How do you forgive someone who isn’t sorry?

Forgive

I’ve been trying to forgive the same person for the past 20 years… and for most of that time, I thought I had forgiven this person…. but then something else happens and then I’m right back where I started.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my unforgiving heart… and I finally understand why it’s so hard for me. I’m quick to forgive someone who is full of remorse, someone who repents, someone who apologizes. But this person, no matter how many conversations we’ve had, has no remorse, no apologies… in fact, this person plays the victim and sincerely doesn’t believe that they’ve wronged anyone else. Therefore, it feels like a never-ending cycle.

One side says “just forgive and forget”–but have you tried forgetting pain? It’s really not that easy. The other side says “just cut that person out of your life and don’t even care about it.” Once again, it’s a lot harder when this person is in your life not by choice. I always want to do what is right… what is just. And I finally realized that this is going to be a life-long process for me. This may be something I struggle with for the rest of my life… and I have to accept that.

Couple years before my grandmother passed away, she told me that it took her over 30 years to forgive a relative of hers. At the time, I thought “that’s ridiculous… how horrible of my grandma to hold a grudge for so long…” But now I totally understand her heart, and her struggle.

I used to think forgiveness was a one-time deal… but I’m now understanding that it’s a process… it’s a journey. I don’t have the bitterness I once did… I’m more compassionate and patient towards this person… but I think I can safely say that I haven’t completely forgiven this person because it really doesn’t take much to take me back to that dark, hurt place. Before, it used to bother me that I couldn’t just get over it… but today, I understand that it’s okay for me to have these crazy feelings about it because I see how God has slowly been putting my heart back together one piece at a time. Forgiveness is a journey… and I’m not a horrible Christian for not being able to “forgive and forget” because I think God is the only One who can really do that in the purest way!

2016: the year of mourning

Definition of mourning

1:  the act of sorrowing

bg-grievers

Mourning is often associated with grief over death of a person. Death is one of the most painful experiences in life. I’ve experienced mourning over loved ones. But this year, I also learned that mourning happens when you experience loss in other ways… and it’s even necessary. Nothing super catastrophic happened this year, however, 2016 felt so yucky. I’ve been thinking and processing through why I’m so eager to get rid of 2016 for the past few months, and I think it’s because I’ve spent great part of this year mourning, or sorrowing over loss of people, places, things, and ideas.

This year, I’ve mourned end or change in relationships. Some people come and go based on circumstances, proximity, or life stages. It’s hard to accept that some friendships change over time… and some even end. but I’ve had to accept the fact that some people who was once very close to me is no longer in my life for various reasons… and it’s okay.

I’ve mourned not being able to call myself an Angeleno. I moved to Los Angeles at the age of 13… and while I’ve lived in Northern California for few years during and after college, Los Angeles became my home. I thought I was ready for change and move to the bay area… but after having established Los Angeles as my home for close to 30 years, I realized how LA I’ve become… and how much of a city girl I’ve become. I still think Los Angeles is over-rated, but I’ve grieved over my familiar taken out of my life. I’ve grieved over not being able to go to the beach to clear my head, for Gloria-days, and just because I love the ocean. I’ve grieved over not having access to my favorite restaurants, museums, theatres, and even Disneyland. But most of all, I’ve grieved over not having my close friends and family at my arms reach. Texting and calling is just not the same as face to face interactions… and that was harder than I had ever imagined.

I’ve mourned aging of my grandfather and my dad. My last-living grandparent is 99 years old. He was so lucid and active even until couple years ago. But he is no longer than grandpa I’ve known and loved for so many years. He doesn’t remember that I’ve moved. We’re no longer able to talk about ministry nor life. Our conversation now consists of “please eat,” “are you well?” and “i love you.” And because he doesn’t remember our very short conversation 5 minutes ago, it’s groundhogs day for 2 hours that I see him whenever I visit LA. I miss my old grandpa who inspired and encourage me. My dad also turned 74 years old this year… and now that I don’t see him regularly, I see how much he has aged each visit. My heart aches as I see his physical ailments that come with aging. I grieve as I see him struggle through life of modern technology which is not-so-friendly for the aging population. I sorrow as I see the heartache he endures caring for his aging father and the frustrations of his family. He’s grown impatient. He’s grown less considerate. I have to work harder to recognize him because he’s not the father I grew up with. He used to take care of me… now he’s grown dependent on me. He’s aging… and that means he’s changing in ways that feels unfamiliar.

I’ve mourned over feelings of disappointment after disappointment after disappointment this past year. As cynical and pessimistic as I am, I still expect more and better of people in my family to people in my life to people in this world. I expect people to be loving. I expect people to be kind. I expect people to extend grace. I expect people to think of others ahead of oneself. I expect people to be honest. I expect people to have more empathy. I expect people to be more forgiving. I expect people to be responsible. I expect people to own up to their mistakes. Although I know that we’re all broken, nobody is perfect, and in need of redeemer, I expect people to try harder (I’m sure I’ve disappointed many people as well). Perhaps my expectations are too high or unreal… but as I’ve grieved over my feelings of disappointments throughout the year, I’ve had to reassess my expectations of people… and that was hard to swallow.

Throughout the year, I’ve learned that when something changes, whether it’s relationships, people, location, or even ideas, it’s important to mourn the loss of what once was and face new reality. It’s not easy… in fact, it often felt painful and sucky. But one can’t live in the past because that feels suckier. All this mourning throughout this year taught me more about myself… the way I think, the way I feel, the way I process, the way I react. I don’t expect 2017 to start off great all of a sudden. I expect to stay on this journey of mourning the loss but learning the embrace the new… and live each day with hope that comes from Jesus.

Today’s Warm & Fuzzies

I love getting warm & fuzzy stories from parents! This one landed in my inbox this morning!

Hi Gloria-  I have to share a quick story for you to pass on to M’s teachers at church.  Her teacher told me that yesterday, on the playground, there was a little girl who was crying because she had to get off the swing because her turn was over.  M went up to her and said “Listen, it’s OK because at church I learned that the first shall be last and the last shall be first!”  

This is especially precious because M is a super shy girl… who has only said “HI” to me once! We just learned this lesson couple weeks ago, and for her to have the boldness to comfort another girl with what she learned at church gives me the warm & fuzzies all over!  Have I said lately that kids are the BEST?

Life Interrupted 2015

Okay… I have to be honest… I was starting to itch a little in the beginning of 2015. I was feeling a bit tired of the same city, the same routine, the same apartment, the same everything… But as I’ve always said, “I’m going to enjoy and live life to the fullest wherever God puts me… until He takes me someplace else.” I still very much enjoyed my ministry at the church I was at… but I was also starting to feel really comfortable there. Well, God knew my restlessness… and He had some crazy plans brewing…

My comfortable life was interrupted in a BIG way in May when I was given an opportunity to serve in a new church. This would mean moving 350 miles north–away from family and the place I had called home for the past 17 years. This would mean starting a new ministry in a church way bigger than what I was used to. This would mean starting a new life in a new city all by myself. This would mean no more Disneyland and Hollywood Pantages Theatre.

So this is the thing… I was feeling the itch and I had even prayed to God to bring new challenges in my life so that I would be stretched… but when I was given this opportunity, I froze! All of a sudden, everything new felt scary and daunting… and I wanted to retreat to what was familiar. Thankfully I had friends that prayed for me and counseled me… but most of all, I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit that said “let your life be interrupted!” So in July, I purged so much junk that I had accumulated over 17 years in Los Angeles, and packed up what would fit into my new 525 sq ft apartment and left for a very suburban town in the Bay Area.

And I have to be honest… I had romanticized my new church, my new ministry, my new apartment, my new city, my new life… oh boy… in reality, it’s been a rough transition. I had many moments where I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life! My new ministry seriously kicked my butt the first few months! I hated how quiet this town is. I missed my family and friends in LA. I missed my favorite foods in Los Angeles (especially my favorite Thai place that would deliver). I missed Disneyland.

But 5 months later, I’m starting to embrace my new life! I still can’t get used to this suburban life… I actually miss the sounds of helicopters and sirens in the middle of the night. I still miss so much of what I had in LA. But I’m reminded that I asked God to stretch me… and He is doing just that! He completely interrupted my life, took me out of my comfort zone, and placed me where I would be challenged and stretched. So lesson learned–be really careful what you ask for!

So this explains why I haven’t been active on my blog. I had so much to process and think through… and I couldn’t bring myself to write it all down! But I’m finally feeling like myself again… and have so much in my brain that I wanna get out… so I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more in 2016.

Well, 2015 also had some cool highlights!

  • For the first time, I had a premium annual pass to Disneyland and used the heck out of my pass… their record indicates that I went to Disney parks 37 times in 2015. I event spent the whole night at Disneyland for their 60th anniversary and left the park at 6 am!
  • I got to spend precious weekend with all three of my mom’s sisters at the same time! That rarely happens since they all live in different countries… but I learned so much more about my mom through their stories! It was indeed precious!
  • I continued to write in publications and lead workshops at various children’s ministry conferences. This is life giving to me… and I love the people I get to connect with through these events!
  • I went to TWO U2 concerts in the same week! and I stood in line for 8 hours to stand right up against the guard rails! Yes, it was worth it!
  • I was on Jen Hatmaker’s launch team for her newest book “For the Love,” and I got to party with her at her house!!! Not to mention, I got to meet and interact with her 3 times this year! Yes, she is one of my favorite authors!
  • Most of all, I was the recipient of amazing love that was poured out to me by so many friends and family… especially with the big move! I’m truly blessed with so many amazing people that love me!

Looking forward to 2016–perhaps more life interrupted!

More than Bible Stories & Memory Verse!

I was that child who attended church since birth! I knew many Bible stories… I memorized many verses. I was even in every church play starting from kindergarten. I was your model church child. But in my 30’s I had an epiphany. Nobody sat me down and explained the gospel to me! Of course, i heard stories of Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. But nobody made it personal for me. Somehow I actually came to believe in Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior along the way (by the grace of God!) but nobody from the church asked me if I believed in Jesus… they all just assumed that I did because I was a model church child. Sure… it worked out for me… but this isn’t going to work for every child, I know… because I have friends and cousins that went through the same “program,” and they don’t have a personal relationship Jesus today!

DSC02836I just spent 2 days with three of my aunts. One aunt is an overseas missionary, and she told me this story which left a lasting impression. She had a 5th grade boy come to her church for three months from the next town. She loved him and his personality. She was so please to see him come to church regularly. But one day, he stopped coming… and almost a year later, a new girl from the same town started coming to the church. When my aunt inquired about the boy who had stopped coming, she was told that he had died due to drug overdose at the age of 11! My aunt’s heart sank. She wasn’t even sure if he had heard the gospel. She knew that he had been taught lots of Bible stories… but she didn’t know if during the time he had attended, if he had been personally introduced to Jesus Christ. From that day forward, my aunt decided that they needed to share the gospel with every new child that comes to her church…

This applies to churches in the US too. We need to seize every opportunity we have with the children in our ministries. In most of our churches, kids are dropped off by their parents… they come whether or not they want to come (yes, I know some kids absolutely LOVE coming to church to the point that they make their parents bring them…) But we have this unique opportunity that most adult ministries don’t. Kids come to us (I know this isn’t the case in all churches)… and if we don’t seize the opportunity to share the gospel with the kids that come to our ministries, then what are we really doing? i’m not saying that we have to talk about the Easter story every week… but we need to create opportunities to share about God’s greatest love and grace because you never know who has never heard, especially when you have new visitors. Bible stories are important! Memory verse important! Having fun is important! Building relationships is extremely important! But the most important thing is their salvation… our children’s ministry MUST be about teaching more than Bible stories and memory verses… it must be about the gospel!

Failing does NOT make me a Failure!

failing

The feeling of failing SUCKS! There is really no way to sugar coat it… because no matter how you try to justify failure, the yucky feeling is still there! In the past few months, I’ve had to deal with few failures I had the “privilege” of experiencing. Each time, my heart just sinks to the very bottom of my stomach, and it hurts… sometimes it hurts like hell.

However, I’ve always been a big advocate of failure.  I won’t lie… it sucks when it happens to me… I think about the time, money, energy, heart, and resources that were “wasted” but I still wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a constant reminder that I went out of my comfort zone… and I took risks. It’s a constant reminder that I’m not perfect nor invincible. It’s a constant reminder that I don’t know it all, especially the future. It’s a constant reminder that life isn’t easy. It’s a constant reminder to persevere and try again when I fail. It’s a constant reminder that I need to rely on others for help and grace, and most of all, rely on God for wisdom, guidance, healing, and refuge.

I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve shed tears. I’ve been disappointed. I’ve been angry. I’ve been sad. I’ve been hurt. But I still wouldn’t have it any other way… because without failure, I wouldn’t understand the glory of success as well. And failing does NOT make me a failure, it makes me human…  who won’t settle for less nor complacency, but who is determined to persevere and have great expectations in this life… because I believe God has amazing plans for my life!

letting go of my dreams for 2014

letting go of dreamI’m a dreamer by nature.  I used to get distracted as a child because I was often daydreaming.  As an adult, I still daydream about the life I wish I had or hope to have.  I’m also a planner by nature.  I used to have a blueprint of how my life was suppose to be.

Couple years ago, I will never forget the conversation I had with a dear friend of mine.  Her son had recently been diagnosed with string of special needs, and she explained to me the trial and agony she and her husband had gone through that time.  “You know, the hardest part was letting go of our dream for him and accepting the life God has planned for him.”  She went on to explain that even though they always wanted God’s will for his life, she and her husband still had high hopes and expectations of their son.  They had dreams of their son becoming a successful engineer (he’s always been very good at putting things together) or an athlete or even a pastor.  They had dreams of their child growing up to become an amazing husband and father one day, but she confided that he may not have the capabilities to put others before himself.  I felt the pain as she shared her struggles with me.  And then it dawned on me that this is a process every parent must go through for their children as well as everyone must go through at one point for themselves.  For my friend, they were forced to face this truth sooner than they had expected.

Lately, a lot of people seem to be having babies around me.  And every time I hold the newborn, I can just see the feeling of blank slate in the parents.  This newborn can grow up to be anything he/she wants to be.  This newborn has all the potential in the world.  This newborn can become the president, run a successful company, have huge impact in this world, or invent something amazing!  But reality is, that dream rarely plays out the way we imagine.  Soon or later, we all have to let go of the dream we have for our kids and even for ourselves and exchange them for what it is in reality…

I’ve been known to make a list of new year’s resolution… because I have high hopes and dreams for the new year.  As I’ve been thinking about this for a while, it dawned on me that I haven’t fully relinquished my dreams for my life for the life God has planned for me.  I still dream of fairytale life.  I still dream of fairytale job.  i still dream of fairytale family.  I still dream of fairytale romance.  It’s not bad to have dreams and goals.  I still have set goals to pay off all my debt (mostly incurred through medical and medication bills) so I have vowed to give up my not-so-guilty-pleasure of mani/pedi & spa treatments ’til I pay off all my bills.  But I need to fully accept the life that God has planned for me which is far better than what I have planned for myself and stop daydreaming of “what ifs” and “only ifs.”

So for 2014, I’m letting go of my dreams and plans for my life… and working on accepting the life God has planned for me… and take each day to enjoy and live to the fullest with gratitude!