Starve Your Ego; Feed Your Soul

  

To say a lot has happened since I’ve last posted a blog is an understatement.

Exactly one month ago, Corey was climbing a well-maintained corporate ladder at a head-turning pace while I was finally starting to feel the ground again in terms of really creating momentum with my photography business. We lived in an all too comfortable luxury apartment that came with its own library and multiple heated infinity pools, our two dogs were eating the most stupid organic thing you could possibly find on the suburban Denver shelves, and we were quickly becoming the type of people I used to question and I didn’t even know it.

The funny thing about leisure is that it’s always a Catch 22. One of the many falls of this world.

(Also, a precursor: This isn’t a bash on wealth. Rather, a claim on how unfit it’s been for us.)

Had we kept this pattern going, I’m sure we could’ve been great. Defined by what and who, though?

For the first time in my life, I witnessed my husband go through depression. (Yeah, can you believe that? For those of you who know Corey personally, you know how unbelievable that sounds. He lives to make others happy. And maybe that was the problem.) I don’t know how these things start; I’m not even sure if there is a way to detect Day 1. It wasn’t until late October that I really noticed. And the thing with most men — ladies — is that they like to think they can manage things on their own sometimes. Is it pride? Is it strength? I’d honestly consider it both. Regardless, it’s false. We all need each other.

Corey’s job was taking a toll and quite frankly, I’m not sure who wouldn’t have felt the way he felt. Averaging 1 day off every 40 days or so, his body was the last thing to fail. His spirit and his mental health? They started to deteriorate a lot quicker. But with the heightened growth of my own career path and the lies thrown at us about the definition of success, the concept of really taking care of ourselves became the last thing on our list of priorities.

It was a Tuesday, I remember. Corey and I were both home (a rarity) and I had asked him what he’d like to do in the few moments we had together. He neglected any option; regretfully saying no to it all. At last when I asked, “well, what sounds fun to you?” He solemnly let out a single tear. The thing is, I don’t even think he realized he cried. He just looked off into the abyss and breathed out, “nothing.” It was then I had realized we were no longer in Colorado because of a calling we had received from the Lord. We were still there for our own sake of ego and kingdom.

The thing about changing trajectories is that, because we are such creatures of habit, it is remarkably easier said than done. I remember looking my husband in the face and telling him what I think we all need to hear every so often:

It is okay to not be okay.

Your feelings are valid.

You do not have to please your boss, this world’s standards, your expectations of who you could’ve been… You do not have to please anyone else but the Lord.

This life is too short to live another day wishing it away.

You have permission to express what’s inside.

You have permission to quit.

I think the most difficult discernment to make when in positions similar to this is wondering whether it is actually a time to change something, or if it is a test and we should see it through with persistence and endurance. I also think that, for me, a really easy way to go about answering that question is asking myself and reflecting with the Lord: How have I been practicing my role as a disciple of Christ? As in, am I going out and being the Church toward the ones around me? Have I even had the energy to? Have I found myself willing to sacrifice the time to? (Or is my life just one big bag of lousy and self-centered excuses?) Even if all else is a loss, am I at least still remembering what it means to love? Am I going out and making more disciples? Do I even remember why I am here in terms of eternal salvation? Or am I wondering why our company doesn’t offer us a better insurance package while my new order of farm-to-market produce is delivered at the door?

We learn this in high school psychology, but honestly, y’all… You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself. You need to be poured in to be poured out. Listen to the flight attendants; you can’t assist someone with their oxygen mask if you yourself is dead.

About three weeks ago, we accepted a position out in Oregon. In the middle of nowhere past all the mountains and trees, where Corey and I had met. I wish to explain how it all came to be, but that in itself would be a completely separate blog post. But let’s just say: God is great. (And He so desperately awaits us to come knock at His door because all He wants to do is save you.) Corey is currently finishing out his last week in office and will be driving westward soon to begin his new position with YoungLife. We had already moved all of our belongings a couple weeks ago and he’s been living out of our empty apartment with a sleeping bag and three changes of clothes. You’d think that wouldn’t be the most pleasant, but he’s never been merrier. I asked him the other day why and how this temporary lapse in his well-being was able to rectify so quickly, and he simply replied, “Ji, I wasn’t doing what I was passionate about. I had forgotten to ask myself that during the process of becoming successful. And that’s just it. I’m not passionate about being a businessman. I am passionate about being in relational ministry. I’m sorry I had forgotten. But I don’t think we’re supposed to ignore what God has build us all individually to do. And what I’m about to do next, I know that’s what I’m supposed to do. And the knowing of what I was made to do… that makes all the difference.”

I remember sometime during college, someone explained to me their definition of passion and it has always stuck. They said when you finally get to a place in life where you experience yourself truly passionate about something, it is that moment when the Lord has finally decided to reveal to you, specifically, a very special portion of His heart. Not all can see it because not all will be revealed to it. But the moment you realize you’ve been shown it, it is then your responsibility to do something about it. If you don’t, you’ll never fully live.

Apart from prayer and supplication, the greatest lesson Corey and I have taken from this rollercoaster is that it does no good to keep moving just to move. You can be as busy as the next person, but there is nothing scarier than a lost ghost. It does one good to have regular check-ups with yourself. Are you being filled spiritually? Are you remembering to ask yourself what you were made to do? Are you actively surrounding yourself with people who remind you of your worth? And most importantly, for my Christian friends, are you serving God… or people (including you)?

I’m including in this entry in a gluten-free vegan soup I had made.

I find it relevant and it is a mental note I want to keep for my personal files because it is made with practically nothing. I mean, okay so obviously there are things in it. But I have been living out of moving boxes for the past who-knows-how-long while waiting for our new condo here in Oregon to finish. With the minimum utensils and groceries I had, I have never felt so full. When Super Target is just down the street, you forget what real hunger feels like. Or what it really means to enjoy the things in front of you. Everything is an option; nothing is received with the heart of gratitude it deserves. This wholesome, simple, and nutrition-packed soul food has reminded me through its essence that sometimes the best way to be filled is to go back to the roots. Go back to what you know replenishes you.

Ingredients;

7 (? -ish?) cups of organic vegetable broth
3/4 cups of red lentils
1/2 cup of brown rice
2 whole carrots (diced)
2 stalks of celery (diced)
1 white onion (diced) — I prefer them larger for texture
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 can of tomato + green chiles
1 1/2-2 cups of kale (chopped)
Season with salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste!

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