Friday, November 7, 2014

Do Hard Things

There are times in life when epiphany strike. There are also times in life when the lack of epiphanies results in an epiphany itself—the realization that “I am doing nothing.”

"What am I doing with my life?” I say this question often, more often in jest than I should. This question pervades my mind every time I see a person younger than I dominate world news. I ask this question of myself every time I find myself in extreme boredom.

Today, however, the Lord impresses upon my heart that the same motto I took upon myself when I was 16 should be the same motto I follow at 26: Do hard things.

Doing hard things means exceeding the expectations. Doing hard things means choosing what is good, right, and important over what is selfish and trivial. Doing hard things means walking where I should go rather than talking all about it. Doing hard things means pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

As a teenager, doing hard things included studying hard, serving in church, helping with household chores, and refusing to indulge in temporal, inconsequential pursuits. As an adult today, doing hard things results in managing all time and financial resources wisely, pushing myself to be the best teacher I can be, being a supportive wife, and being willing to always be learning.

There, I’ve said it—always be learning.

For some reason, the learning involved in teenage years, something so assumed and taken for granted, requires a much more deliberate effort in adulthood. Learning requires humility. Learning requires time. Learning requires the risk of making mistakes.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like mistakes. I avoid new endeavors at all costs because I hate making mistakes, especially when others can see those mistakes. Every time I try cooking a new recipe, I pray extensively for God’s grace lest the food come out disastrous. My cowardice is pathetic, I know; but it’s a real and constant struggle for me.

As a teacher, I often tell my students that making mistakes is part of life. A mistake on a quiz could lead to a corrected answer on a test. A mistake on a test could help one’s memory be corrected in time for final exams. But how well am I applying the same principle in my own life?

Learning should be a constant in the Christian life. A pursuit of God and His kingdom can never end this side of heaven. Whether it comes in the form of sharpening a spiritual discipline, helping in a new ministry, reaching out to people in a new way, contributing to society with a new skill, or as simple as mastering a new recipe—constant learning is inseparable from a serious Christian walk.

And so I pray.

I pray that the Lord will remove my fear of embarrassment and enable me to try new things for His glory. I pray that the Lord will lift my eyes above the trifling frustrations in my life to see the bigger picture of His kingdom. I pray that the Lord will give me a commitment to excellence in every area of life He’s placed me.

I need to be a wife, sister, friend, teacher, daughter, and daughter-in-law who constantly seeks to do hard things. It won’t always be easy, and I might not always succeed—but it will always be what I have to do.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ten Things One Year of Marriage Has Taught Me

1. Never underestimate the influence of your family. It is indeed true that you “marry a family too.” As a couple, you will forever have part in the blessings and burdens each of your birth families bear.

2. There will always be people who know you too little, care about you too little, but talk too much about your life. They’re called busybodies. They’re not likable at all; but the good news is, they don’t have one bit of true bearing on your life.

3. Don’t compare. They may be friends, relatives, colleagues, or any other people in your life. They may always seem to have an easier life. Don’t compare. Comparison breeds pride, self-pity, or just sheer contempt. Don’t compare. Did I happen to mention not to compare?

4. Your spouse should be your very best friend. No person in the whole wide world will ever share experiences the way you two will from now on. What your spouse thinks, acts, and says should be in sync with how you do. Build unity.

5. Turn to God. When trials come, don’t talk behind your spouse’s back or spread rumors about your frustrations. Cast all your burdens upon the One who can truly love and bear your burdens eternally.

6. Ditch the pursuit of romance. Measuring marriage by romance is a self-destructive goal. Romance is what results from, not what begins, a solid relationship of marital love.

7. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone. In every new marriage, the husband or the wife will have to do certain responsibilities that their birth parent of the same gender never had to do. Allow your expectations to become flexible. Enjoy figuring out your roles and tasks together. Marriage is, at the end of the day, a partnership.

8. Adjustment is normal. No two individuals naturally agree in everything. Don’t let differences frustrate you. Work them out patiently—over days, weeks, months, or years.

9. Respect your spouse’s family traditions. Those traditions may seem strange or uncomfortable to you, but they’ve been around for a while in your spouse’s life. While you don’t have to embrace them, do respect them and participate when you can. Respect the elders’ habits, and start your own traditions with your spouse.

10. Live by God’s timeline. How we plan our life is usually different from how God plans it because He knows better. Don’t try to get ahead of God nor lag behind Him. Maximize your marriage with what He gives day after day.