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Archive for April, 2010

Dear God:

You’re so good to me.

I don’t get why,

but I’m really grateful.

In times when I’m in doubt, you prove that you’re there even though you don’t have to.
When I’m tired, beaten down, and feel like my body’s going to break, you give me life.
I was wondering, hollow, angry, sad, lost,

and you found me

again.

Praise the Lord, today, everyday, always.

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Fighting fate.

I sometimes feel entitled to my own emotions — anger, sadness, frustration. There are some days when I don’t want to take the higher road and just let something go like it was nothing, days when the “Jesus answer” simply isn’t enough. Times when I want to actually express how I feel, when it gets too much for me and I feel like I can’t just let God take it away.

But other people have to suffer for that, and in that way, I feel cursed.

I was raised in a family where apologies weren’t enough. It wasn’t enough to give one, and it wasn’t enough to receive one. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of my family members, including myself, apologize to each other for something deeply hurtful, like yelling or threatening or striking each other. We’ve always chosen the low road, letting things smooth over in a way that doesn’t allow us to forget how we’ve wronged each other, only push it to the back of our minds so that some day they can boil over again.

I’ve never really learned to apologize. I do my best to, but even then, I’m not very good at it, whatever that means. Then again, only once in my life have I received an apology for something deeply hurtful where the person understood why I was hurt, and that took almost two years to get around to. And I almost leapt up for a victory lap on that one.

But it’s not a victory. Everytime we apologize or receive an apology, everytime we admit that we were wrong, it’s like straightening out a painting on a wall. Something went wrong, and you can only do your best to put it as close to what it was before as possible. But sometimes, while straightening out that painting, you realize that the spot on the wall where the painting is at isn’t even the right one for it.

Turn it inwards, I used to think. I thought that if I forced those negative feelings onto myself, it’d be like paying back the way that I’d hurt a friend. But it’s too easy to become angry with myself, to envelope myself in hatred and bring myself down as far as possible. And nobody wins that way. Nobody. Only more hurt can result from it, and in that way, I’ve been wrong for a solid portion of my life.

But sometimes explaining why things are the way they are isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to create a reason why things don’t have to be the way they are to make things right.

My reason?

“Men dream, aspire, and through indomitable force of will achieve the impossible.”

Because I love my friends, and more than that, I love people; part of that is learning how to forgive and be forgiven.

And maybe I still don’t know how to bring out of my mouth what I feel in my heart, but I do mean it. And I am sorry.

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Hakuna matata.

I’m scratching my chin, wondering what the re-opening of the International Development Studies major means.

I think my exact words were, “God, I’m thinking that this major might be kind of perfect for me. This is exactly what I studied and loved in high school, right? But it’s closed, and that sucks. So I’ll go for something else. Communications, maybe. But if this is what You want me to study, then You’ll open up the door. That simple.”

And it’s probably true that the major would have opened again regardless; I had no grasp on the situation or why it was closed in the first place. Apparently it was a large influx of students that did it. That’s one way to think about it, at least.

I think I’ve said before that I try not to interpret everything as a sign from God. Life would be spent mostly on analyzing, not that it isn’t already.

Plus, I’m told to worry about it on a later date. I don’t have to choose classes again for a few months, don’t have to declare a new major for another year and a half at most, and I have three midterms within two days next week. I’ve got more pressing issues to worry about.

So I’m here, holed up in my room (amazing, right?), studying (even more amazing), with very few distractions (nearly impossible). And in about the first thirty seconds of my study break, I recall a time about two and a half months ago when I sat in front of a TV and nearly cried.

PS I Love You wasn’t playing on TBS (though, if it were, you can bet that I would’ve watched that instead), but rather, if you recall from my posts ye many weeks ago, it was a newscast about the going-ons in Haiti. Dead bodies in piles, bulldozers forcing mounds of dirt beneath which human bodies lie into holes, an informal ceremony of passing for hundreds, maybe thousands.

I would later be listening to a talk by Francis Chan called, “How to respond when bad things happen,” known better to me as, “Shit happens. What now?” (Excusez-moi.) Part of the talk was geared towards talking about how people go out into the world to serve in places that they feel they are needed. Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross, World Health Organization, etc. But those people also find themselves being serve in the places that they travel to.

A woman traveling to Haiti to provide relief packages (pre-earthquake) would enter a Haitian woman’s house only to have her feet washed by the Haitian; a somewhat reverse of what is expected or even desired, right? In Francis’ words: “No, don’t do that! Why? I’m here to serve you, why are you…” The picture of a woman already lowered by poverty voluntarily lowering herself more in servitude to this stranger from America.

The Haitian woman would later die in the earthquake, her body perhaps amongst the soil that was indiscriminately pushed into a mass grave.

Thinking about it, I’ve always known where I would end up. Out there, somewhere in the world where I’m needed. To provide relief. To save lives. To give love where none is available. To build. To change. To create a foundation on which people can live their lives better, whatever that means.

I don’t think I ever intended to stay, come to think of it. Not since I began to learn about the rest of the world, anyway. On the same planet on which I was abused and abandoned were also hundreds of thousands who had gone through the same, worse, and at the same time were starved for food and drink, living in communities susceptible to infectious disease, and working everyday of their lives.

Even when I was a pre-med student (a now far away dream, thanks to common sense), I wanted to be one of the doctors who went out and worked in areas hit by natural disasters or where diseases had such a deep impact and no medical care was available. It was what kept me thinking, “What if?” after I had changed my mind.

So now, maybe (and just maybe), I’m starting to understanding a little bit about why exactly I shouldn’t worry about my college major just yet. I’m thinking that every road that leads out from this point converges on an objective that I was catching glimpses of in my freshman year of high school. Because no matter which way I think about it, I end up somewhere else doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

But maybe I shouldn’t be so adamant about it. After all, I still need to listen to what God has in store for me; that’s what really matters. Because if I follow that path, then I know that I’ll be doing something important. It’s hard to know or try to catch onto what that is, though. Heck, they might even be the same thing. Eh, who knows, I’m not even a quarter of the way done with this leg anyway.

Besides, that’s just another worry that I don’t need to think about right now.

Don’t worry, kid
You just keep walking
Do what you love
I made you with those passions
With unlimited capability
So that you could use them
These roads converge
There is no wrong answer
So don’t worry, kid
You just keep walking
I’ll shield you from the lightning
But not from the rain
Pick you up when you fall
But let you fall
So you can learn
And grow
Seriously, don’t worry
Keep walking
And trust Me.

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Thanks.

Thanks for reminding me that You’re not just sitting there chewing on popcorn while I go through my life.

Thanks for reminding me that when fifty awesome coincidences happen all at once, You’re looking out for me.

Thanks for reminding me that even when what I’m perceiving isn’t exactly what I want, it’s still leading me closer to You.

Thanks for reminding me that You’ve got a crazy good plan for me.

Thanks for reminding me of promises that I made and why I have to keep moving forward.

Thanks for reminding me that the impossible is possible.

Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone in all of this.

Thanks for reminding me that I have awesome friends who somehow tolerate me.

Thanks for reminding me that I’m appreciated.

Thanks for reminding me that I’m loved.

I really needed it.

Someday, I hope I won’t have to be reminded. That I’ll just know and be satisfied in You. That my heart would be so aligned with Your will that I’d know what I was doing was right and good.

But that’s a long ways away.

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Just.

I keep trying to ascribe some set of words to how I feel at the moment.

In the physical sense, it’s easy: I feel like crap. Since I grew concerned enough about my sickness to pray about it, my body’s been thrown into a frenzy. Not being able to speak without coughing is one thing, feeling like I’m getting the people around me sick is another, the coughing fits and sleep apnea ruining my resting time stacks on top of that, not to mention the brand-spanking new headache I have today, plus the frustration of not being able to understand why I’m so sick or why I don’t feel like I’m getting better. I’m trying to see some trace of God in the situation, how I could learn from being ill — not depending on my own strength to get me by and whatnot, but all of that’s starting to get blurred with an inability to focus on anything. I’m pretty much throwing my hands up and going, “Okay, God, I get the point, can we cut the crap now?” But I’m also probably not getting the point with an attitude like that.

My brain’s a different story altogether. Attempting (with some success but mostly failure) to obtain rest in the past couple of days has given me some time to reflect on my life. The last few months feel like they’ve been years. On the one hand, I feel calm, like this ocean finally wants to give me a break; the sky opens, the sun rains its light down on me. On the other, I feel rushed, like I don’t have enough time in my day to get everything in that I want and need to get in.

I sometimes wish my life could just get simple for a few days.

But there’s a lot to do, plenty to see, even more to hear.

I think I’ve found the right word for it.

Empty.

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Momentum.

Hello, words. Where have you been?

I missed you dearly.

This sudden need for writing is completely unwarranted. Or is it? Maybe I’ve been bottled up with emotion for a little too long. Maybe I haven’t sat down and poured out in long enough. Not until this morning, anyway.

I’ve been running a lot of comparisons between my past self and my present self lately. I had never been concerned with telling much of anything along the lines of my feelings. I used to think the word “feelings” was a silly word. I thought, “People get hurt. They just need to deal with it.” Which translated to, “I get hurt. I just need to deal with it.”

I spent a good deal of the past four years trying to be strong and protective. It was a mask I had put on so easily, somehow. Through all of my weakness and pain, I smiled. I laughed. And in the moments when the weakness burst through like a train against a picket fence, I ran. I hid.

It’s all very different now. Or I try to make it so. But a couple of days ago, I was asked how I was and automatically responded, “I’m good,” and immediately thought, There goes that mask again. It was like a punch to the stomach. When did this happen? When did I start feeling like I needed to hide again?

Not pouring out, not listening or praying, not even writing in my journal.

There’s no reason for me be that way.

At least, that’s what I thought at first.

Thinking back to when it started, not so much at the beginning of finals last quarter, but the last time that we had a God Investigation Group, I was deeply hurt. We dug deep that time, listened intensely for what God wanted us to hear, for me to hear.

And while the end result looked something like this:
1) Jesus loves you and feels your pain.
2) Love is not conditional.
3) Jesus is there with you, still waiting for that moment when you can let go of your brokenness.

The beginning, a white-hot memory dug up from the chasms of my mind, looked like this, the beginning of a new page-in-the-making for this blog:
My very first memory as a child is one of my father and mother arguing with each other over a topic that I couldn’t recall if I wanted to. My mother was sitting in the driver’s seat of her old car, a purple Chrysler van that I sometimes miss when I think about it; my father stood outside next to the window, arms gesturing widely with fury.

I was in the back of the car. Small, maybe four years old. Wearing some ridiculous outfit that my mother had forced on me earlier in the day. Not yet adjusted to the yelling as I would be years and years later. I myself grew upset, felt tears in my eyes, anger at its best. So I jumped out of the car and lunged at my father, small hands curled up into fists, small arms trying to reach upwards, one good punch and…

Disbelief. I was down and out for the count. On the ground, in my little ball, crying. More yelling ensues. More tears, more knives into our hearts, more rifts in our relationships. Just like that, he was gone, and we were in the car again, crying silently to ourselves and with each other, all at once. Tissues, blowing of noses, the last whimpers as we stifled our cries.

I’ve already mentioned that my story as it stands now is not complete. Not by a long shot. I knew it myself, but what I didn’t know was how hard it would hit me to remember.

A cliche of psychological counseling is being hypnotized and recalling some suppressed memory, a brilliant catharsis beginning thereafter. I got the memory; I lacked the catharsis. A slight realization about what was perhaps the root of my brokenness, but any cathartic process that began that afternoon stopped in its tracks at my command.

I didn’t want to forgive my father for that. For yelling at me, for pushing me down, or for leaving. Maybe before that I did, but this made me remember my anger. It made me remember my hatred. Why I was fighting. Why I had to live to see him again someday. To tell him of my loathing for him; to take back what he had stolen.

But all those reasons are things that God has called me away from. Anger, hatred, and the need for revenge were swept away when I heard that my father was in poor health. Blood pressure over two hundred, severe organ damage sustained. God called me to reconciliation and love.

Memories, the bad ones, fight against our drive to move forward. They’re like gravity — irresistible, permanent, relentless. I’m caught in the middle now, between the desire to follow Jesus and reconcile and the desire to protect my maternal family’s honor and neglect my father.

I don’t want to face this. The “Jesus answer” requires me to claim myself as my father’s daughter. The other requires me to hold hatred in my heart. I don’t know if I can do either.

I’m hurt, and I just can’t deal with it.

I have to bring it to God.

I pray that my momentum will carry me through.

Let this sail far away as a leaf taken from the tree in the autumn, never to return.

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The Blind Side.

Great movie.

It makes me think about what we would do for, on the one hand, complete strangers or people who we know live in poverty, and on the other, the ones that we love. I’m not one to point out the “extraordinary” (as in the story) and attempt to make it out into an everyday thing, but weren’t the original circumstances of the story very, very ordinary?

Think about it. Rich people on one side of city, and on the other side are the projects. Immediate tension from the start. Rich family takes poor boy in, everyone’s life changes. La dee da, happy endings abound. A roar of applause, sterling reviews, and an Oscar.

People certainly don’t celebrate that much when other “extraordinary” events happen. It’s funny what a few award-winning actors and actresses, a good story, and some expensive equipment will do.

Shouldn’t that story not be extraordinary, though? Shouldn’t we see that more often, people reaching out to those whose circumstances they are born into are considered much less fortunate than their own? Our own? Does it happen, but we just don’t hear about it; or does it just not happen?

Of course it happens. But in a way that I’m guessing just isn’t enough. Somewhere between arguing over what we consider to be “critical issues” and attempting to bolster our economy, we forgot about people, and that’s a shame.

Often times when less-developed countries enraptured in conflict are spoken about, we hear words like “poverty” and “dehumanized”. Isn’t living in a building without heat, sleeping without a bed, and wondering if there will be food the next day considered poverty? Isn’t neglecting almost forty million people in our own nation considered dehumanization?

I’m wondering if hearing about the world “out there” makes us think that our world “over here” isn’t that bad. But thinking back to an idea from Frosh Con, if we can’t solve our problems down the street, how will we solve all of the problems “out there”?

Even in all of the crap that we go through in our individual lives, personal troubles and whatnot, we live very blessed lives. We are comfortable. All of our basic human needs are fulfilled and then some. I wish that I could appreciate it more often; look at what I have instead of what I don’t.

Like my brothers from other mothers; I hope you all had a great time at Brothers Appreciation Night on Saturday!

Between preparing for BAN and talking about right relationships between genders, I’m beginning to affirm the idea that I don’t need some dude to complete me. Not right now, anyway; I’ve got quite the numbers of years ahead of me to figure that out. (The bet is still on between my brothers and me as to who will get married first. They’re twelve and fifteen years older than me.)

I mean, I don’t look at every one of the guys I know and go, “Wow, he’d make a great boyfriend.” or “Wow, he’s hot.” Thinking back on it, I’ve never really thought about things that way. Only on occasion, when I start to believe that someone’s really special to me. But that doesn’t mean we have to be together in that way. Heck, a lot of times being friends beats being together by a million miles.

I’d like to think that I whenever I like someone in that way, it’s because I want someone in my life to laugh with, who can hold me when I’m sad, or who just wants to be around me and I want to be around him. But that’s what community is for. That’s why I have faith in Jesus, because He brought me, by no chance of coincidence, friends who can be that rock for me. And every ounce of me praises him for it.

Besides, I like things the way they are now.

Except for being sick and in pain. I could do without that.

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