reflections on rest

Father, I come to You today broken. Broken and shattered in my identity of who I thought I was.

Most times, I do not see the ways Your grace has carried me through and the abundance of mercies that are too great for my mind to fathom.

I cannot to understand the goodness that you have provided. You have given me an a portion too large for me to take of; i will praise your name as long as i have breath in my lungs.

You have given me the breath in my lungs. You have given me peace in my heart. You have given me glimpses of your goodness.

Then, why? Why do I forget your promises? Why do i forget how good it is to gaze upon your beauty in silence? Why do I never understand that your rest is essential for me?

You tell me to stop. You tell me to slow down. Over and over again.

I am on treadmill, moving faster and faster, pushing myself so I will finish what I started on my own terms and my own time and my own strength. But I am not moving anywhere. I do not see the masses infront of me or behind me. I do not allow myself to rest in Your Word which will give me strength. I am not seeing Your glory transcend the world around me.

I look at others’ lives and see how blessed they are. How blessed You have made them and how much grace You have given. And I become jealous of how You were present in their lives and how smart they are and how spiritual and beautiful and fit and talented they are.

And then I stop. And I feel ashamed. Ashamed because You have blessed me beyond measure. You have surpassed my dreams and I am living the dream and the will you have for me. And I should do nothing but rejoice. REJOICE.

Jesus, wash over me with shalom. Someone will always be better than me. Your measuring stick of grace and goodness is not the same.

You are perfect and perfect in Your love and wisdom. Never has there been a time in which I have lacked a thing. Not once have I been hungry or thirsty or without love or without home. You have been releentless in love , overbounding in mercy and patient with my sin. You keep perusing me, over and over again more than I deserve. And although I mess up- one thousand times over, You give me the chance to be good over and over again.

Even when I am cold, You choose to melt my heart. So now, teach me. I am foolish for not trusting you. Only spending time with you will satisy this hunger and this thirst and this insatiability and unsatisfaction. Teach me Lord and grant me patience and hunger to extend my hand out toward you. For I know You will hold me.

 

 

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re: brokenness

Jesus, how lucky Peter was to have only denied Your name 3 times. The earth should swallow me up because I have disappointed You again and again. I deny Your goodness in my life, and take all Your grace as mine own wisdom and insight. I claim my broken life as mine own, although there is really nothing to claim. My redemption is shallow, and I forget Your goodness. I sin again, again, and again.

Jesus, I cannot pray today. I haven’t been able to pray lately because life has just been so overwhelming. I have become an tangle of emotions and have become so distraught that I just can’t feel anymore.

Jesus, I failed today. My friend came to me, in faith, that I would help her. But I didn’t. I didn’t have time, or energy, or money to help her. And so I justified my own self service, and refused to feed the hungry when I am full.

How can I love my enemies when I cannot love my friends and family? How can I love anybody one else, though I long for it, when I cannot love myself? I fail to love well. I am fickle in my passions and relationships, especially with You.

What have I done to end up in this misery? I know that is only Your power alone that I can thrive on this earth, or even survive. You have taught me that it is impossible to do this on my own and that your power is made perfect in my weakness.

So why must I learn, over and over again, the same lesson? I cannot do this on my own. I cannot melt my calloused heart or open my clenched hands up to You. I cannot lay my head down or accept your easy burden. It would be so much easier I leaned on Your strength and Your rod.

Jesus, you tell me to go the extra mile to love others. Jesus, teach me what that extra mile is. When did I did helping others become a chore? When did I learn to love like you loved only when it is convenient? When did i become heartless and conceited, self serving and self centered?

I despise myself. I weep because i am more broken than I thought. My pride is higher than I thought and I am broken beyond imagination. I never think it can get worse, but it does. Lord, why do I fall? Why cannot I be good?

 

There is a way to be good again.

There is a way to be good again.

There is a way to be good again.

 

The words reverberate through my bones, but I do not believe their truth. They remain true because you remain my true, despite my shifting soul and heart. You Father are steadfast when I am not. I think You are human and forget that You are the Lord of all creation. You will not fail as everyone else does and I fail others.

It is You that gives me the chance to be good over and over again, and like a waterfall your goodness washes over me and drenches me so that I am saturated and brimming with goodness. You love me and You stitch me back together. And every time you pick up the needle, I flinch and I know that You use pain as part of Your plan to strengthen and deepen me.

And my cup runs over. One thousand times over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall live in the house of the Lord forever.

re: time

I am never content in this time and space quantum.

I want to be a child again. I want to be joyful for no reason at all, and curious for no reason other than curiosity itself and have time to be me and to be free. I want someone to take responsibility for me when I hurt myself.

I want to be an adult. I am impatient to start my own family. I crave the freedom of deciding where to live   and the opportunity to create a life that is so unique to me that it could be nobody’s but mine own.

I’m not sure if I want to grow up.

I am caught between two worlds. I long to be in a relationship, to be known in an intimate way, but I appreciate the freedom of singleness. I want to independent, but I need advice and support. I will always be dependent, but I want freedom to explore the world. I make decisions about my future, but I need validity that they are the right ones.

I want to change who I am. I have ideals and aspirations of the person I should be and the person who is me admist the lies of the world. Is my identity dependent on my conception of time? In heaven will I be the truest of myself? Am I a dot on a line graph, moving from point A to point B, morphing into someone I will barely recognize? Or am I a wave, a multifacted identity constast, but constnatly changing?

I finally figure things out, but it seems that I am always a bit too late. I find friends, but they drift and come. No one stays, with or for me. I understand my family, but then I move away. I discover that I love someone, but they move on. He likes me, but there’s someone else in my life. I figure out the truth, but it’s too late.

Who am I? Will I ever be me, in this earth, in this body? What is man without a body? Who did God create me to be, and is it my body, heart, soul or mind that matters in the end?

Can I be happy in the present? Can I stop striving for the future and lamenting the past? I continually attempt to overcome my weaknesses because of shame in the past. I live in the past, and the past drives my striving for the future. But I don’t live. I never live. I have lived and will live. I am confined by the instant of the moment, and live in the dreams of others and the dreams of the past, but I don’t live present.

I want to breathe dreams like air. I want to drink the salubrity of the sky. I want to hear the music of the spheres.

Lord, teach me how to live.

re: vulnerability

You listen to me over dining hall pizza and cold black coffee. You listen and I see the sympathy in your eyes. You don’t say a word. Minutes earlier you were the one talking and I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, and I thank you for these moments of joy and unconditional love.

But you stopped and listened when I said I had something to tell you. Your eyes were intent, bearing into my soul, oblivious to the people bustling around and this crappy coffee. You didn’t say much; you understand first. You listened with your heart and I know that you cared.

You listened to me over hushed tones in the fifth floor of the library; we whispered and somehow it made it easier to share. And after I finished, I heard your story about today. Your struggle is my struggle and mine, yours. I almost cried when I heard when I heard what your today was like. Mine is still significant, but it doesn’t seem as bad.

I was reluctant to tell you, but I’m so glad I did. You said you would pray for me. Right now, I can’t pray because I can’t find the words admist my frustration. So, it means so much to me that you will pray for me. It means so much when you respect my confidentiality and vulnerability. I know this beause you confide in me as I do in you.

When I tell you the parts of me that are hurting and my embarrassing moments, you acknowledge my miscomings, not afraid to give me truth. But we move on and do life together, and you give me measures of grace as I fall and rise.

I sometimes am afraid to trust people. I do not want them to hurt me. I have been hurt so many times after I have told the bitter and honest truth and the things that people never want to hear. I can be too direct. But I also do not want to pursue people because I fear that  they will not like the mess they find. I do not want them to feel cornered or like I am intruding on their personal life with my brokenness. For their sake and my sake, I turn away so many times. But when I do show you my soul, it is clear that God is listening to me and to you and that it is His love that binds us together.

We need to intrude. We need to infiltrate each other’s lives with love so that no one is alone. Fears should be quenched with love, lonliness should be sutured with kindess and uncertainty should be contronted with truth and grace. There is power in being honest with one another. It doesn’t matter if where we are; I know you will stop and listen when I need.

Sometimes I am so worn from hearing about other’s pain. I feel so burdened by mine own that I cannot sit in front of you and listen to your struggles when I am on the point of tears myself. But that’s where the Father lifts our worries, commanding us to have peace and be still. That’s when grace happens to your soul and mine, and life becomes a bit easier.

re: science + meaning

I can analyze and  I can synthesize. I can predict the motions of molecules and calculate the velocity of a pencil dropping and make drugs that will make your diseases go away.

We scientists, we can play god. We have dreams and visions of a world without cancer and diabetes and eye degeneration and we make this world a reality; we can resuscitate and kill with the pull of a plug, we know death’s secrets. We imagine a world where knowledge has no price and communication has no bounds and now, now we cannot escape these technological gadgets connecting human to human so that we are never truly alone.

But although we can reduce the mechanisms of the cosmos into measurable objectivity and test the limits of innovation and creativity, we do not understand the basis of human experience. We have missed, and perhaps will always miss, the greatest truths of human life.

I cannot measure the depth or height or width of the love God has for me, or that I have for my family or friends. I cannot weigh the sacrifice of my parents when they raised me. I cannot reproduce a pixelated Himalayan mountain sunset. I cannot quantify the hopes i have in my heart nor analyze their incompatibly with the fears I have in my heart. I cannot calibrate my weakness and my strengths and I cannot gauge my place in my world. I cannot compute the joy in my heart when I am with the ones I love most and we are laughing and love is a tangible force in the atmosphere.

And so, as I learn the value in reproducibility and accuracy of the scientific method, i remember that I must never forget how to feel deeply. I must remember that to have a cold, hardened heart is perhaps more scary than death itself. I would rather be placed in a grave, or burned to ashes, than to not love and be loved, or appreciate truth or beauty for as they are.

I want to feel the wind on my face and the joy in my heart, but not for the feeling itself. I want to be convicted in my heart of hearts and the freedom and courage to live out my convictions. I do not want to be trapped my fear or insecurities; I am young, but I am dying. I have been dying since i have breathed my first. The only difference between me and the elderly is that they have less time- wait. My days are no more guaranteed than their days. I could die any second, and every breath is by the grace of God.

Do you believe that?

If you did, would you trust in science or your heart? Would you believe yourself when you said that that people were more important than things? Would you find courage in your heart to stop chasing money, success, and popularity and the dreams that society says are so important and instead choose love? Would you trust that your dreams are worth the continual striving?

The heart reasons. We do not understand the reasons for we pay more attention to other people’s thoughts contained in hardbound, heavy textbooks that dull our eyes, harden our hearts, and nullify our dreams.

We have lost the ability to wonder. We have lost the ability to wonder not for the sake of wonder itself, or the sake of flighting emotion, but for our convictions themselves and the love that surrounds us.

re: identity

I am ten different people. I am unsure of which is the right me, because, even when I’m alone, I’m not sure if the right me is the one analyzing me, or the right one is the one when I’m with friends, or when I’m with my family, or when I’m with my professors or when I’m among strangers, yet alone in a crowd.

Who is the right me? Who is the real me?

I am decidedly short. It is an univeral truth that I am short, dark skinned, wear black, thick-rimmed glasses and have thick curly hair.

But am I quiet? I am the loudest in my family and can be the loudest among some friends. In other groups, I do not say a word. I have so much to say to the ones I love, but nothing at all to say to some.

I am so broken in many ways, but in other ways I am strong and relentless. Sometimes I fall asleep in movies because I am so bored with the alternate reality. Sometimes I want to curl up in a ball under my covers, but most times I want to go on adventures around the world. I hate small talk with passion, and am extremely awkward and uncomfortable in social situations, but I ace interviews and daily have deep coversations about God and philosophy with my friends. I like to think and do things that matter.

I love to dream and think. I love coffee and chai and coffeeshops. I love hiking and going on adventures and driving in the car and having coversations about life. I love worshipping God. I love medicine and public health and the fact that I can use biochemistry to heal living, breathing people. I love reading books about the messiness of human relationships and the beauty of life. I love the sun and the mountains. I love music and the way I feel it reverberating it throughout me. I love to travel and be lost and be completely free, as if I am all alone and have no responsibilities.

But I am not good at loving these things. I am not good at anything, particularily. I am passionate, but that passion is developing. I do not have a defining characterstic or hobby that makes me, me. The person whom my family knows is not the girl my friends know; the girl that strangers meet is the not the girl who sings so passionately at Church on Sunday mornings.

I cannot help that I am a hypocrite, through and through. For I do not know who I am, for I am all of these things. I am bipolar and confused. I love and hate the same things at the same time. Sometimes I know exactly what I want and I am decidely impulsive and that is a good thing, but other times, I examine every factor and I do not know what is best for me. I am not sure if I feel or analyze and which is better.

I know that I am a Christian. I know that I am a stupid sheep in need of her Shepherd, but also a princess in the Kingdom of the Most High. I know that I am a target of demons and protected by angels. I know that I am a broken, beautiful masterpiece, formed and breathed into by God. I know that Satan tempts me, but God loves me, although sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

Maybe I will never figure it out. At least on this earth, I will always be striving towards perfection­– the perfection of Christ and of His power made perfect in our weakness and that asymptope of the version of me who lives in wholeness and shalom.

re: student life

what is this life? I am constantly stressed. If I relax, it is at best an attempt to escape because I am constantly plagued by pangs of guilt. I should be studying.

If I do not get an A, I am insufficient. I did not try my best. Being a student is my job right now and that’s my priority. If I do not try my best, put in the hours, then what have I been doing except wasting my time and my life? I am insufficient and not worthy of love– God’s love or anyone else’s. If I don’t have my priorities straight, I cannot talk to others because I am supposed to be studying and I am stressed that I cannot enjoy life with them.

God gave me a passion that has bound me. Why must I always study? Why is being a doctor the only thing I will be satisfied to do?

The library has become a prison. My eyes are weary and my back constantly aches from bending over and carrying my bag. My mind wants to be numb and my heart is heavy from the constant striving and wants to be freed. Can I be loved for who I am? Can being me be enough for this world?

I strive for perfection. Isn’t it morally irresponsible to not strive for perfection when people’s lives will be in my hands alone as a doctor? I will have 5 seconds to make a snap judgement that will determine their eterinity. I cannot be good, I cannot be great. I must be above reproach. Every conversation with a patient must be honest and encouraging; every IV must be placed in the most painless way possible; every suture stiched with careful percision.

I am human, yes. I know I cannot be perfect. I am very aware of the fact. My friends tell me I try to hard, that I need to rest. But, when I listen to them, I fall behind.

I am made to work diligently. I am not sure how hard I have to work to be diligent. Every morning I wake to my blaring alarm at 5:30AM jeering me awake, and, as I head the gym, I wonder if the desire to be perfect is a blessing or a curse. I am the first one in the library in the morning, and take the elevator up to the fifth floor, where I will be all alone. I go through the day, resisting, but then succumbing, to my fourth cup of coffee, but most times, I lose track. I stay at the library with my friends for hours after dinner, but I am so tired that I cannot think straight and I am going through empty motions. I do not fall asleep, but crash into my pillow at 11:00PM, too exhausted to cry.

It is good to be excellent at something. But perfect? If I aim for perfection, maybe someday I’ll get close. I am a slave to knowledge, and my fingertips have memorized the pages of my organic chemistry textbook. I replace easy homework for hard homework as a “break.”

I am lazy, in reality. I am unfocused when I study. My mind is cluttered by the thoughts that I am writing now. I think about God and philosphy and relationships and how I will apply the knowledge. But I think most about when I will finally get my degree. Will I still have passion and energy to apply these facts that I crammed in the recesses of my brain the day before my exam?

Oh Lord, have mercy and grant me understanding.

re: justice

One thing that I’ve been struggling with lately is the idea of God’s favor. A friend told me a few nights ago that I have God’s favor. In some people’s lives, it is so evident that God is at work and He is overwhelmingly good. And God has been so faithful to me throughout the years. Overwhelming, unfathomably, increasingly, faithful and good to me.

Me. Boring, selfish, proud, hypocritcal, hyperanalytical, full of sin, me.

His mercies are truly new to me every day. There are gifts that manifest themselves in their lives that do not make sense and are not merited and He is the only one I see. He is always with me and has given me life, life to the abundance.

He has planted me in a land of abundance and in a community where love overflows, comforts surround, and I prosper. He has brought the sweetest people into my life who speak about such things to speak His wisdom into my heart. He has given me a desire to live well, more fully and more deeply. He has blessed me beyond imagination and I have everything I need and more. He answers me when I calls and speaks into my heart when I asks.

And I am proud. I think that His blessings are a result of something I have done. They must be a result of who I am, or because I am special or holy. But the reality is, I am quite unextraordinary. I am despicable in my sin. I do not have control over my actions. My sins are too great to count. I give up on Him daily– several times a day.

Why would He be so good as to bless me more? Why does He bless me until my cup overflows? He is so good to me, and I can do nothing. I cannot even love Him faithfully. I have betrayed His trust so many times and I am simply overwhelmed at the thought that I cannot even ask for forgiveness.

And I do not trust that He will give me more. He has already given me more than enough and more than I could ever deserve. How can I live with a debt so great? It is one that I can never repay, even if devoted my whole heart and eternity to it?

I am embarrassed because of His goodness when I should be rejoicing and leaping with joy. I cannot share my joy with others from fear that I am bragging. Am I? Or am I perpetually jealous of others who are wise, who are beautiful, who are godly?

God blesses us for a reason. Perhaps it is a testament to His goodness. Perhaps my life is an example of how God gives good things. Perhaps that is why I exist– to share the goodness of God that it is better than life itself.

Or perhaps I will bless others with the blessings He has given me. He, in His goodness, will show me His plan, as it unfolds in His timing.

I will trust that His plan is better than I can imagine. I will be content in Him, taking joy in His blessings and loving others with the joy He gives. I will be content in who He created to me, learning how to play the instrument to His glory that He created me to be to resound throughout the universe.

re: politics

I ignored the news. I tried to at least. I didn’t want to see the hate and bigotry and the lies and I was so confused.

I didn’t know what to believe. I wanted to stay true to my values and true to my family. I cannot betray these principles that I and everyone I love have placed our faith in.

But staying true to my values, my deepest convictions, meant that I was wrong. I was wrong– I couldn’t ignore the news. I couldn’t ignore the pain, the tears, and the utter injustice in this world. Because the principle of love was forgotton. We love because He loved us, and we were not loving our neighbor.

Oh, how could we have deceived ourselves so long? We worship on Sunday mornings, proclaiming God’s love to the whole entire world, but we fail to act justly and love mercy. We will give our tithe and volunteer in our own safe and secure community, but we are afraid to speak to our dark skinned brother. We do this in the name of “national security”, the emblem of selfishness and self interest. We say it is responsible and wise; and while it is true that we need to be safe, it is a false hope. Is not every breath of air we take a gift from God itself? Every waking moment is spent by the grace of God. Life is temporal and our days are numbered. We, lacking in faith, do not trust that God will care for us. Do we really trust Him with our eternities?

I must have missed the passage in the Bible when Christ taught us to value our lives over another’s.

When did our own sense of false security become more important the life of a fellow child of God? My deepest convictions shouldn’t be polictical ideologies or economic principles, but a philosophy of love and dogma that mercy trumps justice every time.If we don’t have love, we are nothing.

Lord, have mercy. That’s all I can say. Lord, have mercy on me. I am a hypocrite. My community at home believes that I agree with them, and I am ashamed to tell them the truth. I do not want to be another self-righteous “liberal” college kid who comes home estranged from their upbringing and from the ones they love. My community here at college believes that I see eye-to-eye with them and that I always saw the truth, that I’m not confused. I know a Republican and a Democrat. They both respectively would say that I am a Republican and Democrat.

I didn’t lie, but I hid the truth. Because, maybe, I am not sure myself who I am. I do not want to pick a side. I want to choose love, every time, without knowing the price. Isn’t what what Jesus did? I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I want to love my neighbors. I want to love all my neighbors. Who are my neighbors? Jesus said, if anything, that our enemy is our neighbor. For, if we love our friend, what gain is that? But to love our enemy is a testament to God.

We enter this world the same way. We exit the world the same way. We cannot take anything for granted and we have nothing; we are nothing. We did nothing to deserve this life where everything is in sickening excess. We are not better, or smarter, or more hardworking, or more righteous than the millions of refugees fleeing war, violence, and terror. Terror. We do not understand nor can we pretend to understand the horror of the situation and the bigotry of our hearts.

We say it would be foolish to open our doors. But we are never going to be immune to evil. It is unsafe to live here in America. How much safer could we possibly be?

If we die, we die. Let us live and die as Christ commanded us to: in love.