September 15, 2014

Some Conclusions

I have completed my due diligence. I have asked women out, and have received many responses, mostly negative. That is good! I am cutting off women in my life. Even better! The best would be to make decisions about relationships without fear of man. I am working on that with The Lord.

I have waited 33 years for this moment.

I asked one woman for a relationship; and finished speaking with her: what makes her attractive is what makes others attractive: clear communication and enforceable boundaries. Later, I did not ask another woman to begin a relationship. In both instances, I learned to ask where each woman was in her walk with The Lord. The former was in a better place so I proceeded. The other was in a bad place so I refrained. I have applied that wisdom that my friend's mother shared: so long as she and I fear The Lord, we'll be all right.

God said He was proud of me. I'm upset and disappointed in spite of His encouragement and consolation by His Spirit. Ouch. I have completed my due diligence for this season and have seemingly exhausted all leads in my network. I did not think this would happen.

I did not anticipate this to be my worst trip to Korea; and it is!

I did not anticipate going back to IA2 and asking her about her walk and then asking her for relationship, even after I cut her off this week. What kind of capricious man am I? And I might call her tonight if she'll receive me!

Shielding myself from my relational poverty is difficult; I won't believe the lies althought the temptation is present.

The Worst

I’m sitting in the plane cabin. The plane is at Incheon and has been delayed from take-off for ninety minutes because of a typhoon in Hong Kong. This is the worst trip to Korea, ever. Praise God that I’ve already had thirty fruitful trips, and that, eventually, one must be at the bottom.

My trip from Hong Kong to Korea was the worst. A delay before boarding; a delay at the gate; and then a delay on the runway. Chop on the flight. Wrecked plans to meet university friends: I had already pushed back our 20:00 meeting time to 20:30, and that was before the second and third delays in Hong Kong; and when I arrived in Korea, I thought my friends and I could still meet, until I discovered, after running hastily to the AREX, that the next train would depart in forty minutes; and that the local train would take an hour; and then I ran back to the arrival gate, purchased a ticket for the bus to university, and discovered I would have to wait another thirty minutes for the next bus. And then my university friends decided to cancel. All the while, I was incredibly furious at the scaffolded delays, the canceled meeting, and my hunger, which was severe. McDonald’s Big Mac meal was a surprising, fast, comfort food. I don’t remember if my day had ended as most of my days had ended that week, as though I were in a comedy episode, cue the upbeat music and the credits. Fade to black. I don’t think my day had ended that way.

I did sleep well that evening -- curiously, I slept poorly the following night, although I thought the conditions were similar; I decided to stay my final night at Siloam, which is my reliable jimjilbang at Seoul Station; on my final night I enjoyed the pools, spent some time on the Internet, and slept soundly in the sleeping room. I enjoyed the gym the next morning.

The wedding reception was fine. Hanging around church brothers and sisters with whom I don’t usually spend time was humbling and necessary. I had nothing to prove and everything to enjoy at the reception and the evening gathering. I realize trying to draw close to all my church brothers and sisters is impossible; and going out with any is nigh impossible: I have tried! What grace for a few precious encounters with my community!

Indeed, a church brother and I went on an 08:00 long run along the Han River. A highlight! We talked shop, he departed, and I ran another 10K in the other direction. I ran that bit faster than the first; and since my ankle is still not fully recovered, I’ll see the doctor tomorrow. I’m upset that I haven’t completely recovered, and small wonder since I haven’t given myself a total rest for weeks.
I appreciate God’s sense of humor. Last year, my brother in Christ and I stumbled upon this church after an evening by the Han river. We enjoyed worshipping God in the main sanctuary. The following year, I return to that church since my sister in Christ attends the church. Although she ultimately didn’t join me at Sunday service, I enjoyed the worship -- different keys! -- and message: about community, similar to my church’s message a few weeks earlier, with major plugs for small groups. Onnuri is a large church and I could easily slip through the cracks, so I did! I interacted with three people at that mega-church and I had initiated with all three.

I thank God for the opportunity to distribute all my gifts from Hong Kong. I didn’t think that would happen, but several appointments on the final day cleared the goods from my luggage.

And now I am stuck at Hong Kong airport as the city has shut down under the hurricane signal. I thank God for arriving in turbulent fashion just as the airport was closing.

September 14, 2014

Sorrow

I want to share something with you, briefly; in a way, this is a breakthrough, albeit a sorrowful one.

I think I had shared with you how my colleague's mother had died and how my colleague wept openly about this in our faculty common room. We comforted each other. This reminded me to call my mother.

I finally called my mother, just now -- I had come in from a long run along the lovely Han river in Seoul. My mother was walking outside in the evening in New Jersey. First, I shared the generosity testimony with her, up to a point; and my point was to encourage her about God's provision and love between his children in the church, such love to give and to receive freely -- my mother does not belong to community; and she is suspicious of the church. She does not yet understand how we can love each other and be so open with each other, even materially. My mother was more concerned about the interest rate of my credit card than the generosity of God's children -- and I let her know this upset me. She does not have the response to generosity, yet.

Anyway, my mother opened her heart to me. She said she did this because I had asked, and she added my sister and my brother don't ask -- and in my heart I try to remain still and to quell whatever anger wants to rise up in me because of my sister and brother's inaction; even this weekend at a wonderful wedding luncheon, as I see such fruitful families joining together, and even as I share how my family is closer now than it has been in 33 years, very few people experience the kind of relational poverty from which I have come; and I try not to weep when I think that while marital bliss is mine, the kind of inter-family community that belongs to marriage is not mine; what I witnessed this weekend cannot happen to my family; and I wonder all the more from what kind of family will my wife come. What is our yoking like?

And my mother shared that she and her boyfriend of seven years had broken up, today, this day that Holy Spirit had convicted me to call her -- and not my father. Recently -- the timing is not clear to me -- my mother had discovered that her boyfriend had been previously married three times, and she believed from the start, seven years ago, that he had lied to her and had hidden this from her. My mother is so lonely. She could not find anyone with whom to share her sorrow and burden. She eventually aired dirty laundry about her boyfriend on Craigslist, where she had first met this man several years ago. Her boyfriend found out. Their relationship crumbled. He became abusive verbally, and I am not sure if he became abusive physically.

My mother is hurting so much. Ironically, by being open even to this point with me, she is slowly becoming a more relational being, walking into her destiny as a child of God. I tell my mother what I had told her when she first dated that man, I support her decision; she made the best choice to go out with that man; and she made the best choice to break up with that man -- I remember how my brother and sister had vehemently opposed her dating that man seven years ago and how much strife and tension this created in our family; and how when I said I supported my mother's relationship, my mother was so overwhelmed with emotion, she hung up on me; and even to this day my siblings did not speak to my mother's boyfriend; and I pray that my siblings respond to this news, if they ever hear it, with compassion and grace, and not condemnation and shame in Jesus' name. My mother does not need right and wrong choices; my mother needs unconditional support and love. 

In addition, when I tell my mother that I thank her for sharing, and I love her, while she says, "I know," I'm upset in my heart because the experience is not there, and her understanding of love is filial and not agape. I add that if that man ever comes calling back and she does not want him to, to tell me, and I will defend her; and finally, I implore her to call me if she has a burden to share and can find no one else to talk to: would she trust even one of her own sons? I pray so. We hang up and I'm not in a mood to praise God in that joyful way, but in that sorrowful, crying way. God bless you and good morning.

September 11, 2014

Faculty Generosity

The longer I am on the way, the stranger my life on this earth becomes, even to me. Today's events were strange and compose a testimony insofar as I pray they encourage you, too, to obey God, especially where you work.

Last night at house church, we had prayed for God to speak to us about a context where we could be generous with our words and time. God spoke to me clearly about writing an encouraging letter to a sister in Christ in my education faculty. When our house church brother handed out some sweets, I thought a piece of those would also accompany this letter well.

This morning, before anyone had arrived in the office, I wrote the letter and left that and the treat on my sister's desk. 

Later that morning, a colleague walked into the faculty common room, where I spend most of my working hours. He had returned from a trip; and he confided that this was a funeral trip: his mother had died in London; he had gone there to transport her body to their home nation in Africa. He was suffering from his loss. Many sleepless nights. Difficult logistics. Great grieving. By now he was weeping openly. I handed him a tempo; and then we hugged. We sat together, and were quiet.

In my four years in this faculty, I don't think I have ever seen anyone cry before; I don't think I have even seen hugging. We are a typical, arelational, lonely place in Hong Kong society. So this openness and vulnerability are precious and special, something the world doesn't understand. 

I struggled too today. Earlier this week I had decided to cut off a relationship in my life; at last, I cut it off, by text today: the woman was angry at me, and I sympathized with her response. In my knowing her, I had never respected and held my own relational and emotional boundaries, nevermind her actions and boundaries, for which reason I had to say goodbye. I have decided to pursue someone with whom I have never been an emotional or relational mess; clear boundaries and communication with this other woman. Although God has clearly told me He will bless me, my spouse and children, no matter whom I choose, just so long as I choose, I have difficulty trusting Him. I felt a little ill, not as ill as I had felt on Tuesday afternoon

In the afternoon, at the office, I bumped into the sister to whom I had written the letter. She pulled me over, thanked me for the letter, and then asked me to pray for her. We went to the common room to pray. She confided in me concerning her engagement, and the unbearable relationship she and her fiancée have with her fiancée's mother. We prayed. While I was praying for her, she was wailing; wow, what sonorous sorrow; this has never happened before in this faculty. This openness and vulnerability is good for our faculty. Break loneliness, self-reliance and surveillance culture in Jesus name.

And while we are praying, God's kindness leads me to repentance. I experience a change of heart in my reactions to my struggles. Hallelujah. 

God has a good laugh with us. I cannot believe we are praying together like this; and God answers prayers for divine appointments, contexts and people for encouraging words and times. I also cannot believe God had told me to start the faculty prayer group, with her! Indeed, I have said this sister is the most difficult person for me to be around, although, ironically, we are on the way. Praise God for He changes my heart and her heart so that we have more compassion and become less difficult, lighter, for each other. Carrying her burden today was only possible by God's grace. 

Goodbye IA2

You know I had a revelation about her a week or two ago. Good wife and mother! She will be, for someone else in Jesus' name.

You know how earlier this week I had in my heart decided to pursue MI and how that produced an unexpected result; and in doing this, I had decided in my heart to call IA2 and cancel our meeting. I did not do that at the time.

You know how God has said He would bless me, my spouse and family, no matter whom I choose, just so long as I choose! I have a hard time trusting God even after all these years.

I had experienced dread in meeting IA2 this week, even after MI and I reset our boundaries. Feeling dread about meeting a possible spouse is not good. What I have gone through with IA2 in my spirit and emotions these years, even though we have never been officially together is not good too -- yes, this latest episode which began when she contacted me after a year apart is indicative of the unhealthiness of my relationship to her. She may have firmer boundaries but I have never exercised firm boundaries with IA2 and the latter is the greatest red flag.

If I were her, I would have done what MI did this week and ask me to stop contacting her and respect her boundaries from the start. We have enabled -- or disabled -- each other.

Another woman, IN, re-emerged in my life and we had shared good boundaries and conversations. I am meeting her in Korea and am excited about this. My window to choose a woman is open now because I closed meeting new women; and I have chosen IN and God willing, she'll choose me.

I could have met IA2 on this trip, even with meeting IN, but I decided to call IA2 today to cancel so I could better prepare my heart to meet IN. I couldn't call IA2 and I hope this is because she enforces sound boundaries.  I texted her to cancel -- you know I don't like texting -- and IA2 was mad in a way that a text response conveys anger. I broke a promise and I know in her life she has been hurt by broken promises. I'm upset about breaking an appointment and her being angry at me; but I'm amazed at how seriously she has taken this and I have taken this, all the while we have never been officially together. This is some seriously twisted soul tie stuff! This episode is another representative case of our ambiguous relationship. I have to walk away from this in Jesus' name!