The Two Edged Sword That is The Truth

“Tell the truth, honest is the best policy,” they say. “The truth will set you free,” they say. Well, who am I to contradict that? But the truth is just not fun. Think about it, why would the truth be pleasant? The things we do aren’t usually good and the things we think aren’t all that noble, so why would anyone want to disclose more embarrassing facts than absoulutely necessary for practicality and sanity? Isn’t one of the basic aims of humanity to make every effort to escape from the crueler realities of life, whether through the bottle, the screen, the crack pipe, or, in some cases, the book?

Don’t deny it. Denying it won’t get you anywhere.

One of the Ten Commandments is you shall not lie. “Fair enough” we think. “Surely no good can come out of lying. But why do I need to tell my neighbor about every skeleton in my closet, every secret fear and agony that haunts my soul?” So most of us don’t attempt to disclose that stuff. Because it’s only true- who really wants to hear all that? No one.

So then we try to be very judicious about what we reveal. Just yesterday I was covering up, oh, a pretty important trespass against someone. I thought it was okay, since I wasn’t really lying, at least a vast majority of the time, just withholding important information, that’s all. But I started to feel really bad about it yesterday. I would deliberate and deliberate in my head, endlessly. I’d come to the decision to keep up the charade, but I never felt good about the decision, so the process just repeated itself. The Golden Rule, that was my justification, the golden rule. It’s amazing how good the enemy is at helping you justify your wrong actions, even when you start to get that “sinking feeling,” which I believe is really God tapping you on the shoulder. So I tried putting myself in the shoes of the trespassee. I thought, “If I were them, would I really want to know?” Wouldn’t it be better if I just fixed it, saving them the heartache? Yet I came to realize the impossibility of rectifying the situation without them knowing about it. I suppose I sort of knew  it from the beginning, I just choose not to acknowledge it, since I was just so focused on trying to save myself. But anyway, back to the narration. So I asked for a sign, and I thought was going to wait a couple more agaonizing, guilt-ridden days. But then I got my sign, much sooner than I thought, which convinced me once and for all that the deception absolutely needed to end. And that was the moment that I came clean.

What can be learned from this story? Not necessarily that you need to tell people everything. Even if you were insane enough to want to do this, come on, you wouldn’t be able to. I suppose the lesson is that you have instincts, as a believer, and as a person. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll regret not listening to instincts (God’s whisperings)  more often than not, impeded my pride, laziness, or a myriad of selfish concerns. And then, you have to just stop beating yourself up.

The Same Old Religious Debate

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I must be honest, lately I’ve been a little troubled by the age-old question of “why so many religions?” This never puzzled me much before, but recently, it has been a nag. So this morning, I did some research on Islam, because I feel like I should know a little bit so I can at least have an intelligent conversation if the topic ever comes up. Why Islam? Well, Islam has similar roots as Judaism, and consequently, Christianity, and I thought that some people on the internet would have a lot to say in defense of it. I was right, and much to my dismay, it wasn’t all of the usual, emotional stuff. I read an article about how supposedly there were scientific things in the Quran about biology that couldn’t have been known at the time through humans (El-Najjar 3). Similar claims are made about the Bible too.

But the more I researched, the more I realized the flaws in this religion. Of course, people also point out flaws in Christianity, but those are of a different nature, and as a believer, obviously I am rightly biased towards the validity of the Good Book. It turns out that many of the ancient mosques, instead of facing towards Mecca, are actually pointed closer to the direction of Jerusalem (The Quran’s Archeological Evidence). If you are interested, you can read more about it in this article. Of course, that isn’t conclusive proof that Islam is whack, since there is no conclusive proof, it just kind of steered me in a personal way back towards my own faith, towards Jerusalem.

Another interesting thing that maybe you didn’t know is that Muslims also believe that Jesus walked the earth, but they claim that he was a prophet who was not the resurrected son of God (Godlas 1). Now this gets interesting. Why would Muslims claim that Jesus existed, just not in the same way that Christians believe? Why these commonalities? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just deny Jesus altogether? If there is agreement between the Judeo-Christian camp and Muslim one on something, where strife has existed for centuries, then couldn’t you conclude that there’s something there, that one of them is right and the other, wrong? And which one has really stood the test of time? Now you decide that. I know I’ve decided.

I think there’s a rather reasonable explanation for the supposed scientific evidence in the Qu’ran, even if it isn’t just a coincidence. God has definitely had relationships before with people who later disobeyed Him. Solomon, Samson, just to name a couple that I am familiar with. Isn’t it possible that part of the Qu’ran was divinely inspired, possibly through some kind of prophet who later went rogue? Or perhaps some kind of mix-up? Look, don’t get mad, it’s just a theory.

The purpose of this post was is not to put down Muslims and accuse them of things right off the bat. I don’t have too many logical reasons for what I believe either because I’m not some kind of Biblical scholar. However, I would encourage anyone to think about why they believe what they believe. Don’t overthink it, because overthinking leads to dark places. Think about it, because you’re bound to think about it eventually, and if you didn’t think about it calmly, you’ll think about it in emotional state where it would be better if you didn’t think about it so much. Know why you believe what you believe, but don’t go looking for conclusive proof, you won’t find that. However, one thing that many people come to conclude is that the universe could not have been created by accident. Along with it being unlikely, it’s depressing to think of things like that. So then, who did create it? I would imagine that whoever did would want to communicate with his creation, either directly or, I don’t know… through a book maybe? Just thinking out loud here. Prophets? Yes, that makes sense. So which one is it, now that I’ve gotten this far? Is it Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism (which I still need to research), Judaism, or Christianity? If you choose Christianity, well then, you have to choose it on a much deeper level than that, but it’s a start. It’s a start of a relationship based on redemption, a relationship with the one True God. So it’s not just a religion, and if it is just a religion, then you’re probably approaching it the wrong way.

 

Works Cited

El-Najjar, Hassan Ali. “The Scientific Evidence That God Exists and the Holy Quran is His Message to Humanity.” Aljazeerah, 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.

Godlas, Alan. “Jesus: A Summary of the Points About Which Islam and Christianity Agree and Disagree.” Web. 4 Nov. 2013.

“The Quran’s Archeological Evidence.” Debate.org.Web. 4 Nov. 2013.

 

Image: religioustolerance.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doubting Again

It is a fact that every Christian doubts from time to time. It is a fact that every Christian falls into sin from time to time. But exactly how far they can fall until it becomes the point of no return- that is very debatable. Of course, it seems like that point doesn’t exist. Doesn’t God’s mercy have no bounds?

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And then, there’s always this verse that scares us. I probably almost wet my pants when I read it:

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NIV)

“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted of the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subject Him to public disgrace.”

Of course, there are more than one interpretations of this verse. If you are interested, you should check out this article. Basically, it talks about how this verse is taken out of context, and that it refers more to the impossibility of saving ourselves when we have fallen away rather than the impossibility of being saved. Because all things are possible with God, right?

But now I will abandon this discourse and talk about my own doubt, assuming that I have not been cast under eternal damnation already. Even though things have been going well lately, I have been doubting a lot, thanks to Satan. I am reading 1 Kings at the moment (KJV), and I find myself getting annoyed at times. Like, why did God express it that way? Why did God bother with Israel for so long under such interesting circumstances and evil kings? Why wasn’t He more literary in his narratives? Why does He repeat Himself?

Of course there are answers to these questions, but what God really wants me to know is: HELLO, WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH? I mean really, who am I to be critical? Who am I to be blasphemous? I can feel God telling me off right now like he did to Job, except that I consider myself guiltier than Job. God has been blessing me more than usual, and this is what I have to give Him in return?

I don’t want to be phony, I don’t want to misrepresent myself. I have questioned the merits of following God, I have questioned His word. I have blasphemed, stumbled, been irreverent, ungrateful, disobedient, indulgent to whims and wild emotions, and have probably committed idolatry. Some people say that it is okay to question God, but I think that so easily that gets out of hand. Questioning is normal and natural, to be sure. We see it all over Psalms. But so easily, I think, can it become criticism and bitterness. So we must be careful so that does not happen. We should definitely think about the things that we believe in. We are not mindless robots, because God didn’t make us that way. We should “know how to answer every man.” But don’t get too carried away, too pedantic, too intellectual, too scarf-wearing. At the end of the day, we are all children of God. There are some things we will never understand while we are on earth, and probably some things that we will never fully understand. But we must trust God, I must trust God, because I know that He created the universe and I know that He created me.

PSALM 131

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

 

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.

A Struggling Servant

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I believe in serving God, and others in the process. Isn’t that the whole point of the Bible? In the Old Testament, kings and judges served God and their people. In the New Testament, we are exhorted again and again to serve the hungry and the needy ceaselessly. After all, Jesus himself didn’t sit at meat, he SERVED IT UP and himself, in the most literal way possible. He set a pretty good example.

And then there’s me.

I just don’t understand it. When I try to serve, things always get in the way. Transportation, scheduling, wrong intentions, discouragement from people in my life, logistics… the list goes on and on. I hate to make excuses, and I hate to believe in something that I hardly do. That means that I don’t even believe it.

But why can’t I just go out there and serve? I think it’s so necessary, so important, and yet, and yet…

I just finished emailing a bunch of student organizations for service. But the fact that none of them are religious makes me uneasy. I don’t want to serve a vain and secular cause. But as long as the organization is helping people in need, isn’t that worthwhile for me to do, even if the people around me are serving for a different reason? What do you think, is service pointless without God? Ultimately, I know the answer is yes, but can’t service be a vehicle to higher understanding? And can’t I try to impart some kind of spiritual nugget, convey an essence of God by the way I complete a certain task that will make it worthwhile?

I’m probably just over thinking it. I should just do something. Well, tomorrow, God willing, I’ll be participating in something called a “campus EV” with this Christian organization. I’m banking on EV standing for evangelism. If you have a minute, you can pray that it is successful!

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Who Am I?

We talk about self image in one of my classes, managing diverse teams. I suppose I talk about that class a lot. But anyway, talking about self image has brought up an interesting question, that was bound to come up eventually. Who am I?

I’ve tired, unsuccessfully, to create a certain image. I want people to see me as confident, calm, macho (in a girly kind of way), responsible, worldly, and resourceful. But sadly, that’s just not me. So this image falls apart at the seams constantly. Because who I really am is this: nervous, awkward, clumsy, and emotional. But what does God want me to be? Sadly, I have a feeling that it’s very different from who I am and who I want to be.

There is one thing I know, and it’s that God doesn’t want me to worry. But does that mean that there is something wrong with my whole personality type? Probably. I suppose I’ll never be suave, but at least I could try to not agonize over every little thing. That’s not much to ask for, except that my anxiousness is an integral part of my personality.

So, I’ll try and take it a step at a time, as much as I would like to change completely overnight. If I can’t stop being so weird, I suppose I could at least try to stop worrying on a larger scale when it comes to the general direction of my life. It’s an hourly struggle, and it means holding back a lot of tears and repressing a lot of anger. But I know that I don’t have the right to wallow in misery, attractive as that seems sometimes. I need to take things as they are and keep pushing on. And I know it’ll all be worth it eventually.

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 #1: Pride Comes Before the Fall

I may not seem like a very prideful person, and in some ways, I’m not. Certainly I’m often less than comfortable in public, mostly because I’m afraid of being judged. I don’t have the best posture either, but I do have more than a fair share of insecurities. And self-loathing is no foreign concept. Yet, somehow, I still make room for pride in my heart.

People always wonder why I make comments that are considered negative, defeatist, or just excessively modest when it comes to my prospects for achievement. It may be that I have low self esteem, but that’s not reason. The reason is that “confidence” generally backfires on me, while modesty pays. I think this is God’s little way of chiseling down my pride. Don’t believe me?

It’s the year of our Lord, 2013 and we’re in an abandoned terminal turned war zone, bunkering down in some kind of cubicle-like room with one door. I’m crouched all the way down with my MPSK machine gun and my buddy is on the other side of the room. We’re waiting for another Russian to get caught in our deadly crossfire, but we have no takers. Slowly, I peek outside. There’s no one. I run out, ready to get upstairs and claim victory. It’s all over, I think, we’ve done it! That wasn’t so bad! But then I hear a voice. Something isn’t right. I retreat, and we see a buttload of them streaming down the stairs with riot shields. We weren’t expecting that, we didn’t set any claymores. So we get slaughtered.

Me and my friend toss our controllers. We really thought we were finally going to get that third star on Call of Duty.

I’m a senior in high school and I think I’m all that just because I have straight A’s and was involved in theater. I strut around in my khaki pants and maroon polo shirt, more than reasonably sure that I will get picked student of the month one time. But month after month passes. The other kids get it, kids that are more deserving than me, with scores of hours of community service, sports achievements, better grades and attitudes than me, and everything else. Fine, whatever. They deserve it. Then, the last month arrives. I know I didn’t get it, but the hope is still there because I haven’t seen the picture yet of the winner on the bulletin board. I walked up from the parking lot and opened the doors. There was her face, not my face, the face of the victor. Fast forward to graduation. Not only did I not get that award, but I got no awards that the school wasn’t required to give me. If only I didn’t have such a rotten, repulsive personality, and my parents had been more willing to drive me around to do community service, I think to myself.

Who’s confident now?

Of course, I have many other instances of this in my life, but I don’t want to bore you anymore. The point is that pride has never done me any good, but humility has, and I know that God wants me to be humble. Though it may seem very much implied by my words, I don’t think confidence is always bad. If you can be confident in yourself and in God without getting too carried away, then I commend you. But I myself, never found that happy medium. So for now, I’ll keep ragging on myself, and thanking God for bothering with me in the first place.

Dreaming

Last night, I had a dream that involved the actor that played George in Seinfield, a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, and condos, I think. Most of my dreams are strange like this, but I suppose this one was just especially memorable and bizarre. My dreams often reflect my fears, thoughts, desires, etc. But I wonder why God doesn’t appear in my dreams terribly often (does He ever?), even after I fall asleep after praying. Are dreams where the heart is? Is God where my heart is?

I also find that I don’t spend nearly enough of my time working on my relationship with God. And what you spend your time on is, essentially, what’s important to you.

Some unsettling food for thought