Posted by Joseph on Aug 8, 2012 in Personal | 1 comment
Taking a break from the short family series I started in order to focus on what’s going on in Manila right now. My wife and I are currently in a gathering of youth pastors and campus workers from around the world in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s going really well, but we’re also monitoring the situation back home at every opportunity.
At first it was with growing concern then some worry as we contacted friends and family back home to see how they’re doing. It was very saddening to hear about the death tolls and property destruction.
But it’s also with a growing sense of pride and inspiration to see how our people are responding during this time. As difficult as it is to see our country go through this, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Filipino to see the country acting faster and in unity. Even Twitter is for the most part united in concern for the affected and updating the people.
So as someone who is temporarily on the outside (though looking forward to getting back next week), it’s so inspiring to see our country, in a general sense, and our churches responding in such a powerful way during this difficult time. Bright lights really are for dark times.
Here are some blogs that helped me get caught up during this time. I hope they’re helpful to you as well.
A Beautiful Prayer by the Most Beautiful Woman in the Universe
Great blog by Paolo Punzalan on How to Help During Calamity
A similar blog by Dennis Sy on The Time to Help
Cool infographic on how to purify water for yourself
List of relief efforts you can participate in
Posted by Joseph on Aug 6, 2012 in Thoughts | 0 comments
The legend of the Gordian Knot has been modified through the years, but my favorite part goes this way: There was a knot that no one could untie. It was said that whoever could produce the two ends of the knot would eventually rule Asia. People came from all around to test their skills, but the knot was so intricate that no one could make out the beginning or the end.
Then came Alexander the Great on his way to conquering the provinces of the Persian Empire. He entered the temple where the knot was displayed. He tried a few times to unravel it and then in a moment of brilliance (or frustration), he pulled out his sword and sliced the knot in two. He produced the two ends and claimed the prophecy for himself. Then he went and conquered Asia.
The phrase “cutting the Gordian Knot” now means tackling a difficult problem in creative way.
And it's been immortalized in many depictions.
Do you have your own version of a Gordian Knot problem? Something that is difficult to trace and impossible to solve neatly? Several nights ago, my wife and I were hearing stories of a family’s issues that were so intertwined it was difficult to figure out where to start. Is the husband at fault? Well, he’s partially that way because of his wife. So is it the wife’s fault? Well, the husband triggers that in her as well. And what about the people in their lives who did them wrong? It was a Gordian Knot.
Maybe you’ve got issues like that. Hurts that go so deep, you feel like you’ve had it all your life. Or maybe there long term feuds in your family that you don’t know who was first. We can try like the Gordian Knot to trace the entangled lines to find out who did what and who’s at fault. But these kinds of conversations always break down because the emotional hurt is too much.
What we need is an Alexander-like solution to just cut through the issues. We don’t need to trace every single line from beginning to end. That would take forever, and only gets us lost. We need a solution that slices clean through. And that solution is FORGIVENESS.
Forgiveness doesn’t need to get to the bottom of the problem. Forgiveness doesn’t need an explanation or satisfaction or payment from the person who wronged you. In fact, forgiveness means saying, ”I know you can’t pay me back. And so I’m canceling that debt.” Amazingly, this has the power to wipe the slate clean and make even the most sticky feud whole.
My wife and I have hurt each other so much already in the two and a half years we’ve been married. But every time we forgive each other, things are good as new. Diba, Sweetheart? We’ve hurt our family members and been hurt by them too, but forgiveness keeps us walking together and able to engage with each other without pulling away or becoming increasingly distant.
Years of healthy relationships are only possible through forgiveness.
That’s the only thing that can heal families. That’s the only thing that will cure racial or social divides. That’s the only thing that could save a flawed humanity, which is why God chose to forgive us through Jesus.
Have you got Gordian Knots in your life? Maybe it’s time to stop tracing the roots and just cut clean through it with forgiveness.
Posted by Joseph on Aug 1, 2012 in Personal | 1 comment
I just finished watching the movie Warrior starring Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton, and Tom Hardy. It attracted me because I enjoy watching mixed martial arts, right from the first UFC (which was more a circus than MMA). But I didn’t expect the movie to touch on me on such a deep level.
I would say the one of the best fight movies out there, definitely the best MMA one.
While my father isn’t an alcoholic, my brothers and I aren’t estranged, and my involvement in fighting is only as a spectator, I found myself connecting with a lot of the themes in the movie. If the violence isn’t too much for you (everyone’s got their own limits, after all), I recommend you go see it.
What struck me the most is the thread of family woven through the entire story – right down to the final fight scene. The sins of the father would shatter the family and set all three main characters – the dad and the brothers – against the other two. Each would pursue their own path and hate began to take root.
I never expected a fight between Bane and Owen Lars to actually be exciting.
When they finally speak again, amazingly more than halfway into the movie, you feel the years of resentment piled onto every word. I think that’s true about brothers – not much needs to be said to convey affection or scorn. My brother, Joshua, said during his best man’s toast at my wedding, “We always knew you loved us, even though you never showed it or said it.” People laughed and I guess it was funny. But I got what he meant. That’s just the way it was. (Still wish I said it more often though.)\
couldn't have asked for better bestmen
For most of us, like the characters in the movie, no wound cuts as deep as family. It never fails to surprise me when I’m talking with young men in their teens who seem to take nothing seriously how a conversation about their fathers immediately sobers them up. Sometimes the mood even becomes pensive or uncomfortable.
But at the same time, the joy in seeing families restored is like nothing else. It’s rare but it’s possible. In the next three blogs, I’ll put down some thoughts on the thorny issues that affect families and how they can be resolved. I’ll talk about the thing that cuts through all the issues, the challenge of independence as children grow older, and how to honor and obey. If you’ve got suggested topics, please message me somewhere about it too.
In the meantime, go watch Warrior with some of the men in your family. It’ll be good.