community

29 Mar

I’ve had this really great opportunity to participate in a leadership training program in LA last week.  What I’ve learned from here and from my wonderful close-knit network of friends and family is that they are rooting for me.

I think in this world of competition where people are in fight or flight mode, it’s easy to forget and or take for granted the communities that we have- the people who love us and support us and want us to succeed.

I think when we’ve had negative experiences with people whether its betrayal or some other kind of hurt, it’s hard to focus and think of the wonderful positive spaces that is created by people who support us.

I’ve had the privilege of sharing this positive space for growth and reflection and it reminded me that I have the opportunity to create that same space with other people in my life.  I just need to be more intentional about it.

I want to spend the rest of this lent season, and even beyond lent season, being someone who helps create a safe people for people to reflect and be encouraged.

Advertisements

Fear

23 Mar

I’m at a training in LA this week (hence the sporadic nature of the posts!) and yesterday as a team building exercise, we played a simulation game and the point of the game was to travel through a desert to a mountain, mine as much gold as possible and come back home. That was the basic idea. The instructor mentioned that 20% of teams who have played this game have died in the desert because  they ran out of food or water.

As soon as we heard that statistic, I think some of us panicked and were determine not to die in the desert and our decisions are driven by this sense of survival- or the fear of death.

The interested thing I observed about our group, hindsight was that we ended up with much more food and water than we needed and not as much gold as we could’ve gotten. And this is all because we were so afraid of dying.

In our debrief we talked about how we might have played the game differently if we had thought about the 80% who lived rather than the 20% that died.

I felt like that was a fairly good indication of my life sometimes. That my decisions are made as a reaction to information and sometimes that reaction is the fear or something.

Today’s lent reflection for me was to think about how to create that space to purposefully live my life that is focused on that 80% of potentially living rather than the 20% of potentially dying.

Jesus did not live the last month of his life out of fear of his upcoming Crucifixion.  And that is an example he has set for me to choose life with a purpose and not be driven by my circumstances.

Remembering.

20 Mar

Today I got to talk to a dear friend of mine from high school who I don’t get to talk to often.  It is amazing that even with technology at our disposal we don’t talk as much. so I got chat with her via skype as the sun was rising behind her through the window in Melbourne and the sun was setting outside my window here in Chicago.

After a wonderful conversation I was able to reflect briefly about what a blessed life I have lived so far living in and meeting so many people from all over the globe! The saying “I am not the same now that I have seen the moon on the other side of the world” is so true.

I see lent as a time to reflect on the experiences that were like seeing the moon on the other side of the world.  I think I get so caught up in the mundane daily routines that I often forget the glimpses of God’s glory I get to see from time to time. OR even miss the glimpse that I could’ve seen that day because I’m focused on the mundane.

Sometimes going about my daily routines and sometimes feeling like I”m in a hamster’s wheel, I forget about my wonderful friendships with people scattered across the globe and forget the vast and unique experiences I have had the blessings to live. A conversation with my friend in Melbourne brought back those memories.

My challenges is to find things in my daily routine that will trigger the memory of my vast and unique experiences with God. It’s not about a spiritual high every day but seeking the faithful God in my life each day.  Sometimes when I do that, I do see how God has brought things to fruition, and I do believe I witness God’s plans to prosper me and not to harm me comes true as promised to us through the prophet Jeremiah.

remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh

19 Mar

I decided to go with a lectionary reading today. I felt like my brain is scattered all over the place and I’m unable to focus even as I keep writing about how lent is a season for me to focus. oh the irony.

So today’s lectionary reading in the Old Testament was Deut 11:18-28. Oh fun, Deuteronomy. But I read them once in a while for kicks, and for other reasons too- like actually be inspired by them. 🙂

The versus I read were talking about remembering God’s commandment. God was serious about these folks really remembering what God was saying to them- instructing them to put the words all over the place- their hearts, mind, souls, bind them on their hands, on the eyelids etc etc. So as I am envisioning binding God’s words on my hands and on my eyelids etc, I began to wonder what these words actually were so I traced back to the beginning of the chapter as well as Chapter 10.

What stuck out to me was not a laundry list of Dos and Don’t (which, by the way, you find LOTS of in Deuteronomy) but in two different places it said to love the Lord your God- although the expansion of “love the Lord your God” various a little bit in the two places, I got the sense that that’s what God was telling the people to lay on their hearts, souls, eyelids etc etc.

It seems so simple. To love the Lord my God. But it really isn’t that simple. And I realized its because I am trying to love God from my heart of stone.   We all start well-meaning. I don’t know how many times I’ve pushed my “spiritual” reset button.  I feel like in some ways that this lent season is another way of pushing that reset button.
But as I was reflecting I remembered a verse in Ezekiel that is so dear to my heart.  This is what God promised; I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Yes, it’s hard to love the Lord my God with all my heart and then to turn around and love my neighbor AND myself if I’m trying to love out of my own limits and my own will because my heart does turn into stone from time to time. But the encouraging word for me today came through the prophet Ezekiel when God promises to give me a new heart, a heart of flesh for my heart of stone.

Thanks be to God that even the ability to love is not from my own strength but from the gift God has placed in me- my heart of flesh.

Dristhi

18 Mar

The reason we need a season to focus on Christ as we observe lent is because we all need a focal point.

We live in a world of constant chaos and everything feels like a moving target.

Today in my cardio and weight training class, we had to do this one exercise where you stand on one leg and do squads. I began waddling as I usually do because I have a very bad sense of balance. But I remembered what I had learned in my yoga class- to find a focal point which helps you balance.  It’s called a Drishti in sanskrit which basically means to gaze. You gaze at a specific point in front on you that is not moving, and it help you balance.

As I found my Drishti in my cardio and weight training class, I realized that was very much the same in my spiritual life too. Sometimes we’re trying to do one legged squads without a focal point and then we wonder why we are falling all over the place!

Today’s lent reflection for me remembering that I’m honing in on my focal point, Jesus Christ throu

being faithful

16 Mar

Today I got a chance to speak to a group of IV students who are on their spring break in Chicago participating in Chicago Urban Program.

I talked about living our lives as Christians for justice and mercy in a way that is faithful to God. I think sometimes we get caught up in the impact of what we do (or lack of impact) rather than focusing on being faithful what God has placed on our hearts.

This obviously doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about any accountability or any impact but I think we should be driven by our faith, not by a desire to change the world. Changing the world should be a result of our faith, not the motivation. When we focus on impact rather than faith, we begin to compare what we do with others and begin to put value on the many and diverse needs of our world.  How can anyone say that an AIDS orphan is less valuable than

As I reflect on Christ’s ministry I am encouraged that he lived a life of faithfulness rather than living a life to make a name for himself. The incarnate story of our Jesus Christ cannot be a stronger example of a life that care about being faithful more than having a broad impact.

Removed from suffering…

15 Mar

Over the last few days as I’ve been thinking about how I can really reflect on what is going on around the word without sounding trite or overly spiritual without any sense of connection.  I guess I have this hesitation and reluctance because of the enormity of the events- the earthquake and Tsunami the Japanese people have endured, the danger and tension that Libyans are experiencing.

There are plenty things in my life I guess I can say is a form of suffering so at some level I resonate. But the truth is, one does not know what it’s like to live to a earthquake and a tsunami that takes our your entire town unless you’ve lived it.  I think we tend to over-react in our emotions or are completely disconnected and I guess I don’t know how to find a healthy medium.

Many theologians and christian leaders have tried to explain or justify suffering.  There are different logics and reasoning people use- and I can follow along in the moment but can’t really retain it since I can’t even seem to give one example right now!

But I think what I keep coming back to is that I’ve witness, experienced and seen so much suffering in this world and yet I believe a Good God. A God who cares and loves this world. And yes, sometimes that might be hard to explain.

As I sit in the comfort of my living room with electricity, heat and yummy dinner, I feel really removed from suffering- whether it’s the millions of children going to bed hungry and/or cold, or people fearing for their lives or grieving the loss of a family member.

In this moment, it’s hard to say that seeing all this suffering is making me think of how grateful I am for my comforts. That just seems wrong to compare my comforts with others’ sufferings.

But I am grateful. Not because compared to others I have more, but despite the fact that I can’t really even figure out how to process all the things going on in this world and have the “perfect” Christian response to it to post of my facebook, I am accepted and I am loved.

As a lent reflection its a hard one to connect because I really don’t want to minimize the suffering of people around the globe today by trying to connect it to my suffering nor do I want to connect this sense of relief which could be interpreted as grace because I am not the one suffering.

So today’s lent reflection is going to have to just hang there in a limbo- as sort of an expression of my struggle to identify with the suffering.

I pray for mercy and grace for all those suffering around the world and that those of us who are privileged in our comfort are able to engage in responsible ways to make a small dent in the world for change. Even though I feel removed from suffering in other parts of the world, I can work hard in the world that I am connected to and try and make a small dent in whatever ways God has allowed me to.

Mother Teresa puts it all in context for us:

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.