Estranged + Astray

God has felt so far for too long. 

He seems like nothing more than a distant relative. It's as if I know He loves me like an aunt I've only seen a handful of times "loves" me merely because we're of the same blood.

I know God loves me because I have faith in His word and His promise, but do I really believe it? 
Do I fully trust that He loves me so much that His son died on the cross for my sins and conquered death for me? 

To the Lord, it's as if I'm an estranged daughter to her father, an estranged sister to her sibling. I've been led astray by my own hurts and sadness to seek comfort in the things that entice me with the promise of instant satisfaction. It's easier to watch that show, listen to that podcast, or read that article to feel smart, clean the house to champion productivity, eat that piece of cake, drink that glass of wine... only to find that all of it is ephemerally satisfying and none of it eternally. It's harder to look inside of myself and acknowledge my mess, ask forgiveness for my wrongdoings, and lay my sin down at the Lord's feet. 

And, yet again, I know a life pursuing God will be eternally satisfying because of His word,  but am I willing to lay my life down for Him? And if I'm not, does that mean my faith in Him is actually not faith at all but a false sense of security in thinking that at least I won't be condemned to hell as long as I believe when I really don't?

I hate that I don't really know.
I hate that lately I only have questions and all of them are unanswered.
I hate that I'm clawing at the door, begging for it to open, only to find I'm at the wrong door, that God isn't there.

Where is the Father's voice? 
Where is His overwhelming peace?
Where is His love?

Where  are You, Lord?

Grief + Joy

It has been 100 days since my mom's passing. From her cremation to her memorial service to the birth of our son, it seems like forever ago that she took her last breath; but the pain of grieving her death feels like she passed just yesterday. 

Grief is a funny thing. It comes and goes, ebbs and flows like waves. Some days, I can't contain the overwhelming emotions of sadness and grief; I'm a puddle of tears and nothing can console me. I go about my day in a fog, eating but not feeling satisfied, sleeping but not feeling rested. Other days pass me by not with tears but with fond memories of her. I smile knowing that she is a part of me and that I will never forget her. I think about her daily - I just can't not think about her daily.

 
 

This time last year, we knew that she probably did not have much longer to live. Her health was so obviously deteriorating. By summer, all of her doctors recommended that she stop treatment altogether and instead simply manage her pain. But managing pain is not simple by any means - she suffered a lot in her last days up until she finally admitted herself into hospice care. Even in hospice care, it wasn't completely painless and for the first time in her 7 years of battling cancer, my always resilient mother looked defeated. 

I'm still not sure whether or not she knew she was dying or not. She never said anything to suggest that she didn't think she'd be here for the birth of our son. She only said she hoped she would be feeling better by then so that she could at least come visit me in the hospital and at home. By the time I said my goodbyes to my mom, she lay in bed with her eyes lifeless, as if she was unconscious, unable to speak. I only knew she was able to comprehend my words when she grunted at my "I love you"s. 

The day she passed, I held her cold lifeless hand tightly, hoping to bring warmth back to just a small part of her body. I didn't want to let her go but knew she would want me to. She was going to the Father; she would not need me, or any of us, where a place was prepared for her in His house. She was finally at peace, no longer suffering, and her spirit exactly where she was supposed to be.  

As I grieve my mother, I'm realizing more and more that grief doesn't just end. I will carry this grief with me my entire life; it just won't be the same grief throughout. My grief will change as my life continues on. I take steps forward and then step backward; my grief evolves into strength at times and deviates into sadness and pain other times. 

Honestly, as a believer in Christ, I have no idea where I'm supposed to find the joy amidst the grief. I have no idea if her suffering was or is or will ever be glorifying to God - was her suffering even worth it? Was her life worth anything to God? I may never know the answer to those questions, and maybe I'll never even find the joy in my mother's passing.

But one thing I know is God is faithful; he was and is and always will be. 

And for now, to that I will cling.

I never wanted to be a mother.

Today marks Week 14 of our first pregnancy. I am now at a point I can truthfully and sincerely answer the question, "Aren't you so excited?" with, "I am getting excited! I'm not as anxious about it as I was." It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was dealing with so much guilt and shame, which is accounted for in today's blog post.

This post was originally a  journal entry written frantically into my phone at 2 am, about a week after we found out about our pregnancy. I was barely 6 weeks along. I thought a lot about whether or not I should edit this before posting it, or even if I should post it at all, because there are some expletives that are uncharacteristic of my writing for this blog. However, these words are my raw emotions, these words are real, and I would not be doing myself or other women like me justice by sugarcoating my experience.


Nothing like pregnancy has made me so painfully aware of how out of control I am of my life and everything around me.

Physically, pregnancy has made me feel like shit. I’m nauseated, exhausted, and all I want to do is sleep, watch tv, and eat grilled cheese sandwiches or peanut butter mashed into bananas. And none of this helps me actually shit anything out. I feel like a burden to my husband, who has taken up most of the cooking while taking care of me, and I feel like a bad wife.

Emotionally, pregnancy makes me feel like a lunatic.
I’m crying one minute, depressed the next, and then completely in awe of the life inside of me, only to feel all of the feelings all over again. It’s a never-ending fucking cycle.
I feel burdened by the possibility of miscarriage - it scares me, haunts me, and I have cried on many occasions just thinking about it, just saying it outloud.
All the while, I feel guilty about secretly hoping I will miscarry so that this will all be over.

As we have slowly started telling family and friends that we’re pregnant, people expect me to be more excited. They’re surprised by my candor - "how can you say it like it’s just something normal?" And I want to shout, "But it is normal! It's part of being a human! Should I have built up the suspense for you? Am I supposed to wave my arms around and shout, 'Surprise!' How am I to respond to your response? And how am I to respond to you responding to how I responded?" 

I am left feeling so guilty and ashamed of my feelings, wishing I'd never said anything at all.

But why do I feel so guilty for feeling all of these perfectly normal human feelings?
Why should I hide these emotions away? 
How dare others tell me that it’ll be worth it later?
How dare they tell me that having children will be so much fun?
What about me now? What about my emotions, now. What about NOW?
Do other pregnant women not feel this way? Or think these thoughts?
Am I alone?

In no way do I want to wrap this up and finish it off with a bow.
There’s nothing about how I feel that I want to package up all nice and neat and pretty.

 
mundanetype_i-never-wanted-to-be-a-mother.jpg
 

I never wanted to be pregnant.

I will never say, “Every woman must/should/has to experience pregnancy and motherhood!”
No woman should ever be made to feel guilty or ashamed for not wanting to be.

I never wanted to be a mother.

I never even pretended I wanted to be. Whenever I played “house” with friends, I always refused to be “mom”; I called dibs on being the baby or the house pet.

I’m not even sure I feel love for the baby inside of me. And maybe that sounds terrible, but right now it’s the truth. I’ve seen the sonograms, heard the heartbeat, but it still doesn’t seem real yet. And maybe it won’t be until the baby is born.

I don’t want to lie and say, “I can’t wait to meet my baby!”
Honestly, in my bare-naked selfishness, I can’t wait to just not be pregnant.

I can’t wait to not feel like a burden on my husband.
I can’t wait to  not worry about my heart rate spiking too high at the gym.
I can’t wait to eat all of the foods I love that I can’t eat or currently make me nauseous.

I just want my body back.
I want my life back the way it used to be.

And then I think about all of the women who have struggled and are struggling with infertility, those who know the pain of miscarriage, and I feel even more ashamed. I feel ashamed that the blessing in my belly seems nothing more than a curse to me, nothing more than a barrier to the things I want to do. And it all comes down to the shameful realization of how selfish I really am. The shame turns into guilt and then into fear - I am not ready to be a mother. I don't deserve to be a mother. Why have I been chosen to be a mother? Has God made a mistake?

I just want to trust God. I want to believe - no, I do believe He does not make mistakes.
However, in my flesh, I want control and have yet to let go of that control to God. But I don’t want that anymore. I want to put my trust Him.
Not trusting God is not a new thing. But now it’s amplified by my experiences of pregnancy thus far. I am hyper aware of the fact that God has been absent in my life for quite some time now - I’ve pushed Him away thinking I was fine without him.  

But is my awareness enough for me to cry out to Him?
Is His goodness and grace enough for me?

Perfection-is-m-y-enemy.

I have been in a creating frenzy.

I feel like I can’t create fast enough. I’m frustrated that my hands can’t work faster, that my wrist and neck get stiff after a couple of hours, that my eyes can’t focus for longer than I’d like, that my mental capacity screams out it needs a break. I can’t create enough, period.

I have so many ideas, overwhelmingly so.
I’m so excited about all of them and anxious to get to them all. I can’t think about anything else except for when I will have the apartment to myself so that I can sit at my desk in my favorite chair, put on the new Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop album, and draw and paint for hours on end.

When I finally do get the chance to sit down and create, I forget about everything around me.
I forget to eat and my hands start shaking.
I don’t let myself go to the bathroom, sitting in the chair with my legs crossed until it hurts so much I have to get up.
I hold onto my brush so tightly, needing to keep it as steady as possible for all the little details, the joints in my fingers start tingling, aching; I wish they’d just go numb so I can maintain my grip to keep painting.

At the end of a great painting session, I am exhausted and refreshed at the same time. I can’t wait until I can sit down to do it again.

"Let's brew." by Sojung Lee Illustration.  I am shifting my focus away from Graphic Design to pursue Illustration. See more on my new portfolio on Cargo Collective.

"Let's brew." by Sojung Lee Illustration. 
I am shifting my focus away from Graphic Design to pursue Illustration. See more on my new portfolio on Cargo Collective.

But then I start doubting myself.

Will I be able to do this again?
Will I have the same motivation and fervor next time?
What if it’s never this good, ever?
What will I do if my talent goes away?

It’s no longer my ideas that overwhelm me, but my fears - I’m not good enough and will never be good enough. Fear sets in and perfectionism takes over.

Perfectionism consumes me with doubt. I doubt my ability, I doubt my talent. I doubt God.
Perfectionism stops me from sharing my work.
Perfectionism prevents me from creating altogether.
Perfectionism is my worst enemy. And the standard of perfection is one I created for myself - I am my own worst enemy.

The only standard of perfection is Christ, but I make up a standard to chase after, to strive towards, to live up to. But I can never be perfect much less even live up to my standards - I set myself up for failure.

At our monthly Staff Retreat Coaching meeting with Rocky*, my husband and I were asked to write down a list of things that we want the other to know, what we love, value, and appreciate about each other. One of the things he wrote really struck me. He said,

“She is truly loved by God through the gift of her artistic abilities.”

And it hit me hard like a train coming at me full speed.
The talents and abilities He gifted me with are just one of the ways God loves me. I had been missing the point of why God had created me. He created me to create. To be a part of creation-making with Him, in His kingdom.

Little.
              Insignificant.
                                              Me. 

And here I was doubting myself, letting it stop me from doing what I was made to do, feeling sad because I wished I was a better artist (whatever that even means). I was procrastinating on creating personal work because I was afraid it’d be less than perfect. I was wishing that I was more talented, more creative. In the end, I was accusing God of giving me a talent and a creativity that wasn’t good enough. That His gifts to me weren’t good enough for me. That He wasn’t good enough for me. 

 
 

To not do anything slovenly doesn’t mean that an artist does everything perfectly. It is impossible to be perfect and I must accept that if I am to continue sharing my work and putting myself out there, if I am to survive and thrive as an artist.

The only artist that can do anything perfectly is our Creator, God the Father. I must accept that. And accept that I am never going to be perfect.

I am also slowly learning to fully accept that God is perfect and that He is enough for me.
His perfection is absolute perfection. And that should be enough for me.
Maybe it will never be enough for me as long as I am an imperfect human being living in an imperfect world. But one day, it will be enough for me and I so look forward to it.


*Rocky Garza of Staff Retreat Co. has been a tremendous help to Hoyoung and I personally and as a growing small business. We are so grateful to him and all that he does. If you don’t know about Staff Retreat Co., you need to go here and see for yourself - it will change your life!