The Highlight of Titien’s Life: GRACE
So, now you know a bit more about Titien.
I was messed up, I was lost, I had weaknesses and conflicts, I am imperfect.
Any regrets? Well of course I have, things I wish I didn’t do or I could do better.
But when I look back now, I can only feel grateful. Grateful for my past, my present, and for my future.
Because I see that God is there in every situation of my life, which in the past I couldn’t see.
So this is the highlight of my life: Grace.
I have been a Christian for 17 years, but not until last year when I was staying in the hospital for 2 months, I finally understand what is God’s grace and what is trusting Him by heart.
What is the definition of grace?
“the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”- Google
“Grace is the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless. God is gracious in action.”- Baker Encyclopedia
“Grace is a participation in the life of God, which is poured unearned into human beings, whom it heals of sin and sanctifies.”-Wikipedia
To make it easier to understand:
Justice – is getting the bad that we deserve,
Mercy – is NOT getting the bad that we deserve,
Grace – is getting good that we DON’T deserve.
::: Grace is not an accounting game
In the past, good with mathematics me, I played accounting with God.
If I do good thing, then God owes me (I deserve blessings). If I do bad thing, then I owe Him (undeserved blessings, God might hold it, while karma is awaiting).
Same thing, I was also playing accounting with God on others.
If he/she wronged me, then they’re in God’s debt, and God’s owing me as the victim who forgives them.
Debits credits plus minus, I do not understand grace. I couldn’t believe Him by heart.
‘Calculating grace’ mindset is a blind mindset. This lead me into many disappointments. While the truth is: all my sins and my debts were paid when Jesus died on the cross. My name was erased from the indebted lists book. It is finished.
::: Grace is by faith not by performance
This kind of ‘counting’ mindset was rooted deeply not only in my spiritual life but also in my daily life.
I used the pride of my career, my beauty, my possessions to attract acceptance from others.
I posted about my colorful activities and my looks on social media to gain attention and acceptance.
Of course, don’t get me wrong, appearance is important. But what I’m saying here is me in the past, I could manipulate others’ view with my appearances. Others may think Titien is having a great job, she’s going to church, she’s partying hard with friends, she’s surrounded by hot guys and girls, she dresses awesome, she’s doing business. Wow! she must be an outstanding successful strong confident happy woman. Meanwhile me behind the curtain was insecure, hurting others, depressed and unhappy.
Appearance can be superficial and unreal. Chinese idiom said 人不可貌相 海水不可斗量(rénbùkěmàoxiàng hǎishuǐbùkědǒuliáng) means you can’t judge a person by appearance, just as you can’t measure the sea with a pint pot.
I see some christians, like me, were hiding weaknesses and shame behind the curtain. Some churches were pulling down the curtain, and instead of coming as humanity doctor, church leaders judging them to better fix it themselves before coming back to church.
This ‘performance’ mindset misled my attitude that I have to be in control always, and when I messed up in life, I tried to fix it, but I failed and got depressed. However, my experiences showed that I will never be able to fix humanity.
Until the truth drops in my heart. That is what Christ has done for me. And I believed.
Some friends commenting:
“Titien, you’re so strong fighting cancer,”
“You’re so strong that you can walk away from depression”,
“You’re strong that you left your unhealthy relationship”, etc.
Honestly, for years I was stuck and stagnant. I was weak. It’s only because of His goodness that at the end, I decided not to stay there in the dark, but got up and turned.
::: Grace is sustainable
My ‘counting’ mindset, finally changed to ‘grace’ mindset.
Does it mean that I have no more pressure now and no fear for the future?
No. I’m not that strong.
24 hours every second I could feel the tingling pain on my left arm, and see double. It’s impossible for me for one second to forget my disease. Sometimes I’m crying from feeling tired bearing my pain. Sometimes I felt worry about tomorrow of another symptoms. But this feeling is temporary, and grace was, is and will keep carrying me on. Grace sustains me.
There are 3 verses that were rooted in me while staying in the hospital last year:
1. He gives and not take away
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10 NIV
2. He is immutable
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8 NIV
3. He is with me
“….And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
Matthew 28:20b NIV
It took me a while to understand and then fully trust The Savior from the bottom of my heart. But, once I did. His blessings and mercy and grace came flowing to me. I read and understood verses like never before. I finished reading the New Testament given by a stranger (a friend of a friend of a friend of my friend Kayan). Best gift ever when I was in the hospital. It was full of very interesting, wonderful and loving messages!
I could trust Him like an anchor stuck at the bottom of the sea, because He’s eternal not temporary.
Since then, I feel so free.
I was thinking of people out there who were depressed, who were about to give up, who were lonely, who were heart broken, who were lost, who were dealing with hard times, who were dealing with difficulties. I wish I could encourage them (which I don’t know how to put it into words): “I am sorry that you have to experience this pain and pressure, it’s hard, but don’t give up, ever. Get up, one step at a time, small steps then big steps, you’ll fly again I’m sure.
You could grab opportunities that are coming to you, you could explore more, and enjoy what you have now.
You’re still here, and you can and able to do things.
Don’t let one person, or one job, one rejection, one circumstance, one conflict stop you growing and chain you, or makes you blind from seeing other things. Life is complex and beautiful. Grace is always there with you.”
Grace is amazing. I really like the song of amazing grace, my favorite is the version by Chris Tomlin.
“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
Beautiful song isn’t it?
::: Grace sets me free
Grace changed my perspective and my attitude.
I’m still Titien who finds it hard to say no to friends, but this time not for acceptance but out of love.
I’m still Titien who is showing pictures on social media, even writing posts like this, but not to gain approval but to share the love that I received.
I’m still Titien who is clumsy, bothers others with lame jokes, honey monster, likes to munch chips, and likes to eat instant noodles with spicy sauce when my husband is not home, and gets annoyed with messy rooms.
I’m still Titien who has superb ideas, but unfortunately very few I really implement. For example since I failed in making bath bombs recently, I have not tried again. There are still sacks of ingredients in our flat (20 kg, well hidden under our bed. Don’t tell Tobias).
I’m still Titien who loves traveling, but this time is also to show others to do things they can do. While we are able or still can do, do hobbies and sports that we like.
Grace is the reason why I forgive and get healed, why I’m no longer shaken if others reject me, or disappoint me. Why I no longer try to get approval or acceptance by humans or circumstances.
Even when I obey His words, not because of fear, but out of love. When I mess up, I know that nothing can separate me from His love. I don’t need to work on God’s approval, because it’s already in my hand. So, best days or worst days, I’m anchoring on the grace.
::: Grace is for free
It is funny that it took me so long to finally understand by ‘accepting’ that grace is free, to believe by heart.
For some while, I was busy learning how to impress and forget on learning how to accept, to receive.
I remember me and Tobias in our early stage of relationship and just diagnosed with brainstem tumor, he often said “please learn to accept the fact that I love you unconditionally, I will not give up to show it to you until you feel secured”.
When I have nothing to show off nor to impress. When I’m losing my physical ability, my beauty is fading, speech is stuttering. I am loved.
When I want to see the blue skies outside. My husband pushed my wheelchair and showed to the world his affection for me. I am secured.
When I felt lonely with my disease, friends created prayer group-chats and visited me.
I believe that God through Tobias and my friends carries me and loves me.
Now, physically I am stronger. I want to do more to encourage others too. Because now I’m overflowed with grace, with love and with happiness.
So, either we are ready or not ready, believe and accept the grace is there for us. Grace is Jesus.
When I asked for critics of my writings to my husband and friends, some commenting on me being too biblical. I tried to find way to write not too biblical. But I don’t know how to do it. So, I boldly share with you my journey, including biblical part that is part of my life journey.
So, 1 year post biopsy.
1 year since my life has changed.
I learned, I saw, I accepted grace.
My hope is that each of us, the imperfect us with life trials could understand that no matter what comes and goes, dont quit and don’t give up, the grace is there, for free for us to receive it, and to be blessed and rejoice.
“For it is by GRACE you have been SAVED, through FAITH—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—”
Ephesians 2:8 NIV
“that God was reconciling the WORLD to himself in Christ, NOT COUNTING people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV
“But he said to me, “My grace is SUFFICIENT for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on WORKS; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6 NIV
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were STILL sinners, Christ DIED FOR us.” Romans 5:8 NIV
“NOT by works, so that NO ONE can boast.”
Ephesians 2:9 NIV
“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was credited to him as RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation.”
Romans 4:1-4 NIV
“Trust in the LORD with all your HEART and lean not on your own understanding;”
Proverbs 3:5 NIV
““For I am the LORD, I do not change;…”
Malachi 3:6b NKJV
““I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who IS, and who WAS, and who IS TO COME, the Almighty.””
Revelation 1:8 NIV
“Because God wanted to make the UNCHANGING NATURE of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an ANCHOR for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary BEHIND the curtain,”
Hebrews 6:17-19 NIV