Ungrace

So, I am rereading Yancey’s What’s So Amazing about Grace? As I was reading, I a poem begged writing.

Simply entitled, “Ungrace”

A smile fades

hugging arms retract

healing waters recede

what is this place?

the ground is cracked from lack of moisture; the sun burns through your clothes

sobs are not muffled

eyes that pierce do it lingeringly

this is Ungrace.

west of Condemnation, east of Judgment.

Ungrace. A constantly buzzing metropolis. Wanderers who enter rarely leave, they are stuck,

only to die, alone

tourism is the main venue in the city. Visitors are able to taste bitterness, feel depravity, smell lust,

and see all sorts of heinous behavior.

no one is welcome, but almost all come.

if you escape, you are the lucky one.

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Epiphany

January 31, 2012

So I just watched the movie Real Steel, with a friend. The movie is futuristic about robots boxing instead of people. The main characters are a father- son duo, named Charlie and Max, respectively. Charlie is the no account father who left Max with his mom, 11 years ago, and has been coaching bots ever since. Max is the typical abandoned child with the “I need you to fight for me to show me you love me” sort of issues.  Max is actually a really great kid, he just needs his dad to grow up and realize responsibility.

Anyway, so I realized some of my own issues during the movie. This was one of those movies where the no account father begrudgingly takes care of his son/daughter, realizing by the end of the movie that he in fact, not only loves his son or daughter, but could not bear to live without them any longer. And the child is always this really cool, or sweet, or sarcastically funny kid that melts your heart, and obviously the father’s heart too.

So, here is what I discovered about myself.

First, it is really hard to sit through those types of movies. That is simply because my dad sucks at being a father, and I see no transformation anytime soon. I get so jealous of these kids who can cause such transformation, simply by being themselves, and making their need of a father known. This leads me to my second point: that at some point during my life thus far, I expected my father to change. In the back of my mind, I kept hoping that I was smart enough, industrious enough, pretty enough, loving enough, adventurous enough, just enough to cause a radical, lasting transformation in my father.

But, as much as I think it is, causing transformation in my father is not my job. It is God’s.

We assume too much when we expect to change another person. I am not negating the fact that each of us has influence over another person- great influence, in fact. I am thinking about those thoughts which inevitably meander through our minds, such as If he were with me, I could change him…If she were my sister, I would have nipped that in the bud…If we were married, he wouldn’t act that like… anyway,  you get the picture. These thoughts are really lies. Yes, we have influence over the next person. Yes, we are all a role model for someone. But no, unfortunately, we alone cannot make change happen in another person. We may spark a thought, a longing, a wish the other person takes to the bank, but the responsibility and burden is not ours alone.

God sparks change. God initiates change. God empowers a person to change. He creates the longing, the disgust for a previous way, the initiate, and the empowerment in order to succeed. HE alone can change a person.

So, you may be asking, what can we do? We can pray. We can be an army without legs, only knees.  We can also inspire, and be the best reflective image of Christ, the true change-instigator.

A word to the wise…

I just listened to a podcast, where the person speaking said “disclosure is the currency in relationships.”

Okay, so I have to admit that I had to look up the meaning of the word disclosure. I know, I know.  I should have known what it meant, but to me it is one of those words (a long list) that are commonly misused, so I just wanted to be sure I knew what he was talking about. So, in case you are wondering, disclosure means to expose, to offer a revelation.

Revelation.

I like that synonym.

I don’t pretend to be a genius when it comes to relationships. I, just like everyone else, have my flaws (again, a long list) when it comes to living in community and fellowship with the same species.  In fact, I don’t even like talking on the phone- and everyone who truly knows me will attest to that fact. My phone calls are few and far between. I do, however, really enjoy talking face to face. I much prefer to see how a person reacts or doesn’t, to my words. I enjoy the crinkling of the brow when confusion strikes or the hatch marks beside the eyes that speak laughter. And really, I just like to be in the same room to the person with whom I am sharing the conversation.

And yes, I did say, sharing the conversation. We all know those people who dominate conversations, as if the other person were just a good looking, highly absorbent wall. Conversations, lives, stories, and cheese cake, were all created to be shared.

Anyway, off topic. So, as I was saying, I am not a relational genius, nor do I pretend to be such.  I do know two things, however. First, that our relationally driven God created us to also be relationally driven, and second, in order for those relationships to grow, reciprocity is needed. Balanced reciprocity.

In relationships- every kind- both parties have to participate. God did not create some people to need other people; God created every person to need, even long for, community. We were created with innate needs: a need for God, and a need for community. Of course the need for God is greater, and knowing him is far greater than any fulfillment in personal relationships.  However, it is also through those personal relationships that we find out more about God. Confusing? Stay tuned.

You see, it is when we are vulnerable, open, honest, and transparent with one another, that we see this awesome glimpse of God. He chose to make us. In doing so, he chose vulnerability. (His vulnerability does not come from need, however). He gave us free will. We can choose to love God, or spurn him. The God who made the universe and everything to fill it chose to put himself in the position of potentially being rejected.  He is a God who chooses to be worshiped in the truest sense of the word- by choice, not by mechanical, perfunctory, rote. God made himself vulnerable to give us all a choice, a chance, all the while knowing who would choose to love him, and who wouldn’t.

This vulnerability exhibited is not weakness. Common thought equates vulnerability with weakness, we all know this. Sayings like “you’re too emotional” or “man up” send the message that vulnerability and the willingness to show it is weak.

Vulnerability, disclosure, exposure, revelation. All of these are necessary to truly following Christ. We were not created to hide or put barbed wire, brick walls, and moats around our hearts.

Be willing to be vulnerable.

Hello world!

So, I am in Korea. I have been here for two weeks now. With this location change also came a vocation change. I am in Korea and I am an English teacher. Those childhood dreams of teaching have actually come true. No more teaching stuffed animals, walls, and cats. I have real students who live and breathe and misbehave. This is going to be so awesome. I just finished my first real class syllabus, and I have to say I am super excited about the class.

It feels so weird being a teacher. Sometimes I think, what do I know to teach? As I said, I am teaching English. For over two decades I have been honing my English skills- conversing, writing, humoring, reading- and yet I still cannot remember exactly what a hyperbola does or how to efficiently structure a sentence. I speak and write in broken English, adding pauses and breaks where I feel they must go. My usage of English is all relative; subjective, if you will, instead of the objective English I am going to teach. But language isn’t objective. I mean sure, you can learn the rules and codes of conduct for the mechanics of a language, but when you use a language- I mean actually dive in and work out its curves, a language is hardly objective.

For example, slang. It is only when you put a language on- button the pants, pull on the shirt- of a language can you use the slang of that language. It is only when you have slept in the bed of words can you throw them out like a boomerage and expect them to come back. And this process is hardly objective.  Instead, wearing a language, diving into a language, is diry. You get mud up to your knees, and spill words on your fresh shirt. Using- embracing- a language is more than learning the objective mechanics. Truley using a language is to make it subjective- to make it yours.

I guess all of that to say that I am just not sure I have done that with English. I once heard that if you can be humorous in a language, you have mastered that language. I am not very humorous in English, even though I have spoken it my entire life.

Being in Korea gives me a break from English, even though I teach it. Korea allows me to take off my shoes, and stretch my toes, and then try on another, different, pair of shoes. Shoes that are packed with culture with every character in the alphabet, with every idiom and common greeting. I like trying on new shoes.