Thinking out loud while "changing my thinking"

in Him


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“(I can’t get no) satisfaction”

satisfaction by rolling stones 2

The old rolling stone hit, “(I can’t get no) satisfaction,” seems to capture a very present reality in today’s society…(feel free to click this YouTube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoxRFOr_sQ0).

The lead singer starts off with the title line, and follows it with the repetition of how he has “tried”… over and over, to no avail. But as simple as these lyrics may seem… the summary of the efforts placed on reaching satisfaction, and the message, of how “ideas” are sold to us through marketing/branding… is absolutely brilliant.

From radio to TV to magazines to social media… there is practically nothing left that is NOT designed to feed our imagination with “must-have” desires. The conditioning is almost inescapable.

But reality is…You will never become fully satisfied and secure in any position in your life…until you stop comparing. Whether this position is within your job, relational, activities, material possessions or even in self-reflection …it is a losing battle.

Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time evaluating myself and people around me, against what I believe… and what I have come to realise, and agree with, was well expressed by Neil Anderson…we all have the same basic needs: identity, acceptance (love), security and significance…But the real challenge comes in how we choose to have those needs met.

For me, I have constantly looked to the world to fulfill my needs… and boy has it failed on every level possible.

From my wild partying, dare-devil days… to indulgences in sexual lusts for the sake of wanting to “feel” loved and important to someone…to pleasing people for approval…to wanting some role or status that will place me in the lime light of admiration.

Each and every one of my strivings, have failed miserably. They have left me broken, lonely, angry, confused, without hope… and crazy enough… coming back for more. <SHOCKER>

The idiom “kill two birds with one stone” is not unfounded. In one sweep, the attempts to fulfil my needs have given me instant gratification….but have also left me fearful of loss.

What the world does not tell you… is that the very platform you are striving to take hold of, waivers. Just as we are guaranteed to get older the longer we live… we can also rest assured that people’s opinions of us will change…jobs can be lost…trends modulate… you name it!

Yet, there is a tendency to “come back for more.”

I can not even go into how many times I have repeated destructive cycles and found myself asking “how did I end up here again?”  Completely illogical when you lay out the cause and effect.

The earnest search for fulfillment…the longing to be satisfied in life…can not be found in what the world offers.

Working out for the sake of being healthy is great…but should not be confused with weight loss obsessions that give you the illusion of being more acceptable to people…or even yourself.

Peoples compliments/encouraging words about our character are timely…but should never be the source of our identity and significance.

Attaining degrees, having the “six figure” income, a place you can call home, a spouse and children, (etc) are all gifts…but should never be what we place our security in.

THEY CAN ALL CHANGE IN ONE SWIFT BLOW

At the end of the day, God is the only constant. He is my source of hope. He is the only one that will meet my needs the way it should be. Please do not interpret this, as me saying I don’t need people… because that is not true. We all do. The harmonies God creates through the right relationships… “are vital to becoming a whole person” (Keep your love on by Danny Silk). What He has made available is where true satisfaction can be attained…and that’s the beauty of this journey.


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Another tortuous night

Once again, I am giving up on trying to sleep.

Having dozed off multiple times, only to be re-awakened by the nagging pain… and/or from the dripping of ice melting down the side of my face… I just can’t take it anymore.

It’s another dental work gone doubly wrong.

The result of the over ambitious young’un who decided to drill so close to my pulp when filling with amalgam…= development of an abscessed tooth.  Once again, a situation of neglect and failure to listen when I reported having abnormal sensations and pains on my lower right gum/jaw… being told “oh, these things take a while to heal”… rather than investigating the source.

Found out 13 days ago, that the tooth now needed a root canal. But to make all this worse… after being in tears on the plane ride to Denver… after nights…just like this one… of waking up at 2 or 3 am… or not being able to sleep till such odd hours despite popping several hundred milligrams of ibuprofen… It appears the root canal was not done properly. SMH.

What is it going to take to get the right care? How many times must I be crippled with this suffering?

I have taken Percocet and at least 2000 mg of ibuprofen…I have gone through 3 wrappings of ice to help sooth… and when I finally felt the sweetness of sleep hit me… the stabbing became unbearable…sigh.

The response of the endodontist when I had him paged today…

Endo: “Does it hurt when you bite down?”

Me: “Yes

Endo: “Don’t you normally take a while to heal?”

Me: “No, this is different.. the pain is getting worse daily”

Endo: “So you feel pain when you bite down?”

Me: “Yes… it’s really painful.. it typically starts off feeling sore and uncomfortable, achy… then becomes a throbbing pain… progressively spreads through my lower jaw… then my inner ear.. then the temple of my head etc..”

Endo: “Hm. Maybe some tissue got left in there… so do you have more pills or you want me to call in some more for you?”

Me: “I’m sure I have some but I just…”

Endo: “Is your face swollen?”

Me: “Umm.. I don’t know.. doesn’t seem…”

Endo: “Well, do you want me to call in more or you got enough to wait till monday?”

Me: “I have enough..”

Endo: “Okay well I’ll get you in at 7:30 am monday and we will fix the problem… be there on time.. I’m coming in early for you..(etc)

Me: “I’ll be on time..”

(etc)

As I get off the phone… all I can think is…seriously? Because my face hasn’t blown up.. and I have enough prescribed pain pills.. I must continue to suffer till it’s convenient? And coming in early for me?… My original appointment was 8 am anyway… so how much earlier is 30 minutes? SMH.

There was a time, when people in medical fields actual cared about their patients well-being. Am I missing something?


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What’s the purpose of marriage?

For the first time, I am able to understand the “no desire to get married” perspective. So many of my non-Christian friends have expressed this attitude for years and I just never got it. To me, you love each other… clearly want to build a life together… so why not?

What I failed to realize, is that beyond my cultural beliefs… my spiritual/religious beliefs are what truly nurture my views on marriage.

Prior to my salvation, I witnessed what my parents shared, and admired every aspect of it. They fostered a relationship of mutual friendship… knew each other inside out…actively yielded to one another in disagreements, jovially played and had intimate discussions with each other. They were an ideal example and I loved it!

Some early mornings, my brother and I would ease drop at their bedroom door and routinely heard them getting on the same page about any and everything. There was a peace about how they related with one another…it was simply beautiful.

I have no doubt that it took years for them to get to that place. Years of working through trials… years of learning each other and adapting… years for a selfless, unconditional love to develop. But from my 3 decades of observation, I am grateful I have had such a positive example to influence my views.

(Especially after seeing the casualties of the abusive marriage my biological mother endured for 8 years.)

However, my view on marriage got 106 fold enhanced, after coming to know Him.

It is not that I became more unrealistic about what marriage entails. I just saw it through a new set of lenses.

It was no longer just a perfect union of two people… it was a union in God and a powerful expression of His love manifested for us.

Marriage was made for the same purpose we are…for His glory… but what makes it even more amazing, is that in the midst of it…the potential for growth is exponential.

Based on current divorce rates (in the US), it is clear that it takes way more than some puppy love-infatuation-sexual connection-financial security- and wavering happiness to maintain a marriage. The initial giggles and coos from over romanticized fantasies eventually fade to standard daily living. Sometimes physical appearances change… or the act of communicating begins to suffocate rather than liberate.

So what is the purpose?

This was the question posed by a lab mate of mine who is currently in a new relationship. Though culturally, her parents (traditional Chinese) would expect her to tie the knot… she has more “modern” ideologies of how things should go. She believes there is no point… you can live with each other, have sex, enjoy each other for a lifetime or not. Essentially, she sarcastically questioned whether she should do it for tax benefits…and expressed how she sees no purpose in it. In her perspective, if he wants to leave her, she wants him to be able to do so, without feeling obligated…without the messiness of having to separate acquired material goods and finances through a legal system.

It was like, WOW… I get it. There would be no purpose if I did not believe marriage was a deliberate choice to unconditionally love another person… to serve them, regardless of it being reciprocated… to stand faithfully by their side, even if they failed to meet your emotional, physical, or even intellectual needs. There would be no purpose if I did not see it as a testimony of His redemption. So how can I expect “modern” society to view it the same way? I really can’t. Culture, mindsets and beliefs are continuously evolving. So I certainly can’t think that even within a society where people are pushing for same-sex marriage… that “traditionally” accepted marriage between man and woman can’t fade into companionships that either work out for a lifetime or end in a simple break up (though not so simple when years are invested).

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that levels of maturing can occur within companionships…after all, various close relationships can show our deepest character hiccups as well. But as a Christian, I believe there is something that happens in the spiritual when that union is made. All that being said, I finally understand why some people do not see the purpose of getting married.

 


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A place to call home

Bare with me as I attempt to communicate on very little sleep.

Still awake from the unexpected alarm going off at 3:30 am (UGH)… I can’t help but think about my experience here in Denver.

So far it has been…interesting.

Contrary to what I imagined, the city appears to be small… or better yet, spread out… kind of like Atlanta.

Even on the ride into Denver, we literally saw NO mountains. (jaw drops)… not sure how I could be wrong on so many levels…I thought I searched all possible google images LOL. But to make things worse, there has been no way to escape the tentacles of this meeting aka major disappointment.

Please realize that for the past several months, I have conjured up an image of perfection when thinking of Denver. Between thoughts of the majestic Rockies… beautiful weather… the overall idea of being able to gallivant a real city, yet have the option to retreat to cabins and /or trails with spectacular views and lakes at my disposal… yes…I had a dream.

I had built an idea in my head, that somehow, Denver could be the place for me to finally call home.

 

Within in a few hours of exploring “16th Street Mall”…which I will admit, is very cute and buzzing with energy at night… we had multiple experiences of bad food… bad service (do better Cheese Cake Factory!)…and noticeably fewer options, with all the replicas of stores (such as 6 Starbucks on one strip)…. I was pretty much on the side of “There is no way, I would want to live here.”

But the following morning, around 5:30 am…as the dawn pierced through a sliver of spacing between the curtains… all was quiet…I decided to take a peek at what the city looked like in the stillness of the morn. Much to my surprise, I caught a glimpse of the Rockies from my hotel window. 🙂

I was ecstatic.

From that point on, all the negatives we had experienced began to look like minor divots in a sea of possibilities. No place would be perfect. It could work! I just need a chance to explore.

Now I wish this was a tale of how I played hooky and created the experience I wanted (my typical norm) in trying to discover my “home”…but it’s not. I was stuck in the hotel where the conference is being held and in the vicinity of 16th Street Mall for meals.

But what I take from this, is the potential for more…a part of me longs for that place to call home…and I believe even if it may not be in Denver (still not ruling it out)… It could be in Boulder… or Knoxville…or wherever else. Nothing says I can’t keep exploring my options until I find the place that truly resonates with the desires of my heart.

At the end of the day, my true home lies with Him… so the physical home is a temporal satisfaction… and the possibilities of that, are endless.

Rest assured, I will be back!

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Good laughs, good eats, good happenings = Good trip (Raleigh, NC)

The journey north was long but overall, FUN. Not only did my group (lab mates) get to truly just be in each others company for a change…which is a nice deviation from the standard meetings, etc… I think we actually enjoyed each other… I can definitely speak for myself, that I enjoyed them. Each person had a different flavour… each person was key in playing off/feeding into another…and there were some little one on one moments that I will definitely cherish. I thrive on such times when we can just connect, as people, on a different level.

I love my group/my co-workers. Oh and the singalongs.. who would have thought these serious faced scientists had it in them to get goofy and “serenade” a restaurant.

I also had the opportunity to re-connect with old friends… man I love those guys.. had no clue her brother was even back in the country.

But in reality, we went to Raleigh for the SEMRC conference.. but can you tell that was not the highlight of my trip?

On a different note, so many little things happened at this conference that truly just left me encouraged.

First I got a letter that turned down my application for a travel award,… then the recant saying that the first letter was a mistake. This is after I had already started talking to God about me accepting my app being turned down. Then I saw the professor who essentially marked the beginning of my graduate career completely changing course… like literally, this is the man I went to GA tech to work for… and yea… long story short, decided he did not want to keep me due to limited funding, etc. And from that point, I have gone through 2 other advisors (rough experiences)…I also ran into my favourite graduate advisor from GAtech.. and we had the opportunity to catch up.. he is still so adorable and forever looks like a baby…. I don’t understand it. And then the talk…despite being completely unprepared… having to present other people’s research… and totally insecure about that. Once again, the peace that surpasses all understanding hit like a wave.. and the comment I got was that I was “smooth”… lol. go figure.

I could not help but think after all these things of one word… restoration.

Not sure why, but that word popped in my head many times… cause all I could think of was how I saw flashes of my past… and could stand. I remembered how a long time ago… one of the two advisors I have gone through since that first one…told me I had something special.. the way I commanded the room while delivering my original proposal (my very own, original idea… i forgot I actually created a project back then)… to my committee at GAtech.. and I remembered how worthless I felt when I stood at UF a failure… low… told I could never get a doctorate…. and I saw myself now, inspired… working hard (though that’s  definitely draining at times)… with a boss who seems moody, that I rarely see yet supports me in true faith of my potential… and another boss who thinks I can master anything… overcome any challenge (I tend to go down kicking and screaming but eventually allow God to make up for where I lack)…

So many memories flew through my mind.. its like I came full circle.. I was so confident before… it all got torn down… and slowly but surely…I am being rebuilt.. but on the right foundation this time… one that is sturdy… one that will last regardless of the stamp of approval.

This was a good trip… and I have a lot to think about.. a lot to be thankful for. Cause even though I see areas in my life that are lacking and need repair… man… nothing can take away from what is.


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Why is that the be all and end all?

 

A little while back, while in the midst of a conversation, I saw the “nugget” look…something that could either be lost in a barrel of thoughts forever (slight exaggeration) or could be shared to invoke more thoughts… a worthy conversational piece…

Why is that the be all and end all?

The that in question was basically marriage tagged with the idea of having the standard dream of kids, a house, etc. The idea of truly having it all … success (as long as a stable, comfortable income is generated)… Like once that happens, a light switches on and the deepest needs to love and be loved, to know and be known, to accept and be accepted…are instantly satisfied.

With statistics showing that in the USA, the divorce rate is about 50%, etc… why does this seem to be the last point that will mark our lives being complete?

But even aside from the statistics… what happens beyond the fairy tale ending? After the hero and the princess are united… what next? Is that it?

So much energy is placed in the idea of what that will bring into our lives… wholeness? security? comfort? happiness? a sense of self-worth or significance?

But what about the people who never get married…or got divorced… or are widowed? Where do they stand in this picture?

From my stand point, as much as I believe in marriage and the beauty of what it represents… as much as I hope to one day share in that… to grow through the challenges of the experience.. the commitment to serve another till death… well physical death at least. I would like to NOT get rushed into it… I would like to not be treated like I am less complete…inadequate… and like I am excluded from club elite because I am not there yet. Because the reality I see is that THAT is NOT the be all and end all.

that will not satisfy all my deep needs for love, acceptance, security and significance… that will not define who I am because my relationship status is not what gives me my identity.

I will not walk this path like my one purpose is to finally find THE ONE… like all of a sudden loneliness disappears (which it does not, talk to some married folk) and then I will be content?

The depths of my soul needs something way bigger and more fulfilling than what that can give… so how about we get a little realistic and put our hope in something that is constant and will actually last for an eternity. Desiring it is good…but there is something even greater.

 


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Invasion of Pigeon Forge

 

So the whole point of this trip was to get away from everything… to isolate… to enjoy panoramic views that are not just flatlands and marsh (ask me where I live lol)… well the first day I was here, trying to kill time as I waited for my cabin to be ready for occupation… I noticed that this was a fairly large city… at least compared to the college town I am from. But what made it large to me was the amount of people and just overall traffic in general. But yesterday, not only was the journey to the supermarket a task because I ended up turning on the wrong street and on sugar hollow rd (pretty scary road I must say..or maybe it was the road I had to take prior to sugar hollow…hmm)… but the actually supermarket was absolutely packed! But what made it more intriguing and absolutely frustrating is that people in there behaved like they were from new york city. No body cared… they basically ran you over with there buggies and continued there discussion of whether they were buying enough or what they would need or ____ (fill in the blanks)… hoards of families stampeded through the store, and I was like wow, talk about a bad time to come out here… by the time I finally made it to the check out line, I asked the cashier if there was some sort of event going on tonight because people had tons and tons of food in their carts… and she proceeded to explain to me that every single weekend of the summer, its exactly like this… and then told me that september would be even worst… thats when it becomes bumper to bumper traffic… At that point, though I had it in my mind that I wish I had booked for another period of time… I was all the more thankful for my cabin… to think a part of me debated on getting a hotel room and just venturing out because it would save me some money… PHEW… I am truly grateful…