A meditation on success

I did a (very informal) survey amongst my friends: how do you measure success?

Most answers had to do with happiness, or money, or some combination of the two. The first response was "does it make God happy?" It makes me think about my priorities.

I have not been successful in that the goal has been eluding me. I go out support raising, making those 5-10 call a day. I'm still not getting those appointments, or if I am, I'm not getting the yeses I need to stay afloat.

Then, in my job search, success eludes me there as well. I've had 3 or 4 job interviews in the past month, with little to no result. I did get a one-off bookkeeping job, but not an hour after I reviewed the material and began my planning, my client called me and told me he was going to give the job to someone else.

I keep thinking success is the result. And, in a way it is. While I have a retail position at Anthropologie, I still don't have the shifts I need to stay afloat. That part time bookkeeping job is still not there. I have not been successful.

So maybe the question is not one of success, but one of doing what I am supposed to do. Maybe being successful in that respect - getting the job, or the finances - is only part of what I need to understand right now. While I think that success is important, it's what we do with it that counts. Or failure for that matter. Do we honor God?

That's just hard to remember sometimes.


Love vs.

I read 1 Corinthians 13 today, you know, the "love" chapter: love is patient, love is kind...love never fails. Those are verses we are taught as children, the attributes of love. Although, I believe that the last few verses have a much greater significance than these attributes.

I finally got it today. Beginning in verse 8 (as a reference):

...but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. . . . For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face, now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. But now, faith, hope and love, abide these three, but the greatest of these is love.

(Keep in mind that Paul is talking about the gifts of the Spirit and how they should be used in church services. And, he is talking to an unruly church, with many members in a power struggle between each other, and sometimes that power struggle manifests itself by using spiritual things, like "gifts" of prophecy and knowledge.)

In the last line, "the greatest of these is love," love is greater, not necessarily because it is simply better, but because it lasts eternally. 1 John 4:8 says that "God is love." And, God lasts eternally. When the end arrives, we will no longer need hope nor faith, as the fullfillment of both would have happened in love.

So, why does God bestow Spiritual gifts, then? So that we might have faith and hope about what the future will bring. They are only a glimpse of what the true love will reveal. Paul talks about seeing in the mirror only dimly. Have you ever had someone prophecy over you, or have a word of knowledge? Have you or someone you know been super naturally healed? What was it like? Like the fog lifted, right? Or maybe you recieved a sense of peace or joy. That's what the end will be like all the time. We can only see it as a poor reflection now, but will see it with extreme clarity in the future. Spiritual gifts serve the greater purpose of love and give a glimpse into our future with the Lord.

In the end, there will be no need for prophecy, because we will be in God's presence and He will communicate directly with His people. We will no longer need words of knowledge because everything will be revealed. We will no longer need physical healings because everything will be perfect. We will abide in Love.

This is why this chapter is interjected between two chapters about Spiritual gifts. As Paul writes at the beginning of the chapter, if we give everything to the poor, if we have tongues or prophecy or knowledge, and do not practice them in Love, i.e., practice them for the gifts' sake and not for God's sake, it doesn't matter. Love, Jesus Christ, our Lord, will remain, and all of our gifts from Him also point to Him, until we can fully abide, i.e., live with, Him.


Young Love

Something struck me this weekend: the purity of young love. Really, in our adult relationships, do we really allow ourselves to let go as we did when we were 18 and in love? And, what would happen if we did so?

There was a young couple at the coffee shop today who were clearly enjoying each other's company, much to the dismay of another patron. But, they were caught up in each other, heedless of that other one who may have disapproved. Nothing but hearts and stars and rainbows were in the air, nothing but love and naivete. But, what's really in naivete? Is it the lack of being jaded? Inexperience? Unrealistic dreams? I was reared to think that naivete was bad, but is it in its entirety?

With young love and its naivete, there is something pure and authentic about it. There are two people searching for, and expecting to find, the experience of each other, oblivious to the world. In its purest form, there is no ulterior motive. In this, life experience may not have the upper hand. Jadedness can cause doubt, both in the self and in the relationship with another, which in turn leads to a wall that young love does not know.

Sometimes I dream about this kind of relationship. Yes, a young love relationship, being caught up in another. But, I am so, so jaded. Will love really overcome that? Or will I continue to play games, looking out for myself before I begin to fall in love? While there is a bit of wisdom to look for certain qualities, when and where do I just let go?

There's also another subject I would like to touch on before I finish writing: I want my relationship with God to have the purity and authenticity of young love. Jesus said that if we do not receive Him like a child, with purity and authenticity in expecantcy, much like young love, we will not become a part of His kingdom. I want to receive as much as His kingdom as possible, but because of my lack of naivete, I will also lack in the kingdom.

So, my prayer is this: that my heart would turn into a wise little child, able to be drawn in and carried away, especially in the Lord, but still wise enough to discern strength from stupidity.


Thoughts on Sexuality Requirements

One of my students told me that at UCSB they are trying to pass a gender and sexuality requirement. That means that every student, before they graduate with their B.A. of whatever, will have to take and pass a course on gender and sexuality. This belongs in the diversity G.E. requirement of the University. I am not sure how true this is, but I am not surprised.

This got me thinking about why a university would force their students to learn about gender and sexuality issues, like we learn about U.S. history, or we take a non-Western culture class before we graduate. These courses are designed to teach us about either ourselves and why we identify a certain way, or others and how they identify that way.

Those who are pushing for a gender and sexuality requirement are not pushing simply a moral issue in itself, even though my Christian upbringing might say otherwise. They are pushing for it because that's how they identify, and they want to educate others about it. This thought is not bad in itself, either. I want to educate people about my causes, too.

The real problem that I see does not have to do with the University or forcing others to listen to a point of view they may not want to hear. The problem that I see is that we use our sexuality to identify ourselves. I fall prey to this too, when I wear that dress or give myself a once over in the mirror.

That's right, folks. Those with whom we sleep, make love, or have intercourse, the most intimate of encounters, that usually (and I daresay, naturally) happens behind closed doors, is thrust into the light and is on the forefront of our actions. Just the other day, I heard a conversation between two girls about a guy who had a horrible time deciding if he was bisexual or straight. This was in public for all the world to hear.

Do I really want to know what happens behind your bedroom (or living room haha) door? No! It's almost self indulgent to me. There are other problems in the world. Like genocide. I am sure if your race were in danger of annihilation you would not be thinking about whether you liked boys or girls.

So, come one folks. Let's learn a new way to identify ourselves. What causes are we a part of? Maybe it is not simply the equality for homosexual couples in marriage law, maybe it should be the equality for all, expressed through marriage law. Maybe it's not simply informing others of existence of "trannies;" maybe it should be exploring why "trannies" exist and possibly why their hearts are so deeply wounded that they need to express themselves in that way. Heck maybe we need to take up the cause of all the hurt and wounded in this country.

So, let's not define ourselves through how we feel, but how those feelings have stirred us to action, and what we want to do about it.

Yes, the University, by imposing this G.E. requirement is looking to be "inclusive." But, until we can get past and over ourselves, we will never be "inclusive." We will only be whiny us-against-them.



I'm unhappy because I am unpopular, or so it seems to me. Isn't that sad? One of my weaknesses, I guess, is that I feel unwanted by the world.

I know that people like me, but because my phone is not ringing off the hook, or my facebook has zero notifications, or no one is knocking at my door, then what is the point of meeting people? I want to meet people because I want to go out, have fun or a good time, enrich each other's lives.

Isn't that sad, though? I want to be popular for my own satisfaction - because it makes me feel important or it makes me feel wanted. Once again, it goes back to my own insecurities, and my need to have them satisfied outside of my own self. I need someone to tell me that I am important, rather than simply knowing that I am.

I see my roommate, who is "popular." But, she is not popular because she is a socialite; she's popular because she works for a social organization and she does an enormous amount of work for it. She's popular because people need her to do something for them, most of the time.

The same way with me - I seek people out, not simply because I want to hang with them, but I want to feel justified by our positive interaction. I want to go on a date, not to get to know someone new, but to receive the attention from a male. I want to go to a party, not simply to meet new people, but to get compliments on a superficial level. I want to hang out because I want to meet my own needs, not the needs of others.

Something inside of me is missing, it's empty. Most Christians say that it's God. I may agree with them, most of the time. I do need to know that my worth and identity are found in my Creator and my Purpose. I believe this truth. But, I think we have these needs as a part of our purpose. I have a need to hang out with others, because I need to know that I cannot supply all that I need all the time. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not sufficient all by myself. By the grace of the Lord, He can bring those people to complete me, to meet my needs.

But, the purpose is not to meet needs, it's to have individuals function as a whole. If my condition is such that I am not sufficient on my own, and I share the condition with the entire human race, than it goes to show that all are not sufficient on their own. We need each other to be complete. What is that? What, what word is that?

COMMUNITY! (hahaa - Alicia?)



I would say that I am pretty content with my life. I like where I live and the people that I live around and I'm ok with my personality.

Most wisdom calls us to be content - to be content with our station in life, to be content with our loved ones, to be content with ourselves. But, I was thinking about it today and the world does not change through contentment. At least it takes a stirring of hearts or a dislike of something to invoke a change.

So, my question is: Where is the balance between contentment and the unrest that creates change? If we are to be content, would that not be a bland life? Would people create things that are better if they are truly content?

Please, discusss.


Hello, home

OK, so it's been a little while. Well, a loooong while. But, it's been good. I've been distracted by my sewing machine and my family. Then I was distracted by being at home for the first time in months. But, now, I am no longer distracted. Well, maybe a little, but not much.

I could reflect on the benefits of being with my family, I could reflect on how horrible it was. I could reflect on the fact that it's a new year and therefore a new slate to begin things again. But, I think that I won't.

I've missed Isla Vista and the life that I have had. All I want to say is that I love you, and although my time here is limited, it has turned into something great. How many people can say that they live within blocks of one of the most beautiful beaches in SoCal? Or that they meet some of the most amazing people ever? I just had coffee with this very sweet girl that I met last summer. She is one of the most amazing people ever.

Maybe there are amazing people everywhere, but I like the people here. Some are different and some are not. But they are all amazing in the way that I like, that I'm used to.

Here's to you Isla Vista, not to the place, but to the people who make up the place. You are amazing.