Hello, it’s me, and I’ve not written in a while. I’ve been procrastinating partially because I wanted to focus on my new job and my new life in Hong Kong.
But another reason for the procrastination, and perhaps the more honest answer, is mostly to avoid the fact that writing is an exercise in vulnerability. My job demands a lot of ‘me’ and if I had to go home to face my computer screen to take out more of me, I would be miserable.
Ever since I left LA, it’s been easier to focus on work than write about the past because it feels like I’m resurrecting the past when it’s easier to keep it safe in my memories.
Anyway, I made plans to finish writing about LA. With more time since I left, like I knew it made an impact on me, but now I’m discovering the depths of the dents it left in me. I still watch each Sunday’s sermons on my Monday, sometimes Tuesdays during my lunch break if my Monday mornings got busy. I seriously miss my Ave 26 tacos, and Blossom’s pho, and the crazy sunsets.
But there was a reason why a month ago I sat down and planned out my 5-post Mosaic Moments series. The wisdom in me had a feeling I’d try to procrasinate (which I did), and the wisdom in me knew that I would do what I have to. So, here I am, doing what knew I had to do from the very beginning: write.
One of the last things someone said to me in LA was memorable because it made me laugh. I cried a lot the night before, and after brunch, and after the nap after brunch, so anything else was comedic relief. Even a harsh truth.
So when Griffin was taking me and the boy for my last dinner in my favourite mall in the entire world, Westfield Century City, we were reflecting on our time in LA. I don’t remember exactly what I was talking about, but knowing me, it was probably about something juicy that happened in someone else’s life. I tend to know way more than I wanted to.
Griffin, out of the blue, pointed out that I was gossiping, and that all the girls he’s met in Mosaic just seem to gossip. (I know not all women, but if us ladies are being real, he’s got a point)
I was like did you confront them about it. And he said that he kind of just gave up after a few times to different groups of people, because people would become defensive, and they didn’t change anyway.
Since that problem was out of my control, I asked about me. I said that I don’t think I’m gossiping because what I’m saying is true, something happened and I’m just saying it as it is. I justified my actions by saying that as long as I’m not slandering anyone or bending the truth out of proportion, then I’m not gossiping.
That’s when he pointed out that I have a knack of framing everything as ‘matter-of-fact’ to the point that I can disguise the juicy gossip that is within it. The boy laughed and agreed.
After he broke down my speech pattern, I realised: Griffin’s right. I kind of forgot how sad I was to be leaving LA in a few hours, and really laughed at how accurate Griffin was. I threw my hands in the air, and said, out loud, ‘Okay, wow, you’re right.’
And then Griffin made me laugh again by saying, ‘Wow, it’s been a while since I heard someone say that I’m right.’ He elaborated by saying that in a massive uphill climb of being in LA and trying to figure out his place in the city and the church, it’s been a while since his gift for wisdom and knowledge has been validated.
I think back on this memory with joy because there is a joy that comes with honesty, and not just any kind of honesty – kind wisdom.
It’s the honesty that inspires Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend”.
When you don’t know Jesus, you want to hide away who you really are. You mask your errors with concerted efforts and your anxieties of being seen with smiles and silence. You choose friends who would choose your comfort over honest criticism that would challenge you to grow.
But when you are fully known by Jesus, there’s an unspeakable freedom that comes with messing up, because you’re no longer bound by mistakes and defined by a shakeable identity.
Because when you’re known by someone who knows Jesus, a friend genuinely cares about your character and your wellbeing, that friend would choose kind wisdom to speak up and risk the friendship, rather than stay silent and complacent.
Then it’s up to you whether you would rather be butthurt about a little criticism and lose a wise friend, or you would take the revelation and change for the better.
Ever since that interaction, I still gossip. Not intentionally. I’ve been doing it my whole life so it’s not an overnight habit I can fix, also, I still keep finding out things that I wish no one ever trusted me with.
But I’ve been more aware of the moments I’m tempted to talk about someone that may not be the most productive in terms of their reputation, the listener’s time, and my own soul. I’m learning to hold my tongue.
I’m learning to be a better steward with the stories people trust me with.
When I think of my gift of wisdom, I think of Solomon. I mostly was befuddled by: how did Solomon go from the man who asked God for wisdom in a dream, the man who probably wrote most of Proverbs and a wonderful pensive book of Ecclesiastes, to a man who married thousands of wives and worshipped thousands of idols and died an unhappy life?
During my time in LA, I began to understand Solomon’s downward spiral because I experienced it myself. Without going into the details on the public internet where your story isn’t fully in your control, when faced with the wise option and temporary happiness, I chose instant satisfaction.
You end up from Point Amazing to Point Bad not by one single choice, but through multiple chances to make the right choice but choosing not to.
Upon reflection, it’s interesting what neglecting wisdom did to me: I became more withdrawn, less hopeful, and completely drained. And because I made one dumb choice, I was like ‘oh well, too late’ and let more foolish things happen (instead of actively choosing to do something else, something wiser).
And instead of one dumb choice in one aspect of my life, the doubt and flakiness of foolishness spread into all other aspects of my life. While the God’s Spirit in me made me aware of my state of being, my soul felt like I was ‘in too deep’ that I couldn’t choose how to be wise anymore.
The beauty of God’s grace is that when I don’t deserve His goodness, He gives it to me anyway. And He doesn’t just give me a teaser breakoff piece of chocolate, He gives me the entire chocolate bar, free of charge, with extras in His bag if I want more.
During my silent spiral, a fellow intern Ian approached me to ask for relationship advice. This was incredibly ironic because I looked up to Ian, someone always on his A* game to serve, always kind, and always finding ways to love on people.
Furthermore, I was in a relationship with the boy who isn’t Christian, which really made me doubt if I was the wisest person to dish out relationship advice. Of all the 18 other interns, why would he come to me, specifically me, for advice?
Maybe it was my pride to prove that I can be wise again, maybe it was the Spirit nudging me to take the chance to be wrong, but I said yes, let’s talk about it over dinner.
Before he laid out the entire conundrum, I prayed a silent prayer for wisdom and discernment. It was earnest and urgent. And thank God I prayed that prayer because the conundrum was like the two ‘mothers’ came to Solomon with one baby, both saying it was theirs. This was before DNA testing, and yet Solomon knew exactly how to solve this problem.
After he laid out the whole situation, I took a breath, and words came out of my mouth saying: ‘There’s no doubt you love her, and unlike most people who have tried to, I’m not going to talk you out of because you’ve made up your mind and it’s a beautiful selfless Jesus love. I don’t think you’re the problem, but does she respect you?”
This question both shocked him and me. It shocked him because he didn’t understand. It shocked me because the words just came out of my mouth, and I only understood it fully as soon as the words materialised in the conversation between us.
My words were referring to the classic, overused and misused Bible verse that tells wives to submit to their husbands. I explained to him that the Christian world completely butchers ‘submission’ because they fail to mention the verses before that say husbands should first love their wives as Jesus loves the church.
Therefore, ‘submission’ is not blind and stupid submission to the husbands’ needs and wants, rather wives ‘submit’ willingly because they respect their selfless, loving husbands.
I shared that as a woman, it’s against my very nature to submit to someone because I know that I am smarter and wiser than most people. (Remember, boys are stupid.) I do submit to authority because that’s what I’m called to do as a Good Christian in the book of Romans.
But when I willingly submit and listen to authority – it’s because I respect them first, I respect both their wisdom and their kindness.
The question I asked actually reframed the entire perspective of the problem that gave him the solution he needed.
The wisdom of God shakes your entire world.
In that moment, I felt God’s Spirit literally hand me back the gift He’d given me already, the gift of wisdom, to remind me that while He was there during my moments of stupidity, I wasn’t willing to listen, to submit.
But it’s not just my life that’s at stake when I don’t listen, it’s Ian’s, Griffin’s, the boy’s and everyone else’s lives that are affected by my choices.
Knowing Ian, he didn’t just randomly pick me out of a group of 20 interns. God probably told him to pick me, or Adouria, or God told him and Adouria to pick me.
I’m glad God chose me, a fool, to speak wisdom, because I needed to stop hiding in my shame of being a fool, to stop shutting my heart off to God’s voice, so I could start listening and submitting to the wisdom He’s placed in my heart.
When I first landed in LA, I asked to meet Pastor Brooke before the internship started. I’m glad I did because the conversation anchored me for the 8 weeks to follow.
Pastor Brooke asked me what I wanted to accomplish by the end of my internship. I shared the decision I was facing by the end of my time in LA.
She simply said ‘you know what you have to do‘. I groaned, because she was right.
She was right. Wisdom is always right.
After all, in Proverbs, wisdom is a ‘she’.
She is often overlooked, misinterpreted, and the underdog. Wisdom is often misheard, misinterpreted, and the underdog.
As her words came back to remind me once every so often throughout the 8 weeks, I knew what my decision was by the end of the 8 weeks. I did what I had to because wisdom never left me, and it will never forsake me.
So if you reached this point in the post, my hope and prayer for you is that you choose wisdom.
Wisdom is never the easy choice, but it is the loving choice.
Whether you like this reality or not, but your choices affect others around you. Your life is not a fantasy isolation island where your life is your own and therefore you act as you please.
Wisdom cares. Wisdom is a double-edged sword that pushes you to be better and in turn, inspires other to be better too. Wisdom chooses not to echo the flimsy affirmations of the world, but to speak the truth because wisdom reminds you that you know what you have to do.