For lunch today, I’m multi-tasking, working on G2G projects and enjoying a small bowl of kimchi fried rice and a boiled egg, washing it down with a bottle of water… and I’m so thankful. Especially for my boiled egg 😉 It goes so well with the fried rice (*which, I brought home from a family retreat I was invited to by one of my mentors and friends, P Hannah, who has been inviting friends to her new retreat house up in Lake Arrowhead)!
As I prepare for India and let the concept of possibly living long-term (1-3 years) in a developing country sink in, I find myself giving thanks for small things that I’ve always taken for granted. Like boiled eggs. Even if they’re slightly expired.
I imagine being a little girl in a developing country such as India, wondering how rare a boiled egg and clean water might be for many children living in slums or poor villages, and it makes me savor each bite, the way the egg, kimchi, and rice blend together in my mouth and go down with such flavorful delight for me. The way my cold, refrigerated bottled water refreshes me, and cleans out my mouth so I can take another bite of rice and egg. I might not get to eat and drink like this so easily for the two months I’m in India, though I’m sure I’ll get to try many new Indian foods! In any case, the prospect of not having something simple I enjoy makes me want to enjoy it all the more.
Judy’s brother, Jack, and I watched the youtube videos about Zach S (which I blogged about previously) and we talked about two scriptures that exhorted us to “number our days,” “live with a heart of wisdom,” and to “make the most of every opportunity.” The ultimate goal is to know God’s will and to make each day, each moment of our lives, count. I had Jack journal on the question, “How would I make the most of each day if I knew my time here on earth was limited?” His response surprised me and touched my heart (and later, his mom’s, too!): Jack wrote something like, “I would spend each day worshipping God and trying to glorify Him…I would want to spend every day preparing for my eternal life with God in heaven.” I was blown away. I thought he’d write something like, “I would spend time with my family and friends…do/try/eat/see everything wonderful…etc etc.” Which, of course, he could still do as an act of worship and glorifying God, because the Lord wants us to enjoy our lives, which in turn glorifies Him (as long as the way we enjoy our lives is in line with His law of loving and honoring Him, others, and ourselves). But Jack’s simple and sincere expression of wanting to worship God in his last days really hit a spot for me, reminding me that each day we have is meant to be spent worshipping God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
It’s true. So today I’ll eat my kimchi fried rice with boiled egg, drink my bottled water, and do my work with a heart of worship, hoping and trusting that I am glorifying God even in these small, ordinary acts… and especially while having a heart of thankfulness for every small thing I get to do and enjoy, such as eating a boiled egg.
I haven’t written for a while because it’s been a tough couple of days/weeks… this past Sunday was the 1 year memorial of my father’s passing last May, so I met my mom, grandmother, and uncle (who wasn’t in the US last year to attend the memorial service) at Forest Lawn and we had a small, simple service together (we sang Korean hymns chosen by my grandmother and mom, I read scripture and shared some thoughts, and grandmother prayed). My brother Joe called right as we were praying, actually, even though he was in Brazil doing medical missions w/YWAM 😉 Pretty awesome timing.
I miss my dad. I cried on the way to the cemetery and cried on the way back to my apartment afterwards. I have this habit of isolating myself when I feel very, very sad (or mad or tired), so I declined a dinner invitation after our family service and went home to grieve.
Tonight I watched a video about an amazing young man featured on soul pancake who wrote a song that went viral, as he shared his “last days” journey through song – he went to be with Jesus just this past Monday, in fact. I wept as I watched the videos of his song, his family’s interviews, and his own interviews… since last May, I’ve been struck with the reality of how precious, fragile, and short life is.
And that’s a huge reason why I’m going to India. Why I’m moving home to be with my mom, and soon, brother. Why I’m not worried about my future, what I’ll do for money, food, career, marriage, etc, etc, etc. It isn’t really all that important in the end. Life is short, and only love (and dreams) matters, in the end.
Who you loved and who loved you. That is all we really care about as we breathe our last breaths, I’ve been told.
So I commit again to loving Jesus like a crazy person. Living each day as fully and authentically and obediently (to God) as I can. Knowing God’s incredible, indescribable love more deeply. Loving my family and especially my grandmother and mom before they leave this earth, too. Receiving the love of my family and friends, people who (amazingly, after all these years) haven’t given up on me or gotten sick of me yet. Knowing that it’s okay for me to love myself, and to like myself, even on my worst days. Because Jesus does. And His Word is better than mine. (And if I can’t love myself, then I won’t be too good at loving my neighbor, will I?)
Last night I did something I was afraid to do and had a heart to heart with my beloved roomie, RFL, sharing thoughts and feelings I had about a recent disappointment from a miscommunication/misunderstanding, concerns and desires I have about her upcoming life transitions into married life (b/c I love her and will miss her gentle, steady friendship and companionship so much!!!), and how much I adore and cherish her and our friendship. We both cried, of course, and it was beautifully sweet – sisters and girlfriends are awesome. My RFL is awesome.
Tonight I had dinner with a recently retired and somewhat recently widowed seminary professor(a) I admire but didn’t really get to know back in my seminary days because I didn’t take any of her classes. She is a spectacular person with some really wonderful, faith-building, jaw-dropping, and hiLArious stories from the mission field. Her late husband was just as awesome, and the neatest thing for me is that they both thought they’d be single missionaries for life, but one year after meeting each other, Betty Sue decided to marry her wheelchair-bound-for-life co-worker and close friend, Tom. Beauty-full. Crazy beautiful. And now their only child, a son, is married with his own kids and they are all missionaries as well. Three generations of missionaries – to me, that is a wonderful legacy.
There are so many unexpected things that happen in life, and it’s kind of scary, but it’s also kind of amazing and delightful, too. I guess the phrase that captures it would be “delightfully terrifying.” Why? Because we’re not in control! We’re along for the ride in some ways as the road takes us to unknown places and shows us breathtaking views at times, totally depressing valleys at others…but at the very least, we have the power to determine how we’ll respond… and we can choose to let Him drive our car or not (especially through the storms, deserts, and uphill battles) 😉 Like Carrie Underwood sings, “Jesus, take the wheel!”
This is the video that made me weep tonight, you can read more here.
I also wanted to share the site that touched my heart and reminded me that God’s fingerprints are everywhere on the soul of man…
Reminds me of words by Anne Frank I read in junior high that had an impact on me: “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
I don’t think that it’s because humans are innately good, I think it’s because we are created in the image of a perfect God; no matter how fallen and evil we are, we are still capable of transformation, goodness, compassion, and sacrificial love… because it’s what we were made for – to be restored unto our original designs and be made more like Christ, living forever as God’s beloved kids…
Life can be full of so much brokenness on this side of eternity…
I love this photo of my parents. It captures the silliest and sweetest part of their marriage. When my dad passed away last May, I didn’t realize that Mother’s Day would always be about a week or so before his memorial, and about a month before his birthday. So appropriate. In many ways, my mom was more like a mother than a wife to my dad, which was fine with him. He was so lonely for a (Korean) mother’s love.
I have to say…Mindy Kaling makes me laugh. Like, laugh out loud, sometimes cackle and snort, too. I enjoy that she’s an outspoken Asian American woman, very in tune with American pop culture, and essentially a talented comedian. Her book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” has been my little “escape from reality” the past few weeks when I have a chance to do some leisure reading in between bible study lessons I’m writing for G2G.
What I appreciate about Mindy is that she’s such an atypical Asian American entertainer, and certainly an atypical television star/director/producer, and that is precisely what I love – she has the size of an average American woman, totally rocks what God gave her, she’s sort of zany and slightly obnoxious, always dramatic and expressive, fantastic sense of fashion, and generally a classy gal with values, but best of all, she is really okay and happy to be herself. I love a woman who doesn’t feel the need to apologize for who and how she is. I aspire to be one myself 😉 (And that is a slow, gradual, work in progress, my friends!)
Speaking of which…
One of the things I’m experiencing right now is doubt about my self worth and value as a person. It isn’t something I really felt keenly until I became an adult and began my own struggle to make a living and contribute something to my community/the society/the world.
And having trouble looking for a temporary job for the 4 months before I leave the US has made me feel pretty “worthless” – not as a human being, but as a person who’s invested so much in getting educated and worked, served, and given… but now am having trouble balancing my finances and figuring out how I’m going to survive through the summer and save up for my India vision trip this fall.
I find myself asking, “What am I worth?” Obviously, this is “worldly” thinking and Christians aren’t completely subject to that as citizens of heaven who know our value and worth lies in Christ and His dying for us. But in the worldly standard, the professional/career/industry standards, I find myself checking “Entry Level” in the “Work Experience” box as I apply for jobs; mostly because I’m not looking within my own industries (Christian ministry, education, children/youth work, programming, event planning, administration), but still. It’s quite a feeling to experience, this growing sense of inferiority and irrelevancy, wondering what my life and work and what I as a worker and wage-earner, am worth (in a monetary sense, from a corporate point of view).
Now, I know this is temporary and in fact, I am opening myself up to experiencing these unpleasant feelings because, well, I value experiences, especially if they aren’t my norm but they may be the norm for others. Last night I was up until an ungodly hour writing cover letters, sending resumes, applying all over the internet for random temp jobs. I think I slept at 7a. Feeling tired and discouraged at one point, before the sun rose, I remember how when the economic recession hit, I heard about an Asian man killing his family and himself (or was it just himself?) because he was in debt and he didn’t feel he had any hope left for his family and himself. (Which makes me angry, because I don’t think, at the very least, anyone else but the man should have suffered b/c of his horrible feelings of despair, but I digress.) I actually was able to, for a moment or two, understand in a small way what kind of thoughts and feelings were racing through the man’s mind and poisoning his soul… but realize still, how tragic it was that he took not only his own life, but also his wife and kids’. He had lost hope, and he lost sight of the value of his own life and his family members’ lives with it.
This helped me see more clearly how outside the Kingdom of God, we tend to determine people’s value using the wrong standards. We use empty criterion and goals like money, power, beauty, talent, and fame to judge people and for our entertainment and gain, sometimes pit them against one another. Sadly, this occurs even in the church.
It’s as if money is the single driving force of our lives here in America, and in all the Western world perhaps, and if we have no money or have no ability of making money no matter how much we “work” and use our gifts, talents, and abilities… well then, we are told that we clearly have no worth, nothing to contribute. So why keep trying?
Why? Because, we are loved, and that is truly the only hope that gives us the strength to keep us going.
I’m glad and grateful to have friends who are undocumented immigrants who have it tough, but are extremely resilient and hopeful. Though they struggle to make much money and earn a stable income, they have hope and their lives are rich in relationships with their families, neighbors, friends, and other dreamers. They contribute beauty, passion, and truth to their communities, and they know their SELF worth is not based on or related at all to the money they have or can earn. I make a habit of taking a page or two from their living books of wisdom, because they teach and remind me all the time that I am actually VERY wealthy, simply by virtue of being God’s kid, a US citizen, college and seminary educated, and also blessed with an enormous amount of social/cultural capital: I am surrounded by amazing people and am blessed to have a crazy number of quality relationships with excellent individuals.
But even if I had only one friend named Jesus Christ, a high school diploma, and $20 to my name, in reality, I would have so much to be thankful for. (Seriously, just living in America, even as a homeless person, means we have at least something to eat everyday, even if it’s a stale piece of bread from the garbage – that’s more than many people have in developing countries around the world). And I believe, unless there were special plans God had for me to make a vow to live in (relative, Western) poverty, that solid education and ministry opportunities would come up while following Jesus, and the necessary financial provision, and even blessings to share with others, would be there – read Psalm 23 if you’ve got any doubt!)
As a result, I am so, so thankful. Even if I don’t know where my rent’s coming from for the next few months – I’m working hard to find jobs and earn money, but I’m NOT GOING TO WORRY.
Also, I’m thankful for Mindy Kaling (whom I hope and pray *does* indeed meet Jesus personally someday soon! Because I totally want to laugh with her and do improv comedy shows together in heaven).
Praise God for the divine truth that our worth, our value, and our ability to recognize our God-given self worth comes from Christ alone. Not any job, title, bank account, or even special talent. Just from Christ alone.