By Angela Ryo

Photo by Nenad Stojkovic

I love this quote by philosopher Simone Weil: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Like many people, I mostly think of generosity in monetary terms, but this quote reminds me that generosity with our time and presence is even more important than what we can give financially. In the book, The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, the authors contend the following:

“Time and attention are the essential materials of happiness. They are the reservoir from which our lives flow…Just as the water from a reservoir can be directed to and enrich particular areas of a landscape, the flow of our attention can enliven and enrich particular areas of our lives. So it never hurts to take a look at where our attention has been flowing, and ask if it’s going into places that benefit both the people we love and ourselves (these two things usually go together). Are we thriving? Are the activities and pursuits that make us feel most alive getting their due share? Who are the people most important to us, and are those relationships, challenges and all, getting the attention they deserve?”

Those are some excellent questions to ask! Are we paying attention to what we’re paying attention to? When we do, I think many of us find ourselves paying attention to our work or what we’re lacking rather than relationships or what we already have. Often times, our attention is directed at things rather than people. I don’t think anyone would disagree that we need to be more generous with our attention to relationship with ourselves and our loved ones. But how generous are we in forming new meaningful relationships with those who might be experiencing loneliness? 

Loneliness has become a worldwide epidemic — so much so that Japan decided to appoint a “Minister of Loneliness” in 2021. According to the 2020 study conducted by health insurer, Cigna, more than three in five Americans are lonely, especially the young adults. More and more people have reported feeling like they are left out and lacking companionship[1]. Researchers also found that chronic loneliness is as destructive to our health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day! In 2017, researchers discovered that 158,000 Americans died either through a slow process of addiction to alcohol, painkillers, or other drugs or through suicide by gunshot or overdose. Did you know that’s the equivalent of three full Boeing 737 MAXs falling out of the sky every day, with no survivors[2]?

With such horrific figures and data regarding loneliness, I wonder what we can do about it. One word of encouragement or a single gesture of care goes a long way. Are we paying attention to what we’re paying attention to? I sure hope we can be more generous with our attention to our neighbors who might be experiencing loneliness and disconnection today.

Angela Ryo currently serves as the Transitional Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Munster, IN. She enjoys taking long walks, reading, listening to NPR, and drinking good coffee with friends and strangers alike.

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/23/798676465/most-americans-are-lonely-and-our-workplace-culture-may-not-be-helping#:~:text=More%20than%20three%20in%20five,may%20contribute%20to%20Americans’%20loneliness.

[2] Cohen, Geoffrey L.. Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides (pp. x-xi). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

By Leona Chen-Wong

Photo by Robert Miller

“This house we could definitely NOT afford under normal circumstances… but it came as a clear sign and confirmation of God’s leading, provision, grace, favor, and blessing once again as we seek to follow the ways of faith He has birthed and engrained in us. We are beyond amazed and thankful for the owners who are also humble to not want any mention of them in all of this. May the Lord honor their hearts with more than they can imagine too 🙏🙌.”

Andrew Wong on 3/10/2023 Social Media Post

This post testifies to our astonishment and gratitude for the generosity of God, manifested through the kindness of people towards us. We were offered a beautiful place to rent at the perfect time for our newborn, and it was generously priced for us. At the time, I was concerned about our financial situation as I took maternity leave, and we would have to rely solely on Andrew’s salary. It was during this period that I contemplated whether I needed to return to work less than a month after giving birth. At the crossroads, Andrew and I decided to live by faith and focus on our respective callings. No one can replace me as a mother to TJ, but anyone can replace me as a minister.

Continue Reading »

By Millie L. Kim

Photo by Baguio city host Lions club

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.1 Timothy 6:18

I have known Richard and Susie for about 10 years now. They are the most generous people I know.  They serve their church with their time, energy, ideas, serving as a trustee (Richard) and an SPRC member (Staff Parish Relations Committee, Susie). They not only give their true tithe but also give to missions above and beyond their regular giving. I wish they were in my church but they live about 100 miles away in the northeast corner of Georgia.  When I visit them every summer, they wait for us in their driveway with open arms, big smiles, and hugs. I believe they prepare for about a week for our one day visit. Not only do they get gourmet meals ready, they clean their house spotless, they put cut flowers everywhere, they prepare gifts for our children, they have a variety of board games ready, they get their boat and dock ready for us, etc.  They receive us with such generosity, we feel like royalty. Every time I visit, I have wondered in my mind, “How did I get to know them?” “What have I done that they treat me like a queen?” “I need more friends like them!”  I also think to myself, “Who am I that they shower me with such generosity?  I must be very special to them! I am so grateful!” Needless to say, they brighten our souls with their generosity,  they elevate us to a new status, and while we are there, we act like royalty, too!

Continue Reading »

By Charissa Kim Allen

Photo by Steffen S.

Effective boundary setting allows us to be the most generous in relationships. As an Asian American woman in the field of psychotherapy, I am very aware of the over-simplistic Western connotations of the word “boundaries.” Steven Yeun’s character says it well in the recent Netflix show Beef: “Western therapy doesn’t work on Eastern minds.” For some of us, the idea of boundaries might elicit images of cutting off ties with kin to pursue individualistic dreams, keeping to one’s comfort zone instead of stepping into servanthood, or villianizing communal values that have held our ancestors and heritage together throughout space and time. Something inside many of us, as deeply communal people, accepts the idea of boundaries while holding some suspicion or nonidentification.

Continue Reading »

By Eunhyey Lok

Photo by Paul Stevenson

When I think of flexibility, I get annoyed. We are so often told, especially during Covid, that we have to pivot or get left behind, mired in our old expectations of the way life is supposed to work. It is almost NEVER comfortable to be flexible enough to make way for something you did not expect. Most of my life, “flexibility” has felt more like not having an option than being allowed to grow into some mature, zen version of being able to roll with the punches. 

Continue Reading »

by Yuri Yamamoto

Photo by Jonathan Cutrer

Growing up in Japan surrounded by bamboo, I admired their beauty, strength, and flexibility. In the winter, they bend down under the weight of snow but do not break. During the typhoon season, they sway wildly in high winds but hold steadily to the ground. This unique flexibility made bamboo one of the most revered plants in Japan.

Continue Reading »

By Diana Kim

Growing up, I danced competitively. Imagine “Dance Moms” down to the stage makeup, costumes, and hairpieces. While I am no longer in the competitive circuit, I still dance, but just for myself: part exercise, part stress relief. During those competition days, stretching was a part of my daily routine. I would be in the splits while reading or doing homework. There was always more flexibility to be achieved, not just for myself but for my teammates; even those who were like Gumby still stretched every day.

Continue Reading »

By Tina Teng-Henson

These days, I define excellence.

I used to jump through hoops laid out by those around me.
College entrance, obviously.
Evangelism and discipleship and mission.
Ordination? Maybe. Maybe not.

My set, we’re in the “good enough” stage of life:
Chauffeur and cook; keep the kids alive.
My friend said yesterday:
“Cooking? I gave that up 4 or 5 years ago.”

Continue Reading »

By Wendy Choy-Chan

Photo by Xin Mei

Last week, Emi shared (https://aawolsisters.com/2023/03/14/excellence-employing-and-enjoying/) about excellence being about the process and not the product, that excellence is in living. 

In Chinese, there is no “ing” that you can add to the end of a verb. To convey the progressive verb tense, you need to add words like “right now and continuing to” before the verb, which makes a sentence quite cumbersome. So, we usually assume or hope that the audience will catch the “ing” from the context. Unfortunately, there is often a loss in communication and words like faith and love become abstract concepts, perceiving them as commandments (goals/products) that we are to achieve, and not the actual on-going day-by-day, moment-by-moment experiences and interactions that we have with God. It is as if God has told us his expectations and now he waits at the finish line to see whether we will reach excellency in these aspects. 

Continue Reading »

By Emi Iwanaga

“and I have filled him with the Spirit of God,

with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge

 and with all kinds of skills—”

Exodus 31:3 NIV

Not the product, but the process

Experiencing the Creator’s guidance

Utilizing wholeheartedly one’s skills

Bringing sweet rest at night, throughout the night

Awaking refreshed with expectation

Excellence in living

Emi Iwanaga served thirteen years as a missionary in Amazon Valley in Brazil, over 20+ years as a children’s ministry director, women’s ministry director, and pastor’s wife, and is currently a spiritual director.

%d bloggers like this: