Journeys & Writings of Paul

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Didn't see that one coming?

I love to catch people off guard and completely take them by surprise.

My mantra for life is: It is not that serious.

A close Spanish equivalent that I throw around often is, ¡no es para tanto!

We take life way too seriously. We take ourselves way too seriously. Pero, ¡no es para tanto! Es la verdad.

That is one of the reasons why I love to do things that are completely unexpected; it keeps things interesting.

I also am of the strong opinion that people cannot be defined in the sense of being put into a specific category. In order that I maintain a clear sense of who I am, I feel the need to shatter people's expectations.* For example, of what to expect from an introvert faking extroversion, a Christian, a nice/good person, a Resident Assistant, a Bible and Religion major, a sister of three brothers, someone who can be boringly studious at times, an only daughter, etc. I also like to surprise people with the extensive variety of music that I listen to, the fact that yes, I do drink but no, I don't go to parties, and yes, I do swear on occasion. Individuals are so multidimensional! Myself included.

That is one reason why I love getting acquainted with many different people. Though I have a small inner circle of close friends, I have many, many acquaintances. I value each and every relationship I have, no matter what the level of it may be. We can learn so much from one another and our various experiences.

A note before we get to some spontaneity, I must mention the fact that I am a person who deeply appreciates order, regularity, etc, etc. Insert any among of the many nouns that a perfectionist/type A personality would value here. However, variety is the spice of life. And I would just like to add that I am a self proclaimed "recovering perfectionist".

Two of the most recent (and memorable) ways I have embraced being spontaneous:

1. Anna and I cartwheel around campus as a form of transportation. It makes people smile. Or confused. Or both.

2. Approaching people to ask them the first thing that happened to pop into my mind while observing them doing something I perceived to be strange (such as when I noticed someone filling a bowl with peanut butter from across the Rott).

*My goal is not to compromise my morals/values in being spontaneous.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The valley

I first heard the prayer titled The Valley of Vision five years ago. It  resonates with me very strongly. Shortly after hearing it, I bought the book where the prayer originates from, and highly recommend it. The title of the book is The Valley of vision: a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. You can find the book on Amazon, or you can borrow it from me if you would like to peruse its pages free of charge. I am not usually a proponent of written prayers because I feel that they can stifle to very spirit and intention behind prayer; I find prayer to be very personal and flowing from within, but in this particular case I make an exception.

I feel that this prayer sums up one aspect of how I approach my own personal journey with God. I memorized it several years ago, and find myself reciting pieces of it in times of inner turmoil. I find that my attitude and outlook on life have the greatest affect on my experiences in life. I can truly say that the best times in my life have been the worst times; times of suffering in one form or another that I would never voluntarily return to, but am nonetheless grateful to have experienced. Now, without further ado:

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,

    where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;    hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. 
Let me learn by paradox 
    that the way down is the way up, 
    that to be low is to be high, 
    that the broken heart is the healed heart, 
    that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, 
    that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, 
    that to have nothing is to possess all, 
    that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, 
    that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. 
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
    and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
Let me find Thy light in my darkness, 
                   thy life in my death, 
                   thy joy in my sorrow, 
                   thy grace in my sin, 
                   thy riches in my poverty,
                   thy glory in my valley.

*I also highly recommend the prayer titled "The Deeps". Seriously, come to me and ask to borrow this book sometime.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter reflections

I have three loves in life: Jesus, helping others, and my cat. (Okay, so the last one is a bit of a joke, but I seriously have more love in my heart for my cat than may be appropriate to be designated toward an animal.) Back to being serious…

The first love in my life is Jesus. Jesus is the single most important thing to me and he is central to my own identity. Today is Easter, the day when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the messiah.

I am remembering my Uncle Joe and my Pepa* on this day, who both passed away last year. I am still grieving their absence from my life, but am able to rejoice because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, those who believe will also be raised to life after death.

Flower heart from Pepa's funeral last April

I am so thankful today as we remember and celebrate Jesus' sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection. The authors of Romans and Ephesians say it well:

 7 “Blessed are those
   whose transgressions are forgiven,
   whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed are those
   whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
Romans 4:7,8
 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
-Ephesians 2:1-9
*Pepa is my paternal grandfather. When my eldest cousin Nicole started talking she couldn't say "grandpa", but instead pronounced it "Pepa". It stuck and thus was how he was referred to by his grandchildren.