Tag Archives: Spinach

Weekly Favorite Links (July 16-August 5, 2015)

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What makes you happy?

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately, both directly by others and one that I have been mulling over on my quiet drives to and from work. I guess part of it is because I had to take a workshop session related to happiness for work purposes and it was a really interesting experience. The workshop began with pop songs playing in the background (which did make us feel pretty pumped up) and after that, everyone had to go around sharing what was one thing that made them happy. I honestly didn’t think much of the question at first, so the first thing that came to my mind was GOOD FOOD ’cause I was hungry and…. I love food a lot. Y’all should already know that though.

As the session progressed, I realized that what seemed like an initial harmless, superficial question really was one of life’s most significant question marks that every individual must answer for themselves. Because we all strive to be happy; we may all differ in how we believe and see where happiness comes from.

If there was one thing that was apparent from that meeting, it was the realization that the world believes you are in charge of your happiness and there are concrete steps and goals to achieve it. By the end of the workshop, there was probably about ten suggested strategies that were offered to all of us to achieve the happiness we were looking for. We were also asked to publicly share and offer examples of ways that we were trying to achieve such happiness. For example, someone would be asked to share to the rest of the group how they were kind to someone else or one thing they’ve learned recently in order to improve their weaknesses. I was called on to share a recent event that inspired me and empowered me. Others were asked to talk about what they loved about themselves and areas where they had to overcome certain challenges. We were also given a worksheet to complete and take home and before we left the meeting, we all had to write down two commitments we were going to work towards.

On the one hand, I appreciated the workshop. There were a lot of good points made and some great practical ways for me to work on my weaknesses and further areas that I can continue to grow in. The personal sharing from everyone was also pretty relatable and we were able to bond better as a team. Furthermore, I felt more motivated to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone. And yes, making a commitment to something, striving towards goals, and successfully achieving them does bring about the feeling of happiness. But only to a certain degree. That feeling of accomplishment, the exhilaration you get from checking off something from a bucket list– it’s all temporary. So while I enjoyed the workshop, on the other hand, I also left that meeting a bit dissatisfied and not fully convinced at everything that was addressed. I think I was taken aback because for the first time in a long while, I was told that Self can make happiness happen. As if the greatest purpose in this life is to be happy with myself and come to terms with how great of a person I am (as if I need more reasons to be prideful of who I am).

However, I know that in order to find true happiness and lasting joy, everything that was suggested at that workshop were only fragments of what I know to be true. I think the workshop only addressed and scratched the surface level of bigger issues. I felt like the people leading the session and even the group discussions were trying to persuade me that a band-aid would fix areas that might need open heart surgery. There comes a point where we can try to do everything in our power to get what we want and it will be in vain since we’re limited as human beings. The biggest hole in that team bonding activity was that contentment apart from Christ is impossible because only in Christ alone will we find our everlasting happiness. After all, God’s creations were never meant to replace him as our Creator.

Self cannot be elevated nor is the individual Self reliable enough to deliver. I think if anything, Self only ends up disappointing more than impressing because we’re all fallen sinners. Honestly, I don’t even know what will happen to me in the next minute, much less a lifetime, so how can I guarantee my own happiness? I can’t. Instead, I believe and trust that true happiness is found when I surrender my life to Jesus, when my sinful desires are cast away and when my mind is renewed to be more like his. In Christ alone, my soul will be satisfied. Continue reading

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Weekly Favorite Links (May 14-20, 2015)

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Too often and too late do I find myself regretting that I didn’t savor the seemingly mundane moments in my life. I’m guilty of taking many things for granted, and at the top of the list is time. There are days when I wish time would hurry along, such as when I’m starting out my first steps in a run (which are always the hardest!) or if there’s a big event that I can’t wait to be a part of. On the other side of the spectrum, I sometimes wish time would slow down and come to a halt so that I could savor it some more. I reflect back to my college days of staying up with friends until the wee hours in the morning, not because we were studying (although we did plenty of that too) but because we were simply just talking about life and enjoying each other’s company. Little did I know that those talks would be counted as some of the most precious moments of my college experience, and that they would never come by again.

Then there’s that one hot summer day, when my grandmother took me all around the streets of Taipei, Taiwan to find the perfect wrist watch for me. A new watch was consistently one of the gifts she’d give me whenever I’d visit, which wasn’t often. It was an item that bound us together, no matter where we were, and seeing a watch would always remind me of her. To this day, I wear that watch wherever I go because of its sentimental value to me. Perhaps if I had known back then that God would take her home soon, I probably would’ve been more intentional that summer. Or maybe that’s just my own wishful thinking.

After graduation, I can’t just walk over to my friends’ apartments and start a conversation like I did so many times back in college. It’d be impossible because everyone’s now physically scattered throughout the world. While we used to all be in the same stage of life (college students), a lot of us are pursuing different things. Thus, it’s moments back then that challenge me to treasure the present and to have a sense of urgency for the future. The Bible reminds us that we’re finite human beings and we’re up against a ticking clock. Only God knows when our time is up. The author of James reminds us that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and that we are simply a mist from the perspective of eternity (James 4:14).

Time is the greatest gift that we can ever give because it is not something that we can ever refund or replay. There is no time machine that can turn back time, nor can time be rushed. Each and every second in this life counts. While every moment is fleeting, it also matters much. Just like all my other resources that I’ve been blessed with, time is a God-given gift. We ought to be good stewards of time, to live not for ourselves, but according to how God intends for us to live. I have to wholeheartedly agree with David Mathis from Desiring God, who says in his article, “One key principle in making our time-management Christian is this: Let love for others be the driver of your disciplined, intentional planning. It is love for others that fulfills God’s law.

So the question that I’ve been asking myself this past week, and the question that I’d like to extend to you is, how are you using your time and resources today to show love to others? 

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