The last 10 days – W.T.F.

Woman Show Premiere. Trump. Fight.

10 days. It’s been 10 days since Trump became president. It’s been 10 days of high anxiety as I scroll through news articles, social media posts, emails, the faces of people in my community. There are still more phone calls to be made, letters to be written, advocacy newsletters to subscribe to, meetings to be held, learning to do. It’s been 10 days of trying to figure out how to be an American who will endure in this long-suffering fight. It’s been 10 days of questioning humanity, celebrating humanity, wondering what will be the mark on humanity after all this.

10 days. It’s also been 10 days since I premiered my one woman show. When I picked January 20th, 2017, I imagined it to be very different kind of day. I didn’t anticipate the stress, the depression, the fear that would surround and mark that day. In the midst of this global chaos that seeps into daily life, I struggled with permission to concentrate on my show. What’s the point of a one woman show when people’s rights are being taken away? What’s the point of going to rehearsals when people are on the verge of losing their healthcare? What’s the point of gathering people in a room to watch me perform when there are people losing their voice?

I was chatting with a dear friend of mine who works at the ACLU. She works tirelessly Monday to Friday on legal matters that have heavy repercussions. On the weekends, she doesn’t march, she doesn’t scan social media, she doesn’t get more fired up. She rests. She watches TV. She hangs out with friends. She rests because that care allows her to be on fire at her job.

So as I look back on my premiere date, I think of the 2 hours people shared with me. I think of the 2 hours where people laughed, cried, listened to me speak in Toisan. I think of how people heard the story of my immigrant parents, the story of being a first generation college student, the story of being a girl, the story of pushing forward when there only seemed to be heavy exhaustion. I think of the deep sigh we were all ushered into, even if it was for a moment.

So thank you. January 20th, 2017 will be a weird kind of day in my memories. It started with disgust, anger, gray and Michelle Obama’s amazing face. It ended with a community celebration of unity, diversity and rest. Thank you Jessica Lynn Johnson for directing my premiere. Thank you Michael Raynor for helping me craft my story. Thank you Mom, Dad, Joyce, Grandma and the whole family for being unashamedly you. Thank you Karen for buying me clothes for the show. Thank you Janet for letting me use your Costco card. Thank you to my friends who sat through feedback circles and first draft rehearsals. Thank you for everyone who has showed up for me on show day and in life in general.

We’re going to fight this together. There’ll be many days of exhaustion and feelings of defeat. But there will be many days of humanity victories, of rest that fuels better action, of community and joy. I vow to be a better listener. I vow to take action. I vow to engage because this life I have is nothing but a gift from God.

Comfortable Christians

This has been a whirlwind of a weekend. From a gloomy morning on the 20th, coming to the grips with the reality of Trump becoming the United States president, to clear skies on the 21st, marching with millions in an emotional, hopeful, expectant stand. I never know what emotion hits me at any moment in time. While watching Aziz Ansari process through the last few days, I decided to check out the White House website. There I saw with my own eyes, the removal of an array of rights that used to belong under Issues. Now “our” focus is on jobs, jobs, money. In my nauseated state, I scroll through Facebook in hopes of brightening up with more glitter-filled march signs, and come across John Piper’s “How to Live Under An Unqualified President” piece. John Piper is a Christian pastor in Minneapolis. I clicked. After reading and nodding my head, I printed the piece and now carry it with me.
Before you stop reading, I want to ask for grace. I write this not because I have it figured out. I have so little figured out. I am struggling with finding my specific place. I struggle with saying the right thing, not being informed enough, getting bitter, the whole gamut of being imperfect. I write this because I want to continue the conversation and build on an action place of deeper listening, forgiveness, healing and movement.
In the post, Piper speaks with respect to the Trump presidency that Christians have historically thrived under terrible leadership. Christians flourish in times of terrible leadership. I want this. I believe this. One this means that we must first acknowledge that we are under terrible leadership. Trump is morally unqualified and lacks the experience to lead The United States of America. If you don’t see that, please read Piper’s post, watch Trump footage, read what Trump has said about women, immigrants, the marginalized. Wake up. I don’t say that to be rude, but if you cannot see how Trump is unqualified, then open your heart to seeing why this is so. If a whole world, from America to Antartica has come together to protest against this man, what does that say? If your black and brown and non-white brothers and sisters are hurting and scared around you, there is something wrong. If you don’t have black and brown and non-white brothers and sisters, that is another issue that further breaks my heart.
If we can stand on the same ground and recognize that our current leadership is not ideal, well, not good, let’s move onto the other part. Christians flourish in times of terrible leadership. What does “flourish” mean for us? What happened to Christians during the rule of Herod and Nero?
Christians left families and homes. They let go of comfort. They were persecuted. They were thrown in prison. They experienced isolation, loneliness, pain and unknowns. Why? All for the sake of the gospel. When we say Christians flourished, we mean the gospel was lifted up. The gospel, Jesus were lifted up. The message of hope and truth that rests on the death and resurrection of Jesus was spread. Christians flourished because Jesus’ name and life was declared. What flourishes in times of terrible leadership is Jesus and his hope. Not money. Not political power. Not status. Not health. Definitely not comfort. During bad leadership, the last thing that should be created are comfortable Christians. During bad leadership, comfort is all the more exchanged for Christ. And what did Jesus Christ preach?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
Judge not, that you be judged. Matthew 7:1
Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Matthew 12:33
You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24

This is what needs to flourish during this Trump presidency. We the church need to come together and do what Jesus has done and told us to carry out.
First, please acknowledge this earthly reality that is full of brokenness and hopelessness. Secondly, acknowledge the real pain that is right around you, in your congregation, in your family, at your work, in your neighbor. Finally, by the grace of Jesus, do not be a comfortable Christian. Because in your comfort, have you really chosen Christ?
This is my plea. I am tired and I am exhausted. I don’t want anymore divisions in the church. I ask for your forgiveness if I ever made you feel shame because you didn’t vote the way I did. I am sorry. Our God is a God of reconciliation and unity. I pray that the Holy Spirit brings me to my knees so that I am next to you, who is also on your knees. We are in this together. We live because Jesus has given us life. We love because God first loved us. Let us walk in light. Let us be bold and fearless for the sake of the gospel at such a time as this.
This is our time to stand firm on the Word of God, on a hope that is unshakeable, for justice that is rooted in the innate dignity of all peoples and with a boldness that believes that we have gained it all. Brothers and sisters, I love you because Jesus loves you. May that be what colors this message.

Ambassadors of Hope

Dear Church
Dear brothers and sisters
We are family
Because we are family, I honestly implore you
Do not be apathetic
Do not be privileged and stand afar because you are not directly affected
Do not ignore the hopelessness that is bubbling all around us
Do not be a lukewarm church that resembles more the Pharisees than little children
This is our time to be ambassadors of hope
To beg God to open our eyes and hearts to understand the pain all around
To ask God for a sensitivity that makes us weep like Jesus wept when He saw Jerusalem
To say, God how can I be of use
If you praise like you have found unshakeable treasure
Then give like you have nothing to lose
If you call on Jesus name for personal healing and wisdom
Then call on Jesus name for community healing and compassion
If you confess and repent because you have fallen short
Then have that grace for those around you because that is what God does for us
It is in days of bleakness
That even a dim light can open other people’s eyes
It is in darkness
That people are hungry for a glimmer of hope
So will you dare to give that shirt from your back
So will you dare to stand up for those who are marginalized and bullied
So will you dare to live the Scriptures
Really live them like you’re putting them to the test
To see so clearly God’s faithfulness
Let us be the church we are called to be
I vow to lay my life at Jesus’ feet
If that means I lay my life for those hurting around me
May God give me the strength to follow through

Stare fear In its eyes

We stare fear in its eyes
Its manifestations in hateful pictures and impulsive outbursts
You instill the pain from your inside on those who seem to be seeing the world differently
You cannot stand that those who are not like you are as precious as you
We stare fear in its eyes
By hugging strangers who instantly become sisters
By hugging our coworkers who don’t know how to make it to the next day
By hugging our loved ones because being present is true love
We stare fear in its eyes
With conversations flowing with vulnerability and doubt
With silences rooted in understanding
With tears and listening ears
We stare fear in its eyes
Because compassion and love are the only freeing ways to go
Because we don’t want to be crippled by apathy and bitterness
Because hope has the last say
Brothers and sisters
When we are wronged, we respond with a heart of loving justice
When we are misunderstood, we pray for grace and boldness to speak
When we are silenced, we draw and dance our hearts

let me lament.

Yes, I know that Jesus is sovereign. Yes, I believe that Jesus is my true King. Yes, I believe that no evil of this world can touch the hope I have.

BUT CAN YOU LET ME, LET US, HAVE A MOMENT TO PROCESS AND LAMENT?

As an Asian woman, I am scared that my country voted for a man who was openly racist, misogynistic, deceptive and impulsive. That this man said “grab her by the pussy”. As an American, I am disappointed, sad, angry, frustrated that millions chose this man. As a person who has ears, I am appalled that we have voted for someone who lies and exaggerates the truth. I cried tonight. I screamed in my car, into the phone, at the world. I am pissed. I feel devastated. I want to lie in bed tomorrow and not get out.

Yeah, I know that justice trumps evils. I believe that love trumps evil. I know that justice prevails. I don’t know when, but I know it’ll happen. I know that God sees this hot mess. I know that God sees what’s up. I know that God has ultimate control.

BUT FOR ONE SECOND, STOP TRIVIALIZING OUR FEELINGS WITH YOUR BLANKET CHRISTIANESE. This is real hurt, real anxiety, real hopelessness, no matter how temporary it is.

Relax Into Sanctification

I took everything except for my underwear off. I laid face down. I waited. This was my first Thai massage. For the next 60 minutes, I laid there at the mercy of my masseuse. At some moments, I was thrilled by the kneading and wanted more. At my sensitive knots, I was angry he was intentionally taking longer than I thought he needed. Many times my mind wandered to what I had planned for the day. Other times I focused on his elbows going deep between my ribs and feeling the full force of that sensation. I begged for it to be over. When it was finally over, I was relieved but ready to schedule my next appointment.

Unlike my massage, I rarely sign up for my sanctification. I might accidentally ask for it when I pray for patience and humility, but I rarely lay bare excited for God’s kneading of my soul. In the pits of his work, I am at His mercy. I am vulnerable to crying, exposure and unknowns. I know it’s for my good because it says so in His Word, but I want it to be over.

Sometimes, I see exactly what God is doing. He places me in a community of people that rub me the wrong way, that don’t quite fit into my rhythms and lingo. As I grow in a quickness to listen and a slowness to speak, I point my finger at God and say, I get it. You knew better. Thank you, okay! I am “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, “ 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Most times, I am pissed that God would leave me in a circumstance way longer than I want. I know what he’s trying to uproot. I know what he’s trying to reshape. I feel stuck and everyone around me seems to moving on. I know God is teaching me to trust Him and look to Him, not at the people. I know that He’s with me in it. But I want the dryness, the silence, the loneliness to end. I want him to move on to a sin I’m more willing to let go. I want him to move that the mirror in which I my grime.

When the masseuse settled on a knot, I felt angry, but he stayed there. I coped by focusing elsewhere. But sometimes after a good inhale, I dared to be present in his kneading. I felt the digging, the breaking, the resistance and if I kept on, the sensation of release.

It’s especially important when I want to run from what God is purifying and refining that I actually stand still and feel his hands. I get to learn my triggers. I can see my resistance to His change. I want to be sensitive to small victories that I would miss if I wasn’t paying attention. When I am unable to rejoice in a friend’s accomplishment and acknowledge my jealousy and bitterness, I could count that as a victory. I saw my sly sin. It was never just about my friend so I dig deeper. I discover my entitlement and my insecurities. I have the ongoing honest conversations with God. And the next time when I genuinely celebrate with my friend, I know God did a work.

I want God to zap humility, patience, other-centeredness into me with a quick snap. But He loves taking me on a long-suffering journey. He loves giving just enough strength so that I have to ask for more every hour. He brings me back to the same Scripture day after day, until one day His Words sink so deep I wonder how I’d missed His intention this whole time. Sanctification is not pretty. It’s painful. “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10 It’s exposing. It can’t be tamed by our schedule. But it leaves us more beautiful. It remakes our mind and heart to know that Jesus has made us beautiful and we get to realize it.

Jesus trusted His Father completely. He experienced every sensation of pain and stood bare before all humanity. When His pain was finally over, He shared his relief with all of us. My prayer is that I will see sanctification as a unification with our compassionate and brave Savior.

Bookending The Day With God

We started each morning [in London] with praise, prayer and preaching of the Word.

We went out, quietly breathing in the city and breathing out prayer.*

We ended the night [in London] with praise, prayer and preaching of the Word.

There was something so special about my days in London. I was more sensitive to things that matter – people – and I was excited to see God at work everywhere. No matter how tired I was, I was stoked for the day after the morning service. No matter how discouraged I was, I was rejuvenated from the day after the evening service.

Now that I’m back home, I have my schedule of work, auditions, classes, filming, writing, life stuff. I don’t get to spend all day roaming the streets, breathing in the city (thank God because LA air is eh) and praying.

The *above, middle filling, and the [place] may change, but I can still bookend my days with God.

Sometimes it’s really hard to get out of bed. I think, what’s the point. How is today going to be any different? Might as well just let the day pass and…tell me I’m not the only one. So I read my Bible, I ask God for grace and strength to really make the day count, to see people clearly, to not let the moments pass.

Sometimes the day felt like a waste because I spent way too many hours scrolling through old Facebook photos or reading silly articles. I was short with someone. I spent too much on a soggy sandwich, but I ate it because I hate wasting food. So before bed, I try to read the Bible, I ask God for grace and love to help me let go of doubt and anger, to lay my head down with peace, to receive rest for a new day.

London <3

Is it okay to say I’m feeling depressed being back in the States?

I guess I’m still processing what happened in the last two weeks while I was in London and Berlin. I love Los Angeles and I know that I’m supposed to be here right now. (I promise.) But truly a huge bit of my heart is in London. It was love at first Underground ride.

First, this trip would not have been possible if it were not for all the support and encouragement from my dear friends and family. To anyone who prayed for me, financially supported me, walked me through my crazy swirling thoughts about the trip, thank you. You have forever impacted me.

So please extend me heaps of grace as I stream-of-consciousness-out this post with things I’ve learned and have yet to learn. I know that God is at work and He cares for this world. The old beautiful churches and the 160 Americans who went to London to pray are proof. God hears our prayers and I want to hear His voice. Cities are SO beautiful. The nations meet in London.  The languages, the cultures, the food – I mean it was a taste of heaven. What does it look like for me to truly live life as if I have received everything and my identity is unshakeable? What does it look like to live in wild abandonment with no anxiety about whether I’m doing it right or doing things quick enough? What does it look like to dream so big that the only way things can happen is if God does it? I was standing in Shoreditch Church, the “Actor’s Church” and I imagined performing my one woman show on the altar/stage place(?). Behind me is that simple beautiful cross and in front of me are people who have never stepped foot in a church. Through my story, these two unlikely subjects are found in the same place and hopefully they can look past my story and see the bigger message that wraps my everything.

Be faithful. Finish well. See the people. Hope conquers.

Video

Last 12 days – Oral History?!

In the vein of Oral history, here’s the unedited audio of my Oral History Summer school days.¹

¹This brief reflection does not do the time justice, but it’s barely been a day. People at the program deeply care and want to make an impact. 12 days of being around driven people like that change you. So many more books to read, documentaries to watch, project design worksheets to fill out, people to follow, ideas to tease out.