Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kind Campaign...near you

Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul (also known as Aaron Paul, also known as Jesse from Breaking Bad's wife) are two girls from Pepperdine University in California who found girl-on-girl-hate crime to be a problem, and they are doing something about it. They've launched an internationally recognized and locally acclaimed campaigned called Kind Campaign, creating a documentary on the issue and touring the nation, stopping at various high schools to show their girls their film. I appreciate Lauren for having first hand experience of girls suddenly turning on her during the very vulnerable years of junior high, and I appreciate Molly because she has a burning heart for the issue even thought she hasn't had first hand experience. I think every girl knows...girls from age 6 to age 66 (I assume after 66, no one would or should have the energy to be unkind to another woman for no good reason but plain old grumpiness of old age), what it's like to have girls turn on you for little to no reason at all. It may not be as violent as some of the stories we see on the news or even quiet stories that are told through this campaign, but we all experience some kind of girl-on-girl-hate in milder forms.

I understand this very well, even as a woman of age 36, there are surmounting insecurities from girls you are just getting to know, and you don't feel like she's digging you as much as you are her. Girls who assume certain lied about me and believe them all because they're just don't give a damn to ask if they're true. Girls who will compete with you for anything there is to squabble over, clothes, positions, friendships, attention, there is still jealousy, envy, disgust, judgement and competition even at my ripe old age. Which makes me kind of sad and amazed at the realization girls carry their wounds for a long time without healing and they grow old with it, and I am amazed at women like my mother who have not the care of the world to even worry about the upper hand, pride, and all sorts of other non-sense that make girls...well...bitchy. When I see my mother, she is literally kind to anyone she talks to and communes with, anyone is lucky to be in her company because she is selfless to love. She relinquishes all power and winning game chip so that there is peace, so you will feel loved, so she can be kind. 

I understand this very well, because I don't know how to be kind sometimes when all I have given and all that is vulnerable is exposed and it's...scary. I often resort to bring out my bitch to protect what I thought was safe to show, what I thought was okay to share. I am too afraid to relinquish the upper hand over people because I've been hate crimed too and it's enough to make me learn a lesson about how you can't really trust girls especially because they eventually turn their bitch on you too. It's far more courageous to be the kind girl, showing respect when someone is acting like a fool, showing love when you are shown hate, showing vulnerability when you're not quite sure what they will do with it, showing grace when they are hardened by hate-crimes shown by others, healing wounds others have caused. Isn't that what I want too? Isn't that a basic human desire? To be shown respect, love, and vulnerability? It's easy to blind to the small ways we are dehumanizing other women by our hardened hearts and doubtful thoughts and motives driven by fear. Every day, I set out on social interactions with other women with heart guarded, then slowly cajoled open, testing each person with high suspicion, always assuming they will hurt me, if not today, someday. 

How can I be myself and let others be free to be themselves when I am always cautious of becoming a victim? All the times I wrote about love, I have been wrong about it. All the times I thought I was being loving, I wasn't. I am learning more about love these few years of struggle and I think I finally see the blurry outline of what it's suppose to be and it's not pink, or fields of grass and beachy sand. It's more like tears, strength, courage, and loyalty...something like that, I'm not sure yet. But today, I want to resolve to be kind and like love, it's harder than I ever thought.

Fambam Finally.

This past Saturday was my dad's birthday, and instead of our regular dinner time celebration, we decided to switch things a bit and have breakfast instead. My parents, H, Jude and I had gotten there first, and there was a quiet chatter between us before my brother and HJ got to the table from the city. When they finally arrived, it felt happy and complete, there was a hum of contentment and buzz of excitement that my parents were back from New York at last. I'm not sure if we all had gone through a life changing year and we had all met at this one perfect moment, where all of the peace in our lives had collided at one particular time, but we felt whole. All of us. I'm not sure when it happened, but our family had finally jelled together and I had even texted my sister in law that night, "I was so happy today with the fam bam." She felt the same thing. Then when my brother added a new profile picture of the family picture we took during the new year, I knew something was lurking in the water for us.

There was a time where our family was the contention not only for the newly engaged couple in marital counseling, but also for the people already born into it. For a stretch of time, there had been drama with the Property (with a capital P), tending to the elderly and divvying up the remaining "riches" (and I use that term loosely), and just plain quarreling between us because of outside forces. As people we really do like each other and when we get a little food and drink in us, we will act like old friends, even though we are father, mother, brother and sister.  I'm thankful for the family I have because we are so expressive one another, spanning from words of warmth, words that stab and words just plain funny. H once said that he sees so much drama between the Kong family and we are quite clear on where we stand with one another, which is why there is great intimacy. I never thought of it that way, I just thought of it the other way around, we are a tight knit family that is knit too tight that we can't help but to repel each other now and again.

It's another thing to enter into a family knit so tight, you can't get a needle in to thread a new thread to patch in a new patch. I think H felt this way when he first entered into the family, but there was a distinct moment H realized without knowing when it happened, that he was part of the too tight knitted group. After all the ebb and flow of six distinct, sinful, beautiful and live out loud people have corralled together for the last big chunk of years, we have finally settled into a peaceful state. I look back on the hardship and I truly see that my family have been there for every bit of it and I want say that I was there for them too. Thankful.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Terror and Relief

For the last half of this year, we've been contemplating our stay at HCC, and whether it's time for us to move on. When I think about all the history and the people I've gotten to know there, it really does break my heart to leave it. I know that HCC has given me many wounds, and in return, I'm sure I've caused some heartaches along the way, but for my friends and the small niche of community I've been given, I've done my best to be a listening ear.  H and I have been loyal to HCC for the last 12 years, serving and working hard for our keep, sort to speak, but I don't say all this to brag or keep score of all the things we've done at HCC to build it for what it is today, nor are we to say that the roof of this church will come crumbling down as the two leading pillars of the church walk off with it's best assets. Not in the least...but I do feel disappointed that at our most vulnerable and weakest, we haven't seen one person come rallying around us to support us with an encouraging word. Rather, they made us step down from all the ministries we've loved and served in for so long because, it seems, Hans and Susie, are defective and not useful, not for ministry and not socially.

It's difficult to tell if we are putting too much weight on this one moment in time, or if it is the true testament of the community we thought we had. In all the years, even before we were married, H and I have always been the ones "making" the group or the relationship. Talking, loving, giving, trying, calling, being vulnerable, pulling and prying, rallying and gathering, making dinners for our small group with the small pocket money we had as college students. It continues at HCC, where there is no place we can sit back and be pursued, where we can walk in to do nothing but be blessed and take. This past Sunday, we decided to go to Grace Church because we thought, "maybe we just need some time away from HCC, just a little break, and see if that's the cure for a momentary laps in judgement from deep disappointment." It was refreshing in a different way than Soul City, where we  were completely anonymous. Grace church is the kind of small family church we grew up in, with moms and dads worshiping in the bigger sanctuary, while the "young adults" worship in the smaller upstairs sanctuary. People seemed to have long history with one another and most people had parents, relatives and cousins attending the church with them. It's the kind of church I would want, but with my parents down stairs and my brother and his wife sitting beside me, the safe cushion of family around you as you rest on the Lord's Day.

Pastor Jay spoke that day, as usual, but there was a deep searing in my soul as he talked about a counterfeit religion. Maybe all of the toiling, working, serving, giving and doing was a rouse and I had only looked like a good girl, instead of actually being a genuine lover of Christ. He had said something that had made me terrified and relieved at the same time. "When your attention goes from God to the world; money, self, pleasure, including PEOPLE, your affections are misdirected. As a result, sinful character and conduct arise in you." All the time I had wanted the chosen, special group of people, I had been erecting an idol for myself. All the times I blogged here about love, and wanting that special group of friends I can suck the life and soul out of, I had been erecting an idol for myself. It was a house of cards I had carefully stacked, but I knew in my heart that it was about to collapse at any wash of light breeze, causing everything I worked for with my anxious hands would show for naught. It wasn't the lack of love, or attention for my friends, but it was lacking power because God was not at the center of it. this makes me feel a great let down of anxiety, because I don't need to pine for people so I can induct them into my fold of special people. I ought not show favor in that way. I can trust that I can take pleasure in God, and in His happiness, Love is ever expanding to people that are given to me. I can stop being anxious about friendships I have to maintain all on my charms and what I have to give. I can just enjoy people.

Kids make you dumb

This summer has been the worst. I was dreaming of cold IPAs, Ravina, beach trips, summer festivals in the city, laying by the poolside, and experimenting with new summer salads with veggies from my garden and the farmers market. I've even tossed out tentative and pending BBQ plans to friends and family, but I've been a bit occupied by 100 little rugrats. By the time I get home, my brain is a bowl of oatmeal and my mind is racing with "Misses Susie, I need..." and other useless chatter I can't get to stop, because it's replaced with "mommy, I need..." and other useless chatter. I've been interacting with kids of all sizes, and I don't just mean kids from summer school, K-8, but even the Teacher's assistants need a little fire under their pants to get things organized and corralled. At the end of the day, I don't have much of anything left to keep my household clean and my family fed and I can barely make out what we've been putting in our mouths to keep us alive. I see flashing images of left overs from meals out, cereal and random fruit snacks from kids' snack stash, but what's most visible in my mind's eye is a lot of coffee, sugar and booze. Those are pretty clear to me.

Even on the weekends, I've had very little emotional or social energy to keep up with anyone we've been seeing (which I apologize for because I swear, I'm so much more charming than that). I had a conversation with a friend today and she asked me where I was on Friday because she thought she saw me on the road. For the life of me, I could not remember where I had been and who I had seen that day, but I knew I was somewhere and it's quite possible she did see my car on the road. I just couldn't tell her specific details besides that. I've posted a few FB status' I've reread at a later time, only to realize I've made grammatical errors and have talked in a convoluted circle, I've stood in elevators for a full minute without pressing any buttons to tell the machine what floor to go to and I lost 5 pounds from being too tired to chew food. Which explains the coffee and booze, because you don't have to chew those calories, they just give you a good full feeling along with other buzzing satisfactions. All this makes me think to myself, "why can't I handle life? Other moms work and have children all year long." Maybe it just confirms to me that I'm just not cut out for managing and molding the minds of future America at million miles per hour. 

After the end of five week and summer school is but a fuzzy memory, I will look at the wreckage I have caused all around me and pick up the bodies strewn on the way-side, mend hurt feelings, make right misunderstandings, build relationships neglected and eventually eat a meal I can chew, preferably with only a moderate amount of booze and sugar. I will look into my child's eyes,  relearn his face again and ask, "how was your five weeks without your mother?" In the midst of affliction and devastation, there have been moments where everything starts to move in slow motion, like in a movie where the main character (which in this case, would be moi) stands apart from the scene and sees smiling faces, laughing interactions, and sweet kids splashing water at each other, then I would come to and all of the sounds fall back into my ears again. I don't know it yet,  because one needs to step a way from these chaotic times to really see what's left when the dust settles, but I think I've been learning something, receiving something...because I don't taste bitterness when I think of Summer school. Not yet at least...but next week is VBS.