The time has come to stand for all we believe in
So I for one am gonna give my praise to you
With 2008 coming to an end, I wanted to recap the past year's events through a monthly timeline, but then realized that I was having extreme difficulty remembering specific events for each month. I don't know if it's just a memory lapse (I can't be THAT old right? Haha) or just so much happened that I can't immediately recall a monthly timeline. I suppose a monthly timeline would require more reflection, time and thought. I got the idea of wanting to make this entry a timeline from a Facebook note that one of my high school friends posted awhile ago, and thought it was a cool idea. Perhaps it is a memory lapse, but also this past year has been incredible. Praise God for all He has done this year, for so many things happened this past year, good and bad, things that changed my perspective on life or caused me to recommit and rethink my priorities.
Everything happens for a reason, right?
In January, I attended the College Winter Retreat, where literally everything changed. To describe my experience there would require a lengthier entry, but I was so blessed by the retreat, the testimonies that many of the leaders shared (particularly the ones from the sisters' sharing time), and Pastor Ed's lessons. This past year, I've heard so many of my peers' baptismal testimonies refer to that winter retreat as a turning point in their spiritual lives, and all I can say is praise God for all that He did just at that one retreat. My life really did change, for that's when I started rethinking my priorities in life, rethinking what was most important to me in how I lived and what I strived for.
Of course, changes in lifestyle don't occur overnight. It took a very long time, and it's still taking time, for me to adjust my priorities. But through much reflection and prayer, whether it was through prayer meetings, small group sharing, or DTs, I find myself coming face to face with my sinful nature. I took Survival Kit 1 this past spring, and the concept of old nature vs. new nature is one I keep coming back to again and again. I come back to my old nature and reflect on my struggle to change because I realize how worldly my thoughts and desires were. I wanted comfort and security, two things that I would never realistically achieve in this materialistic selfish world. It's difficult to surrender all to Him, but at the same time it's so easy. So what's holding us back? As Christians, what's constantly taking us back to the worldliness and frivolity of society? It's easy to give into the sinful nature and our personal desires. It's easier to live a life of selfishness, where you are at the center of everything and you're in control. But it's a more miserable life isn't it?
My thoughts are jumping all over the place, but I remember one of the message series last school year was The Pursuit of Happiness, where Pastor Ed explored how true happiness could be attained. And this was not through worldly achievements and possessions. How true this is...because when I got that good grade, that college admittance, that high score, that academic accomplishment...how long did those feelings of happiness last? And it doesn't take much for such happiness to disintegrate by a bad grade, an insult, a rejection...
And how selfish are we, to put so much weight on these worldly things, on these self-centered achievements and disappointments when there are more important events and issues out there? What about global poverty? Disease? The dying environment? The world is slowly being destroyed by greed, because people can never be truly satisfied with their material possessions and achievements. They get what they think they want, but when they realize that their lives are not fulfilled, they want more. And the world is dying in so many ways...environmentally, socially, economically...
So true happiness can only be attained through Him. Because even if we are fulfilled through tangible objects, our hearts yearn for more. We desire spiritual and emotional fulfillment, and that really can only be pursued and reached by following and loving Him. That's something I feel like I've always known, but have never fully realized until this past year.
That is why 2008 was such a turning point. With this lesson in mind, this understanding, I can only pray that God will continue to strengthen my heart and my mind, to stand for what I believe in and live out my faith.
And it's hard. It's difficult. It's mind-boggling. But with love, patience, and hope from Him, all things are possible.
I'm constantly reminded of my old nature, when I'm at home and at Berkeley, which is a good thing. It's good to be reminded of my lifestyle before, what my values were before, because it's reminder of how empty and shallow my dreams and thoughts were in high school. But honestly, I was just a little bit sad when a lot of my high school friends thought I would be into the Twilight franchise.
I heard about Twilight awhile back (probably freshman year in college?) before the first book was made into a movie. I didn't care much for teenage romance novels (even though I read them in junior high school), so I ignored the hype surrounding it. When I heard a movie was being made, I wondered if it was going to be good, but again, I never thought much about it. And then when EVERYBODY (okay, not everybody) started making a big deal about the movie and the books and how the main male character was "this" and "that", I just rolled my eyes and shrugged. My brother even asked me when the movie came out if I was going to watch it, and my response was, "No, I have more important things to focus on like Thanksgiving Celebration and my research paper outline that's due in a few days and I've done zero research." 'Cause really...
But enough about that. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised that my high school friends expected me to be obsessed with Twilight. After all, in high school, I was obsessed with movies and I was known to be the hopeless romantic. I loved romance movies and I was a sucker for happy endings (but not really cliched ones...except for the ending in Breakfast at Tiffany's, I'll admit).
Now, though I'll admit there is much of the romantic within me still, I've exchanged the 'hopeless' view for more of a 'realistic' perspective. I'm not a cynic, just a realist. But since I was the movie buff (I watched movies quite often in high school) and the hopeless romantic in high school, it shouldn't surprise me that people expected me to read the Twilight series and watch the movie. And though it shouldn't surprise me, it still did, and it saddened me to hear how my friends and my brother expected me to be intrigued and obsessed with this unrealistic and romantic sappy fantasy.
I guess it made me sad because it was a reminder of how shallow my thoughts were in high school. There's nothing really wrong with hopeless romanticism, but it's a problem when the ideals of a hopeless romantic start to twist your thinking and you become a little too interested in fiction and fantasy instead of focusing more on reality.
So I'm proud to say that no, I am not into Twilight, and it makes me happy to know that since I feel like it's an example of how I've changed since high school. But still...I was extremely depressed to hear that ALL of the high school friends I met up with and my brother thought that I'd be obsessed with that stuff. It just makes me even more disgusted and regretful at the shallowness of my high school self.
But praise God that I'm steering away from that stuff. And thank God that I'm aware of it too.
I was thinking about writing a list of all that I was thankful for this year, and maybe resolutions for the New Year, but I might save that resolution list for another time. As for all that I am thankful for...it's not a memory lapse, really, but there is just so much that I am thankful for and that I can praise God that I think I'll make this entry super long. Plus, there really is so much that I don't know if I can list all of it out 'cause it's hard to verbalize in this blog.
But I will mention that I am thankful for the community that God has provided in my life this year. God has blessed me with this community at Gracepoint of leaders, young adults, and peers. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve through Joyland, to just really see a community completely centered on God at work. And my small group sisters...I love them so much, and I seriously just thank God all the time for the relationships I have with these 10 sisters. I used the word 'thank' a lot, but 'thanks' is perhaps the best word for me to use regarding my gratitude and amazement of how God has worked in my life.
So 2008 is coming to a close...and 2009 approaches. Happy New Year and God bless!
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