, sleep, baby sleep
Before the foxes scream, sleep my baby
If you don’t sleep, vixen might come
Oh hungry vixen! Leave my sweet child alone
My child, my love one, I will not let you take him.
Sleep baby sleep….and so on.

Since the foxes and vixen screaming were common, we felt happy and secure in our parents’ arm. So, we would easily fell asleep in their arms.

From this lullaby we, young ones, can learn that we are valued and would be protected. Our love for our parents also grew stronger.

A lullaby is useful in many ways: It can be a medium of feeding our best love and wisdom in their tender minds. It can be a great moment for building strong relationships. They will remember your very words when they grow up.

A lullaby could be a channel for passing on values. The values we wanted to focus depend on us. We can emphasize on the Love of God, our love for them as a parent, what we expect them to be, our culture and our traditions.

That is why, I say, it is a great privilege to be the Lullaby Singer, to my young ones. It made me felt valued, in a way.

Just as I still remember the lullabies of my parents and grandparents dearly, they would recall my Lullaby. By then, they would know what I really wanted to tell them at that time.

Raising Human

Parenting, in other words, is raising humans. It cannot be an under-performing job. More than a job, it is an obligation or duty for betterment of mankind, on a larger scale.

In my younger days, I am part of raising several domestic animals. They get matured in no time. They cannot exercise their thinking power like we do. Humans are more complicated.

Not all-wise people raised a wise person. It can be challenging yet enjoyable. Challenging, in some way that, raising a human with right values among the hugely distorted world of values, could be disheartening. Enjoyable, as we are raising our own young ones to secure a good future for us and for them.

One day, our young ones will become young adult, young leader, and succeeded the world we left behind. If we FAILED to deliver at our job, we would witness chaos in every sphere of life. Should we live long, we will suffer along with them witnessing humankind denigrating.

If I raise a good human it implies I have a bright future ahead, despite the tumultuous world. The same way, if ‘we’ raise a good human then ‘our’ future is bright, as a whole. There is no empirical formula for raising human, and I knew it too.

There is hope since we have time with us. Moreover, the Almighty Father would find worthy soul, if enough, to spare them. Yet majority would already suffered by that time.

When I started as a Stay-at-Home-Dad, I have huge hope that it would be enjoyable since I will be spending all my time with my loved ones. In that way, it is enjoyable. But my work, my job of being with them carries a huge obligation for the future of us.

Blessed in a way, I have gone through several books on parenting before I got mine. Experience of successful parents, kept in mind I started. Books, written by experts and family enthusiasts become handy in raising them.
However, one can never be a perfect parent that too I had learned, in this short span of time.

Studying psychology of children with simply giving the required Input can never be enough in reality. Humans cannot be programmed. There are insurmountable cells inside the human body, which could not be simply tamed. Humans are created in the likeness of our God, but the Creator being Superior, remember that.

It is important to stick to one side in inculcating ‘Values’. Right and wrong: we should be able to say what is wrong as wrong, not compromised, as with right values. That means we should have our standing ground firm and bold. If failed, family values, faith values would keep depreciating day by day.

Should the values keep on depreciating, our world would be heading into a catastrophic situation. Look around the present world and its leaders; do you think they possessed real moral values? They too had their parents. However, most of them tend to downgrade the moral values as a whole.

Challenges are in abundant. But with God, He can multiply our little efforts in thousands. With humans growing in large-scale, evil did grow too. Complete safeguarding is in the hands of the Lord.

Raising human is a task that cannot be completed without the might of God. Should we take everything into our own hand, it will not lasts long. We might give up mid-way due to too much stresses, it is a possibility. As huge as the task could get, it can get be enjoyable through the way, I repeated.

In the Garden of Eden, the Lord God kept Adam and Eve with clear instructions which must be abide by them. Satan wanted to destroy a family-the powerhouse of raising human. Some give-in some fight it out!

Playing It Our Own Way

“Papa, let’s play it my way”, demanded my five-year-old.

We are in the midst of playing manual games – Snakes and Ladders.

“Wait; let me think about it….” I replied. I almost gave in, to his demands.

Today he had struggled a lot. By analyzing the way we played for the last thirty minutes, several times the snakes on the board had troubled him. It is difficult to hide my compassion towards him.

“No, let’s follow the universal rule of playing this game. Keep trying!” I said.

He gave me a scorned look. But he followed my instructions; he knew I have the authority over him.

Snake and ladder for playing
Game board; Snakes and Ladders

For starters, Snakes and Ladder is a abidings-20” target=”_blank”>game played by rolling a dice, in different turn, by each player. If your counter lands at the bottom of a ladder, you climb up. And if your counter lands at the head of a snake, you slide down at the bottom of the snake. You keep rolling the dice till you reach the goal or home.

We bought the game for some reasons: One, to reduce his screen time. Two, to help him learn how to count. Three, to spent time together. It is our hope that it would resulted in us growing closer and a good time for teaching life’s values.

Let’s talk about two things:

(a) Power Play at Home;

Now, when he demanded to play his way, by altering the rules a bit, it is natural. We also did that in our childhood days and even protested with hue and cry.

In our innate being, we wanted to bend few things if it does not favored us. But our parents enforced upon us some basic rules, which are not very sweet at that time. And I am really happy they did that.

It is a very small matter. I could have simply let him bend some rules. However, tomorrow he might say, “Papa, let’s play my way again!” So, I used my God-given authority over him so that he might learn his lesson.

In today’s society, I have seen young people challenging authorities, blending the rules and creating havoc in the society. We are deprived of inner peace and harmony.

It is becoming of a trend to revolt yet all revolutions are not bad. Please don’t get me wrong.

At home, the sanctity of family hierarchy has been challenged. In many cases, it has been destroyed. Small things flourished into destruction of human lives.

(b)The Way to the Father;

In the Bible, Jesus Christ told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

We simply cannot bend or create our own way to go to the Father. There is only one way to get to the Father. No other way is given.

If we try to get to our Heavenly Father by our own way, we would perish. (John 3:16) God is beyond the challenge of human; He possessed the Highest Authority, forever and ever.

Do you think it would serve us good to depend on the wisdom of man; bending the way and playing it our own way?
In the game of life, let’s try to, at least, play it safe by following the ways of the Lord.

When failure looms large on our way of life, we are left with none to turn our ways to. This is the biggest threat to a life living on our own ways.

Abiding Grace: Beyond the Likes of our Heart

“I don’t like you, Dad.  You’re not good to me today.”

“Oh Really? What’s the matter? What do you like?”

“You don’t allow me to play.”

“Yes. Let’s practice your poem for 10-15 minutes, before you play.”

“No, Dad.  I like to play now.”

“Okay.  I will let you do whatever you like, guaranteed.  But let’s practice, first.”

“You’re real bad now, Dad.  I don’t like you.”

He looked around the house, for a while, seeking support probably.  Since there’s no one, he turned back.

“I’m sorry, Dad.  Let’s practice.  But let’s play together when we’re done, please?”

“No, my dear son let us play first.  When you’re happy, we’ll practice.”

“Thank you, Dad.  I love you!”

You already get it, I hope.  By the way, that’s me and my five-year-old son bargaining for a deal.  A father would never want to upset their children.

Let us play with blocks
Scattered playing items for children

When my children did not liked me for few moments I feel pained, it hurts.  I wanted them to like me and enjoy my company as much as I liked them.

In the meantime, I often wanted to say, at least in my mind; I gave up my career to be with you because I love you.  I am also human.  However, I try my best to not tagged myself with this tagline.  A likable dad, I wanted to be.

Many times, we don’t like the company of Jesus Christ in our daily walk of life.  We would have our own reasons.  We are not free, unable to do what we like.  Will our attitude be hurtful?  I think so.  He laid down His life, in the worst manner undeservingly, for us.

We, as a human, have our own liking.  It comes from inside and sometimes out of nowhere.  It might not be wrong to say, we like to play it our own way.  When things don’t go as we liked, we get upset.

For as long as we can play the way we liked, we tend to forget to talk to our Father, our Heavenly Father.  We don’t want to learn lessons, the very much needed lesson, for our future endeavor.  We like to avoid teachings as much as we could.

Once our path seems rocky, when we hit some stones on the road, the journey was not smooth anymore.  Then we began looking around for help.  Still, not willing to submit in His ways, at least for now, we looked around, which is a good sign.

We vent our anger and ire at our Creator; we are not struck dead, right there.  When we can express our displeasures in complete sense not trying to cause harm, it can be a huge step for building relationships.

Like the father-son relationship, we could be with our God, who is our Father.  The shedding of blood, on the cross, has made us His son.  A father seldom do things that will simply hurt their children.

In His abiding grace, He listened to us dearly, waited for us patiently.  But what will not serve us good, we did not get.  We need to get adjusted or change our approached.

Giving in, letting His ways inside us, would be the first thing to do.  It will please our heart in the long-run, beyond the human mind could foresaw.

 

Abiding Grace: Finding Hope amidst Uncertainty

Uncertainty, undeniably, is one of the ingredients in the walk of life.  It happened for a reason, may be.

My son just came back from school.  As usual, I enquired as to what they did at school.  They played and they enjoyed, which was good.  When we sent our children to school, we want them to learn something.  If their progress can be seen, we become happier.  Anyways, it doesn’t happen that way, always.

My Son doing his homework
Children; Writing practice

Some worksheets, they brought along, to be done at home.  At times, children simply didn’t follow our instructions.  And we forget they are just starting.  As a parent, we are uncertain about their future.  Parenting was never easy – you get discouraged one minute, you get happy with full of hope the other time.

Imparting knowledge, for some of us, isn’t easy.  That’s why we sent them to school, to get help while we raised them.  We want our children to blossom into stars.  However, several rounds of ‘test of patience’ needed to overcome first.  Amidst that uncertainty, we have hope when we rested the matter in God’s Abiding Grace.

investments calculation
Calculating Investments

Investments, in all its forms, had an uncertain future.  The sales person feed us good return for every policy or investment plans.  It is their job; they are trained for that purpose only.  It is us, the investors, who got stuck, if it goes awry.  We might not reap the fruit in time.

Like others, in our pursuit of happiness, we tend to invest amidst uncertainty.  We must take a risk yet it can take us into bondage.  Being unable to get rid of any investments due to unforeseen reasons is also hard to bear.  Yet, in His abiding grace, we have hope that at least we might be delivered in time.  In any type of the outcome, God’s grace is behind what led us till today.

Emptiness seen glass
Empty glass

Emptiness, inside the heart, can eat up our body too.  Several times, when I wanted to commune with God, it seems God was far away today.  When our emptiness is not filled by the Holy Spirit, it is as good as a half-dead person.  When the cup is not filled, we have nothing to offer our surroundings.  In this time of uncertainty, God’s abiding grace still abided with us although we did not feel it.

We wanted to perform good things yet we ended up doing bad things.  Without His grace not a soul will live.  Waiting silently to transform us, to fill us again, will give us hope amidst this uncertainty – the dilemma or unpredictability.

When we’re let down or we felt let down beyond our normal living, it is more difficult.  In the evening, as usual, we go out to spend time in a park nearby.  My children, in their prime, were active.  They wanted to play with me.  At times, I am unable to play with them as much as they wanted.  It isn’t easy to be in that condition.

Playing with Children in the park
Playing with Children

For every person, I hope, it is our dream to spent time with, play with our children till they get bored.  It was uncertain when would Daddy get fully fit to play with them into their hearts contentment.  Yet you don’t want to let them know of all your difficulties.  It is their happiness that comes first.  Time and again, it is my duty to give them hope and assured them of His abiding grace.  One thing is certain amidst all uncertainty, Jesus Christ died for us.  He set the path right for all of us.

Let me end herewith that in every sphere of uncertainty in our walk of life, God’s grace is abiding.  He did all the necessities unseen to our earthly eyes.  It’s just that we didn’t observe God’s work or might be ignoring it.

Let’s try to make uncertainty be just a phase in our journey.

What do you want to say to God?

“Papa, I forget my prayer lines!” exclaimed my son.  The feeling of little disappointment can be sense from his voice.  And I rushed to his rescue, immediately.

join hands while praying
Joined hands in prayer

A child needs to be taught how to pray.  I teach my children few prayer lines, which I thought, would instill the practice, and make it easier for them beginners.  Bed time, morning, and mealtime provided suitable time for such practices.

“Dear, don’t get upset,” I said to encourage him in his learning.  It is a good feeling when a child wanted to say a prayer by themselves.

In the meantime, questions like: Why do I need to pray? Is God really watching… needed to be answer sincerely and carefully.

“What will I do if I forget my lines again?” he asked.

“Son, you won’t forget again. However, if it happens again think about what you wanted to say to God.”

His eyes shone bright in excitement!

So I continued, “Because, in reality, you are talking to God when you pray.  If you are happy, say thank you to God.  If you are upset, let it be known to God.  If you want something you didn’t have  yet, you tell Him.  Then, if it’s necessary for you, God will give you.  So, say something at the least.”

“Oh! I’ll keep that in my mind next time,” said my son who now looks really excited.  And he really did it.  I’ve seen him.

Again, I asked him, “What do you want to say to God?”  The answers seem to be unending.  For a child, who did not know what to say to God a few minutes back, he was now flooded with his so many ‘thank yous’ as well as his request for himself and others he cared for.

During His time here on earth, Jesus Christ taught disciples how to pray.1 It makes me believed that one needed to be taught how to pray, especially for beginners in life and  spiritual new born.  More importantly, it is the heart which really matters than what we expressed, we are also told.

We are so blessed that we can pray anytime, anywhere, and whenever we need His presence.   God is omnipotent and preeminent, and we knew that, although there are some people who didn’t accept it.

Sometimes, being an adult human in the ‘groaning’ planet, it is difficult to get into the mood for praying.  I don’t feel connected.  The feeling of being unconnected, mostly, is because I had focus too much on myself or due to an astonishing lack of discernment.

However, in that particular time and place, I needed prayer the most.  In those moments, your priceless act of concern by praying for me will set me free.   There is no such thing as insurmountable problem in the eyes of God.

So, whether you are happy or unhappy, let me urge you to say something to God.  For your one act of random kindness by prayer will work wonders for you and for others as well.

1. Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer)