Wednesday in the Word
Hello, November~ Autumn has officially settled in in the East Coast, and the days are now nice and chilly, with a chance of rain. Autumn has always been my favourite season, because it marks change and the beginning of something new. (Plus, the leaves are so beautiful!) It has been a while since I've posted something in this series, and it's rather nice to be able to post. My reason for not posting is not so much because I haven't been doing my QTs; on the contrary, I have been much more fervent, faithful, and consistent in doing my QTs these past few weeks. I've been going through a season of chaos, and I didn't feel as though it would be wise to post. We are called to lead our emotions by faith, but to be honest, I didn't feel I was in a place where I could reflect that -- this is a public platform, and I don't want my confusions and doubts to musguide and mislead those who may have yet to believe. I am so blessed and thankful for those of you who have reached out to me these past weeks. It's been so encouraging to see that God is faithful creating this website to truly becoming a network that builds relationships, friendships, accountability partners, and a house of prayer. When I first started this website, I was unsure of where God would lead it, and I'm glad it has become what it is. The past few weeks, I have been meditating a lot on 1 Corinthians 13. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." It is possibly one of the most overused verses, and even before I ever came in contact with a bible, I knew of verses 4-7. I've been reflecting on these verses in all aspects of my life -- do I love? This passage was to the Corinthians (duh), because at the time of the letter, citizens of Corinth were very much about outward showings of who loved, and was loved by, God more. The idea of love became a boastful affair, and this is Apostle Paul's response to it. Despite not being a Corinthian of the early A.D. days, this passage rings true in so many levels. Even in the present day, love is often an outward show, rather than an instrument of spiritual growth and fellowship. The first paragraph reminds us: love is not for yourself. You can only receive as much as you give, and vice versa. What does it matter if you've been blessed with gifts if you aren't willing to share? The gift becomes useless. Of course, the most obvious application from the standpoint of a Christian is that you've received the Gospel message: it's the Good News that has saved you. If you keep this news to yourself, you have not truly received it, because if the impact and implications of the Gospel has truly reached your heart, you would understand the importance of sharing it to others. You would understand that God sacrificed Jesus Christ so all His children: you, me, and others can come back to Him, if only we believe. Therefore, should you receive the love of Christ, then you will also give the love of Christ, because you know the weight of His love is not for you alone. So many of us, including myself, become so hardened by judgement, and we cling to the love of man. We can tell ourselves everything is okay, because we know we are saved; we know we have received love and grace, but we do not extend it to others. We fear being called Jesus-freak. We fear being told we're crazy pro-lifers who stomp on choices of women. We fear being called a plethora of nasty names, that we forget we already received enough love to endure such things. Yes, there are men and women who proclaim the name of Christ when uttering hateful comments about POC, LGBTQ groups, feminists, pro-choice, "social justice warriors" (okay, I still really fail to see how this phrase is supposed to be degrading. I, for one, am proud to be a social justice warrior), and etc., and unfortunately, the media latches onto it. It's not the best time to be a "loud" Christian, but hey: hatred was never a denotation synonymous to being a Christian. In fact, we are called to love, because Jesus is Love. If someone were to call us hateful names, then so be it. Instead of asking for God's wrath unto those who mocked Him, Jesus prayed for forgiveness. Instead of becoming argumentative and hateful and fearful in the face of blinded hatred, pray, extend grace, share love, and forgive -- let God do the rest. As much as being a Christian is a personal walk with Christ, it is also about being a part of and building the church that represents Christ. On a personal level, I have been struggling with loving others. It's been hard to do things in love, versus in routine and obligation. I'm very much a people pleaser, and sometimes my actions are more directed by what I feel will make someone else happy, and therefore give me affirmation of worth. I have to really address this issue of wanting to please others for my own self worth, and pray more about wanting to please others as an encouragement to them that they are worthy of love. That begins with myself being secure and confident in my own worth, knowing that Jesus died for me and to cleanse my sins, so I don't need affirmation from other means. It has been hard differentiating one from the other, but I'm slowly learning to give because I love, even if it doesn't mean receiving back; I'm slowly learning to be okay with unrequited love, because love means not needing to receive any more than what God has already given me. The second paragraph is a description of love. This description describes love in a variety of different situations -- of course it will manifest differently, but these core values of what love is remains constant. I cannot publicly say the biggest thing I've been going through specifically, but I'm learning to be patient, and waiting for God to do His thing. In the situation I'm in, there's nothing I do or say to improve the situation for my own benefit. I truly just have to be patient, and know that God is good, and that what He has willed will happen in His timing. It's not in any way an ideal situation, but I have to have faith. Love comes from God, so I need to pray for myself to first be stronger in faith and in my understanding of the Word in order to fight off confusion and doubt. Where God has given a strong, affirming sign, I shall not test God and ask for more, but let this be God's test of my faith and obedience. The Word is a double edged sword -- it rebukes us in times we are wrong, but it is also our strongest weapon against words of adversary and Satan's luring. In all of this situation I must remain kind and endure with hope. Before I am called to be my own individual, I am called to be a representative of Christ, and with that means letting go of what makes me not represent love. I need to stop doubting, and simply start praying for more guidance. Ultimately, as mentioned before, we're not called to be led by our own emotions, but faith -- the Holy Spirit lives in us to guide us, but we need to let it. If we are leading by the desires of our own heart, then we are not putting God on the throne of our lives, but ourselves. A part of me is still so flustered and angry at the situation, and I feel so wronged! But slowly and surely, God is guiding me away from those feelings and giving me peace, replacing my complaints and sorrows with prayer and endurance. In my relationships with others, I have also been reflecting on these qualities -- all of which I have been so lacking in. These verses have been such a big rebuke to me and how I handle my relationships with others. I'm constantly "too busy", "too tired", and simply "don't want" to initiate fellowship and friendships, but they are simply excuses to be unkind, impatient, envious... And all that love is not. I have not been a good ambassador for the Kingdom of Christ, and it's something I'm slowly working on. It's hard to reach out to others, and I tend to use my introversion as an excuse, but... that's not the reason. Yes, my introversion does make initiating contact a little hard, but it doesn't prevent me from doing so. It is simply my arrogance in believing others should reach out to me first, and my pride that feeds my fear of rejection and/or being ignored. How can I have fellowship with others if I feel this way? If my heart and love is tainted with these selfish emotions, how can I righteously say I am led by Christ and that He is the center of my relationships? That leads to my segway to the third paragraph; everything but love ends. There are judgements and circumstances and institutions that are set in place by man, but none of these will outlast love. To the Corinthians, Paul reminds them of this so that they will stop leaning on their own understanding. In the end, as they measure their love from and for God in their gifts, their gifts will end, but it does not mean God's love has ended. It is dangerous to measure love in things that do not last, and not to mention-- useless. In today's society, I feel like it's so easy to equate love with money, beauty, and material objects. I personally struggle a lot with the money and beauty aspect of love. Growing up in a family that isn't well off, I often compared myself to friends whose parents would get them expensive things, and though I understood my family situation, I always felt rather unloved. Birthdays and Christmasses were always kind of painful. I couldn't afford to give my friends nice gifts, and of course, the idea of "You get what you give" applied. I would envy those who got cool balloons and lots of cool gifts and flowers, whereas I received cards and small trinkets. I felt so embarrassed when one of my closest friends anonymously called me out by saying she hates homemade gifts on a Christmas Wishlist MySpace post (ooh, historic, I know). That was the last straw; I saved up from my part time job, and I tried to give more -- buy balloons and gift gifts that cost more than $10. I was disappointed again and again when I didn't receive more, and I withdrew myself more and more from others, because I began to feel uncared for and unloved. I felt like I was willing to give 110% of what I had, but I wasn't receiving anything back. I began to take for granted the friends who would talk to me late into the night when I got dumped by H, and the friends who stuck by me through hard times, like when T passed away. I was so blinded by all the lies Satan was telling me: that I'm not worthy, and I'm not loved. Now looking back, money and the gifts that could be bought with that money was useless. How many Christmas gifts within our entire lifetime do we actually keep, anyways? iPods break, we replace iPhones every year or two, we outgrow clothes, accessories go out of style, Disneyland passes expire, etc.. The one thing that has remained is friendship -- love -- the priceless thing that I overlooked and took for granted. But even now, money manifests in my life as an idol that keeps me from loving. We cannot deny the necessity of money while we are living here. I've mentioned before how I feel so suffocated in my job because it feels like every one else has a financial fall-back plan, or began working before starting-pay of a flight attendant was way below standard of living. I've been feeling alone in my uphill financial battle, and it has made me put up a barrier, especially against those who simply see this job as a "travel break". My heart has been so hardened, and this verse is a reminder that I need to stop idolizing money -- it is important in the present, but in the grand scheme of things... It really isn't that important. The same goes for beauty. I don't believe beauty, or the societal standard of beauty, has directly prevented me from loving others, but it definitely has stopped me from loving myself, and therefore impacted how I love others. I'm not skinny enough. My eyes aren't big enough. I'm not tall enough. My lips aren't "cherry" enough. My face shape isn't almond enough. I'm not tall enough. My structure isn't feminine enough. My legs aren't long enough. How can I be loved? How can I love myself? How can I feed my body without feeling disgusted? How can I accept love when I'm not confident that I am worthy of love? It's an ongoing battle, and it taints my love with jealousy. I'm jealous of my friend who has pretty lips. And the friend who can eat a mountain and maintain skinniness. And the friend with perfect proportions. And the friend with legs that go on for miles... and so on. I need to come to terms with the fact that beauty is fleeting anyways. Whilst society tells me I need to be a certain shape with certain features, I need to be able to remind myself that these things are not important. I need to stop looking at the reflection in the mirror, and start reflecting on the whereabouts of my heart, and start from there. I cannot let the things that do not matter manifest itself in my heart and distract me from what is truly important. And lastly, Paul summarizes this chapter with a simple sentence, "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." Love is the most important, because it shapes our faith and hope. Without love, how can we say we have faith in others, and most of all, faith in God? Only in Christ can we have hope, but He is Love personified. If we don't have love in our hearts, we don't have Him, and we have no hope. As the body of Christ, we are linked together by Him -- by love. To be faithful and hopeful in Him, we must first look to ourselves, if we have love for ourselves and each other. How can I love on you better? We all have different love languages, and mine are touch and acts of service. You can take the quiz at 5 Love Languages and let me know what makes you feel loved~ *Nope, this post is not sponsored by 5 Love Languages. It is simply a quiz I find useful in understanding my friends and how to love on them. Stay in touch!