May 31, 2015.

In which my first day as a post graduate consists of a multitude of shenanigan type happenings I can’t quite describe with a small number of words so I’ll just have to hash them out in full detail thus following:

[disclaimer] grammar and coherency is thrown out the window in my rush to sleep at reasonable hour but then again, heck I’m free, I can sleep whenever I want. But in all honesty, I’m pretty tired so grammar and coherency is still thrown out the window. Story of my day continuing thus:

[disclaimer #2] all this is rather embarrassing to write (and think) about but I’m pretty convicted to not stay silent because fear of man is something I’m determined to cast off. Although Welch (in his book, When People Are Big and God Is Small) says the process will take pretty much my whole life, I’m going to do my darned best to fight the good fight and accelerate the process as quickly as I can. Hopefully it’s all rather pleasing to God so I’ll continue my story thus:

[entreaty] please still be my friend after reading this. Or don’t, it doesn’t matter. God’s validation is more important to me than yours; that is my prayer. Story continuing thus:

[renewal] is afoot | a church in a charming part of West Philly. Joan, Kristin, and I embark on our adventure for the day; visiting a church because our home church is away at a retreat. I probably would have been more antsy about the whole thing if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with my bladder. Ah yes…I desperately needed to relieve myself and ended up having to enter the church alone as Kristin and Joan were delayed in finding a parking spot; they graciously allowed me to get off first and do my business before I burst. I’m not sure how this is relevant, only that I had taken a massive amount of pride in the fact that I didn’t utter a peep about having to go until the moment we arrived. No complaint was heard from me; I was desperately praying to Jesus for a bump-less road and speedy driving. Alas, He is good and all ended well. Unfortunately, I was more focused on how I had remained silent about my dilemma the entire 50 minute car ride than remembering to thank God for graciously providing a convenient parking spot just seconds away from the church.

[pastor] Charles Han, Dwight Yoo, and Daniel Whang. I had heard Charles Han speak previously twice (and subsequently developed a minor two-hour crush on him each time) and I spot him as soon as I enter the sanctuary. When I point him out to Kristin and Joan, I do so as softly as I can. When someone suggests that we go say hi to him, I nod weakly and give a feeble “yeah, we should,” while furiously mentally shaking my head with a “heck no, no, no and no.” Why is that? Because I feared that he wouldn’t recognize me, that he wouldn’t want to talk to us, that I would embarrass myself, that I would intrude on his personal space and make a fool of myself in front of Kristin and Joan, etc. and fast forward to the end if y’all were wondering; no, we never did end up saying hello to him. Fear of man grips me powerfully.

My sinfulness doesn’t stop there; as the church fills up with people filing in just as worship is starting, I glance back and do a double take as I realize just how large this congregation is. To spare you the nitty gritty dull details, the entire sunday service consists of me

1. wondering how I look like when I worship with my hands held up (sometimes I desired to raise my arm up high but feared looking too intense; other times I wondered if people noticed and thought me “righteous” or “strong in her faith”); I can not say with all honesty that my heart was all for Him; the sinful part of my heart still worshipped myself.

2. wondering if my future husband was in the same room; my eyes scan the pews whenever I think it is appropriate to and my mind wanders simultaneously as I daydream about meeting him. I drift in and out of listening to Pastor Whang’s message; sometimes something would stick and I go back to listening; more often than not, I do not pay attention because I reason I had already read the same exact thing he was preaching from the book he referenced.

3. wondering why the world is against me as I become thirstier and thirstier as the service goes on; I fear that I have the dreaded case of cottonmouth from not having any water and I resolutely decide to speak as little as possible to others so that they won’t be subjected to my terrible breath whereas in all actuality, I was just terrified of giving off a bad first impression and decide not to risk or gain anything at all.

[chinatown] is where we head to to fill our bellies after church; a sudden powerful gust of wind blows past us and lifts my dress straight up so that both my undies and belly button show for all of chinatown to see. It happens straight in the middle of the intersection we are crossing; I submit with a weary and defeated sigh and proceed to complain to Joan and Kristin. Pastor Whang’s words resound heavily in my heart; “Are you easily embarrassed by events and replay them over and over again in your mind?” With a suspicious mental nod of my head, I ask Joan whether she say me struggle to pull my dress down; she answers in the negative saying that she was busy keeping down her own. I look to Kristin and she replies that she felt the wind but merely let it happen knowing she didn’t have the time to deal with it as she was busily trying to place a call to the cafe we were headed to. None of their dresses successfully lifted in such an embarrassing manner as mine and I send a half frustrated, half genuine prayer towards the Lord; “help me overcome this fear of man; help me set my sights on you instead of myself.” It may or may not have worked; although initially the embarrassment threatened to cripple me, I write this account with random interspersions of giggles. You have to admit, God has a sense of humor.

[cake] and pastries I buy for Brenden for his birthday, Rachel and Erin for their enjoyment, and my family because my parents are the sort to duel it out for the last pastry (my ma actually went to great lengths today to hide the pastries I brought home from my dad in her desire to eat them all herself). Although I announce with great triumph and sense of entitlement to each party that I had gotten something for them, the minute the words leave my mouth, I want to smack myself in the face. The scripture that we read over in service comes back to me now [Matthew 6:1];

Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Although I desperately wish I could say that I bought the pastries out of the goodness of my heart and love for each individual person, I cannot deny that a very large part of me craves their affection and pleasure. Would have I done the same thing had I known they wouldn’t have thanked me, wouldn’t have known it was me? Does it feel like a bit to me that I’m attempting to buy their love? Yeah, unfortunately.

It is so unfortunate because my time and effort (although still very well spent on lovely people) should be centered towards the Lord. For His love is unconditionally mine; if I continue trying to purchase a love that can never be fully bought nor fully satisfy (for humans are not like God, our love is woefully conditional) then I drive myself into poverty and end up destitute.

[notifications] pop up and I take the long red light as an opportunity to check them. Nothing really loads as my 4G struggles to pull up whatever picture I’m trying to view (Cynthia has posted our graduation pictures and in all my vanity, I am so excited to view them that I won’t wait until I’m safely home to access the internet) and my attention is split between watching the light and watching the spinning circle on my phone. For some odd reason, I believe that the light has changed and I pull forward, no eyes on the road as I know it is a straight path but as I cross the intersection, something prompts me to look up.

I stall in the middle of the intersection after I realize that the light is still red and I blink rapidly in my head as I try to comprehend what just happened, what is going to happen, and what should I presently do. My mind screams at me that I can’t just sit there, there are cars coming with the green light to give them the go to hit me should I be in their way and my foot resumes itself on the gas pedal and I run right through the red light with a mournful sigh of my heart. I pray more desperately that there is no camera stationed there rather than thanking God for keeping me miraculously safe and alive.

[likes] on a facebook post, picture, status are something I count meticulously.

“Do you worry when it takes a long time for someone to like your post and then when your friend likes it the next day and you go, ‘hey, where were you yesterday, man??'”

Pastor Whang’s words cut deep into my heart and I acknowledge silently that I am guilty of creating a persona over social media and in my social life. Yes, I do count likes. Yes, I do compare likes. Yes, I do try my best to rack up the most likes. I am the epitome of vain. It carries over into my relationships, they way I conduct myself, the way I dress, the way I talk, the way I sneeze, etc. Selfies galore. Oh yes, it is true, I am one of those girls who takes 100 photos and pick the best one out of the batch, I kid you not.

It’s sad isn’t it? It is sad.

As the notifications on my facebook account rack up, I find myself losing interest in them. In the end, they are not the things that fill me up. Perhaps God’s word is finally starting to take root in my heart after the happenings of today.

[conclusion] to the story; what is the answer to conquering the fear of man? Pastor Whang answers for us in a very gentle (I say this with a large hint of sarcasm) and humbling way;

Realize that life is NOT ABOUT YOU. Who looks that closely at you besides you?

Seriously. Who remembers that little slip of the tongue slash stutter as you introduced yourself to them? Who notices that little pimple on your forehead and thinks you leprous as you speak to them? Who takes the time to laugh and paint a mental picture of your mismatched outfit as you struggle to blend into the background?

Most probably no one. And if they do, why would you care about someone who would put so much effort into something so trivial as that?

Life is not about you.

Do you know who looks that closely at you? God. But, He doesn’t look at you to pick out the stains in your shirt or the sins in your heart. He gazes closely and unfailingly at you because He is so utterly pleased with you, and not because of your own righteousness or goodness (for what is righteous and good in us but Jesus?) but because of Jesus who covered your sin with His holiness.

You are utterly precious in His sight, regardless of the things you do. Stop trying to win man’s affections because you already have His.

Life is not about you. It’s about Jesus.

[footnote] every single time I wonder “how much more could I possibly grow? how much more could I possibly learn?” I imagine God flicks me softly on the back of my head and down I go, on my knees. I have a niggling suspicion that the virtue of humility also requires a life long process to fully attain.

The answer?

[A lot more, my child. Wider than the lengths of the horizon and deeper than the depths of the sea; that is the infinite love I have for you, that is the infinite riches I offer to you. You have a lot more to grow, child, because I have a lot more to give you]

So continue your humbling work in me, Lord Jesus, until I can say with all my heart, “I give you everything.”


words of joan: can always COUNT on each other

sisters who can always count on each other; words of the wise and humble joan