Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do Hard Things - Thinking Deeper

I just finished Part one of Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris (yes, the brothers' of the world famous Joshua Harris, the person whose book has blessed me in ways he or others may not know). Before I step into another exciting part, I just know that I have to chew on what I just read. This isn't just your everyday easy to read through material. I felt that if I didn't chew on this, I'd miss out BIG TIME.

Here's the book by the way.

I guess I have kind of a different story for most. But sadly I see too that it might be going for the same tragic low expectations imposed by yours truly on myself. But all is not lost! I refuse to let it all be lost. I grew up in a Christian family and my parents have taught us to live our lives for God. We are 3 in our family, my older sister and my twin. I don't really remember why or where excelling was underlined explicitly. It had just always been a tacit agreement, well, as I understand anyway. I've always had this feeling that if we make our parents proud and happy, that God would be proud and happy.

I guess part of it is also that my sister was such an achiever. Personally, I never really thought of achieving as a primary goal. It just seemed like a really good idea. So I followed after her steps though perhaps not so consciously. I thank God for an example like her who set the standards. I know that God was the one who brought me through that.

In the book, I understand that if one pushes himself/herself in an early stage, one can accomplish great things. I'm just a bit sad no one, not even me, pushed myself harder on the talents that God has blessed me with. It's so amazing to see that in my life. When I was a child, I learned to draw and actually thought I was quite good and patted myself for being a good enough artist (I drew people and anime). Then I went to highschool. I found out that there was someone else who drew so much more beautiful drawings than me. And then another and another person. I remember rising up to the challenge, looking up and learning to draw with principles. I remember drawing way into midnight (I believe it was summer) until I felt I was satisfied with my work or too sleepy to go on. I look back into that now and realize that that was definitely kind of the hard thing to do. But when I step into college, I stopped drawing when school became frantic and developing the skill was too much time consuming. I've always thought to myself up until now that I'd pick it up again someday. Recently, when I've started working, I have picked it up again and now want to hone it even more. I have this, shall we call it, passion, to come up with a manga that revolved around a story of teenagers, highschoolers, discovering a life with Christ and standing up for Him. I know now that unless I get out of my comfort zone and actually do that with the strength and grace that God provides, that it will just be another great oppurtunity lost and another dream that did NOT come true. An oppurtunity I have to account for before God someday. As I read through the book, I pray for more insight why it's turning up a little harder to just get to it.

I'm also learning a new language - Japanese. I've always been interested but I've only started learning it 2 years ago when I got my current job. In two years time, I have passed level 4 and 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency test. Now I know that God really does have something really amazing in store for me. Each time I took the tests, I've always prayed, God, if it is Your will, I know that I'll pass. I don't know God's plans, but someday I know that I'll be able to use this new skill for His glory. God has made me find it so interesting that I'm studying for the next level and hope to take the exam this December and perhaps even pass it if it is His will. From what I've just read from the book, I now have no second thoughts if this endeavor is worth the effort or the weird feeling I get when others are just okay if they don't quite make much effort and then it's different when it comes to me. As I went through college and work, I now recognize this struggle of being 'in' by doing just like everybody else, because after all, you'll be really singled out if you excel. If it weren't for God and 1 Cor. 10:31, maybe I'd have given up pushing for the next level right after I've passed the level 3 (which just became mandatory in our company this year). Maybe we're all just teetering on the line between doing just okay and excelling because we're not sure it's really worth the effort or if anyone would just give us reason to excel, like set an expectation, wouldn't you say so? I want to set an example and challenge and help my fellow language learners and anyone really to step up and do harder things.

Thinking deeper I realize now that I may be guilty of singling others out. Even the young people in my church. This is such an eye opener for me. I teach them all about doing the best for God, especially the praise and worship team and yet still single out, even if it isn't that obvious, like a joke, a tease at being great at something. By God's grace, He may show me and correct me when I do this. It really is amazing how taking a second look at our ways just reveals God's ways. It reminds me of a verse from Proverbs "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways; but the folly of fools is deception". If we don't look hard, we will be deceived. Just like the myth of adolescence. Deceived.

It's really cool to see that a life lived for God is a life being pushed by God to do harder but better things for Him. I never imagined in my college years that I would be living by myself. You see, I live in Cebu most of my life. My mother moved to Manila and built houses there because there was land to build it there. My brother moved to Manila for work. And my sister was assigned to Japan for almost 3 years now. I never thought that I would have to actually be independent and learn to take care of myself, budget for myself, and really get to where I am now. Of course, I have my share of misgivings in time and budget management. But I see that even though I've always thought this situation was hard on me, God was shaping me. I wasn't all that ready to leave Cebu and work in Manila, live in a house in Manila where I didn't have to pay rent, and Mom was always there, because I was convinced that God hadn't given me the go signal for it. I couldn't leave the youth ministry just yet. It has been fulfilling to see young people's lives changed, when they make the right choices, and trust God in their everyday living, I can really say, I've done something by God's grace to truly impact someone else's life other than myself. But through it all and what's to come I know, He'll get me through them not just and not necessarily painstakingly but truly "a life lived abundantly".

I know that God has placed into my hands so much I can do for Him. I understand now that in many ways, I'm still held back by that same twine that holds the elephant back. I hope to learn more about doing hard things for God, living up to His expectations, and being able to do them.

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