Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wasted Minute?

A year and a half ago I took a five week long trip to Hong Kong that I almost never really think about anymore.

Sure, it crosses my mind now and then, but I think about how tired I was; not about the late nights chatting on the balcony. I'll think about the ferry ride, not about the performance we did near the star ferry right before it rained on us. (It rained during the last song, I think) I'll think about a song we sang there, not about the feeling of God moving among us as we worshiped. I'll think about the times I doubted, not about the times in prayer when God whispered to my heart.

Do you see what I'm saying? I think about the trip, but only when something reminds me about it, and I don't take the time to remember the most important parts.

I'll think about the fire God placed in my heart, and wonder when it died.

Incomplete, failed... those two words often taunt me. I have a tendency to not finish things. So a lot of the time when I try to think of the good from the trip, instead I think of the hopes and dreams I had upon coming home, and I think of the past year and a half, and think how I'm not in any form of outreach, I'm not learning more about the japanese culture, and I haven't been on fire for God.

So I lost everything I learned during the trip, didn't I? I failed to carry out my end, right?

Maybe, but I've been starting to see a greater arch in this story than I once thought. I don't really know what happened to first few months after I got back. I know there were good times, and I know there were bad. Mostly I know how March through November went, know that I didn't look to God much during that time.

Yes, that sounds like I just listed that I can label Hong Kong's work in my heart, and then the months I mentioned, as being more incomplete days, as being failures. If I only stepped back, then what's the purpose?

The point is I still lived those days, I still have those experiences, and even though I fell I kept standing back up.

I may not think about Hong Kong much, but the lessons I learned still stick with me. I still make myself pause when I find I'm comparing myself to others again. I still remember that I have to be careful how independent I am, that it's okay to ask for help. I still remember that there are groups I can feel at home with, and people who can stick together through thick and thin. And I still remember the pure joy of worshiping God with the rain pouring down around us.

Hong Kong did leave its mark on me, just not the one I'd expected. I thought I'd catapult into action, instead I had to wait.

The past while taught me things too. It taught me that dawn creeps in slowly, often unnoticed. It taught me that action isn't everything. It taught me the breath is precious. It taught me to hold on to God and any glimmer I see of him with all that I am. It taught me that Love doesn't care what condition we think we're in, it sees more than we ever will.

I think this is all pretty incoherent, but I guess it's simply this. I don't think about Hong Kong very often, and I'm often tempted to think that I've lost anything I learned from then. I haven't. I look back at the last year and feel like I've gone nowhere. I haven't. I may not see everything, but I can see enough to know that no second ends up completely wasted.

The shadow proves the sunlight... but the sun is most brilliant when mixed with clouds.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beauty and Love

Every move I make is generally criticized by Daniel or Camila, or both. I tend to have to steel myself constantly to withstand the barrage that is always forthcoming. There are times when I get to just hang out and have fun with them, but there's always this underlying jealousy. I exist, and therefore I threaten their security. Nothing I do can change how they always watch for me to do something they can get mad about.

So lying awake at night, (because this is when I start letting myself "un"steel) I often times want to be around someone who I know won't do that. A knowledge that would soothe the pain. My pretty much constant wish is to be around people who don't look at me in search of my flaws.

Recently one of my friends mentioned struggling with appearance, with wanting to look how she would consider beautiful, with needing to fit that image.

That launched me into this thought train.

How can someone be secure in who they are and how they look? We're told that our value is in God; We're told that He made us and He sees us as His most wonderful creation; We're told that our value should not come from man.

I've heard doubts expressed about how God could see someone who's "under par" as beautiful. And then doubts about how that could make any difference in wanting approval from others.

My thought to that first one is simply that in order to comprehend a lot of attributes of God we have to comprehend that he loves us.

That one simple factor seems to change so many things.

The conclusion I came to while lying awake at night, like I mentioned above, is that in wanting someone who wouldn't look at my flaws, I wanted someone who loved me. Love transforms how people view things.

I'm not sure how to explain it... I guess that when I get to know a friend, when I come to love them, I don't see their flaws. I may be aware of them, but they're not what I look at. Characteristics that they view as ugly or as an annoying habit, I find I come to cherish. It's a part of them, and because of that I like that characteristic. Often it's our quirks that distinguish us from everything else, and those are the things our friends come to love us for.

When I think of God, and how he views us, I have to remember that he's aware we're imperfect, but he sees us through eyes of Love. He sees the way you think, the way you look, the way you act, and it makes him smile because it's you. He sees the way I think, the way I look, the way I act, and it makes him smile because it's me. Each physical feature, he sees as a mark that screams your name. We're one big fingerprint ;)

As for how we find our value in God and not others, I'm still working on that. One way I deal with that is simply to find people who place value in more for the way that God places value in me. That way they're not sending me a different message than God is, but reminding me of how He sees me. In the end though, we do need to be willing to accept how God sees us and not need our peers to corroborate that. I've felt that now and then, and the best I can tell, it comes from spending time around Him and reading His word. In knowing Him and finding a place in his arms, knowing he loves. I think the security of not needing the value of others comes when Jesus is our life, when nothing else does matter.