Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Jaded or Joyful?

Posted by flyingbk on 03/28/2017

I’ve been attending in2 Crosswalk for about eight months now. (By the way, if you’re looking for a church with a friendly congregation, many ways to get plugged in, and a pastor who’s a preacher-poet, come visit us!). During that time, I’ve spent many weekdays and weekends in the greatest city in the world. I love so much about New York City- how there’s so much to explore and do, how there’s so much energy and buzz (I love people watching and I actually enjoy loud crowds and tight spaces), and of course, the FOOD.

But NYC certainly has its foibles. One night, while walking around the East Village after hanging out at a bar, one of my crazy bros decided to perform a trust fall directed at me. His attempt startled me, causing me to freeze. This pause unfortunately created a domino effect in which I staggered backwards into a man who was clearly in a rush. He promptly yelled obscenities at both of us, and another guy joined the sneering. My friend muttered something under his breath, certainly not anything hostile, and the first guy stopped, turned on a dime, and menacingly asked: “What did you say?” My friend replied, “Just… Have a nice night.” “That’s what I thought,” was the man’s final words as he whisked around and continued to walk quite briskly.

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When I think about my church, and I think about New York City– especially with most of us coming from a Korean performance-based and shame-based culture, I think to myself: Man, life must be exhausting. Life must be tiring. So many of us clock in so many hours at work and/or at school. We encounter rudeness, anger, selfishness, and insensitivity on a regular basis. Everyone is pushing us out of the way as they’re all in a hurry to achieve something or make much of themselves.

Also, my main prayer for my congregation has taken aim at another paradox. New York is so full of people everywhere, by day or by night. So when we see all these busybodies, and yes, when we see all those couples and lovebirds, the final equation is that our sense of loneliness only increases. It’s like the phenomenon in which one spends time on social media and gets depressed because he or she erroneously concludes everyone else is having a blast. That’s New York City, even if you walk around for just an hour.

And the end result of the all the rudeness, selfishness, self-actualization-chasing, and loneliness is… Jadedness. Cynicism. Disillusionment. If not in all areas of our lives, we struggle with a hardened heart in at least one area: Our jobs and our bosses. Our romantic life, or lack thereof. Our parents and siblings. Our relationships with and our suspicions toward people, perhaps especially in the Church.

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All this jadedness robs us of joy. So we must be ever vigilant, and fight for joy and against any hardening of our hearts.

I want to give four suggestions for how we can fight well. These are four weapons I like to use in my battle for joy and against jadedness:

Process It All

A friend recently shared about how she tries to make  time each week to sort out how she’s feeling. She journals, she prays, she takes stock of her emotional and spiritual state, she simply asks herself, “How am I doing?”

I do the same. I take prayer walks– not just to pray for myself and others– but to ask myself, “How am I doing?” I use this time especially to sort out any signs of discouragement and disillusionment in my life; I take inventory of all arenas of my heart. If there is something especially pressing down on me, I journal and write it out so that I can see what I’m feeling.

The key point here is to not let negativity linger. Whenever I see my heart even leaning in the direction of jadedness (i.e. when someone is rude or unfair to me, or when I’m sad and experiencing any kind of pain), I immediately look to stand against it.

Don’t Fight Alone

We need each other. I am so grateful for my many friends who have helped me process my heartbreaks and fears through the years. Whenever I was rejected by a romantic interest, I would fight against the temptation to wallow and isolate myself. Instead, I would share it with my friends, even while feeling ashamed that there were hearing the same old story.

There is power in processing with others, even if they’re just listening and not giving advice (in fact, this is actually better than giving advice in such situations). You realize new things as you talk out loud about your issues and problems, things you would not have conceived if you kept it bottled within.

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Do It Again

Processing and sharing are not one-time things. They must be done again and again. I take another walk. I journal again. I tell my friends one more time, even though I sound like a severely broken record.

There was one time I was particularly broken up about being rejected by a girl. She was someone I was close to, and it was killing me that I still wasn’t feeling better two months after she said no. I knew what I had to do. I asked a friend for help; I asked her, “What’s wrong with me?” She did give me good advice, mainly that I need to just be patient with myself. I gained much by attempting to process the pain once again.

It is a joy and wonder to know that there are people who really do care for you. They are willing to help carry your burdens, even if it feels like you’re bothering them time and time again. It’s not the same old story to them, and therefore not to me either. I wonder how many of us miss out on this sorely-needed blessing because of our pride and fear that prevents repeated vulnerability. This wonder of being accepted just as you are is indispensable in our battle to thaw out all the hardheartedness.

Remember Grace

Ah, yes, like I wrote yesterday. If we know that we are Kichijiro, in constant need of forgiveness, and freely able to ask for and receive it… We have discovered the only tried and true pathway to joy.

The only thing that disqualifies us from the grace of God is not admitting our need for it. It’s choosing to hold on to our anger and pride and disillusionment and how we’re victims of unfair treatment, and wearing them as badges of honor, even knowing it steals away our joy. It’s refusing to process them, or being unwilling to look weak by sharing them with others.

But it is in the weakness of processing, sharing, repeating, and remembering God’s grace and forgiveness where we find the strength to fight on against jadedness and for joy.

So I encourage us all: Keep fighting. Don’t give up. It’s worth it.

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