Breathing Room

(I wrote this during a time when many transitions were happening. I was starting ministry work at Northeastern; I was transitioning more responsibilities to my co-staff; I was deciding whether or not to apply to grad school; and I was still adjusting to married life.)


“Breathing Room”

I need time to breathe.
I need time to breathe.
Time to think and time to breathe.

What does the future hold, if not those
Hidden in the present
Wrapped with the past?

Let me unfurl the layers
To see clearly now
What is in the out-stretched palm.

I need time to breathe.
Inhale, exchange:

Reflection Exercise

Time required: About 1 hr. (Feel free to take more time if you need or additional sessions.)

Pre-reflection: Take a few minutes to sleep your computer, silence phones (vibrations off), log off chat, facebook, emails. Find a quiet place. Ask people not to interrupt you for this time. Take some deep breathes. Center yourself. If there are things that you need to do, you can visualize them, and put them down. Try not to carry them. Tell yourself that you will pick them up later. You can pray and give your tasks to Jesus to hold on to for that hour. You can meditate on a psalm to help focus yourself. Psalms 1 and 23 are some suggestions.

Reflection: Meditate on two types questions which can be summarized as presence and absence. Continue reading “Reflection Exercise”

Fundraising as Spiritual Formation

I have heard fundraising described this way: “It is a whirlwind that comes through your life that picks up all the junk. You can’t hide from what it picks up.” I have found that description to be unexpectedly accurate. In the past three years of staff, I have found fundraising to be just that. It makes sin and my own shortcomings ever so apparent. It takes money, value, shame, self-worth, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, fear of rejection, and fear of failure and forces me to confront them. And it pushes me again and again into asking, “Is this really where God has called and led me?” Over the years, it has gotten easier, like working out makes certain activities lighter. But it is still emotionally draining and mentally taxing when I keep thinking about my budget and my deficit.

Through this process, however, God has used it to shape me. Continue reading “Fundraising as Spiritual Formation”

Some Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin Case

I’ve been thinking about the Trayvon Martin case. I was traveling two weekends ago and didn’t have access to internet and the news, so I found out by looking at TV screens in the airport and learned that Zimmerman was acquitted of all his charges. I was really surprised. He killed a man. How does he get away with it? And because of the “not guilty” verdict, does that really make him “not guilty?” The unanswered question for me at that point was how could he kill a man, and for some reason, legally, get no punishments.

In response, people have argued that the prosecution didn’t make a strong enough case. People said that the jurors weren’t impartial. I heard on the radio and read in the news that the “system” worked, that it didn’t work, that it was an issue of race, that it wasn’t an issue of race, that it was a black/white divide, that Zimmerman doesn’t even look white, or what about the other colors and how should they respond, how do Christians respond, how do we as a country respond, what happens to all the other injustices that don’t get coverage, white privilege, justifications for profiling, damaging effects of profiling, and the topics go on and on.

In all the voices, two threads came together for me the past couple of days. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin Case”

Life without the iPhone

Day 0 (5.26.13)

  • It’s something I already thought through about a month ago. At that point, I thought about all the different things I have to give up and I decided that there’s nothing really that I would be missing out on. Everything I can do on the iPhone, I can do on my computer. The only thing is convenience.

Day 1 (5.27.13)

  • It’s nice knowing that my phone only receives texts and calls. I don’t have to put any special restrictions not to check email or other stuff. I don’t feel bad that “I’m not taking full advantage of the functions of the phone.” My phone now is just something through which people can reach me.
  • It didn’t take long for me to figure out how to operate the dumb phone. There is part of me that is relearning the technology. But as I’ve thought through already, this inconvenience is nothing compared to peace of mind I can get through having a limited device.
  • I am much more willing to call someone rather than text because texting is so cumbersome.
  • I am also feeling like there is some kind of comparison that goes on. People are judged by what kind of phone they have. I feel just a little of that.

Continue reading “Life without the iPhone”

An Unusual Request

Two weeks ago, I went into the Verizon store at Harvard Square, and I asked a sales person to help me downgrade to a dumb phone. I had an iPhone 5 at the time, and I asked if I could trade it in for a flip phone. The sales person told me to buy a used phone and said that if I sold my iPhone, I could easily make $500+. After presenting what seemed to her a compelling case, I insisted that I do the trade in, and to do it then and there. She explained to me again, as if I didn’t understand the first time. I repeated my decision. Looking frustrated, she handed me off to another sales person. I repeated to him what I wanted, and he said, “You know, this is an unusual request. But you’re the boss. So we’ll do what you want.”

Why did I get rid of my iPhone 5? I have been a loyal iPhone user since 2009. The iPhone was the first and only smartphone I’ve owned. I really like the iPhone. So what happened? In very condensed form, there were two reasons: 1) to simplify my life; 2) in seeking sexual integrity, to block access to internet pornography. I will focus only on reason 2 in this post, and I hope to explain in more depth how I got here. To visualize my thoughts, below is a diagram.decision diagram Continue reading “An Unusual Request”

Protecting what?

I’ve been reading a Chinese novel titled 駱駝祥子 by 老舍. It’s been a while since I’ve read Chinese, but it’s also been a while since I’ve thought about Chinese etymology. While I was reading, a word popped out at me, and I realized I never wrote about it. The word is 护(s), 護(t), (hu4), which means “to protect.” I will reference two previous posts which will explain some concepts that I’ve written about before. “What is love?” talks about how when the Chinese Communist Party simplified the Chinese characters, they also changed the etymological structures of the words. “Pitiable Fish Scales” talks about how the sound component of the word can also provide meaning.

One of the first things you will notice is that the simplified version and the traditional version of this character don’t have any shared radicals. In fact, they are completely different words, etymologically. Let me explain what this means, and we will start with the traditional, then the simplified.

護 (hu4)
| __
言   |
蒦 (huo4)
| __
又   |
雈 (huan2) Continue reading “Protecting what?”