Process

I’m not a big fan of process. I like efficiency and productivity. Process seemed like a barrier to all that.

But as I’ve gotten older, I am realizing the importance of process more and more.

I was listening to the book of Job a couple of days few weeks ago. I wondered, why is this book so long? Why does Job go on and on about his trials with his friends. Why do his friends go on and on. And why does God go on and on and ask Job tons of questions at the end? Why not a short and sweet story like in the gospels.

Then I realized. It’s about the process.

The book of Job is about process.

And the importance of process.

The trinity that I consist of (mind, body, heart) has a hard time being a unified trinity. What my heart wants, my head says no. My body reacts and has demands (sleep, food). My head says do this or do that or what about this, and my heart doesn’t want to budge. It feels unsettled.

So how does one go about integrating the trinity of the self? Process.

What is process anyway? I’m not sure exactly what it is but I think it has something to do with time, reflection, and, of course, change.

For me, process involves finding and deciding on the right words. Creating the story to explain the facts. Brene Brown taught me that my brain is wired for story. We get an endorphin rush when we create a story to explain our experience. And our brains do not require a statistically significant quantity of data to create the story. Unfinished stories feel, unsettling. So I make up a story that seems to fit at that moment.

Inevitably, I rush the process. I don’t wait for all the information. I don’t make an effort even, to gather all the information. I am not content with the not knowing. The uncertainty. The unsettled feeling. So I fabricate. (Brene calls this a conspiracy.) Endorphin rush of a finished story. THE END.

*quick side story: The other day, I saw a zip lock bag full of toiletries on my side of the bathroom counter. I was angry at my spouse and thought, “Why can’t he put them away himself.” But then I remembered that he knows I like to take the unused toiletries from hotels. And then I thought, “How sweet of him to remember to bring them for me.” See how quickly I tell stories to myself? This all happened in a few seconds or less.

But the book of Job is so painfully long. Job asks “Why?” nineteen times. He doesn’t understand why all these terrible things are happening to him. He demands an answer, an explanation from his friends, and from God. He considers the options and keeps asking why. He doesn’t quit. He keeps at the process. For a long time.

And then something happens. He gets a reply from God. In the form of 55 questions directed back at him. I don’t really know what that means, but I believe that God honored the process that Job endured. God didn’t give a short and cute answer. God was patient to let Job get it all out and hash through it all with his friends. Even when they gave him bad advice.

Process is messy. And when you’re in it, you don’t know quite when it will end. You just have to trust the process.

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Midlife

Originally published on Kimchi Mamas (yesterday)

 

I turned 40 this year and I kind of am really liking the older me. I feel so mature! Can you tell?

 

IMG_0896

 

So mature! Right? =)

In all seriousness, I actually do feel like I am just barely starting to get this thing called life. And by “get” I don’t mean that I have figured it out and have the solution to all of life’s problems and have unlocked the secret to happiness. No. I do not have any keys to happiness here. And yet, I do feel a smidgen of self confidence and maybe a sprinkle of faith and a sliver of hope, that no matter what happens, that I will be ok.

And I know shit happens.

I have experienced the happening of the shit. Intimately. I have been through some shit and I’ve seen my friends and loved ones go through some shit. And there is a lot of it in my family history.

Ok. So, I’m going to let you in on a secret.

If you are a faithful follower of Kimchi Mamas, you might have read the series entitled Roots. (Search for Roots Part 1 to read the first part on the blog.)

Well, guess what? I wrote that! That family is my family. So yeah, a lot of shit.

As I get older, I am learning that shit doesn’t happen less when you get older. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that it is happening more and more. Would you like a list? Of course you’d like a list. Everyone loves lists, right?

  1. My friends’ parents are dying. TWO in recent weeks. One survived a heart attack, to die of another. Another’s father died of a stroke.
  2. I still have a lot of unrestored relationships. And imperfect relationships.
  3. My husband and I are “orphans” and are trying to do life without biological family around. Why! Are! There! So! Many! Soccer! Practices! I will not confess that I have considered having uber take my kids to practice.
  4. Terrible things are still happening in the world (Syrian refugees, mass shootings, etc. etc. everything on the news.)
  5. Lovely people on the blogosphere (that’s still a word right?) are getting cancer.
  6. My friends are going through divorces, sometimes very painfully. Authors I love, whose marriages I believed in, are ending their marriages.
  7. My friends are struggling with infertility.
  8. My friends want to get married but there aren’t any good guys around.
  9. I still have not achieved perfection. Just yesterday, I scared, I literally SCARED, my seven year old son because I SCREAMED at him SO LOUD when I saw him trying to stand on a watermelon that he started crying. He had to take a moment by himself in his bed to calm down because he was upset. (I think this episode is more funny than telling of my character but whatever. I mean, who tries to stand on a watermelon?)
  10. Do you need a number 10?

With all of this painful stuff whirling around me, it seems like it would be easier to shut my heart so that the pain won’t get it.

Stop caring! No one cares about you anyway, so why care about them? People suck, and they will always disappoint you. You are all alone. You don’t really know them anyway, so this shouldn’t really matter to you. Life really does suck. Redemption is a lie. Grace is a lie. Love is not worth it. God is not loving. God is dead. Why, why, why? There is no real purpose. Stop hoping, you’ll just get disappointed.

These are the voices that whisper in my ear when shit happens. These voices used to overwhelm me at times, and blot out my tiny sprinkle of faith, and my smidgen of confidence, my sliver of hope. They would leave me swirling. Doubting everything. Doubling Love and doubting myself. They tell me to close off my heart, let it get a little bit smaller so that it won’t hurt as much.

But as I get older, I am finding that I have more tools to battle these voices. I am finding that they don’t have much power over the 40 years of my actual experience of life.

Because I have gone through the shit.

And yet, here I am.

And I am OK. And I am alive. And I have a good life. And I am so so so blessed. And I am so grateful to be alive to experience this thing called life.

Yes, life hurts. But life also heals.

There is grace enough for all of us. There is redemption enough for all of us. Hope is abundant. And it’s free. Even for me.

I have discovered, in my 40 years of life, that I can do hard things.

Some of the days, I can do the hard things by myself. And some of the days, I cannot do the hard things. And that too is OK. The hard thing will be patiently waiting for me when I am ready.

And at rare times, I can even do the valiant and life-infusing thing of helping someone else with their hard things. We can do the hard things together. And at even rarer times, I can even do the courageous and vulnerable thing, of receiving help with my hard things. We can do the hard things together.

I am beginning to understand a teeny tiny bit, that this is the magic of life. In the space between two persons, when help is given and received, is where life happens.

Did everyone else know this all along? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Maybe they tried, but I just couldn’t hear it yet.

Maybe I had to have the proof first, before I believed it.

 

lovin’ being 40,

Mary

Shame is the absence of self love.

Hello there! Happy New Year! I have not blogged in a long time but last night I read something so profound that I had to share it.

I am re-reading Tattoos on the Heart by Father Greg Boyle. My good friend lent it to me. I read it cover to cover and am re-reading it cover to cover. It is that good. In one of the chapters, Father G says that shame is the absence of self love, much like the darkness is the absence of light, and cold is the absence of warm.

This makes so much sense to me! I don’t know why I never knew this before.

The solution to shame is self love.

I must love myself, the way God loves me.

I must accept myself, the way God accepts me.

I must delight in loving myself, the way God delights in loving me.

I must find joy in loving myself, the way God finds joy in loving me.

There is no room for disappointment or disapproval, because God is too busy loving me.

God, who is greater than.

God is so much bigger than I had ever imagined. And she loves me so thoroughly than I had ever know.

I also love love love that Father G sometimes uses SHE and HER for God, and not just HE. I mean, there is no gender for the Holy Spirit, is there?

*swoon*

I also selected a word for 2016. It shall be serve. God told me so. (Not audibly.)

Changing Someone’s Life

This is an old old draft post but I liked it so am finally posting it. It’s a bit outdated but whatevs.

It’s been a strange week. I’m going through Step 4 in my al-anon recovery process. I’m on the topic of love. It asks, “How have you expressed your love toward others?”

I could barely think of anything. I searched my mind and my heart. I still could not list more than a few things. I told myself, “You are not a loving person. You don’t love anyone.” Sounds crazy, but sounded partly right at the time. I doubted if I could really love someone else… you know, the kind of sacrificial, self-less, unconditional, all-giving love. I also wondered if I am having any real positive impact on those around me.

So today, someone that I don’t know came up to me and told me that they went to a meeting. They said that I talked about unconditional love at that meeting, and that that meeting changed their life.

So yeah, that happened.

Be Brave

New post up on Kimchi Mamas on being brave.

 

We have to help him.

I had a conversation about my dad’s current situation with my 4 year old yesterday.

I don’t remember how my dad came up… something about going to see him in the future or going to Legoland or Disneyland or something??

Anyway, it went something like this:

Me: Well… we can’t go see him because grandpa is in jail.

AJ: Why is he in jail?

Me: Because he had a fight and he bit someone.

AJ: Who put him in jail?

Me. The policeman.

AJ: And we have to tell the policeman to take him out?

Me: No, grandpa has to stay in jail because he did something bad.

AJ: So we can’t see him because he’s in jail?

Me: Yeah.

AJ: But why did the policeman put him in jail?

Me: Well, when you have an argument with someone, are you supposed to bite them?

AJ: No…

Me: That’s right! We talk it out. Well, grandpa got very angry and instead of talking, he bit someone.

AJ: And he was bleeding?

Me: Yes.

AJ: A lot a lot a lot?

Me: Probably.

AJ: And biting is bad?

Me: Yes.

AJ: So that’s why he’s in jail for a long long long time?

Me: Yes.

AJ (Getting teary eyed): ….  We have to help him!

I was surprised that AJ wanted to “help” his grandpa get out of jail. I guess family is family?

In all seriousness, I don’t think he quite gets the concept of criminal activities and jail and lawyers, etc… but wow.. that little kid. The hubby and I always joke that he’s going to bring us a lot of heartache but there’s this compassionate side of him that amazes me. I made a voice recording of the end of the convo so I could remember the moment in the future. And I guess blogging about it helps too?

In my recovery group, we talk about helping others as if it was a bad thing. It’s linked to co-dependency and we talk a lot about boundaries and self care and detachment… and a lot of people attribute it to having grown up with alcoholic parents. But I think that’s not the entire truth. What’s wrong with wanting to help others? Service gets such a bad wrap. All the messages in the world says looks out for number one. But Jesus said to lose your life to gain it, right? I mean, I get it. I can’t give to the point of resentment. But the desire to help someone, to rescue them, the desire itself is not wrong. It’s only wrong if you are doing it to serve yourself. To get something in return. Or to manipulate them afterwards. Even a four year old gets that…. I think.

Hello!

Hi! It’s been a while! What have I been up to? Well, let’s just say that work has been crazy.

For all of you out there who work 60+ hour weeks regularly. BOY! You work too hard! I am so glad that my work project is done. Yay.

It’s been an adjustment. It was easier almost to start working crazy hours than to go back to my regular hours… I wonder what that means?

Anyway, just learned that my dad is in jail and may get deported. I hope he grows up soon.

Also learned that my mom got a fat rock from her boyfriend. Hmmmmm.

Not much to report here, I guess. I feel guilty about not writing to my Compassion kids. GUILTY as charged. I will write them soon.

I also learned that one of them was supposed to be departed from the program this year, but it has been extended til the end of the year. I didn’t even know he was supposed to be departed… so what’s up with that?

Hubs and I ate at Taco Bell today. Hadn’t eaten there since, I don’t know… for a long time. I had two soft tacos. They were surprisingly good. No cheese. I think I am becoming more and more lactose intolerant as I age. It SUCKS. 

Alright, this is really bad writing, so I will stop now. Good night ya’ll.

Oh, forgot to mention that my shop is open again. Yay. http://www.perfect.etsy.com

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