Wednesday in the Word
Good morning jello beans,
I hope you have been well! With Chinese New Year season coming up, I feel like I'm hitting the ground running every morning with so much happening for work and family. It has been definitely a more tiring, but very fulfilling season. I love my job of outreaching to the Chinese community; growing up, it was daunting to be the only "local resource" my family could rely on; "official" resources were all the way in the heart of Los Angeles, and hard to reach for my mom who can't drive far, and my dad who worked long hours on the daily. It feels so great that now, as an adult, I can be the resource I wish my family had.
As I've been going out into the community, I've been reflecting more on my role in my own family. I was mindlessly scrolling on Instagram the other day, and I came across a reel of a woman who captioned herself crying in the car: "I love my mom, I really do. But everything she does or say, and even the way she breathes, triggers me." I wish I could say that I didn't relate, but I do. As I reflect on how my relationship with my mom has impacted my relationships throughout my young adulthood, and even my daily life, it is kind of sad. The amount of verbal abuse I let myself be subject to, the way I automatically think of excuses for the other person, the way I fold when someone else has a different opinion, how I apologize for everything even when it doesn't pertain to me, etc. These are all things I've been working on for the past decade, trying to unlearn this false narrative that I'm not considerate enough if I think of myself. I'm sure that Freud would say that I just need to have some crazy, steamy incestuous lesbian sex with my mom to fix all of my childhood problems, but I digress.
I don't think it's a secret to anyone who knows me personally that my relationship with my mom has never been great - and honestly, me getting married has gotten our relationship to the best it's ever been, because she filters things for the sake of my husband. But what now? It has been a decade long battle to get to a place where my mom has accepted that I do not follow her Buddhist traditions, nor will I partake in her Buddhist ceremonies and culture, and it is still often a point of contention where she feels I am spitting on her heritage.
As we approach the season of Lent, I have been pondering more about what it is that tempts me, and what the lies are that Satan continue to use to draw me away from godliness. I have been meditating over Matthew 4 - when Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tried:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. - Matthew 4:1-11
I feel that this passage was always rather scary to me - what the devil tempts with is not fully lies, but rather a skewed perspective of the truth. He tempts with things he knows are the desires of our heart.
I shared with my Sunday school kids that one time, I was at an event with my husband, and didn't eat for the whole day as a result of our busy schedule. At the end of the night, we ordered McDonalds. Jonathan had ordered fries, for himself, and some to share with me. While he was driving, I ate 90% of the fries, and it angered him (admittedly, he was also hangry). I am not even that much of a fry person, but hunger took over! Imagine Jesus, having been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights; Satan asking him to create loaves of bread from the stones was not just to tempt him to show off his "power", but also a way to lead him away from his fast. The devil knows that the miracles that Jesus can do is the "easy" way of proving His identity as God. It is low hanging fruit that Satan is taunting him with - that he doesn't have to go through his ministry and the cross to show Himself as God. However, Jesus is one step ahead of Satan, and overcomes these temptations, and is willing to go through the full ministry and process to save humankind.
As I think and reflect on my relationship with my mom, it has been very tempting to be overcome with sadness and anger. Sometimes, I feel tempted to keep "shoving the Gospel in her face" and tell her that the road she is on is not towards the Heaven she believes in, especially when she makes snide remarks and comments about my faith. However, I know that while my desire for her to come to Christ is right, it doesn't make the self-righteous actions right. It doesn't put my heart in the right place, nor will it bring my mom to a place where she can accept. As I continue to muse over this week about what I will be fasting for lent, I think it is also a good time to think about how I'd like the fast to shape my heart and relationship with God.
Have you thought about what you will be fasting for lent? On a lighter note, do you celebrate Lunar New Year? :)
Have a great day, and I'll catch you the next time I get a bit of a breather!