reality check

someone in my extended family is dying. it really made me sad to hear about it. his health has been failing for a while now…

when you think about your loved ones and perhaps even when imagining the death of your loved ones, the imagination may fail us. what we imagine might be some what abstract. that’s how it is for me when i imagine a world in which i am not a part of.

my fight is to keep myself from killing myself. i live in someways because i cannot die. but today, a little while ago, it really hit home for me that there are people who are really dying, not by choice. while in somewhat immature and crazy ways i think of ending the pain in my life by dying an early death, others are trying to stay alive, if not for themselves than for their loved ones.

i don’t know that i will always feel this way – but at this moment, i’m really sorry. i’m truly sorry for trying to take my life time and time again when i’m young and healthy. i realize at this moment that people are supposed to live and to try to live, the best they can, for as long as they can.

i knew him not that well and have seen him only a few times. he was always nice and gentle, thoughtful and caring. he’s still alive so i don’t mean to speak as if he isn’t. but things being as serious as they are, i just want to express that in the short time i knew him, and in the brief encounters we have had, he is a man who lives/ed and loves/ed greatly, and he will never be forgotten in the hearts of those who love him.

my deepest, most heart felt condolences to my extended family…

petitionary prayer and faith

as i have done for the past three years or so, i went to morning prayer today. and i wondered, why should any of the prayers we pray matter? why should god who created the universe care or help me to finish my semester at school or to have more wisdom?

a few years ago, i wrote a paper on petitionary prayer. my thesis was that petitionary prayers play an indispensable role in our sanctification process: as our prayers get answered (or not answered) we learn about the character of god and as we pray we experience god of the universe as our god.

i don’t know how job or st. paul kept up their faith in god. sure when things are going well, you can believe that god is for you. ironically, at those moments you might forget about god because you don’t need god to help you. but when things are going badly and take a turn for the worst, people tend to turn to god and ask god for help. and in such difficult times, god may be more real to you and you may rely on god more for everything because you can’t rely on anything else.

but what happens when a bad thing happens and another bad thing and another bad thing happen to a person? i don’t mean that things that happen have to be viwed as “objectively” morally a bad thing. but when someone feels that gods is not with them, that god is not for them, what happens to one’s faith?

i’ve been told in the past to seek god more in times of trouble: read the scripture, spend time in prayer, and rely on your community of faith. but what happens when those things fall through as well? then i suppose, you still read the scripture, pray to god more even if you are praying that you don’t know what to pray, and tell others to pray for you.

i’m reminded of prosperity gospel – people counting on god to bless them b/c they believe that god is good, and perhaps also b/c they believe their works warrant their blessing. most people would say, no god never promised happiness just that god would be with us through it all, the good, the bad, the happy as well as the sad moments. but what does it take for one to say, god is not for me (as opposed to god being for you, showing you favor). more importantly, when you have been pushed to the edge, to your limits, how can you turn back to god?

god doesn’t test us more than we can bear, right? the bible says so. probably god knows what your limits are. but when you feel that you have been pushed and pushed to the point you can’t bear the pain, suffering, disappointment, despair anymore, what then?

top five reasons 2008 is going to be great!

1. it’s not 2007! 2007 was a hard year for me. i was in and out of the hospital. i didn’t do well over all. i continued to gain weight. i kept getting triggered by by various things, even while watching the elf!

2. new community? i may take a break from my current church to make new connections. and my church is also getting a new pastor which will be refreshing.

3. romance! i feel ready to date again. i’m hopeful about this. i don’t know why. i just am. and since i have lots of knowledge about what i don’t want, figuring out if the relationship is worth keeping will be a piece of cake. 🙂

4. my niece is turning 4! she’s a little girl now. she’s really thoughtful and just lovely. i’m looking forward to spending more time with her.

5. DBT group – okay. so i’m not totally looking forward to joining a group therapy that is going to be so intensive that it’s going to kick my butt. but i think the work will pay off in the long run. i’ll be able to cope with feelings and impulses better. and hopefully that will translate into fewer hospital visits.

note to self: top five reasons for not killing myself

1. there will be no self/consciousness as i know it. sure enough i believe in an after life (a happy one at that – one with jesus). but will “life” after death be of the same kind as life as i know it? i don’t think so. (and this is a bad thing?)

2. people will have to tell my nieces and nephews that they used to have an aunt who loved them alot! i mean a lot! and my family members (especially my siblings) and my friends would be heart-broken. (but would they prefer a living aunt/sister/daughter/friend who is suffering immensely from depression?)

3. family reputation (especially that of my mom and dad) will be ruined. (i see no way out of this one.)

4. if i should fail in killing myself i will once again end up in the ER then in the psych ward for only god knows how long. and my doctors might decide to do ECT on me, what is left of me anyway. (the best deterrent for not killing myself if there ever was one)

5. i can’t think of the fifth reason…maybe god would be disappointed? (i don’t really believe that god would be disappointed. i mean, isn’t god permitting me and apostle paul with the thorn on his side and all to suffer?)

no you didn’t! top five comments my clueless mom and dad made about me in the past 10 days

1. who’s the parent?

my dad told my younger sister that she better marry me off or make me lose weight!

2. as if!

i said to my dad, how can you write a book on how to be wealthy (happy) when your own daughter has made so many trips to the hospital? my dad told me to read the book.

then i said to my mom, how can you help strangers as a psychologist when you can’t even understand your own daughter who has depression? my mom said, depression is not my specialty.

when i asked them both if they have read even one book on depression on my account my dad said, depression is basic knowledge.

yeah, whatever (my response).

3. psych ward vs new otani hotel in tokyo

when my dad found out how much each intake to the hospital costs he said, that’s why i’m not worried when you’re in the hospital. staying at the hospital is cheaper than staying at new otani hotel (where we stayed when we were in tokyo) and because the hospital even feeds you.

4. silver lining

my dad said to me, i’m hoping that when you get over your struggles, that you can write a book on happiness and help others.

okay maybe this one doesn’t sound so bad out of context. maybe you had to be there. it would be okay that my dad made this comment if he made even one comment about how difficult it might be for me to live. and the fact is that this comment and the comment above are the only acknowledgement my dad has made about my hospital visits and my depression. he just doesn’t get it!!!

5. duh???

my sister made the comment (in response to something i did or something my mom said) that it’s more important for me to be alive (meaning not kill myself) than it is for me to not smoke. my mom responded by saying, i wish she would quit smoking at least.

ok, so between having a daughter who is living but smokes and having a dead daughter, she would choose the second option if it means i won’t be smoking anymore?

pictures from japan and korea dec 2007

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pictures of the bestest ramen place in tokyo! sorry – no picture of the ramen b/c i was too busy eating. 🙂

we also went to the bestest curry udon place the next day. we met up with our nephew and we were too busy trying to win him over that i didn’t take pictures of the place or the food. i had the best tonkatsu curry udon ever! my nephew is really cute. he’s three years old but this is only my second time seeing him. he only speaks japanese so we had to win him over with super mario brothers. hehe


red mango

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i didn’t eat all three! smoothest frozen yogurt i ever tasted. inside decor was not as nice as pinkberry in koreatown in nyc. toppings were not fresh (they were canned fruit!) and the taste of the frozen yogurt itself was nothing to write home about. oh well.

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lotteworld adventure (location of redmango that i went to) – maybe other locations have better ambience? i didn’t take a picture of the inside of the redmango store i went to b/c it just looked like a fast food store!

prosperity gospel – does god want you to be happy?

so the tradition i was brought up in, is big on prosperity gospel. god wants to bless us, spiritually and materially. if we keep god’s commandments, pray hard and live in accordance to god’s will, god will show god’s favor upon us. and of course, to complicate matters, the tradition i believe in now is not big on prosperity, at least not in the way most prosperity preachers would like their congregation to believe.

i just read dave sung’s blog where he asks what prosperity gospel folks would do with the passage where apostle paul asks god three times, to take the thorn away from his side and god responds to paul by telling him that god’ grace is sufficient for him (pasted from dave sung’s blog out of laziness on my part):

7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

so how would prosperity (god wants to bless us – physically, materially, spiritually) gospel preachers respond to this passage?

i think the problem with prosperity gospel is that they emphasize material (wealth, health, etc.) blessing at the expense of spiritual blessing. and those who criticize prosperity gospel folks do it at the expense of limiting how god can/does bless us. granted, i know those who are pointing fingers at prosperity gospel preachers are saying they are limiting god and choosing to believe in a god who is like a santa clause – giving toys (or blessing) to those who are good (theough works, not grace). and well, i can’t disagree there! they are picking and choosing to believe in a god that does not fully capture who god is as revealed through the hebrew bible and the new testament.

but the non-prosperity gospel preachers don’t/can’t/couldn’t deny that god could bless us if god chooses to – in all aspects, not only spiritually, but materially, physically, etc. we can’t run with hebrew bible (as well as some NT) passages where god says do X and god will bless you. for instance, if you commit your works to god, or if you ask, if you have faith, etc. then god will “bless” you. now exactly what the blessing is, isn’t that what prosperity gospel preachers are choosing to focus on wealth, health, etc. BUT they shouldn’t leave out spiritual blessing. and those who are non-prosperity preachers shouldn’t just say god blesses us spiritually because god can and does bless us in anyway god chooses to.

i just realized that the distinctions i’m seeing here explain why my parents and i don’t understand each other sometimes! okay, a lot of times. wowsers.