The lonely moments

Why is it easy for us to feel lonely in the midst of a crowd? Or even at a bustling party full of family and friends — the pang of heartache and sadness coming up in the most people-filled circumstances?

In the past eight months since moving home, I have felt deep pangs of loneliness. But despite these moments where I want to clutch my heart as if someone had stabbed me, I have also experienced meaningful moments of solitude with the Lord.  It is through the slow, churning process of moments of incredible loneliness where I get to develop new muscles aka the discipline of solitude.

Human beings are wired to connect with one another, to feel-to think-to live-to breathe-to take it all in-or … take nothing in and be numb to what is around us because it seems easier. It is in the latter where we can wallow in depression and loneliness.

Solitude is a different story. In solitude, there is comfort because I do not let circumstances dictate my emotions. There is inner peace–for me that comes from my faith, but for others it may come from different sources. No matter what tradition/faith you come from, when you are able to grab onto solitude and let your senses breathe in life around you, the loneliness gets easier. It does not completely fade away, but whether you are at the peak of the mountains, driving down an empty highway at three am, or in a crowded city street; instead of being overwhelmed by what you do not have — you can be overwhelmed and filled by capital L life that you are living in.

How many breaths do you have left to inhale & exhale?  Embrace your season. Maybe your friends are not ideal right now. Maybe you are far away from your better half, family, or best friends.  Those things will pass. Do not let what you lack stop you from relishing what is in front of you.

Vulnerability & Scars

Sunday mornings.

I have been thinking a lot about vulnerability recently. It’s a dear friend I do my best to be consistent with. But I find myself failing vulnerability in the late.

On TimBeTold‘s newest album, there is a song called Cover Up Your Scars”. Tim asks us,

You never had a lover,
but if you ever did, would they ever break your heart?
Are you strong enough to recover,
or would you just forgive?
Or maybe you would fall apart,
and cover up your scars?

The idea of covering up our scars goes hand in hand with my desire to escape vulnerability. As much as I do it, each new time encountering vulnerability is still as painful and heart-wrenching as the last time. Yes, we were created to love, but to give all your heart — raw, bleeding, and exposed IS open heart surgery is: messy – sloppy – an enduring task.

This morning I was convicted. Who am I to desire covering up my scars if the Lord I claim to pursue with all my heart never covered up His scars? The scars are ugly and not pretty to look at, but without them I would not be fully who I was created to be. My light does not pierce as fiercely through the darkness as hope and joy and light if I was not a little bit scarred up. So I leave you with this thought from a favorite author:

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.

Madeleine L’Engle

Square pegs don’t fit into circles.

I am probably the least rebellious PK/MK out there, but my one act of rebellion would probably be refusing to be put in a box. That is why I do my best to let people meet ME before eventually casually mentioning the family background.

Anyways, back to my refusal to be put in a box. This past year since pre-graduation and post-graduation, I have been asked way too many times “what I want/plan/am going to do”. I know people are not purposely trying to frustrate me, but there are so many other ice breaker options > whatdoyoudo whatsyourlifeplans. We as people are so much more than our careers and majors and family associations!!!

I find that the more society tries to box in my identity, the more I let my identity become a scattered conglomerate of messiness — to the point where I have no idea where the beginning middle or end lies.. So…it was pretty amazing to have an older sister tell me in a straightforward manner who she observed me to be and be reminded of what passions and loves I have. Maybe in the rebellion to be outside of society’s boxes, I had put myself in another box where I wasn’t able to dream for myself.

People have often told me that I’m good at seeing the big picture while living fully in the present. This past season, I have failed at doing that. Honestly, what has happend is that I have let the present scare me into comfort and safety. But! I don’t think I was created to live in the safe or comfortable. The challenge lies in working my way back into that attitude that my whole life is a series of risks-based actions for the sake of the Gospel.

Surviving isn’t enough. Thriving is the standard.

Free writes on a Saturday morning

Observations about the dichotomy between two couples I see on the D train. In Brooklyn.

Couple A: Couple in their early 20s. showing signs of PDA, intertwined hands, conversing and joking a lot.
Couple B: Elderly couple, 60s? Both reading a magazine and newspaper — white haired, both have glasses. Both wearing blue jeans and a button down. Not talking, just reading but obviously relishing in each other’s company.

Back to the young couple. Both are sorta matching. Bags on the floor, sunglasses on. Him — ray bans and her  – pink aviators. They’re sipping matching Starbucks cups.

Is love so different after all? Both couples have somewhat varried expressions of ‘love’ as defined in society, but when it comes down to it, the contrast is merely age and culture. The underlying emotion still remains, right?

The love we feel at 21 and 61 may not seem the same (I can only speak for one age since I have yet to experience 61. These are only observations people). The former is a young fresh butterflies all in i’m-crazy-in-love-with-you kind of love and the latter might be built upon years of commitment and endurance and persistence.  But, at the core of it, aren’t we all pursing the same love that longs to recognize the broken humanness inside of ourselves? The kind of love that accepts us for the flaws, sharp edges, and corners we don’t want to show the world. Perhaps when we have God inside of us reflected towards the people around us & love so dearly, we have found that missing piece of the puzzle. Age is only a number and its really more about the heart and how we offer the love to others that make it a lasting relationship — whether in friendship/family/significant others.

Author’s note: I wanted to wait and post these thoughts because my last post in this series was also related to love and I didn’t want to be lame. Unfortunately I haven’t put together anything else and in order to have a more consistent schedule here, you get to hear about love again. YAY WHO DOESN”T LOVE LOVE? FYI, Word on the Street is a blog column that aims to “echo the rawness found on the street, showcasing the real in the day to day”. Among other things.

The glory is not in falling, but rising.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is head, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” — Philippians 3:13-14.

I’m glad within the past year I’ve done 2 different bible studies on Philippians because I wouldn’t have the perspective towards the current season I am walking in without the encouragement of Paul’s words.

This season is a strange and new one. I’m being stretched in a bagillion and a half ways and doing way more than I anticipated but at the same time it all makes sense. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else, in any other city, or church, or with any other people. It’s this push and pull. The season pushes me towards hope and renewal and change as the world pulls me towards brokenness and newness.

I am content but I am not satisfied. Does that even make sense? I’m not going to edit this post because in order for you to understand where I am at, it is important for you to just see my verbal vomit and stream of conciousness in full form. A couple months ago I was trying to describe how I felt about this season to a good friend — and used the analogy of a swimmer who was competing in a marathon. The place where I’m at is the middle. I”m pacing myself and going strong, but the finish line is not yet in sight. So I must keep on going and persevering through the trenches knowing that the end is somewhere beyond the horizon.

I’m all over the place in what I am doing in my job/personal life/career/other random ministries/fun but through all of the madness there is a method. My foundation is Jesus and the commission He entrusted me with.

So I keep climbing this mountain because it’s the journey that makes the summit such a glorious sight.

Electricity

She usually did not stay past 5:30 at work on a Monday, but the emails dinged all day, her calendar was full of meetings, and there was just too much she had to finish before leaving the office. Hurrying to beat the evening rush was a fruitless endeavor when she saw the crowd waiting at the Downtown & Brooklyn platform. That meant trains were backed up somewhere uptown and so she plugged in her headphones, turned up the iPod, and waited for the next express train to take her swiftly (har-har) home.

Five minutes.

Ten minutes.

The local train came and left but she waited it out because it was easier to hop on the express and not have to deal with the fiasco that was transferring trains during rush hour on New York City public transportation.

“A train is now arriving at the Downtown express track. Please step away from the platform”.

At last! The surge of commuters crowded the train doors. She never understood why people always hovered near the train doors when they had to let people off the train first. And by the looks of the car in front of her, there were a heck of a crowd coming out.

She let all the anxious commuters on first and finally stepped into the car. Not even bothering to look for a seat, she conceded to a step to the left where there was an empty spot at the pole. All she needed was support and she was game! She hurried and grabbed the pole as the train lurched to a start. Balance came easily, her purse weighing her right side and the pole steadying her left. It took a minute for her to breathe and collect her thoughts and zone out. Her iPod was still playing, the sounds of guitar and drums pounding in her ears.

That’s when she felt it. Or rather, him.

Was it because he was standing too close? It couldn’t be. People were in her comfort zone all the time. You couldn’t avoid it as a commuter in Manhattan. The train continued its steady descent towards the center of the city and she looked past his shoulder, trying to rationalize the erratic thoughts in her head. The feeling didn’t go away. It was pulsing electricity. She was sure of it. Electricity needs a positive and negative charge right? Was one sided electricity even a thing?! She came up barely to his shoulder and she tried to simply look past his shoulder at the dark underground so there would not be any chance for awkward eye contact. Well, she kind of wished there was some awkward eye contact so there was confirmation on whether she was crazy or what.

A seat opened up and she hurried to take it. Breathe and collect yourself. An open seat was next to her, but he stayed standing.

A gentleman?

Next stop was Times Square and the bustling crowd once again filled her subway car. He moved from the pole to the overhead support right above her head. Now he was again a little too close for comfort and she awkwardly looked forward. Was she crazy or what? He could have moved to a number of spots and he chose the one right in front of her. Something was pulling them towards one another.

Breathe girl. You’re blowing this situation out of proportions. You’re just a girl going home from work. And he? He’s just another random guy in this city.

She couldn’t help but notice that he was different from the usual train dweller though. No earbuds in. No book or Kindle out. He had a phone; she definitely saw an outline of one in the pocket of his pants. But he didn’t take it out once, not even to check the time. He had a watch for that purpose. She chuckled internally. Watches were always a win. And shoes too, and his shoes were stylin’.

Three more stops until she had to get off. He had shifted a ways from her, the train car even more crowded. Usually it became less crowded further downtown they went, but today was different.

Then, she thought of it. He was different because his demeanor was patient. He possessed a steady and calm aura, unfazed by the collective anxiety emitting from the crowd.

His was the positive charge to her negative charge.

Just as this thought crossed her mind, the train stopped at Broadway-Lafayette and he was gone. It was an unexpected departure. Her guess had been Brooklyn, but Soho? He looked better than that. He hadn’t shown signs of getting ready to leave before that, but when the doors opened; he was gone and away, lost in the crowd.

Zap and the electricity fizzled to a stop.

And she was just another girl going home.

A note from the author: this was my attempt at a short story to articulate a personal snapshot. Word on the Street is a blog column that aims to “echo the rawness found on the street, showcasing the real in the day to day”. Among other things. That’s the shortened version. Also, apologies for not updating sooner. I have plenty of content, but not enough time to put my thoughts together into posts for public viewing. Keep your eyes peeled though, they’ll come eventually. 

Cheers to New Beginnings (a life update)

I promised details about my job, didn’t I? Here is my quick update. Since this is the start to another busy (but rich rich) season — I’m updating this in lieu of Facebook mainly because Facebook is overrated and silly and sometimes I wish I didn’t need it to communicate.

Moving on, I had my first day of orientation with my program. I was accepted into an AmeriCorps program that is managed by the NYC Mayor’s Office. Long story short, the program is federally funded by AmeriCorps grant $$ and I am placed in a local NYC (“host”) organization in order to build volunteer capacity. I found out where I’ll be placed today whooo!! Although it’s more of a trek than I was hoping for, I will take what was given to me based on my skills/experience so I’m anticipating a long 10 months of challenges, but enriching growth. I’ll be in Manhattan thankfully, but quite aways from the LES where I’m accustomed to. The host organization itself is a supplemental education + youth development program. I don’t know how much direct service work I’ll be engaged with, so we shall see as I still have 3 more days of orientation with my program before I dive into the host organization. Nevertheless, I’m in my forte of working with youth, ya know. I never can escape buildling up those kids….they ARE our future as one of my mentors always reminds me.

On the personal level (wait I still have a personal life?!! -___-), I’m fully involved back at my home church in Chinatown. I got roped (other synonyms for this could be persuaded, coerced (JK), strongly encouraged) into pushing onwards the youth ministry and supporting the worship team. I mean, I did sign up for this when I decided to commit the next couple years to being at CLL. It’s work but also the kind that fills your soul … sometimes. Haha the sowing and reaping, that’s what I’m in it for. There’s some big things coming out of not just the English Ministry, but our church overall. We’ll be looking to move in the next couple months and that’s catalyzing change + moving/shaking. Which is all VERY exciting.

Basically my resting season is BYEEEEEE and here comes the beginning of the next. #getATme