Was feeling inspired. =) Didn’t even add about what happened today, felt discouraged cause I missed this opportunity to talk to guy who was looking for a church, discouraged cause of rejected flyers, but then, turns out the guy I flyered to, Lily’s friend, felt bad about rejecting my flyer, because I was so personal and kind, so kind that he was willing to come out to a2f on friday, to see what it’s all about. =) God of the unexpected.
When I was younger, my parents took me and my sister to church. My parents wanted us to go to church so that we would learn how to be good obedient little children. The whole time that I was there, I didn’t learn anything about what Christianity was really about. It was a good church, but I wasn’t a good attendee, and never really paid attention, and instead, I would always fall asleep during Sunday services or just go to the fun stuff and then leave before service. As I got a bit older, I began trying to see Christianity in a negative light. All around me, all the Christians around me seemed to all be disingenuous, assumed them to all be doing things for the wrong reasons, in the sense that I thought the things that Christians do they do because they fear God, and they are merely obedient out of fear, without any genuine compassion for the good things they might do for broken people. I thought that Christians were lied to, and did things based upon lies, as I thought that doing good things won’t bring salvation. They thought that doing good things would bring them salvation. I though that Christians never thought for themselves, and they only did things because other people told them to, because God told them to, and in this way, I thought that Christians were stupid in not thinking for themselves. I thought that Christians were people who never thought for themselves and the only reason they did good things for others was because they feel bad that they made Jesus die for them on the cross. I thought that Christians were people who were futilely trying to repay their debt of Jesus dying on the cross, and that it was all a sort of transaction, and the broken people were just the people stuck in the middle as I thought they only viewed people as a way into getting into the good graces of God. I thought Christians only pretended to show compassion so that God could save them. That is not to say that the Christians I grew up with were this way, merely that I was looking for a way to see them in a negative light. Ironically, I was the one who didn’t think for myself, because I just believed in what my parents told me, about church, and how it was just a place to learn how to be good. Well, being good was easy, being good for the right reasons is hard. And so, I never thought that Church would be able to teach being good for the right reasons. And so, after concluding this, prematurely for myself, I decided to leave at the age of 11, and go out and explore the different ideas and worldviews the world had to offer. I settled on Agnosticism, the in between, not saying there is a god, not saying there isn’t. I thought this would be the most amicable way so as not to alienate or harm anyone, or insult anyone. I didn’t know that God had other plans for me. Although I claimed to be agnostic, I always knew that there was something weird about the way in which my life worked. Something weird about how the things I go through end up benefiting me in the end, end up being for my good. I had just attributed this as me just learning from my mistakes or seeing the good in everything, in a positive light. I thought it came from me, this ability, to see the world merely through rose colored glasses, and beauty in the world.
Emotional Distance. After I concluded that a God who only wanted actions without the heart, after I concluded that God was a bad thing for people, after I concluded that God taught people to do good things for bad reasons, I began to be proud in thinking for myself. NO longer did my parents dictate what was good, bad, right, wrong, what to do, what not to do. I would stay out late at night, get into all sorts of trouble, dealing with cops and drugs and stupid things that I thought made me better, more intelligent, and more enlightened than anybody else. The crowd I hung out with was never delinquent, they were the smart kids who also occasionally smoked weed, the smart kids who I thought had it all figured it out. And so in joining them I thought I had it all figured out. There was completed, but such things never satisfied. I didn’t know it at the time, but the drugs were merely numbing the thing that I didn’t want to feel, which was my general unease at the world and the utter dissatisfaction in the way my life had turned out, my dissatisfaction in the way that this world is, without any true joy. I remember I would drown myself in the media and television, watching endless hours of cartoons, playing endless hours of videogames, I remember thinking to myself one Saturday, after all the cartoons had ended, man, Saturdays are boring without tv. Without tv, life felt empty, and once I realized that my life could only be filled by tv, I felt empty. But It was all I had, so I just kept it up. Eventually though, tv wasn’t enough. I began looking for other ways to feel fulfilled and false joys to feel satisfied. I found pornography to be another false source of freedom, a way to do what I wanted and to feel something, while at the same time, to numb, and to make me feel fulfilled, I turned to pornography as a way to stimulate and imitate the feeling I was searching for. These false joys were never true. Yet, I never saw them as false joys, if anything, I felt that my joys were better than the things that other people chased after. I arrogantly looked down on people who found significance in money, because money just came from parents, and nothing good comes from parents, so, they must just be deluded by the money. I saw grades in the same way, people who cared so much about grades, enough to hang out after class to hang out after class to talk to the teacher, that’s just trying too hard and being desperate, and having it own you. I thought I was so great not having an owner, no God, no masters. When I viewed people in this way, I didn’t let them know that I felt this way, I hated, inside my heart, and I just closed it off, thinking that this is just the way the world is, a world that believes in falsehoods, a world that can only have this temporary joy and temporary feeling. And so, resigned to this conclusion, I began to view people with what they thought was compassion. The person with money, I saw them as the victim of money, as I viewed people as victims of this world. While that is true, the way in which I thought this, viewed this, or expressed this, was only intellectual. I looked down on people who were in relationships because I thought they were just lying to the other, and I was very cynical, and I thought that being cynical was very honest, I thought that being cynical is how you realize that there is a world in need of compassion, and how being a cynic is how someone becomes compassionate. Cynicism is just one of the things that I experienced during … I began to do this thing where I explained the world around me. In my quest to find all the answers, after thinking that God wasn’t the answer, I began to try to explain everything about the world around me. Why do people chase after money, I explained people as if they are trying to get happy, with something that won’t make them happy. I didn’t view the tragedy of this, and merely really explained the reasoning for this. I explained that people chased after love, because they were craving attention, and explained that there is a reason for us, a desire to be cared for, and to have someone attend to us in this manner. I reasoned that idea, and I looked down on people who chased after money, love, and grades. I thought myself so much better, so much more enlightened because I gave money to the poor, volunteered in the red cross, getting A’s in papers and tossing them in the trash, and by having other people like me, but never showing that I liked them back. Alexa. With my pride, I elevated myself and distanced myself from these average people who just did as they were taught, and just did as they were told. But someone taught them to follow money, their parents get a good job, get good grades, taught them that love was the answer, Disney movies, and I figured, I was taught that too, but I chose not to do things that I were taught. That act of rebellion was where I figured I was so much better than those who fell to the convincing things of this world. By thinking that I was so much better, I thought that I wasn’t being fooled myself. By distancing myself from all these people, that I just thought was stupid, gullible, and foolish. I failed to interact with any person on any true, heart to heart level. A friend of mine once told me, that I’m not a good friend, because in our friendship, they thought that they cared more about me more than I cared about them. And it’s not even about refuising this, like what are you saying, of course I care, I care so much, I take so much time, I try so hard to listen and say something to make it right, and I was there, but that was the problem. I would say it, I would convey it, know it, reason it, explain it, but I never expressed it. Sympathy was all I could offer. I never put myself in anybody’s shoes and empathize with their pain, because I thought that pain was an emotional, unnecessary thing, unnecessary motivation, that I thought led Christians to do good things in this world for God who they felt guilty, had to die for them on the cross.
- I looked down on people who tried to get good grades, who chased after money, chased after love. I thought that those things were stupid, and stupid people fell for them. I figured I was so cool, cause even though I could become like them, I am smart enough to get that grade, I could try to be that lawyer, that thing that parents wanted me to be, I figured I had so much power, if I refused what I was capable of doing and getting. Which is why I did stupid, self-glorifying things like rejecting someone who asked me out. Getting an A on a paper, then throwing it away, and instead have a friend of mine get curious, dig it out of the trash, and confront me about it. I thought that this was a good thing, that I wasn’t a slave to the world, and sure, it is a good thing, problem was, not thinking I was a slave to the world, made me unable to see that I was a slave to the world. I was a slave to my own pride, I wanted to feel so good, so much better, and so much more different than others, I wanted to be seen in that rebellious light. This led me to see others in this bitter resentful light, and I thought that this was what compassion was, where I needed to step in and intervene and teach the world that they’ve been fooled, by religion, by parents, by money, by love. And so, that’s what I did, I taught, I aspired to be a teacher so that I could change the world one child at a time. And change them so that they would be like me, and learn to think for themselves, instead of just believing what others told them was true. Flash forward to college, but first, and by having this desire to change the world, I began to be seen as a nice guy, as a guy w ho wanted to rid the world of something bad, and that was my title, I was the nice guy, and I had the shirt to prove it. I was the guy who held doors for everybody, gave money to the poor, even though he didn’t have that much, and it was his parents money, the guy who would be the shoulder to cry on, who would spend late nights listening to people’s troubles and not write papers that were due the next day, spending the night staying awake with parents who were yelling who wouldn’t bother going to sleep, who would skip school to make sure his dad came back from jail, and I thought I was so good for taking on so much stuff. I thought I was so much better than other people who were wrapped up in their own thing, their stupid love, their stupid money-seeking, their stupid searching for fulfillment in all the wrong things. I thought I had compassion on these people, and that I was doing the right thing. People would pinch my cheeks and say I was a good kid, my grandmother would say I’m the nice one, Kwai Jai, Ge doi hoe gwai, obedient, and it was this title that gave me all the power, because them thinking I was something and me knowing I was something else, I had the power of truth, and I could use it to lie to them, and not tell them, that all the things I did, it was not because I was obeying them, but because I was doing what I wanted to do, choosing to be good, choosing to be compassionate, and not really doing it out of a parental love, or a familial niceness, or learned value. Derived, addiction to what such joy must do or bring, no, it was just so that I could do the right thing. So mch pride in that notion. So much arrogance in receiving praise from others. Flashforward, to college, By not caring about grades, I ended up doing very poorly in high school, ended up getting a 1.9 gpa, had to take classes after to get a diploma, and I got it a few months after the rest of my friend graduated. With that diploma, I wanted a fresh start, I figured, you know, now that I know that I am really that kind of guy who thought for himself who would be so true to his values that he would be willing to sacrifice his grades to keep the integrity of doing the right things for the right reasons, now I would be the guy who could play the game for the right reasons, the guy who could get the grade, and not care about it, the guy who could chase after money, and not care about it. The guy who could love somebody, and not care about her. My life freshman year, was centered around not caring, not caring about. Well no, my life was centered around so much more, but it was a miserable way to live. Freshman year in college, I thought that there was only one way to really make my life different and better than all the rest, and that was to be the very best at being the very best at being the very least in my profession, and I figured that teaching would fit that bill. And so, I ended up being an English major, ended up wanting to be an English teacher, and not wanting very much else in the process. My reasoning for being a teacher was that I could change the world one child at a time, and teach people to think for themselves, beyond religion, money, family, success, which lies to them, and tells them things they want, as if they were things they thought they needed. Some of my mottos became, there is nothing that you need, only that which you want, nothing is certain, or the thing that I would say to my mother is that, sai gai mo yut ding, this world has nothing mandatory/permanent. My life was characterized by this ambivalence and ambiguity with my parents, Everything was just a possibility, just a matter of circumstance. Because I had to explain that to the rest, I explained that, to myself, about the rest of the world that I saw this is because of this, because of it. I explained everything fullness For example, money, is the thing that lies to people, and tells them that it is the thing they need. So People who would chase after money, are more willing to do things like cheat to get what they need, or think they need. My explanation, my rationale, what I thought was good intellect, would say that bad things done for good reasons make those bad things not quite so bad. So the bad thing like cheating done merely because they were a victim of money makes cheating not so bad. People are victims, instead of being victims, I had this prideful way of looking at people, Seeing people as victims is already a prideful way to see people, but seeing that people are victims, and thinking that you had the capability to fix them, that’s pride on a whole other level. I wanted to be the fixer. I wanted to think of myself as capable of such a feat. And I was dedicated to doing just that, no matter what. And for my own reasons, on my own terms, I wanted to fix what I saw was a problem with the world. I graduated just barely getting my diploma, wanted to become a teacher, wanted to get good grades, went to BCC, was on my way to doing just that, was in FInanical aid line one time, saw a girl named Jessie there. Turns out, she was the roommate of Vivian, Pearl, and Emily, all currently serving in different ministry groups. When I met them, they asked me, about my life, about my background, whether or not I went to Church before, I told them, I used to go to this church in Chinatown, called CCUMC, but I mainly thought of it as a daycare, as a thing to do because of my parents. They asked me did I know Wesley Lau, and I was like O yeah, I knew Wesley, he was one of these guys that I thought of as a role model. I figured, hey, maybe It’d be cool to see him again. And so, I went out to Friday Bible Study one night, and saw Pastor Daniel giving a message. I sat down, listened to the message, and afterwards, as response sheets were passed out, I saw Wesley turn around, pass me a response sheet, and turn back around. Then he did a doubletake as he turned around slowly, and saw that it was me, and his eyes widened, and his face broken into a smile, and said “Andy!” and I was like “Wes!” and then we saw each other again after 7 years or so and it was awesome and we hugged and yeah, it was cool. After that day, I was just so floored by the different Christians, so floored by how Christians seemed from my own invention of them, people who would open up their lives and homes and treat us to dinners and events. These people who would show genuine love, these were the people who I couldn’t find a fault in, or rather, these were the people who I couldn’t fully explained, as I could explain everybody else. At least, not with further information. So that’s what I did, I took course 101 with Joe Song. That was an incredible experience where I learned all the things that were in my own head, my own issues against Christianity, were torn down. The main issue I had was for Christians who only did good things because they felt guilty for making Christ die for them on the cross. My assumption was that Christians lived the way they do in an emotional guilt-driven life that led them to show a semblance of compassion, and commit those seemingly compassionate acts out of guilt. Course101 helped me realize that there’s nothing that a Christian can do to repay that grace. A Christian knows that the guilt can’t be absolved, and the death of Jesus on the cross is something that Christians can only receive, and it’s something that Christians cannot do to earn that gift. Which is why, in my mind, Christians were no longer people who were showing off their good deeds to God, no longer were Christians people who showed off their good deeds to God who died for them, but no, Christians were people who wanted to be a good witness to the Gospel, the good news that Jesus is where the goodness of Christians come from, and Christians were really people who wanted to take God’s words to heart when he said “Love one another, just as I have loved you.” Those were the Christians that made up my new worldview. And Course101 also led me to CS Lewis, and his quote which says that if I have a desire which n othing in this world can satisify, the most logical explanation was that I was made for another world. That desire, was a desire of wanting a joy that lasted beyond one Saturday morning, a joy that lasted beyond getting high, and a joy that lasted beyond feeling as if I was better than other people. The desire that I wanted was a more permanent joy, a joy that could not have come from here, a joy that hints that I was not made for this world. And so, with that in mind, during the first day of passion week, I got to see what Jesus went through in his days leading up to the cross and I got to see what people went through as they interacted with Jesus right before his death. The character of Pontius Pilate called out to me, as I found myself being the one who said, I wash my hands clean of these people, than these people who chased after money and love and dreams, to think that I could feel so absolved of guilt just as much as Pilate thought he could absolve his own guilt of sending Jesus to die on the cross. I knew that I was a sinner, and I knew that my pride, had damaged all the relationships in my life, and kept me from having anything beyond my limited worldview, and kept me from doing anything besides explaining the world around me. So, I had already intellectually torn down my previous assumptions about Christianity, all that was left, or so I thought, was to make a decision as to whether or not I would call jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Afterwards, David Dip met up with me to eat dimsum to congratulate me, and it was there that he called me a Baby Christian. I remember feeling a little insulted, but he was so right, because I had so much more to grow up in. At the time, I did not quite know how significant that decision was or what it would entail, and it wasn’t until This past winter retreat that I learned so much more, and realized that there was still so much more to go. This past winter retreat, I was deeply struck of people who God used, despite their troubled pasts, and what it was that allowed them to move past their past, and gain a true understanding of love and grace, of relationships with trust and love among peers. I thought that Christianity could be fully explained, but some things are beyond explanation, and God wouldn’t be God if I could explain him, and trying to explain everything made me miserable, and a liar, as if I could capture the truth with my explanations. Without truth, I could not have trust in my relationships. I wanted to be a teacher, and how, teaching was, at that time, During that time at Winter Retreat, I saw how God can only use people after they had allowed themselves to be vulnerable and put themselves in positions where they were desperately clinging to the cross. I was never in that position, because I could always endure and handle everything that came my way, every pain that might result I felt proud to be able to take on all those tasks, pains in serving God dutifully. Pride in toiling for the Gospel. Pain in dealing with parents who loved, but never seemed to care enough to change, who would love, but never seem to care for me enough to yell a little less. I realized that by not letting people know about this past, by not expressing this past, and my pain regarding it, by not feeling my past, and instead, hiding it by explaining it, that they are the way they are because of their upbringing, explaining is just genetics, just the nurturing of their poor farmer parents and this is just explaining away the pain, and this made the pain more bearable, but less of a thing that I could learn from, and less of a thing that God could use. Not only that, but it made me miserable, both to my peers and to my leaders, because by wanting to explain pain but not experience it, my peers could never really relate to me on a deeper heart to heart level and my leaders could never speak truth into my life. Truth was merely a possibility that could be seen and reasoned from the things that I could explain, and contrive to be the case. I began thinking to myself, why did I crave explaining so much? It is because by explaining, I could say, I had it all figured out, I have the answers when these people don’t, I could take pride in having it all figured out, as opposed to those who didn’t. Maybe I cared so much for explaining because if I could explain then I didn’t have to express the pain I felt, if I could explain, I didn’t have to feel, because I thought that emotions were bad and feelings were bad that just lied to you and had no benefit. Why would I care so much about explaining, it’s because I figured that in order to show somebody that you learned something, you have to teach it, I took this to heart, so I thought, the only way to grow, is to teach, but recently I learned that this was wrong. It set me up to be a know it all, someone who set things up in a way as if he could teach everything about the world, as if there isn’t anything more to learn, and this made me a nuisance to my peers who could never see me as their brother, my leader who could never speak truth into my life, who could never teach me anything, because I thought I knew everything. Finally, explaining away things, which I do so often, is the only way that I can express myself. It has made me say things callously without thinking about what it might mean to the people that I’m saying these things to. For example, explaining to my parents the origin of how parents who loved me, but didn’t care for me, I failed to realize that I care about what reaction my peer might have to this possibility. To me, it’s just an explanation, just a hunch, just a question, but to others, it’s an accusation, a truth claim, a doubting of a parent’s love for the son. A question such as this is an unloving one to make. I learned that the things that I say should not be a possible explanation, but a true expression of how I feel. I’m working on it. It’s hard, but day by day, I learn that God works in unexpected ways, when I allowed myself to be opened, not jus tin my mind, but also in my heart. When I allowed myself to be humbled, desperate, dependent, clinging to the cross, everyday, as I think to myself, O Lord, you know, I can be honest, you see me O Lord, I don’t have to pretend, I don’t have to mask my feelings, hide my feelings. I can be vulnerable around you, around me peers. And so, that’s what I’ve been experiencing, getting a chance to flyer and do Soularium, to be vulnerable and facing my fears, and placing my trust and faith in God who is sufficient, and who’s sufficiency I draw my worth from, not in anything I do Lord for I can do nothing without the Lord and it is only when I humble myself, and down and discouraged, that I feel desperate, like a failure, that God is using me to make something happen. I experienced this with Kalvin. When I met Kalvin, I woke up in the morning and I got a text from Kenny Choi, telling me that I should hold off on getting baptized, since I made my Lordship decision and should include that in my testimony. I remember being so discouraged, and also around this time I lost contact with someone I wanted to do Course101 with, and I began to experience fears and anxiety about this situation. I thought to myself, man, I’m an English major, I should be good with words and should be able to write my testimony by now, and man, how could I possibly present Course101 to Hashy, I’m so incompetent, can’t even get my own act together. How could God ever use me to present spiritual surveys, eat with random strangers at the dining commons, or pass out flyers to strangers on sproul? Grades were an anxiety as well as some of my grades didn’t show up on my transcript yet. Overall, I was feeling like a complete failure, so low that I wanted to hide and get away. I made up a lie, saying I was meeting up with a friend, and went out, planning to just grab some food and go mope by myself. God had other plans. After I picked up my food, I saw this guy sitting there, alone, eating right outside Bear Ramen. Eating with a random stranger was the last thing on my mind, as all I wanted was to be alone. Yet, I thought to myself, why not, might as well just trust in God and see what happens. So, I sat down next to him, introduced myself, and long story short, we had a great conversation, he told me he wasn’t Christian, but wanted to see what it was that I saw in it. We exchanged numbers, and now he’s one of our freshmen in A2F. It was then that I realized what it meant to have my sufficiency lie with God and not in myself. I was floored at how sweet God works, to use me even when I felt most discouraged, and especially because I felt incapable. When I stop trying to take pride in my own competence in reaching out to people, that is when God humbles me as I get out of his way, and let him do his thing. God would use me in this way for so many other instances of serendipity, in reaching out to people through Soularium, like Young, or Ryan, Lily’s ChemE friend, God has given me a reason to try, even when it is tough, and now, especially when it is tough. For when I get out of my comfort zone, and do things even when it is difficult, God tears away those difficulties, and gives me the power to surpass such superficial obstacles. God, in his perfect and mysterious wisdom, has his ways, and I can trust and have faith in him, who has been faithful to me, when I humble myself, and let myself to be used by him to exact his kingdom work here on Earth. For God chose what is foolish in the world, to shame the wise, and God chose what is weak in the world, to shame the strong. God can’t use people who try to make it on their own, who take pride in human ability. God can only use people who say, I am not enough, I need the Lord. Please help me, a sinner. When I got home, I turned to our DT text for that day, and I was so struck by what Psalm we were going through. Psalm 20:6-8 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed, he will answer him, from his holy heaven, with the saving might of his right hand, some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. Now I know, when I feel depressed and discouraged, I can stand upright, for God is with me, every step of the way, my sufficiency is from God and his saving might, and his name and not my own, is what I glorify with my lips. God, in his perfect and mysterious wisdom, has his ways, and I can trust and have faith in him, who has been faithful to me, when I humble myself, and let myself to be used by him to exact his kingdom work here on Earth. My prayer is that he may work in me, and use me and shape me, to be his humble and contradictory masterpiece, and that I may express my testimony of how God has worked to shape my life, to all who have ears to hear. Thank you.
-Woo, finally, got something down! All the bolded stuff is stuff I wanna fix, but I don’t know, I’m super tired, as I know I’m not about to say 13 pages of stuff. I definitely need to edit, but at least I got something now. =) Okay, I pray that God can help me with conveying the things I say.
See you all soon!