For The Days When I Don’t Love You

Dear Jesus,

This letter is for the days when I don’t love You.

For the days I don’t feel You.

For the days I can’t hear You.

This is for the days when I seriously wonder if You really love me as much as I’ve heard.

This letter is for days like today. There’s nothing really wrong but there’s nothing really right. Days like today, I miss You but don’t seem to care enough to do anything about it.

Today, I can’t accept the fact that this all feels like work. And I know, it’s supposed to be work. Relationships take work. Growth takes discipline. You never promised it would be easy like that. But days like today, knowing that doesn’t feel like enough.

Because page after page, my diary is full of entries about how I wish I loved You more. How I wish I’d love You better. Days like today are more common than I can bear to admit. But there it is. The ugly truth looming in my heart. The unbearable realization that there are so many things I love more than You.

You ask, “Do you love me?”

“Do you love me?”

A sharp pang in my heart as you ask a third time. Because I know… I know. Most days, I don’t.

So I’m asking You… is Your love enough for the days when I don’t love You?

Can Your love fill up all that is lacking on the days when I don’t love You?

Could Your love still save me on the days when I don’t love You?

If at the end of my earthly life, if at the end of my diary, all You can find are entries of wishes and hopes of loving You more, does Your grace cover all of those days?

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On My Reading Desk This Week (03/03/13 – 03/09/13)

Happpppy Saturday!!

This week was really busy and tiring. So I didn’t get much reading in as I would’ve liked. But what I DID get to read was wonderful. Here’s a list of some of the great things I came across on my reading desk.

What’s So Great About “The Common Good” — Andy Crouch, This is Our City

Why should Christians embrace this phrase?? Great read on recovering the language of the “common good” in Christianity.

Nerf Wars and Women in the Church — Wayne Beason

Stellar. Just stellar. Liberating and redemptive.

‘The Bible’ Series: An Invitation to ‘Change the World’ — Jim Wallis, The Huffington post

“That’s what we are going to do: change the world. Not just to save a few people from hell and get them to heaven..” Amen. This is what our faith is about! I find too often that believers miss this altogether in their worldview. I should start cataloging all the articles and posts I read that relate to developing this understanding.

On International Women’s Day: Why I Can No Longer Defend The Ministry of Women in The Church — Steve Holmes

Brilliant.

March 3 Homily — Leah Wise: a journal

This. Great writing. “God came first with passion, with fury and movement and an impatient drive to protect his people. And he let one of us in. He gave us the power to do something and the motivation to do it. But, just like the disciples and Jesus’ listening crowds, we got lost again in our own concerns. And we saw suffering and only felt lucky not to be suffering, too. And we repeat the cycle daily.”

peace:militarization — Gukira

Great thoughts on  the militarization of peace and the Kenyan Elections.

 

Thoughts? Comments? What’s on your reading desk?

On My Reading Desk This Week (02/24/13 – 03/02/13)

Happy first Saturday of March!!!!!

It’s starting to warm up where I am. I took a short drive to my favorite coffee and bagel place this morning. Going on a drive on a sunny morning to the sounds of country music makes me so nostalgic for life back in upstate NY. Ahh… good times.

I’m particularly excited for this Reading Desk post. So I do hope you make some room for some interesting reads today, tomorrow, err day.

What Could You Live Without? — Nicholas D. Kristoff, New York Times

Awesome article about a young girl with a big vision. That big vision would be considered completely naive coming from a 14-year old girl suggesting that we have the absolute potential to make a difference if we just tried. And yet, she did exactly that. An amazing story about a family who decides to downsize and how it inspired others to live with less to seek the greater good.

It’s Not About Celibacy: Blaming the Wrong Thing for the Sexual Abuse Crisis — Rev. James Martin, Huffington Post

I think this post had really great points about different manifestations of love, the positives and intentions of celibacy, and singleness.

In Christ There Is Neither… — Scot McKnight, Patheos

Raises some critical questions and points about white normative in the American church. Good stuff.

Leeches, Lye and Spanish Fly — Kate Manning, New York Times

I read this when it was first published way before I started doing these Reading Desks. I’m going to put a little warning on this article. It sheds light onto what women are willing to do to abort their pregnancies in places where abortion is illegal. I’m not posting this to suggest anything on a political level or to make a statement about my own political standpoint on the issue. But this is an article that’s absolutely worth taking into consideration as you think about the issue. Read this.

Modern Lessons From Arranged Marriages — Ji Hyun Lee, New York Times

I think western cultures have attached such a negative stigma on arranged marriages. But look at our divorce rates for all our glorification of marrying for love. This article has given me a lot to think about. I think we could learn a lot and benefit from cultures that practice arranged marriages. I love the idea of your community (maybe not just immediate family but any key persons in your life who knows you well) playing an active part in discerning who would be right for you. I think arranged marriage culture has a better grip on love as a verb/choice than we do in the west.

Why I Left World Vision For Finance — Mark Sheerin, Christianity Today

This was so good. So, so, good. That’s all I can really say at the moment.

The Dirty Job of Special Needs Parenting — Barbara Dittrich, Godspace – Christine Sine

“I will confess that this is rarely the way I want to worship God.  I want a more comfortable form of praise and adoration that doesn’t require the high cost of heart ache and personal humility.” This is fantastic. She talks specifically on parenting here but such a good read on “washing feet”. I needed this.

Are You Listening? — The Wind Horse Blog

Beautiful post. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” I think learning how to listen well is one of the greatest ways to love people. In a messy broken world full of messy broken people, I don’t think most of us, most of the time, are needing advice or fancy words in response to our pain but someone who can just hear and appreciate the full weight of the suck in our lives. Do we know how to listen?

Thoughts? Responses? What’s on your reading desk?

Please Shake Responsibly: The “Harlem Shake” and Cultural Responsibility

You’ve probably seen the videos by now. It starts off with an individual dancing quite reservedly by him or herself for about 15 seconds. In the background are other people who seem unaware. Once the bass drops, suddenly there is a crowd of people dancing. They’re sometimes clad in ridiculous costumes, flailing, wiggling, and shaking about to no particular rhythm. The irony? None of them are actually doing the Harlem Shake or anything that remotely resembles the Shake.

I was pretty late getting to this viral meme phenomenon. As I perused youtube video after youtube video, I kept wondering in frustration, “Why are they never actually doing the Shake?”

If you don’t know, the Harlem Shake is an actual dance. It was born in Harlem in 1981 and is a vibrant African-American dance. I remember trying to learn the Shake in my middle-school through high school years. Alas, I was an Asian-American girl growing up in white suburbia. It was never meant to be.

While these video memes have gone viral and admittedly are very fun to watch, they’ve also been responded to with strong criticism. It’s been called, “an absolute mockery”, “disrespectful”, “foolish” etc. In my Facebook and twitter feeds, similar criticisms have surfaced. Among these posts have been my own criticisms. Granted, haters… will alway hate… But I feel in this situation, there’s an important message about culture that isn’t being heard.

What it comes down to is this: Cultural responsibility.

I think if it had gone by any other name and paired with a song titled under any other name, this wouldn’t really be subject to any criticism at all. Because it looks, and probably is, a lot of fun. Hence the viralness. But calling it something it isn’t, well that’s like ordering Chicken Souvlaki in a cafeteria and getting a couple of horribly dry chunks of chicken drowning in some mystery sauce. …That was a personally specific example… drawing from a recent embittering experience. There are probably better ones out there… I’ll think of them later. But it mocks what the product truly is with all its cultural glory, history, and the people it belongs to.

My frustration is more with our society’s tendency to borrow cultural artifacts from subcultures and what results is a product that is completely stripped of its origins. We do it so often and we don’t give a crap.

I’m not advocating that we must cease and desist with this particular meme. I don’t think anyone really has made a “Harlem Shake” video with the malicious intent of making a mockery of a part of African-American history but it comes down to giving it its due respect. It’s something that means something to a group of people. It’s part of their history. It has a particular cultural meaning to them. Have some respect. 

Other critics have expressed their concern that the real Harlem Shake will be overshadowed and pushed out of search results by the viral video. That is a legitimate concern. When I expressed some frustration over the meme on a Facebook status, a friend commented that she didn’t actually know what the Shake was. So naturally, I went to Youtube to look up a video to show her. Only when I searched “Harlem Shake”, I went through page after page of the “Harlem Shake” meme. The real Shake was literally pushed out of the results. I ended up having to look up a specific music video that featured the real dance.

And so my complaint isn’t so much about a specific race issue. I don’t think that’s the issue at all. And I suppose it leads into the over-arching question of how to be responsible users in the internet world. When do internet memes cross the line into cultural insensitivity and mockery? How do we engage with this internet meme culture responsibly while honoring people and their cultural background?

In the meantime, please shake responsibly.

On My Reading Desk This Week (02/17/13 – 02/23/13)

Goooood Morning Internet! Happy Saturday!!

It’s a rainy one where I am. I think that calls for a cup of good coffee, good music, and good, thoughtful, challenging reads.

Season of Sharing — Ninkasi’s Niece

The writer uses the different sizes and bottling of beer to talk about how they reflect differences in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Right up my alley as a wannabe beer connoisseur and lover of culture. Great post.

“What You Call Yourself When No One’s Listening” — The Green Study

Excellent post! “Kids must learn that failure and mistakes are not what defines a person, but how they react to those errors does. It’s a skill that impacts our entire lives.”

“I’m Spiritual, Not Religious” — Eric Hyde’s Blog

“It is perhaps one of the emptiest phrases ever developed in the English language.” Good reflections about this relatively new cultural phenomena.

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth — Joseph E. Stiglitz, The New York Times

America might have been the land of opportunity once upon a time. In this article, Stiglitz claims that it has become a myth. Discrimination and lack of education, among other factors, are barriers to social mobility. What does he propose we should do?

Finding Jesus, in Drag — Jay Bakker, The Huffington Post

Finding grace in unlikely places. Following Jesus to the unlikely places He used to go.

How The Resurrection Changes Everything — Chris Johnson, Relevant Magazine

Critical piece for Christians. Do you have a full theological understanding of the resurrection? A must read.

Eyes Through The Glass — A Blog About Asperger’s

A post about the aftermath of Sandy Hook for the mentally ill. In light of the mass shootings in our country, are we defaulting to mental illness as the culprit in ways that are leading to the mass dehumanization of the mentally ill?

Which article was most interesting to you? Why? Agree? Disagree? What’s on your reading desk?

On My Reading Desk This Week (02/10/13 – 02/16/13)

Happy Saturday Everyone!

This week was chock full of good reading. But these are my top picks for the week. I post some of the other great pieces I find but know I probably won’t add to this post on my Facebook. So… You should add me on Facebook if you wish to receive those links 😀

I do hope you take some time to read. Even if it’s not from my Reading Desk. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading. I can’t stress enough allowing those reads to sink deep into your soul. Let them challenge your mind, challenge your worldview, And challenge the laziness of our thoughts.

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” -Confucius

A Life Defined Not By Disability, But Love – NPR

Absolutely touching. A love between Mother and Daughter that challenges the statistics. Love is more powerful than your circumstance.

Why Virginity is not the Gospel – Carolyn Custis James, Huffington Post

This article is redemptive. In a world where 1 in 4 women have been sexually abused before the age of 18, what message of worth is American Christian understanding of “purity” sending our daughters?

Calling All Christians – Skye Jethani

A bit long but so good. ‎”It is not the pastor’s task to wrestle more people away from “secular” engagements in order to help him accomplish his “sacred” work, but to erase these categories in the lives of those he leads in order that Christ might come to reign over all parts of their lives and world.” Read this.

Egyptian women: “It’s time for our voices to be heard”  – Egyptian Streets

Haunting. This post had me wrecked. I have to say: Viewer discretion advised. But if you’re up to it, it’s not long at all and this is the reality we can turn a blind eye to. I hope it breaks your heart for our sisters around the world and moves us all to prayer and action for women’s rights around the world.

Why I Write – Harper Faulkner

Great piece. I feel this big time. Sometimes, especially with the articles I post in these Reading Desk issues, I read stuff that is so wonderfully written that I start to wonder why I even try to say things. Nevertheless, they inspire me to write.

The Street Kids of San Francisco – Alex Mayyasi, Priceonomics

Seriously interesting and informative piece on the life of Street Kids (Homeless) of San Francisco. It’s a great word to our consumer/materialistic driven culture. Just a realy interesting read. Highly recommend.

More Than You Can Handle – Addie Zierman

I cannot recommend this post enough. I’ve read it and reread it so many times this week. This is good writing. The kind of writing that really gets to the heart of human existence, pain, and suffering. Writing that offers no conclusive answer we so desperately want in life yet gives you a peace and connection to the rest of humanity just trying to figure it all out. Just beautiful.

In Defense of the 4-Letter Word – Addie Zierman

So Addie is my new favorite person. This is a great piece on basically… being real. Christians are so legalistic about language. I always found it so fake growing up and Addie hits it on the head of the nail.

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I’d also love to hear your responses, thoughts, and feedback on any of the links posted in the comment section! And feel free to comment if you have a reading recommendations for me! Ready…… GO!

Facebook Stalking God

If you took a poll amongst my friends, I’m quite certain that whether best friends and acquaintances (I’d just like to note here that I do NOT know how to spell that word without spell-check), if you asked them to describe my top two characteristics, they would say: Facebook stalker and awkward human being.

I LOVE to Facebook stalk. I mean.. for the most part I think everybody Facebook stalks, I’m just way more public about it. But I do it so much and I’ve gotten so good at it that it’s become sort of like a game to me. Like… How much can I figure out about a person through Facebook? Also, our timelines aren’t finite sources of information. We update, comment, like, etc. everyday! There’s always something new to learn about someone! In a way, it feels like Facebook is saying, “Are you up to the challenge??” And to that I say… Challenge accepted, Facebook. Challenge. Accepted.

The thing is… I’m never really satisfied with just Facebook stalking. Most of the time it makes me want to hang out with that person in real life more and more. Like.. “I see that you like eating popcorn and watching Mean Girls… I too… like eating popcorn and watching Mean Girls..” or… “I see you have a Doctor Who poster hanging up in your room… in that picture you posted… last year… I too… like Doctor Who..” And after hours of creeping on everything there is to creep on their timeline, I’m left to face the fact that…. I do not actually know them.

I’d like to say that I do draw a line between friendly online creeping and actual watching-you-from-a-tree-outside kind of stalking. I do have some sort of self-control that allows my friendships to happen organically (even though I most likely have Facebook stalked them prior to meeting them in person) rather than trying to contrive them. ..generally… yea… anyway.

When Facebook Stalking moves to Actual Relationship

It’s a magical moment when I finally get to hang out with someone I’ve only ever known through Facebook stalking.

I’m thinking about the people in my life, some really close friends that I had stalked like… two years ago and now are some of my best friends. As much as I love creepin’ on their pictures and finding really random things they liked on Facebook, it’s nothing compared to the things I find out about them through real life interactions…

Like the way she can’t make eye-contact with you when you complement her. The way he addresses you by your first name in situations where normally, people wouldn’t think it necessary to because of familiarity but he does so because he so respects and cherishes your company. The way she has a facial expression to go with everything and anything she says. The way she naturally facilitates group activities, not because she doesn’t think what we’re doing is fun or feels excluded, but because she’s used to being the big sister and she loves her role as being the one who gives the opportunity for others to have so much fun. (I’m referring to specific things about a few different people here)

These are just a few examples of the little things I love about my friends that I only know because we actually spent time together face-to-face.

Creeping on Jesus

Another important thing to know about me is that I love to read. I don’t really read fiction… but about 3 or 4 years ago, I started to really love studying theology. I love to read books, articles, blogs, journals, etc.

Now and then I wonder, at what point am I just knowing things about God rather than actually knowing Him?

It’s like saying you’ll go on a coffee date with a friend… but you only ever talk about getting coffee, and like.. you only end up reading customer reviews about potential coffee shops where you could have this coffee date… and then you like… only ever end up talking about what kind of coffee you’ll drink at your coffee date.. and.. whether or not that coffee is fair trade or whatever…. and brainstorming what topics you’ll discuss during the date… You get the point. You never actually gain any ground in your relationship and most importantly, no coffee has been consumed. (Maybe not most importantly… but still…)

Now and then, I get worried that my knowledge of things about Him is disproportionate or takes precedence to my intimacy and knowing of Him.

How many of us can say with a definiteness, if all things go to absolute crap, that it matters not because we know God. Many of us have a testimony we can share… we’ve practiced the 2-minute version of our conversion story to whip out if occasion called for it… but how many of us, without hesitation, could say that we have known God throughout our ups and downs in life?

When I think about knowing my friends versus knowing things about them, the difference lies in the knowing them that goes beyond a list of facts. There’s this transcendent knowing of them that goes like: I know you. The deep down inside you. The things that break your heart. The things that irritate you. The things that make you laugh. The things that make you smile that have no significance to other people. 

I get to knowing these things about my friends through stuff like spending time together, staying up till 5am talking to each other, butting heads but figuring it out with each other. Sharing life together.

And so it should go with our relationship with Jesus.

The point in which my relationship is less like Facebook-stalking the son of God and actually knowing Him with that definiteness is:

– When I’m regularly spending time in His presence, in His Word. It’s actually going on that coffee date. That “partaking of His cup” thing that means to partake in experience. (Which in the Bible, eludes to sharing in Christ’s suffering) It’s both experiencing Him in silent meditation and the actual active-doing of Kingdom things.

– Talking to Him. Spilling my guts, laying all that’s on my mind and heart at His feet in prayer. Being real and honest about the things that piss me off, the things I don’t get about Him.. working out WITH Him the conflicts of interest that arise when my own wants, preferences, and desires are at odds with the things of the Kingdom.

It’s in these things where you get to know the heart of God: sharing your life with the Divine in both time spent just-being and doing. Perhaps that’s why Jesus asked us to, “do as I have done”. “Knowing” requires a shared experience.

The Bible is not a Timeline. It is not just a thing we read that gives us more facts about God. It is the Word of God. It is alive. Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood! (John 1:14, The Message) He talks. He listens. He responds. He’s real.

It’s okay to “Facebook stalk” God. Theology, knowledge of God, gaining better understanding of Him, that’s all good. But don’t stop at Facebook stalking. Know Him face-to-face. Enter into that magical moment: when Facebook-stalking becomes actual relationship.

When we’ve moved from “Facebook stalking” God to knowing God, perhaps we’ll be better acquainted with His heart.. what grieves Him… what delights Him… and perhaps not only will we be acquainted with what His heart is like, we’ll begin to be grieved and delighted by the same things in our own.

Challenge… accepted?

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