And then I remember the sacrifices Christ made for me
I’ve felt like this a lot. HAHAHA
And then I remember the sacrifices Christ made for me
I’ve felt like this a lot. HAHAHA
If you’re not interested in hearing my emo-ness, skip reading this. But honestly, the rest of this Tumblr page would probably be filled with more of this, so… yeah, sorry. Nothing I’m gonna do about that, haha.
I’m currently sitting in the middle of a random park right by my apartment in Ann Arbor. It’s a gorgeous day, even more beautiful than yesterday. There are so many people here taking in the beautiful weather — a couple of young people shooting some hoops, a family walking their dog, a couple dudes playing with a homemade ramp on their skateboards, a boy my age flirting with a girl who is far too young for him, and many, many others.
I came away here primarily to clear my mind. There have been so much swirling in my head, and I just wanted to be alone to ponder on these things, or rather, to run away from thinking about these things.
Here’s what’s in my head: “What does it look like to ‘transition’?”
I know that my time here in Ann Arbor is drawing to a close. My commitment while awaiting the end of my time here was to pour everything that I have into the ministry and the relationships I’ve built over the years here. To really disciple people. To pour all my energy into helping people grow closer to God. To love people as I have been loved. To hold nothing back.
But at the same time, the more I do that, the more I become attached to this place I’ve called home for almost five years now. The more time I spend with people, the less willing I am to move away, to start over.
It’s weird — I’ve often thought of myself as a chameleon: it’s not that difficult for me to transition to a new place. I adapt to new places quite easily. Leaving Jakarta wasn’t that difficult for me, from what I remembered as a ten-year-old. I think I forced myself to cry because I thought that that was what people were supposed to do when leaving a place for a long time. I also remembered leaving home for college, and I’m sorry to say this, but I wasn’t really homesick at all during that time. That first night at South Quad, when I first came into college, I stared at the ceiling in the dark and I remembered smiling, excited for what’s to come.
But I don’t feel like that at all right now. I feel miserable. Well, miserable enough to randomly cry in the middle of a park surrounded by strangers. I feel a little bit like a little boy whose dad had just told him that their family was moving to a new place. Peers and friends keep telling me that I should learn to move on — LIFE group is over, the semester is over, my time here is drawing to a close. But is it that easy to do?
How do you ‘transition’ out of something that you committed to pour everything into? How do you simultaneously sever relationships you committed to build up?
It is in times like this when I realize how extroverted I’ve become during my time in Ann Arbor and how much I’ve come to really value this community that I’ve had the privilege of being a part of here.
It’s the end of finals week here in Ann Arbor, and all the Michigan students are slowly finishing their finals and leaving the city. There are only 2 days left in this finals season, and for most of the university, finals are over. And all of the sudden, university buildings are eerily empty. The Diag seems peacefully deserted. Sidewalks that were usually crawling with students during the year (at least during the first ten minutes of every hour) now seems to have its life sucked away.
Yes, it is springtime. Flowers are blossoming in full glory, lit by the sun’s warm embrace. Clear, bright blue sky separate patches of puffy, thin clouds. The songs of birds fill the air, intermingling with the gentle breeze that makes this weather so, so perfect.
Yet in the middle of such perfect weather, I feel so alone. No more spontaneous hangouts with my LIFE group. No more students to pull late nights with. No more meet-ups with people to fill my schedule. No more Docs videos to edit. I have all the time in the world to do whatever I want (outside of work, of course), yet I don’t know, I feel miserable.
I’m realizing that I love Ann Arbor not because of its absolute beauty during this time of the year, but because of the relationships I’ve gotten to build over the years. Without these relationships, without this community, Ann Arbor is frankly just another city.
I can’t even imagine how difficult it’s going to be to leave this place in a few months, not because of the city itself, but because of its people.
Just another step in the transition… sigh.
UPDATE: A video of this is here now:
I was extended an invitation to speak at my high school’s junior/senior awards banquet tonight. I was initially really nervous about what to share (and honestly pushed off writing it for a LONG time), but I felt like God gave me inspiration during our church’s Prayer Gathering 2 weeks ago, where He challenged me with this idea of “boldness.”
My goal tonight was that I would be bold and unashamed about declaring my faith and the work that God has done in my life, while not being preachy. My prayer is that God would work through this to lift up His name.
But God is really, really good. I got to witness God use this simple, 11-minute speech to encourage many people tonight. It was a huge blessing to have parents and students come up afterwards and share that this message was what they needed to hear. I was even more encouraged to have Christian parents encourage me about medical school and missions and all that is to come. Truly, all the glory belongs to our King.
Here’s a full text of what I shared tonight.
Thank you Mr. Bohland for your generous introduction. I’m incredibly flattered by your remarks, and I’m truly honored to be here with all of you here today.
I want to start by congratulating the Northview students in whose honor this banquet is being held. Congratulations on a job well done!
I still remember about 5 years ago sitting there where you’re all sitting right now, excited to get dressed up and eat fancy food with friends and family. Thinking back to the times when I was in your shoes my junior and senior year, I’ll be honest – I was way more excited to get my awards and my pictures taken than to listen to the speakers’ remarks. So please bear with me; I’ll try to make this short and sweet.
As Mr. Bohland had shared, I graduated from Northview in 2008 as valedictorian of my class. Growing up in a family that wasn’t too big on sports, I was a nominal Buckeye fan throughout my junior high and high school years until the University of Michigan offered me admission and a scholarship that amounted to a full ride. Ever since then, I’ve been rooting for the Wolverines… Go Blue!
(I guess I should’ve realized that I was going to make new friends AND new enemies tonight…)
I graduated from the University of Michigan in April 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Political Science, and I’m currently working in Ann Arbor.
Having been five years removed from high school, I wanted to share what I’ve been up to these few years after graduation and some of the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. It is my hope that what I’ll share will not only challenge and inspire you, but excite you for what lays in store for each of you in years to come.
One of the most difficult classes I took during my undergraduate career at the University of Michigan was biochemistry. This is not just general biology mixed with Mr. Roth’s AP Chemistry class. This is, pure and simple, arduous memorization of very long compound names with equally long chemical structures. I simply could not stomach this stuff – but I loved my professor. I have taken a class with her before and thoroughly enjoyed her teaching style, but this alone did little to make biochemistry any easier to learn.
As she opened the first lecture of this biochemistry class, she candidly declared, “Most of you are taking this class because it is required for med schools. But I will be honest: the materials you will learn in this class you will probably never use in your career. Med schools like to see this on your transcript because they want to know that you can memorize a lot of things under pressure.”
Don’t you just love finding out that you spent thousands of dollars just to prove that you can memorize things? Heck, a game of Concentration can tell you that for free. But this is one of the first lessons I learned during my time after high school: the most important things you will learn will not be taught in the classroom or in the workplace.
Instead, the most important things you will get out of your next stage of life are the skills you develop as you move outside the shadow – and home – of your parents. Skills like learning how to manage your time well when so many responsibilities demand your attention. Skills like learning to budget your money when you have complete freedom with how you choose to spend it. Skills like learning to take care of your own body when you can (if you choose to) eat McDonalds every single day. Skills like discovering what is really important to you, and setting your priorities to make room for those things. Skills like learning to say no, learning to apologize when you make mistakes, and learning to get back up after you fall flat on your face.
In short, this next season is a time for you to really discover who you are. I can tell you that as a high school graduate, I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted in life. I couldn’t be farther from the truth. Let me be the first one to break the news: you don’t know who you really are. Life is all about discovery – and that process of discovery will take you the rest of your life. The lessons you gleam along the way – these are the things you should really treasure.
Coming into college, I had wanted to major in biochemistry. I had a four-year-plan, a ten-year-plan all figured out. I came into college with 42 credits thanks to my AP classes so, with the pressure of my parents, I arranged all my classes in such a way that I would be able to finish my degree in three years if I could help it.
After the aforementioned biochemistry class, I quickly realized how little I cared for the exact mechanisms that are at play during yeast fermentation, and so began a period of changing majors and exploring other interests. Eventually, I ended up becoming a neuroscience and political science double major while taking a gamut of other classes, including anthropology, American culture, international studies, and film photography, just to name a few. None of these things were a part of my plan when I first came into college, but they all shaped my college experience in very important ways.
This is where I learned my next lesson: expect your plans to change – and be completely okay with it. You will not be in control of everything that goes on in your life. Not everything – in fact, rarely anything – ever goes according to your plans. Embrace the fact that you do not always have to be in the driver’s seat. Learn to really sit back and enjoy the ride!
I know that there are many ambitious parents and many equally ambitious students in this room, so I want to try to break this news gently. Here we go. As much as you all would like to be, you will not all become doctors. Or lawyers. Or engineers. Or pharmacists. Or dentists. Or (fill in the blank). The top 4 individuals in my graduating class at Northview wanted to be doctors. They all went to separate colleges to pursue that dream. Five years later, only one of them – myself – is still on that track.
There is nothing wrong with any of the paths they are currently pursuing. They have simply discovered that their passions did not line up with the plans they had in mind, and they adjusted their plans accordingly. Planning for the future is important, but allow – and embrace – flexibility in that plan.
For me, that plan was to graduate from an undergraduate institution as quickly as I could, begin my medical education immediately after finishing undergrad, and become a surgeon in a particular specialty. Over the course of the past five years, however, these plans quickly unraveled.
As I approached my final year of undergrad, I began preparing for what I thought naturally came next: medical school. I sent applications to numerous schools and anxiously waited for interview invitations. Yet deep in my heart, even while interviewing for schools, I knew that I wasn’t ready. I don’t know how to explain it other than this gut feeling that this year wasn’t the right time for me to go. Faith is an important component of who I am as a person, and I felt like God was challenging me to stay an extra year in Ann Arbor and let Him be in the driver’s seat of my future instead of me trying to control everything in my life.
So when I began receiving acceptances from medical schools, I did not know what to do. The schools that accepted me did not permit me to defer the decision, so I struggled with whether to go ahead and accept these invitations, or to really listen my gut feeling, and ultimately, obey God. I cannot say that this was an easy decision to make – my parents were justifiably horrified when they found out that their son was about to turn down guaranteed acceptances to medical school – but in the end, I forwent the medical school offers and committed to stay in Ann Arbor for an extra year.
I did not know this at the time, but I could not have come up with a better bargain even if I have planned it. This year of staying put in Ann Arbor was where I discovered my third lesson: that community and relationship-building are worth your time.
Your grades will quickly be forgotten; your GPA will become nothing more than just a number, as important as they may probably seem right now. I’m not saying that you should not strive to do well in your classes. You should still definitely study for that exam and do your assignments that’s due tomorrow. But what will really leave a lasting impact are the relationships that you’re building with family, friends, classmates, teachers, professors, and co-workers. These are not easily forgotten. The people who will support you when you feel discouraged, cheer with you when you succeed, listen to you when you feel the need to “blow off steam,” and celebrate with you when you reached your goals – these relationships are absolutely worth it.
Coming to Michigan, I knew almost no one on campus. There are only a handful of people who attended the University of Michigan from Northview, and my relationships with them were shallow at best. But at Michigan, I discovered a supportive community like I’ve never experienced before through my church. I saw what true community was supposed to look like, where people went out of their way to make others feel welcomed, willingly served even if it meant sacrificing sleep or study time, and rallied around one another when the going gets rough. In this Christ-centered community, I felt safe to be who I was, knowing that I would not be judged, and experienced a lot of healing as insecurities are exposed and addressed.
During my undergrad years, I took this community for granted, but this past year, I had the opportunity to invest back into the community that has poured out so much to me by leading one of these small groups. I cannot begin to explain the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve been a blessing in someone else’s life, that God has used you to impact the lives of others. If anything, leading this small group has allowed me to rediscover the reason I wanted to pursue medicine in the first place: to be able to walk people through challenging times of their lives and leave a positive impact.
While leading a small group, I am also currently working in Ann Arbor as a freelance media producer, focusing on video editing and production.
Now I know what you’re all probably thinking: how does neuroscience and political science connect to that? The short answer: it doesn’t.
At the end of my freshman year, I wanted to serve in whatever capacity I could at my church, and they happened to be in need of people who could help document different events via photos and videos and edit them for presentations. With almost no experience and skill, I joined the team simply because I wanted to be available to help. Over the course of several years, my skill level grew, and I eventually ended up doing this as a career for the time being. Never would I have imagined that trying out this “video” thing I did for church would turn into something that I do for a living.
This brings me to my final lesson: take advantage of the opportunities extended to you because you never know where it will lead you. Wherever you go from here, many opportunities are waiting at the door for you. Embrace them. Learn new skills. Gain new passions. Try new foods. Explore new places. Meet new people.
They may lead you to places that you never could quite foresee for yourselves now, but will make whatever journey you have ahead of you so much more fulfilling.
Thank you, Northview students, and best wishes in all your future endeavors.
(Thankful for grace that picks us up when we sink and fail)
HAHAHA this is perfect…
HAHAHA every week at the loft, if we get lucky…