Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat

Halloween was never a pagan holiday for me and my sister. The Korean church I grew up attending did not have discussions about sponsoring an alternative Halloween event. It was an American holiday, and we were going to do our best to fit in. Never mind that it seemed like a huge waste of money to be giving away candy to strangers. Celebrating Halloween became part of the bi-cultural fabric of our family.

I remember long nights walking the streets of what is now the edges of Chicago's Koreatown wearing plastic masks that are now banned in many schools and eating candy along the route. This before needles and razor blades in chocolates, before the Tylenol scare, before hospitals offered to x-ray bags of candy, before trick-or-treating became a daytime event.

My favorite costume was my Jeanie costume - as in "I Dream of Jeanie". It was a plastic costume with a plastic mask. I thought I was Jeanie who died and woke up in Candyland. Perfect. The icing on the cake was getting to the best three-flat in the neighborhood. You know, the one that gave out chocolates or packs of gum. (I actually didn't mind the pennies because 10 pennies meant a stop at the corner store on the way home from school. I never did like the popcorn balls, though.)

What was your favorite Halloween costume? And what was the best door in the neighborhood to knock on?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reflections on a Weekend as Queen

Stepping into leadership was easier for me in high school. I'll have to psycho-analyze myself some other time, but it seemed appropriate to run for student and class council, to put myself in the ring for section editor, to try out for the pom pon squad.

But stepping into leadership as an adult involves a lot more second-guessing, more internal conversations between the voices that say, "You can't do it! You shouldn't do it! You should do it!" It's very loud in my head sometimes.

So when the women's conference planning committee members were asked to consider what we might enjoy doing I sat silently. It doesn't seem appropriate to volunteer myself for this or that, or to say, "Hey, I think I'd really do a great job doing such and such." It's more appropriate to simply sit, listen to what others want to do, and do what no one else wants to do.

There were some thoughts, some louder than others, running through my head during that meeting. I think Sharon might have noticed me sitting there making funny faces as I struggled with this internal conversation and she threw my name in the hat for emcee.

I felt my response to her invitation to lead later required a written note of apology and thanks - sorry for sounding like an idiot as I dismissed her suggestion, and thanks for seeing something in me that I wouldn't dare consider.

So I spent this weekend as the self-appointed queen/emcee for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Midwest Cluster Women's Conference. I shared from upfront how when I and others in IVCF think of an emcee we think of Greg Jao - a dear friend and mentor of mine, and how that terrifies me. And I shared about the anxiety I was experiencing as I stepped into that upfront role. Seriously, who wants to be compared to a Greg Jao or an Auntie Jeanette? Because honestly I didn't like how I was comparing myself to them so how I could I bear being compared to them by others.

I decided that Greg's santa hat was a great idea, but that while I would gladly borrow the idea I would need to make it my own. I look better in a tiara than a santa hat.

I decided about two minutes into the conference that I was more afraid of what God might say to me than what I might say from up front.

I realized that I still stumble for a response when someone asks me to step into leadership, but that I've also learned how to accept compliments with more grace and gratitude than before.

I was reminded that being open to what God is doing in my life is both hard and amazing. My body still aches from exhaustion. My heart and soul are still restless and eager to process what God was revealing this past weekend.

And my tiara will have a special place in my happy green office to remind me to be open, sensitive and courageous for such a time as this.