Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This too shall be made right

Sometimes I wonder why I’m still following Jesus. Why, with all the crap that my family is going through, do I still choose to believe in an omnipotent God, one who didn’t keep my dad from getting hurt or my mom from getting sick? Why didn’t I just give up? Why didn’t I just turn away?

Maybe, if I had been taught that Jesus cares most about my health and wealth, then I would have turned away. Maybe, if I had been taught that Jesus only cares about the prayer we say, regardless of how we live our lives, I would have given up.

But that’s not the Jesus I know. That’s not the Heavenly Father, the creator of the universe, the all-powerful God that I’ve learned to follow.

The Jesus I know hung out in the church where I grew up, talking and laughing with the homeless and mentally handicapped men and women who came to church mostly for free coffee and a place to sit down.

The Jesus I know spent time in the squatter community in Mexico City where I spent my summers, playing soccer with the kids on the street and working 18-hour days to make ends meet.

The Jesus I know lives in my neighborhood in East Oakland, standing on the street corner with the migrant workers in the daytime, and standing on the street corner with the women at night.

The Jesus I know loves the poor, advocates for the oppressed, cares for the sick, and wraps his arms around the brokenhearted. The Jesus I know intentionally leaves behind the pretty, the perfect, the easy and walks into the ugly, the broken, the hard. The Jesus I know weeps, mourns, screams when he sees his children hurting.

That’s the Jesus that walks with me now. And that’s why I can’t give up, can’t turn away. Because he cares for the sick (my parents). Because he wraps his arms around the brokenhearted (me). Because I see him more here than I ever did when life felt easier.

He’s with me in the darkness. And he knows that the darkness won’t last forever. That someday, this too shall be made right.

Monday, October 15, 2012


For my job with InterVarsity’s Urban Projects I recently had to answer the question “What are you passionate about?” This question was a lot harder to answer than I thought it would be. I’ve always been a passionate person, and I can have impassioned arguments about things near to my heart. But recently some of the things I care about have been sidelined as I spend time with my mom. So what am I passionate about? Right now. Not back in college, not when I was teaching, not even when I was in the Servant Partners internship. But what am I passionate about right now?

After mulling (I’m a muller – it always takes me awhile to figure out stuff like this), I came up with two core passions: I’m passionate about helping people live and die with dignity and grace. And I’m passionate about learning and teaching others how to mourn well.

I’m passionate about helping people live and die with dignity and grace. Right now this looks like taking care of my mom, telling her story through this blog. It looks like helping my Spanish-speaking neighbors navigate complicated medical insurance forms that are written in English, or acting as an English-speaking advocate for my apartment complex as we try to get our front gate fixed.

I’m passionate about learning and teaching others how to mourn well. Right now this looks like writing this blog, and kinda just living life.

For me, mourning well right now looks like taking a ballet class. Like doing evening yoga to an Itunes playlist called “Blue,” of some of my more melancholy songs. It means baking my own bread to use for sandwiches, and learning to make my own deodorant and dish soap. It means bawling in my room as I yoga to Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Good night, my Angel).” It means listening to Bossypants on audio book as I drive back and forth to San Jose. It means rejoicing that my mom’s MRI still isn’t showing visible tumors, and realizing that that means that my mom will be okay through the holidays. It means getting angry that the doctors still can’t figure out why she’s so tired. And it means spending as much time with my mom as I can.

So I guess I am still passionate. For now, the way my passions are being acted on is different than I expected. But I don’t think these passions will go away after this season. I think these are here to stay.

So here’s to learning how to help people live and die with dignity and grace. And here’s to learning how to mourn, and learning how to teach others to mourn well. Here’s to pursuing my passions in all that I do, in every season.