April to August 2016 in Review
I haven’t written in a while. There’s probably too much to recap, so this will be less of a recap and more stream of consciousness..
I’ve been doing all right. I’m just coming off of our annual church retreat. This year, we spent a few days in a cabin in Leavenworth, about 2 hours from Seattle. The theme was about seeing God as a person, which was interestingly well-timed, because I had just remarked to Chris days earlier that I’ve been having a hard time feeling like God is a personal God. Sometimes, to be honest, God just seems like an abstract idea or a distant sort of standard. I had some good conversations there, with God and friends. The best conversation happened in a hot tub with Jason at 1am. We were talking about an earlier conversation about how God is like an author who is orchestrating all of our stories, and how I sometimes feel frustrated with my story and wish I had someone else’s story. If I’m being honest, I’ve been pretty discontent lately, and some of this has been rooted in wishing I had someone else’s story. Wishing that I was a better, more natural leader, that learning and teaching things was easier for me, that I had better social skills. Things like that.
Jason talked to me about God creating us all to be leaders in some capacity and if He creates us to be that, He will enable us to fulfill it. We talked about how we have leadership in us and we just need to find ways to cultivate it. It may not be as natural for me as others, but it’s still there. He talked about how we’re all running this race together and how some people may be farther ahead than others, but we’re not running against each other… we’re running together. A lot of my discontentment causes me to see others through a competitive lens when we are really meant to be encouraging and uplifting one another - even worse, that competitive lens increases distance between me and others and prevents me from being able to receive love and support.
The morning after the hot tub, I spent some time talking to God at the river by our cabin and I remembered this passage from 2 Timothy 2, “if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” I saw another verse I had underlined in the past on the same page - “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Then I thought of Ephesians 2, that says, about the Christian, that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
What I really have felt like lately is that I need to change my personality in order be useful to God. I need to have better social skills and to be a stronger leader and to be a better public speaker and have better organizational skills. Like I ought to have 0 unread emails in my inbox, that sort of thing, and be able to throw a football the right way. When I start having these thoughts, I typically respond in resignation, feeling like things aren’t fair because those things seem so easy for others yet so difficult for me.
But the Bible indicates that if I want to be useful or equipped for good works… it says God has prepared them for me to be able to do them and that my ability to do them has more to do with my submission to the Bible and to working on getting rid of sin in my life. I feel like I can do that. To me, that feels far more doable than feeling like I need to change who I am.
Additionally, there is some bit of comfort that, if God is the Author, He is my author. Even if my story is lame, even if everyone in the world is oblivious to it, I can still take refuge in knowing that God took the time to write it, that God isn’t oblivious to it.
That was the church retreat. We stopped on the way back at Leavenworth to play Sushi Go at Cold Stone and eat some bratwurst.
I haven’t been running very much lately. I actually took 6 weeks off at one point. That was right after I ran the Seattle Rock n Roll half. I was running pretty erratic for the first few miles, but was pretty ecstatically surprised to run well and beat my expectations. The mileage actually wasn’t very bad during that run, it was just some looming knee pain. But it was nice, it felt like clockwork towards the end. My knee’s sorta been nagging me all 2016. I am probably going to try physical therapy again at some point. I’m still planning on running the Seattle Half Marathon in a few months (because I signed up for it last year).
I really enjoyed this year’s Olympics as USA Track showed up. I am pretty happy that Rupp got that bronze in the marathon, and I don’t even really like Rupp. I sincerely didn’t believe he would even make the marathon team.
Work has gotten a bit better. I had been very concerned that I would get a below average performance review and eventually get fired, and so was very happy to learn I got an average performance review. I switched projects, though I’m still working on videos, which has been a good change for me, feeling like I am getting some good momentum. I’m spending more time writing React and even GraphQL and recently introduced Redux into our app.
We bought a house. That’s the sort of thing I didn’t think we would ever actually do, but Suzi and Chris and Ivan helped me a lot and then we just did it. In my head, it’s a bit of an experiment in community. We’re moving to a neighborhood that honestly makes me feel a little uncomfortable, North Rainier Valley. I’m optimistic (or perhaps idealistic) that this will humble the pride that I have from working at a big tech company and being somewhat insulated from people of other cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. I expect it’ll be different from Redmond.. We’ve got a few of our friends planning to live with us (actually, a few of them have already moved in to our current place). We’ll most likely have a group from our church start meeting at our house as well. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get to know our neighbors, but I know that sort of thing is very difficult to do well.
I read a book called Dear Son by Dave Bruskas. It was okay. Suzi and I read The Five Love Languages book by Gary Chapman, which gave us some good ideas to do together. I’m towards the end of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler/Frank Turek. I just finished Joshua in the Bible (I restarted from Genesis after finishing). I have significantly slowed down in my memorization since I don’t ride the bus to or from work anymore, but I finished Romans 13 sometime last month.
I’ve been posting more personal thoughts on Facebook to a smaller private setting of about 20 people. I think that may be why I haven’t really felt like I need to write on this blog, because I have still been writing in some capacity, just to a small set of people privately. I used Facebook Live to try to share the gospel a few times. I started taking some Facebook ads out for our church. I took a trip or two down to Menlo Park in the last few months. I managed an intern who did some good work on a project that will eventually become public.
I also started Rubik’s cubing again. I had picked one up right before starting college, but ended up giving it away because I did it one day instead of finishing some homework. I don’t know how seriously I’m taking it, but I’ve learned about 20, 25 algorithms over the last month and have set a sort of goal for myself of being able to average 30 seconds.
That’s about the end of my stream of consciousness. If you made it this far, I’m impressed, because I could barely finish proofreading all of this. If we haven’t talked in a while, shoot me a text or a Facebook message and let’s catch up.