It’s been a long time since I’ve actually written anything here, and I’m trying to change that. I just realized that there was a draft I had written on March 26 that I kept meaning to extend into maybe 3 or 4 posts about different things, but I somehow just never got around to it (I will post it after editing tomorrow if it’s worth posting). I could blame it on being busy at school, or on not wanting to post about all the personal things that were happening in my life in the last 3 months, but really there are always excuses that I don’t want to make anymore, because I need to write in order to process what is happening and to better understand and remember the things that God is teaching me. This is important especially now that I’ve finished another (physical) journal and am postponing journal-writing until I can get a new one. Currently my usable excuse for not writing is that I’m in China and the censoring of wordpress makes it hard for me to post at all (webpage keeps freezing), but that’s silly, I’ll just write this in a Word document and post it later. The other reason I keep putting it off is because I don’t want to spend too much time on my computer during the day but I keep passing out at around 10pm due to my jet lag, which I’m trying my best to preserve… but anyway, this is me maybe sacrificing being able to wake up every morning at 7am a little earlier than I’d hoped, but I’ll thank myself for writing sooner rather than later. So here’s me pushing myself to commit to blogging again, hopefully at least weekly, and probably more this first week, since I’ve got so many thoughts stockpiled up.
Praise the Lord for an amazing summer so far—technically I’ve been done since May 15, when I turned in all my final papers and officially finished my sophomore year of college (!!), though I didn’t feel like it was ‘real’ summer break until I came home to Shanghai two days ago. It’s been a wonderful month of fellowship and fun with friends at school, then spending lots of time with my family as we attended a week’s worth of my sister’s commencement activities, and then ten days in California visiting old friends and relatives, seeing old sights, and eating old (but still delicious) foods (by this of course I mean food that we used to eat when we lived there, not food that is actually old… there is probably a better way to say this). I won’t go into much detail because it would take up about ten pages, but basically God has been teaching me quite a few things in this time, even though I haven’t been so great about actively seeking him every day since school ended (more on this in a bit). In summary:
1) Through observing (and occasionally partaking in) various conflicts within my family during the short time we spent together, I’ve come to realize (again) just how lacking we are in love. Human love is neither sufficient for satisfying our desire to be loved and understood, nor is it strong enough for us to love and understand others beyond a very narrow limit. That’s why it is so important for a family to be rooted in Christ, and united by each individual’s love of God rather than just our love for one another, the latter being made perfect only through the outpouring of His love through these broken hearts of ours. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). I only ever understood this as, “we love God because he first loved us”, but in reality we have no true capacity to love anyone except through God’s love. Thankfully, this is something that he freely pours out over us, so that sentence then becomes somewhat like an imperative: We must love God and love our neighbors, because of God’s love for us.
2) God gives us all wisdom and insight into his Word. He is also delighted to give wisdom when we seek it so that we might know him more—I am reminded of King Solomon—and of course, as a Father, always wants to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11). This is something I learned when I was trying to write a summer devotional for my fellowship. I may write more about this later.
3) Wherever God has placed me, that is my mission field. I learned this last summer, but apparently not well enough, so God has been reminding me of this especially by showing me how he has been working in the lives of my high school friends. Praise God for breakthroughs and unexpected opportunities to share! May all of my relationships be Christ-centered.
Ok, I’ll keep it at that for now. The original praise I wanted to write was actually much simpler, just that today was my second full day at home and I am thankful for how God has allowed me to spend my time so far, reading, exercising, cooking, playing instruments, and hanging out a lot with my mom and my auntie (ah yee), etc. It just goes to show though, how much more there is to give praise for, and how much better I remember it when I write! Anyway, my prayer request actually follows from this praise, and it is this:
I want to be very intentional about my time here at home this summer (about 4 weeks added together, 2.5 now and 1.5 in August). Since I first came home from college last year, I’ve noticed a scary trend in my attitude and behavior over long breaks, where I start out ecstatic to be back and pumped up for productivity, rest, and reunions with friends and family–but after about a week I tend to burn out, and eventually fall into a state of complete disengagement with the world around me.
The first time I attributed it to the shock of transitioning to college and being homesick and depressed, but when it happened again last winter I realized that something was wrong. I think a big part of it has to do with a lie that the devil tries to plant in my head about resting and the difference between home life and school life. The danger of wanting so badly to take a break from everything after a tiring semester is that I easily fall into the trap of also ‘taking a break’ from my walk with God.
In all honesty, I am a very lazy person, and it is all too easy for me to sit around at home in my living room with a cat in my lap, watching TV or reading a book or doing absolutely nothing (this is actually possible, believe me) for days on end. Rest is a good thing, and sometimes this is a great and very enjoyable way to pass an afternoon, but after the first two days of this, I can literally feel the joy being drained out of my daily existence. I wonder that when this happened before, I did not run straight back to Jesus, but I think it is because I was already so mired in self-indulgent boredom and pity and sluggishness that I couldn’t even bring myself to pray. I don’t think it even occurred to me until after I went back to school. I assumed that my gloom was an unavoidable result of too much unscheduled free time and not enough people to spend it with.
The funny thing about that is that I was the one being anti-social, avoiding contacting anyone for the longest time and then only very reluctantly going to meet them if they called me. I took on a very apathetic attitude towards my high school friends, thinking that college relationships were much more meaningful whereas in high school we mostly only talked about shallow things and so I hardly knew some of these people and couldn’t be bothered to make small talk with them now that we had even less in common. But I think I am to blame for not taking the steps to try and change that, and also for not taking seriously the relationships that God has blessed me with in the past, even if they aren’t (yet) very deep.
So I’m not entirely sure yet what I can do specifically to fight this breaktime-depressive-syndrome, except I suppose that identifying a problem is the first step to solving it, right? My prayer request is that I will be intentional with my time, not just by doing “productive” things, (because I know I can veer off in the other direction by becoming meaninglessly busy) but by actively seeking God each day in prayer, in the Word, and in praise, and asking him to teach me something, or use me in someone else’s life in some way. Someone in my youth group once said that testimonies shouldn’t just be about that one big conversion or a-ha moment when you realized God was real, but they should be every day. Our God is alive and working every moment of every day and it just takes a “yes” and maybe also a “please” to let him use you to be a part of that work. At the end of last summer I tried to write down one or two lines every day about what God was teaching me that day, and I kept it going for about a month. I want to see if I can do that again, but for this entire summer.
I pray that God will give me the perseverance to follow him wholeheartedly this summer, even though it’s harder for me to be focused when I don’t have a fixed schedule or close accountability partners around me all the time. I pray that he will challenge me this summer and teach me more about his character and his will for my life each and every day. I want to give up my time, attitude, and my aspirations all to You. Let me live a life that truly reflects my belief in your gift of salvation and the gradual redemption of everything and everyone around me. Thank you for pushing me to reflect. Amen.