Posts Tagged ‘ maturity ’

Life after Death

It is absolutely bizarre to be in a place where someone used to be, knowing they’re no longer here. How bizarre. I am back home for the weekend before I jet off to the Dominican Republic and staying in my room has been just a bit strange. I haven’t slept in here since the summer before sophomore year. My dad has been in here since then and now that he has passed, I suppose it is my room again.

I keep replaying scenes in my head, scenes of him in here. And I keep reflecting on how I met Death in that hospital room, on March 4th. I feel a sense of strength from that. I saw his work and am not crumbling from what I witnessed. I suppose I am being strong, like everyone has been saying. But, naturally, I also can’t help wondering when I will meet him face-to-face. I still don’t know when that time will be, but unlike before, I truly understand that it is coming – unless I am caught up in the rapture while I still inhabit this flesh. But it is extremely humbling. I know life and what I do with it is important, so knowing this appointed time is coming really inspires me to filter out the crap and focus on what is significant. I am still trying to figure out what exactly those “significant” things are, but I feel I am on the precipice of getting it. Lord, bring me there. Amen.

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Mental Anesthesia

Where is the existential unrest? I miss it. I have become too numbed by circumstance. I am too fatigued by the day-to-day to dream and question and remember the injustices that lie parallel to my reality and how much I once longed to intersect with them for hope of somehow raising them to my plane or higher. Maybe my trip to the Dominican Republic will revitalize the me that felt angered by corruption and was filled with a fire to uplift the survivors of marginalization and the victims on their way to survivorship. Where has she gone? Why is her voice so faint? No… absent? Or rather, whose ears am I now activating and how did the messages they carry come to dominate my worldview? I feel nothing. I resist nothing. Everything is “cool.” Why question anymore? Why not just appease? Just accept?

I am numb.

How unbelievably tragic.

The recent death of my father has made me think a lot about life. I suppose that is the natural response when someone dies – think about life, realize we truly are not invincible, that our days are numbered and therefore, we need to cherish and live them to the fullest. All the clichés that, in reality, should not lose their meaning. I suppose I have joined the ranks of mourners struck by such realizations. But for me, they have had a more positive effect, and, it is conflicting to say and likely sounds incongruous, but in a way I am thankful for his passing for this lesson that it is teaching me. I have largely wasted the past 4 years of my life due to fear and doubt. But I am slowly realizing that everything that matters so much to me – my intellect, my work, what other people think about me – are nothing but trifles in the major scope of my life. What I need to return to and inhabit is my conviction that my life contains the potential and power to impact others for good and that therefore, my focus needs to be on placing myself in a position of access to the resources that will better their lives. It truly is as simple as that. I am so sad that this conviction has only returned after his passing, but feel a burning commitment to carry it out as his legacy.

Hmm… wow. Lightbulb moment. In light of my dad’s death, I have been thinking that the timing of my pre-scheduled trip to the Dominican Republic is quite odd. However, I realize now that this may very well be perfect timing and may supply the tangible encouragement to fully occupy the person God intends me to be and the good qualities that both my dad and I have sought, but been unable to attain. He certainly has them now, in the presence of God’s glory. I pray it doesn’t take death in order for me to attain them.

May he continue to live in peace.

Music Monday: Albertine by Brooke Fraser

For the past month, I have been at a cross-roads, struggling to discern my own desire from God’s and my own fear from the Spirit of wisdom. And my decision has only been compounded by my mom’s fears. As I wrote in a previous post, I have had a tendency to identify with my mother, and because of that, I have to a certain extent struggled to become my own person, to become what I would consider fully independent. But that said, I also don’t want to choose one road due to some subconscious desire to rebel or break free.

Maybe all of this would make better sense if I am more explicit. Haha. So, in early April, I received an email about an opportunity to go to Haiti. Of course, I was absolutely psyched! I immediately emailed one of the directors for  more information on the program, but he never answered me back. After a few more inquiries with no replies, I wrote it of as an impossibility and forgot about it. A month later, I received another email about the program from another school department and this time the directors of the program would be visiting to hold a meeting about the program. After learning more about it, I decided I wanted to go! The program is not related to any of my immediate academic interests (health, health care), but would still give me the opportunity to interact with native Haitians, learn about their experiences living in Haiti, and improve my Haitian Creole (very important!). In fact, I’m hoping that 1) independently continuing on in my Haitian Creole textbooks + 2) 3-weeks of practice with native Haitians will allow me to skip the second level of Haitian Creole and go on to the third! (Here’s hoping.) Besides language, it may also help me further develop a non-profit idea that God gave me a few weeks ago.

So when I don’t think about the potential danger, I am so excited to go. I have been able to bring my mom on-board, but I can tell she is still very concerned. But I just don’t want my fear to limit me. I feel like I am so fearful of… everything, practically! And that is no way to live. Since high school, I have had an immense desire to work abroad with communities in extreme poverty. But over the years, I have seen that goal uprooted by fear. My mom has had angst about this goal and has pushed me to consider staying in the US instead. Her reasons are sound:  “There is so much poverty here. People need help here. Why are you running to another country when people in your own country are in need?” Logically, that makes perfect sense to me. But it doesn’t erase the pang in my heart to do something for those abroad. I feel like I need an experience in order to confirm either God’s calling for me to serve abroad or His intention for me to serve populations in the US. I just don’t want fear to usurp the decision and rob me of clarity.

Last night, I shared some of this with an old friend who I haven’t seen in… at least 2 years! We had a wonderful conversation. And I realized how much I have changed as a person through my conversation with her. I am so much more open and talkative now… but I’ll spare you details on that. Maybe for another post 🙂 But, yes… our conversation was so encouraging. She went to Haiti last year and was able to share about her emotional transition to living/working in the country. It was especially comforting to me that she could relate to my expressed desire to have an experience to call my own, one that would positively challenge me to grow and become independent, and one that would give me clarity on where to go from here (international vs. domestic). After listening, she strongly encouraged me to go and embrace this opportunity. When I push the fear aside, I feel that it is the right thing for me to do and I believe that it will be a positive experience for me.

So what does all of this have to do with Music Monday? Well, last night my friend told me about Brooke Fraser’s solo album, Albertine. You brothers and sisters out there may know Brooke from Hillsong United. She’s the front-woman for the songs “None But Jesus” and “Lord of Lords.” Well her solo album is absolutely beautiful and I have especially fallen in love with the title track, “Albertine.” In 2005, Brooke went to Rwanda to work with World Vision. In her visit to a Rwandan orphanage, she met Albertine, a young girl who was orphaned by the 1993-94 Rwandan genocides. This song is a promise to Albertine and this album is dedicated to her.

This song (especially the chorus) expresses my exact sentiments about engaging work in the international community. After learning about disparity, how can you just sit down and do nothing? And in doing nothing, how is your mind not plagued by the truth and how are you not guilted by your unwillingness to do your part to help?

I have a dear friend at school who seems fascinated by my interest in Haiti. Because I have no direct connection to the country, he cannot understand why I feel compelled to help them. Akin to Brooke’s chorus, because I know the history of injustice the country has experienced and know of the extreme poverty that millions of Haitians live daily, poverty that their parents lived and their parents before them, and poverty that their children will have no choice but to endure… how can I not be responsible to do something? I may not have seen this (yet) with my naked eyes, but isn’t the knowledge that it exists enough to be mobilized to do my part?

“Albertine”

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
Her mother’s voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
There in her eyes what I don’t see with my own

[CHORUS]

Rwanda
Now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet

[CHORUS]

[BRIGDE]
I will tell the world, I will tell them where I’ve been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine

[CHORUS]

I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

Tabs“Albertine” @ UltimateGuitar.com

Thoughts for the Day: Growing Pains…

PAULO COELHO

“Choosing one path means abandoning others – if you try to follow every possible path you will end up following none.”

ANONYMOUS
“The hurting is there to test you, to help you grow.”

I need to, I will…

M

Paulo Coelho – Quote of the Moment

Paulo Coelho

Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he’ll never move.

(Unpublished Saying)

It is God, all God that I saw this quote today. This morning, I was thinking about the person I am right now and felt somewhat dismayed by the gravity of improvements I feel I need to make. Within myself, I wondered if I should just stop and try to make these improvements before I keep moving … make sure I am completely in order first. I laughed to myself, because I realized I was thinking with a perfectionist’s mindset. And yet, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to be perfect, I figured I could at least try to become as close to perfection as possible before moving on to new experiences.

I know I am not the only one who is tempted to yield to such thinking. There is a security when you feel completely prepared for everything. (God, do I crave that security!). But I was so blessed by Coelho’s quote. And I feel it is so true, or at least in my own life it has been true.

Often when I stall, I get stuck there, likely because I become so fixated on my faults that they end up staying with me. Like I wrote in a previous post… the car analogy. When you’re driving, you subconsciously direct the car toward the point upon which your eyes fixate. It is the same in life. When you fixate upon a point, you begin to reposition your life to get there. So my stalling for perfection and fixation on my faults only keeps me right there at this point. I can’t move past them because I have stopped moving altogether.

We have to keep moving, with our eyes focused ahead on the person we want to be. When we focus on our future, better selves, we will position our entire lives to become the person we want to be.

So Lord, I have decided to keep walking.

A New Take on Emotional Purity

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

A close girlfriend and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago about Godly relationships, singleness, and Christian friendships. When we got to the topic of male-female friendships, she posed an interesting question to me:  “how would you rate your emotional purity in your relationships with male friends?” This was a concept about which I had never heard or thought. I inquired more from my friend, but she encouraged me to search the Word on my own, something for which I am so grateful.

Side-note: I think we need to do this more often with each other. It is so easy to just rely on each other for explanations of the Word, instead of finding the truth ourselves. In encouraging each other to independently meditate on the Word, we encourage growth in our brothers/sisters’ relationship with Christ. Now that is love.

Back on topic: So, in thinking about emotional purity and comparing it to physical purity, I garnered that the basic concept is not revealing too much of your emotional self or fostering too much emotional intimacy with male friends, so as not to raise one’s expectations (for singles) or the temptation (married) for a committed relationship. It seems especially important for women, since we are the more emotional sex. But I’m not going to get into emotional purity for married women in this post… I’m single, so I will mainly address the emotional purity of single ladies (“all my single ladies, now put your hands up!” – sorry. i couldn’t resist, haha).

Not Your Buddy

By chance, I found an article on Boundless.org, which describes the reasons for this purity:  Not Your Buddy. At first thought, this explanation of emotional purity made sense to me, especially given that I had begun harboring some similar concerns in my own life. It made sense to just avoid conjuring any emotions by keeping distance between yourself and guys and not revealing anything too personal to them. However, new clarity came through a discussion with my mom and challenged this notion.

When I described the above definition of emotional purity and how it may be wise to back away from friendships with males, she immediately looked dubious. “I don’t think I agree with that,” she said. “It seems to me like the problem is expectation.” She left it at that, giving me something more to think about on my own. After pondering it for a few minutes, I realized that I agreed with her more.

The real problem isn’t having relationships with guys or even opening up to them. I think guys can teach us women a lot and provide us with different ways of thinking and seeing our situations (and vice versa!). Yet, we say that we should limit our emotional selves regarding our friendships with men because we as sisters can start to expect more from our brothers… and by more, I mean a romantic, committed relationship. We start interpreting their communications as laced with romantic interest and start expecting that they should return our friendliness and interest with an advancement toward a relationship. I have personal experience of this. I know, I’ve done it too. But I would encourage you to consider what is going on in this case… to consider how we as ladies may be contributing to this potentially hurtful situations with our expectations.

It seems like we ladies are always one step ahead of ourselves. If we have something good, we wonder what the next step will be and try to put a rush order on getting there, rather than enjoying where we are and what we have now. And even as the Boundless article said:

“You never have to wonder if your brother is romantically interested in you”

… because, being a Godly man, if he’s interested in you, He would let you know. So what are we doing by feeding our expectations and getting frustrated when the guy in mind doesn’t fulfill them? If he hasn’t explicitly expressed his interest, then that means he’s not interested in that way. <– now, there may be aberrations to this if we consider the shy guys who are too afraid to be open and blunt with the girl they’re interested in, but that’s more than I care to get into right now.

To further this point about the danger of expectation, I would encourage you to think about our female-female relationships. Oftentimes, when we become close to another female, spend more one-on-one time with her, and reveal more about ourselves to her, what do we begin to develop? It’s the same deal here:  Expectations. Oftentimes, we ladies find ourselves hoping that she’ll call so we can chat or disappointed when she doesn’t pick up because we have something from our day that we’d like to share about. We expect her to make time for us when we need her, or hang out with us, and are a little disappointed when she can’t. Expectation also arises in the development of a close, female friendship, not just something that we must face in our friendships with men.

I guess I just can’t help but think that we are restricting ourselves from what could be a spiritually beneficial relationship just because the person we would share it with is of the opposite sex. Must the rules really be different just because he is male? I think it is better that we recognize our tendency to expect more than we have and challenge ourselves to grow emotionally and spiritually.

And if you find yourself developing expectations or confused by his behavior with you, then you should be mature about it and talk about it with him. If he’s a brother in the Lord, I would think that your feelings would be important to him and that he would be more than willing to curb his actions in a way that wouldn’t suggest that he wants more than a friendship. I know, I know. “Easier said than done.” Trust me, I realize that. But I just have a hard time accepting the easy way out of avoiding meaningful spiritual relationships with men altogether. I think we as Christians should strive to harness our own weaknesses and grow beyond our faults.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

This verse is often quoted as a defense for the first definition of emotional purity that I shared at the beginning of this post. However, I think this verse can also be interpreted as a warning to guard our hearts from ourselves and our own actions. How are you contributing to your heart’s unhappiness and vulnerability? Why are we so quick to point the finger?

When I continued this talk with my mom, she said something to me that stuck out. I really want to adopt this type of living for myself:

“Don’t expect more. Only give more. If you give without expecting return, then your giving is great and you are never disappointed. Because the only person you can control is yourself.” ~ Mommy 🙂

There is joy in giving, and only disappointment and dissatisfaction in expecting. Only you have the power to control your mind, your will, your emotions, and your worldview. We must be constantly striving to place these things in the Lord. He is the only One from which we should expect anything because He is the only One who cannot disappoint us.

How are you seeing your situation? How are you approaching your male-female relationships? What changes can you make within yourself to improve them?

And yes, I realize this may sound idealistic to many. We are human and therefore fallible. But what are we doing when we use that as a crutch? When we focus too much on our flesh, we face the danger of using the fact that we are not perfect as an excuse for not trying to live up to a higher standard. In striving to be like Jesus, are we not aiming for perfection? This is the same thing. And like I wrote in another post, when you focus on the limiting factor, that’s the thing toward which you begin gravitate. So I will set my eyes on the Lord and focus my sights, and thus the direction and movement of my whole being, on His ideals and on becoming the person that He says I am in Him.

But by all means, I am not an expert on emotional purity. These are just thoughts of mine and I would love to hear your views as well! I’m always open to differing perspectives.

4/15 – Today, I found a blog post on Emotional Purity by a fellow wordpresser, Dan. I thought it was excellent! I totally agreed with his emphasis on having self-control. You might want to check it out:  Sparky Danny Man’s Take on Emotional Purity