Sunday, September 2, 2012


Together feels so natural
except when you're not there.
You vanish in a second's time
and leave but just a stare.
Your body sits alongside mine,
but who knows where you go;
Connections disconnecting us,
our friend become our foe.

The cool light shines upon your face,
revealing your faint grin;
I know I didn't bring it there.
I'm lost amongst the din
Of silent words and tacit thoughts,
cut off from what you see.
Your fingers push us far apart,
tear you away from me.

Return to me at last my love,
if love there yet can be.
I long to live inside your thoughts;
reveal them all to me.
You by my side is not enough
I cannot think it fair.
Together feels so natural
except when you're not there.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Life's Not Fair

One of the things my dad would tell us kids when we complained that one of our siblings got to do something we didn't, or when we saw other kids having fun that we weren't allowed to have was "Life's not fair." I was reintroduced to this concept when studying the lives of the early apostles, namely Peter and James. Both were very close to Jesus, as they along with John comprised the three apostles who Jesus brought with Him to the transfiguration. However, they met different fates. Peter was imprisoned with John by the Sanhedrin as recorded in Acts 5, but then angels delivered him by night. Peter was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa, and again angels delivered him by night. Acts 12 then states that James, on the other hand, was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa and beheaded.


Why so different? Why does Peter get delivered two times, yet James gets martyred? Wasn't Peter the one denying Jesus, cursing at the very thought that he and Jesus were friends? (Mk 14:71) And wasn't James the one that did the opposite, desiring to call down fire to judge a city that didn't give Jesus his due? (Lk 9:51-56) Yet Peter gets spared, and James doesn't.

There's no reason why. Life's not fair, because God's ways are higher than our ways. (Is 55:9) As the clay, we have no grounds to complain to our Potter that we're not made into the form we desire. (Is 45:9) It's tough to know that we're not in control, because we like to think we know better than God, when we know that's not really the case - even when we're given decisions to make, we still mess things up and do things we wish we hadn't done. We can, however, take heart in knowing that God is infinitely wise, kind beyond measure, and loves those who love Him (Pr 8:17); therefore we can willingly cast all our cares about "fairness" on Him, because He cares for us. (I Pt 5:7) Though we can't understand right now why He allows things to happen as they do, He's promised to work everything out for good (Rm 8:28) and I believe it.

Friday, January 6, 2012


I don't know that it's a new year's resolution, because those are so trite and usually get broken immediately. Also, I didn't start it on January 1st; it was probably closer to December 30. All I know is that this a priority of mine right now: I want to change to become a more grateful person.

Gratitude requires a certain framework of beliefs; the two I can think of off the top of my head are the need to (1) acknowledge the existence of the giver and (2) acknowledge that the gift wasn't deserved. Before you can be grateful for anything, you have to realize that there's a giver. This is easy with things like Christmas presents; they usually come with a tag on the present. (Hint: The tag gives you two options, and you're better off picking the one that isn't your name.) Sometimes the giver is anonymous, like in a Secret Santa exchange, but it's obvious that the gift came from a giver nonetheless.

Many people miss out on opportunities to be grateful because they don't realize there's a giver. Things like beautiful days, oxygen, and friendly cats don't come with a tag saying they're from God, but He's ultimately the source of all of them. If you don't believe the God of the Bible exists, or if you believe there's a god out there but he's not involved in human affairs (unlike the God of the Bible), then you see all these things as random events, and there's no way for you to be thankful for them. You can be happy for them, and excited about them, and appreciate them, but you can't be thankful.

The other requirement, as I see it, is for you to acknowledge your unworthiness, to admit you don't deserve the thing received. When you deserve something, it's not a gift - if you work 10 hours for your boss, you expect to receive a paycheck, and if you don't get it you're going to court (if you live in Minnesota, give me a call!) Gratitude only comes if you don't deserve the thing you receive. It's going to be tough for you to be grateful if you have a high estimation of yourself, because in your mind you don't receive many gifts. If you take the perspective, though, that you're nothing without God, that it's by His grace alone that you live, breathe, and exist on this earth, then suddenly everything becomes a gift.

For years now, I've believed that God exists, but I haven't had a very realistic perception of what I deserved. I was thankful for extraordinary gifts here and there, but they were few and far between. As a result of that mindset, I quickly ran out of things to be thankful for, and had the luxury to begin counting all the things I didn't have. To be entirely truthful, there are a lot of things I don't have. Right now, I don't have a job, I don't have millions of dollars, I don't have fame, and on and on and on. There are legitimately a lot of things I could have but don't.

As soon as I changed my perspective, though, and thought of myself as not deserving anything, I found myself overwhelmed with blessings - it's as if I was buried under a mound of gifts so deep that I couldn't see beyond them to the gifts I didn't have. It was sparked by a conversation with a friend about being thankful for (forgive me) bowel movements. This friend had undergone several surgeries just to be able to engage in this basic, primal function, and there were days when the endeavor was painful for him beyond words. However, the whole experience has made him immensely grateful for something 99% of the population takes for granted every single day.

When I realized that I wasn't even entitled to the basics, everything started opening up for me; the presents rained down. I can eat, see, hear, talk, and breathe on my own - I know people who can't. Think how happy an African woman who walks 5 miles a day to fetch water would be to have any car; I should be happier than that every single day for the car I have, instead of groaning about how it got scratched up in an accident recently. I don't deserve it; I don't deserve any of the blessings in my life, but that's why I can also be exceedingly happy for them. Think of all the happiness I've been missing out on by assuming that things came to me by chance, and by assuming that I deserved them. Just changing my perspective on those two little things has been giving me so much joy lately, and I hope you can experience it too.