Another Lonely Summer?

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Thank God for the sunshine. I need sunshine more than most people; fog seems to exacerbate my depression. Thank God that the summer months when I am the loneliest are the ones filled with sunshine and watermelon.

I know that loneliness is one of the major themes of this blog. I complain about how I feel lonely in both crowds and isolated crawl holes. I have approached it from many angles, dissected it with various tools, given a myriad of reasons, I have tried against my will to be positive, I have experimented with various coping mechanisms… yet I am still here, addressing it again. I still feel alone, in not much of a different way than I felt last year.

What does it all mean? The sun continues to rise and set, dancing along the tops of the beautiful trees around my house in between. The world goes round. People make money, get married, and eventually die. Babies are born, children play, teenage girls giggle and gossip just as mindlessly as ever. Other children starve to death. Politicians keep lying. What does it all mean?

But I know that I’m not really alone, even though it feels that way. Maybe that’s what’s different about this year- that I am a step closer to not feeling lonely. I have the company of my parents, which really counts for a lot. My friends are somewhere, maybe thinking about me, maybe not, but I believe that in heaven we are laughing and singing together. Enemies who in this life won’t even give me the time of day will be singing and laughing in heaven with me. And for now, I am joined by many people who are also feeling lonely, whether I see them or not, and there are many brothers and sisters even on this blog space feeling the same way. If worse comes to worse, I can call up one of my fictional characters to get coffee with me at any time.

But more importantly, I have the friend of all friends, Jesus Christ. The friend who always understands, is never too busy, and will help me with absolutely anything (if I let Him, which I usually don’t because of pride). If He was here, I know He’d help me move or drive me to the airport.

The light is dancing on the leaves, the steaks are on the grill, and the birds are chirping. Even though I can’t go to the beach now because of my foot, I know that it’s calm and majestic as ever. I know that somewhere, somehow, girls my age are talking and laughing and having a good time in spite of it all. And that is enough.

I know that, by the grace of God, I will get though this month, and maybe even rack up some good memories, or at least some trials that I will learn something from. I know that there is eternal life, and that is where I put my trust. I know that I don’t need to cry. I know that I am not alone, even if I feel alone. And that is enough.

 

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A Few Remarks About Life

First of all, prayer does work! Today I’ve been feeling really down. It’s been rather an off-day, or in other words, an anxiety day. But just when I thought I couldn’t feel more lonely, some of my friends? texted me. So maybe somebody does care to some extent.

Second of all, I want to talk about forgiveness. I don’t talk about forgiveness very much because I never got stabbed in the back by someone who I thought was my soulmate. However, there is this one girl whom I’ve known for a very long time who always just kind of drifts in and out of my life.

She is an enigma. I don’t know how she feels about me- she runs hot and cold. Sometimes she is very bubbly and I really believe that she genuinely likes me and wants to get closer to me. And other times, she seems bored by me, disgusted in the most subtle and unsettling way. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. She reels me in, butters me up, and then throws me back out because she gets busy with her own life, with people who are really worth her time. But she will repeat the process, and I will fall for it again, thinking that this time she is really just trying to be friendly and that she won’t ignore me again. I feel like such a tool. And maybe I take a little advantage of it too. It’s like a sick Christian charity game. She talks to me to alleviate her conscience, maybe to prove to herself that she hasn’t abandoned me. And maybe I talk to her, in turn, to prove that I am not petty and unforgiving.

Is this my imagination, or is it real? Does she know about this, or is it entirely subconscious with her? 

I would be convinced that it is my imagination, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve seen her play similar games with other people.

Why can’t we just love each other? Why do I have a hard time truly forgiving her? 

These questions really don’t have answers. It’s like the question, “Why do people hate each other?”

And here’s another question: “Why do I believe that people will only talk to me for charity?”

Why do I still have anxiety even though I know that God is with me? 

I think the answer to the last question is complicated. But let me steer myself out of this territory, and into my main point of bringing up all these entangled problems that consist of my personal life. 

Matthew 18:21-23

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Forgiveness

21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church[a] sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven[b] times.

Apparently, it’s okay to be a tool. That’s right- it goes against everything that we’ve ever been taught. It just doesn’t feel right. Let’s face it- being a tool is painful. I’m sure you all have more traumatizing experiences than the one with me and my friend. 

But this girl isn’t, in all technicality, a member of a church. I’m not really in a “church” at all. Can I be loosed from this commandment? Can I leave her a strongly worded “Screw you!” voicemail.

Okay, so that last part really wouldn’t be okay in any case, but I think you get my point. 

Well, at least my rewards are in heaven. Here on this earth I’m everybody’s fool; but at least I know the pain will end and that some good will come out of it. People go through great lengths to make their lives perfect on earth because they don’t have that same consolation.

And so, this girl is going to act like she doesn’t even know me pretty soon.  But I’ll be there when she decides to catch up over coffee again. I know I will. And hopefully next time around, my heart will at least be closer to God. 

 

 

 

 

My Testimonial For God

I won’t say that my story is exceptionally well-written. I won’t say that you will completely relate to it. I won’t say that you’ll like it. But I will make my every effort to put meaning into the events that have made me into who I am today.

Everyone has a life story. A life story well-told is often made up or made into a movie. It often takes the form of a good book. Not everyone’s life story becomes a literary masterpiece- but God knows them all by heart. Everyone’s life story is different, though they have the same themes intertwined in them. A testimony is also a story, a life story with a Christian spin on it. I suppose I haven’t really shared my testimony before. I suppose now is as good a time as any. 

If you read my blog avidly (I don’t think anyone falls into that category), then you would know that I am pretty nostalgic. I miss my early childhood. I may even carelessly refer to those years as “the best of my life.” I came into this world floating on a pleasant, idyllic cloud of bliss. Everything seemed so beautiful back then. Everything was so magical. Just remembering now almost brings tears to my eyes. 

I don’t think I could be more nostalgic.

I had loving parents and a stable home. I lived in a safe neighborhood. I went to school and did nothing but play. My teachers believed in learning through play. They were hippies.

I had lots of friends. I had my imagination. I had lots of good times. But God was not in the picture.

Then, something changed. I was eight years old at the time. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who can understand this part. If I tell people, they think I’m just crazy, if not worse. And they’re right.

I lost my innocence. I don’t know exactly how it happened. No one beat me. No one raped me. No one humiliated me on Facebook. No one stuffed me in a trashcan. No one told me where babies came from. No one offered me a drink or a hit of a joint. Do you get the picture? Nothing major happened. Except this- my family moved to a new state.

That’s all. It was hard to make friends. It was a  different culture. I missed my birth-state, California. And somehow, I learned that the world was something very different from what I’d always thought it was. It became harder to see the beauty in every little thing. I became depressed, borderline suicidal, and confused in every possible way. But I didn’t go to a shrink, I just held on. 

A year later, I moved back to California. Slowly, I started to feel better. And then I started going to a Christian school. They told me that Jesus forgave my sins. And I believed them. But what the next step was, I couldn’t imagine.

Middle school was a roller coaster for me. Once again, it was hard to make friends. And I was having some troubles at home too. No, no one beat me. But I’m pretty sure that there was one week of my life that everyone hated me. Or at least, it really, really seemed that way. But suicide was out of the question. I’d learned in Bible class that suicide was a sin. I learned many other things too. Slowly, gradually, I accepted Christ into my heart. Things were never quite the same after that. From then on, I knew I had a purpose. I knew that I wasn’t a mistake of evolution. I knew that I had to keep going. 

But, as you can imagine, it’s not like things got way better for me. It’s not like I was really a much better person. I remember doing and saying some pretty awful and mean things. I probably stopped doing this a little by junior year, when I finally realized that I was supposed to be loving my neighbor, as well as my enemies.

There were good times. There were moments that I felt like I fit in. But a lot of what I remember is pain, pain that I largely inflicted on myself. 

“Look at everyone else. Everyone else is having fun. Everyone else has friends. No one is awkward like you. There’s something wrong with you. No one likes you. No- that’s not true. People like you. But in spite of the fact that you’re strange and awkward. That’s right, you’re awkward. And you’re strange. You might as well be from another planet. Just look at you. But look, you can change. You need to get a life, go out, stop being so pathetic. You’ve got to have your time in the sun.”

That’s how I thought. I’m not proud of it, but that’s how I thought. I think jealousy is a terrible, ugly thing. I don’t know why I expend energy indulging in it. I should have been thinking more along these lines:

“Good for everyone else! But what’s there to complain about? I have everything I need. If God thought I really needed a social life now, he would have given it to me. I guess He is building my character. You can’t have it all, anyway. And I have some pretty important things to be doing, like writing. So I just don’t have much time.”

And to be honest, I had some good thoughts like that, even though I forced them on myself. And yet the negative ones kept reappearing.

And that’s not all. I wanted a car too. I thought a car would lead to a social life. I remember when getting my license seemed like the most important and coveted thing in the world. Man, it seems so stupid now. By the end of senior year, I was cruising along in one. It got me from point A to point B just fine. But it didn’t get me to cloud 9. I can’t believe I had such high expectations anyway.

Senior year especially, I started to get serious about my faith. I realized by then that I needed to really dedicate my life to Christ. But at the same time, as you can see, my “heart was not pure.” I was chasing after worldly pursuits, and I was trying to follow God too. I was trying to achieve the impossible. To be honest, I wanted it all. I wanted the status symbols, I wanted the friends, the grades, the writing career, another career. I think I even wanted to be an actor at one time. I wanted these things, at least in part, just for my own glorification. Can you imagine that? And I also wanted to be one of those Christians who would renounce all their possessions. I wanted to be fired up for Christ, not indifferent, not merely a kid from a Christian school who follows the crowd. I wanted to be different. I wanted to deny myself. But another part of me wanted to indulge myself. So I was- and still am- being pulled in all these different directions.

Then college came around. I thought my life was really going to get better. I thought a fresh start was just what I needed. I thought I would stop doing and saying stupid things.

I didn’t make tons of friends like everyone assured me I would. I am still feeling out of place. At times, the secular spin does make me question my faith. 

I wish that I have a tidy ending to put here. I wish I could say, “And I lived happily ever after. I was never discontent or unfaithful ever again.”

Or, better yet, “Even though my priorities were straight, and I really just wanted to just love on others and make disciples rather than party-buddies and a place for myself in society, God blessed me with a tight-knit group of friends anyway who continually encourage me to stand up for my faith. Oh, and by the way, I have a fantastic boyfriend too. I know, I never thought it would happen to me! Well, I couldn’t be happier. Thank you Jesus, for all the incredible blessings you have bestowed me. I will do all I can to use them according to Your will and do everything you have preordained for me. Well, see you in heaven, until then, everything is just dandy!”

But even though my journey is still in progress, even though I constantly fall back into sin, even though I still crave things that are not good for me, even though I still have bad thoughts and sin constantly… I have hope. I have hope for an abundant life. I have hope that one day, I will seize my opportunity to serve Christ wholeheartedly and never look back. I have hope that, if not on earth, at least in heaven I will be given a new body and new mind, cleared of all mental illness/anxiety. I have hope that someday I will connect with someone. Maybe I’ll never even be someone’s bridesmaid, let alone get married myself- but I pray that one day I will lead a fellow human being to Christ. And that would be the greatest honor of all. I have hope that someday I will help someone, make a difference in their life. I have hope that maybe I will write something worth reading and believing. If it is in God’s will. The all-important caveat to most of what I just said.

So maybe my life story will never be turned into a movie. It would be foolish and prideful to imagine myself being famous (although, embarrassing as it is to admit, I do it all the time because it makes me feel better about present circumstances). But the good news is that I am alive right now, and that Christ is willing to live in me. He is willing to retake the soul that I defiled and purify it, filling it with good and helpful things. He is willing to dwell in me. He is willing to dwell in you. And I think that is a beautiful thought. I think that was missing from my childhood.

So the journey continues. Thanks God, it’s been an interesting ride. I guess I wouldn’t change a thing.

Well, maybe I could have done without some of that sin.

But we can’t go back in time anyway, can we?

We only have today. 

 

 

 

The Magnificence of the Status Quo

Things are changing all the time. Sometimes, I look back on my life, on my early childhood- and I can’t imagine how I got I am where I am today. It’s like I’m another person living another life. And then, at the exact same time- it isn’t.

For the past few years, my life has been pretty stagnant. My circumstances remain in what I often view as a pathetic rut. As the theme some of Friends puts it, “It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear.” Many of the changes I would like to see seem as impossible as ever.

I think most of us have seen sitcoms before. We often wonder why characters put up with other characters and why certain “necessary” changes aren’t made for extended periods of time, or ever. And more often than not, when major earth-shattering plot twists emerge, they are resolved and smoothed over within the thirty minutes.

Why is this? Why this relentless gravitational pull towards the status quo that coexists with the upward forces of growth and change? Why is it that despite our yearnings for improvement, we so often find ourselves stuck with the same-old-same-old?

Why does Leonard from the Big Bang Theory continue to room with Sheldon even though he’s a lunatic?

We get emotionally attached to our problems sometimes. You deny it now- but if all your problems were solved, how would you feel? Sometimes, the alternatives to our situation aren’t any better. In time, we tend to miss the past, even if it seemed less than perfect while we were living through it.

Sometimes, God knows what’s best for it. There’s a reason for change, and there’s a reason for the status quo just the same. When I really think about it, I do recognize the ways in which my circumstances are suited to my lifestyle and personality. The only problem is that I still complain and dream in vain of better days.

I do not mean to be insensitive in this post. There is a difference between the minor struggles that I have referred to and traumatic life crises. I do not propose to have a tightly packaged explanation for the latter. But I do know that for some of us, the status quo is our best friend. But even best friends come and go. And one day, more likely than not, we’ll come to cherish the memory of the annoying companion that we reluctantly put up with today.

On God, Love, and Hobos

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Love. It is one word in the English language that means so many things. Leave it to English to squeeze multiple beautiful meanings into one short, choppy word. This word is printed on t-shirts and handbags, uttered by clueless teenagers, used in the same sentence as food items, and exploited in a million other ways. People can spend their whole lives searching for it and come up empty.

What is true love? Is it just one of the forces that mysteriously compels people to go on awkward dates with the opposite sex, and, if all goes well, leads to picking out curtains and changing diapers? If not, then what is it? Just the passion that we have for life and all it has to offer? Or is it mostly about sex? I suppose it depends a little on who you ask.

Didn’t you just know that I was going to start to relate this to God’s love for us? Couldn’t you just feel the preachy coming on at that loose end?  But don’t get too cynical. It’s gooey, but it’s true. Jesus loves you. God so loved the world, as it is written. Why else would He bother with us after His people continually disobeyed Him? Why else did He come down to the earth and give us cryptic messages and commandments? Why did He die for us in quite a painful fashion? Because He loves us, and in that love, He helped us. We need it. We’re not all that. There is something wrong with human nature, no matter what anyone says. If the mere the fulfillment of selfish desires is not wrong, then why do we feel the inexplicable need to suppress ourselves? Why are there laws? Why do we try to combat things like racism, greed, and violence? Why do we have a conscience? If man’s highest calling is to fill his stomach and get what he wants- then why do we continually feel like there’s something more?

I used to have a government teacher at my Christian school who always talked about love. True love- a love for mankind. A love for people who would spit in your face. A love for people who would kill you. A love that shines in the darkness for all to see.

This love is hard to come by. As I was reminded today, many people are excluded from any kind of love. Many people are rejected by society, living either on park benches, in trailers, or mansions. They may have a hard time relating to people, saying the right things, or controlling themselves. Or maybe they were just hurt in the past. It’s actually really hard stereotyping reclusive/lonely people. There are a millions of reasons and millions of stories.

Nonetheless, the problem exists. Just this morning I was thinking about homelessness in particular, trying to think of ways that I could help out. It’s funny how God gives us signs when we least expect them. I was at school today, eating my lunch, wishing I had someone, anyone, to share the food and the sunny weather with. I went to go and throw away my plastic bag, and this crazy hobo lady (and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible) said something to me that I didn’t fully hear, but I was sure that it didn’t make much sense. I wanted to talk to her, but wasn’t sure if the opportunity would come. And then it did-  she sort of struck up conversation with me in her own way. I could tell immediately that this woman was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. She claimed to have seen me the day before in the most mysterious way. I definitely wasn’t on campus yesterday.

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I do not mention this story to talk about my good deeds and make myself out to be some kind of super Christian with a halo over my head. There were probably some selfish reasons involved, since I found this lady so intriguing. I can see myself writing a book or play about her, it was that good. But at times, this  interaction definitely seemed strained, even though a part of me really wanted to talk to her, and I knew that talking to her would be the kind and loving thing to do. Not that I am always fond of the kind and loving thing to do. And it was  a little awkward. There were so many things I wanted to talk to her about, but I kept feeling at a loss for words. You see, I rarely talk to people who are crazier than me. And even with perfectly sane people, I am not the greatest conversationalist. She babbled a lot about things that either didn’t make sense, made too much sense, or were completely irrelevant.Also, I was kind of embarrassed because I was walking around with a  hobo woman who was carrying around a pillow and a cigarette lighter and basically some of her only possessions, as it seemed. Hard as it is for me to admit that I can be shallow.

So it was a hodgepodge of emotions. But my real point here is to raise awareness. Prepare to be aware. I mean, there I was, thinking about how I wished I had someone to eat with- and there was that woman lying on the grass, with nothing. Not her sanity, as far as I could tell, not a whole lot of love, not the greatest health, not money… There are lots of people like that. And it should make us sad. We’ve created a system in our society to create order and reward people based on what they do. It could be much worse. But there’s always going to be people that fall through the cracks. It’s easy to say that it’s their fault for being lazy bums. Maybe some of them are lazy, but how can you tell, and how can you so easily blame them? What if they don’t want to work because they feel like they have nothing to work for? What if they’re too mentally ill or mentally challenged or have some other kind of handicap?

So we have our nice little rules for behavior in society. You have to act a certain way, dress a certain way, have at least a little bit of money, have a job or a good excuse for not having a job, make yourself look decent, avoid certain subjects. And then, once we master all this, we think we’re golden. But our society isn’t always right, let alone perfect. We’re not perfect. But our God is. And God wants us not only to “help ourselves” as the popular saying with no Biblical basis goes, but to help out our fellow creatures.

This woman I met today said she was Catholic. I hope I’ll see her around again sometime. And I pray that she will get to know God better and find a job or something. I hope next time I see someone in need, I’ll do a better job of “loving” on them, like my government teacher always said. Because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Sometimes we get all caught up in the technicalities of the Bible and forget the theme, which is love. And love will go a long way.

Photo Sources:

baconaddicts.com

459fall11.wikispaces.com

Sometimes You Wanna Go (where you have no name)

Bleep, bleep, bleep. It’s just before 5 and I’m supposed to get up and read the Word. But it’s cold and dark, and I don’t want to. Must get dressed, must leave, no time for stuff, but apparently, time to curl my eyelashes that will fall down by the end of the day anyway.

8 AM. Stumbling around in a large room, trying to find my seat. I am now a number. Writing my name on my Principles of Microeconomics Final. Making small talk with the girl next to me. “Good luck” she says. Apparently I had grown deaf, so I asked her to repeat herself like twice. What else would a stranger say before a test?

1-2. Epically failing my golf lesson. Instructor pulling out all the stops, my body unwilling to hit a small white ball squarely. He even scooped up sand and put it behind the ball, telling me to try and hit the sand in the air. You know it’s bad when they get creative.

Around 3. Mad at the world. Bitter about circumstances. Deliberating about the future. Wanting to eat away my troubles. Considering the benefits of booze. Wishing to run off to the forest and leave it all behind, self-surviving in a modest and wholesome way. Routine, modern life, boredom, ingratitude slowly killing me.

3- studying, avoiding studying, eating away some troubles. Reminding myself of the good things that are going, like my study group planned for tomorrow (lately that has been the closest I’ve had to a social life). Why should God give me stuff if I don’t even appreciate what I have, pursuing Him wholeheartedly?

Present- blogging. Need to communicate with God. Need to lay it all down. But I am afraid. I am afraid that God doesn’t want me, that I don’t belong to Him anymore, that I can’t belong to Him. Feeling trapped by circumstances. Wall between me and God. Must climb. But it’s hard. Will I fall? “Stop climbing! You’ll never get there!” They tell me. Why do I need to listen to them? My palms are sweating, but I can feel the freedom and love and peace already. It’ll be worth it.

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.