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!

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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.

I Want a Do-Over!

go back 3 spacesLately, I keep wishing someone would hand me a chance card that read “go back 3 spaces.”  Gosh, if I could go back 7 spaces, it would be even better!

I wish I could to go back to my last interaction with my mom before her aneurysm.  I wish I could go back 15 years right before I probably said very hurtful words to someone I shouldn’t have.  I want a do-over.  I wish I could go back to 2011 when I took some time off from full-time ministry and took time to travel and play.  I wish I could do-over the past 10 months. I wish I could do-over the past 2 months.  I wish I could go back to this morning for a do-over and take back stupid and lame things that came out of my mouth.  I want a do-over.

The problem is… not only can I not get a do-over… but even if I were to go back, I only wish to go back with the knowledge and experiences I have now… which is just not possible. It’s impossible to live without any regrets in life… I sure try my best though.  Life is full of mistakes…  regrets… and pain.  There are things I wish I could do-over just about every day.  I ask myself “did I represent Jesus well today?”  and unfortunately, I can always think of a way I didn’t.  Trust me, I’m not the type of person who beats myself over my shortcomings every day… but everyday, I’m reminded how far from perfect and good I am.  I’m also reminded how far from perfect this life is… it’s full of frustrations, pain and tears.

Thankfully, God doesn’t hold my imperfection against me.  Although I keep making mistakes, He’s already forgiven me of stupid things I’ll do in the days, weeks, months, and years to come… and He calls me His.  And while I can’t go back to yesterdays for a do-over, He gives me a do-over every new day.  I have the opportunity to make wrongs right.  I have the opportunity to make wiser decisions, having learned from past mistakes.  I have the opportunity to represent Jesus better tomorrow than I did today.  It doesn’t mean I’ll get it perfect one day… not as long as I live on earth.  But I get a do-over every day when I open my eyes.

Life is still full of frustrations, pain, and tears… thankfully, God knows them all… He knows my frustrations.  He knows my pain.  He knows my tears.  And while not everything is under my control, I get a do-over each day to change my attitude, perspective, and response.  I already have a do-over!

Let.It.Go.

Honestly, it’s getting old.  I’ve been through this before… many times.  I must be stubborn… or dense… or just dumb… I keep making the same mistake over and over… and every time, it feels new.

let it go

I keep thinking that I’m in control of my own life.  I keep thinking I know what’s best for me.  And when things don’t go my way, I get disappointed, hurt, and sad.  And I ask God “why God?”  I ask God “what is your purpose in this?”  I ask God “what is your plan exactly?”  I need to Let.It.Go.  I need to trust that God indeed knows what’s best for my life… and that He’s in control.  I need to Let.It.Go.

I have the need to correct everyone’s misunderstandings, misinformation, or misjudgment.  At least, that’s what I think they are.  I’d like to think it’s because I want people to be well-informed and be fair.  But in actuality, I just feel the need to make them understand things from my point of view.  I need to Let.It.Go.  I need to accept the fact that I can’t change people.  I’m not responsible for people’s decisions and opinions.  I need to Let.It.Go.

I have the tendency to want to fix everything.  I’m a problem-solver by nature… and I get frustrated when I see people spinning the same web over and over again.  I get frustrated when I feel like I have the answer, and yet they don’t seem to get it.  I need to Let.It.Go.  I can’t fix everything for everyone.  I can’t fix people’s attitudes.  I can’t fix their opinions.  I really don’t have all the right answers.  I need to Let.It.Go.

I believe life has many ups and downs.  I believe how you feel about life is dependent on your attitude. I believe every stage of life feels difficult when you’re in it.  I believe it’s necessary to have a good sense of humor about life because otherwise, you’ll want to cry all day.  I believe God doesn’t give us beyond what we can handle.  I probably won’t last a day in your shoes just as you may not last a day in mine.  Trust me, my life is no picnic either.  I believe every tough life stages will eventually pass, and we can overcome.  Lately, I’ve heard so many “woe is me” stories and attitudes.  I just want to shake them and tell them to put life into perspective.  If you have a place to lay your head at night and food to eat, you’re blessed. I want to tell them to just get over it, own your own life, and live it!  But I need to Let.It.Go.  I can encourage people, but I can’t change people–only God can do that.  I can listen to people, but I can’t shake them out of their self-misery forcefully.  I am responsible to people, but I can’t be responsible for people.  I need to Let.It.Go.  By the way, there’s a reason why I didn’t go into counseling (when many people said I should)… I would have been a horrible counselor–God wired me for something else and thankfully the Holy Spirit guided me to listen to Him rather than people.

I keep holding onto emotions that aren’t healthy for me.  I need to surrender every aspect of my life to God.

and Let.It.Go.

Don’t Tell God What To Do…

Yup… I did just that!!!  I know, I should have known better… but I was burnt out. I was tired.  I was hurt.  I was frustrated.  I was annoyed.

When I left my last church, I took few months off.  When I started to talk to God about my next ministry, I put a huge condition on Him.  “God… I’ll go anywhere… ANYWHERE… to another city, another state, even another country!  I will go ANYWHERE–just don’t send me to an Asian church!!!”  I started making my own plans… I began several conversations with churches and missionaries… I even started cleaning out my stuff, and even started packin away things I didn’t think I needed right away.  I was so sure that God was going to call me to leave Los Angeles, and I was excited to see where He was going to lead me.  However, even when great opportunities came up, I just didn’t have that conviction nor confirmation to go… so I became indecisive and just sat on my decisions.  Well, fast forward 5 months. Yes, I had received phone calls from few Asian-American churches… but I had immediately said “no” to all of them except for one only because they had different ideas and vision, which intrigued me.  But deep inside, I couldn’t see myself there.  Well, fast-forward few more months.  God often speaks to me through amazing people in my life… and they all started talking to me about how I was letting my baggage get in the way of the most amazing opportunity.  I really fought it… I really struggled through it… but you can see where this is going… I was willing to do anything for God, but I put a huge condition on Him.  And the story of my life is… God called me to serve in the largest Asian-American second generation church in the country… what in the world???  I just have to look at the irony of my life, and just laugh!

I don’t believe God just sits back and enjoys messing with my life… and laughing at my life.  But I believe that God is telling me that He has a perfect plan for me that is WAY better than what I have planned for myself.  Yes, it’s another lesson learned… but God did give me a firm conviction and confirmation that this is where I am suppose to be… at least for now.  I have to admit that I was disappointed that God didn’t listen to me, but I have no doubt that His plans for me are far better than mine… and I AM excited to start kidmin at a church right near where I live–in Los Angeles!!!  It’s gonna be an exciting journey!!!

Embracing Criticism

Yesterday, I went to downtown to meet a friend for lunch… and I actually found street parking (granted it was $4/hour) right in front of the restaurant.  I was very vigilant about making sure my meter was fed because I know how vicious parking enforcement people are.  When I came out to my car after lunch, I found a notice on my windshield.  Yuck!  I had that yicky feeling of “what in the world is that on my car?” as I walked to my car.  When I looked at it, it was a notice from the safety officer.  It read “Your bid safety officer found: visible GPS device on dash, secure belongings to prevent crime.”  I immediately cringed and thought “Are they for real?  They’re wasting their time giving out these notices on the streets of LA?”  I still had that yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach, and drove off hating this faceless public safety officer.

As I was stuck on the freeway, I kept staring at this little piece of paper thinking “what am I suppose to do with this thing?”  I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to call the number on the bottom or just toss out this notice.  I kept thinking of an action plan.  I was bitter that one of few times that I didn’t put my GPS away, someone noticed and had to say something about it.  It really irked me… As I kept staring at this index card sized notice, it hit me that I was getting all worked up for nothing.  This is just a notice… I don’t have a pay a fine; I don’t have to prove to them that I fixed anything.  And it’s a reminder to always keep my vehicle safe from being broken into.  It’s well-intentioned.  After I had some time to calm down, I started to think why I reacted the way I did initially.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that nobody likes to be criticized.  Most people don’t like to be told what mistakes they made or that they need to change.  I am like most people.

In my ministry, I have always asked for feedback, both positives and negatives.  I have always proclaimed that I welcome all concerns, even criticisms; and I really meant it!  However, when negative feedback or criticisms are voiced, I always resort to feeling really, really yucky.  I think that’s just human nature.  It’s okay to feel yucky initially.  But what’s important is how I react to those criticisms.  I need take time to calm down and think rationally about those criticisms.  Often times, people are quick to react to criticisms, and I am one of them.  But I’ve come to learn that few steps are necessary before reacting out of hurt or bitterness.  Afterall, it’s a lot harder to take back your actions.  Below are steps I’ve learned to take:

  1. Take time to calm down, pray, and check my heart.
  2. I think all feelings are justified, however I try to understand why someone made those criticisms.  Perhaps they said what they said out of their own hurt or circumstances.  Maybe what they said is true, and I just failed to see it.
  3. If action plans are difficult, I seek counsel from my pastor or someone else I trust.
  4. I come up with an action plan… I make sure I address these concerns in a loving way.  If I believe someone misunderstood the situation, I talk to them and help them understand where I’m coming from.  If I do need to make changes, I thank them for bringing their concern to my attention and ask them to be part of the solution/change.
It’s not an easy thing to do… but I do believe that embracing criticism is part of growing process.  As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  🙂