Category Archives: Sunday

Floating Life

Floating Life: Sunday Thoughts
Olivia of WangGuk

This week has been one of floating. I’m floating currently. I have goals and dreams, but I also don’t really care if none of them work out. Not in a depressing way haha— in a contented completely full kind of way. I would LOVE to see any number of the many dreams I have for my life come true. But I also welcome the idea that none of them may be for me— that my life may actually include a bunch of dreams I haven’t even dreamt yet. Floating, but not aimless.

Having a floating life feels rather free most of the time. But sometimes it can get heavy. It only gets heavy when I start to feel ill-contented. When I start to get anxious, like I need for something to happen. If I remain just simply grateful for whatever happens to be in front of me at the moment, I’m fine. More than fine: I’m not worried about anything in particular. And that’s a good feeling; a state of mind to be envied. Anxiety is a constant battle— a stifling kind of paralysis— one which, if you let it completely take you, is like putting a cup over a match and watching the flame die slowly.

The opposite of complete anxiety is complete Peace. The holy kind. The kind that sweeps like a salty breeze from the ocean through a dusty house. It is hard to let that holy breeze run through you completely and constantly. For most of us it is fleeting and we live simultaneously craving it, but not willing to totally let go of control in order to let it in again.

A floating life is a scary thought for a lot of us, especially those of us (like myself) who have a really difficult time not craving control. But floating is not actually scary. It is, yes, unpredictable, but in being unpredictable, it’s a completely open life. Ready for anything, and accepting of everything. Once a floating attitude is achieved, you’re never really scared or disappointed. You’re just you. Waiting for more of you to evolve and develop, whatever that includes. Floating, but not aimless. Waiting, but not anxious. Anticipatory, but not specifically expectant. Content, but ready for any challenge.

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Sunday Vibes

Sunday Vibes
Kingdom Thoughts Sundays
Olivia of WangGuk

Some 80s music I don’t really like is playing. I’m slowly drinking an iced flat white. I’m checking my instagram on someone else’s wifi. I’m listening in to another GREAT DTLA coffee shop conversation. The bench is plushy and leather and now, since I bought something, I get to sit here however long I want. There’s a good book resting next to me that’s gonna get read real soon. I told my whole house I’d be gone for hours doing personal errands so no one’s going to call or text me wondering what I’m doing or where I am. In fact, I won’t have to talk to people for HOURS.
This is a day in my life. And honestly, this day’s looking pretty great. Some of my friends who took an office or corporate job straight out of school sometimes ask me if it’s hard having an irregular schedule/paycheck/no benefits/no predictability. And I always tell them the same thing: no, it’s not hard. Yes, it is inconvenient or somewhat stressful sometimes not knowing how much money I’m going to make in a month. And yes, sometimes I think about if something horrific happened to me and I couldn’t go to the hospital because I have no traditional benefits to cover it. Yes, some things about my kind of a life can be unsettling or stressful.
But here’s a few thoughts: I’m kind of the master of my own schedule. I don’t answer to anyone but God. I don’t have a boss— I am my boss. I don’t really worry about money or benefits because God is my money and His faithfulness and protection are my benefits (and truthfully, those are the only real ones that a human can actually have). Am I’m not trying to sound super Christianese or stupid or reckless— I’m being serious. No one truly has any security but His. And I really do think of my life that way. If God allows me to fall into some kind of awful accident and I have to be hospitalized, well then He obviously has some way of taking care of me in that. I don’t tend to think of things past that. I’m not scared.
Life can really be whatever you want it to be. I’m living proof. I work when I want to, as much as I want to (which is usually a lot because I actually love working), and every single one of my jobs is something I really enjoy doing. And I’m okay. No, of course not all of my days are spent like this one, blogging at a coffee shop and reading for hours. Most of my days are spent hunting for treasures for the shop, teaching, tutoring, and respite caring. But I get to choose when I do each of those many great activities.
Make choices that cause your life to be exactly what you need it to be. Make your days worth living. Just my two cents.

God’s Mercy and Humble Prayer

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91.14-16.
I used to think that prayer didn’t really matter. I mean, I still did it. And I still believed that God heard me. But I could never square with both the understanding that God already had a plan and that God answers prayers. If His plan was perfect and He already had it, what difference could asking for something, even in prayer, really make? Especially if that something didn’t fall into His plan. I just figured it was something we do. And when people said, “Oh, the Lord answered my prayer; look!” I was always like ‘yeah I don’t think so; it apparently just so happened that whatever you asked for was already part of His plan.‘ A wonderful coincidence at best.
Half a year ago, my boyfriend broke up with me. I was miserable. Not because I thought I couldn’t find anyone else to enjoy my time with and not because our love had been this perfect thing, but because I had lost the best friend I had ever had. I didn’t feel empty or void without him, like a piece of me was missing or any of that. I just felt sad. I still had an amazing life without him; I had a lot going for myself. But whenever I would enjoy something, I couldn’t help thinking ‘yeah, but I would enjoy this more with him‘ and I’d wish I could share things with him and I no longer could. And again, it’s not like I thought ‘this is it‘ and that I couldn’t find anybody else to be with who I was compatible with. I knew I could. That isn’t really a question— everybody can find someone else to be content with; it’s a matter mostly of choice. I had been in love before; I knew it could happen again. I just didn’t want anybody else. I wanted him.
I spent a long time thinking about this. And at that point, most of my friends were feeding me lines like ‘you’re better off without him‘ or ‘I never really liked you with him anyway‘ or ‘girl, he left YOU; go out and find a man who’s gonna shower you in everything you really deserve‘ which of course always came with the best intentions but were never truly helpful. It just made me feel worse. I hated when people told me he didn’t deserve me. People don’t deserve other people; they choose other people. But inevitably, after hearing it so much, I started to think that maybe he didn’t deserve me; that he had given up but I had remained loyal. I had that devil on my shoulder sneering, ‘go demand what you deserve; preserve yourself.‘
But I couldn’t give in to self-preservation. I couldn’t just give up. I had always had this feeling that we still had hope, that we still had some unattained remaining potential to be unlocked, that we were special. And I couldn’t give up on that. So I started praying for it. Timidly at first, because I was used to thinking that God already had a plan and things happened for a reason in a certain way, and it appeared that this thing had already happened and I didn’t want to be asking God for something that was against His will. So I was afraid at first. I also had doubt in the back of my mind dictating all my thoughts while I was praying. I’d pray for us to be brought back together, and a thought would hiss by: ‘you can ask, but this isn’t God’s will so you’re not gonna get it.’ All my prayers at first were tainted with this doubt. I was so sure I was asking for something that could not happen. That it was futile. That prayer always was.

I spent six months praying for something that people told me was a lost cause and not something I should ask for. And this month, he and I are together again, for the first time in seven months. I’m not sharing this to boast, because the only thing I could boast in is God’s power and grace. And I’m not sharing this to sound like a Nicholas Sparks novel. I felt like I had to share this in order to say that God is mighty. I wrote it to praise Him for what He’s done. God works in such crazy mysterious ways, we have no idea what He’ll do. And if you feel some kind of pull to pray for something, even something that seems crazy, DO IT. Through this whole ordeal, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s to not put the God of the universe in a box. To not assume that He won’t do something. If you love Him and serve him truly, He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37.4-5). We forget that He has said Ask and you shall receive. But at this point, I do want to say that I’m not telling you that God will just toss us miracles like candy. Some things we ask for He isn’t going to do. And we just aren’t going to know why. And for many people, in many different circumstances that come to this end, this will be extremely difficult, and I understand that. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying “oh just ask for it and God’ll give it to you, no biggie” because that’s not how it is. And that’s not how I prayed either. I was a slave to prayer. I begged for it; I laid down my everything to Him when I asked for it. I said I’d do anything for it. I was desperate and relentless. But I also remembered that I was me and that God is GOD. If the King of kings didn’t want it to happen, I knew that it wouldn’t. But when I prayed, I also wasn’t a slave to my fears or doubts that it wouldn’t happen. At first I was, but eventually I moved to praying against the grain of my fears. I prayed through the doubts. And I believed that God would do this even if people told me He wouldn’t. I waited for Him to act when I felt like I should and I trusted Him to be faithful and He was. I believed in a Holy Power that was beyond me.
I hope this helps at least one person who comes across it. I’m in no way saying that if you’ve broken up with someone and you want them back, that it will happen exactly how it did for me— it won’t. Every case it different. I’m just here to say that I believe in the power of a humble prayer, because I’ve witnessed the God of the universe work in it. I’m also not claiming to know a ton about this mysterious God of the universe— I don’t. A year ago, I didn’t even believe in God anymore. All I can really offer you is my experience. And my experience is that I prayed humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, and God had mercy on me and answered me.

If you’re stuck in a rut right now, not sure if God answers prayers, these verses really helped me (along with the verse at the beginning of this article from Psalm 91) :
Daniel 9.23, Jeremiah 31.9, Isaiah 65.24, Matthew 21.21, Genesis 18.14, 22-33, 19.29

The Problem with People

The Problem with People
Olivia

Today as I sat in church I realized that people REALLY annoy me. This is kind of a sad realization when it’s prompted during church, but I couldn’t help it. Enter example A: the guy sitting next to me at church. He was one of those suuuuper loud suuuuper excited people, really out-going, had to greet everyone around him before church even started, even though it was evident he didn’t know any of them. Being the ultra to-myself introverted person that I am, I was already trying really hard not to make eye contact with him and decided within the first five seconds of church that he annoyed me. So far, you might be thinking “wow relax, the guy’s just really nice and happy,”which would be completely justifiable for you to think. But for some reason, whenever someone is THAT friendly and nice, it always seems a tad overly dramatic and a bit ingenuine to me. It’s almost like these people just want other people to look at them and think, “wow, they are just so nice.” In my mind, if you’re truly kind-hearted and you have a nice spirit, there’s no reason to parade around with this overly-nice facade. It’ll just come out in your actions when necessary.
Anyway— what a huge digression— I was sitting by this guy getting perturbed when church finally started and once it did, this guy immediately darts to the aisle, slopping all over me because I’m at the aisle seat and it’s dark so he can’t see. I really tried not to get annoyed because I told myself “get a grip Olivia, he probably just had to go to the bathroom; be patient”, to which I rebutted “yeah well he could have been doing that during the last 20 minutes while he was fake-greeting people”. I know, I know, but that’s the kind of stuff that goes through my head sometimes.
During the part of service where we’re actually supposed to greet people we don’t know, the guy shook my hand and somewhat apologized that he had stepped on me multiple times getting to and from the aisle. Socially polite gesture, but for some reason it didn’t alleviate my annoyance. And after church, as I was tail-gated all the way to my house by irresponsible drivers, I thought to myself “wow, people REALLY annoy me.” And then God struck me— not with lightning for being so impatient and ungracious, but with this thought: “But you are the same.” Goodness, talk about a slap in the face, but a much-needed one. And I thought, “You’re right. I am one and the same. I am no different and I am no better. I am the same.” This was a huge realization for me.
I think sometimes— and this is an especially difficult pill for me to swallow daily because I have such a low tolerance for poor behavior— we forget that humans make really poor decisions sometimes. And we just have to deal with those poor decisions. Sometimes we look at others’ mistakes and think “oh my word, they’re so stupid/ rude/ thoughtless” without taking a moment to realize that we are all the same. No one gets everything right all the time and no one is on their best, most courteous, putting-others-first behavior all the time. I wish it were that way, but we’re not there yet. We’re just not perfect. We’re going to have to be patient with each other. And trust me when I say that patience with people doesn’t come easy or natural to me— I pray day and night for divine intervention when it comes to patience. But it’s a necessary virtue for living life to its fullest in this world.
So the next time someone cuts you off on the freeway or the person in front of you at the market says something rude or ignorant or careless, remember not to sink to the level of that behavior and be at peace. Be at peace knowing that retaliating with more poor behavior won’t do any good. Be at peace knowing you can choose to be patient and kind even when others aren’t choosing to be that way. And be at peace knowing that someday, the world won’t look like this, but for now, we’ll just have to keep asking for divine intervention.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ~Ephesians 4.2-3.

The Orchestra

The Orchestra:  the Kingdom as Song
Olivia of WangGuk

I have been really behind on posts here lately; please forgive that.  Life gets so complicated sometimes.  Instead of a Fashion-Review-Monday, this is just a general post that I meant to post yesterday because it’s more of a Kingdom-Thoughts-type post.
Over the weekend, I was able to drive down to LA to visit my family— one of my cousins is a really talented classical musician and I got to watch him play as a part of a local orchestra.  It was an awesome experience for a lot of reasons— I’ve never seen him play classical music before, so that was great, and I got to see my family and that’s always awesome.  But as I was watching him play, I started thinking about what playing as part of an orchestra actually means.  At first, I just watched my cousin playing, since he was who I was there to see and support.  But as the music flowed onward, I started looking all over the stage at each of the different players.  It was amazing to me that each one of these people was so gifted, so talented on their own— yet each of them was also part of a bigger picture.  Each one of them played a different part, but each one of them was necessary for each song.  Each player’s part was unique and different, but each was necessary and each was beautiful.
I think the Kingdom is like this.  We are each talented in different ways, but when working together, we suddenly become this bigger picture, this greater good.  And each one of us is vital to that greater good.  In an orchestra, if one person is missing, the other players feel the loss, even if the audience doesn’t know the difference.  And each person plays a separate part of the same song, but when meshed together perfectly, all of the different melodies makes a masterpiece.  In life, we each have different roles, but I think in a perfect, working Community, each person’s unique role fits perfectly into the web with everyone else’s special role.
Another thing I noticed while watching the orchestra:  if someone messed up or played a wrong chord, there was no discord to be noticed.  Everyone simply moved on and kept playing, for the sake of the song.  I think this is how the Community should be as well:  if we focus too long on any one mistake made by either oneself or another brother, how will we finish the song?  We need to keep moving forward so that we can finish the masterpiece, keep running the race.  Mistakes will happen; they are inevitable, they are necessary— and choosing to move forward after mistakes are made must be necessary too, for progress’s sake.  If we each keep playing our unique parts and keep holding each other up after mistakes, we’ll be part of a big beautiful song— how awesome.
The Kingdom is our Song.  And God’s the best Conductor I can imagine:  He’s there to remind, He’s there to suggest, He’s there to guide and encourage— but He won’t force a player to play right.  He will strengthen, but we have to want to keep playing to make the Song a reality.  I think that’s a pretty cool working, breathing Kingdom— a Song perfected is what to look forward to on this beautiful Earth.

Kingdom Thoughts

Kingdom Thoughts
By Olivia of WangGuk

What is the “Kingdom”?  What do we mean when we say “the Kingdom of God”?  There are many answers to this question— lots of opinions and interpretations out there.  This post is about my own thoughts about the Kingdom.
Now, I am no biblical scholar; I am no expert on the New or Old Testaments; I’m not a nun or a monk or anyone who has spent incredibly copious amounts of time in the Word.  But I do love God.  And I do love His people here on Earth; and I want to see His Kingdom come here.  So with that being said, when I think of the Kingdom of God, I think of Earth.  This may be strange or unorthodox to some because many equate Heaven to the Kingdom of God.  And I do agree— Heaven, this perfect place or state of mind or whatever you want to think of it as, is the fulfilled Kingdom of God— I do think that.  But I also think that Heaven is not this far-off place up in the clouds, like how I always kind of ended up picturing it in Sunday school.  I think of it, rather, as the manifestation of God’s master plan here on Earth.  I think of the Kingdom of God as Heaven brought to Earth.
When I think of what Heaven will look like, it looks just like Earth to me— but Earth perfected.  It looks like God’s people living the way they were meant to live.  It looks like peace; it looks like love.  And when I think of people “living as they were meant to live,” it looks like this:  that there is no unwholesome talk that comes from anyone’s mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen; that each are living a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us; that we are submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 4.29, 5.2, 5.21).  When I think of the Earth perfected— when I think of the people perfected— I imagine a world where every single person is living for the benefit of his brother.  A world where no one is thinking of himself first, but thinking of what will help others.  A world where we are constantly working for each other and not for ourselves.  When I think of what humanity would look like perfected, it would look like each one of us striving to push one another to reach each of our fullest and greatest potentials.  Like I’ll probably say a thousand times in posts to come, I think God made us for each other— I think people were made for people.  And we are our best selves when we are living for the betterment of each other and not simply focusing on ourselves.
This is the greatest strength; that we don’t live for our own success, but to see each other grow and mature— to consider the growth of a brother or sister more important than oneself.  When I see this world perfected, I see no one doing anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considering others better than ourselves (Philippians 2.3, 2.4).  And I think that kind of defines what I see sin or darkness as:  the inward curvature of the self.  We are never unhealthier than when we are completely focused on our own personal gain.  When selfishness overcomes us, rather than sacrifice.  It may seem counter-intuitive in some ways, but the healthiest we can be as individuals is when we’re living, not for ourselves, but for each other.  And I think that is the greatest love we can achieve as well— that we want what is the absolute best for our brother or sister, no matter the cost on our own parts.  The way I will love someone best is to want what is absolutely best for him, what causes him to be the best and healthiest version of himself, no matter the cost for me.  That building someone else up is more important than building myself up.  This is how we should be living.  And once we’re living like that, I think the Kingdom will have reached Earth.

When people talk about the Earth ending in fire, that the world we see now will have to be completely destroyed for the new one to come, I used to disagree because I thought of the Earth perfected as simply the end of Earth as we know it and the beginning of how it should be.  But now, I don’t have a problem with this because, just as we are refined by the flame to become gold— as trials mold us into more of who we ought to be— the Earth is constantly being refined through flame as well.  There’s a lot of crap still left in this world; there’s a lot of darkness still lurking around.  It’s because we’re not there yet; we’re still a work in progress— this world is still a work in progress.  When we look around, we still see people living for themselves, still living in selfishness and in greed.  When the time comes for Heaven to have reached Earth and this Earth becomes the redeemed and working Kingdom of God, we will be living in sacrificial love for each other and working with and for one another in perfect harmony.  I don’t think this Earth has to be destroyed and made again for that to happen— what would be much more impressive to me is watching a full transformation of what’s already here.
In short, the Kingdom starts here and now, and I love watching this work in progress— every step of it.  We’re still going to mess up because we aren’t to that perfected Kingdom yet, but we’re being refined, and that’s a blessing.  The Kingdom starts here, and in the words of one of the wisest artists I know, “the revolution will not be televised; the revolution is in your mind; the revolution is here” (Kwon “G-Dragon” JiYong).  The Kingdom starts with Kingdom mentality.  If we start thinking in love, chances are we’ll end up acting in love.  And chances are, if we start thinking of each other as Kingdom members, as brothers and sisters, that Kingdom will start building around us faster than we could have imagined.
Isn’t it kind of amazing that God would choose to build His Kingdom out of people like us?  When I think about it, I consider that God didn’t have to create at all…but He did.  For whatever the reason.  And I’m really glad He did.  What better way to show the actual power of His Love than to take self-serving people like us and build a Kingdom of sacrificial love out of us?