[SHARX Blog]

A place for thoughts.

A Re-Evaluation of My Relationship Evaluators

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I have to be honest — this has been a very difficult season for me.  My wedding was planned in September in 2013. We decided to cancel one-month prior to it actually happening. Cancel, not “postpone” which is the more conversation-friendly and kosher word. “Cancel,” it seems, has a similar ring to “cancer” in the nuptial world.

It’s been almost six months since that time. I would never ever want to go back and re-live this season ever again. Since the day we decided to cancel, living each day has been an uphill battle. I mean this in every sense of the word – financially, as I began to feel the weight of my grad school loans; emotionally, dealing with the guilt and shame of ‘not being ready’ to get married and the pain I had caused my fiancé; and socially, as I attempted to begin to make new friends outside grad school but felt I needed to either cover the deep wounds I felt in order to appear carefree and able to make small talk, or let my pain leak through to someone who I casually knew but did not yet fully trust.

Day by day I bore marks of these pains, but these months have also been the most introspective and flourishing in terms of self-discovery. I’m beginning to re-discover my voice which has brought so much delight.

Part of my discovery down this road are the myriad of evaluating questions to help me decide whether I wanted to get married or not. Some of the more important ones have been from close friends and mentors, however the ones that grieve me the most are the ones that come when I’m looking for a direct answer out of my anxiety. The same anxiety finds me desperately googling website after website of anxious brides thinking about the same question I was.

Part of my process is discovering how these questions have placed so much weight on my looking for someone to fulfill my needs. This is not new, many Pastors and dating book writers have advised us that God is the only one that fulfills our needs, and that God ultimately fulfills my needs. This is all true. But the breakdown of why this is true was completely new for me.

Take, for example, that I need to marry someone safe. This is completely true in it’s own right. I want to marry someone who I know I can trust and can be completely honest with. If I ask myself this question, though, I’m pouring through my brain counting all the situations where my fiancé has been safe vs. when he has been unsafe for me. And then I get anxious. And then I start Googling. Game over.

Now I ask myself, am I able to ask for a safe space and he as able to give it, or at least attempt to see me in my request? This would be progress. I cannot expect his favorable response unconditionally even though that might be his intention; he is human. At the same time, to expect to be given something without taking personal responsibility for asking for it still puts the responsibility of being attentive to my need for safety, initiating the conversation regardless of his own feelings, and remaining neutral to my emotions all on him while I am allowed to vent. Additionally, it puts this binding contract on me as well so that I must be attentive to his emotional needs for safe space all the time, and not be able to live in my own. This is not to say this doesn’t happen or it is not honorable to do so, mostly it comes down to knowing how to ask for what I need from someone that I love.

I’m learning now that what comes out of my heart (more specifically, that spark that hits my gut out of fear, anxiety, or anger because I am dissatisfied with a situation and need to make a change) is just as important as what I put in, or get from someone else. Meaning, it is wonderful to be able to receive something like a safe environment from someone else who is able to gift that to you. It is just as empowering to know what you want and ask for it. Regardless of whether he or she accepts or not, my spirit feels relieved becaused I asked, and sometimes I can feel my fear, anxiety, or anger subside all on its own.

There is definitely more to come from this area. Things are slowly coming together, slowly but surely, and I’m starting to see the daily fruit of these difficult times come together in growth. There is a wonderful internship that I’ve accepted as an MFT Intern in Irvine and the part I’m looking forward to the most is being able to market myself and find my own clients. Scary, daunting, yes – but I am able to market my own business in my own way that is true to who I am. That, if nothing else, is worth the fear for now.

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Written by Sharon

February 27, 2014 at 1:07 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Do you love me?

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The foreign exchange student I tutor had been on the forefront of my mind in terms of sharing God’s love with him. I’m mostly unemployed, except for the 2 hours of consistent social contact happen to be with him, Monday through Friday. So when I’m prompted to share who God has placed in my life to share His love with, he mostly comes to mind.

I’ve discovered that I’m not the most patient tutor. For being such a process-oriented person, there is so much in me that is unable to sit in the open-endedness of another’s process, and I’ve shown myself that I can become quickly frustrated, give answers instead of allowing discovery, and wish that he could just understand instead of allowing him to learn at his own pace.

This mostly reflects the impatience I feel in my own heart these days. I graduated this past June with my MFT, and the post-school waking-up-from-a-dream and having tons of time to be introspective are so overwhelming. Where did I think I’d be? Happily, yes, happily, settled in a new career that I’d finally feel settled in. Because, after all, did I not hear His calling so clearly to apply to and be at Fuller? There must be some form of satisfying closure at the ‘end’ of all of this.

Instead, I found myself working with my student yesterday, when he in his own struggles, asked me the unthinkable — What is it that led you to believe in God? I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t even been praying, consistently, for him, and yet God showed me that He had been working all along. Well, I stumbled, trying to translate my own story in a somewhat simplified manner, my life was once out of control, because I tried to everything on my own. One day, God found me, told me that He loves me, and my life changed. It was at this point I was frantically trying to cover my bases in gospel-sharing, feeling I must make the most of this moment in case he were to never bring up this conversation again

But, do you pray to God, every day, he asked? Well, I said honestly, not every day. Then, he told me decisively, you must not believe in God. You must not love God, because you don’t talk to him everyday.

My mind started racing towards the reasons or arguments I could say to him for why I did love God, why he still loves me even if I don’t pray all of the time, and I even thought about how I could explain our sinfulness and God’s forgiveness. But the truth of the matter was, if I’m honest, my communication with God hasn’t exactly reflected my love for him, or my surrendered dependence on him. If anything, it more displays my anxious need for Him to fix things and make things right in my life so that I can simply feel better, feel good, the one tempting thing that has quickly become my substitute for my a relationship with my loving God. My prayers recently have been more of, ‘God, get me out of here’ when my heart really yearns to say ‘God, where are you? I know you’re here.’

I didn’t know how to quite answer him yesterday, and I don’t even know where he is in his own process with God. But what I carry with me today is that God is in everything that I do, the blessings (and difficulties) that I see daily are no surprise to Him, and that part of breaking through in my communication is to be completely honest in my unhappiness in feeling stuck with Him. I know He’s big enough to carry me exactly where I am, even if this is where He wants me to be right now.

Written by Sharon

January 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m back. Again.

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Well, my dear public internet world, it is after 12am, and as we all know nothing good happens after 12, I’ve decided to go off on a little rant. I’m looking at Pinterest, you know, the site we all visit after we’re done exhausting ourselves with our News Feed. That is, if you and I run the same social media circuit. And this is what I’m thinking….

I just want something to be NOT PERFECT in this picture.

I hope she’s at least somewhat messed up on the inside.

Can’t she be, like, a little less happy?

Where is their stuff?

I’m on the brink of my second quarter-life crisis (I know, it’s possible), this time not about my career/calling, but goshdarnit how am I supposed to develop my life in a way that will be a WIFE?! that will be a MOTHER?! No one tells you about these things, I think. One day you dream about what age you want to be getting married, and then the next you’re finding yourself stepping into all these life stages that you thought you’d have more control and timing over. You know, at least so you know that you’re ready.

I definitely wasn’t ready to graduate from grad school last week. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye too all my friends, the people who I had come to know as ‘home’ for the past two years. The people who I held to be kindred spirits so to speak, that had a heart of gold with a sharp mind and wit to match. And our professors, pouring into us the very experience of being cared for and understood, just so that we might be able to care for and understand others.

Gosh I’m getting so sad even as I think about it. I’ve been telling people that finishing grad school is so surreal, so relieving, but also so panic-stricken. Because it feels like I’ve just woken up from a long 2 year dream, back to the realities of life. Not that it’s a bad thing, I’ve just been absent from it (and not really present in Los Angeles) for the past 2 years. And there’s a part of me that’s still yawning, still clenching my eyes shut to what’s coming in the future, for just a taste of what’s happened just so that I have proof that it actually HAS happened.

And I know it has. I have a diploma case from Dr. Mouw to prove it. But now, at least for the summer, it will be just me, trying to experience life stages, trying to re-establish a grounded life here in LA. And while I thought Pinterest ought to help, to find hobbies, ‘creative’ things to do with my time off, I’ve found instead it to be not the greatest.

This will hopefully mark the returning back to wordpress vs. pinterest/theFbook, amongst other things. And until then, I’ve discovered PinterestFail. Go ahead, google it. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. I think i’ll PIN it on my way out.

http://www.pinterestfail.com/

Note: This person gets an A+ as a layer-maker but a ‘needs improvement’ for free-form donkey cutting AFTER they baked. OOPS.

Image

Written by Sharon

June 23, 2013 at 12:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Re-Visit

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I didn’t really intend on writing tonight. For an intentional person, this is unusual. But writing, and blogging, as much as I want to do it on the regular, seems to occur at special times when my heart and soul need it the most.

I was inspired by a friend who e-mailed, quite randomly, a list of her fears and dreams. For some reason, her vulnerability spoke to me. I wrote one (my first fear) an shot it right back to her. A couple of minutes (it seemed only like a couple of seconds) later I had all ten – five fears, and five dreams. I had no idea these things were so close to my heart, and yet I feel like they’ve always been there.

There have been so many realizations during this past year (almost one year has gone by!) of grad school. So many conversations (sometimes seems like too many) of humility, of peacemaking and compassion, of learning self-care and how to hold onto hope. I feel like my favorite carbonated beverage being shaken, stirred, and pushed PUSHED PUSHED to perform, to get it all out. Honestly? I hope that since I started the program I have learned something of humility, something of hope. Practically? My selfishness has often turned gifts of sensitivity and awareness into self-consciousness and self-censorship. I’m not super happy about that, but if I’ve learned anything in this past year, it’s to own who I am.

And so, here we go. At one point earlier, I decided to write of fears. Now, we will speak of dreams.

Dream 1: To sing and dance – freely, unconsciously
Dream 2: To speak freely without paralysis that I might offend someone
Dream 3: To live hopefully, knowing God makes me whole, not therapy
Dream 4: To live and even thrive in mess – in my own room, in my own life, and in others’ lives
Dream 5: To challenge fears, naming them as compared to Scripture, destroying their power

P.S. I initially thought the picture above didn’t really have anything to do with this post…until I realized that it has to do a lot with freedom – feeling free in the desert, free to take pictures, freedom to enjoy God’s creation.

Written by Sharon

May 5, 2012 at 12:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Expanding Horizons

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Image

Yesterday a very good friend of mine asked me if I could take engagement pictures for her and her new fiancee. I was a little taken aback. I have always been a lover of the images and the visual, but  earlier in the day I had just answered the question ‘so do you still take photos?’ with a no, not really anymore. So what exactly is it that my friend wants or is looking for in asking me to capture these special, let alone sacred, moments in their beautiful relationship?

In the middle of this school year, one of our professors asked us to identify the quality that describes our current state of being, and then to discuss what word describes what you wanted it to be going forward. That would be the essence of what we pursued. For me, competency has been my bane of my existence. It’s very sad to examine how many things I have done striving after this underlying ego-pleasing reward. And when you are especially plunged in the middle of this awkwardly new, synchronized swimming experience of a grad school, of course you want to be the one with the most graceful and eye-pleasing motions. But really, it’s synchronized swimming, so who cares?

It’s been a difficult battle leaning on Trust. To Trust His time, to Trust His presence in the rain, to Trust that the sun will shine brightly again. And, that there will be Peace. And I’m curious to ask myself, when I do things will I choose Competent or will I choose Trust?

I’m not the most perfect photographer, I never shoot RAW and I choose not to edit my photos. And to be honest, I don’t even want to be Photographer, capital P. But I want to BE more than DO in this season of life, and watch this beautiful life that all begins with Trust.

Written by Sharon

November 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Personal

The long race ahead…

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This week I rediscovered running. What used to be an guilt-induced activity to help boost my ego and take away one of the flubs on my belly (TMI?) has now become somewhat of a metaphor to help me regulate life.

The past few weeks of school have been overwhelming, to say the least. I’m not the first one to talk about the crazy meet and greets, and subsequent story-tellings, since we are of course in a program for therapists. Not to say it wasn’t good, helpful, or even therapeutic. But that combined with the rounds of pressing theological and psychological questions (“What does this mean about you? What does this mean about God?”) shot at us day after day can definitely make an eager girl feel worn out.

In the midst of all this, I’m trying to find some perspective. It’s been so easy for me to measure who I want to become and how I will develop based off of the things that are surrounding me in the here and now, especially since I don’t have anything else. But, of course, that’s not the point.

Last week, one of the women at my small group prayed over me. She began to describe a swimmer in a competition. She said that she saw me swimming laps in the pool, but constantly looking over my shoulder to see where my competitors were instead of focusing on reaching the end of the pool. Little did this woman know how defeated I felt after having a not so great experience in my clinical lab (where we practice being therapists), or that I was feeling very ungrounded and disoriented.

I think this is why running has helped me. Running has helped me to focus on the here and now. I get so task sometimes that all I can think about is when I will be done. It takes me  good ten minutes or so to realize that I love the cool crisp morning air and the overabundance of greenery that are NOT palm trees!! I’m forced to regulate my breathing when I’m anxious, look ahead and not know exactly what will happen or where I’m going, but enjoy being in the moment.

And I’m not the fastest, and yes often times I’ll stop to walk. This morning I turned my ankle and had a chance to sit and enjoy outside before I started again. But at least now I’m focusing on my direction instead of speed, and resting in God’s own timing instead of my own.

Written by Sharon

October 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Intro: VIETNAM

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July 7th – 22nd will find me in Vietnam. I’m supposed to be writing my mission letter right now, but somehow it seems daunting. I don’t know what is about mission letters, but I’m always trying to write a different sort of one that people will want to hang on to. Maybe that’s just a terrible selfish challenge, but it’s true.

Funny enough, the reason why I ended up going to Vietnam this summer is this:  I had no reason not to go.  I had no money,  no job, but really had no excuse not to. And really, praise the Lord. In previous summers I had enough baggage to say ‘I’m not well-equipped’ or ‘It’s only for Holy people.’ This year, I prayed for jobs that would allow me the two weeks off so that I could go. A couple weeks later, I had them. I was in disbelief….but belief…because you know, it had happened. He’s just that good.

I’ve never been to Vietnam, but my grandparents’ generation lived there for a short period while escaping China and before coming to the U.S. I’ve heard stories of their siblings that I’ve never gotten to meet because they died en route. In addition to my familial connection, I feel a strange historical tug to the tragedies of this nation. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken American history and heard recounts of the Vietnam War from both my dad and grandfather. Or, maybe it’s because the ladies in the nail salons ask if I actually am Vietnamese.

Real letter to follow shortly. Also, a little visa photo ridiculousness. Judge how well I will fit in for yourself.

Written by Sharon

May 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Personal