peace, love, and having a mind of your own

i refuse to look at life through the lens of tradition.
i refuse to believe everything i am told.
i refuse to live a life that doesn't promote peace, love, and having a mind of your own.

20 January 2011

confessions: i’m jealous.

I know we’re not supposed to be jealous, but sometimes I am. I get jealous of the prettiest or most outgoing girls I know: I covet their effortless conversations, their girly laughter, their elegant glossy hair.

I’m often envious of people with exceptional musical talent. Like my brother. He’s so flippin’ brilliant at guitar, isn’t this stuff supposed to run in the family? It’s not fair!

And I’ve definitely found myself envying my more “privileged” friends, when I’ve had to decline invitations to go out and spend money, and sometimes maybe, um, sat home feeling left out and later hated on their facebook albums. [Whoops, did I just admit that to the world?]

So now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I have a bigger confession. One that might actually make you question my sanity. Are you ready? Here it is…

More often than not, I envy the other crowd: the people who have never known what it’s like to have a disposable income, who grew up in a culture where “just enough” is the most they’ve ever had, but God always provided in his own way. Or the humble souls who realize they have nothing of value to offer God, but offer themselves anyway and are extraordinarily blessed because of it. Or the ones whose faith has caused them suffering, harassment, or imprisonment, and through it they find incredible joy and peace because the presence of God is with them so abundantly. Like what I recently read in The Heavenly Man

“Christians who are in prison for the sake of the Lord are not the ones who are suffering. When people hear my testimony they often say, ‘You must have had a terrible time when you were in prison.’ I respond, ‘What are you talking about? I was with Jesus and had overwhelming joy and peace in his intimate presence.’ The people who really suffer are those who never experience God’s presence.”

When I read about experiences of persecution like Brother Yun’s, I get butterflies in my stomach. Little, jealous, warrior butterflies.

There’s really nothing I can offer at this point to reinstate any faith in my common sense, good judgment, or sanity- is there? I realize this is not normal. I understand that most of our lives are spent trying to avoid discomfort, suffering, poverty, and humility. In fact, our culture spends much of our time trying to distance ourselves from the very things that Jesus calls blessings. Read Matthew 5.

You are blessed if you are “poor in sprit,” or realize your need for Him. Consider yourself blessed when you mourn. [Who wants to mourn??] He blesses the “gentle and lowly,” the very characteristics I dislike in myself and wish to exchange for a loud and outgoing personality. And you are blessed if you are persecuted for your faith. Blessed.

So I guess I’m just envious of the folks who have no choice in the matter. They are handed a life of poverty, mourning, humility, or discrimination; and therefore automatically blessed. I know this because I’ve seen it. I’ve slept as a guest in an African hut with no toilet or shower, and I was more blessed there than I ever have been staying in a five-star suite in Vegas. I’ve been overwhelmed by extravagant love through a gypsy orphan who wrapped herself around my waist and hung from my arms for an entire afternoon. She spoke love more clearly to me without knowing a single word of English, than any ballad or bouquet of roses could ever convey.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Swan

See, the Bible clearly says that if we want to follow Jesus, we must “put aside our selfish ambition, shoulder our cross daily” and give up our lives if we wish to find “true life.” [Luke 9:23-27] Basically, Jesus himself says, if you want to call yourself mine, you must wake up every morning ready to give up everything and go on a death-march. And here in sunny southern California, surrounded by affluence and beauty, that’s not an easy choice to make. I’m not there yet; I don’t even know what that looks like here! 

...Besides, I’m still trying to decide whether I want Starbucks or Coffee Bean. One thing at a time.


  1. So true, Keet. Excellent blog. Keep writing and sharing and openly confessing your heart. This is such a real struggle. We have mostly lived in the somewhat miserable, always reaching to have more stuff, land of the haves, then had a glimpse of the joy in the lands of the have-nots, and now...what is the balance? is there one?

    And... Coffee bean. All the way. Since it's down there in SoCal. and not up here, in NorCal...

  2. Glenalyn-
    Thanks for the encouraging words! It's good to know the other WR alumni are probably feeling the same things, wondering how to reintegrate, etc.

    And good answer on the coffee shop dilemma. I actually wrote the first draft of this blog while sitting on a couch enjoying free wi-fi at a Coffee Bean. Bummer you don't have em up there!