Sunday, July 10, 2011

3 Simple Truths Expounded

God is divine. Divine.

Today's church service was about 'trinitarian love' (related to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), and while I think I may have missed the pastor's major point, ie: how we are shown love by the Holy Trinity, he did cause me to think about a lot of things. The three main things are as follows:

1. God is too big to understand in full with our tiny little human brains.

2. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

3. There's no reason to struggle through life on my own when God is offering me His abundance.

Basic Christianity, right? Yeah, well no matter how many times I read/hear these truths, it only goes as far as my mind and doesn't make it down to my heart. ("I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Ps 119:11) You see, I know these facts -- I've spouted them numerous times -- but somehow they never clicked in the way they were buzzing through me during church. The pastor had many analogies to go with #1 and #3, but instead I chose to come up with my own way to connect to these points.

Let me elaborate:
1. I get discouraged when I think about how little I know about the English language. I'm a native speaker after all, so I shouldn't have any trouble dissecting a sentence and teaching the different parts of speech to non-native speakers. But no -- I am constantly looking up grammar rules in the resource books and stumbling over my words while trying to teach. I kinda feel sorry for my little Asian 8th graders who probably are so confused with how grammar works (since there's always an exception) that they're going to fail miserably at 9th grade English. The problem gets even more confusing when I realized that the English language is constantly evolving -- what would have been proper English 50 years ago is outdated, and subsequently updated to fit our current generation's needs/wants. (I'm going to bypass the subject of proper citations completely since they get updated about as often as iTunes). And then I think about the different parts of English -- writing, reading, speaking, presenting, journalism, the historical background of the English language....the list goes on and on -- and I'm almost ready to quit teaching altogether and admit defeat.

But then I think about what I do know about English: I can speak with relative confidence, I know how to write in a grammatically correct fashion, and I can comprehend what I read. Then I think about what I love about English (and why I teach it in the first place): I can create anything with my basic knowledge of the English language and can communicate with others this way. I love writing fiction; therefore, creating worlds out of nothing but a blank computer screen or notebook fascinates me. And what little I know and love, I can share with others, and learn what I don't know along the way.

And so I applied the same idea to Christ -- I can not understand Him fully. No matter how long I try, my mind is incapable of total comprehension of the One who breathed the world into existence. If I could, then would God really be God? Could He really be Incomprehensible, All-Mighty and All-Knowing if I know Him fully? The answer is no. That is why, with tremendous relief, (accompanied by tears), I am able to accept the fact that God is God and I am not. I do not know more than Him. I do not even know a fraction of Him. That's why He will forever remain All-Mighty and All-Knowing. BUT, I will take what I do know about him -- that He is Savior to all who will accept Him unconditionally as such -- and share this awesome fact with others, all the while learning what I don't know along the way.

2. My pride has taken a beating with this truth. Commonly, this little phrase is repeated with the rest of the passage in the 1 Corinthians love chapter where it states that love is patient, kind, non-envious, non-boastful, not proud (oops!), not rude, not self-seeking, doesn't demand its own way, slow to anger, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices in truth, always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and never fails. (Paraphrased from the NIV passage.)
This whole summer has been spent talking about "Biblical love" at church, and we covered 1 Cor 13 a lot. But then I thought about a past sermon a few weeks back when they talked about if we truly loved one another (friends and non-friends alike), than we wouldn't remember every time someone wronged us, but instead constantly forgive them regardless of whether or not they asked for forgiveness or even knew they wronged you to begin with. My mind started mulling over this idea when I first heard it, but then I was reminded of this passage today and it finally hit home with no small amount of shame and embarrassment.

My name is Lissa Scott, and I have been keeping record of wrongs done to me.

Of all the ridiculous things -- becoming bitter, hurting myself, and becoming so enveloped in me, and how people are inconsiderate toward me. I, who claim to be a child of God, have failed in the one thing He admonished us to do: love. I have even claimed to be a mature Christian of 20 years, and yet one of the most simple of commandments has been the hardest for me to adhere to. I have been self-righteous; I have demanded justice; I have been more sullen this past year than I have in my entire life. My sin caused me to withdraw from others, and I let my sin get in the way of being a witness to others. And I am ashamed.

This feeds into the 3rd and final truth -- my sin has, as stated above, caused me to struggle more than I've ever struggled. Not gonna lie, my life is fairly easy in Thailand (or at least it could have been if I let it). I don't have to worry about my finances, I have a steady job, and I have a huge opportunity to work in the mission field. Sure, I don't speak the language, making new friends is a challenge, and sometimes I get fed up with the city -- but these are opportunities God has given me to grow as a person. He's promised to never give me more than I can handle, but I must admit that I've handled His challenges poorly. So instead of turning to Him FULLY and letting Him handle what my shortcomings cannot; I fought. I struggled so hard to find some semblance of control in my new life in Bangkok.

My personality is such that I like control of my life. I need control over at least a part of what is going on around me. I need to know what's ahead, what the game plan is, what's going to happen next. Spontaneity only works if it's my choice. And for some reason, God created me with these innate tendencies. I still don't know why since it's the proverbial thorn in my side, and God and I fight over control constantly, but He put this strong stubborn streak right through the heart of my being. Instead of fighting against this tendency, however, I want to learn to use it to God's advantage (and therefore my advantage) in life. So after recognizing some of my more obvious shortcomings, I'd like to stop struggling against the sin (and against the despondency the knowledge of my sins creates), and find peace and rest in the knowledge that God can handle my life splendidly if I only let Him. There's the rub isn't it? I have to make the conscious choice to allow Him full reign of my life -- including the bumps in the road that I never foresaw. That is what He asks for from all who claim to follow Him. If we are followers, shouldn't we let Christ be our leader?

Lord, I pray this is just my first step towards allowing you to truly and unconditionally guide my steps -- not only in darkness, but in the light as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The New Happy Pants

Anyone who knows me from home knows about my 'happy pants'. These pants are my dad's old sweatpants -- XL black, with the old gray and white stripe down the sides -- and they are ridiculously huge on me. I love them. I love them because they make me feel small. I love them because they remind me of my dad. I love them because they make me feel happy in them because I don't care what I look like when I'm in them.
They're sweatpants. There's no way to look great in them, so I feel completely released from the pressures and feel awesome in them instead.

Well, since I now live in Bangkok, and sweatpants are not only impractical but bulky, I had to find other happy pants. Happy pants Bangkok style: shorts. Nowhere near Oregon happy pants, you may argue, but they do have elastic bands around the waist and, well, the bottom of the legs. In other words, they're like Aladdin shorts. Pure awesomeness.

Okay, not the best shot of the shorts, but they are comfortable enough to sleep in. And lounge in. And exercise in. And.....well you get the idea. I could spend days (literally) in my happy pants back home -- especially in the winter time when sweatpants are quite practical. Now that I'm in an extremely humid country, These light, airy shorts are the perfect alternative from the original 'happy pants'. They are the most comfortable things I own -- aside from my full-blown Aladdin pants.

Don't worry, sweatpants, when I eventually come back to Oregon, you'll be the first thing I wear.

In case you're wondering, I do smile when I sleep. :)
Jokes. We had gone to see a French film outside a museum on Valentines Day and I was plum tuckered out by the end of it. My plan had been to get somewhat dressed up for the night; you can see how far that idea went.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How He Loves

God's love just enthralls me. He simply blows me away with how he chases after us. He makes me feel like the most precious, sought-after bride in the world.
How can I ask for anything more?

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.

When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.

And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way

He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A blue [jean] story

Alright, I have nothing really grand to post. It's already the 3rd here in the Philippines (which I can't believe), so since I'm already late with my New Years resolutions, I might as well post something inconsequential.

I went to church today with my lola since I haven't seen her since Christmas Eve. I wanted to greet the pastor of her church as well since he's become a friend of the family's. Anyway, Lola, being the well-meaning and prompt woman that she is, insisted that we attend church early. By early, I mean we showed up an hour and a half before the service. I was sleepy, bored, and otherwise hungry since I didn't eat breakfast or had my morning coffee.

She brings me to the coffee room where I make myself some really horrible instant coffee (I had no way of measuring out how much I needed so I definitely over-scooped myself). After sitting on the old pew trying to cool my coffee, and allowing my lola to introduce me to all these 'titos' and 'titas' who aren't actually related to me at all; she introduces me to this one older gentleman.

This man then proceeds to spill my scalding hot coffee all over my hand and down my jeans. Not even missing a beat, he barely notices my terse reaction and continues to ask me how I am, how are my parents, and how long I've been visiting in the Philippines so far. Trying to follow the Thai way of doing things, I kept a smile on my face while frantically searching for a napkin, paper towel, or rag to wipe myself down with. After watching me scrub at my jeans with a hankie for a couple minutes, and finally noticing that I've only answered one of his questions, he awkwardly moves on to talk to another older woman. I stand, turn in a full circle, and try to think of something to solve the major problem of the giant stain down the front of my pants.

I am swearing up a storm in my head. I'm not feeling guilty at all that I'm in church since the Tagalog service is still going on and my English swear words mean nothing in Tagalog. I mumbled something to my lola about washing myself in the bathroom and dart off. Just my luck, church hasn't even started and instead of 'Sunday best' I look like I put on jeans that haven't been washed in weeks. I was furious. I tried everything in the bathroom -- water, hand sanitizer, spit -- but it was pointless. I had officially become Filipino trash. The only thing I wasn't wearing from Asian markets was my jeans, but now after coffee splattered everywhere, it might as well have been.

But let's not stop here.

After church Lola suggested I go to the mall to grab some lunch and chill out there for a bit so I don't get bored with hanging out at the house. Good idea. Shopping has always been therapeutic. I walk around everywhere, grab some KFC for the first time that day (yup, I had it for dinner too), and eventually make my way to the clothing shops. It was in the back of my mind to look for jeans, but we all know Pinoys are tiny people who wouldn't have double digit sizes even if they imported them, so I decided to window shop instead.

One shop I wandered into had some tops I was willing to try on, so I slipped behind the curtain disguised as a dressing room only to discover the back of my jeans were ripped. Not just a tiny hole, but an inch-and-a-half gap along the hem of my pocket.

It's just a pocket you say. Not just a pocket. It is a bad omen that these jeans will have to be retired soon. This can't happen. I wear American sizes and I'm stuck in Asia. I'm not going home for another six months. These are my only pair of jeans.

In my distraught state, I bought two blouses.

They won't make up for my precious jeans, but it's a start.