And Just

Mulling over what it means that God is faithful and just to forgive my sins.

Not just faithful, because he said he would. Which is in itself enough to take to the bank.

But just. Because the consequence and cost of sin–mine and yours–has been paid in full, and God deems it unjust to charge twice.

That’s unfathomable to me. Rock solid, locked in; that’s the promise of forgiveness when we confess our sin. It seems so incredibly wrong for forgiveness to be given so freely to people so undeserving (me). But he made a promise on his own honor, and he holds himself to it. On pain of death.

Amazing grace, how distant the sound! I think I can imagine how completely transformative that truth can be to the human heart, but for me.. I’m not all there yet. I thought I was, but I’m beginning to see that there are so many layers of gravel and silt between my mind and heart, that that truth has yet to sink all the way down. I see it in the way I STILL hesitate to ask God for help, the way I STILL hide from him when I’m insecure. I should be past this by now, says the taskmaster in my head. But I continue to feel unworthy in the worst way, a Christian but a tarnished, weak, and inadequate one. My mind knows the right answers and proper positions, but my emotions and reactions betray me. Truth is first learned, but then it needs to be had.

Lord, help me see! Help me know!

 

 

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When Rest Works

An afternoon of just rest is rare to come by. Not because I can’t make the time to just stop everything and chill out (I do try, often), but because most of the time even when I do that it doesn’t really work out for me. I don’t know if any of you out there who struggle with anxiety also deal with this, but most often when my body stops, my mind just won’t. I find myself lying down at night to sleep, and that elusive feeling of “aahh…” is just that – elusive. It often manifests as an almost-physical sensation of lying on a spinning plane of nothingness, suspended by some invisible force, and hanging out in limbo. That will only make sense to you if you’re like me and find it hard to relax. So I battle that, nightly, just lying there wondering “have I done enough today?” until exhaustion inevitably takes over and knocks me out.

But today, this afternoon, we got into bed at 2 PM and slept. Daniel for quite a while (he’s still sleeping now), me just for an hour but lying immobile in the soft comforter, held down by solid gravity. Not spinning, not full of worry-adrenaline, just resting. I have a paper to read and a presentation to write, but I rebelled against my mental schedule and clung to that quiet bit of rest and refused to feel guilty about it. I walk the limbo of responsible adulthood, which often straddles the things we must do and the things we should do, with no pattern of which choices matter more. And maybe that’s the struggle?

Either way. Right now, I am grateful.

Elevens

A few weeks ago we received a notice in the mail giving us the date of our immigration interview – the response to four months of anxious waiting on the paperwork we’d submitted for Daniel’s green card (for those of you who don’t know, he’s a Korean citizen). We’d opted to save on lawyer fees and done the paperwork ourselves as meticulously as we knew how (now I understand why we pay lawyers to do this for us), but I still worried that we’d missed something. A friend of mine who was filing the same application had received her interview notice several weeks earlier than we had, which spun me off into another nerve-wracking swirl of panicked thoughts. Why was ours taking so long? If you’ve dealt with the USCIS you know how notoriously slow and seemingly arbitrary the wait times are, not improved by the complete opacity of the process and slow updates. Some people wait nine months or more to hear back, or one spouse gets approved in a month and the other is still waiting six months later.

I was so thankful to receive that letter, because I know it could have been worse.

I think I started doing this in college, but every time I see 11:11 on the clock, it reminds me of Hebrews 11:11: “and by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” I don’t want to commit any exegetical crimes here, but I have always been so encouraged by that verse. It’s a reminder to me that God makes promises, and then he keeps those promises – even when it seems we’ve passed the point where it’s reasonable to keep hoping.

I started pointing out 11:11 to Daniel too, and now he does it back to me as well. It’s silly but kind of fun, and the number has become a little reminder throughout the days that our God is faithful and caring, and he sees us.

Our interview is scheduled for January 27, the day of our eleven-month wedding anniversary. When I realized that, it made me smile inside. Now understand.. God hasn’t specifically promised us that Daniel will become a citizen, and certainly not that everything in our lives will line up and be smooth. I don’t believe we have a right to assume that we know how things ought to go, or that God has some obligation to fulfill our wishes to prove his faithfulness. In the midst of my worrying these past four months, I’ve come to terms with the fact that whether we are able to get what we want, or whether God decides to supplant us and take us somewhere from which we can’t return, our lives belong to him. This process, so out of our control, belongs to him. But for his own mysterious reasons he’s been forging this path for us. There are implications to the success or failure of our application that will apply further than just us, and though Daniel seems pretty relaxed about the whole thing, my heart has been burdened, hoping and praying that this goes well.

But however it turns out: our God is faithful and he is with us. And I’m glad to know it.

 

On Changing Professions

Day 4 of being sick at home. Some way to ring in the new year, huh? Though I have to admit, bulging sinuses and hacking cough aside, it’s been quite nice to get an extra bit of rest worked into the tail end of this holiday season. Getting sick is always a big blessing in disguise (as long as I’m not sitting up at night battling nausea, which this time thankfully I wasn’t).

Surprisingly, I have very few significant thoughts going through my head this week, so this will be a bit of a stream of consciousness. But it’s been nice to get a head start on the year by starting a fresh Bible reading plan with Daniel (though I vaguely remember falling asleep during our second chapter last night) and working on less blue screen before bed, and more thinking/reading/writing. Incidentally, I start school tomorrow, which I’m VERY excited about. For anyone who cares to know, I’ve decided to switch seminary tracks and get a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Casey Neistat says that his years spent doing miserable jobs that he hated was a blessing because it gave him motivation to dream about what kind of job he actually would love to do. I think that’s where I’m at as well, right now. I don’t hate my job at all, but I do know that I cannot picture myself doing what I do now up through my fifties and sixties. I know jobs morph and change, and I would morph and change and develop as well, but in the grand picture of things, I know that if I have a choice I don’t choose corporate America. And I do have a choice. For whatever reason, God has given me the ability and resources to choose my path of profession, at least for now. So I’m choosing to go into therapy, in hopes that I can help someone else the way therapy has helped me. How, when, where are still blank spaces for now because I’m going to continue to work my way through school, but I’m thankful for the opportunity and ability to go and learn.

What a slow, slow change this will be!

Today I’m thankful for Friday, for warm winter coats, and for bosses that let me work from home in my fuzzy pink pajama bottoms.

Sick

Nothing like a sick day to unravel your pretensions on the third day of the new year. But I am very thankful for another day of rest, even if it was just messy hair and pajamas and all of that.

That’s all I have to say tonight.

On Aspiring To Be More

This is the time of year when everyone asks you what your new years’ resolutions are. I don’t think people actually make resolutions anymore – the narrative of “it will only last two weeks so why try” has really sunk in and most of us are altogether too jaded now. I think that might be a bit of a tragedy, actually, because resolving to make good on a new year could probably do a whole lot of people a whole lot of good.

Though, I did see a fair few number of people today at the gym at 10 AM. All is not lost 😛

I’ve whittled down my resolution for this year to one thing: to consume less junk – mentally and physically. That will mean..To learn to enjoy silence again, and leave room for ruminating thoughts to solidify into meditation, conviction, and action. To distance myself from that enticing world of “I bought this and you need it, too.” To turn down the loud voices of media and culture and nourish my soul with quiet satisfaction. Which means less YouTube, more reading. Less podcasts, more quiet. And finally, less hot cheetos, more things that come from the ground.

Aspiring to be more… in tune to the voice of my Father. There are enough people who want to be more successful, more popular, more wealthy, more well-traveled. I admit, that appeals to me, too. But the way I see it, there are two competing narratives in my life: the one in which I work hard to be more beautiful, more successful, and more well-known and well-liked; and the one in which I learn to live with less, give thanks for deeper things, and live with my sights fixed on more than what I see here. The former often trumps the latter, because well, I’m human and I like shiny new things and fitting in with cool people. But I’m going to fight for the latter. That’s my battle this year.

Bring it on.

 

 

Lala Land and A New Year

“What IS this?” he burst out, suddenly. I shushed him, glancing around apologetically to the people around us, most still seated in the darkened theater, recovering. He slid down in his seat, clutching his heart, whimpering. I hit him on the arm.

We filed out with the crowd, parting ways to respective restrooms. I emerged from the ladies’, wiping my hands on my jeans. I caught sight of him, slowly pacing the entrance of the mens’, hands behind his back, face downcast. I couldn’t help laughing.

That movie was magic. It touched something in both of us, something nostalgic, hopeful, and painfully sweet. It made me feel sad about unfinished business with forgotten loves (I don’t have any, but still), and made him think about the imperfect beauty of a life in which dreams come true but you still can’t have everything.

We went home, talking all the way, trying to put our thoughts into words. We plopped onto the carpet, listening to that beautiful soundtrack, then ate ice cream and waltzed around our living room. The end of a really good day.


Today is the first day of 2017. At church we were given time to reflect, and think about the things we’d learned and the ways we’d come to understand God this past year. We both agreed that being married has moved the faithfulness and steadfastness of God from a concept into a concrete reality. We remembered His goodness in our times of need, His wisdom in our times of conflict, and His provision in abundance. Remembering all of the times that He had come through for us brought tears that felt like balm to my restless heart. I spent a lot of time this year feeling too harried to connect, too restless to sit still, and then guilty for not giving God my time and attention like I knew I ought. And yet today, I felt the gentle reminder that He is still there, still speaking, still listening. I am so thankful.

Looking forward to 2017… whew! What will it hold?