I was a naive freshman in college, walking around with a load of books on my back and a new, strange world of possibilities in front when someone posed this question to me:
“Do you think it’s possible for us to be perfect and without sin? Even for just one second? Like maybe when you’re in the middle of worshipping God?”
That someone was my small group leader, an outgoing, assertive girl two years older than me. We were sitting in her apartment, along with a couple of other freshman girls, talking about the Bible. The discussion was interesting, if not ordinary, until that question popped up.
There was silence, and something in my brain or heart didn’t feel right about her theory. I had sat through enough sermons and Sunday school lessons to know that the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross was to save us from our sins. If we could be perfect for even a second, why would we need to be saved? Couldn’t we then try a little harder to be perfect until we got good at it? That’s a rhetorical question of course. Even if we did everything we possibly could think of, or didn’t do anything at all, we still wouldn’t get any closer to perfection.
Because perfection is not a feeling or an act or thought or even a state of being. It’s more an essence, something intrinsic, and at the core.
But the thing is, even though we can’t achieve perfection, we’re always on the quest for it. We want the best results at school or work, we want the ideal marriage, we want the healthiest kids. We even want the cleanest and shiniest produce at the grocery store. (Tell me I’m not the only one who inspects a dozen pieces of fruit before picking the “perfect” one. LOL)
Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/freedigitalphotos.net
Why then do we have an obsession with perfection? Maybe because we were made to appreciate beauty. To be drawn to wholeness. To desire goodness.
Perfection isn’t a bad thing. But when we look around at the world, and the people in it, and especially ourselves, we see quite the opposite. There’s a lot of imperfection out there and there’s just as much in us, too.
Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? But it isn’t.
It’s a good thing we can’t be perfect and without sin. Not even for one millisecond. Because the burden to be perfect would be too great. It would crush us. Instead, it crushed the only Perfect One who took our place on the cross. That’s the perfection of the Gospel. That’s why tomorrow is Good Friday and Easter Sunday is even gooder. 🙂
Perfection isn’t the enemy. But if we’re going to pursue perfection, may we pursue Jesus, the only one who can make us whole.
Take a listen to Tori Kelly’s song, “Hollow”, which she has described (when she was a guest mentor on The Voice) as her prayer to God. I love these lyrics:
“I confess my weakness
Till you pick up the parts that are broken
Pour out your perfection on me now”
What have you been chasing in your quest for perfection?
Welcome to my 3 step release party for my newest book baby, Drawn To You! 😀
Step 1: Please help yourself to some virtual goodies while you read an excerpt from my book.
Image courtesy of John Hritz from Ann Arbor, MI, USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Wanted: A man who can handle his alter ego. Quick reflexes recommended.
Feisty and adventurous, art teacher Sam Koo is used to getting what she wants, including talking her way out of traffic tickets. When it comes to money matters though, she’s a lost cause. Her studio is in trouble, and there’s no way of charming herself out of this mess.
Police officer Lucas Choi is the last person she expects to rescue her. Handsome and rule-abiding, he was the best—and worst—part of her high school experience. When they meet a decade later, he’s still on her case and quick to point out her flaws.
Their differences drive each other crazy, but also draw them closer. The attraction is tangible, yet so are Sam’s fears. Will she choose to protect her heart or trust the only man who ever rejected her?
“I hope you know you can’t sweet talk your way out of everything, Sammie Koo.”
Sam’s ears perked up. Where had she heard that line before? Pursing her lips, she took a good look at the officer. Jet black hair. High cheekbones. A dimple in his chin. There was something familiar about him, particularly that dimple. If only she could see his eyes. “Do I know you? No one calls me Sammie anymore.” Her eyes roamed over his well-defined chest and over his name tag again. “Choi. Wait a minute. Lucas Choi, is that you?”
The officer lowered his sunglasses onto the bridge of his nose. “Hey, Sammie. It’s good to see you, too.”
Her jaw dropped when she met his gaze. Those eyes. She would recognize them anywhere. Brown irises so light in color that they had flecks of green and gold in them. Once upon a time those eyes, so uncommon for an Asian, made her envious, but now they completely infuriated her. Judging from his haughty expression, she could tell he was taking way too much pleasure in tormenting her. It figures he went into law enforcement. Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes loved nothing more than following the rules and making those who didn’t pay for it.
Not much had changed since the last time they crossed paths, except that she had her hands free today. She looked around for something to throw, settling for a fistful of candy wrappers, and tossed them at him. “How long were you going to mess with me? I can’t believe you let me beg you for mercy! Stop wasting my time. I know you want to write me up, so do it.”
He brushed off an orange Kit Kat wrapper stuck to his pressed shirt. “Hey now, settle down, Firecracker. I could arrest you for assaulting an officer.”
Heat flared from her neck up to her cheeks, likely causing her complexion to match the red highlights in her hair. Oh, how she hated his nickname for her. “Oh, please. Assault you with what—paper cuts? Or maybe the overpowering aroma of chocolate? If you want to arrest me, Squealer, go ahead. It’s not the first time you got me put in handcuffs.”
“Now, now, there’s no need for name-calling, Miss Koo. We’re both adults here.”
“You started it.” Sam wrinkled her nose at how juvenile she sounded. Why did he have to bring out the worst in her? And how did he manage to look so cool and composed? It wasn’t fair. She swiped at some wisps of hair that were stuck to her damp forehead. “I don’t know why you enjoy tormenting people. What did I ever do to you?”
“Someone has a short-term memory. Need I remind you that you left me to do all the experiments in chem class and then tried to copy my answers? We weren’t assigned as lab partners so you could flirt with the jocks while I did all the work.”
“Ah! I see what’s going on. You were jealous.”
“Of all the attention I got. Admit it. You’re still jealous I got elected Student Body President and you didn’t.”
“You got lucky. There were more guys than girls at school. Of course they voted for the prettier candidate. It was a no-brainer.”
Sam covered her open mouth to feign shock. “Did you just say something nice about me? What’s the catch, Lucas? Do you have a hidden police cam on you?”
“I said you’re prettier than me, but we both know I’m the more handsome one. Let’s not forget who got crowned Homecoming King.”
A genuine smile crossed Sam’s face for the first time that day. Lucas was still as charming as ever, in an annoyingly appealing kind of way. “You’re still such a dork. We both won that night. I was Homecoming Queen.”
“I remember. It was the one time we didn’t try to kill each other.”
“You almost maimed me with your gigantic lead feet. Come on, how hard is it to slow dance without stepping on your partner’s toes?”
“Apparently, very hard when the girl doesn’t allow you to lead.”
Sam crossed her arms and faked a laugh. “Ha! You just don’t know how to handle a strong, independent woman.”
***This novella is part of the Taking Chances series, but each book in the series is a STANDALONE book.***
Can love overcome the past?
Can love be colorblind?
Can love embrace differences?
Step 2: Enter my Release Party Giveaway!
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When I dropped you off at school today, I got a glimpse of some budding puppy love. I recognized that delighted, somewhat mischievous smile on your face, the one you have when you purposefully do something to bug your little sister—except this time, it wasn’t C that you annoyed, but a cute girl in your class.
Right away, I realized what was going on and my heart cringed in my chest. I knew this day would come, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. But now that it’s here, let’s have a little chat … about love.
Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net
If you’re sensitive like me, you probably feel a lot of emotions and will end up being a hopeless romantic. You’ll notice things about the opposite sex and will discover a little quirk about someone—a certain laugh or look—that will catch your eye. You’ll experience butterflies in your stomach whenever you hear her voice, and if she looks your way, it will be like one of those Matrix moments when time slows down … waaaay down.
If you’re a ladies man like your Baba was, you won’t have trouble catching a girl’s eye. You’ll know how to strike up a conversation by asking good questions and making just the right amount of eye contact so you come across as interested, but not creepy. You’ll do all the gentlemanly things, like opening doors or giving her your jacket when she’s cold, that will have her falling faster for you than the bullets that drop to the ground when those Matrix slo-mo moments are over.
Okay, enough with the stalling (and movie references). 😉 I guess what I’m trying to say is that love is a tricky thing. All the emotions you’re feeling are normal and a part of life. But don’t give your heart away just yet. The feelings you have now are sweet and special, but they will likely change. Someone new may catch your eye next year or the year after that. Like I always tell you and C, hold your horses! Be patient. You’ve got a long ways to go.
It will probably take another decade or two to find the girl of your dreams. In the meantime, keep growing and improving yourself. Make friends and develop those friendships. Guard your heart from liking the wrong girls, the ones who don’t appreciate you for exactly who you are. Pick yourself up when you do fall for the wrong ones, and learn from your mistakes. Save up your dreams and hopes for the woman who’ll be worth waiting for.
And come talk to me and Baba anytime. As hard as it is to believe, we were young once, too. We’ve got a lot of life experiences to share from (most of which we will not tell you about in specifics). 😉 We do remember what it feels like to fall in love, but more importantly, we know what it’s like to work hard to stay in love. We’ll do our best to help you navigate through the crazy, but wonderful, journey, too.
P.S. Baba says your tactic is one he would’ve used when he was your age, but he didn’t care about the opposite sex that early. Hm. Seems like you got a bit of both of our genes. 😉
Take a listen to JR Aquino’s song, “By Chance (You & I)”, a super cute and catchy song about falling in love. 🙂
Do you remember your first experience with puppy love?
I see you. Yes, you, the one hiding in the bathroom with her head in her hands. I know you just endured 40 minutes in mama hell as your little one had (yet another) homework meltdown. I heard her screaming and crying and saw her face turn tomato red as she released her frustration with clenched fists and kicking feet. I felt your frustration as you tried to explain the assignment to her (in between her gulps for air) and give examples of how to answer the questions. I sensed the effort you made to stay calm—count to 10, take deep breaths, and pray—and be sympathetic because you remembered losing your patience last time and how much you regretted it. I know how with each passing minute, your ears began hurting and you just wanted to run away and hide because the situation seemed hopeless. You felt hopeless. Beaten up. Exhausted. Just. Plain. Defeated.
No one ever told you it’d be this hard. How there would be moments, days even, when you didn’t like being a mama. Days when you couldn’t see past the endless crying, the long nights, the sore arms and back from the non-stop carrying, the power struggles with someone half your size, the feeling of having lost yourself. Days when you couldn’t see past your own tears.
I get why your kids say you go to the bathroom a lot ’cause that’s one of the few places you can hide. Even for just a minute to sob and breathe and splash cool water on your red-rimmed eyes. To let yourself fall apart before you need to pull yourself together again. To remove yourself from the situation because it is just that—a situation. An experience to struggle through and to learn from. Because this mamahood journey has a lot of !@#$% hard situations, and there’s still so much to learn about being a good parent.
You didn’t think it’d be so hard to love your kids. But it is. Not because they aren’t lovable (they are so lovable when they’re sleeping!), but because you’re human. You only have so much energy, attention, and patience to give. That’s why you struggle. But remember this: your child is struggling, too.
She is struggling to grow into her own skin. He is struggling to manage his emotions, his fears and frustrations at feeling helpless in this great big world. They are struggling to learn words, facts, and theories. They are struggling to feel accepted, valued, and loved—especially when they are not acting lovable.
And they are looking to you to help them.
Okay, so that’s not what you wanted to hear. But it’s the truth. You play one of the most important roles in your kid’s life. You’re their mama. The one who gets to witness their tantrums and meltdowns. The one who has more gray hair and wrinkles (and a secret stash of chocolate) than the other parent in the house. You are the one whom they trust enough to bare the darkest, scariest and craziest parts of themselves to.
You’re also the one who got a letter slipped through the crack of the bathroom door the day of the 40 minute meltdown. A letter written from the heart of your little one that made you cry and almost made the craziness you endured worth it.
There are not enough words to describe how hard parenting is. But there are also not enough words to express how humbling, amazing, and fulfilling it is, too.
So don’t give up. Hang in there, mama. You’re doing all right. Someone even thinks you’re the best. 🙂
A Struggling Mama (on a good day)
P.S. Do yourself a favor, frame this letter and hang it up in the bathroom for the next time (oh, yep, there will be a next time) you find yourself hiding there. And some chocolate, too. 😉
Here’s Adele’s song, “Remedy”, covered by Sara Marathas. These lyrics remind me of being a mom: “When the world seems so cruel and your heart makes you feel like a fool, I promise you will see that I will be, I will be your remedy.”
Who do you trust to bare the darkest, scariest, and craziest parts of yourself to?