Sunday, April 25, 2010


I guess when I get in writing moods, I just write a lot...

I'm not sure this blog will make much sense, but I'm just processing right now. (I promise to reply to comments later. Well, I'll try really hard..)

Today I went to "Postcard." That's where Sing goes to the station and sells postcards he has made. His fans gather around and camp out while he's there. Lot's of people coming and going. Sometimes they even buy the postcards.

It was a nice day, and I was feeling good. Sing was also feeling good I guess. Sing likes philosophical discussions a lot, and he had just read a new book and wanted to talk about it. He kept trying to talk about it and trying to find someone who would have the kind of conversation he wanted. I could only follow about 60% of the conversation. But the starting point was "if the world was going to end in 8 years, what would you do?" He kept bringing up how the world would go crazy and it would become a dangerous place and what people would become. But at some point in the conversation, religion was brought into the picture.

Now Sing and I have a long history now. I've known him for 4 years. I guess he has this kind of idea of what it is a Christian "missionary" should be doing. I'm not really clear on what that is, but it's been a point of a lot of hurt between us. He also likes to egg things on sometimes.

So I enter into the conversation. At some point, Sing makes it into a "Defend your position" type of conversation. He wants me to "win" the conversation and prove my point. Of course, this can't be done. At least not by me. I'm not good at that. And Sing's good at finding all my weak points.

In one of his books, John Eldredge talks about what he calls the "message of the Arrows." The lies or circumstances that wound you. It's kinda a more in dept concept than I really want to explain here, but I think you can kinda get the point.

At the end of my conversation with Sing, I was processing it, and it hit me. The Arrow. I could see that I had once again failed in Sing's opinion. He had offered me so many chances to do my "job" and I blew it. I couldn't explain it well enough, I didn't make it attractive enough. No one understood. I failed. Sometimes when that happens, I see a look of disdain in his eyes. Or maybe disappointment. Mixed with triumph, like he knew he would win. My loss lowers the value of the entire Christian message in his eyes.

Ouch. It hurt. It hurt a lot. It hurts more because he's so close to me. I came home crying. (discovering along the way that riding your bike while crying is just about as bad as riding in the rain... Note to self...) Again.

But this time, I did something different. I remembered the words about the message of the Arrows. I know that it's not just Sing here. Satan wants me to believe those words. He wants me to be injured. He wants my hurt and my anger and my frustration. And he got it. But, not for very long. I talked to God about it, and God reminded me that it's ok. It's ok if I fail (which is not the point here.) It's God's job to fight for me. God works in my weaknesses. It will be ok.

The conversation ended with "Papa" the man central to the conversation (other than Sing) saying that he kinda understood my words, but He just couldn't understand the point. And I told him it was because he didn't really want to. And he agreed with me.

Here's the point.

If you don't want to understand, you are not going to. If you don't want to find God, you are not going to. This has nothing to do with the teacher.

I teach English for a living. I'm not the world's best teacher, but I'm not a bad teacher. I make mistakes, but for the most part, my students are able to learn English. Working in public schools has changed one central thing for me. I now have students who don't care about English. In conversation schools the student are there because they want to be. In public schools they just have to be. It makes a huge difference.

No matter how wonderful a teacher I am, if the student doesn't want to learn, I can't make them learn English. This is the student's problem. I can teach it in as many different ways as possible, do everything in my power to make it interesting, but if they don't want to learn, I can't make them learn. It's that simple.

This is the same with faith. If people don't want God, they won't understand what I am saying. Does that make me a failure? No.

But I guess the point is not if I failed or not. It's the hurt from the look in Sing's eyes because HE thinks I have failed. It's the Arrows that try to wound me to decide to shut off my heart, get angry at Sing, give up and stop trying. It's easy to blame it all on Sing and trow up my hands and shake the dirt off my feet. And then I remember, isn't that what Satan wants me to do? Let it get to me. And I really have failed.

So this time, I'll just let the Arrow hit me. It hurts, but that's ok. But you know what, as soon as I realized that, the tears stopped. My chest relaxed. I forgave Sing and myself. There's still a long way to go, but if I believe that it's ok even if I'm shot, then I can continue forward. If I trust God to take care of me, then it's ok if I'm shot full of arrows. The point is to not be shot. The point is to continue anyway. This is faith.

So, I think that thanks to Satan's latest Arrow, I've gotten just a little stronger today. It's not about winning or loosing. God will take care of that. I will continue forward, learning as I go. As many Arrows as it takes.

And now I'm tired. That's quite a lot of emotional highs and lows in one afternoon. Time for bed and another week of work.

Thanks for your prayers and your interest in my blog. I am very encouraged when I heard that people who read this are praying for me and Japan. Please also pray for Sing and "Papa" and the girls who were listening. Pray that their hearts will be softened and their eyes opened, so they can want to understand, so that they can see their own need for God. What if the world was going to end in 8 years? What if tomorrow? That thought is kind more painful than all the Arrows. I love these people, and I would like them to share Eternal Life with me. I pray that God gives you wisdom in your prayers for these important people to me.

Thank you so much. (insert deep bow here.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

On being the Single Friend (or Living like a Fingertip.)

It's been a while since my last update, not really for lack of things to write about. I just haven't been able to sit down and write. Life updates will come later I hope. For now, random musings from this week...

When I was very young, I always felt alone and socially awkward. I somehow came to the impression that I didn't have any friends. In my little world, my friends were the books I read. We lived out in the country, so it was hard to have playmates anyway. I was alone. Don't ask me where the thought came from. Looking back, I can see that while I have never been one of the "popular" girls, I have always been blessed with friends. No matter what stage or place in my life, God has always provided friends for me.

I'm not really sure when it started, but sometime in Elementary school, I decided I liked boys. Not really romantically, I just thought that boys were better than girls. I wanted to be friends with "the boys." I tried really hard to be one of the "boys." Of course, I wasn't the kind of girl to be accepted so easily by the boys, but I could usually find some who at least tolerated me somewhat. But no matter how hard I chased after the boys, God always provided me with female friends as well.

Now that I think about it, I am always chasing after relationships that don't suit me, ignoring the people God has given me, and chasing after "bigger, brighter" things. Whether it was the popular crowd or the boys or trying to find romance on my own, I'm always leaving behind what I have to chase after something else. And then I feel alone when I don't reach those things. I think, "I must be not good enough. There must be something wrong with me, or I would be able to have the relationships I want." I am tainted and un-valuable. (yeah, spell check tells me that isn't a word, but I don't care...)

One very valuable experience for me has been watching my friends form romantic relationships. Some I have seen from the very beginning (one set of friends started dating in the back seat of my car...). I have seen the dating, marriage, kids, and even sadly enough, divorce. I have seen hook-ups and break-ups. Boyfriends and ex-boyfriends. Now that I'm in Japan, there are husbands and kids I have never met. I've learned a lot about what "good" relationships should look like, and the consequences of bad ones. I've even given out plenty of relationship advice from the sidelines. (Why people even ask me for that, I'll never know.)

But there's only so much I can learn from watching others. I learn from experience. Generally when learning something, I read/watch/listen to directions, hopefully see an example, and then to really understand it, I have to do it myself. There is only so much that reading, watching and listening can do for me. I get some information, but not the whole picture.

When I was younger, I watched with a jealousy that made me envy my friends of their good fortunes. I usually ended up depressed and feeling sorry for myself. I often tried to make others feel sorry for me too. (always a bad idea) Sometimes, I still do. It's a hard habit to break. But recently I've noticed that I'm watching with more of a sense of deep longing and a feeling of separation. Separation from my friends and their shared experiences, separation from the feeling of being a complete person, loved and appreciated unconditionally.

Why am I suddenly thinking about this? I guess it was just something I've been pondering this week as I have been reflecting on my currently spiritual condition (mixed with a bit of PMS I'm sure.)

Right now I'm reading "The Ransomed Heart" by John Eldredge. It's a collection of writings from his many books. There is a repeating theme of Heart, Desire, Romance and Love in his writings. The things that make us truly alive.

And I look around at my friends. I see the relationships they have: with their significant other, with each other, with God. And I feel a great gulf between us. They seem to have what I'm looking for. There is only so much I can learn from this side of the gulf. There is only so much we can share like this, only so close I can come to them. I find most of my friends are "taken." Even the single ones have wonderful, vibrant, fulfilling relationships with God. And I'm left wondering what I'm missing. I feel frozen in time, unable to break free. I am the Single Friend.

I would be lying if I said I didn't want a boyfriend. I've wanted that since jr. high. I want the knight in shining armor to come on a white horse and rescue me. I want to experience intimacy. But I've seen enough to know that a boyfriend alone won't be enough to satisfy me or to fill me. What I really want is a romance with God. To hear him call my name. To feel for even a moment His eyes upon me, looking at me intently, and to feel the depth of His love for me (as scary as that sounds.) I want to know more than theology or doctrine. I want to know more than I can find out by just hearing about other people's experiences. I want to leave behind my "singleness" and enter into relation.

There is a song by Avril whose lyrics often speak to me. The openings lines are "I'm standing on a bridge, I'm waiting in the dark. I thought that you'd be here by now. Nothing but the rain, no footsteps on the ground. I'm listening but there's no sound. Isn't anyone trying to find me? Won't somebody come take me home? It's a damn cold night, trying to figure out this life..."
It's a song about being alone, but I think it expresses the human condition so well. Our separation from God and the coldness in our souls that comes with it. Our "singleness."

Another song I really like is called "ooh ahh" by the Grits. It talks about living life by the fingertips, never quite having a full grasp on things. This is my current relationship with God. Only fingertips. Sometimes I fall, I slip. But I hope, I know one day my Prince will come. He will look deep into my soul and tell me that I am beautiful and valuable because I belong to Him. And He will never let me go. He will fight for me and He has already won. And I will understand, I will leave behind my life of singleness- of aloneness- and be in a True relationship.

So I wait as a bridesmaid, waiting for when the Groom will come for me also. So for now, I need to make sure I have enough oil in my lamp as I wait, so I am ready for when He comes. I can't be running after distractions, or I might miss Him. And so this is what Hope is. Waiting for the fulfillment of a promise by the one you love.

Now the hard part is figuring out how to make that resolution practical and how to merge it with daily life, whose sole objective is to see how much it can distract me from my Hope. (Ahh!! It's too much for the poor ADD girl to handle!!!!)

There were many more thoughts and musings from this week, but I didn't write them all down, so this is all you get this time. For anyone who is interested, here are the lyrics to "ooh ahh" with my favorite places highlighted. For a rap song, it often makes me want to cry, and dance at the same time. :-D

My life be like Ooh Ahh
It's times like these that make me say,
Lord if you see me please come my way.
Leavin bread crumbs for when I stray
Rely on sacrifice and the price you paid
Feel me like a fingertip
(flow fingertip flow fingertip)
Sometimes I fall I slip
Got a heartfelt desire be more like you
Trying not to quench your fire by the things that i do

I'm on an island by my lonesome stranded
Low key and stayin� candid
Reflectin on the things I try my hand at
Search for the equations to persuasions I'm used to
Findin comfort in the zones of closet bones I get loose to
A mountainous fontaine,
Spinnin and monsoonin
Grinnin its high octane
This worlds out wacky
Rollin down the hills cause lifes a hassle
Encircled by my folly like a moat surround a castle
Stay afloat,
Catch a second wind thin is the air I breathe
Teary-eyed nose runnin, wipe the snot on my sleeve
I'm callin on my savior to be all that I need
Please forgive me my behavior had me lost at light speed


The fear of never falling in love
And the tears after losing the feelings
Of what you thought love was
Like the dirt still up under the rug
(My life be like)
Bad characteristics covered in Christ's blood
The joy of new birth and the pain of growing up
The bliss between giving my all and giving up
The highs and lows,
Paths and roads I chose
In the cold I froze
Trying to ease my woes
In this world of sin
Clothes to thin to fend
So to God I send
Words of help to win
In grumblings so deep letters could never express
So the sounds of Ooh Ahh beneath my breath projects


My life be like (Toby Mac)

My life be like ooh aah ooh
Dum dum diddy
Here comes that boy from the capital city
Last up on the Grits new ditty
But eight bars of the truth will do, eh
I believe there's a bride thats stunning,
And I believe in the kingdom coming
I believe if you seek the truth,
You don't need to look far cuz it's gonna find you

So why, oh why, do I trip and stumble?
And ooh ahh as commitments crumble?
I can't believe that I'm here again