A Personal Experience from Global Movings & Life Transitions

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words….Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other….

In Genesis 11:1-9, the world began to have different languages. To see how that translates into a time in today’s world, see Global Lenses.

A 175˚(~180˚) Flip

Entering adulthood is a thrilling experience, much more is living through this new phase. At once, I thought I had it figured out what I plan for the rest of my life, but at another instance, events unfold in ways I do not expect.

I spent the past month ‘coming back’ to a place I grew up. I was adjusting through a period of reverse culture shock, as I moved across ~9350 miles between the two locations. A month later, to my excitement, I got the opportunity to return to where I originally flew back from. This is a place where I had some of my formative years taken place, but not where I grew up. Formative years and growth seem to have extended or become more complicated whenever I move across distances.

Certainly, expectations do not always meet experiences. When that happens, it takes time to get pass the stress of readjustment, physically and mentally. Unexpectedly, I am reliving another reverse culture shock. This time, with the intensity of uncertain career path and sudden relocation. My body is so confused with the sleep-wake cycle and prolonged fatigue from a 40-hour traveling. My mind is looking for a reference point to bridge the expectation-reality gap.

Families and friends move on at different places, and the relationship is not the same as having them around. The smells and sounds in the air, and even the warmth or coolness around have changed. The food I was so used to a month or two ago is not the same now, so are my daily routines of doing activities and taking a rest. The social rules and cultural way of thinking were once familiar but not so meanwhile. It is not a completely individual process but a unique experience internally. There are memories and thoughts that I cannot share freely as they are understood. At work, there is so-called professionalism as a standard code of conduct, but it does not translate well into personal life.

Above all, God has never been distant, and is even actively involved in every single event of my life.

Orchestrated Coincidences, Who’s the Director?

Very easily, I could have focused the spotlight on my conflicts and personal experiences, and lose sight of God Himself in my life. Perhaps, I have transitioned into adulthood after college. Thereon, I would not have learned the ropes to becoming a grown-up apart from the events and people along the way. Not a single incident if displaced from its time and place would have the best influence in my life.

It would not have been possible to have a place to stay right after graduation due to the leasing conditions and the absence of ‘home’ in a distant country. What more, the moving was so smooth that I did not have to worry about transporting my house items. My roommate was a perfect match without any prior contact. The long period of job searching was very bumpy but it helped me to learn about myself better, and it built in me a finer character. The brief trip across the oceans helped me to connect the dots of families and friends.

Despite not knowing how things work together to this present time, and what are the unknowns in the future, God had never been absent or indifferent. There is always this peace whenever we’re walking together. On my end, I could be tired or slacking, but He is ever faithful to walking me through whatever unknowns ahead.

I could only say, when I’m left with only disarrayed thoughts in my worn out mind and body, I can feel His presence so real and refreshing inside of me. What reminds me next, is the recall that He is again directing me the way. I know, I am regaining my balance and returning to my normal self. I believe the same worth of experiences can be experienced by whoever who would give it a try. And it is always a beautiful chapter that concludes, one after another.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28

Featured Video: True Beauty 2: Deny Yourself

Related Article:
Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism (1)


Reference:
1. Adler, P. (2002). Beyond cultural identity: Reflections on multiculturalism. Retrieved from http://www.mediate.com/articles/adler3.cfm

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White as Dove, Prudent as Serpent

Retaining a heart of gratitude is easy, when things are in abundance.

Charting a new course feels light, when burdens are less.
Maintaining integrity is manageable, when surrounded with people likewise.

However, such privileges are not universal, especially when ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ becomes mainstream. Hence, some go tactical by avoiding toxic people just to stay ahead. Yet, there are always times that demand contact with disruptive behaviors. So, the question now becomes, “How would you carry yourself in such situations?”

Situation A: On the Road

In some places, rule observance is honored (generally) to prevent confusing expectations and unnecessary risks. In other places, rules serve as an ‘authoritative’ guide for individual discretion, except when risks turn into harms. When exceptions happen, it is the fault of the ones causing them, because they are not street-smart enough.

At Place A, passing on the slow lane is illegal; At Place B, passing on both lanes is more than about legality but a norm. Not surprisingly, such behaviors go beyond the roads, but everyday life. Get ahead because it is a need, because such is a norm, and because I was not caught. One could make a joke that “Arriving at your destination ahead of the car in front of you is the most important rule. All other rules are subservient to this sacrosanct rule.”

Speed limit? Play it safe or pay safe. One-way lane? When there is no cars. Traffic light in yellow? Better speed up. (……etc.)

Melody in a City Hustle

Among the noise and rush of a crowded place, there is a gentle whisper. The whispering melody is tender, but enigmatically ethereal (mystically perfect & delicate for this world). It did not stop the busyness of the streets, but it instantly awakes the soul that has been dreaded by one matter after another, from a Whack-A-Mole game where one just keeps on hitting the mole that emerges at one hole after the other at an unceasingly faster rate.

At a place where problems seem to abound, role models are hardly within reach. What is less-than-normal becomes the normal, perceived and accepted as a ‘humane’ compromise. At one spot, the blame game gets fury; At another spot, helplessness is a true state.

However, what is right is never lost. What is honorable is not buried. A little step back in sync with the melody recalls what is proper and virtuous. It brings back a sense of integrity, like the heart and mind were never separate as two.

Salt & Light, Ambassadors of Christ

It was, maybe, easier to keep a heart of gratitude when life was at its peak. Generosity, was out of the excess. Defining one’s course was perhaps, less burdensome with lesser weights on the shoulders. If recognitions and affirmation come from the people around, the path would be much broader than it needs to be.

Yet, one thing is for sure. Without a clear mind, innocence and wisdom are sound qualities but practiced poorly. We, can never truly stand alone, unless we abide by His word. For He says,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” — John 15:5

And so does the church which you and I constitute:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” — 1 Peter 2:9

When life gets the better of you again, steer calmly and get in check with His word. Godspeed!

Faith in Trying Times

Life is tough, days are bad, but faith is needed. (?)

See, pal… Don’t tell me about faith. It is not solving the problems.
Just, don’t throw in the faith word. It isn’t helping at all.

Tough Times

For the past 6 months, I have been working on what I loved so much, a project that I could pour my talents, time, and interests so tirelessly. Now, due to the lack of funding, the project is canceled, and I’m out of work all of a sudden.

… // …

Things were not well for the past 2 years, but I was able to make the ends meet, just merely… AND this morning, out of nowhere, I was told that I have a little growing tumor in my brain. Great. 2 years of struggles day by day, and now my brain is abnormal.

… // …

See, it isn’t that I’m not hopeful or optimistic. It is just not happening. Every single day, every single moment, the constant grip of fear is just paralyzing. It is not a fright that will go away once it scares you, but it is a fainting fear that lingers. I know, faith moves mountains, and miracles occur. A powerful faith will see through the end… However, I’m tired of this battle… I don’t care anymore.

What’s Faith

Faith is not an it, but a response towards God as His word speaks so. We are led by blind faith when it is out of sync with His word.

An Entrusted Deposit

Perhaps, Satan wants to distract you with little problems bubbling here and there, in different forms and sizes. There is only one goal at hand, to put you in doubt, in despair, and be ineffective in life. For now, none of us knows how the circumstances come together, whether Satan seeds the event, the person contributes to it, or God allows the happening. But it is for sure that God tempts no one with sickness or a job loss to drive a person into doubts and despair. Simultaneously, it is also certain that Satan’s goal remains despite the circumstances, that is to lead man away from God.

Lifestyle

Life is tough, while days were bad. It doesn’t matter. You have the choice to not succumb to the circumstances. Along the way, it is tempting to look at the premade choices that are discouraging, but the reality is that those alternatives are not helpful. Still, you have the liberty to see the light in every trial. You have the Word of God to discern the way that leads to life. It is more than a matter of choice, but a lifestyle. A lifestyle that acknowledges one’s inadequacies, and thus aligns oneself with the spoken reality that God had established since the beginning of the world. When heaven meets the world, you are bridging the gap and living that reality.

“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” — 1 Peter 5:9

Three……Abrahamic Religions?

The term, “Abrahamic Religions” has an origin in the Qur’an, referring to the faiths of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism at the time it is written. A common basis of comparison is between the texts of the faiths.

Point of Comparison (the Bible)

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The term, “Christianity” has its root in the name, “Christians” whom the people of Antioch (sometime before 62-64 AD) called the followers (disciples) of Jesus Christ as. To date, quite a number of organized religious denominations are attributed to the term, “Christianity”. Historically, there are varied sums of books treated as the sacred text, some 66, some 73, some 81, etc.

For the purpose of comparison, only 66 books (table above) are used as the standard Bible.

Judaism & Christianity

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The term, “Judaism” has its root in the name, “Judah” which is attributed after the tribe (or descendants) of Judah. To date, quite a number of organized religious movements are attributed to the term, “Judaism”. One of the earlier foundational texts is known as Tanakh, which is an abbreviated form of “TaNaKh” (3 capital letters, T N K = 3 categories of books). Comparatively, the same texts in the Tanakh are also found in the Bible (Old Testament section).

Despite the varied orders and compilations (as shown above), the texts are almost identical, and both carry the same message. The message is that there is an expectation of a Savior (Messiah) for the salvation of mankind.

Islam & Christianity

The term, “Islam” has an origin in the Arabic word, “salam” which has certain attributes of “peace”, “safety”, “submission”, etc. To date, quite a number of organized religious schools are attributed to the term, “Islam”. The foundational Islamic text is known as the Qur’an, which is a collection of 114 chapters in the order of length (roughly). In contrast to the Bible (with books, and then chapters, then verses), the Qur’an consists of only chapters (surah), and then verses (ayat).

Reference: List of chapters in Qu’ran.

Common Grounds
Given that there is no overlap of verses between the texts, only commentaries about the Bible are found in the Qur’an.

Accordingly, the Qur’an acknowledges certain categories of books in the Bible (Pentateuch or Mosaic Law/Tawrat, Psalms/Zabur, Gospel/Injil) as trustworthy. See The Qur’an says the Bible is not corrupt.

From the Qur’an’s standpoint, the rest of the biblical texts testify of certain individuals about their existence, though in different narrations. (Example: ‘Similarities between the Bible and the Qur’an‘).

Highlights
Apart from the commentaries, Islamic doctrine does not align completely with the Bible unless one looks at the central figure — Jesus Christ. See Jesus and Islam.


Featured Article:
Seed, H. (2008). The God questions: Exploring life’s great questions about God. California: Vista, Incorporation.

Triune God (One God)

Triune.001

In Christianity, there is only one God.

In essence, there is no three disconnected deities, but three distinct Persons in unison of will, power, knowledge, love, mercy, justice, holiness, etc. (1).

The whole Bible speaks of YHVH (YAHWEH for pronunciation), the only one LORD God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equally God, and in one Nature.

As a hindsight, God is spirit, as written in John 4:24. Hence, we hardly able to comprehend God from our physical perspective. However, Jesus the Son, came in the form of both God and man to live among man in the early A.D., so that we can relate to God through Him.

Featured Article:
What is the Doctrine of the Trinity? (1)
The Roles of the Trinity? (2)


References:

  1. Perman, M. 2004. What is the doctrine of the trinity? Retrieved from: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity
  2. Stanley, C. (n.d.). The roles of the trinity? Retrieved from http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/holy-trinity/the-roles-of-the-trinity.html

The Language of Love?

“Like, butterflies in the stomach.”

“It’s a gucci feeling.”

“I loooove cheese.”

“I love swimming!!!”

“I so loved you.”

Is love an action? Or something I like? Really liked?

In a scene, a stranger is given a gift. No strings attached.  A young toddler is looking into your eyes, finding signs of affection. Face recognition, mapped  (ticked). An elderly steps into the bus. “Please. Have your seat, sir.” “Loves me. Loves me not. Loves me……” the flower was dressed moments ago. (Loves me (not) Video)

Is love about loving others? Affection in a date? Am I happy? With guesses sometimes?


Let’s take a look at this note:

“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8


If it is for friendship …

Do I love my friend? or friends?
I’m not close to everyone.
Manyyy?
Hmm… a few, perhaps.
Do I like them? Yup. Maybe.
Fights? We do, sometimes.
But, it’s no big deal.

What about love for others? Parents? Co-workers? Spoiler? The annoying dude? Stranger? Neighbor? …

It is hard to draw the line. Often, it takes some time.
Everyone speaks the language of love. Perhaps, in different ways. (BuzzFeed post)
To define love simply, 1 Corinthians 13 outlines it.

Moving Forward amid Unemployment

It was all on the go, at least most of the time, when the schedules are loaded and the weeks pass by just like days.

In a typical day, the alarm buzzes off. The sky just got a lil bright. It’s time to get ready for work, or an early morning class of the week. Whoosh, the queue is so long. The music is playing in the ears. Checked the emails. Let’s get rolling. It’s time for lunch finally, after one morning. It’s Wednesday, the longest day with heaping assignments but anyway, it’s half-way through the week! A call from the customer comes in. A meeting is scheduled in the afternoon. This part of the project is taking more time than expected. Gotta dive deeper into the client’s reports and data. It’s half-way through the semester again, 3 midterms and 2 quizzes are lined up over the next 2 weeks. An email for enrolling for the next semester comes in. A career path is questioned. The same question on what courses to take lingers in the mind. Someone is having birthday next week. Gift, party, assignments, weekend, friends. It’s turning to a junior year next year. Applications for internship have not gotten any news yet. Another set of questions kicks in, full-time job, relocation, living wage, savings, relationships, graduate school. It’s been a year working here. Some goals are achieved, some are not yet. A better prospect seems to be in another firm, but there are other things I miss in this company. Children just received their grade reports. Where and how should help be given. The car breaks down this morning, while I was heading to work. To each individual, everyday is set on a motion, while uncertainties are a constant part of life.

It is at this moment, when uncertainties remain while everyday is not in a motion. A period when the job is loss or forgone due to unanticipated life happenings, or the hype of graduation was further and further few months ago.


TRANSITION

Just before life transition happens, there is at least something to work on and to be expected. But, after that, what is left are the uncertainties. And, the longer it is, the longer the frustration surmounts. Job applications were submitted, countless time was spent on job searching and form filling, first-round interviews were made, but still nothing concrete is heard of yet. Soon, it is an emotional roller coaster day after day. To some or many, rent and bills, food, income or reserve, social circle, visa concerns, and even the direction of life would not stop bothering. It is not a depression state, but being depressed or the absence of joy is an everyday routine. More doubts flood in later, whether it is a problem of qualification or experience, networking, major, or GPA that is hindering me from getting a job. It is a desperate state after countless times of hearing the word, “Rejected”, and seeing oasis disguised as false hopes.

Watching this period of unemployment is like looking for the silver lining that highlights strength, wisdom, and the final moment of breakthrough. But, going through this period personally carries much emotional challenges of maintaining integrity (and sanity). It could also be a time when the trust in God is questioned.


A MATTER OF WILL – TRUST IN GOD

1. Reclaiming identity in who God made us to be.

Money, power, and status do not define one’s worth. God has ordained since the creation of man of his/her dignity.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” — Genesis 1:27

No matter how demotivated, low in productivity, fearful, burned out, and looked down upon, your value is not defined by your employment state. You could be working and still face struggles and challenges amid employment. Your very life exists and is being molded to be a person to share in His glory. You are very much valued in God’s eyes.

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” — Isaiah 43:6–7

God has established work as a manifestation of creation and its beauty. Amid unemployment, you can still make minor accomplishments and pick up along the way. He intends you to live your life gloriously as He created you to be.

2. Perfect timing and turn-outs.

When we play god and struggle over the control of uncertainties, we are not doing it right.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” — Proverbs 16:9

We should plan and take steps over uncertainties. However, turn-outs might occur in ways we do not expect, and there are times we might struggle to accept them at the first sight. Yet, as we draw closer to God to what He wills and says, we will find ourselves navigating through complicated times and issues with lesser burdens borne. Surprisingly, events unfold with the right people or things present at the right time at the right place. It is usually a reasonable and logical thread of events, but coined together so perfectly that an artificial (manmade) repeat might not produce the same fidelity (exactness). As a token of grace/gift, miracles do happen but the matured ones know how to live within the miracle day by day.

3. A lil more matured you.

Maturity is not proportional to age or experiences, although contemporary assumption says otherwise. Maturity strengthens the core of a person, and shares its joyous fruits to the surrounding people. It is not “contagious”, but empowering.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — James 1:4

God is carefully walking you through the challenges, to grow you into a person whom He has in mind — glorious, beautiful, matured, complete, wise, empathizing, gracious, kind, loving …

The next time someone significant in your life goes through a life crisis, you are not pulled down by the destructive forces, but you are able to lead him/her through calmly and with sound discretion.

4. Enjoying the relationship with God.

Last but not the final, it is an unemployment moment that could steer you towards an intriguing journey with God. A relationship developed with God is not likened to a blind faith, or a paternalistic (forced) submission, or a superstitious unintelligent act. These descriptions only fit when we try to fit God into our own definition or expectation, and by our wishes (like treating a genie) and works. When God does not act according to our ways and thoughts, we are learning that He is God.

As we take in the perspective of God by His words, we may willfully embrace the bigger picture, the “real, tangible, actionable purposes” in our life (1). Some tit bits of what entails a relationship with God describes, it is a trustworthy relationship with a faithful God even though we may fail.


MOVING FORWARD AMID UNEMPLOYMENT

In practice, unemployment would not be changed unless we take steps to seek for employment. Previously, we might have treated each job application as an end to a potential job. However, it is most effective to treat them as a means. That would translate to keep working on securing a job offer until you take the offer, even if the recruitment processes are long and seemingly redundant for multiple positions. Through all in all, remain productive everyday:

  • Industry & company job research
  • Networking (cold contact/connections)
  • Quality & quantity of applications
  • Developing expertise (learning & applying beyond the actual job)
  • Volunteering
  • Social life
  • Reassess, re-strategize, refocus, revise plan
  • Don’t ditch God amid busyness

Enjoy your take-home message!

Citation:
1. Marshall Segal. (2015). The joy of graduation and the crisis of joblessness. Retrieved from: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-joy-of-graduation-and-the-crisis-of-joblessness