One of the Good Days

Last night, in one of those blissful in-between states between being awake and sleeping, the times that I feel most close to God (and now my atheist friends will use this as evidence that belief in God is irrational because I feel closer to Him in a half-conscious state), but I felt that I made a very important connection, or rather God showed me an important connection, and I thought it was so important that I absolutely had to blog about it. It was a spiritual click, something that seemed quite brilliant. And now, I can’t remember it. Well, I hope I remember it if it was important, but if not I’ll leave it at this and talk a bit about my experiences today instead.

So, if you read my blog, you’d probably get the impression that I’m someone who is naturally kind of down, but doesn’t want to be. You would be right. It is part of my nature, but I try to fight against it, even though very often it seems like a loosing battle. But I know that God can defeat my absurd emotions, and I look forward to the victory.

But today was one of the good days, truly. I feel generally happy and fulfilled, like I have a good life and I am grateful for it.

Today just got off to a good start. I woke up early by my biological clock, even though I forgot to set my alarm. I thank God for that now. I had time to make myself look presentable, which is unusual. By the way, I need to go into a thing someday about whether or not makeup and fancy dress is a sin. But I’ll leave that to another day.

The morning commute was manageable, and I made it out alive, so I considered that a success. So I go to my classes, and I am able to focus a little better because I came more prepared. And they seemed like generally productive classes. But here is where the real game changer came in. And I think God put this in my life on purpose.

In my playwriting class, we were asked to write scenarios for possible one-scene plays and share them in class. A scenario is basically an outline of a play. Anyway, one of my classmates scenarios involved a Christian boy and a diva-ish, preppy popular girl who was very ungrateful. She would complain about not having a car and little things like that. Meanwhile, a friend of hers had real problems, like a father who got a heart attack among other tragic incidences. Anyway, after the scenario was read, we talked about it. People in the class expressed how they knew people like the first girl, and how they hated those kinds of people. And that’s when it hit me, that I can be like that sometimes. Not the popular and preppy part, but the ungrateful part. I realized, as I was sitting there “I don’t want to be like that at all.” It’s so counterproductive, not conducive at all to the things that I want to do in life. And how does that reflect on God if I can’t be grateful?

So, things went well after that. I mentioned the campus EV I was going to in my last post. Well, I showed up at the designated area on campus, and there was no one there. So it seemed, but then I saw a boy sitting on a bench. I sensed that he might have been there for the same purpose as me, so I started talking to him and turns out he was leading the EV. He didn’t actually think it would be good to evangelize with me, but he talked to me to get a feel for what I’m about, which is understandable. And then I met someone else from the group. They seemed very nice, maybe a little judgmental about me not going to church, and maybe they emphasize the formal church experience just a little too much, but I understand them, and I think they’re sincere. No one can be perfect, after all, you just pray that we’ll all get a little closer.

So then after that, I had dinner with an old friend and went to see her dorm, which was fun. We went to this thai restaurant on campus. I got curry noodles and thai iced tea, which really helped me power through my last class of the day! It’s also funny how caffeine helps me so much with my self expression skills. It just makes me feel like my brain and my mouth have a much better connection, as opposed to a lot of the time when they don’t seem to communicate that much. I hope one day the Holy Spirit Himself will give me that kind of energy!

Well, I’m very sorry if this seems a lot like a journal, and that I didn’t get to do any actual evangelizing today. Hopefully surrounding people who walked by picked up some snippets. It’s just that I’m happy! No, things are not completely resolved, and no, my life is not perfect, but hey, it’s close enough for me. I can work with this! Yes, God has blessed me and I can more than work with it, I  feel like I can live, like I can go on, and keep on going and thrive forever. I feel self-confidence, can you believe it! I not only know, but at the moment I feel that God created me for a reason. I’m not a worthless, awkward alien, but I’m a human being, a child of God, and so are you.

Gravity: A Movie Reviewed and A State of Mind

As you can glean from the title, I saw the movie Gravity today. Half the time I believe I was cringing or making very unattractive faces. It really “pulled me in” (pun not originally intended) because the acting was good, and the sense of tension and mortal terror that they were going for was achieved. I knew what was going to happen in the end, but I just couldn’t help wondering, questioning, feeling. I even got reasonably close to crying one time (and I actually don’t cry much in movies, even though I’m such a sap).

I thought it was funny how you could hear sounds when the things were crashing in space. It was not true to science, but I see why the director did it. Without the sound, something just would have been missing, because we as humans are so accustomed to sound.

And here’s the part where I, without shame, try to relate the movie I saw with my personal thoughts. Why am I such a girl? Can’t I just talk about an action movie without getting all weird?

Gravity. The laws of physics that we naively believe govern the natural world as independent entities that came about through their own means. The laws of society that can seem almost as strict.

I never really learned to use those things to my advantage. I am graceless, uncoordinated, awkward. Just today I picked up tennis again. To be fair to myself, I haven’t played in a long time. But I performed badly today, either hitting the net or hitting homers a solid portion of the time. Not that I was ever much of a pro, yet it’s the only sport that I have potential for being passable at. So I think I’ll give it a shot. Ugh, another pun.

I’ve never had good posture either. I just kind of let gravity do it’s thing to my body. Not to mention, I’m not exactly a walking embodiment of physical fitness either. I always feel like something is weighing me down, keeping me from getting in shape. I think it’s just a lack of willpower.

And with people. I want to be diplomatic, funny, and charming. But my own nervousness and fear of being dull, jerky, and uncomfortable holds me back. I let the pressure, the “gravity” hold me down instead of letting myself be grounded by it

When things aren’t going well, I like to think about heaven, an ideal world with beautiful views and no worries. I like to think that I’ll get there, Jesus will hand me a pina collada or something, and we’ll shoot the breeze in this perfect paradise with puffy clouds, islands and classical architecture. And then I’ll meet all the people who weren’t too fond of me in this life, the people that were too cool for me, the people who gave me charity, and everyone else, all the colors of the rainbow, and we’ll all hold hands and laugh together and dance around in the most beautiful harmony.

I think that my idea of heaven is a little distorted, but that’s okay. I guess I’ll just leave it up to God to decide what He likes. And it shouldn’t just be about the atmosphere there anyway, the most important thing about it is that we’re spending eternity with God. Chew on that. But what I should be focusing on now, is what I can do while I’m here on earth. And yes, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be here long, but that doesn’t mean that every second is not a gift, to be used in the best way possible. So maybe it would behoove me to try and be comfortable in my own skin, to get acclimated to this thing called gravity, and fine tune my skill at defying the norm (but in a way that is productive), while at the same time, learning to love the individuals that comprise this world that is both surprisingly orderly and excessively crazy.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Today was my third day of college. So far, I only have one casual acquaintance because he is my partner for a group project. It’s an interesting experience, commuting to college two days a week. You’re kind of anonymous when you’re there, just one among thousands with no little niche. It’s a good thing in a way, such a big environment. You get a lot of second chances because when you do something embarrassing (like I ALWAYS do), chances are the people who saw you doing it won’t see you again or remember. At least, I hope so. Like today, I had quite a few blunders. I accidentally opened an emergency exit and sounded a little alarm… In a library. My green tea latte spilled on the cup (which seems painfully trivial, but trust me, it was awkward). Oh, and I asked a really dumb question in accounting class, and couldn’t even play it off or make the professor catch my drift. I am convinced that after only 3 days of school, at least 2 of my professors are convinced that I’m some kind of idiot.

Every time I walk to class, I feel like I see the same sea of faces. Asian girls, maybe speaking Korean or Chinese or Californian, pretty girls on bicycles, cool guys on skateboards that whiz right by me at startling speeds, shy girls with their arms crossed, frat boys, artistic types, nerdy guys, short girls, groups of laughing, happy people, the occasional couple holding hands, girls wearing Greek shirts, blondes, Hispanics, African-Americans, Africans…

Most of the people I see, I know wouldn’t want to get to know me. But sometimes I see people with lost eyes, who don’t seem that different from me. If only I could stop them and say hi, say something, ask what their name is. But that is weird. So the current propels me forward, propels them in the opposite direction. We aligned in space, for a moment, but that was all. I know that they have their own life, and that I will likely never be part of their world. And as strange as it seems, the thought makes me sad.

Sometimes, I’m not that bad at walking, as opposed to standing. I feel weird standing sometimes. I can swing my arms and look straight ahead. I can walk fast too. I can look almost normal, like I’m just another girl who has her own life too, I can put on a brave face, a serious face, and pretend not to notice people, pretend that I don’t feel loneliness and apprehension. But I have a feeling that anyone who really pays any attention to me will see right through this thin facade, and the thought terrifies me.

Sometimes, I feel sorry for myself, and I weep when I am alone at night because I feel like my life is going no where, or that it’s just not moving fast enough to where I want to be. This happened to me last night. But then I told myself to get a grip, to stop being so ridiculous. I’m going to college, doing what I always wanted to do, getting a fresh start, not to mention I just recently had a book idea that I have a good feeling about. Not to mention, I have my family, who is always there for me. I got to thinking on the bright side, then reverted back, seesawed a few more times… And then, all alone, I started singing a worship song, all alone in my room to the stillness of the night. The stillness, that was really kind of like a churning. I know someone was listening, I know God heard me. I was afraid, the thought of the glory of God made me cower. It’s like in an old Disney movie, when someone says something like “oh, look, it’s blah, blah blah.” And then they’re like, “HOLY CRAP STICK, IT’S BLAH BLAH.” You know the corny little comedic technique. That’s how it is with me. Most of the time, I console myself with the thought that God is watching. And then, on rare occasions I’m like WAIT, GOD IS WATCHING… I’M NOT ACTUALLY ALONE! And then, that reminds me again what it’s really all about. It’s about God. It’s about God, it’s about God. That’s not something you can learn in a day. I have to remind myself all the time. It would be better if I reminded myself more. Better yet if I took action.

Sorry that this post has been so melodramatic and abstract. I’m in a weird mood now, in case you didn’t get that impression. Hopefully I’ll start making sense again soon.

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Cliches That Are True #2: Life Isn’t Fair (Duh?)

This morning, while brushing my teeth (which always gives me good ideas) I realized an important reason why it is often so hard to be happy, to throw your cares and frustrations under a rug, and rejoice in the fact that you are saved by Jesus, have food to eat, and all your faculties at disposal. If you do not have food to eat and all your faculties at disposal, then you may have permission to be mopey from time to time, so this doesn’t apply to you.

The reason it is hard to be happy is not that you haven’t bought enough self help books, or haven’t meditated enough. The reason may not even be that your life lacks meaning, though very often that is the case. It may very well be that you have faulty assumptions about life itself. We’ve all heard the phrase “Life isn’t fair.” But do we really believe it, all the time? Don’t we sometimes try to build our happiness on crumbling foundations, like the assumptions that: life is essentially fair, people are rational, and others will try to see things from our perspective?

How do you think Jesus felt about getting crucified? He knew it was coming, but still He was a little down about it at times, naturally. It wasn’t fair that the people wanted him dead. What crime did he commit? So life wasn’t fair to him, why should it be fair all the time to anyone?

And then, of course, there’s trying to build joy on faulty foundations. Yes, now that I’ve imparted my nugetette of worldly wisdom, it’s time for the spiritual. Ever try to build joy on faulty foundations? Joy, as opposed to happiness, which is deeper and more understated, which requires, in my opinion of the word, a kind of security and peace that you cannot glean from a new alarm system or a safer car. Joy is the conundrum, because I believe there is only one source of it. I think you can guess what that is. But sometimes, we try to build it ourselves. We try to build it off yet another faulty foundation, the principle that we are masters of our own destiny, the final arbitrators when it comes to our little slice of humanity. We erect it from the fruits of our success and adorn it with the musings from our sentimentality. And then, one day, it just sinks down, because we built it on sand. Ooopps.

A Day at the Getty

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I can look at paintings all day long… and I pretty much did. I love to just get transported by them, entering a new realm, forgetting where I am and who I am. The one up above is of the Sermon on the Mount. Sorry, I didn’t have time to jot down all the titles and names of the artists. I especially liked the religious ones, even if they tended to put an unhealthy emphasis on the Virgin Mary. But at least it seemed that people were trying to glorify God with their art. More than can be said for the movies and television we see today. Image

 

I really liked a lot of the more medieval panel paintings. One so seldom hears about European art from before the Renaissance (and there is a reason), but I don’t think they should be completely overlooked. They’re so ornate and often quite whimsical. You always think of older things being conservative, but not always. 

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I believe that this one was done by Titian (I was really excited to see one by a very famous artist) but correct me if I am mistaken . Yes, now we are into the mannerism movement (right?)

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And look, a wood cutting, a style made famous by Albrecht Dürer (but this one was not done by Albrecht). I believe the title is, “A Hare in the Woods.”

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The food at the restaurant was quite fancy, all French style or something. My salad was quite satisfying. I wish I had pictures of all the dishes there, they were so pretty to look at! Never seen anything like it.

Well, I hope this has been cultural. It’s really cool looking at art, because you see things that are both vastly different and strikingly familiar. You see emotions that you know all to well yourself, and you see that people really haven’t changed as much as you might think. You can even argue that they haven’t changed at all.

You should visit this place too! Thanks J. Paul Getty.

 

Best Combo Ever… Hypocrisy, Self Loathing, and Fine Art

Today was a bit of a roller coaster. I will probably be doing another post about it tomorrow, when I upload my pics from the Getty Museum (which was great, by the way). But for just now I would like to talk about something a bit more personal, like I always end up doing.

I was kind of in a bad mood this morning, no particular reason, and it only got worse because one of my party was complaining about things, and it annoyed me. As far as I was concerned, the food was alright and the architecture was nice and the garden was pretty… SO SHUT UP AND HAVE A GOOD TIME! Yes, I realize the irony.

But then I was in a better mood when we started looking at the paintings. And then it went south again. I’ll skip some of the trifling details and set the scene for the more interesting part. O is trying to get a picture of me by this really fancy bed on display. Mind you, I don’t like having my picture taken when a lot of people around, so I was feeling more awkward than usual. But it was a nice bed. No kidding, it’s blue and frilly, and it goes up like 15 feet or something. Two girls are getting out of the way, and they say “sorry.” And what do I say? I say, “it’s good.” And I said it all quiet and mousy because I decided on what to say as I was saying it. And then I’m pretty sure I heard one of the girls repeat what I said as they were walking out. As if I couldn’t hear. So they’re in the next room, laughing and stuff about whatever, and I feel like crap. Because I guess I hate being mocked. And now I’m more insecure than ever because apparently I’m so bizarre that strangers have to make fun of me.

Here are the three take aways from this experience, because I feel obligated to make logical conclusions in the form of a numbered list from one of my many days spent indulging in my own nonsense:

1. I have self esteem issues… But that’s a given.
2. Who am I to get all mad at other people who complain when I am so petty myself? I mean really, why am I letting other people determine my self worth?
3. Words can hurt, and I’d better be careful with them. I need to stop scoffing. Otherwise I’ll hurt someone just like I was hurt today

Those Feelings

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That feeling when you’re writing, and it’s all coming out, and you are one with your words. When your fingertips perfectly find the right keys, synchronized nicely with your brain. The feeling when you know you’ve written something real and exciting, for once.

Or the thrill when you’re playing chess and you see that you can snag one of your opponent’s major pieces, with no consequences. When you’re waiting on pins and needles, hoping he won’t notice.

Thank God for those feelings!

I Once Had Geese

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A while ago, I had some baby geese and ducks. I was really excited about the whole thing and was eager to train them and teach the geese to fly, somehow. But probably not the way the girl did it in the charming film “Fly Away Home.”

I thought it would be a good idea to make bird noises so maybe they would think I was their mother. It was pretty embarrassing. I would go “chirp, chirp, CHIRP!” And what do you know? It actually worked. They would follow me wherever I went, as if under some kind of spell.

For a couple glorious days, I was on top of the world with my trained birds. I thought the possibilities were endless with my winged friends. I was  going to be a mommy!

Then they just stopped following me. It was like they couldn’t even hear my voice. I was so frustrated with them- didn’t they know that I had been feeding them?

I later figured out that in order to truly train geese, having them think you are their “mother,” you must be the first thing they see when they are born. It’s “imprinting.” My geese were born in a hatchery. The first think they saw was probably fluorescent lighting.

Considering this anecdote, that I wanted these geese to follow me, why don’t we think that God wants us to respect Him? I did not create the geese, and I am not infinitely greater than them, but God did create us, and He is infinitely greater than us! In that case, why do we think that He doesn’t want acknowledgement? Why do we fancy that people who reject Him will be spared by Him? And why wouldn’t He know what is best for us, since He created us?

Close Enough for Comfort: A Monologue to the Almighty

Wrote this yesterday when I was in a very optimistic mood. Hope it is uplifting:

What I almost had is delicious in my dreams, precious to my soul. I was so close, Lord, I could taste it, and I did. It touched the tip of my tongue, and it was sweet and wonderful, like all your gifts are. The fact that you almost blessed me is a tender recollection, and I am flattered. Oh, I would be lying to say that I don’t yearn for the real thing, but why should I when the dream is so much more sublime! Reality can never compensate. That I should dream for the rest of my life without real expectation of fulfillment would be most ideal. Yet I continue to grasp, and for what?

Thank You, Lord, for providing by withholding. Though one often hungers, who can truly bare an overfilled stomach. Already “my cup runneth over.”

 

Hope you enjoyed the silly metaphors and sappy-ness! But really, why not be a little sappy when it comes to God?

 

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-TRL

So Basically… Just Be a Good Person And You’ll Go to Heaven?

“Given that — and this is the key point — God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”

-Pope Francis

(Quote snagged from the Huffington Post)

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Photo courtesy of automopedia.org

Okay, so look at that quote very carefully. Decide what you believe. Not that easy, right? It seems like such a wonderful, harmless philosophy. As my teacher used to say, “let’s all hold hands and sing we are the world!” Oh, it’s so true! Jesus died for everyone, every little girl and boy, every gentle Buddhist, misunderstood atheist, crazy Christian…

YES and NO!

Now you’re thinking that I’m just being a tool, proving to the skeptics that Christians are wishy washy, contradictory train wrecks. Fear not, I will come to a logical conclusion from this mess.

Jesus did die for everyone. He did give everyone a chance, no matter who you are. So YES. But it’s not like you can just do whatever your “conscience” says is okay. Everyone’s conscience is different, after all, how is that a universal standard? That sounds a lot like… relativism.

If all we need to do is be good people, then why did Jesus come to the earth and show us how it was done? Didn’t the Pharisees think they were being good people? Doesn’t almost everyone think they are being a good person?

Are we really going to start thinking that we are saved by our works? This again! Our works are like those pathetic dried up vegetables they put in instant noodle bowls. It seems like they’re better than nothing, but God does not accept them as currency!

If we believe in God, the resurrection, all of that, we must believe that there IS “absolute truth.” Otherwise we might as well burn our Bibles and party til we pickle our livers, wrapping up our meaningless lives by ODing in a public restroom.

Faith, faith is what will save us. Faith will prompt the works, but the works are meaningless without the faith. That’s not to say that anyone who doesn’t have faith now will be burned in Hell, but that ultimately, at the end of the line, we must choose what we believe, and our choice will determine our destiny.

Believe it or not, like it or not, but there, I’ve said it, and I feel much better now. So if you’re a Christian, please don’t get suckered into it. With all due respect to the Pope, well, the Pope is not God. I know, I feel bad for the people that don’t believe too, especially the little children in Africa, oh the mental image, it breaks my heart! But that’s exactly why we’re supposed to spread the word! And shouldn’t we trust that after we’ve done our best, God will know how to judge his people, the people that He CREATED?

Okay, I’m done now.