Friday, June 14, 2013

Is It Worth It?

Everyday we have opportunities to make choices; some big, some small but every choice has the potential for gain or loss. We weigh the risks, calculate the possible benefits and then come to a conclusion about whether or not to take the leap. Some people are natural risk takers. Their personalities scream for excitement and adventure, while others avoid taking even the smallest risk unless they have factored in all the variable. As for me, I usually fall somewhere between “I’ll try anything once” and “What’s the worst that could happen?” As for a biblical comparison, I can certainly be as impulsive as Peter and as stubborn as Paul; but my heart is usually in the right place and my motives are generally toward toward doing the right thing~in spite of my impetuousness. As an ex-pat living in China, I ask myself this question many times a day. Today was one of those days when “Is it worth it?” became very real. While crossing the road on my 40 minute rush hour bike ride to work, my reading glasses popped out of my purse and landed in the middle of a busy intersection.
I heard the thud as they landed and realized that I was going to have to make a quick decision. Do I get off my bike when I reach the other side of the road, turn around and make my way into oncoming traffic to get my glasses or do I leave them and wait 2-4 weeks to get new ones sent from the States? If you know anything about China’s traffic, you know that to go after them would mean literally risking life, limb and the possibility of being a foreign fatality. The alternative didn’t look much more palatable since I have lots of papers to grade at the end of the semester. Decisions, decisions! I looked at the yet unsquished glass case on the pavement, considered how long it would take for me to snag the glasses, and weighed out whether or not I could be nimble enough to maneuver my way between the oncoming cars. “Is it worth it?” I asked myself again, but In a matter of seconds I decided it was~ so I hopped off my bike, pulled out my game face and
used my car dodging ninja skills to narrowly avoid the oversized buses, bazillion bicycles and steady stream of honking cars all racing my way.
  As I snatched up the glass case, I felt both a sense of relief and horror over what I had done. I had cheated death and avoided becoming the ever dreaded “flat foreign”. Success was mine but at what cost? As I reflect back on those few minutes, I am keenly aware that every decision has a price. The Bible says in Luke 14:25-31 that we are to “count the cost” of discipleship and know what you’re signing up for. I have counted the little costs and inconveniences of being here and I’ve also calculated the bigger costs of being without my family, living in a polluted environment, and making myself known as a Christian in country where foreign believers are not always welcomed.
I have counted the physical, financial, mental, emotional, and spiritual and every other kind of cost it takes to be in China long-term and in a not so impulsive way, have decided to be more of a Paul than a Peter on this one. I count it all but loss (Phil. 3:7-14) Is it worth it? Definitely! Sometimes a little sadness creeps in, but all in all~no regrets!



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Humble Pie Anyone?

It never fails. Just when I start to turn a corner and feel successful about something I am trying to accomplish, BOOM! I self-sabotage! What the heck is that all about? I know the things I should do and the things I shouldn’t do, yet for reasons unbeknownst to my conscious self I always end up doing the wrong thing and sidetrack or completely derail the things I want the most. Case in point~ Today I invited my small group over for a brunch so that we could have fun eating, hanging out and reconnecting after a long period of not seeing each other because of the Chinese New Year holiday break. I made a delicious breakfast casserole from scratch and had assorted juices as well. One couple brought french toast, another friend brought crepes with fruit, and there was banana bread, too. It was like a never ending table of awesomeness. As my eyes beheld such scrumptiousness, my appetite grew larger than life. I gave into the temptation to have a hearty helping of everything, fully aware but not caring that my very healthy diet of 6 weeks would be annihilated in 25 minutes.
Then to add to the devastation, I had already made the dough of mass destruction for Valentine's Day sugar cookie that I promised to bake and decorate with my “other” granddaughter Sami who came with her dad. She was super excited to try this new thing. Half an hour after we finished eating, we pressed out, baked, frosted and decorated 2 dozen of those little gems, most of which we ate~save for the plate I sent home with her for her sick mommy. So with a belly full of delicious remorse, I laid on the couch all afternoon watching movies and wallowing through the regret of my impulsivity. Good thing I’m not a closet bulimic because it would’ve taken a whole day of purging both body and soul to remove my guilt.Why is it so hard to say no to the wafting scent of bacon that seems to wave me toward the plate? How come no one else around me seems to have the same compulsive desire to keep shoving food into their face long after they are satisfactorily full? I honestly don’t know. I suspect that despite my 14 pound weight loss since the first of the year, my old nature is still very much in play. I can only keep it in check so long and then it rears its ugly head again. Isn’t that the way sin always is? Gluttony is a sin. One of the 7 deadly sins in fact, and sin alway has regret and fall out that I’m sure I will see in the next few days on the scale. But even more that this, I think it comes back to human nature. We are all sinful. We all have a nature that wants our own desires, our own way, and we often impulsively or in a premeditated way do whatever it takes to get what we think we want, even when we know full well it’s not what we should do. It’s about dying everyday to my self will and there’s no way I can do that alone! That’s why grace and Spirit empowerment are so very important. It’s hard to be gracious with myself when I know I'm responsible for my own mess. It’s hard to be gracious with others when they too are being selfish, greedy, prideful or just plain dumb. Thank God, He freely gives the grace my heart really needs and hungers for and the Spirit to help me in my struggle to be under his control...not mine. I don’t deserve it, but he offers it anyway. Sometimes I think He uses my character defects to give me a taste of humble pie and grace in the same serving. Today, I’m glad that neither of these items on the menu has any additional calories!