Archive for September, 2006

It’s all about me, right?

September 30, 2006

So today I was pretty excited. It’s Friday. The weekend was here and while I am not completely overwhelmed with crazy projects and tasks to do all day long, I tend to think the weekend is still an excuse to do nothing but think about myself. So that is what I was planning on doing. I wanted to go workout, go see a movie (The Last Kiss, if you were wondering), go eat good, ethnic food on the Drive… maybe get a diet coke (I rarely have the pleasure of getting diet coke here, what’s with my friends and all their lukewarm water? I feel like I am back in France…), and go shopping (hey, its allowed, I’m moving, I NEED to go to Ikea…). A weekend all about me. (note: I wasn’t doing all of this alone… Leigh was going to go with me… I have friends here, don’t worry!)

Then Kristin messages me today to tell me a spot opened up to go to Jacob’s Well, which was hosting a 2 day workshop relating to poverty, that had been filled until people backed out this morning. She was going, Kyle wanted me to go, so I reluctantly agreed and assumed my weekend was ruined. Yes, I actually thought this.

And a few hours later I sit here tonight in a state of humility, still processing part one of the workshop. (I won’t go into all the details here, they will be in a separate post.)

Joyce, the director of Jacob’s Well, is an amazing, AMAZING woman of God. She has pastored a couple different congregations in the past, and I guess you could say her current flock consists of the 16,000 addicts and mentally ill in the downtown neighborhood she lives and works within. Her concepts of holiness and obedience blow me away; I found myself constantly wondering what it must be like to have such an intimate connection with God.

Before I could project too much idealism onto Joyce, she was quick to add that she has no special gift for what she does with marginalized people, in fact, she was once like me- wanting to see the poor experience mercy, but not really willing to step in and do it herself… hoping others would hop to it, covering her slack. Yup, that is me alright. And I am one to get passionate about issues; I helped with World Aid’s Day at Union last year, considered internships with International Justice Mission, did projects in a social justice class on child sex tourism, promoted Invisible Children… I know the issues and yet my actions don’t consistently flow out of that knowledge.

We all took turns reading outloud around 50 different passages from Scripture related to the marginalized people (only 1/10th of the passages related to the poor and needy in the Bible…. yes, TENTH) and talked about the various emotions God expressed towards his people who constantly enslaved and cheated the poor and helpless; disappointment, hurt, frustration, anger… then we talked about how the passages made us feel; numb, overwhelmed, conviction, hopelessness (not all were negative, I am mostly recalling the emotions I felt).

Joyce said the biggest reason we avoid/fear/ignore those who are marginalized is because of how it makes us feel about ourselves. The theme we noticed in all the passages were that the sins of the people were rooted in things like pride, selfishness, greed… but she pointed out the broad theme of idolatry which encompasses all of those things. Idolatry leads to the sin of injustice. We worship comfort, health, money, youthfulness, success, education, technology… and those without such things are treated accordingly, pushed to the margins because they can’t keep up. How do I reconcile that as a Christian? When the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor, why am I okay with dodging the prostitute on the corner? Getting annoyed with the slow, elderly lady who won’t hurry across a busy intersection? Gawking at the disabled? Frustrated with the people in front me at the check-out line who can’t speak English very well? We know the great commandment; we tell people to obey the great commission; yet do we realize how the two work in tandem? Matthew ends with Jesus THEREFORE telling His followers to go and make disciples; teaching them to obey what He has commanded… and what he commanded was the greatest commandment.

Social justice has this trendiness about it right now which is neither good nor bad. I want people to be passionate about something; passionate about mercy and justice (not one to the neglect of the other) But passion for it is different from passion living it, if that makes sense. If I am not living and obeying what I am teaching, that itself is an injustice to God, our peers, and the injustices to which we give lip service.

So, I sit here a little bit more humble than when the day began… praying that God will discipline me and show me how to be more like Him through this weekend… which I guess is a little bit about me, after all.

It’s all about me, right?

September 30, 2006

So today I was pretty excited. It’s Friday. The weekend was here and while I am not completely overwhelmed with crazy projects and tasks to do all day long, I tend to think the weekend is still an excuse to do nothing but think about myself. So that is what I was planning on doing. I wanted to go workout, go see a movie (The Last Kiss, if you were wondering), go eat good, ethnic food on the Drive… maybe get a diet coke (I rarely have the pleasure of getting diet coke here, what’s with my friends and all their lukewarm water? I feel like I am back in France…), and go shopping (hey, its allowed, I’m moving, I NEED to go to Ikea…). A weekend all about me. (note: I wasn’t doing all of this alone… Leigh was going to go with me… I have friends here, don’t worry!)

Then Kristin messages me today to tell me a spot opened up to go to Jacob’s Well, which was hosting a 2 day workshop relating to poverty, that had been filled until people backed out this morning. She was going, Kyle wanted me to go, so I reluctantly agreed and assumed my weekend was ruined. Yes, I actually thought this.

And a few hours later I sit here tonight in a state of humility, still processing part one of the workshop. (I won’t go into all the details here, they will be in a separate post.)

Joyce, the director of Jacob’s Well, is an amazing, AMAZING woman of God. She has pastored a couple different congregations in the past, and I guess you could say her current flock consists of the 16,000 addicts and mentally ill in the downtown neighborhood she lives and works within. Her concepts of holiness and obedience blow me away; I found myself constantly wondering what it must be like to have such an intimate connection with God.

Before I could project too much idealism onto Joyce, she was quick to add that she has no special gift for what she does with marginalized people, in fact, she was once like me- wanting to see the poor experience mercy, but not really willing to step in and do it herself… hoping others would hop to it, covering her slack. Yup, that is me alright. And I am one to get passionate about issues; I helped with World Aid’s Day at Union last year, considered internships with International Justice Mission, did projects in a social justice class on child sex tourism, promoted Invisible Children… I know the issues and yet my actions don’t consistently flow out of that knowledge.

We all took turns reading outloud around 50 different passages from Scripture related to the marginalized people (only 1/10th of the passages related to the poor and needy in the Bible…. yes, TENTH) and talked about the various emotions God expressed towards his people who constantly enslaved and cheated the poor and helpless; disappointment, hurt, frustration, anger… then we talked about how the passages made us feel; numb, overwhelmed, conviction, hopelessness (not all were negative, I am mostly recalling the emotions I felt).

Joyce said the biggest reason we avoid/fear/ignore those who are marginalized is because of how it makes us feel about ourselves. The theme we noticed in all the passages were that the sins of the people were rooted in things like pride, selfishness, greed… but she pointed out the broad theme of idolatry which encompasses all of those things. Idolatry leads to the sin of injustice. We worship comfort, health, money, youthfulness, success, education, technology… and those without such things are treated accordingly, pushed to the margins because they can’t keep up. How do I reconcile that as a Christian? When the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor, why am I okay with dodging the prostitute on the corner? Getting annoyed with the slow, elderly lady who won’t hurry across a busy intersection? Gawking at the disabled? Frustrated with the people in front me at the check-out line who can’t speak English very well? We know the great commandment; we tell people to obey the great commission; yet do we realize how the two work in tandem? Matthew ends with Jesus THEREFORE telling His followers to go and make disciples; teaching them to obey what He has commanded… and what he commanded was the greatest commandment.

Social justice has this trendiness about it right now which is neither good nor bad. I want people to be passionate about something; passionate about mercy and justice (not one to the neglect of the other) But passion for it is different from passion living it, if that makes sense. If I am not living and obeying what I am teaching, that itself is an injustice to God, our peers, and the injustices to which we give lip service.

So, I sit here a little bit more humble than when the day began… praying that God will discipline me and show me how to be more like Him through this weekend… which I guess is a little bit about me, after all.

[safe]way

September 23, 2006

I think I am finally experiencing culture shock. Here are just a few things I have encountered recently:

  • Weed (at least once a day… today, twice)
  • Full nudity in the gym locker room (this never happened at Jackson Sport & Fitness)
  • A man wearing a feathery boa hat contraption outside a coffee shop window that was so distracting that I completely lost any concept of what was going on during a meeting with Kyle & Kristin (and they actually knew who I was seeing before I even uttered a word… apparently this is a regular occurrence)
  • Same-sex couples openly displaying affection
  • Signs for local Communist party gatherings (anyone interested?)
  • People performing psychic readings on sidewalk benches
  • Sore legs from walking everywhere (!!!!!!)

Want to know when it finally it me? As I found myself excited to be at Safeway (a Canadian version of Kroger). Secretly, I really wanted to just hang out there. It felt normal, even safe (no pun intended). I felt like I was home, strangely… and then I started wondering if this was some of the culture shock I was told to expect.
See, I spend most of my time on “The Drive.” This area in East Van is composed of markets (some organic, even!), all sorts of ethnic eateries, vintage/consignment shops, 2.5 coffee shops per block (thanks, Kyle), and the above encounters and experiences.
But, I appreciate my new surroundings and am thankful for the new, albeit different, experiences. I am beginning to see what life looks like outside of the Christian bubble I lived in for 4 years. I love Union, don’t hear me say otherwise. Its just good to be in the world… encountering the world, on a daily basis… living life just like the next person regardless of their belief system (and believe me, there are lots of belief systems here). I hope to be the type of Christian who, no matter who I encounter, can still smile at the person on the street corner or exchange pleasantries… to not judge people, but offer them warmth and friendship. To do otherwise would be dismaying, I think.

So… to sum it up, I miss home a little bit. I miss my friends, my car, my family, seeing my nephew grow, being able to go outside knowing the weather won’t change 5 times a day, familiar stores and restaurants, hearing my cell phone ring and actually being able to answer it, Starbucks (okay, this is technically not true because I really like the other coffee shops here, but its sort of uncool to go to Starbucks since its a franchise and I am fearful of being judged if I am seen there… but I never had this fear back home, so maybe thats more of the issue… I digress…)

I want to put some redeeming truth here, like I know this is where God has me right now or something cliche like that… I know it, but I don’t feel it this moment. Thankfully that knowledge will carry me and I can trust Him to replace these home-sick feelings with confidence and contentment in His timing. I am growing and learning and processing a lot, and these feelings (far from wallowing, just so you know) are a part of the adventure here.

Speaking of adventure, I am going to Seattle in the morning with my soon-to-be roommate Leigh and Kyle’s wife, Anna. I better get to bed. Did I mention how much I love Vancouver? 🙂

The gang

September 23, 2006

[safe]way

September 23, 2006

I think I am finally experiencing culture shock. Here are just a few things I have encountered recently:

  • Weed (at least once a day… today, twice)
  • Full nudity in the gym locker room (this never happened at Jackson Sport & Fitness)
  • A man wearing a feathery boa hat contraption outside a coffee shop window that was so distracting that I completely lost any concept of what was going on during a meeting with Kyle & Kristin (and they actually knew who I was seeing before I even uttered a word… apparently this is a regular occurrence)
  • Same-sex couples openly displaying affection
  • Signs for local Communist party gatherings (anyone interested?)
  • People performing psychic readings on sidewalk benches
  • Sore legs from walking everywhere (!!!!!!)

Want to know when it finally it me? As I found myself excited to be at Safeway (a Canadian version of Kroger). Secretly, I really wanted to just hang out there. It felt normal, even safe (no pun intended). I felt like I was home, strangely… and then I started wondering if this was some of the culture shock I was told to expect.
See, I spend most of my time on “The Drive.” This area in East Van is composed of markets (some organic, even!), all sorts of ethnic eateries, vintage/consignment shops, 2.5 coffee shops per block (thanks, Kyle), and the above encounters and experiences.
But, I appreciate my new surroundings and am thankful for the new, albeit different, experiences. I am beginning to see what life looks like outside of the Christian bubble I lived in for 4 years. I love Union, don’t hear me say otherwise. Its just good to be in the world… encountering the world, on a daily basis… living life just like the next person regardless of their belief system (and believe me, there are lots of belief systems here). I hope to be the type of Christian who, no matter who I encounter, can still smile at the person on the street corner or exchange pleasantries… to not judge people, but offer them warmth and friendship. To do otherwise would be dismaying, I think.

So… to sum it up, I miss home a little bit. I miss my friends, my car, my family, seeing my nephew grow, being able to go outside knowing the weather won’t change 5 times a day, familiar stores and restaurants, hearing my cell phone ring and actually being able to answer it, Starbucks (okay, this is technically not true because I really like the other coffee shops here, but its sort of uncool to go to Starbucks since its a franchise and I am fearful of being judged if I am seen there… but I never had this fear back home, so maybe thats more of the issue… I digress…)

I want to put some redeeming truth here, like I know this is where God has me right now or something cliche like that… I know it, but I don’t feel it this moment. Thankfully that knowledge will carry me and I can trust Him to replace these home-sick feelings with confidence and contentment in His timing. I am growing and learning and processing a lot, and these feelings (far from wallowing, just so you know) are a part of the adventure here.

Speaking of adventure, I am going to Seattle in the morning with my soon-to-be roommate Leigh and Kyle’s wife, Anna. I better get to bed. Did I mention how much I love Vancouver? 🙂

The gang

September 23, 2006

Hide and Seek

September 19, 2006

[I sure hope blogging is an acquired taste, because I really have a hard time getting into it. Hopefully this post will help spur me on…]

Today was the first time I cried. Okay, well that is not entirely true, but almost. I have only cried two other times since getting here, when I called two of my close friends just hearing their voices started the waterworks. I was not sad either time I made the phone calls, but I think it dawned on me as they answered that I was a lot farther away from them this time around.

So, that brings me to today. Kyle and Kristin use Monday’s as their Sabbath days. Days to read, reflect… do things that don’t involve scheduling and phoning and other work-related tasks. Last night a few of us from church helped a guy (also from church) out with a concert he was promoting. It was fun, but at about midnight I was ready to be out of there, mainly so I could get to bed and enjoy my Sabbath day, from waking early to going to bed late, I was looking forward to Monday.

I woke up at 11:45 with Kristin knocking on my door inviting me to a celebration lunch for my soon-to-be roommate who just landed her first (and pretty nice I may add) post-graduate job Yes, that is right. I slept in almost 3 hours more than I had planned. I was SO disappointed. Mainly with myself, who still sucks at time management (after getting back last night I played on here for a bit which is probably another reason I slept in), and because I so badly wanted today. All of it. So because of this, I cried, and stayed on the verge of tears for most of the afternoon. I did a good job of hiding it at lunch and at the coffee shop we went to afterwards where I did get to listen to a sermon, which put a lot of things into perspective.

Rob Bell had some interesting things to say- he talked about Peter and John and Jacob and Esau. In each case, there was one who sought the identity of the other, or at least questioned why things had to be different for them. Envy was a theme in the sermon and I could talk about a variety of things related to the talk, but a verse that stuck out to me from Job: “Anger slays the foolish man, and jealousy kills the simple”

Bell said that simple in this case referred to being unreflective; being in a place where you have no idea what is going on inwardly… where you don’t think to ask the “why” questions… so that when an emotion like jealousy or anger comes up, its unmanageable. It kills. I wonder how many other things kill us on a daily basis because we haven’t stopped to ask why we feel certain ways? Why do we want the lives of others? Why do we question our own paths, our talents and giftings?

So, to bring it all back… it made me wonder why I got so upset today. Aside from being really ticked off at myself for going to bed so late… why was I so bent out of shape about messing up my day? If I am honest with myself, its because I want to feel and be known right now. I especially desire that with Jesus. I wanted so badly to go to that hiding place today with Him, but it didn’t happen quite how I had hoped. I don’t feel very honest with myself or with Him. I think being in a new place has helped me to see my desire to be known magnified, but has also served in helping me bury the desire inside, because its easy to keep those desires from people you don’t know very well.

I needed to hear that today; that being unreflective is harmful to the soul. It keeps you from truly seeing what is behind the way you act and think and feel. What about you? How have you felt lately? How are you responding to life? Have you stopped to ask why, to reflect on what’s going on inside you? Reconcile those things and then… Live freely from a heart that is alive and not covered over with band-aids and pat answers.

Hide and Seek

September 18, 2006

[I sure hope blogging is an acquired taste, because I really have a hard time getting into it. Hopefully this post will help spur me on…]

Today was the first time I cried. Okay, well that is not entirely true, but almost. I have only cried two other times since getting here, when I called two of my close friends just hearing their voices started the waterworks. I was not sad either time I made the phone calls, but I think it dawned on me as they answered that I was a lot farther away from them this time around.

So, that brings me to today. Kyle and Kristin use Monday’s as their Sabbath days. Days to read, reflect… do things that don’t involve scheduling and phoning and other work-related tasks. Last night a few of us from church helped a guy (also from church) out with a concert he was promoting. It was fun, but at about midnight I was ready to be out of there, mainly so I could get to bed and enjoy my Sabbath day, from waking early to going to bed late, I was looking forward to Monday.

I woke up at 11:45 with Kristin knocking on my door inviting me to a celebration lunch for my soon-to-be roommate who just landed her first (and pretty nice I may add) post-graduate job Yes, that is right. I slept in almost 3 hours more than I had planned. I was SO disappointed. Mainly with myself, who still sucks at time management (after getting back last night I played on here for a bit which is probably another reason I slept in), and because I so badly wanted today. All of it. So because of this, I cried, and stayed on the verge of tears for most of the afternoon. I did a good job of hiding it at lunch and at the coffee shop we went to afterwards where I did get to listen to a sermon, which put a lot of things into perspective.

Rob Bell had some interesting things to say- he talked about Peter and John and Jacob and Esau. In each case, there was one who sought the identity of the other, or at least questioned why things had to be different for them. Envy was a theme in the sermon and I could talk about a variety of things related to the talk, but a verse that stuck out to me from Job: “Anger slays the foolish man, and jealousy kills the simple”

Bell said that simple in this case referred to being unreflective; being in a place where you have no idea what is going on inwardly… where you don’t think to ask the “why” questions… so that when an emotion like jealousy or anger comes up, its unmanageable. It kills. I wonder how many other things kill us on a daily basis because we haven’t stopped to ask why we feel certain ways? Why do we want the lives of others? Why do we question our own paths, our talents and giftings?

So, to bring it all back… it made me wonder why I got so upset today. Aside from being really ticked off at myself for going to bed so late… why was I so bent out of shape about messing up my day? If I am honest with myself, its because I want to feel and be known right now. I especially desire that with Jesus. I wanted so badly to go to that hiding place today with Him, but it didn’t happen quite how I had hoped. I don’t feel very honest with myself or with Him. I think being in a new place has helped me to see my desire to be known magnified, but has also served in helping me bury the desire inside, because its easy to keep those desires from people you don’t know very well.

I needed to hear that today; that being unreflective is harmful to the soul. It keeps you from truly seeing what is behind the way you act and think and feel. What about you? How have you felt lately? How are you responding to life? Have you stopped to ask why, to reflect on what’s going on inside you? Reconcile those things and then… Live freely from a heart that is alive and not covered over with band-aids and pat answers.