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.

God knows your need…

This day started out with some big decisions I had to make…  ugh, i hate those moments… and the rest of the day was followed by many other decisions I need to make in the upcoming weeks and months that will have some big implications in terms of ministry, finances, health, life, etc… ugh, i want to crawl into a hole…  all these upcoming decisions is making my heart feel very uncomfortable, unsettled, confused, conflicted, etc…

Strangely enough as I was trying to settle my heart (even in the midst of our 6 hour long staff meeting), God put Isaiah 61:3 on my heart:

To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Of course, this thought was followed by a song in my head:

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy o’er your head
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When what you’ve done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound I’ve been set free
I’ve been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

On an exciting note, I received a message that the Sports Ministry in South Africa is currently testing “Coaching for Life” curriculum that my friend and I wrote earlier this year… and so far, so good… Thank you God!!!

life altering decisions…

Have you ever made any decisions that could change the course of your life?  I know, this sounds really dramatic… but I believe I’ve made some of those decisions in my life whether I knew it or not at the time.  One was choosing to go to Berkeley over UCLA for college. At the time, I just wanted to get far away from home as much as possible… and I just wanted to prove that I’m just as good as my two cousins that went to Berkeley.  However, after my first year, I was completely miserable,  and I was sure that I had made the biggest mistake of my life.  In fact, I had even begun the process of transferring to UCLA my sophomore year.  Thankfully, I was lazy and never finished the paperwork… and my four years at Berkeley ended up being the most wonderful and influential time of my life.  I believe a huge part of who I am has a lot to do with my time at Berkeley.  That’s also where I first had the calling to go into ministry (although at the time, I didn’t realize that it was a true calling).

Since then, I’ve had few more decisions that I’ve made a long the way which had huge impact in my life.  Each time I started or left a ministry, it was a big deal because I felt that would change my life in a drastic way… and to an extent, it has.  Recently, I’ve had to make few more decisions… and to be honest, I suck at making these huge life decisions. Why???  Because it’s SCARY!!!  It’s really hard to go into something without knowing the outcome… and of course, that’s where faith comes in.  Apparently I lack faith…

The latest big possible life-altering decision came very hard… I kicked and screamed to God for months… I kept telling Him “I’ll do ANYTHING for you, but this…”  I kept looking for a way out… I was ACTIVELY looking for a way out!!!  But in the end, God sent amazing friends to talk some sense into me and challenged me.  It’s taken me awhile, but God has been working in my heart… and I can finally say today without a doubt that I AM AT PEACE.

I think I’ve lived long enough to know that God uses every experience and situation to prepare me for the next step of my life… well, I’m now preparing to enter into that next phase of my life… and I look forward to seeing how the next phase will change my life to further experience God’s goodness and perfect plan for my life!

commitment-phobe…

Wow, it’s been awhile since my last post.  The past month has been a crazy month filled with sadness, joy, celebration, mourning, refreshment, frustration, etc… you name it… i probably felt it!  I went from my grandfather’s funeral in Kansas to a conference in Louisville, Kentucky where I was ministered to by great friends… then onto Toronto for a conference where I went through some culture shock (not because they were Canadians, but because they were all Koreans–haha, I know, go figure…) and a crazy great time connecting with my KidMin friends at Group’s KidMin Conference in Chicago.  Being busy kept me from processing a lot of what’s been going on in my life.  Now that I’ve been back home for over a week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have experienced and learned the past month as well as where my future is headed… and my insomnia seems to be making its way back into my life–insomnia usually means I can’t turn my brain off… uuuggghhh.  😦

Well, one major thing that has been preoccupying my mind these days is where God is calling me next to do ministry.  I’ve been praying and exploring for the past 5-6 months (i know, a long time…) and it seems to be getting down to the wire now.  I must admit that I’ve really enjoyed the last nine months of not having “church” responsibilities.  But I also must admit that I have missed it.  If you know me, you know that I love talking, thinking, and breathing KidMin!

Last week, as I was thinking about different opportunities that God has set before me, it hit me that I’m a total commitment-phobe!!!  Yuck–that’s a trait I don’t like in people, especially my volunteers…  Sure, I’m up for any spontaneous adventure.. if you ask me to forgo cleaning tonight to go watch a movie or even go on a road trip, I wouldn’t hesitate much!  However, a decision with this much gravity paralyzes me.  The type-A in me starts making pro & con list of what would be the best decision in the long run.  I start playing my own devil’s advocate.  I start imagining what my life would look like in each scenario.  And I… can’t… stop…  because I’m convinced that this decision could potentially change the direction of my life forever…

People that know me know that I take FOREVER making “important” decisions… but once I commit, I’m in 110%!  Many have called me “super picky” on many occasions.  While it is important to go through the discerning process of making an important decision, I find that I get lost in the “what if’s” more than trusting in God to direct and guide me.  The honest truth is, God can and will use me regardless of where I go… sure, one may be a better fit than other options… but I can’t possibly know the outcome of my decision NOW…

Sometimes, God clearly closes doors.  Other times, God opens several doors, and this is where the decision-making gets difficult. Perhaps there isn’t always just one right door to go through, but what matters more is my heart and attitude more so than being preoccupied with choosing the “right door.”