Monthly Archives: May 2013

Unlocked Doors

7176826I have a theory about unlocked doors: they make great stories.

Example One:

One time I was in a one-person restroom at a coffee shop in Nashville and I forgot to lock the door. A girl walked in…we both screamed. The whole coffee shop heard us.

 

Example Two:

I was sitting in my living room of the townhome I lived in during college. A couple friends were coming over for game night so I left my door unlocked, ready to be the best hostess ever. A huge, football player looking guy bolted into my house screaming, “Derrick! I know you’re in here!” (I edited out some of his other choice words.) I must have scared him with my Ninja stars because he took one look at me and ran out the door.

 

Example Three:

My senior year of college I was going bowling with a couple friends I had made in one of my classes. We all decided to meet up at Charlie’s house before heading to the bowling alley. Charlie gave me directions to his house, assured me it was easy, his house number was 3408 and I would see his black SUV in the driveway.

3408. Black SUV. Got it.

He told me he was going to take a quick shower, but he would leave the door unlocked and I could just make myself feel at home.

“Hey, do you have any food?” a question every college kid asks.

“Doubt it. My brother cleaned out the fridge, but you can help yourself to whatever you can find.”

I turned onto his street, quickly located 3408 and like he promised, his black SUV sat on the driveway. I walked into his cute, suburban looking house. The living room was directly on your right when you first walk in to the house, so like a good Asian girl, I took off my shoes, plopped myself on the couch and turned on the Disney Channel.

[Let me pause and explain the whole Disney Channel thing. I didn’t grow up with cable because my parents refused to let us fill our heads with mindless hours of television. So when I started college, I naturally experimented with my new found freedom by getting cable and watching mindless hours of, yes, the Disney Channel.]

About two minutes into an episode called “That’s So Raven,” my stomach reminded me that I was hungry and I walked down the hall into the kitchen. Half-listening to the television and focused on doing a thorough raid of their refrigerator, the last thing I was expecting was to run into anybody but Charlie in the house. But there, in the middle of Charlie’s kitchen stood two 6’ something cowboys. I’m talking plaid shirt, Wrangler jeans, Cowboy boots and hat.

Okay, Sarah, be nice, but don’t talk too much or you’ll miss the entire episode…“Hi! I’m Sarah!” I said extending my hand to one of them. When the guy failed to extend his hand in return, I tried the other guy. They both stared at me blankly, without moving and said nothing.

I tried again.

“I’m a friend of Charlie’s. I didn’t realize there were other people going bowling with us! This is going to be fun! How do you know Charlie?”

Again, they said nothing.

If you know me well, I’m an awkward person and I definitely don’t do well in awkward situations like this. I tend to be that girl who keeps digging a hole and jumping in before burying myself in a pile of dirt. But my thought process was, if we were going to spend the next few hours bowling with each other, it would be a long night if they thought I was a jerk. And there was no way they were going to ruin bowling night for me.

“So I know Charlie’s in the shower right now and you guys look like you’re in the middle of something…so…I’m just going to grab some food and go back into the living room.”

Silence.

“You guys are more than welcome to join me. I’m watching the Disney Channel. I know, I know, but I was deprived of cable as a kid so even though it’s weird to watch it in college, I love it.”

Silence.

“Right now ‘That’s So Raven’ is on, it’s not the best episode, but give it a try, you might end up liking it.”

Silence.

“Okay, well, I’m just going to check the fridge.  Excuse me.”

I moved a couple steps toward the fridge. Cowboy One didn’t budge.

“…Oh…excuse me, just…going to…”

Still, Cowboy One’s feet stayed firmly on the kitchen tile.

“Hey, I’m sorry, I’m being rude! If you want, I can make you guys some food too. Are you hungry? Who am I kidding, all guys are hungry all the time. Am I right?”

Silence.

At this point, I’m annoyed. These guys are obviously jerks. You know the type, too cool for school. I don’t know who they think they are but they are not better than me, maybe I don’t WANT them to come bowling with us!

“You know what. I’m just going to wait for Charlie to get out of the shower and grab some food later…It was nice meeting you! Hope you guys go bowling with us!!” (Not!)

I sat back down on the couch, fuming a little. How rude.

That’s when a cold rush ran through my spine. You know, the kind where it feels like a ghost has just passed through you and you feel the blood drain from your body. Raven, the character on TV, was having a premonition on the episode…I was too.

I got up slowly and walked back into the kitchen. The two cowboys were standing there like statues as if they hadn’t even breathed since I left them.

“Um,” I squeaked. “This isn’t Charlie’s house, is it?”

Cowboy Two made his first peep ever:

“No, it’s not.”

It was like a gun shot before a race. I took off running. I grabbed my stuff, didn’t bother putting on my shoes and ran. Getting into my car would take too much time so I just kept running down the street. I ran until I found a bush to hide in and dialed my friend to who was also on his way to come pick me up.

When we arrived at Charlie’s actual house he stood on the lawn with his hands in the air –

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?”

“Charlie! What is your house address?”

“How should I know! I don’t write myself letters!”

I handed Charlie my keys and made him go back to 3408 to retrieve my car. When he returned, he informed me that the two cowboys were now rolling on the lawn, laughing.

So, this story has been on my mind lately. I think God calls us to live our lives with unlocked doors. I don’t mean He wants you to literally leave the door to your house unlocked…actually, if you feel Him calling you in that direction, by all means, leave it unlocked…but what I’m trying to say is we are called to love without inhibition or false pretenses. We are called to love people. Period.

There was a time in my life that I had a falling out with Trust and made the decision that I didn’t trust anyone ever. After being constantly burned by the people in my life, I decided to completely shut down my heart. After all, everyone had ulterior motives and I wasn’t going to take any more risks on getting hurt.  I even argued that I was just following God’s instructions to better “guard my heart.”

But people who don’t trust anyone live really lonely lives. Seriously, they’re literally all alone. I learned by not letting anyone in, I became an imposter. In an effort to keep everyone at bay, I let myself become a different person – a jaded, angry, malfunctioning robot. And if you get good enough at keeping everyone out, eventually you even build a wall to keep God out.

Turns out putting your heart on lockdown can make you into a coward. Not only will you constantly feel empty and lonely, but you become surrounded by a lot of superficial relationships.  I’m not saying you need to cultivate deep, intimate relationships with EVERYONE, but I think it’s important to consistently seek wisdom from good people, surround yourself with people who will be honest with you, no matter what and love you sincerely. What I’m saying is, your faith and love cannot amount to anything under a lock and key.

Jesus was the ultimate example of living a life of unlocked doors. He did it in such a way that He was able to guard His heart from the things of this world while still standing true to who He was. He knew just how to love well and unconditionally without reserve. Sure, there were moments His heart broke, but he recognized that it is far better to love big than live small.

That’s what happens when we unlock doors. We open our hearts to opportunities full of great moments and stories we would never have experienced otherwise.

A few years later I got a call from Charlie telling me he had befriended his Cowboy neighbors.

“They still talk about you, you know,” he told me.“ At parties they like to tell people about the time the little Asian girl walked into their house and wouldn’t stop talking.”

Like I said, great stories come from unlocked doors.

The Ride of Your Life

When people say, “it’s as easy as riding a bike” I want to punch them in the face. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be one of those people who overused that phrase. “It’s super easy! Trust me, it’s JUST like riding a bike!” But all of this positive pep talk changed the day I learned – brace yourself now – I can’t actually ride a bike.

Yes, you’ve heard me correctly. So the term that is “easy” isn’t very relatable to me. No, it’s not easy. In fact, it can be quite terrifying.

It’s not like I never learned how to ride a bike, because I did. I was so excited when I got my first bicycle. I had begged and begged my parents for one and on Christmas morning, there it was – a yellow and white Minnie Mouse bicycle with a white basket and pink flowers. I still remember how it felt riding up and down my street with the warm breeze against my face, completely fearless. There was nothing I couldn’t do, no imagination destination I couldn’t peddle to when I was on my bike.

A few years ago, my friends and I were at the lake for the weekend and I suggested we take the bicycles out from the shed and ride around. It had rained the day before, but, today, the weather was perfect – blue skies, slight breeze – and we were all excited to have a nice day outside. My friend rolled them out of the shed and there were just enough for each of us to ride. One by one each person got on their designated bike and began pedaling in a circle around the parking lot. Everyone, that is, except for me.

For no reason whatsoever I suddenly became fear-stricken. What if I don’t remember how to ride a bike? I’m going to embarrass myself in front of everyone. These thoughts rushed through my brain. Literally out of nowhere, this fear of not knowing if I would get hurt or not began to cripple me. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle since I was in middle school, but surely that Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 2.04.31 PMwouldn’t mean I would forget how to ride one, right?

“Get on the bike, Sarah!”

“I can’t. I’m scared.”

The next 10 minutes consisted of my friends giving me a pep talk. It started out sweet and eventually the encouragement turned ugly.

“Don’t worry, it’s easy, see!”

“You know how to ride a bike, stop scaring yourself.  It’s okay!”

“Sarah, stop being a baby, it’s not that big of a deal.  SARAH.  Get on the bike and just ride!”

But even with the (ahem) overwhelming love that flowed all around me like a giant hug, I couldn’t bring myself to get on the bike.

Have you ever felt this way in life? The paralyzing fear to not try something because you’re so afraid of what may (or may not) happen. You’re crippled by the “what-if scenario”; the one that convinces you you’re going to fail, you’re going to get hurt, and you’re going to look like a fool. And even if the facts stack up in your favor, the voice in your head repeats over and over to you: “You can’t do this. You can’t do this. You. Will. Fall.”

After some coaxing and mental determination that I wasn’t going to be the only one in the group not to participate, I got on the bicycle. It felt amazing! It was exactly as I remembered it to be; I felt like a kid again! I steadily pedaled a few feet and breathed a sigh of relief. No one had to know all the silly fears that had been running through my head just seconds earlier. So, we all took off toward the road, laughing and soaking in the warm breeze against our faces.

Then out of nowhere, a voice started to creep into my head.

Be careful. If you fall, you’re going to hurt yourself and it’s going to be extremely painful.

Seriously Sarah, are you sure you can do this?

I tried to ignore it, but the voice got louder.

Grip the handlebars as tightly as possible. You don’t want to lose control. Or balance.  Trust me, you don’t want to know what happens then!!!

I’m just saying, it would really suck right now if there was a spider crawling up your arm. Wait, is that a piece of lint or a…

That’s the moment I let the voices get to me.

I let out a high pitch, curdling, full-out embarrassing, scary movie scream for absolutely no reason. As I screamed, my friends shouted that I was on the wrong side of the road. Everything happened quickly after that. I heard the sound of a passing car and I panicked. One foot wanted to pedal, the other wanted to brake and without the proper guidance, the bicycle tilted underneath me and, like a fool, I let go of the handles in surrender.

So, naturally, I fell.

And I kept falling.

Down the hill, through sticks and mud, screaming my final words of departure from this world all the way down. Fortunately, my natural athleticism saved me from breaking any bones (no, not really). I limped back to the cabin, mortified and angry and with a pretty large gash of blood streaming down my leg.

This story is embarrassing for me for several reasons:

One – It makes me look like an idiot.

Two – I ended up getting hurt and proving that I really can’t ride a bike. And riding a bike is easy, right?

I let fear get the best of me. I became so afraid I would get hurt, that I did get hurt. And that’s exactly what happens in our lives if we let it. Whether it’s being afraid to take a chance in a relationship, worrying that people will judge you for being different or refusing to take a risk in fear of the unknown, whatever it is, we play into our fears. And when we give into it, we ultimately get hurt in spite of ourselves.

John 4:18 tell us that there is no fear in love; perfect love casts out fear. So often I play into my fears both big and small and I get so consumed by these fears that trusting in the bigger picture – the perfect love of Jesus – is the last thing on my mind. But the truth is we have absolutely nothing to fear. There is no risk too high, no dream too big, no broken heart or broken bone that is too much for our God to handle.

There is no guarantee in life that we won’t hypothetically (or literally) fall off our bicycles. There is no guarantee of success or failure when we are riding into the unknown. The point of it all isn’t to be frustrated by uncertainty, live in fear and give up but instead, to live beyond our fears. And if we do fall, we dust ourselves off and try again.

Here’s the challenge – think of something you’re afraid of trying and go for it. Yes, I’m talking leaning in fully and jumping in. Don’t let the fear of failure, or the reality of it, keep you from experiencing your ultimate bike adventure. It’s time we pulled our bicycles out of the shed, feel the breeze against our faces and be fearless. It will a little scary and it won’t be easy, but like I said, riding a bike never is.

 

Photo Credit: Chris Gray