Another Lonely Summer?

summersessions1-1

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. 

 

 

 

Celebrating Small Victories

Sometimes, it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for. It’s hard to acknowledge favorable circumstances as divine blessings rather than the machinations of the world. And yet, that’s what they are. We are owed nothing in this world, and yes, we can’t take anything with us either. 

The Bible says, paraphrased, ask and you will receive (Matthew 7:7). Yet I don’t know if that is completely literal. I think it doesn’t necessarily refer to asking for anything that we want and getting it. If I ask for a Ferrari, will it just fall from the sky? I don’t really think so. I am inclined to think that it means that we will get what God wants us to have and what is really good for us. Even if it takes a lot of time.

Well, anyway, sometimes my prayers are answered. Here is an example. There was this one girl in my discussion class that I kind of wanted to talk to. I prayed/ casually asked God  that I would have the chance to talk to her. I just felt some kind of connection to this person, and like maybe, possibly, I could help her spiritually (if God wills it). I know it sounds weird. And I did talk to her, after a few awkward encounters. I saw her twice by coincidence, and she sat near me twice in the huge lecture hall. Is that really just coincidence? I don’t think so. So maybe it’s hard to explain the situation to you. Maybe it just sounds creepy that I prayed to be able to talk to someone. It is hard to get to talk to people sometimes in such a big university, and well, I’m not much of a conversationalist anyway. Judge me if you want. So finally, after all these chance meetings, I finally did engage in a real conversation with her, as we happened to be walking in the same direction at the same rate after class. I mean, only had to walk a tiny bit faster to catch up. Is that really just stalking? But I know and God knows that He had a hand in it. 

Well, I don’t know what you think about it. The point is that I got to talk to someone at school, which actually doesn’t happen to me everyday, besides just business. And here are some other blessings: I am still kind of healthy even though I felt a bit under the weather yesterday, my book is coming along (sort of), and I had two casual Bible studies with this girl from a student org. So yes, things could be far, far, far worse. That is a pessimist’s way of saying, “Hey, I guess I’m content.” Well, I suppose being content is a step in the right direction. 

 

Why So Unnatural?

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What I want to know, after years of being Christian, is why faith is so unnatural at times. To be fair, faith is natural in times of distress and for the purpose of justifying our existences as a whole. But when it comes to day-today interactions, why is it so awkward? Why do we gravitiate towards selfishness, deception, indifference?

Just now I was at a small group meeting. Mind you, the purpose of this post is not to criticize these people, but rather human nature as a whole absolutely absolutely absolutely including myself as well. There was a puppy there, and this puppy got all of the attention. Truly, it was impossible to focus longer than a minute on anything but this puppy. And it was easy to talk about the puppy. It was pretty cute, okay, it was a little husky. We fell into that usual conversational banter. But then, we started talking at our faith. Somehow, that was much harder for the most part. We got something in the way of discussion, most of the contributions made by two of us, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as just talking about the puppy. I felt awkward being vulnerable and trying to really get down into it, asking hard questions. But I felt that it needed to be done. But why, why is it so hard? Understandably, I am not the best socially, I flounder in all kinds of situations… But why was it hard even for those other people, clearly more social, to talk about something more important than a puppy. (And yes, some things are more important than puppies, it just doesn’t seen that way when a puppy is around).

I don’t know. I don’t know. I want to believe in humanity sometimes, but believing in humanity is like worshipping a statue. So maybe rely on God to make something out of the whole bunch of us instead of relying on us all to make something of ourselves?

 

 

My First College… Play

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Never mind my first college party, come on, we all know I won’t be getting invited to any of those any time soon. Not that I want to drink out of a plastic cup. I mean really, is that even safe? What about the BPA and the alcohol degrading the plastic? I also don’t enjoy puking a whole lot, and me doing hard drugs is basically the equivalent of suicide. Weed also annoys me, because of the smell, the implications, and weed activism. Weed activism is a pet peeve of mine, by the way, but onto the topic at hand. I guess sometimes I just wish someone would invite me so I can turn them down, or go and not do anything really stupid, just so I can feel like I’ve conquered peer pressure.

Last night I went to my first college play, as part of an assignment. Mind you, all the plays I’ve ever seen were happy, mainstream type plays, or conventional dramas. Not to put them down- I’ve seen some good theater both at my school and elsewhere, but nothing at all like what I saw last night. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever witnessed. It was this modern, artsy, hodgepodge of emotion, characters with no filters who spoke in stream of consciousness, contradicting themselves in profound ways. The play made little sense, but judging from the level of eloquentness, it should have made even less sense, and you found yourself kind of weirded out that it was making any sense to you. It was like a dream.

Some parts of it were a theatrical orgy. I wish there was another way to explain it. In the process of criticizing American culture, it also played off your basest instincts, making you love it and hate it at the same time. I found myself liking it in a way, but it was kind of scary. There was just so much stuff going on that it was hard to keep up. I heard a good line in it, but I quickly forgot it. I guess I should’t regret forgetting it. There are always things to be learned, but not what people expect you to learn. One thing that I’m reminded of is the uselessness of conventional human wisdom. What good is it to criticize American culture if you have no alternative for it, besides a counter culture that enjoys eating tofu, or perhaps a culture from another country, which also has its good and bad aspects. The only truly alternative way of living is in Christ, living in Christ above the temptations of the world and the constraints of ceremony.

 

  

 

 

 

 

The World and Me

I’ve posted many a time before about social anxiety/self esteem issues. I just feel like a fool sometimes in public. It’s not that I don’t talk enough, usually. It’s that I talk in order to spare awkward silences, and I wind up saying stupid stuff, and then when awkward silences do come up, I feel that they’re my fault. I perpetually fear that I am offending others or annoying them. I feel as if my very presence is a burden.

The worst part is, I have no way of knowing whether these things are true or the extent to which it is true. But I believe it, even though I know that it’s possible that people don’t see me as as much of a moron as I do.

The thing is, I have very good reason to believe this is true. Very good reason. Growing up, my friends always told me I was awkward, even if they didn’t exactly use that word. And, as I’ve written about before, this hurt me deeply. I don’t want to blame these people for saying it. It was only true- and that’s why it hurt me so much.

I had friends in high school and middle school,  so it could have been worse, but they always seemed to have their own lives,  carefully separated from mine. They always had at least one other friend that they clearly liked far more than me. And how can I blame them for that? Good for them, what right did I have to be jealous? I had the great relationship with my dad, and no one could have taken that away from me. But why did it hurt me so much when they would talk about their other friends, like what they did on the weekend without me?  I suppose it was because I knew that they regarded me more than I them. So now I’m writing about it and maybe someday I’ll be in therapy talking about it.

The thing is, I’ve come to realize that I need God’s help. There’s no way that I can ever navigate the social world, let alone the spiritual world, without it. I can try and try until I’m blue in the face to do the right things, to be the best I can be and so on and so forth. But after a while, I realize that instead of trying to do things for God, I should do things through God and for God. I know, the distinction seems insignificant, but I think it is possible to draw on strength other than your own. Possible, but difficult and mystical in practice.