9:26

I look for me in you and you in me.

Find nothing save the holes we’ve drilled to blow our breath through one another.

Emptying one another, vanity.

Looking for the most important part to steal and keep.

Blinded by our own anxieties about being left lonely again, we miss the opportunity to t value the people we destroy.

I look for you in me, and myself in you

And come away wondering at how wholely holey I’ve made you.

How much of the holy in me you undervalued, and we leave each other

A messy breakup sitting in the same room.

Smudged mascara, black eye

Loosened tie, broken necklace

How did we allow ourselves to be so reckless?

trophies

Even if you never get a trophy that says you shined the brightest,

You will remember what it feels like to be lit up on the inside

Praise to the Highest.

That sort of light will warm you.

That sort of warmth will carry you.

Trophies are dust-collecting relics to prove that you once were what you now are.

Your skill is much more worth the work of maintenance.

On a Tuesday

What do I do if I’ve already met you?

What if you’re that guy I just can’t say what’s up to?

For some reason my mind is stuck meditating on this…

Like what is–

I can’t finish, afraid that what follows will diminish what’s come before

Afraid that what’s already been done will doom this love like, like long shadows in animated versions of folklore.

I am more or less caught in the moment, unable to dream myself forward or hold my heart back.

The good kind of different

Life has been different, lately. But it’s the good kind of different.

The good and sometimes scary kind of different. Is it even possible to experience a dramatic change for the better without being startled once in a while?

I’m practicing not being afraid of change. I mean, I can’t stay broke and stressed out forever–not that I’d really want to– besides, God says not to be afraid. In fact, we are told to be courageous.

So, this season, courage has been enrolling in a pre-service course and applying for jobs I’m not yet completely qualified for. It has been registering for tests and then buying the textbooks. It has been revisiting conversations I probably don’t want to have because the other person wants to talk and it’s important. This season, courage has been putting myself in positions to be affected.

I’d be lying if I said that I never had to wrestle with myself now or that it got easier after the first time. Embracing change goes against my nature; I have to rely heavily on God to try doing great things when I know my own shortcomings.

Courage, however, has paid off. I have a job now. I haven’t started work yet, but they called and sent an email to confirm that the job is mine. The results for my first exam came back and I passed. I feel good about myself. I feel like my faith is a little stronger now than it was in the spring. I feel like things will work out, even while knowing that it won’t all be smooth sailing from here. I am full of hope.

I see your friend’s portrait has fallen out of the desk again

and I wonder how long it will be before you forget her.

This time,

I won’t remind you to have her write her name on the back.

I know you won’t anyway.

You think you’ll always remember.

You think you’ll always be able to see this picture and remember just who she was, the best things that existed between you.

But I remember faces, sans names I worked so hard to learn.

I remember names in stories

Laughing postures with sounds I can no longer recollect.

You believe, in the naive way that youths have about them,

That you’ll always remember.

But I, these few years your senior,

Know better the moment of realizing that one has forgotten than the statistical chance that it will happen to you. Just as it happened to me. Just as it happened to our mother and her mother before her.

 

In the back, Montell Fish’s “11:47” plays on repeat

And I get off my knees to make my life like prayer. Let everything I do be talking to God and everything that would normally set me off send me running to His arms.

Is it running away from home if I always come back to the same places and people?

If I always make the same circles?

God knows I want more than this rat race and rage. I want more than fleeting satisfaction.

This is not contentment. This doesn’t last.

Father, what is your best for me?

I know this is not it.

I know that your plan for me is not riddled with this restlessness.

My life was not meant to be a container with holes poked all through it. It’s not supposed to be a game of trying and failing to hold onto just a little bit of happiness, just a little bit of hope.

You can do something about this.

You have a better plan.

Teach me to go along with it.

My wandering and trying to make up a plan and a path along the way, is wearing me out and making me lonely.

I’m running out of energy to give grace, to show love. So, I know this is not the way you want me to live.

Fill me with the hope of your promise. Fill me with the love of your presence and your people.

Teach my hands not to drill holes in the people I can’t help but return to.

Teach my heart not to despise the doors that are always open to me.

Train my mind to focus on you so that wherever I am on the scales of being surrounded by good company or alone, wherever I fall on the scale of expressing extroversion or trauma, I don’t feel lonely.

My morning meditations feel like midnight with the sun up.

All day, I will watch for you to break in. I need you.

 

“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

— 1 Thessalonians 5:24

God will be faithful to carry me through. This belief is enables me to answer God’s call in spite of my fears. God who called me will be faithful and empower me to do the work He calls me to to well.

How does one put into words the peace that surpasses understanding and the hope that drives humanity to action? Really, hope acted on is faith, isn’t it?

How differently I live when I focus on the belief that God will keep his promise than when I wonder at the things I don’t yet see, or the obstacles that will inevitably arrive!

Today, I am in the same state I was four years ago, both physically and mentally. I am back in California, choosing to focus on God who is faithful as I attend summer classes and believe that what happens next will be great. I will go somewhere or do something that will be greater than yesterday’s circumstances would have predicted.

I will not allow myself to be hemmed in by the parts I don’t have yet. “It will all work out,” I will tell myself again and again– “It always does”– and I will believe it.

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Who would have seen me doing my summer work in community college and imagined that I would transfer to a four-year that winter, or that in the next three years I would travel to another country and graduate from my university early?

Who can imagine what God has planned next?

 

All photo credits are to myself and my roommate from my Korean summer program, Jess.

“What’s so good about spring?”

Ask Me a Question and I’ll Tell You a Story Challenge (1)

“What’s so good about spring?”

When your younger sister asks, you don’t tell her that you don’t know; you find something. If there’s literally nothing you like about it, you force yourself to enjoy one thing because you know that having your younger siblings grow up to be as miserable as you is the last thing that you would wish on them, your mother, or the world at large. So pick something.

“What’s so good about spring? …Is that a serious question?” Or stall, I guess… but rack your brain, just in case.

Your sister blinks at you– once, twice– and and tilts her head before blinking again. Why is she such a cartoon character? “Uh…”

“There’s plenty good about spring. I mean don’t you like flowers?”

“You don’t like them. You threw them away last time.”

“But you like them. You don’t have to hate stuff just because I can’t deal with it, and– for your information– those flowers were already dead.”

“I didn’t say I hate it,” she says. “I’m just not sure I like it.”

You roll your eyes, sigh. What is there to do with a kid like this? Why can’t she just grow up well and be happy? “You like it. You’re just being like this because you want to copy me, aren’t you? You like puddles and flowers and sunshine. You don’t like thunder, but you like that it gives you an excuse to climb into other people’s beds.” Don’t look at her when you say it. You don’t know how she’ll react and it might derail you. Do anything else.

What else is there to do? You keep talking, looking at the floor as you head into the living room, five-year-old feet hot on your heels. “Spring is right before your birthday and it is the best time to tell everyone what you want. Lots of baby animals are born. There aren’t too many school holidays so you can play with your school friends more. The sun comes up a little earlier every morning so you can have more Saturday morning adventures. What’s so bad about spring?” Now, somehow, even you feel better about it.

This is when inspiration strikes you. You grab a two jackets– one for you and one for her. Sure they’re both yours and you are going to have to roll the sleeves up for Megan to fit it, but it’s not that big a hassle and even if you regret it tomorrow or immediately this could become a good memory for her. Some of your best memories are thing your parents got scolded for or later wondered themselves what they were thinking…

“Go on,” you bait her looking for her tennis shoes. “Tell me what’s so bad about spring.”

You can hear her open her mouth before she speaks and the lack of sound that follows is how you know she’s hesitating. “Aren’t you allergic to it…?”

Now you throw her an amused look over your shoulder. “Sweetie, no one’s allergic to a season.” She looks confused as you give up on her wearing shoes. “I’m allergic to pollen which the flowers and trees like to throw into the air to get blown around and stuff, but I’m not allergic to spring itself. Spring is pretty.” You pause, trying to figure out how to give her a happy spring memory without shoes or you suddenly becoming too sick to be pleasant.

You’ll need keys.

“Grab your crayons and meet me in the hall, I’ll show you.”

You sneeze seven times instead of one to three like you do the rest of the year on your way out the door. It’s a bit difficult to cover your mouth with your sister on your back, but you manage and make it to the car before your eyes start watering for real. “Strap yourself in,” you tell her digging in your back pocket for folded up printer paper. You unfold it and hand it to her after she’s buckled. “So you already know, but outside and I don’t get along very well. But spring can still be felt inside if you’re intentional.”

You hear her mutter, “intentional” under her breath like she doesn’t want to forget it. You know she doesn’t know what it means, but you don’t volunteer the definition. “How? Justin says autumn is best understood outside and Justice is always going somewhere in the summer.”

“Justin is a nature boy and he likes getting hit in the face with wind, and Justice likes the sun. As brown as that girl is to start with she’s always getting a tan and only that much sunblock away from skin cancer. If you want to play outside, the twins are your people, but spring can be inside if you let it be.” You plug your AUX cord into your phone and Priscilla Ahn’s “Dream” starts up. This is what spring sounds like. You go to the drive through at Panera for over priced mac-n-cheese then to the parking lot of that one hospital so you can look out at the field where there will be strawberries next month and there are flowers planted around the building.

You tell her to draw and the playlist sings on even as the light changes and clouds move across the face of the sun. Hollyn’s “Love With Your Life” comes on and you pull back the thing that covers the sunroof so you can get more light and take your sister’s picture. She only notices when the shutter sound comes through the stereo. Your sister smiles, demands that you show her, and then looks thrilled.

“Take me again,” she says posing too much, but you roll your eyes and concede. Then you take “us-ies” with the flower crown filters and skip Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” because you don’t want to cry in front of her today. You’re trying to make a certain type of memory. It starts to rain and you decide to record this sort of spring day in your book to remember. You include the clouds, the first drops of rain on the window, the scarf you’ve been wearing since before you decided to leave the house, and her smile.

If she could smile like this throughout the season, then maybe you could remember that in spite of the things Spring has taken from you in the dark, it gave you the promise of this child– your reason to smile.

speechless

“You know that’s not what I meant to–”

“But it’s how you really feel, right?”

I can feel my heart beating. Hard, slow, individualized pulsations. I used to think the ringing I’m hearing now was caused by surges in electric sockets nearby. Now, I know it has something to do with my blood pressure. I’m trying to breathe, but my throat feels like it’s collapsing. It’s my fault, so I’m not allowed to cry… but my eyes are welling and I can’t say what I mean to– what I need to.

“Wow,” she starts. This speech– about how I think I’m so good, how I don’t have room to talk, or to think poorly of her because of this one little thing– is a nuanced rendition one I’ve heard before. “This is why people don’t trust you,” she says. And she tells me what I deserve– which is not her or her time– and what that she’s only saying all of this so I won’t waste someone else’s time. She’s angry and there are tears in her eyes. I don’t know if she’s crying because she’s gotten herself so worked up telling me about myself or if it’s because I’ve disappointed her so.

Her breath comes through her mouth. It’s ragged and irregular. This table isn’t wide enough and I can both hear and feel it from here. She’s covering her eyes with her hands because I “don’t deserve” her tears.

“Haven’t you got anything to say?” She asks.

But my words don’t come out. Like speech function has stopped, but thinking is still on. I can’t say the word “stay” or the phrase “I love you.” It might sound like an excuse or like I’m just clinging without meaning it, but I want to say what I mean in the end. Even if no one believes me, I want to speak my heart.

Her head is on her arms now. Her words barely make it to me. “Really? There isn’t anything…?”

I can feel my teeth chattering slightly. It’s like my words got lost in the mail. Now thinking is slowing down and panic is taking over.

“Sorry.” It’s not her voice. Her body stills, my open jaw quivers a bit. The voice sounds more like mine. “Sorry,” it whispers again, and this time I feel my body try to take back the air after the word.

Using her forearms, she pushes her upper body away from the table. Mikaya nods without looking up. She sets her jaw while staring into her inner arm and turns her body away from the table so she can get all the way up without seeing my face.

But I see her face– the exhaustion around her eyes, the tightening and releasing in her forehead, flaring nostrils– and I see her back– rigid in the turn, and bending more with every long, quiet step toward the door– and I hate myself.

“No. Wait,” but the words are too soft and it’s much too late. The door has already swung closed behind her.