GivingTuesdayJasmineIt’s Giving Tuesday!

If you know me and care about me, this is a gift, for you.

There are many people this year I wish I could’ve shared more of life with, in person. Sharing makes life meaningful.

But it wasn’t possible: I’ve been under immense pressure, my writings have been sparse. I hope you enjoy this: my best effort at sharing life with you.

Upheaval and distress

I feel like weeping now that we’ve reached year’s end: in relief and gratitude. It’s been a year of upheaval and distress.

Driven by a need to know and be sure, I wrestled intensely trying to get to the bottom of several complex issues this year.

I found more questions than answers in some respects, and it distressed me greatly for a time. Why do people hold on to diametrically opposite beliefs with such confidence?! One party is almost certainly dead wrong. It took awhile before I learnt to be more comfortable living with uncertainty.

In other areas, it was rewarding to further develop my views. I continued to benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before. A remark from my esteemed colleague David d’Lima left a deep impression when I told him I struggle to figure out what is right and wrong:

Dear Jasmine,

Only Christ is right, and I’m always keen to hear from various perspectives.

We only have a partial grasp of the truth. Last weekend the woman in Melbourne came to pro-life conviction by observing relationships and behaviour, not the banners, at the March for the Babies. But to justify intellectually her decision afterwards, she must also have good arguments, especially if her boyfriend is outraged that he must now support triplets.

Have fun,

David

Grief

Strained, severed relationships took their toll on me this year. I grieved for many months.

To friends I don’t see much of anymore: I think of you fondly. I’m sorry if you feel disappointed. I say this with sincere graciousness: you disappointed me too.

Tests

The heat, intensity and relentlessness of battle tested me. Fatigue tested me. I nearly caved, nearly folded.

Discontent

I never thought I would ever be materially discontented. I had to struggle with that this year. I had opportunity to struggle with my character. I had opportunity to realise that I need to learn to handle frustration and imperfection with more wisdom and grace.

Displacement

For the first time in my four years in Australia, I grappled with a deep sense of cultural displacement. The differences became more distinct as I learnt more about this land and its people. Who am I? Where do I belong? What am I doing here? Could I ever belong to this foreign land?

Through all of this, gratefully, I was…

…enveloped by love

Many lovely people enriched my life this year, from a 3-year-old to a 92-year-old. I appreciated the opportunity to be in a community where links between the generations remained.

A group of women extended friendship and hospitality to me. Lou, Veronica, Kate, Thanh, Mel, Amanda, Pat, Danie: thank you for modelling what it means to journey faithfully together. For modelling different ways to be women.

I needed fathering and mothering. I found a set of parents who provided for me. KayWee and Jessie, there is no way to thank you for your practical Christian love. Thank you for passing on your knowledge and wisdom.

I learnt how to cook.

Cupcakesmilk breadGod must have known my heart’s desires – He still surprises me. I am grateful and thrilled that Jessie taught me how to cook this year. Alas I haven’t been a very good student, but I could not have asked for a better teacher. I hope I’ve become a  more hospitable person. I learnt all sorts of practical skills from KayWee and Jessie. I hope I can use them to serve Him better.

Rediscovering dreams.

What a delight to find my dreams, still here. Only in recent weeks have they started returning to me. Music. Dancing. Art. Spontaneity and beauty. They fill me with happiness.

I’ve only been able to do small bits and pieces this year, but the dreams remain alive deep inside. Beauty changes the world. It truly does.

God provided faithfully.

That’s the best summation of my year. I praise Him for his faithfulness. For giving me fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends.

I thank my Father that He is my strength when I am weak.

As we stagger and stumble to walk where You lead, give us faith to be strong…

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