Monthly Archives: July 2012

Colorado

In light of the Colorado tragedy I have been reminded of how we live in a world driven by fear. Fear of money. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. All of these fears drive us to do or not do things that otherwise wouldn’t have affected us. The news of the shooting came particularly shocking to me because I was a mere 20 minutes away when it happened. Yes, I was in Colorado.

The days after the incident, I watched Denver seemingly go “back to normal.” People didn’t seem paralyzed by fear. No one was taking different routes on the highway to avoid all movie theaters. There weren’t people walking around in bulletproof vests. From what it seemed, people weren’t letting the events shatter their daily lives.

But like I said, I think we live in a world driven by fear. And while we give off the persona to the people around us that we’re fine, we have got it all together, the truth of the matter is, we’re inches away from the breakdown. What I’m saying is, just because you don’t see a crowd sporting bulletproof clothing doesn’t mean they’re not stricken in fear inside.

Whenever I think about fear I think about the story of the big storm when Jesus was asleep and the disciples were in full out panic mode. I’m not hating on the disciples for panicking, because I know I would have been the first person on that Worry Train. I would have been the first person casting lots to throw “Jonah” overboard, screaming around the boat like a madwoman and eventually curling up in a dark corner rocking myself back and forth, crying hysterically. I think sometimes this story gets misinterpreted, where people read it and think, “Jesus sleeps through the storms.”

In situations like this recent Colorado one, I hear people ask, “Where was God in this?” “Was He there?” “Why did He let this happen?” “Is God asleep?”

But hear me when I say this – Jesus doesn’t sleep through the storm.

I don’t know whatever fear has taken over in your heart. Maybe it’s about finding a job or a place to live or you’re afraid you’re never going to get married. Whatever it is, I promise you, Jesus is right there with you. He’s not asleep, He’s not panicking, He’s not thinking, “Oh man, I let this one slip up. Oh well, time for a nap.” You see, the story of the storm isn’t saying our God is suffering from mono, it is so we can grasp the fact that NO storm and NO great fear is big enough to shake our God.

Do not let the fears you face cripple your life. Do not let the fear of anger keep you from going to see a good movie, spending time with loved ones at the park and living your life. Your fear may be big, but God is bigger. He is greater and higher and larger and far more than enough.

There may be some point in your life where you will find yourself a mere 20 minutes away from an unexpected tragedy. I pray you will find strength in weakness, hope in darkness and love in the midst of hate.

If you ask me, I can tell you exactly where Jesus was at midnight last Thursday. He wasn’t watching TV. He wasn’t on an airplane. He wasn’t sleeping. Yes, Jesus was in Colorado.

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Life Maps

It occurred to me this morning while I was at church that I have terribly neglected my blog the past couple weeks. I blame it on having awful writer’s block. Somewhere down the line I started believing this little voice in my head that if I didn’t have some well thought out blog post it was better not to post at all.

So this may or may not be an uneventful post. That being said, you were warned.

The topic of forgiveness has been on my mind lately. This week alone I’ve listened to two sermons regarding the subject matter and while I am still no expert, I have some thoughts I would like to share with you.

Thought One: I often hear people say, “I cannot forgive him/her until I learn to forgive myself.” This is a cop-out. (Is cop-out the word to use? I’m just writing it as it sounds in my head.) I say this because I believe that our God is the only person who can offer us forgiveness. If we had the authority to forgive ourselves than why did Jesus have to die on the cross?

Thought Two: There is a verse that we quote about confessing our sins that can sometimes be abused. We are almost too loose with the confessing part, but the point of confessing isn’t to wave our dirty laundry like white flags, it is to begin the journey of transformation. If every time I slapped you I admitted and apologized to slapping you, but still continued to slap you, I bet you would find my apology empty. You would probably want to slap me back.

I think there are two parts to forgiveness. There is the first step is bringing God into the hurt and allowing HIM to forgive the person that wronged you. After all, He is the only person who truly has authority over forgiveness. The second step is trusting in the fact that God is in control of this hurt and you never have to conjure it up to memory again.

Bare with me. If in the heat of an argument, a wife brings up things from the past that they have fought about, it shows that she has never fully forgiven her husband about those things. The same thing goes with our lives, just as God doesn’t bring up our past mistakes, we shouldn’t keep a tally mark from when we have been wronged by the people in our lives.

Out of curiosity, I looked up how the dictionary defined forgiveness. It says “to grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc.” What that means is that your slate of mistakes is wiped out. Think of your mistakes like they were on a map. You are in China. Your mistakes would be way across the ocean in a different time zone. You can’t even see it or feel it or fathom it. In fact, you won’t even remember it anymore. The pain is gone. It is as far as the East is from the West.

There are some people out there who want to knock on doors and write letters to tell someone they have forgiven them. But forgiveness isn’t about who was right and who was wrong or who is more Christian than the other person. Forgiveness is not something that can be handed out like business cards.

This is what we are called to do: “Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you. Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:9-21 (give and take).

When you offer forgiveness to someone, and I mean really forgive them, you don’t have to tell all your friends, you don’t have to shout it on top of the mountains or @tweet them on Twitter, it’s between you and God.  That’s the power of forgiveness: it heals your heart more than the person who hurt you. It frees you from anger and stress and pain and grief and bitterness. It as far as the East is from the West and you can’t get much further than that.

The Perfect Burrito

Chris and I started dating our freshman year of college.  He was my first official boyfriend and I was in love with the idea of being in love.  We dated all through school and even managed to do a years worth of long distance when I moved to Nashville.  Chris was my best friend, he was genuine and kind-hearted and a wonderful boyfriend to me.

We were inching past our seven -year mark when we decided it was time to go our separate ways.  Our break-up came as a shock to the people around us.  While poor Chris had to face our friends and family back in Oklahoma, I had time to heal and recover out of the limelight.  My parents, who during our tenure had merely referred to Chris in social settings as “Sarah’s friend,” were devastated.  When I returned to Oklahoma for the first time since our break-up over Thanksgiving and found photos of us on displayed all around the house.

Up to that moment I had never really known where my relationship with Chris had stood among my Chinese parents.  Chris was, after all, not Asian and not exactly who they had envisioned for their daughter.  But at the end of our story, as nice as Chris was, he wasn’t my perfect burrito.

My friend Eliza has an analogy about burritos and future mates: we are all looking for our perfect burrito.

Imagine standing at a restaurant with a line of fresh toppings in front of you.  Each option is a perfectly suitable choice for you to build your perfect burrito.  My perfect burrito has black beans, rice, chicken, sour cream, corn salsa, tomatoes and cheese.  Yours may nix out beans and add lettuce and some spicy jalapeños for a good kick.  Neither choice is necessarily wrong, we just all have our own individual preferences.  Well, I don’t like jalapeños so obviously that is the wrong choice.

This can be said about our future mates as well.  A perfectly stuffed ‘burrito’ may walk through those doors with some pretty good ingredients, but he may not be suited for you.

I once knew two girls who were in love with the same boy.  They were best friends and neither would admit to the other their feelings.  And as much as they tried to hide it, everyone around them could see it.  Both girls loved different things about the boy.  One of them loved his boldness, ability to dream big and dry humor.  The other one loved his creativity, the emotion he poured into his work and the fact he made her giggle. The boy didn’t reciprocate feelings for either of them.  Turns out, he had his own ideas on what made a perfect burrito.

We are all created differently.  Some of us have beautiful long hair and a voice that sounds like an angel while some of us are short with squinty eyes and a funny personality.  And just because two people have some pretty great ingredients, doesn’t mean they are going to mesh the best together.

Have you ever looked at your friend and whoever they’re with and think, “Really? Him/Her?”  Turns out, sometimes it’s easier as an outsider to see that the ingredients in front of you aren’t what that particular person needs.

My friend, Jenny, recently told me a story about my relationship with Chris I had forgotten about.  Jenny and her husband went on a double date with us to a restaurant and I had asked for a to-go box.  Side note: I like taking food to-go.  It makes me feel less guilty for paying for something I didn’t fully eat.  I also like eating these leftovers at home, it’s like a two-for-one deal.

Chris was embarrassed by my request and threw a small fit in the restaurant pointing out that I was just going to throw it away when I got home.  I still insisted on getting my leftovers and on the way to the parking lot, Chris griped at me for causing more problems getting a box and the fact that now his car was going to smell like food.  Jenny and her husband were speechless that he was getting all riled up about my leftovers.  “What just happened??” they asked each other when they got into their car.

It’s been years since our break-up and I have always been confident it was the right decision.  But when Jenny told me that story, I realized that I should have known a lot sooner.  I’m not saying Chris was a bad person for getting mad about my leftovers, but I realized that just because you’ve been with someone for so long or you have so much in common with them, that doesn’t make them your perfect burrito.  Sometimes they have a lot of ingredients you like and can muster down, but ultimately, it’s just doesn’t hit the spot.

There’s no formula to falling in love.  There aren’t ingredients and sauces that will help you get the perfect soul mate faster.  God created each of us unique, with different palates who will be drawn to different characteristics and personalities.

I like the perfect burrito theory; it’s a concept that makes a lot of sense to me.  I used to not like guacamole in my burrito, but had some added accidentally one time and I ended up loving it.  That’s the beautiful thing about letting God be in charge of our burritos.  He gives us exactly what we’re craving and He even goes the extra mile and throws in a little kick we never knew we wanted.  God makes the perfect burritos.  I promise, when yours comes around, you’ll eat it up.