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?

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

T.R.U.S.T.

trusttrust (noun \ˈtrəst\) by Merriam-Webster

: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.

: an arrangement in which someone’s property or money is legally held or managed by someone else or by an organization for a set period of time

: an organization that results from the creation of a trust

 

“I think it’s hard to trust because we have experienced so many let downs in our lifetime… independence and self-reliance are often our self-defense mechanisms” these words came out of my mouth in my conversation with a friend this past weekend.  My friend confessed to me that for the first time in her life, she was relying on people to help her out.  She had experienced many difficulties in her life, and it was hard for her to ask people for help or rely on them.  It was hard to let herself trust people, even people in her church community.  As we prayed together, she thanked me for helping “trust” become part of her life again.  It was an amazing feeling to know that I could be trusted.

That evening, I was faced with having to trust someone else… but my heart was riddled with doubt.  To be fair, it’s not because this person couldn’t be trusted… but it was because I had experienced so many let downs in my lifetime.  See, I grew up with the mantra, “if you want something done right, you must do it yourself!”  And that mantra carried over to every aspect of my life… I’ve always hated group projects because I didn’t trust others to pull their weight.  I was okay with failing if I didn’t do the work… but I wasn’t okay failing if it’s because others didn’t do the shared work.

Unfortunately in this thing called life, we often have to journey with other people… and it requires trust.  Honestly, I don’t know how I made it this far with very little trust that I have.  Finally this person said “trust God.”  Ugh… the God-card!  Man, I hate the God-card.  I searched my heart…. and I uttered the words “I’m scared to trust God.”  I actually couldn’t believe I said that out loud!  It’s like this… it’s not that I don’t trust God… I do believe that God ultimately has the best plans… and that He indeed is trustworthy… But the reason why I was scared to trust God is because sometimes God allows us to go through painful valleys before we experience the ultimate joy.  I have experienced my share of painful valleys… and I definitely don’t feel like going through more of them.  Thus, I was reluctant to trust God nor anyone else… I wanted to take control of my own life thinking I could save myself the trouble!  Even as I see these words on my computer screen, I cringe!!!  What am I thinking??? That I have fail-proof plans up my sleeve?  Oh.. please…

Well, the words that came out of my mouth in my conversation with my friend earlier that day pierced my heart like a knife!  I often have the wisdom for someone else… but it’s so difficult to apply that wisdom in my own life… and it occurred to me that when I don’t trust others, I rob the joy of being trusted… and ultimately, I rob myself the joy of experiencing God’s plan of redemption through restored relationships.  Man, what a rebuke…

Every time I close my eyes, I see the word “TRUST.”  I think I’m slowly learning to TRUST…

and yes… I’ve been MIA for a while… I’m slowly getting my life together again… and gather my thoughts together again… hope to jot them down more often from now on…

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.

Crazy Pills…

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged… Life has been pretty busy, to say the least… I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster ride for the past several months!  And yes, I’ve been feeling like I’m taking crazy pills (remember this from Zoolander?)

If you’ve been around me lately, you have probably heard me say this a lot!  I have always struggled with my identity growing up.  Trying to fit in when you’re not part of the majority has not been easy.  When I was the only asian girl in my elementary school in Kansas, I desperately wanted to wake up one morning with blonde hair and blue eyes.  When I moved to Los Angeles and found myself among other Korean-Americans that looked like me, I realized I was very different from them but desperately tried to fit in by acting like them.  When I found myself in the midst of Korean-American Christian community in college, I struggled to fit the cookie cutter mold of what I perceived to be the perfect Korean-American Christian girl.  I was pretty lousy fitting into that mold, although I’ve always been really good at faking it!

In my late 30s, I no longer care about fitting into a mold.  I just want to be the best ME that God made me… I thought that would be easy, but I’m learning that it’s not easy being me (I’m sure Kermit the Frog can relate).  It’s not easy being me because I don’t fit in any mold that has been expected of me (for the most part).  I’m coming to terms with the fact that I don’t think like a typical Korean-American, a typical Christian, nor even a typical girl (I guess that’s why I’ve been considered one of the guys most of my life–which is NOT a compliment to a girl nevertheless)!  People tell me that’s what makes me unique and that’s what makes me ME… but when I see people giving me crazy looks after I open my mouth, all I’m thinking is “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.”  Thankfully, I have met some kindred spirits along the way… but for some reason, God has not placed me with my kindred spirits currently…  so right now, I’m learning.  I’m learning to be patient.  I’m learning to communicate in ways that people understand.  I’m learning to hold my tongue.  I’m learning to show mercy.  I’m learning to be kind.  I’m learning to forgive.  I’m learning to love.   I’m learning to trust in God’s leading.  I’m learning to feel normal even when I feel like I’m on crazy pills.

CRAZY-PILLS

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!!!

Fail-Proof KidMin…

I started my current ministry back in February.  I was hired to start Children & Family Ministry from scratch at our new multi-site campus.  This multi-site is different in that we will not be duplicating current ministries… but our new site is going to look different to meet the needs and reach people who we’re not currently reaching.  It almost feels like a church plant in a way.  So the past few months have been filled with meetings to plan and prepare for this launch that will happen in the fall.  I have also been trying to meet and get to know as many people as possible.  One of the overwhelming part of this whole experience has been that my reputation has preceded me… and they already have a specific perception of who I am and what I am going to do.  Few conversations have gone like this:

People:  Oh, so you’re THE Pastor Gloria… so we have heard so much about you.  We heard that you’re going to change everything, and it’s gonna be awesome.

Me:  Oh.. nice to meet you.  I don’t know what you’ve heard… I’m not here to change everything… but just to do my best to have the best children’s ministry we can.

People:  We heard that you’re gonna reform children’s ministry… and you’re gonna do all these new programs and stuff…  Is that a rumor?

Me:  Hmmm… I wish I was a miracle worker… but what I’m committed to doing is to help kids connect with Jesus, and love Him more and more!

So you can see the progression of countless conversations like this…  I’m flattered that people think I’m that good (which makes me cringe on the inside…) and scared that people have such high expectations of this ministry I will be launching!  Man, it’s A LOT of pressure!!! I wish there was a fail-proof formula to doing Children & Family Ministry… but we all know that  there is no such thing!  In fact, there are so many variables… what may work gloriously in one church may not work for us.  We need to take into account the context, dynamics, and culture of the church… yes, I believe we can have a bit of control over these… but not 100% control.  I will be honest–I’m scared of this not working out so peachy (at least in the areas I’m overseeing).  This is where I need to be good steward of what is entrusted to me, and do my best to create the best environment for the kids, parents, and volunteers… but ultimately it’s up to God to make this ministry happen!

Recently in my conversation with friends, they reminded me that Jesus often used parables and illustrations that deal with gardening, farming, plants, and agriculture rather than carpentry, which was His job.  If you’re familiar with gardening, you don’t have full control over how your plants grow.  All you can do is to give it what it needs:  appropriate amount of sunlight, water, quality of soil, necessary pruning, etc… All you can do is give it the best environment you can, but you can’t make your plan grow to your liking!  Wow–how profound (it was to me at the time)!  In the photo above, I planted 2 calla lily bulbs… I got them at the same time from the same nursery… they’re even in the same pot.  The bulb on the left bore a lot of leaves.  In fact, it started growing so fast that I thought it was going to flower first.  However, the bulb on the right grew slowly and steadily and birthed a beautiful burnt orange calla lily!  I’m still waiting for the other one to flower!  They both had the same amount of sunlight, water, same soil, and same TLC… but to my dismay, only one of them is growing tall and beautiful…

In the same way, I think ministry is the same way… No matter how much we think we have control over people, we DON’T!  No matter how much I dream of kids becoming perfect children that love and obey Jesus all the time, it’s out of my control… I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 3:6

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”

God is the One who will make the kids grow… not I!  My job is to do my VERY BEST to create the best environment for that growth to happen… so there is NO fail-proof Kids Ministry… but I’m trusting in God!  And I look forward to what God will do in and through our new ministry as it launches with excitement!!!  In the meantime, you can see another success/failure of another plant I planted–one bulb on the left just died while the one on the right is slowly steadily growing!