Hard to Love… Hard to Trust…

TrustDo you have people in your life that are pretty much impossible to love? You keep trying… and trying… and trying… You’ve given a second chance, third chance, fourth chance… so many chances that you forget how many times you actually gave them benefit of the doubt. And you have told yourself that you don’t need their negativity and the stress in your life, and you vow to write them off… except… they’re family and it makes it pretty darn impossible to cut them out of your life!

Yeah, I have few of those in my life. And I truly feel like I’ve done all that I could do to reconcile, to forgive, to apologize, to love… but relationships are two-way street, and it can’t just take effort on my part. I’m not 100% innocent… and I’ve told myself that I can let go of the past… but when I think about it, it comes down to this: TRUST! They’ve broken my trust so many times, that I no longer have faith in them. Every time I’ve given them another chance, I was willing to trust them even against my better judgment… but then, they screw up royally again… and that trust is broken again. Because I no longer have trust in anything they do or say, I find it extremely challenging to love.

I tell myself it’s because they really need love the most and they have a funny way to expressing themselves. I tell myself that Jesus loved a horrible sinner like me thus I need to forgive and love those that have sinned against me. I tell myself that I’m a hypocrite for loving strangers more readily but not my own family members. I tell myself that I’m no better than a murderer if I have such bitter feelings toward them. I tell myself that I need to deny myself and love them regardless. I tell myself that I cannot continue to be a doormat to those that take advantage of me. I tell myself that God must have placed them in my life to teach me patience, forgiveness, and depth of His love. I tell myself I’m a horrible person for not being able to love. I tell myself a lot of things…

And 25 years later, I’m back right where I started. Just when I think I got it figured out… another conversation or incident happens, and I just wanna crawl into a hole and wish them away. I know the right answers… but the right answers don’t change the way I feel. Why is it so hard to love certain people? And how do I learn to love them despite all the trust they’ve broken… despite all the hurts, pain, and tears they’ve caused… How do I learn to trust them again?

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monkey see, monkey do…

monkey see monkey do

Yes, it’s been a very long time since I last blogged… The last few months have been crazy non-stop… Well, last week, I stopped by my friend’s house because I was in the area.  I got to spend some time w/ her 2 kids.  Her older one just turned 3 years old.  As I was trying to talk to my friend, he kept wanting to play with me.  We started building a tower on his colorful pegboard.  Once we finished our tower, he took the four pegboards and started quizzing me:

pegboardB:  What color is this?

Me:  Blue!

B:  Greeeeaaaaat Joooooob!  Now what color is this?

Me: Red?

B:  Veeeerrry Niiiiceeeee….  How about this one?

Me:  Yelloooooow.

B:  Yesssss!  Gooood.

This quizzing continued for about 15 minutes.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  First, it was ridiculously cute.  Second, I was dying because I could definitely hear his mom’s tone and and intonation in the way he said “great job,” “very nice,” or “good.”  He was talking to me as if I was the child. He was only repeating what he hears from his mom and other adults… We often talk about how scary it is “what kids pick up from adults.”  They pick up words, actions, context, attitude, and even intonation.  They truly observe everything…. and often repeat in the right context!

I was reminded how important it is for us adults to model for the little ones around us!  I’m also guilty of not being the best model around kids at times.  But if you’re around kids often or all the time, you really need to think twice about how kids are catching your behavior, actions, words, and attitude.  As they say, monkey see, monkey do!

How can you change what your behavior, actions, words, and attitude to be a better model this week?

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!

i want my mommy…

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I’ve been under the weather for the past week… and last night, I thought about this question that our staff had discussed couple of months ago.  We all took turns and shared our “sick practices” as a child–pretty much what happened when you got sick as a kid.  Some shared that they still had to go to school even if they were sick.  Others shared that they got to stay home and was taken care of.  One shared that her mom completely babied her, made her comfort food, etc… and even now as an adult, when she gets sick, she wants her mommy.  When I heard that, it sounded so foreign to me.  Those were words I had never uttered as a girl who grew up without a mom.  I don’t ever recall saying or thinking “i want my mommy” because that was not an option for me.

Today marks 32 years since my mom passed away of aneurysm.  As much as I miss her, thoughts of having tangible access to her has always been far-fetched.  I may think about seeing her in heaven… and of course I would think “i wish she was here to see me graduate,” etc… but I have never said or thought “i want my mommy.”

There is something so innocent and vulnerable about those words.  In my mind, I picture a little girl, all curled up on her mom’s lap, and her mom stroking her hair as she say, “Don’t worry.  I’m here.  Everything will be alright.” And the girl looks up with 100% confidence and trust in her mom, and truly believes with all of her heart that everything indeed will be alright no matter how bad things feel.  I will be honest… I don’t ever recall having that moment with anybody in my life… or perhaps I’ve watched one too many feel-good movies in my life time, and maybe that’s not a real-life experience.

However, I’ve lived my life with the hope that all well be alright in this ugly, messed up life and world only because I have hope in Jesus Christ… and that’s the one thing that has me going each and every day.  Of course, I  do believe that 100% perfect confidence and trust can only come from Jesus, my Savior, and imperfect humans will disappoint and fail me.  But I realized that because I’ve taken care of myself for so long and learned not to rely on human beings, I have hard time becoming that little girl who just says “i want my mommy.”  I’ve always felt the need to stay controlled… even in my vulnerability (i know, the irony).  As I learn more about myself, being vulnerable is something I have to work at… it’s definitely not natural.  I’ve been learning lately that I need to become that little girl who finds herself completely and utterly vulnerable not only before God but also before people… and admit that I need to rely on them and trust them.  As I sit here coughing (and I’ve been coughing a lot the last few days), I’m learning to say “i want my mommy” and right now, I think I really want my mommy right here!

family

misfortune…

sws-one-murphys-law-wordsMisfortune = bad luck, and unfortunate condition or event.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve been told that my life was doomed with misfortune.  It’s not a very nice thing to say, but I think it’s a Korean-cultural thing… I suppose it’s because I lost my mom at a young age, which was the beginning of chain reaction of events that led to more unfortunate events in my life.

Not much has come easy in my life.  I’m not naturally book- smart (I know, shocker… right?)  I actually had to work and study in school (yup, I guess I’ve just broken the Asian-stereotype too!)  Even decision about college came at a high price (that story is for another time).  Even getting financial aid (when everyone else’s checks were just ready for them when semester started) was difficult and required many hours of standing in line to fight public school bureaucracy to get my grants and loans before getting kicked out of school.  Many life decisions did not come easy for me… it involved pain, agony, and many tears.  I really don’t like drama–seriously!!!  But drama just follows me… from drama-filled dysfunctional family to dealing with drama-filled people at workplace to my personal life!

Murphy’s Law seems to be the anthem of my life!  When things go wrong, my friends automatically blame me (sometimes jokingly… other times, seriously!)  It’s a miracle that I’m still alive and not badly hurt… after all, whenever anything can go wrong, it often does in my life… I can seriously write a novel about this–in fact, few friends keep telling me to because most ridiculous things happen to me–NO JOKE!

With all the misfortunes in my life, it’s amazing that I can still keep my head up and smile… because to be honest, there’s a lot of reasons to bury my head under the blanket and just sleep my life away!  However, God’s been reminding me with not-so-gentle nudges that that’s life!  Life wasn’t meant to be easy–especially as a God-fearing, God-loving person.  Life isn’t all about sunshine, but it’s often the storm that brings out the true self.  Life isn’t always smooth sailing, but weathering through rough  waters is what builds character and strength.  Life isn’t always about the good times, but the difficult times help us to understand how blessed we are to have had better days… and there’s hope in better days to come again.

The misfortunes in my life has helped me appreciate the good things. It has helped me not to take laughter for granted.  It has helped me understand the blessings in my life.  It has helped me to be grateful for what I have.  In fact, misfortunes have helped me to be the person I am today… and I’m thankful for all the misfortunes that I have experienced–even the really, really bad ones because it’s made me to become the stronger Gloria Lee that wasn’t there before.

Elevate & Celebrate Fathers…

Disclaimer:  I’m a little sensitive about this… but you’ll find out why if you read on! If I remember correctly, about three weeks prior to Mother’s Day, I started seeing blogs, facebook posts, hallmark commercials, articles, and ads about mother’s day… about how we need to appreciate mothers and stories and stories about how awesome mothers are!  Don’t get me wrong… I don’t mean to underplay the role of mothers!  I think mothers have very difficult jobs, and there are many women that are worthy of being recognized.  Many mothers work tirelessly… and I applaud them! Father's Day in SA Now, you have to understand that I grew up without a mother since age 8.  She passed away suddenly, and it literally took the whole village of extended family to raise me!  I often say I was raised by many mothers… but I was raised by one father.  He probably had no clue how to raise a pre-adolescent girl… but he tried his best.  He made a lot of mistakes (we can both admit it now) but he did what he believed was best.  He made me instant noodles for breakfast.  He tried to act cool in front of my girlfriends and embarrassed me.  He was mean to all my guy friends and embarrassed me.  He let me drink 3-5 cans of soda per day.  He made me sneak in popcorn to movie theaters.  He let me have lots of junk food.  So my dad was far from an ideal picture of the perfect father.  However, he was always there.  When I was physically separated from him during elementary school years for 4 years, he called me every saturday night (this is the 80’s… so that was a big deal).  Whenever he traveled, he brought back earrings and necklaces for me.  He tried his best to talk to me, guide me, and even give me girly advice (yeah, he wasn’t very good).  He cooked for me.  He bought me clothes (although his taste wasn’t always the best).  He took me to hair salons to get my hair done.  He tried his best to be the mom and the dad.  He went into overtime to make sure I was well taken care of.  He never complained… he just tried his best.  And even to this day, he apologizes for not having done enough for me.  He’s far from perfect (and I know that really well…) but he’s the closest thing to a mother I’ve always wanted. So I get sensitive that fathers don’t get the acclaim and the celebration that mothers get.  I know that my dad had to step up to his role because he had a daughter without a mom… and he probably never imagined that he’d have to do all those things.  However, it’s one week before Father’s Day, and I have yet to see something out there talking about fathers (except for bunch of email ads to sell father’s day ties, shirts, and golf accessories).  Call me biased, but I think father’s job is just as stressful and difficult.  They just have different stresses, and they deal with them differently from mothers.  But that shouldn’t diminish how we celebrate fathers.  Fathers are more often portrayed as being lazy, sitting back and watching tv with beer in their hands, etc.  But even if it’s done in humour gest, how often do we see pictures of good and involved fathers in comparison to man’s man lounging in mancave?  I know that there are more households with mothers than fathers.  But get this… On Father’s Day of 2009, I was at a church in Khayelitsha Township in Western Cape, South Africa.  Because fatherlessness is a prevalent issue in many townships, they really wanted to celebrate fathers!!!  The whole service was led by fathers!  The praise team all consisted of fathers!  They called all the fathers up on stage to sing, dance, and to pray for them.  They really wanted to elevate, celebrate, bless, and encourage the fathers!  It was one of the coolest things I had experienced.  And then the little kiddos came up on stage, and sang a song that moved me to tears.  The lyrics said:  “we pray for you, you pray for us, we love you, we need you to survive.” We often talk about importance of the role of fathers… but I don’t think it’s elevated enough.  I don’t think it’s celebrated enough!  What if we raised the bar!  What if we elevated and celebrated fathers as much as mothers!  What if we blessed, appreciated, empowered, and encouraged fathers as much as mothers!  I wonder what that would do to our perception of fathers in the society…

a simple act of kindness

It’s no secret that my passion lies in working with kids… I want to be the voice for kids.  I want to minister to kids so they can feel loved.  I want to help kids love Jesus.  Well, my dad has a different passion… his heart is for the elderly.  Awhile back, my dad told me that he would love to just give the elderly rides so they can get from one place to another as needed.

My grandfather has been ill, and he finally came home after being hospitalized for three weeks.  Between my aunts, uncles, dad, and myself, we’ve been going over to my grandpa’s to help out.  Tonight, we got my grandpa settled and my dad and I went out to grab a quick bite to eat.  As we drove back, just about 6 blocks away from my grandpa’s, my dad quickly spotted an elderly woman who lives in my grandfather’s apartment building.  She was waiting for the bus to come, and it was starting to get dark outside.  My dad and I decided to drive back to pick her up.  She was a very small, cute grandma, probably in her late 80’s.  She couldn’t thank us enough for stopping by to pick her up.  We walked her to her door, and she said, “No one has ever done something like this for me.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  I pray that God bless you in everything you do.”  I’m sure that between her, my dad, and myself, we exchanged about 20+ bows (yup, she was Korean).

What we did tonight was a very, very simple act of kindness… but we knew that it meant so much to her.  We told my grandpa the story.  My grandpa reminded us that simple acts of kindness can have big impact on people.  As I have seen and experienced all four of my grandparents get older and become less independent, I understand my dad’s heart for the elderly.  I would want someone to be kind to my grandpa if they saw him in need.  I’m thankful for my dad’s heart for the elderly, and teaching me to care for them.  And tonight I was reminded to always display kindness to everyone…

This is one of my favorite pictures! My dad helping my grandpa walk at Redondo Beach Pier.