By Joy Wong
Back in college, I remember participating in an icebreaker activity where everyone had to name a fruit that they wanted to be and say why. We went around the circle, and when it came to my turn, I said, “a seedless clementine.” The reason? “Because they’re easy to peel, easy to eat (because they’re seedless), and sweet.” In essence, I wanted to be a fruit that was not only tasty, but convenient for others.
Throughout my life, I’ve always wanted to be a burdenless blessing to others. Whenever I think about this tendency, I always remember this “clementine” answer I gave during the icebreaker activity years ago. However, more and more, I’ve been realizing that what seemed like a godly desire has resulted in an inability to be a healthy and whole person.
In the last several years, I’ve been learning how to unearth my own buried needs, desires and voice. The result of this growth is that I’m finding myself, sometimes, becoming an inconvenience to others. Asserting my own desires sometimes causes anxiety, anger, or distance from others. During these times, I sometimes wonder, Wouldn’t it be easier just to be the way I was before? Somebody who would just go along with what everyone else wanted? But in spite of the pressure to revert back to my old ways, I feel a strong conviction to forge ahead in this growth curve to be unapologetic about my desires and my voice.
Two months ago, I was at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center with my spiritual direction group. The grounds contained a myriad of pictures and sculptures of the nativity scene. In the quiet of my solitude, as I reflected on the inconvenience I’d been to people close to me as of late, I distinctly sensed the words of encouragement: Make room for life. And as I reflected on the word “life” and what it entailed, I realized that life doesn’t just include good things. Life is filled with joy, but also pain; hope, but also despair; it’s an incredible blessing, but it can also be a burden. To make room for the totality of life, it sometimes involves embracing what’s inconvenient.
That weekend, I distinctly felt encouraged to make room for MY life: to allow myself to be a blessing to others, but also a burden, to be ok with being an inconvenience sometimes. Although it goes against the grain of the previous patterns of my life, I sense myself becoming more whole, as I embrace (and learn to love) all of who I am — as I believe God does too.
Joy Wong has an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, a BA in English fromPrinceton University, as well as four years’ experience in industrial distribution management. She is a contributing author to Mirrored Reflections: Reframing Biblical Characters, published in September 2010. Joy and her husband live in Pasadena, California and attend New City Church of Los Angeles.