On Cleaning

Last year, during my English Communication class, the boys and girls started a heated debate.

The topic? Showering.

It started when a girl claimed that girls liked to put on make-up, dress nicely, and be clean just for the sake of looking nice; not for the sake of someone else.

A boy proclaimed that was false. He introduced a hypothetical scene: It’s a long weekend. You don’t need to go out to meet anyone. Will you shower? Will you put on make up?

The girl defiantly replied: Of course! I will shower every day even if I don’t go out, and don make up on for myself.

The boy kept arguing that unless you have to go out, there is no need for showering every day.

Since both sides weren’t going anywhere, in a desperate attempt for support, the girl looked at me and asked, “Profe Eli, would you shower in that scenario?”

I looked at her hopeful eyes and said honestly, “No. I hate showering.”

The whole class roared with laughter; including myself.

If you know me well, you know I hate showering. It’s not so much the act of showering that I hate, but getting up enough guts to go to the bathroom. I had a housemate who lovingly made a post-it that said ‘Shower for Jesus!’ which I pasted on my journal. Great reminder.

But it’s not like I’m an overall nasty, dirty person. There is certain dirtiness that I enjoy getting rid of: mold. Because I mind mold so much, I have been an avid bathroom cleaner and ventilation advocate. I throw food trash diligently so that it doesn’t smell or mold, open windows to let the air in constantly, and use a lot of bleach-based liquids to clean every corner of the bathroom (especially the drain).

However, I rarely clean things like the top of furniture, where a lot of dust gathers, am an average floor sweeper, and rarely mop my floors. The truth is, I don’t think anyone can keep themselves and their house c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y clean. All Cleaners have a blind spot and a forte. Everyone has what we shall call a Cleaning Personality. My cleaning personality is anti-mold. With everything else, I am pretty liberal.

Thus, in cleaning terms, my kryptonite is showering, I am a Superman against mold, and I am unmindful about dust gathering.

Since all of us have different cleaning personalities, we might be super clean in certain areas while neglectful of others. So we end up having clean selves or homes in certain aspects and dirty ones in other aspects.

Spiritually speaking, we might notice some people haven’t cleaned up their ‘mold’, and judge them for not being a true/good Christian. Instead of judging, it is better if we get down on our knees to serve them in their weak area, which for us might be a strength. And while we are on our knees, we might notice an area in their home that is squeaky clean. Then, we can ask them to teach us to clean that part of our homes as well, as we will realize that had been a weak spot for us.

I will forever need someone next to me who encourages me to take showers. And spiritually, I will forever need someone/something to keep me accountable on my judging tendencies. I can help people notice and clean out mold as a mold-removal-enthusiast. And spiritually, I can help people with discernment through my logical and analytical thinking skills. And just as I don’t notice dust to be something dirty, I would appreciate someone helping me notice the dusty areas of my home. In a similar way, through many different Feeling friends, I appreciate learning to get in touch with my emotions and the emotions of others.

Ah, cleaning. So many thoughts have sprung from this mundane word and action.

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Questioning and Believing

I only question things when I am trying to make sense of things. If I intuitively understand something, I don’t ponder on it too much.

Basically, I want things to make sense to me. If it does, I don’t question it.

For example, I have a natural mom-daugther relationship with my mom because she gave birth to me and raised me. Then, through all the time we spent together and the talks we have had, we have developed a sturdy, relational mom-daughter relationship. I don’t spend a single second of my time questioning whether she really is my mom or not because it makes sense to me that this woman who says she is my mother is, in fact, my mom.

It would be ridiculous at this point of life for me to tell my mom, “I’m not sure you are my mom. Let’s do a DNA test. How can I be sure that you aren’t a serial killer who is just fattening me up to kill me later on?”

Because of the relationship we had since my conception and the relationship we have built for the last 27 years, it is more ridiculous for me to question our relationship than it is for me to believe in it.

It is the same way with God. I haven’t questioned God and His existence since I responded to Him relationally. I can’t question His existence because He has been relationally there for me; opening and closing doors, comforting me, showing me His beauty in all things. So instead of questioning Him, His existence, or His goodness, I find myself asking Him for advice, asking Him to teach me to rejoice in what He does, and to break my heart for what breaks His.

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My momma and me back in ’94.

Never Been a Native

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I wonder what it’s like

To be a native of Some Place…

…because I’m not.

—–

Though born in Argentina,

Not quite Argentinean.

People stare at me.

I don’t blame them.

I look different.

Though growing up in Paraguay,

Not quite a Paraguayan.

People laugh at my accent.

I don’t blame them.

I speak differently.

Though looking like a Korean,

Not quite a Korean.

People expect me to be like them.

I don’t blame them.

I look like them.

—–

Never been a native,

Never will I be…

…until that blessed day

Abba calls me Home.

Why I Love ‘Jane Eyre’ (Spoiler alert!)

226380_5408774357_4013_nI absolutely devoured this book. I don’t know much about the author, Charlotte Brontë, except that her sister, Emily Brontë, wrote that Gothic romantic novel called Wuthering Heights. I read Wuthering Heights when I was seventeen and I remember that I was not ready for the violent, dark, and twisted love of Heathcliff. Thus, when I started reading Jane Eyre, I was expecting such twists and turns. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

On the first part of the book, Jane goes to an all-girls’ school and meets characters that I consider to be angelic. One is called Helen Burns, a fellow student, and the other Miss Temple, the only ‘sane’ teacher in that school (in my humble opinion). Helen is indescribably wise. I believe this is how children would be if they truly met God at a young age! She is childlike, but she does not act in a childish manner. She has much love, mercy, and humility in her heart. Without trying to enforce her beliefs on Jane, nor trying to preach at her, Helen influences Jane more than all the people who wronged her through her genuine love. So it is with Miss Temple. Unlike all the people Jane has met so far, they both never condemn her, never accuse her, nor overly flatter her. They are honest, simple, and truthful with Jane. They praise God and they depend on Him in everything.

I also love the heroine of this novel because she isn’t your typical heroine. Jane is not perfect. She is not super smart, she is not super pretty, nor is she super witty. However, she is genuine. She is truthful, and finds the core of her being very much dependent on God.

When she was hopelessly in love with Mr. Rochester, she admitted that Mr. Rochester had become an ‘idol’. Then, on their wedding day, when she found out that he was still married (although it was a lunatic he had for a wife), though every emotion and feeling in her called out to ignore that, she could not; she would not; for she belonged to God. And that passionate love she had for Mr. Rochester was very much still there! However, she never condemned God nor Mr. Rochester for the situation she was in.

Jane, who had all the reason in the world to condemn so many… Mrs. Reed (her aunt), Mr. Brocklehurst, Mr. Rochester, fate itself! They all wronged her in so many ways, yet she never held contempt for any of them. She did not waste time in this, but instead investing time and effort in loving them, in working on forgiveness.

Where and when did she learn this? Through years of spending time at Lowood, the girls’ school, under the careful guidance and love of Helen (though short, it was a very meaningful time) and Miss Temple, Jane learned to direct her passionate character and feeling personality towards the good path of true Christianity. And through her selfless, quiet love, Mr. Rochester also learned to draw near God.

After Jane left him, Mr. Rochester thought himself to be desolate; without hope. Then, when the burning of his estate made him blind, he had a time of self-reflection, where he was able to bring before God his biggest fault: pride.

Although Jane had made the mistake of loving a man who was not after God’s heart, and although Mr. Rochester had not been seeking God when he loved Jane, through all their blunders and mistakes, God seems to have brought them together in the end; when both of them were truly ready to love each other.

This book made me think that no matter how messed up we are, if we fully entrust ourselves to Him, He is bound to redeem it, and transform it into the loveliest of love stories.

(Written in January 3, 2012; edited a tad bit today)