There has been much division and enmity in this country between Republicans and Democrats, Blacks and Whites, Immigrants and people who have been born here, and between many other societal identifiers. Then, my good online friend introduced to me to Fraggle muppets, and in particular, Gonzo, who embodies who I would like to be like in some ways.
For years, I have struggled to accept who God created me to be. When I was growing up, I was on the outside looking in, and frantically trying to achieve good grades in my classes to somehow someday be truly loved and accepted as I am, and, in turn, accept myself as well.
Though I still struggle sometimes with accepting myself as God created me to be, when I discovered Gonzo and more of who he was and is as a Muppet “Whatever”/alien, I realized many things about appreciating and embracing diversity, including my own.
Gonzo is a very unique creature with a personality that can be described as “eccentric,” “eclectic” or “weird.” However, Gonzo also strives to embrace his life and those around him fully. Gonzo is secure enough in who he is as a Whatever/Alien that he doesn’t try to change his personality or being just to be approved or accepted by others. Gonzo’s personality and attitude toward life has taught me that I am GOOD the way I am. I don’t mean to say that I don’t struggle daily with sin (I do) and that I should not try to change my sinful ways and repent of them (I should). However, what I mean is that the way God created me is inherently good. Also, I do not have to constantly seek approval or validation from other people to confirm this fact. Also, if people do not like the way I am, and it is not for some sin I committed against them, but for something that is a part of how I was wired, I do not have to doubt if I am worthy to be alive or if God truly loves me or not.
Gonzo and his friends have also taught me some important lessons about how to truly love others. When we truly love others, we will accept them for who God created them to be without trying to change them into something they are truly not. Gonzo’s friends, and especially his girlfriend, Camilla, who is a chicken, do not really care if he is weird and do not really try to change him into being more “normal.” Also, my real friends and others who are on Team Me will embrace me the way Gonzo’s friends have. If I am a really friends with someone else, I will not try to change them into the person I want them to be if that is not how God created them or how they were wired by Him in the first place. I will love them unconditionally. Gonzo also demonstrates this to his girlfriend Camilla by not trying to stop her from expressing herself in “chicken talk” or by forcing her to change some aspect of how she was already created. Even though Gonzo and Camilla are very different from each other, they truly love each other even and because of their unique qualities.
We should too. Instead of having enmity against the other “side,” so to speak, maybe we should seek to understand where they are coming from. Instead of mocking or shaming the “weird” or “eccentric,” or letting other people bully or mock them, we should stand up for these unique individuals and learn from them. Maybe, we could make a new friend. After all, there is a Gonzo-like uniqueness in all of us that helps us embrace life fully, with all that there is.
I am willing to be friends with almost anyone, but every
person that I consider to be my close friend embodies these characteristics.
No, they are not perfect, and may fail at times, but they have consistently
embodied these traits. Not only do I prefer these following character traits in
close friends, but I think, everyone, me included, of course, should strive to
embody these traits every single day, so we can make a true difference in this world:
The most important trait that my close friends all have is
authenticity. This means they always present themselves as honest, trustworthy,
and genuine. They do not act one way towards
others, and another way towards you. They don’t do things with ulterior
motives. All my close friends do not do things for people just to get something
from them, but because my friends really want to help and bring joy to their
lives. Also, another part of how they
are authentic is their honesty. For
instance, when one of my close friends gives me her wisdom, she always tells me
the truth, even if it hurts. Some people have been afraid to tell me truth
because they are scared that I will get upset at them and they will be looked
upon as harsh or mean. Nothing could be further from the truth! I appreciate this about my friend because her
honesty shows that she values me and having integrity—a rare, but needed
trait in our society today! By telling me the truth, she is inadvertently telling
me that I am worth what is true. Sure,
some of the things she has said may “sting” a little bit, but I appreciate that
because it shows that she values honesty.
Another trait that my closest friends all have is a
servant’s heart. All of my close friends
have lived in one capacity or another to serve the Lord and to serve
others. Some are serving the Lord as
missionaries. Others are serving their families when everyone else has
abandoned them. Still others are serving
their community through their resources, gifts, and talents. I strive to do the
same. When we have a servant’s heart, we emulate Christ, who went so far as to
die on a cross for us, and to wash every one of His disciples’ feet, even those
of the one who would eventually betray Him!
They are constantly thinking of others above themselves, working to make
the world a better place for everyone.
Also, another trait that my closest friends all have is the
willingness to be vulnerable. I define
vulnerability as being willing to share openly not only one’s triumphs and
victories with a trusted person, but also one’s trials and struggles. When I
see someone that is unwilling to admit to me or to the world that they are not
always “perfect,” I feel like they are lying to me in a way, because I know no
one, except God, is really perfect. Mark
Hall, of the contemporary Christian band, Casting Crowns, once said, “[I]t
doesn’t bother the world that we sin. It bothers the world that we act like we
don’t.” (CBN.com) One of my friends, Veronica,* is so passionate about being
vulnerable, it saddens her when others are not willing to open up to her. In years past, I admit I have struggled with
being vulnerable because I did not want people to judge or ridicule me. However, I have realized over the past five to
ten years or so, that being willing to be open about one’s struggles opens up other people to not be afraid to share
their struggles. It shows unity in our human-ness, and creates a deep bond
between people who are like-minded in their willingness to open up to each
other. It also enables others to help us
through our struggles, and us to help in theirs, so we will not feel alone in
our pain and struggles.
Another ultra-important trait my close friends have is
thoughtfulness and care towards others.
Along with having a servant’s heart, they are truly intuitive to the
needs of others. One of my close
friends, Erica,* knowing that I have struggled off and on with the loneliness
that comes with long term singleness, gave me a book that she thought would
help me (as it has helped her as well) with my lonely and unfulfilled feelings
that I sometimes struggle with, for my birthday. I will always treasure the thoughtfulness of
that gift and her friendship, even though we are not able to see each other
very often right now. A few days ago, when I was distraught and anxious about
several events that were going on in my life, my friend *Bonnie was willing to
take time out of her busy life to answer my texts and encourage me, as she
sensed that I was hurting and sad. I aim
to do the same for her, when she has issues, and also for anyone else who wants
moral support in a time of need. All my
close friends are willing to take the time to attend to others’ needs and to give
them the encouragement they need, especially in a tough time.
Last, but certainly not least, all my closest friends have
spiritual and emotional depth in them. This is what I aim to have in my life
more and more, though it is often a struggle for me, as it is even for these
friends. This does not mean they shut themselves off from the world around
them. However, this does mean that they are able to relate on a deeper level
with people. For instance, when I want to discuss why there is injustice in
this world, they can give me spiritual insight in wisdom into why God allows
this and how we can remedy it. In contrast, some people either don’t care about
these things or aren’t able to understand these things. For believers in Christ
to have spiritual depth to them is an essential ingredient in being able to
relate to others in their church and to get others, even those who don’t go to
church, to think about their purpose and goals in life and how they can relate
better to the world around them.
I’m so thankful to have these great, close friends—you
know who you are—who embody these characteristics. I pray that we all would strive to embody
authenticity, a servant’s heart, vulnerability, thoughtfulness, and depth to our
lives so we can bring love and joy to others, and lead them to freedom from
their pain and fears.
When I was growing up, I was a naughty and very active
child. Despite my energy, I did not
really have any close friends. Back then,
I dreamed of one day going to a prestigious university, like my parents, and
getting the best grades possible. I probably thought, unconsciously, that if I
made it to a prestigious and a good university, I would then be able to get a
job that would pay me a lot of money, and thus I would win friends and
Indeed, I worked very hard in school and got decent
grades. However, I really didn’t have
passion for the content of what I studied; I just wanted to do well to please
my parents and also to be “the
I wanted to be respected and
valued. In retrospect, getting good grades at school became a sort of idol for
me. I worshipped the god of achievement,
and without it, I reasoned that I was worthless.
Then, when I was sixteen years old, I struggled through
several classes. I no longer got the grades I wanted or needed. I was even in
danger of failing a class. One of my teachers even said in so many words that
he didn’t believe I would ever amount to much in this life, probably partly due
to the fact I wasn’t doing so well in his class. I also lacked peer support. In
fact, no one in my class dared to counter what that teacher said to me. I also
I felt my family could not relate to the turmoil inside me, as they seemed to
be living a different life. In fact, in
a journal entry from April 1999, I had written, “I wish I could be more […]
effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I
don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that
greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?” I was so
depressed that I wanted an escape, maybe to even end my life.
However, several months later, God saved me from that. Fast forward a few years later, I went to
college, but not at a prestigious university which I had dreamed. After I graduated, I tried to look for work
in my field of study, but to no avail.
After that, I finally found a part-time job in retail.
There, I learned many customer service skills and other people skills I needed
to succeed. I did well there, but after
a while, I felt God calling me to somewhere else—a place where I never
thought I’d end up. It was during that
time, that God was preparing me for a new life, where He would give me more
than I could have ever dreamed.
I was so excited when I got an interview at one of the local
bookstores near where I lived! I had always dreamed of working in a
bookstore! I loved books, and the
workers there seemed nice. However, the
day of the interview, I quickly found out that I wasn’t the right fit. At this point, I didn’t think I would get
another job opportunity any time soon. The search went on.
Then, one, cold wintry day on February 25, 2016, I went with
my mom to the store I now work to buy a few things. What I did not know was that trip would
change my life forever.
I asked the HR representative the status of my resume, and
after that she offered me to interview at 1 pm.
Since I didn’t have adequate time to prepare or change into more formal
attire, my mom and I ate lunch at the mall nearby, and then I went back to the
store to get interviewed. When I got
interviewed, I was so nervous and stuttering over my words, that I thought
surely they wouldn’t accept me. To my surprise, I got a job offer! I waited
until the next day to accept, after I sought counsel from my family. On March 10, I officially started at my
Meanwhile, many people were leaving my now-former church. I
loved that church, but inside there were so many changes that it rocked the
congregation. About half of the congregation left or were in the process of
leaving. At about the same period of
time, my brother told my parents and me that he was going to go to school in
Texas to get his Master’s degree. What I
didn’t know then was my brother was going to live there permanently.
I felt, except for my new job, that my dreams were going to
be shattered all over again. I would
either have to accept the changes at my now-former church or find somewhere
different to worship. Not going to church wasn’t even an option for me. I would also have to adjust to life without some of the support of my brother.
My brother left for Texas in August 2016. The day he left,
the house felt hollow and quiet. The basement that used to be full of my
brother’s stuff was now almost bare, but habitable again. My dad went with my brother to help him move.
My mom and I remained at home. I felt numb and solemn that day. My heart felt
like there was something missing—the void where my brother’s physical
presence radiated my life.
Then, in mid-October, I said goodbye to the church that I
had been attending for about ten years.
It was very hard, as I had established so many friendships there, and
these people were like a second family to me.
Before I left to visit a church nearby, I was in tears, as I said
goodbye to some of the congregants.
However, there was a very bright spot, in the midst of all
the goodbyes, a month before I left my now-former church.
In September, I was working the swing shift, and one of my
managers, Hope* was closing with me. She
was complimenting me about my performance that day. Since I was still
part-time, I told her, “I am thinking of becoming full-time. However, Chris*,
my manager, said I should wait a while. I was wondering how long I should
wait.” Then, Hope replied, “You shouldn’t have to wait. You deserve
full-time.” Later on, or the next day,
she put me in for full-time. Later, Chris also approved my full- time status. I
was ecstatic! Because of all the
challenges that I had to face, I never dreamed I would ever get a full time job
in my life!
A month later, after I had left my former church, I visited
another church. It had many more people
than the one I had previously visited. A
friendly couple greeted me and I sat by them.
Even the pastors were friendly. The sermon that day was very
thought-provoking and relatable to what I was going through in my life. I
didn’t know yet if this was going to be my new home church, but I liked their
genuineness and their devotion to the Word of God, so I kept going. In August
of the next year, I officially became a member of my current church. Through my church, I have learned how to have
an engaging quiet time with God, how to view life more positively and
differently than most of the rest of the world, and how to forgive people who
have hurt you deeply.
God’s Perfect Plan
No, I never got the six figure salary I had dreamed of, nor
did I get into a prestigious college. However, I have been blessed with more
than I could have ever dreamed. Through my church family and people at work, I
have gained a strong support system. Also, I am still in touch with several
people from my old church, who I still consider good friends, even though they
live very far away from where I am now. Through the tough situations I find myself in
at work, God has used those to strengthen and shape my character into His. Through church, I continue to train to be
able to share the love and hope that I found in life through God and His
gracious plans for me. Yes, I still have
bad days, but overall, I have found more joy and satisfaction during these past
two years, than at any other time in my life. God has certainly blessed me with
more than I could ever dream!
I wake up at around 4:15 am to go to work. After I ate my early breakfast, I went to my bedroom to spend time with God. I was having a difficult time praying because I was so upset at some of my life’s circumstances and certain people that were irritating me, that I failed to focus on God at that moment. I also felt that God was far away from me and that I was very much alone. I thought something like this: “Why is life so difficult for me? Why do I always mess up time and time again? Why is my life the way it is?”
God, being merciful and loving, wrapped His arms around me and surrounded me with His caring presence. He said, “Don’t you believe that I love you? Remember that I am here for you always, no matter what your circumstance or how many people upset you. I have your back, and I will do the best for you!” Immediately, I felt a sense of peace and joy at being loved by the Creator of the universe! The angry thoughts disappeared, and I was able to go back to my prayers and bible study.
Even if you don’t believe in God, know that there is someone out there who cares about you, and who wants the best for you. Sometimes, it may seem like we are alone, but then a precious soul comes into our lives and adds value to us. This has happened to me many times in my life. Besides my loving and great God, I am blessed to know that there are kind people at church, work, and most of all, my family, who really do have the best for me, when it is all said and done. One person in particular my mentor J, has always believed in me and wanted the best for me.
Sometimes, we don’t yet know what precious souls will have the most positive impact in our lives. When I was in school, I did not know how to make lasting friendships with others, so I thought maybe the only people that would positively and dramatically impact my life was my family. However, in the past ten years, many people have helped me see life in a new and more positive light. J pushed me to believe that I could accomplish things that I thought I may never be able to do, and I did! My friends at work and the management team at my work helped me to learn new things and encouraged me and believed that I could make a positive difference at my job. My friends Veronica*, Kelly* and Erica* believed that I could touch many people’s lives, as they believed I did in their lives. Because they loved me enough to encourage me through the good—and the tough times–and with God’s help, I am able to be who I am today!
So, if you are feeling discouraged and are going through emotional or physical pain, know that sometime and somewhere, you will meet your precious soul or souls that will encourage and love you through life. It may not be today or tomorrow, but if you don’t give up, they WILL come. I have struggled with thoughts that maybe people don’t really love me, or they just want to be with me so they could “use” or “take advantage” of me somehow. If you are in an environment where people regularly take advantage of or abuse you and you have no supports, I would encourage you to a.) Get out of the abusive environment as soon as you are able to. B.) Seek out support today, whether it be a member of clergy or a therapist or counselor. It has taken me many years to get to a point where I have a good support system, but trust me they are so worth everything I have ever experienced in my life. It has taken me a long time to believe that people love me for who I am again, but I am so blessed to have those people now in my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!
Believe that there are people that love you for you too,
because no matter who you are, or what you have done, you are loved!