Friday, June 29, 2012

Chapter 51: In Which the Author Chooses a Random Moment to Turn an Introspective Eye on the Past Year of His Life, Recount the Findings in a Numbered List (While He Drinks a Cup of Homemade Chai), and Add Extraneous Detail to Make, Perhaps, the Longest Title This Blog Has Ever Seen

What have you learned about yourself in the last year? What new things have you discovered? Any surprises? I've had more than a few.

For my friends who appreciate numbered lists, here is a shortened account of some of my not-so-shocking-to-everyone-else-but-shocking-to-me revelations about myself:

1. I have learned that I am a one-upper.* Evidently, I have a story for every situation (not true, but I seem to have told a ridiculous number of stories this year). Someone in the group says something about parasites, a fear of butterflies, TV, anything related to extreme cold or extreme heat, urine, vomit, or jellyfish, and I'm all over that like the ants were all over poor Helen (and that's a story for a different time). And these stories are always going a step further than the one before. I'm a one-upper.

2. I have learned to hold a more realistic view of my singing ability. When I was in middle school, I was the best singer that had ever walked the planet. How I had not already been signed up to be on a T.V. show like Making the Band was beyond me. In college, sure I was in choir, but I really wasn't a good singer at all. I was forcing the air or out of tune 100% of the time. This year, I've come to a healthy medium. I know I'm not amazing, but I also know that I have been given a gift.

3. I'm influenced greatly by the people around me. Not so much my decisions as my personality itself. I'm around a group of witty, humorous people - I am witty and humorous. I am around people who are more interested in peace and quiet - I'll be the quietest and peaciest person you ever did see**. This happens with my students, too; if the class enjoys laughing, I'm the stand-up comedian math teacher. With my class that is considerably more somber - I am more straightforward and to the point (read: "boring"). It's shocking to me to learn this. I am surprised how much I can change in a single day!

4. This is the most important one. I have learned that I am just not content when I'm distant from Him. Duh, Warren. But it's true. Things I used to love are less exciting. The novelty of traveling wears off. The joy of living in a new place is dulled. The beauty of a hill or a leaf or the peace that comes with the rain - all of these are like the middle of Groundhog Day: boring, too often repeated, and leaving me wishing I had spent my time doing something else. . . Unless I am close to Him. 
Like every other person who follows Him, I have had my ups and downs. And I will continue to have them until this body is healed and glorified. But I keep learning and remembering that the beauty of this world is pointless without Him. The joy of friendships and the happiness of song are nothing when my heart is far from His. I wish I could remember this more often.

So what have you learned about yourself?

* This also applies to name-dropping. I'll unfortunately (and usually unintentionally) drop names all day long.
**I also learned I like to exaggerate.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chapter 50: How Godric Reminded the Author of the Truth

When I was in Nigeria, a great friend came to visit. We had a short time together, but it was a highlight of my time there. We talked, made meals, played games, and toured my city. I even made her an Americanized version of Nigerian food.

And at the end, she gave me two books, one of which was her favorite novel - Godric by Frederick Buechner. I put it on my list of books to read and tried to read it many times. But something always kept me from getting past the first chapter.

When I went to Korea last week, I was determined to finish the book even if it took the whole trip. . .  I finished the book in a day and a half.

I was expecting a good read (my friend has excellent taste), but I wasn't expecting to identify so closely with the character of Godric.

Godric is a rogue. He's a man who pretends to be a saint, but uses people for his own purposes. He has many downfalls, and he is far from perfect.


He finds the Truth through one of his money-making ventures. And he follows that Truth.

Over and over and over again, Godric makes mistakes. He messes up in lots of big ways. You pretty much name a sin and Godric had done it at some point in his life. But over and over again he comes back to the Truth. He realizes the error of his ways and ends up being used greatly by the Father.

I am not like Godric in a lot of ways, but I am in this - I sin.
A lot.

Godric reminded me of something I have known since I first found the Truth. His love is not an oops-you-made-one-too-many-mistakes-and-now-I-cannot-love-you-anymore love. His grace is not extended only to those who sin in "small" ways. His grace and mercy are extended to the worst of us (even me!) and in showing that compassion and love, He is shown to be so much greater.

This body of death that I am renting is prone to fondle the very serpent which would devour it.
The old man awakens at the worst times - trying to mock the things I respect most.
The lies of the enemy are ever in my ears trying to turn me from what is good and real.

But the Truth of his unlimited grace and forgiveness is where I will put my faith.
The knowledge that He is a great rescuer who rescues me from myself is where I put my hope.
The love that comes freely from his hands and feet is where I will return to wash and love in return.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chapter 49: Being the Pros and Cons of Traveling Alone


+ 10 points - Lots of freedom in your day. If you feel like doing something, you can just do it. If you feel like resting, you rest. Yesterday I felt like walking a long way to the War Memorial rather than taking the subway. And I could do it.

+ 15 points - You meet more people. Because you are alone, you are forced to go out of your comfort zone to become acquainted with people. I have gotten to know Koreans, Australians, Canadians, Vietnamese, and Malaysians.

+ 15 points - You have a lot of good stories. Because you have to meet new people, you end up doing things you would never do. For example, last night I watched Australian rugby in an Aussie restaurant that was filled with Australians.


- 60 points - You are traveling alone.

This might be exaggerated. . .