LOVE GIVES NO LEEWAY TO DECEIT

Truth and Love go together.

Lies and deceit go together.

Where there is truth, there is no place for lies – just as where there is light, there is no room for darkness to reign. In a relationship that claims to celebrate love, there is no space for deceit and hence, no space for lying and cheating.

To begin with, there is one truth all couples whether married or courting, ought to bear in mind – there are no perfect people on planet earth. And so inferring from this premise, there are no perfect couples for the world to behold!

The ones who seem to be the perfect couples to us, are as a matter of fact ‘well-adjusted’ couples. They are ones who acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses, positives and negatives, ambitions and fears, successes and failures; put up with all these facets of each other; pull each other up by turns when the other is sinking and move on ahead in life.

So if you are looking for a perfect partner, prepare for a surprise!

Relationship takes hard work. No love relationship is as rosy and as romantic as the media portrays it to be. It’s not how deeply in love you begin your relationship with, that really matters, but as you take a peek back into the years and discover the many deep love footprints cast along life’s stormy milestones, you realise how much steeped in love your relationship really has been!

 So then why do we often hear accounts of lying, cheating and distrust in relationships – more specifically in ‘love relationships’?

I am reminded of the following verse from the Bible – 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Selfish ambition, vain conceit, i.e, pride, ego and arrogance, not valuing the other person and his/her interests more than one’s own self – are some of the common reasons for lying and cheating in love relationships, which is ultimately strong proof enough of a loveless bond.

A case to help us understand this better:

A couple go out to dine together. Who decides the spread to be ordered? Whose preference dominates the order? A menu mutually decided by both, giving equal space to each other’s tastes is ideal. However, if one of them decides to order what s/he likes most and justifies it to be the best for both, thus ignoring the desire/choice of the other person, it ushers in the beginning of a chain of compromises in the relationship in the days to come. And once the pressure blows the lid off, there is ample room for lying, cheating and discord to gush in.

The problem is not lying and cheating, per se. But, if lying and cheating have entered into a relationship, it’s time to dig down and zero in on the real problem. Just as running nose, cough and vomiting are not ailments on their own, but symptoms of an underlying ailment, so also lying and cheating are just the masked symptoms of the bigger problem called ‘lovelessness’.

The antidote to ‘lovelessness’ is ‘love’. The solution to a loveless relationship is not anger, self-harm, lying, cheating, remorse, cursing one’s fate or seeking a route of escape, but to seek ways to restore love or to instill love, if there never had been any. At times, open conversation just between the couple helps. At other times, external intervention of a trusted confidant is necessary.

For a tall and strong minaret to be erected, it takes the sweat and toil of many a labouring hand, many chiselled stones and hammered wood. Well-chiselled stones and well-hammered wood make up a resilient edifice. So is it for relationships!

Do not tiptoe your way out of love. Plant your feet firmly and ask God Almighty to secure your footprints, as you celebrate love.

 

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HOW DISCERNING CAN WE BE IN MATTERS OF LOVE

Love is a beautiful emotion.

Do people want love? Yes, they do!

Do people need love? An even more emphatic, yes!

Love is an important need of every human being. Abraham Maslow once propounded a theory in psychology called, ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. According to Maslow, the third level of needs are those of Love and Belongingness.

Of the different relationships in which love is expressed and desired, heterosexual love is a natural human need which develops within an individual with age and maturity. It is a need,because we are created male and female and are made to cherish the love of a person of the opposite gender. It is not simply the kicking hormones within, but a host of neurotransmitters and other chemical secretions within the body that cumulatively contribute to this emotion called love.

So yes, anyone who gets simply carried away by those bouncy hormones within, may get to satisfy his/her sexual urge, but may still be devoid of that fulfilling emotion – love.

In many conservative cultures of the world, love and marriage are diffused concepts – love before marriage is not easily accepted, while love after marriage is not something worth aspiring for.

A few years back, I was witness to a young lady’s distress after marriage. She had been the darling daughter of her parents. But, was wedded to a man who neither loved nor cared for her. When the matter was out before both the families, the mother-in-law of the lady reportedly said that a woman has to wait for seven births to experience the love of her husband. So she has no right to complain, but to fulfill all her duties and responsibilities.

Is it unjust to desire for love? No, since it is an innate need put within all human beings by the Creator.

Love is an emotion much deeper and purer than the human heart can fathom. It is a well spring in a parched land. It is a fountain of life. It is a lusturous overgrowth under an evergreen canopy. It is an emotion which cannot be described in words, but needs to be felt in the heart.

But sadly, many-a-times it is so camouflaged under the garb of lust and infatuation that it diminishes the true essence of the emotion. At other times, relationships seem so mechanical that there is no space for love to spring up in them.

Love is definitely not a taboo. But, extracautious vigilant parents and family members see it as a taboo. If explained, expressed and exemplified in the right way, there is no worry as to why the beauty of love cannot be witnessed.

Society doesn’t approve of the public display of love before and out of marriage – which no doubt, should not be approved. But, why do married couple irrespective of age hesitate to express their love to their spouses when in public – when they have all the liberty to do so? (By this, I do not mean explicit acts of sexual nature) Why is no one bothered to make amends when love is lost in a marriage, but quick to point out fingers to a male and female walking together without marriage?

Points to ponder on!

REGRETS HAVE NO VALUE – II

As her car driver made his way through the heavy traffic, Nina picked up from where her thoughts had trailed off. This was not the first time that she had allowed her mind to wander off in the direction of her past. Still, it seemed as a fresh gush of thoughts.

It was not as if only Ankit was shattered that day when she had refused his proposal. She was broken too! Broken within, but wearing a bold outward appearance. She had to. She could not let Ankit see her heart break into smithereens. How else, would he then move away from her? How else, would he be able to pick himself up and move on in life? Love can’t bear to see the loved one in pain.

She had gulped her tears in silence. A hundred thoughts kept shooting across her mind that day. Would she able to carry on with life without Ankit? How would she overcome this deep chasm? She felt as if she was alone in the storm and her anchor was slipping away from her. Would she survive or sink?

What had made Nina decide to move away from Ankit? Didn’t she love him? She knew she did. And she was sure of his love for her too.

“Answer me, why?”, Ankit had asked. Nina had answered with silent tears. Not a word.

How much she blamed herself for the betrayal! She couldn’t look at herself in the mirror. She had played with Ankit’s feelings and had left him when she didn’t want to commit. How selfish she had been!

Ankit had resigned from the job and had moved to another town immediately afterwards.

The reason why Nina had hesitated to commit to Ankit that day seemed less significant today. Perhaps she should have taken the risk!

Risk?? Startled by the word, she asked herself, “Is love a risk?” No, it is not. “Is commitment a risk?” Probably, yes. “Is commitment in love, a risk?” Probably, yes too! But, then that’s what life is!

She had discussed the entire episode with her psychologist – Dr. Laura, who had been a friend, guide and Counsellor to her for the past many years. Nina had decided to seek therapeutic care for herself when she arrived at the conclusion that she needed to come out from a traumatic childhood, which had resulted in Sleep Disorders.

Her father had worked for the government while her mother was a teacher. Nina was the elder of two siblings – her sister being five years younger to her. From the time she had gained understanding, Nina was witness to the daily episodes of parental dispute. Adding on to the trauma, was her mother’s harsh treatment towards her (which Nina later got to know from her therapy sessions, to be her mother’s way of taking out her own frustration of being ill-treated and unloved by her husband).

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

As a child, she grew with the impression that she was unwanted. Her parents fought savagely. Her mother hated her. There was no joy and peace in life. She had once thought of committing suicide. But, that time her godly grandmother had stopped her and had comforted her. Her grandmother had told her that day, “Nina, life is God’s precious gift to you. You are special. Don’t give up your life for the wrongdoings of others. Live your life for yourself and for the glory of God.”

These strong words had stayed with Nina all the years of her life.

But she had decided even as a child, that she would never commit to a man. She would under no circumstances go through what her mother had gone through. She would not let another generation of children suffer the way she and her sister had suffered.

 

THINK BEFORE YOU DREAM

Think before you dream!! Do we really need to think before we dream? Does dreaming need careful preplanning? What then would be a dream that requires careful calculations and speculations?

This may seem to be an article with a negative note. But, I chose to write it so as to give a peek into many dreams that are left unrealized. I have seen many dreams shattered simply because things didn’t eventually add up when the time came for the rosy dreams to see the light of the day.

Instance 1

A boy excelling in his studies had lofty dreams of making it big in life – to go abroad for higher studies and fulfill his ambition. He was confident of making it big. When the time came however, he had to give in to emotional pressure from his parents who wanted their son to stay close to them and not go abroad. “We don’t want you to excel, just doing decently in your career is enough for us”, were their very words. There was no space for the dreams and aspirations of the son. The son was torn between two equally vital options – either choose career over parents and live with a lifetime of guilt or choose parents over career and regret not making it big in life. No amount of logic or patient explanation could succeed in persuading his parents. Reluctantly, he had to bow down to his emotional self and chose parents over career. He came to this conclusion that he ought to have dreamed according to his parents’ thought process and not his own – he would not have to live with the regret of unfulfilled lofty dreams, then!

Some may say that the son could have done a better job at convincing his parents, or he may have taken a bold decision of achieving his dreams and then his parents would have been proud enough not to hold a grudge against their son, or some others may say that the son was too emotional. Whatever be our respective opinions – the truth is that such a dilemma is faced by many people around us. Is it then wise to think, measure and calculate before dreaming and aspiring?

Instance 2

(Would be better understood by Indians who are familiar with the age-old caste system)

A young successful professional in her late 20s desperate to marry the love of her life who is successful, of the same religion, of an impeccable character, but of a different caste. Assuming initial hesitation, but eventual acceptance by her parents, she has nurtured her love for twelve long years only to face threats of dire consequences from her own beloved family members, when the time comes for her love to fructify. Threats of mass suicide of family members, murder of the boy and his family, coercing a marriage with a caste member at the earliest, creating ruckus at her workplace – all these make her say in lament, “I should have known my parents mindset well before basking in the bliss of love.” Torn between the dilemma of leaving the one with whom she has dreamed of living and loving together and losing her parents who are ready to kill themselves for the sake of caste honour, she sighs, “I ought to have thought before dreaming!”

Instance 3

A young uneducated woman, widowed in the eighth month of her pregnancy, abandoned by her family, raped on the streets while alone with her baby turns to prostitution to fend for her little one. She dreams of a good future for her son. Years pass by and the little one is now a young educated man. Coming to a knowledge of his mother’s life, he hates her for it. With piercing pain in her heart as she reflects over agonizing years, she says, “I wish I had thought before dreaming of a bright future for my son! It would have been better to have begged on the streets and taught my son the art of begging.”

Some may say that the woman could have chosen some other means of earning money – maybe as a maid or by begging rather than selling herself to a brothel. Some may point at the heartless son. Whatever be the case, this is the untold story of sacrifice of many women. And, it is true.

Instance 4

A mother of two decides to walk out of an abusive relationship so that her children are not exposed to aggression and violence everyday. She dreams of an emotionally healthy environment for her children. She works hard to provide for their needs and wants. She showers the best possible love and affection on them. However, one grows up to be a truant and another a rebel. A Counsellor tells her that these disruptive behavior patterns are largely because of a father-absent family. Tears flowing down her cheeks, the mother sighs, “I ought to have thought before dreaming! Had I put up with the domestic violence, maybe my children would have been well-adjusted with a father still around them!”

What then? Should/can we always think before dreaming? Is it possible? Won’t many of us stop dreaming, then? Are properly planned dreams feasible always? Is it not necessary for people to understand the dreams of others and ensure that they are fulfilled? Do properly planned events become successful always? If not, why are we so reluctant to accommodate the dreams of others?

Worth pondering, for sure!

DESPERATE, ARE YOU?

Desperation can be simply defined as despair resulting from unfulfilled aspirations. In other words, it is a feeling of hopelessness resulting from a deep desire/longing within the heart which has thus far remained unfulfilled. The feeling of desperation may not always be for big and lofty aspirations. What makes a person desperate depends upon his/her desire.

A fatherless child may be desperate for fatherly love. A person facing repeated failures may be desperate for a success. A couple in love may be desperate to make their relationship see the beautiful bond of marriage. An athlete may be desperate to win at various competitions. A person caught in the traffic may be desperate to reach the airport in time so as not to miss the flight. A poor woman on the street may be desperate to get just enough food so that her children don’t spend another hungry day.

Let’s not confuse desperation with desire. Desperation is one step ahead of desire. Desperation unsettles a person. It creates a sense of covert chaos which is many times reflected in the overt behavioural patterns. Desperation may lead a person to go beyond the set boundaries and end up doing the unwanted.

I am reminded of an incident from the history of Israel.

It was a time when food supplies had run short. The scarcity in the land was great and things that could never be considered to be food (donkey’s head and dove manure) were sold at a premium price. One day while the king of Israel was passing by, a woman called out to him for help. The king expressed his helplessness saying that there was no food available in the kingdom which he could offer her. But the woman had another problem. Unable to bear the pain of hunger, she had agreed with another woman to kill and eat their own children. So, they killed and cooked her son and ate. But, when the turn came for the other woman to give her son, she refused. And so, she wanted justice. Hearing this, the king tore his clothes in despair as the people of his kingdom had to stoop down to such a level.

The desperation for food drove two mothers to think of eating their children. Unimaginable for most of us! As horrific as this may seem, such incidents do happen in various parts of the world even today. Parents offering their children as sacrifices to deities – desperate to come out of financial debt and prosper in business. People drinking water from sewers and cooking with drain water in the absence of potable water – desperate to quench their thirst. Barbaric incidents of rapes and sexual crimes – desperate need to meet sexual urges.

Three chief causes of desperation

Firstly, it is situational. As in case of extreme hunger and poverty, it is the innate desire for survival which leads to a desperate act. The question of surviving with dignity or looking for choices does not even arise here. It is simply about existence. Such a desperation may cause one to do even the menial of tasks or even sell one’s self. Bonded labour and slavery are some such examples. The bonded labourers and slaves never had choices – they never could think of any. Poverty drove them to submit to the high and mighty. Desperation to save a dying friend, may lead one to flout the rules of the hospital. Urgency to reach the workplace in time, may make one to violate traffic rules.

Secondly, inability to accept NO for an answer. A spurned lover desperate to avenge his rejection, attacks the girl he claims to have been in love with. Being refused a toy by the mother, a child may go ahead and grab the toy or roll on the ground or hit his head on the wall.

Thirdly, inability to control one’s desires. A desperate longing to be wealthy makes many to take bribes, carry out illegal financial transactions and go in for unreasonable deals. Desperate sexual desires result in visiting prostitutes, raping minors and the aged, watching pornography, masturbation and other violent crimes.

The unsettling turbulent feeling of desperation ceases only when the object in question has been attained. We heave a sigh of relief in catching a running train that we were so desperate not to miss. A father-to-be beams with smiles as his desperate wait to see his wife through a safe delivery ends and he holds a healthy baby in his arms.

In other words, desperation comes to an end when the object of desperation is achieved. Desperation increases when the object in question seems far out of reach. We need to deal with desperation in a healthy way. Since it is a spontaneous feeling of anxiety, it won’t do much good to stifle it. Dealing with it rightly and helping others to do so, is the answer.

Have you ever felt desperate for something? How did you deal with it? Let’s share so that we have a repository of information as to how to deal with our desperate moments without wrecking our nerves or doing something atrocious.

GOOD TIDINGS FOR NEW BEGINNINGS

Ring out the old,

Ring in the new,

Swipe out that which is worn,

Usher in the new morn.

That which once started as new with warm wishes of happiness and prosperity filling the air, has become obsolete today. A few more hours and we would finally bid farewell to another calendar year and welcome a new year with its promises and challenges.

For many, ushering in a new year spells plans for festivities and celebrations. After all, we need to enter into the unseen with positive vibes and merriment around us! For some others however, there is not much reason for celebration. The year behind has shown them so much pain that they shudder to think what more the coming year would hold for them.

There are another category of people for whom each day is alike. Each day holds similar challenges – nothing new to anticipate, no merriment, no enjoyment. Think about the daily wagers around us. They may not even have enough money to buy a box of sweets to celebrate the incoming of another year. They hardly have a track of the days and months that pass by – depending upon the more fortunate to give them updates about the days, months, years and events.

No matter which of the above groups we belong to, all would agree that each day, each moment casts imprints that stay etched in our memories. Some episodes are such that we would not want to remember, while some events are such that we would not want to forget. However, who can ever claim a control over the power of the brain!

As we step out of this year and let it go out of our hand, let’s take some time to reflect on the events that have gone by. The way we started the first day of this year and the way we are about to bid it good bye – we have treaded so many steps, dreamt so many dreams and may be even got some of them fulfilled, seen many newborns, bid a teary-eyed farewell to many loved ones, struggled through sicknesses – our own and/or that of family and friends, tolerated difficult colleagues and friends, waded through financial struggles, endured certain criticisms and ridicule, basked in the glory of praise and appreciation, many regrets of things done and of those left undone, the delights of novelties experienced and so on.

Surely, the year that is about to pass by has had its highlights. And if you and I reflect on all things, we would agree without doubt that many of the occurrences were beyond our control. They just happened and we had the choice whether to accept them and move forward or lament over them and curse our fates.

However ways things have gone by, as we find ourselves at the threshold of another year, let’s take a few moments to thank God Almighty for His Sovereignty over our lives. Let’s also take some time to confess our wrongdoings before God, before our loved ones and before those whom we may have hurt by our words and actions. Let external celebrations not mask our internal shortcomings.

I want to wish you hope, joy, peace and love for the year that is to come. No matter how the last year has been, tomorrow springs newness. New dreams, new hope, new milestones, new happenings – all meant to strengthen us in this journey of life.

“. . . all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”

Wishing you all new beginnings with good tidings – a wonderful year ahead in which you choose to walk closely with God and experience His goodness in your life!

LIFE – A MYSTERY YET TO BE COMPLETELY UNRAVELLED

Life is an adventure, say some.

Life is a challenge, say others.                     

Life is a puzzle for many, while for some others it’s just a smart juggle.

No great philosopher of the world has been able to give a comprehensive definition of ‘life’. Many have tried, but succeeded in giving only a partial picture.

Thinking of ‘life’, the first thing that comes to mind is the biological aspect of it. In simple terms, anything that has breath is said to be living.

So then where does this breath come from? You and I cannot infuse breath into a non-living object and make it living. We do not have that power.

To quote a verse from the account of creation given in the Bible – “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”

Hence, the source of all life (plants, animals and human beings, though we will limit the purview of this article to human life only) is the Creator God Himself. He alone is the source and the sustainer of life. For this reason, keeping all debates aside, taking of life – be it by abortion, euthanasia, suicide or murder is a sin against the Creator – the life giver. Scientific advancements have made it possible for clones and humanoid robots to be invented, which is all marvelous indeed but, cannot in any way be equated with the creation of the Creator.

Life is meant to be social. The social aspect of life ensures that human beings live in a social relationship with fellow humans and not in isolation. Hence, the innate desire of human beings to seek and forge relationships of various kinds. Sociological research has enough data to establish that lack of human contact robs humanness of human beings. Social apathy is considered to be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder.

Life is a myriad of emotions. Without emotions, there won’t be much of a difference between human beings and vegetables. Socio-biological humans laugh, cry, love and live as an expression of their emotionality.

Adding to all the above, is the spiritual aspect of each human being. Having been created by God, there is a God-shaped vacuum inbuilt within each person. Some choose to seek and fill this vacuum by a relationship with God, some choose to substitute this space by things and people other than God, while some others decide to ignore and stifle this vacuum altogether.

All the above aspects put together give us a holistic picture of human life in general – as it ought to be. Take one slice out of it, and the picture will be fragmented.

This being life, the purpose of it is important as well. At times, we tend to flow along with the tide without sparing a thought towards its purpose and direction. That’s when the going seems easy. But, if we stop and ponder, things may not make much sense. Where is all this heading? Where am I heading? Earning, eating, drinking, enjoying, raising children, taking care of family, growing old and then waiting for death – is this all what life is all about? Or is there anything beyond this?

Sometimes, our actions seem meaningless. Sometimes, the daily toils and struggles seem monotonous beyond description so much so that we try our best to attach meaning to life by way of our jobs, children, spouse, etc.

If we look around, try to stretch our thinking skills and try to look for a complete meaning of life, it would not be possible for us to succeed at it. The reason being that while in our physical states we cannot, completely comprehend the meaning and purpose of something that has more to it than mere physical existence.

Life is more than the body.

Life is more than living, earning and procreating.

Life is more than the mundane humdrum of daily hassles.

The entirety of life can be understood only in eternity. Till then, a part of it remains a mystery. Instead of unsuccessfully trying to unravel the mystery (which can never be unraveled in the duration of our earthly existence), we can live this life to its fullest by living the revealed life to the best.