Just got back from our company Christmas dinner at Chaya. The end of the year always lends itself to reflection — celebration of successes, assessment of challenges, resolutions made for the upcoming year, vision and dreams revisited and revived. There’s a lot I could say to that end, and maybe I will, as we get closer to the end of 2010.
But lately, I’ve been convicted of my attitude. I complain that I’m too busy to think, too swamped to reflect, too distracted to focus and plan and prepare for whatever comes next. I complain that I need a vacation, that I need some time to rest and be still.
And while all those things may (or may not) be true, I know I have a lot to be thankful for. I should have done this around Thanksgiving, but thankfulness isn’t limited to one day a year, is it? Read on for my (non-exhaustive) list:
1. Work. We had our final PCG meeting of 2010 today and spent some time at the Boss’s request sharing about highlights from the year, what went well and what needs to improve in 2011. Looking around the conference room, I was thinking about how much has changed over the last year — my role in the company, my relationships with co-workers, my membership in the “family.”
I think, if I’m truly honest, there have been a lot of ups and downs. A lot of uncertainty and lack of confidence, a lot of hesitancy and getting thrown in head first. A lot of problem-solving and just figuring things out, sometimes on my own and sometimes with the help of others.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to do with my life, what I want my career to look like — basically just agonizing over a future that I can not and should not try to control. God has been teaching me a lot about what it means to seek His will in my life and to trust Him, to believe that His plans for me are always good. Not just in the big scheme of things, but also day-to-day, moment-by-moment.
I am really thankful for having not one, but two, jobs in the midst of economic recession and record unemployment numbers. God has provided for me, maybe not in the way I wanted or expected, but abundantly nonetheless.
I am thankful for my family at PCG — for the Boss who always wants to know how I’m doing and takes my opinions seriously, for CC who listens to my worries and speaks Truth into my life, for big sister LN who always gives me good advice (and drives me everywhere) and the other LN who always makes time to give me a good hug. For TN who believes in me and doesn’t mind sharing his creativity with me. For WW who invites me to eat yummy food.
I’m thankful for the Fishbowl, for random conversations in the cubicle room, for Wednesday GBS, for Coffee Bean runs and mass exoduses. For late night ridiculousness and getting through stressful situations together. For occupational hazards (“Dope!” “USA USA!” “No bueno,” “Deuces”).
I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by people who work hard and are good at what they do — and know how to have fun doing it. That my work is neither boring nor mundane. That I have room to grow and learn and develop and build and create.
Teaching at Biola was probably the most challenging thing for me this year, from filling out the crazy long, doctrinally challenging application to the syllabus making, curriculum planning, class organizing.
It was hard to work with students who come from a totally different academic culture (you wouldn’t believe how different journalism majors are from English majors). It was frustrating trying to get to know students on a personal basis when you only have them in class for 50 minutes a week.
It was so difficult to manage and balance editors, writers, photographers, designers and PR students, and to not only relinquish control, but to believe in them and empower them. I think I did my best to care and pray for my students, but feel like I could have done so much more.
In the end, though, I was so proud of the work they produced, and inspired by their creativity and determination (although, they were all walking zombies by the end of the semester). I’m also really thankful for supportive professors and their willingness to support and advise me in all areas of my life. I may have graduated already, but they will always be my teachers.
2. Church. I think this area of my life only turned a corner recently. I think I had already begun to be overcome with a sense of despair and hopelessness about the situation at my church. As a caveat, I’m not exactly the most optimistic person in the world. This year though, God has shown me a lot about what He is capable of doing and what He has already been doing in the life of our church body.
I’ve seen, over this past year, the amazing people that God has placed in our midst. People who have been serving faithfully for years and years, people who have vision to start new ministries, people who are true prayer warriors, people who have conviction and commitment to the life of the church.
I’ve been encouraged by our ROCKers who have really stepped up this year, taking ownership of their fellowship, serving in different areas, participating more in Bible study discussions. I’ve been encouraged by the new KALEO vision and the direction that the young adult group is trying to go.
I’m excited for the Mandarin fellowship going through discipleship with Pastor Chen, and hearing about people in the Cantonese fellowship stepping up to take on leadership. I’m grateful for new Sunday School teachers being trained in KALEO and ROCK Sunday School, and the people willing to train them.
I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our church this year, and I hope to be a part of how He is already moving. I really believe that God will provide for us in His way and in His time. And I know that He is jealous for His glory in our church.
3. Friends. The last year and a half since graduation has been interesting. I’m always amazed at how people come and go in our lives. Friendship — relationships — can be so mercurial, so ephemeral. And then there is the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
I think I’ve gone through a lot of hurt and disappointment in this department; it’s been a real struggle to let people get closer than arm’s length. Sometimes, I really just don’t want to see anyone for weeks at a time, and I have to remind myself that people are important to God, so they should be important to me too. I have to prevent myself from becoming more jaded than I already am.
This afternoon, I totally forgot that I had scheduled lunch with my group of high school friends. Even though I only made it for about 15 minutes, I was thinking about how nice it is that we’ve all been able to stay friends for so long (I’ve known Liz since fourth grade, and everyone else I met in junior high). The seven or so of us are in different places doing different things, but we always try to get together when we’re all home, and I’m really thankful that they’ve been a constant — albeit sporadic — presence in my life.
I am also really thankful for the network of friends I have in various parts of the world: my CCiL family in London, my flatmates from Roehampton, my Connexion family in Malaysia, Christie in Seattle and now Chicago, Kelli in Hawaii … and how faithful they are in sending me emails, FB messages and snail mail. I especially love receiving letters and packages.
Unfortunately, I’ve been really slow about returning letters and postcards (I apologize), but I always think about how blessed I am to have friends, brothers, and sisters caring for me from wherever they are in the world.
This year has been a bit of a lonely year for me for various reasons, so I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have those friends to talk to. Two other people in my life I couldn’t do without are Liz and Ariel. I am so lucky to have my two best friends living no more than 10 or 15 minutes away from me. We don’t always get to see each other, but we can always pick up where we left off, and I know that I am well loved by them both (though they seem to enjoy teaming up and picking on me).
4. Discipleship. I was blessed this year to meet with KL regularly for the purpose of discipleship. It was nice to have someone a little bit older and a lot wiser come alongside me, to counsel me and pray with me and walk through life with me. A lot has changed since Baby came into the picture, but I am really thankful that she was willing to invest her time and energy into me. God has taught me a lot through her, and I hope that I can continue to learn from her example.
I was also blessed by my small group in KALEO small group. I didn’t think anything of it when we first started meeting, but it was so nice to have group of consistent girls to share with, to encourage one another, to pray together. Sunday School has been so amazing, and I think having the time to meditate and think about how to apply God’s Word to my life has been a really important step in my growth this year.
I have really seen God’s hand in my life, especially through the things we’re studying in Sunday School and the books I’m reading. I think the emphasis on spiritual disciplines — and particularly Uncle Mark’s series on meditation — has made a really big impact on me; I see such a huge difference in my spiritual life.
My mom, as always, has also played a big part in my development. I’m really grateful for all her wisdom and understanding. She exhibits such great patience in dealing with me, and I am so grateful for everything she has shared with me this year as I’ve struggled with various things.
Being a disciple of Christ means being able to take up our crosses and follow Him. I think I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what it really means to follow Jesus and know Him on a more intimate level — beyond head knowledge and intellectual assent.
5. Writing. Writing has been one of the biggest struggles for me this year. Motivating myself. Disciplining myself. Focusing. Putting myself out there. I really lack confidence in my own abilities, even though I’m a pretty ambitious person with high expectations for myself (which may be part of the problem).
I’m really thankful that God has given me various people in my life to motivate me and encourage me to write more — KTam, Professor Welter, CChou, RQ, Ed, Kelli, Jo Lynn, B. McCracken, Professor Davidson, Dr. Longinow, Buck, the list goes on and on.
I was especially blessed by one of my closest friends from Biola (you know who you are). I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, and she gave me the exact words I needed to hear this week.
It may not necessarily be a “spiritual pursuit,” but I do believe that God gives us direction in how He has gifted us and how He wants us to develop our skills and nurture our ambitions.
Writing, for me, falls into this category. I think God has continuously placed people along the path of my life to point me in this direction, and as much as I find it frightening and difficult, I can’t deny that this is a recurring theme. And as much as I frustrated and hopeless, I’m glad that God has given me something to use for His glory.
And a few fun short ones…
6. Faithful readers (yes, that would be you. Thank you for reading my writing and giving me feedback. It means a lot more to me than you’ll ever know).
7. Good food & food adventures.
8. Completed journals.
9. New journals.
10. Amusing web memes and great YouTube videos.
11. Starbucks gift cards (and never having to pay for coffee/tea).
12. Awesome magazines and intelligent blogs.
14. Scarves. Earrings. Rings.
15. Possibilities and opportunities.