Saturday, September 21, 2013

Storming in Friendship

Currently a friend and I are...well, to be honest, I'm not sure what we are or where we are.

She and I have become really close over the past two years. We first connected during college over similarities between struggles with our high school best friends. After that, God continued to highlight her in the midst of all the people in my life. He wanted me to pay special attention to her and make sure she knew she was seen and valued. She's been there for me countless times. We've both been deeply scarred by past friendships, especially with the aforementioned best friends. Time and time again, when I expect to be disappointed or have a similar outcome occur, she proved me wrong. Our friendship has tested many harsh waves. It's experienced the tranquility of calm seas and beautiful ocean sunsets. We've seen the best and the worst of each other. We can read each other pretty well. In fact...I'd say she's one of the closest friends I've ever had. At least, up until this point in my life.

With this said, we both just graduated from college and recognize that our friendship will look different. Both of us are working together in the same internship but we will have different part time jobs and will hardly see each other during our internship unless necessary.

I wish I could say with confidence that we will remain friends for a long time, truly I want that with all my heart. I just don't know how to do that right now. Everything that I used to do doesn't work anymore. So much has changed for us externally and internally. Sometimes I don't have the slightest clue what she's thinking or feeling. Sometimes she feels so far away. Sometimes I wish I knew how to care for her, but when I try to, it feels irrelevant to what she needs. Far be it that I can meet her needs, but I want so badly to know that I am with her, in the good and the bad.

Sometimes I'm too focused on my own insecurities and feelings to really put myself in her shoes. 
... Today, I finally surrendered our friendship to you, God.
Because I am totally and completely lost.
I cannot do this friendship without you.
I need you to lead me because everything I seem to do either doesn't help or makes things worse.
Maybe the role I've played is not meant to be the role I stay in.
Jesus, I don't know what my role is in her life.
What kind of friend should I be?

Now I have a hard time believing I can read her at all.
I focus on my insecurities as being a bad friend and miss on what's happening currently--
miss her facial expressions, her tone of voice, subtle hints that would tell me
and sadly, sometimes I'm so fixed on my own thoughts and feelings that I miss what she SAYS.

God, help me. Forgive me for the ways that I've been trying to keep our friendship going on my own strength and wisdom. As if I know her best. I don't.
I don't. 
Sometimes she's one of the THE most complex people.

I need to trust you. I know I do.
Because our friendship would not last without you.
I need to believe that you have the best in mind for both of us.
That you are caring for both of us in more ways than I can imagine.
I acknowledge that I am weak. That I'm insecure. That I make mistakes.
Sometimes I'm impulsive. And stubborn.
But despite that, I believe that you use broken people.

I've been so incredibly blessed to have had her as a friend.
To know her as well as I do.
To have share numerous bouts of laughter
and countless tears.
To have leaned on each other during difficult times
God, please help me to trust you no matter what happens.

God... I want to believe you can make this friendship more beautiful than I can.
That where our friendship is now is not where it will be forever.
That I only see a snapshot and you see the entire picture.

God, we need you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Embracing Myself and Being Embraced

For a while now, I’ve been struggling.

Being the only Chinese American leader in Intervarsity has been difficult. I go to UC Riverside, one of the most racially diverse campuses in the nation. What you need to understand is that there are many different Christian communities on our campus. More than half focus on a specific Asian ethnic group (ie. AACP, KCM, KCCC, A2F). Needless to say, I had many options. When I first when to Intervarsity, one of the first things I became aware of was that as a Chinese American, I was a minority there. It was a totally new experience for me.
For reasons I did not understand, God made it clear to me that I was to stay in Intervarsity, THE most racially diverse Christian org on campus.

To me, it was crazy because I grew up surrounded by Chinese culture and people. I grew up going to a Chinese church, Chinese private school, mostly Chinese friends… you get the picture!

It’s been challenging being a part of this community. Sometimes I need to explain myself-why I say certain things a certain way, or do things in a specific way because that’s the way I was raised and I’ve been influenced by my culture.
And I get tired because people don’t fully understand me. Especially in the ways it’s been a sacrifice.
Being Asian American, it is a real stereotype that we are pushed by our family to achieve academic success. We could argue this point,(and I’m not saying this isn’t true for other races and individuals) but for me, it was held above many things (including youth group and such. that’s a story for another time).
When I became more and more involved with Intervarsity, eventually stepping into a student leadership position, I was faced with some tension from my parents. They noticed how much time I was spending building relationships with people and serving in this community. My dad sent meany red flags and warnings- basically saying that if school was being sacrificed, I should cut Intervarsity out of my life because it wasn’t necessary.
I was afraid to let anyone know how alone I was feeling in this. I felt like it wasn’t even such a big deal, feeling alone and that I shouldn’t even bother mentioning it. I told myself that I should get over it, that I didn’t have to tell anyone because it wasn’t important. There were more important things to worry about.

This past Wednesday, we had a speaker come talk about racial reconciliation. At the end there was a time of reflection where they asked us to think about racial conflicts in our lives and challenged us to take steps towards forgiveness and reconciliation in those areas.They were also inviting people to receive prayer if they needed it.
I heard these things but I didn’t want to. I can’t explain it in words, but basically I was wrestling with God. He was bringing up something entirely different for me. He was bringing up the things I’d pushed aside and buried inside. The ways I’d been feeling so alone and isolated. Where I’d been feeling tired and burned out.
After a few minutes of an intense inner battle, I went up for prayer.
Before I knew what was happening, I was spilling out all the things I was feeling. The tears wouldn’t stop. When the speaker prayed for me, she said she was reminded of the woman with the alabaster jar.
Jesus is honored and pleased with your sacrifice.”
I felt a new freedom and peace and joy. I can’t fully explain it but it was amazing. It was like in that moment, Jesus was hugging me and whispering,
Well done, my good and faithful servant.
A lot of things happened after this. She and my staff worker encouraged me to share with the other leaders (about 15 others) about how I’ve been feeling at our next leader’s meeting, which was on Sunday. I still felt nervous.
On Friday, I received prayer from my mentor and right before she began she told me,
A picture that just came to mind was when Jesus was first baptized. This is before he even began his ministry and God was pleased with him. Proud of him.”
And I couldn’t help but smile and tear up because I knew exactly what it meant to me. God was telling me he was proud of me and loved me even before I do anything.
Let’s skip to Sunday.
Our weekly leader’s meeting. We had other things to do before then but at the back of my mind, I knew what was coming and I was shaking inside. It’s part of my culture to keep struggles and weaknesses inside. But Intervarsity has challenged me to be vulnerable and face conflict instead of avoiding it. So here I was, face to face with the choice to open my heart to a large group of people, many of whom I didn’t know very well.
I wrestled with God again. “It’s not even that big of a deal. Maybe I don’t even have to share. This should be enough.” But I knew God was saying, “No. Don’t choose to be alone again. I love you. Let them know.”
Eventually, at the end of the meeting, I shared. And I couldn’t help it but I cried while I shared. It was so quiet and I could feel everyone’s eyes on me but I couldn’t look at anyone. After I shared, one of my leaders thanked me and suggest everyone gather around me and pray for me.
“Let’s thank God for Denise and affirm who she is.”
It was one of the most awkward moments…ever.
But it was also one of the most amazing moments.
I was surrounded by people who loved me. And as they prayed for me, one by one, I felt like I was flying. They were thanking God for me being in their community and thanking me for being … me. haha. It was a humbling and uplifting experience.
People thanked me for things I wasn’t even aware of.
I want to share some of the things they said. I am so humbled and filled with joy at hearing these things.
Here were some of the things said:
“God, I thank you for her big heart. She was the first to come up to me and want to get to know me. When she hugs me, I can feel the genuine love.”
“I wouldn’t be here without her. She looks so much like you, Jesus.”
I thank you for her friendship, her big heart, her generosity and her friendship.”
“Our community wouldn’t be the same without her.”
“Her genuine love for people is so clear. God, I thank you for the ways she has sacrificed to love those around her.”
“God, I thank you for the joy she brings.”
When one of my closer friends was praying for me, she choked up at the end and I knew she was crying. What is shocking is that… she pretty much never cries. Afterwards, she came up to me and hugged me. She told me that when I was sharing, before everyone prayed, she couldn’t stop crying.
“I had rivers of tears coming out when you were sharing. … I am seriously so thankful for you. You saved my life. And you saved the life of my best friend.”
My breath caught and I was shaking inside. “No, it wasn’t me. It was Jesus. Jesus saves.”
She looked at me. “Yes, he does. But he used you.”

It felt so good to know that I’m doing it right. That I’m living the way Jesus wants me to and that people notice it too and are blessed by it. That I’m not just living for myself. That people know that I’m doing it out of genuine love.
If you had met me two years ago, I was definitely not like this. It’s only because I’ve experienced Jesus’ great love for me that I’ve changed so much.
 It’s because of his love that I can love like I couldn’t before. It’s because of his love that I am filled with joy and people see it.
God you are so amazing. I don’t have enough words to praise you. Thank you for using me and putting me in such a community.
And for those of you who are feeling alone or have never experienced this kind of community and love, I am here to tell you that it’s not just for me. It’s not just for a few special individuals. It’s for everyone.
But better than any person could love you,
Jesus is the best lover you could ever have.
I challenge and encourage you to give him a chance.
Because I can promise that once you experience his love,
your whole life will change. You won’t ever be able to go back :]
I’m crazy for Jesus and it’s amazing to know he’s crazy for me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Resolve and Resolution

As the start of a new year draws closer, I can't say that I'm not nervous.
So many new things are going to take place-- new experiences, new people, new places
Man... I can hardly believe I only have a few more years before I'm done with college and then fully stepping into the "real world". 
I'm nervous... but not afraid

I realize that I have some growing up to do and I'm thankful for those who have helped to point it out. It was a wake up call. One that I really needed. 

It made me see that every single day is full of great potential. Every PERSON is full of great potential. But it is ENTIRELY up to you of how you spend a day and how you use what's given. 
Whether you choose to give or take. Whether you choose to fight or surrender. Whether you choose to love or hate. Whether you choose to ignore or listen. 
It's a choice. Everything is a choice. 

I don't ever want to hear anyone say "But I had no choice!" because there is ALWAYS a choice. 
A choice of action. A choice of response. 

I thought about ignoring people when they pointed out my mistakes and stumbling blocks... there are times that I have, but I've learned to take advice humbly and with an open mind. 
Even if it's not the nicest thing to hear, there is always something I can learn. 

So... I choose to listen. And to act. 
I'm going to jump with both feet instead of having one foot on either side of the line. 
There are times to play it safe and there are times to risk it all. 

When it gets hard (and there is no doubt in my mind that it WILL be hard), I will fight with everything I am unless I know I need to let go and surrender. 

I resolve to continue growing and learning because there is never an ending to it unless you choose to purposely avoid it. 

I also choose to love. Not that cheesy romance stuff you see on tv or in books (even though I DO really enjoy that stuff...) 

It's that love that "never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures every circumstance".
I want to say what I mean and mean what I say. 
I want to help someone even when no one else will. 
I want to stand for what is right even if everyone else choose to sit. 

I know that.. despite my hopes, not everyone will accept me. Not everyone will be my friend. Not everyone will support me or stay with me but... 
for those who do, I will do my best to do the same. 
And for those who don't... I will do my best to treat you fairly and love you like a friend, but I also won't let myself be taken advantage of. 

I may not know everything about myself, but I DO know who I want to be and I will strive for it. 

I know I'm not strong... in fact, I see myself as someone weak. But I'll continue to work at becoming stronger because there's a fight worth fighting and prize worth claiming. 

I'm going to run this race with everything I have until my last breath. 

I hope you will too because even though it's hard, life is good.

I wish you hope, joy and truth!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Waiting. Second chances. Giving up.

If anyone thinks waiting isn't hard, let them try it before coming to me and saying that it isn't. I don't just mean waiting in line for something. Or waiting for a friend to text you back. 

...waiting for the right moment to tell the truth about how you feel about someone. 
...waiting for the right person and not just hoping someone is-- actually using time, YEARS, to get to know someone inside out before deciding you want to spend your life with them. 
waiting for a friend who's turned their back on you, hurt you, betrayed you

... waiting for them with opened arms. 

Many people would and will tell me "That's pointless. Why wait? They've already left! You don't even know if they're ever coming back! You're wasting your time." 

It's true that I don't know if they'll ever come back to me. But pointless? Not at all. 
Waiting doesn't mean you're not doing anything yourself in that time. 

Even in simple scenarios like waiting for class to begin, you do something to distract yourself- listen to music, doodle, text, talk with someone nearby, whatever. 

So in the time you wait for someone, which could be years, you are still doing something yet still holding onto the hope that they will come back one day. 

"Hope? That's the most idiotic thing I've heard. It's gone and done. You're hoping on something hopeless." 

Well, let me ask you... would you rather have someone tell you that you're hopeless and that you'll never amount to anything or have someone believe in you? 

There will always be people who tell me that I'm hoping on something that is pointless... but if that person means something to me, it's not pointless. 

Maybe instead of pointing your finger at the other person you're waiting on and saying "They'll never never change. They'll always be the same. They're not coming back and when they fall, they'll come back and realize I'm not going to be there to help them stand" as you turn your back and never look back... Instead...
Instead... why don't YOU change? 
Why are you giving up? 
If you give up, really, did you love them? Did you care enough to go back? 

Even if you WERE right, even if you "told them so", it's YOUR choice whether you stay or go. It's YOUR choice whether you give them another chance. 

Just think though... If it were YOU... wouldn't you want a second chance? 

So, when things get hard, you're going to walk away? So you're going to close your eyes, cover your ears and walk away from someone who's hurting? 
Even if they're bleeding on the ground at your feet?

Yes, it will hurt. Yes, it's hard. Yes, they may not always come back... 
But for those who do...
It will be the sweetest reunion. 

Think about it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


My heart hurts as the reality of the changes this year become more prominent with each new day. I know that not all the changes will be bad, but it's the fear of the unknown that is gripping me and it shakes me to the core. The realization that things may never be the same again. Along with the fear comes excitement and anticipation in the fact that my days will never be the same-- There will be no repetitive days. A repetitive cycle, maybe, but never a day. There will always be something new and something different. Something to look forward to and things I wish I could avoid. Reasons to hold on and let go. Someone to laugh and cry with.

There's so much I'm feeling right now that I can't really focus on anything. I feel like laughing and crying at the same time. There's so much... in this life. Things that don't last and things that do. People who will be in my life for a moment and others that will be there for a lifetime. Memories that will resurface and others that will always remain. Feelings that will make me want to run and shout and others that will make me fall to my knees and cry. Moments that will fly by and others that will stretch into eternity.

Realizations and revelations about
who I am and what this life is supposed to be like. 

It's so different from KNOWING something and UNDERSTANDING something. You can know how find the solution to a problem but if you don't necessarily have to understand the process or reasoning. There's also a big difference between UNDERSTANDING and BELIEVING
A few days ago, understanding hit me like a freight train. What love really is. The best definition, explanation, and guideline for love resides in 1Corinthians 13. 

Love isn't earned but freely given.

Also, saying that you'll be there for someone may be good and well, but in all honesty, it's hard for the other person because there's nothing to hold onto except a promise. Promises are fragile and are easily broken. Actions truly speak louder than words. 
When the opportunity comes, when the right doors open, I WILL be there. It won't just be words on a screen but words from my mouth as I stand before you as I am. 

Just like how you'd rather have the real person instead of a phone call, text message, email, or letter. Not that those things aren't good or treasured but... there's something immensely different about having someone actually there, close enough to touch and hear. 

So many.... so much... it's overwhelming but I won't stop. I will fight what needs to be fought. I will stand my ground when all I really want to do is run. I will run when all I want to do is stay and argue. I will do my best to love. 

1 Corinthians 13:13--"Three things will last forever- faith, hope and love- the greatest of these is LOVE."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

True Freedom


-learning to love yourself
-no longer being ashamed of something you did
-being forgiven
-unashamed dancing or singing
-realizing that the way you've been defined isn't really who you are
-seeing yourself as beautiful
-realizing you were made for more
-not finding your worth in any one person
-breaking free from statuses and labels
-hugging someone without caring what it looks like to others
-finding joy in knowing that you are loved despite whatever you've done or will do
-having peace and believing you're taken care of

*realizing that you are FREE in Christ.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Walk-In Surprise

Being a college student means being on top of things.
Like managing your schedule and making sure your grades
are up to par with your major requirements (you know,
besides the fun stuff in between).
Well, I recently realized that I was in danger of failing a class
and I planned to see my academic adviser this morning.
Walk-in hours were from 9-11am, so I set my alarm at 8 am, 
confident that everything would be fine.

Next morning,
something doesn't feel right.
I'm thinking to myself,
It'll be alright. I'm going to wake up, and
be one of the first ones there

and sort things out with an adviser.
Several minutes later.
Wait... something feels wrong.
Shouldn't my alarm have gone off by now? 
. . .

I suddenly spring out of my bed and look at the time
to find that... it's 10:12!!!
By now, I'm freaking out because it's one of the last days that I can
get help for my situation so you can imagine me sprinting to campus
(which, distance-wise, isn't exactly a walk in the park).

On my way there, I remember to pray even as I'm racing against time.
It went something like this:
God, I know that I woke up late. There's no one to blame but myself,
and even though this is a scary situation right now, I believe that you can
still redeem it. I'm going to have faith and believe, if it's your will,
that I will make it in time to see an adviser. And even if I don't, I know that
you  still have things under control and I don't need to worry.

Just then, I was reminded of an adviser who had helped me out last spring.
Another little miracle in itself, but that will be saved for another time.
What you need to know though is that this adviser helped me when
she technically wasn't supposed to and ever since, I've been
wanting to personally thank her.
Seriously, it's one of those things you'll never forget.

When she came to mind, I quickly added,
And God, if it's possible, can I please see that adviser from last time?
I want to thank her so much for her help.

Now, you also have to understand that during this time of year,
trying to meet with an adviser is practically the equivalent of
trying to juggle bowling balls.With one hand.
Everyone's fighting tooth and nail to get advice and help.
I remember once waiting almost an hour before I could see an adviser.

But still, even as the clock was ticking, I raced toward my school's office.
Walking in at 10:35, the first thing I noticed was that...
it was EMPTY.
There was all of three people waiting in that office.
At first I thought it was a trick, but I still went and signed myself in.

Lo and behold, within five minutes my name was called and as
I looked up to see who my adviser was--
-insert dramatic pause-
It was the same adviser I had prayed to meet.

Some of you might be thinking "Come on. She's in the office.
How crazy is it really that you have her again?"
First of all, I'm a Business major
(Pre-Business technically, but keeping my fingers crossed).
Those of you who are in college,
have been in college,
or have looked into college--
know that it's one of the most popular majors.
What does this mean?
It means the number of advisers for Business majors
largely outnumber advisers for different majors.

To get the same adviser in a walk-in appointment is
about as likely as finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

I won't bore you with the details of the short conversation I had
with my adviser, but I will say that I'm more at peace with
my academic standing.

Needless to say, I was incredibly blessed and blown out of my mind
at how things played out today. It was perfectly orchestrated.

All I can say is:

My God is an awesome God
and he cares about the little things in my life.

Thanks, God.
You are too amazing