Call me the minority but I think 2016 would be one I would look at back with fondness… Politics aside. There are different highlights with this year. I wanted to take this time to share my year in a nutshell. Be forewarned, I try to be genuine and accurate. That’s how I am, trying to be transparent in an open book.
However, it started out pretty ugly and difficult. I remembered just struggling with purpose… like what I was doing in my life. It was about a year after graduation and I felt that I wasn’t going anywhere. It was hard trying to see the bigger picture of things when working part time and being a student part time and also doing my best to be faithful to the local church.
Around that time, important decisions were coming up such as potential job openings or committing to the church with more responsibilities and opportunities. It took a while but there came a point where I came to surrender the future to participate in a missions project over the summer. 10/10 would recommended. The decision to participate in such a project was simply as there may not be an opportunity or of a window once I start working full time. You can view my previous blog posts on that. Looking back, I recall the words of a guest pastor. When it comes to waiting, he said there is no wasted time. Everything has a purpose one way or another. Romans 8:28 supports that.
Below is what I shared for Easter Weekend of 2016
“After graduation I struggled a lot with doubt, loneliness, purpose, and identity. Especially, identity, because I was a part time student and working part time throughout the year. I saw a lot of my peers doing great stuff, and I’m happy for them. But I wondered what God is doing for me personally? My biggest struggle is the lie of “Am I done being used?”. Working at Chipotle was humbling because I was really proud of my accomplishments as a student. I’m so thankful for my coworkers and friends that I’ve met working there. They were outside of what is familiar of me–different social and economic background, sexual orientations, and religious beliefs. Yet I was so encouraged by my coworkers who saw their work as part of their ministry, especially one who is considering ministry as a career. Through it all, God grew my heart for people.
I am so thankful that God surrounded with me older brothers and sisters in the faith to ground me and to walk together as a life group, otherwise, I would have lost my mind. There were many challenges and blessings in FOPACT. I’ve learned that they are just different seasons of life and we ought to embrace them. And I love it because I was so flexible meeting up with different folks and also grew my discipline in prayer. My identity isn’t rooted in what I do or what life stage I’m in; the bottom line is that I am a child of God, saved by grace alone.
This past school year, retreat, prayer, and different conversations has affirmed what God was doing through me. God has led me to minister and nurture those within the church who quote, unquote “fallen away” for whatever reasons, maybe because I fell in that camp as well. We all have our reasons, which is why I think it is important to meet folks to where they are at.
Of course the insecurities are still there, but that’s okay. I have been transformed by the gospel these past four years since I’ve decided to follow Jesus. In hindsight, I believe that those dry seasons and even this year’s awkwardness is how God has raised me to be the person He wanted me to be. I am just one testimony among many building the testimony of God and His kingdom on this earth. It was tough, but I would not have it any other way how the events unfolded. Having to see personal breakthroughs in myself and others, I’m excited and confident to see how God will work in the coming seasons.”
When the missions project ended, I pretty much jetted back home and started applying for jobs. It did not pan out as expected unfortunately. The companies I had contact prior to missions were not hiring. However, things were looking up when this opportunity came up too. Like, it was clearly a God thing. It was least expected but most everything I wanted. Long story short, an old high school reached to me for a job during missions. I did not think much of it until I got back. And it was literally an answered prayer with everything in alignment with the business need and my relationship with him.
2016 in the seasons on of suffering
I think the best way to describe 2016 is the book of Job. I read it during my personal devotions and once more in the BRP ( Bible Reading Plan ) while I was in missions. Just like Job, things were going comfortably well. But God tests Job and everything is basically stripped away from him; his family killed, his friends blamed Job of his situation and abandoned him, and ultimately, his identity of a “holy and blameless man” is stripped.
“I know that my redeemer[c] lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”
Not to say that all of that happened to me in such severity but I think there were a lot of things going on… so many changes such as no longer being a student. That identity was hence, stripped away. This is how it ends:
Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 42: 1 – 3
Despite the hardships, Job in our point of view had every right to be angry and justified. But I believe God met him and he understood his circumstances and saw deeper meaning in the suffering.
This book encouraged me a lot because I was also dealing with family loss as well in preparation for missions. We were doing preparing for our fundraiser, and I received this call from my father and cousin that my grandmother has passed. I remembered that it was incredibly hard to process everything. I couldn’t effectively mourn because there are stuff to take care of. I do appreciate, really appreciated the support
I decided to commit to the local church in Austin after graduation. That time, the accurate depiction was a loss of identity and more importantly, purpose. The biggest question of what am I doing in my life and where am I called to be?
And this would not be a 2016 post unless I would have referenced the 2016 US elections. This is arguably one of the more controversial elections in my lifetime and up there in US history as well.
2016 Beyond Control
In this past summer, this album from King’s Kaleidoscope titled Beyond Control:
Looking at the album art, it come across as mysterious but at the same time majestic and in awe. In a worship song, it sings “faith can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save.” I think what I appreciated about this album was that it was a christian commentary trying to live out the faith. It is not easy. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying, living in denial, or withholding the truth. I can guarantee that professing Christians struggle one way or another.
” I am tired of doubt and feeling incomplete, this this hope I hold is my reality” this was from a song and something I try to remind myself either.
Here’s a picture from our church. The theme of this year is arise.
As I look back this past year, I was trying to think what does that mean for me personally or even as a church.
Looking back, it was simply letting faith arise. Because looking ahead, I’ll – no – we need that as a church. I say that because next year as a church, there will be many transitions… organizationally with leaders and members leaving for various and good reasons. As I look ahead, I think about the folks who will be filling in their roles. I am thinking about my role and see how I fit in. Though anxious, honestly, I am actually really excited for this upcoming year.