Monday, July 30, 2007

Repetitive Heartaches

A girl thinks that she is just being friendly with a guy, but before she knows it, he is asking permission to court her. A guy feels that he's merely sibling-like friends with a girl, and though she reacts similarly, her friends know that she clearly likes him. A girl feels jealous over a guy, but she is just being possessive over someone who has no given commitment to her. A guy wants to court a girl, but he is wary of intruding upon her life's plans. A girl falls deeply for a guy who likes another, and she broods in misery over her unrequitted feelings.

I have observed, experienced, seen, heard, and played witness to all these scenarios multiple times within the last few years. And sometimes I can't help but wonder why these foolish human cycles repeat themselves. Why should such sad heartaches happen so often? Why can't we humans know the better through observation instead of letting ourselves hurt each other repetitively?

I cannot give an outright answer. Some people blame it on youth, some on idleness, and some on inconsideration. I don't know, yet I do know one thing. We are fallen human beings, and we are stubborn.

So often I see such situations at their developmental stage, yet do not take action. It may be out of selfish pleasure, or it is often because I am too lazy to warn my friends against their actions. It doesn't feel nice to tell good friends that their actions are improper, and it is even harder to convince them to believe you. Giving constructive criticism is a thankless job.

If friends are difficult to convince, then the self is even harder. So with all these factors at hand, more often than not, I refrain to advice, to rebuke, to discourage certain thoughts or actions, be it myself or a friend involved. After all, who wants to alienate personal pleasure or friends' esteem?

Yet each time I see another such scenario repeat itself, I can only wonder why I did not act. If I had spoken up, if I had exercised more wisdom, would things have been different? Could the heartache be avoided? Had I once more missed a chance for God to use me? I can't help but wonder...and the thought haunts me...

Christian love is honest, patient, and rejoicing in the ultimate welfare of the other. Perhaps I need a little bit more self-control, a little bit more boldness and love for my friends. Perhaps some heartaches could be avoided yet.

Lord, use me, I pray...mold me to obey.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Reading God in Jane Austen

This past Wednesday, I finished reading the book Persuasion by one of my favorite authors--Jane Austen, the writer of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma. There are very few authors who can match her craft with profound vocabulary, English social satire, and a grasp on human nature, particularly that of femininity.

Her craftsmanship, however, is not the only reason for my adoration of her works. There is something intangible that makes her stories appealing to me, and it took me years to analyze it out.

Persuasion did not captivate me from the first chapter like Emma or Pride and Prejudice did. It seemed boring at first, and there seemed to be no promise of a happy resolution for the heroine Anne and the man she loved. Yet something kept me reading, and that something directed me to see why Austen writes in a way that nurtures faith in the divine.

In all of Austen's novels that I've read, there is always a happy ending, an ending in matrimony that gives total poetic justice to all the characters involved. The heroines always end up with the men that suite them best, even when those men were initially disregarded by them or uninterested in them. In reading every novel, I could trust in a perfect ending, even if I know that the leading man for the heroine might not be what I expected. There will be a just and happy ending...and that kept me reading.

Another element of Jane Austen's heroines that teaches me a lesson is their need to prove themselves before receiving their "prince charming." Anne had to prove her steadfastness, Emma had to admit her misled notions, Elizabeth had to overcome her prejudice, and so on. These women had to earn their happiness, and prove their worthiness of a perfect ending.

These were two ideas that kept me reading Persuasion, and as with every other time, I wasn't disappointed. I read my perfect ending, and I rejoiced that Anne earned it for herself.

At the same time, those two ideas came to be applied to myself. God has a perfect resolution for every person's love story, and that is enough encouragement to "read on." The ending might not be what is initially apparent or expected, but God is in charge and has His perfect plan.

As His children, however, we are not supposed to wait passively for this perfect ending to come upon us. While we can never prove deserving of any gift from God, we could still strive to be as worthy of His presents as we can be. I don't know what form that "perfect ending" would take for me, for my family, and for my friends...but the Great Author is writing, and I will happily, anticipatingly read on.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Family Business

My mom likes to joke with her Young Professional fellowship that she works in the family business. Given the fact that her parents, siblings, husband, and self are all in the ministry, I guess that joke is valid.

Reflecting this background, my own immediate family is growing basically within the ministry. From joining children's choir at two years of age up to choosing to handle a leadership camp, I've always lived life within the boundaries of church ministries, as have my two brothers after me.

When the family was talking the other day, we realized that this morning would be a "typical Sunday." In other words, everyone has a job. My dad would be preaching, my mom would be worship-leading the children, I would be playing the piano for adult service, and my brother Dan playing for junior. It's a family business.

I am thankful to God for giving His grace to our entire family, allowing us all to serve Him together. However, there is always the tendency to take things for granted. I was born into this, raised into this, grown into this. Serving the Lord sometimes becomes no more significant than inheriting an earthly possession or trade from older relatives. Very often, I forget that I am an individual blessed individually by the Lord with an opportunity to serve Him.

As I was preparing my heart for worship this morning, God seemed to whisper to me, "Wen, who are you playing for?" That question, and the answer it required, called me to re-focus on the Lord.

Who am I playing for? At times, I play to impress. At times, I play for my family's legacy, and at other times, I play merely because I enjoy it. Serving the Lord is about more than expectations, family or otherwise. I must remember the honor and sacredness of serving Him...after all, I am a blessed individual serving one God alone.