Sunday, February 26, 2012

love matters.

whether we acknowledge and accept it or not, we are each a product of our upbringing and our past experiences and choices. i guess depending on our childhoods and histories, this can work in our favor or be detrimentally dooming. given that everyone grows up with their own set of family issues and dramas, it's no doubt a testament to amazing grace that we all don't turn out to be completely wretched and broken adults. the momentous occasions in our lives that either propel us forward or take us back ten steps gingerly mold who we are becoming with each new day. for instance, people rarely have issues with intimacy or fits of rage just because that's their personality. something in their past, maybe violence or infidelity at home, provoked the behavior and instilled that character within them. those events from our pasts that aren't so easily discarded decisively play a role in the types of people we grow up to be. it affects our social circles, our performance at work, our prejudices, even outlook on life in general. it's naive to think that the countless decisions we make daily aren't important, that our parents' choices from long ago aren't significantly impacting the present. the people we allow into our spheres of influence, the compromises we make, the environment we choose to encompass ourselves with, the special chosen ones we trust with our whole hearts, they all leave extensive impressions even if it's just for a season. i've noticed that somewhere along the way, i lost count of how many people have come in and out of my life like a revolving door. they appear out of thin air, stick around indefinitely but long enough to become a huge part of my world, and then disappear as abruptly as they came. unfortunately, the departures have a tendency to leave roots of bitterness and grave wounds that could potentially take years of mending and restoring. but on the flip side, there are those encounters that teach me how to love better and deeper than i ever thought was possible. with my biggest regrets and stupidest mistakes, i'm finding that those were the very cases that taught me how to be stronger and wiser in the end. i learned how to forgive, how to be long suffering, how to see the good in bad situations, give the benefit of the doubt and always believe in love above all things. call me idealistic or plain childlike, but i don't believe in luck, chance or coincidence. not one bit. i believe everything happens for a reason and that there is someone much greater and more powerful than we'll ever comprehend who is in control of our lives. the scary or unappealing aspect is that if there is an alternate force or higher being that writes our destinies, then we might as well be robots because we don't have a say anyways. the most important consideration here is that the One who is in control is not only all powerful but all loving, and love is always a choice. regardless of how our parents failed us or mistreated each other, despite how many times we gave our hearts away, with all our failures and victories, the point is that it all matters and there is never a shortage of hope because He makes all things new. ever since i came back home a couple months ago, each passing week has been so unpredictable and drastically different than the one before. although i can't map out what to expect next, it's kind of fascinating to see in retrospect how intricately the simplest of decisions made with the profoundest of revelations have collectively brought me to where i am now. the winter has passed and the springtime has come, figuratively speaking. when we choose love over every other option, even our goodbyes and closed chapters have the potential to usher in fresh beginnings and spark new flames. rather than waiting around for coincidence or chance to give us a lucky break, we have to turn the page and anticipate the bonfire.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

don't stop believing.

it's pretty ridiculous how easily we can deceive our hearts into believing something that's not genuine, placing our hopes into faulty hands all because we lose sight of what's real and true. oftentimes, i know i'm guilty of only considering what's immediate and readily accessible, limiting my options and inevitably crushing my faith, instead of trusting and holding out for more. i guess this is a true test of patience: knowing that He is up to something good in all the delays and detours we face instead of foolishly reacting out of haste. there have been instances where i convinced myself to play along and be accommodating to something i knew was totally off. it just wasn't me at all yet i was trying so tirelessly to change myself in order to fit my circumstances, like trying to squeeze my feet into size 6 stilettos (i'm a size 10). i denied my actual desires, some that i even subconsciously suppressed, in order to pursue what was right in front of me because it felt safer than to keep my standards of what i knew i needed. in the process, i swapped out best for just good enough for now. sure, it'll suffice, i suppose. i threw away my detailed and specific prayer requests, all the while convincing myself i was just being too picky and high maintenance. it's incredibly humbling as i'm writing this because i feel as if the Lord picks up all of my crumbled up lists of my secret yearnings and longings out of the trash and hands them back to me, answered tenfold. when i experience firsthand His divine favor and grace over my life, i can't help but feel slightly embarrassed that i doubted His providence and faithfulness. you mean, i don't have to fit an obscure mold or front like i'm someone i'm clearly not? a couple weeks ago, i made it through 3rd round interviews at a prominent real estate investment firm. some of the requirements were long hours, professional demeanor, corporate environment & dress-code, ability to handle high levels of stress, super fast paced- basically everything that's obviously not me. it's nothing but God's mercy that i didn't get the position because i would've probably settled and accepted the first offer. thank God that He knows me so well and was preparing the perfect job all along to give me at just the right time. last tuesday morning i interviewed with the executives of the largest film/tv production studio in nyc. i was completely myself, without embellishments or exaggerations, simply confident and honest. when i came home from the interview, i went for a long run to ease any anxieties and kept repeating out loud, "God, i trust You. God, i trust You." i don't have to freak out and try to control or manipulate a favorable outcome. i figured if it was meant to be, then God would make it happen effortlessly and i would gladly and humbly receive it as a gift. i got an offer and accepted by the afternoon and started my new job the very next day. it's like a dream- 9 to 5, casual dress-code, small & intimate company, chill and laid back atmosphere, friendly exec team, better pay and benefits than i prayed for, and lots of fun perks. this is pure grace- that He doesn't allow us to compromise and settle but instead He gives us more than we will ever deserve or attempt to wish for. i'm proclaiming and believing this for all the other areas of my life where i haven't seen the same kind of breakthrough. i'm holding onto the promise that as i continue to delight in Him, He will be faithful to the desires of my heart- all for the glory of His name. Jesus, i thank You.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

*the day i accepted the job offer, i had a celebratory dinner at pf chang's and the picture is the fortune i got from my cookie. oh gosh, He knows me. fosho.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

the garden state.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:8

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

during the past couple weeks, i've seen the word "garden" pop up at me on numerous occasions commanding my attention. given that i do live in the garden state and i have been watching lots of linsanity on the msg network, i guess it's not too shocking that i'm exposed to many "gardens" these days. maybe it's just that i never really noticed all the references before. in any case, it got me thinking about Jesus in the garden and what that even means. in genesis, eden was paradise. there was no separation between God and His creation and everything was just as it should be. before sin entered the world and this perfect garden was interrupted and tainted, there was an absence of fear, shame and pain. i know it seems nearly impossible to imagine that kind of serenity that existed in genesis 2, and maybe our lives are a far cry from what eden was like. but i believe that eden is more than just a physical heavenly place that inhabited the earth once upon a time. even more significant than a state of mind and deeper than just plain perspective, being found by God in the garden is simply about pure delight and pleasure. it's the awesome privilege we have of retreating with the lover of our souls regardless of the state of our hearts, regaining faith to see His immeasurable goodness in the midst of storms, and effortlessly enjoying His presence. i realize i might come off like a naive flower child here, escaping from reality without a worry in the world. believe me, i've had my fair share of hardships, my life is by no means perfect, and i'm no stranger to heartache. even still, i know the main thing that fuels my faith in love and gives me ridiculous hope is finding Him in the garden again and again. i had a job interview yesterday on a busy street on 5th avenue. i rode the elevator up and sat in a corner conference room with a gorgeous view of the NYC skyline. what immediately caught my eyes were all the exquisite gardens on rooftops and terraces of the other high-rise buildings. from all the noise and traffic on the ground level, you would never know that there was such tranquility and beauty just an elevator ride away. i guess that's what the garden is to me. it's about relationship and spending quality time with the One i love. it's out of this place that i'm inevitably elevated to see life through the clarity of His vision and i'm able to walk out in solid faith in a really, really good God.

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine, so come into Your garden and take delight in me.
Take delight in me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

a new thing.

even though there remains quite a bit of uncertainty about my future and i'm still in the midst of hashing out all that the Lord did in my life in 2011, i'm finding myself with overwhelming peace these days. it's ironic and kind of an oxymoron, to be inundated by a calm stillness. this is completely foreign to me. i'm used to over-analyzing, being obsessive compulsive and needing a concrete plan. in the absence of having all the answers that i thought i needed, i can honestly say that i've never felt such assurance that i'm right where i need to be. for the first time since i can remember, i have confidence and joy as i entrust 2012 completely to the Lord. the more He reveals His awesome purposes and draws my heart closer to His, the easier it is for me to release my grip of my past. sometimes the only thing holding us back is ourselves. we can't seem to get over a mistake, an offense, a loss, so we carry it around like an anchor. if it's a wound, we pick at it. if it's an ex, we replay what went wrong. what we really need to do is cut off the chains, break free, and freaking LET GO. the past is the past and it should stay there. how will we ever grow if we insist on living in yesterday? the last couple weeks i was forced to deal with a certain perpetual struggle, my achilles heel in sorts, that creeps around me like a little monster and rears its ugly face just when things are smooth and serene. in previous experiences, i was defeated and powerless to combat against the enemy's conniving because i didn't know who i was or my worth. it took months of detox and rebuilding, after being utterly broken and desperate, for the Lord to instill my true identity and authority through Him. this time as i recognized that i was being faced with the same pathetic routine only with minor adjustments, it seriously pissed me off. heck no. i'm so sick of playing the fool, sitting around passively as a victim, and succumbing to this insane cycle. Jesus already brought redemption and restoration when He took it to the cross, why should i accept this? i was made for so much more. but these are just resolute statements and it's clear that talk alone will not suffice. it's absolutely necessary that i'm led by His wisdom and presence, not by mere passion and good intentions. so this is where my part comes in. i'm violently shaking off these lurking monsters and running full speed ahead.

same story + redeemed jini = glory.

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.

Isaiah 43:1,18-21

Thursday, February 2, 2012

i got it from my mama.

i'm realizing these days, as i'm intentionally observing my mom, just how incredibly similar we are. from our distinct hearty laugh to the way we cut fruit- even down to the way our lips slightly pout as we're cutting- there is no doubt i am my mother's daughter. i guess i never really noticed before just how much of her idiosyncrasies i've subconsciously picked up throughout the years. now (almost) twenty-nine years later, i see that my behavior isn't best explained by the fact that i was raised in kansas, or by me being a 막내 or even a Christian. i am who i am largely because of my mom, and not solely because of the years sown into prayer for me but simply by living life with her. so i have these awfully loud, angry neighbors. no matter what time of the day it is, i constantly hear them screaming at each other as if they only know one decibel- extremely loud. i already see how the edgy kids are following the precedent set by their parents. not that i'm judging, but it does help me appreciate and value the way my mom raised me. above all, the greatest thing she ever taught me was how to love. i think sometimes we're so in love with love that it makes us sick. true, there's nothing that quite compares to the thrill of being in love for the first time. the high is practically like an out of body experience (so i've heard). but as great as that rush is, there's something so sacred and precious about the longevity of love. it's no longer all about feelings and cliches. sure, there are the occasional rainbows and butterflies, but when the hype runs dry, that's when true love takes on the verb form. i can confidently say that my mom's love for our family, particularly my dad, is evident in her actions. she is long suffering, she is not selfish, she is not easily angered. mom prefers others' needs above her own, she encourages and lifts up, and she always trusts, hopes and endures. i've witnessed how much mom's heart has grown and her capacity to love has stretched as she's deliberately and consistently chosen to love especially when it was tough and when she didn't necessarily feel like it. despite all the valleys and dark seasons our family has endured, through all the sicknesses and years of locusts eating away at our hope and joy, mom's love has only become stronger and more resilient. i'm aware of it with each home-cooked kimchee jjigae. i see it every time dad holds mom's hands as they stroll around the neighborhood. i hear it in mom's simple "eung" in response to dad telling her "i love you" after thirty years of marriage and still not exhausting or diminishing the significance of the L word. this is just a glimpse of what i might be like thirty years from now and it's lookin good ;) i only wish i was able to blog in korean so mom could read this. hehe.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8