J.S. Park

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What Breaks My Heart Is When You Don't Hear Mine

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I was published at ChurchLeaders.com! Here’s the post.
Check my book here on Amazon!

I’ve always had trouble approaching someone with a fragile ego, because I know if I say anything disagreeable or honest, they’ll defend themselves like crazy with a million excuses or throw insults or throw things off the desk or make ugly-cry-face and cut me off for a month.

I know this because it’s me too. It’s hard to hear the truth about yourself. It’s hard to confront the ugliness inside.

But confronting yourself is the only way to be truly liberated from the lies we believe. Without rebuke, we’re left sauntering in an unseen momentum of darkness that threatens to destroy us by a gradual downhill fade. The most dangerous way to die is slowly, unaware, in descent.

A few years ago, one of my best friends was messing up with something. No one else knew but me. It probably wasn’t a big deal, and no one would’ve been hurt if he continued, but as a friend I had to bring it up. I really didn’t want to, but I couldn’t just sit by.

My friend is the coolest guy in the world. I’ve never seen him rage out or say a harsh word in his life. He was the kind of guy who would walk away from a group the second they began to gossip, who wouldn’t hesitate to break up a street fight on his way home.

But even when I bring the truth to the coolest people: I’ve seen the worst come out of them. There’s always a mirror-defense where they decide to bring up your grievances, or a lot of casual dismissal, or loud angry hostility. Honestly, I was jaded to this sort of thing whenever I tried to confront someone, and I expected it to go bad just like with everyone else.

 

On a Friday, we were hanging out at my place and I sat him down and started with the ominous statement, “I have to talk to you about something.” My voice shook for that entire sentence. If I wasn’t sitting down, my knees probably would’ve been shaking too.

I told him everything. I said, “I don’t want anyone else to say something bad about you, that’s why I’m saying this. You’re my friend, you’re my brother, I want the best for you.”

After I was done, I braced myself. I physically reeled back, waiting for the shouting match.

My friend said, “Thank you”—and then he stood up without a word and went to the door, and he left.

For some reason, this was worse. I couldn’t sleep that night. I thought I had totally screwed this up. Friendship, ruined. Years of loyalty, over. I kept going over what I said in my brain, all the ways I should’ve worded it differently.

The next day, my friend came by. He sat me down, the same place, the same chairs. He said, “I thought about what you said. And you’re right. I’m going to stop immediately.”

My entire body unclenched. To be truthful, I almost wept. I hate to cry in front of people, but I was just so dang relieved. Some of it was because I was emotionally tightened up, and some of it was my anxiety that I was no longer his friend. But mostly I couldn’t believe that another human being actually considered what I said and thought it was the best course of action, so he changed his life over it. I was astonished.

It would’ve been OK if he cussed me out, or never spoke to me again, or kept living his life as before. I would’ve understood. I still would’ve loved him the same. No one owes me anything, and this is not about him “following me.” But the plot-twist is that he actually listened. Not to me, but to wisdom. I can’t remember a time when it happened so clean, so quickly, so graciously.

He stuck to his word. He stopped. He went out of his way to make sure it never happened again. And I never tried to play around about it, I never said “I told you so” or “It’s better now, right” or “Aren’t you glad you listened.” If anything, we grew closer and stronger. I was one of the groomsmen for his wedding.

 

The simple truth is that if you haven’t been told you’re wrong in a long time, you probably have no real friends. And you might not be a great friend, either, because everyone’s too scared to tell you what’s really real. But even then, it’s uncomfortable and icky and awkward, and if you ever get to that place of rebuke and honesty, there will be a space of tension where the friendship hangs in the balance. Yet true friends are willing to risk the friendship out of love for each other, because being a friend is not a fun-filled fantasy where it’s all giggles and games. Friends also sharpen one another, to be our truest best selves, that we might move forward to greater joy.

Of course, there will be an initial emotional reaction. There will be dumb rationalizations and a sudden list of “Well, what about you.” And I hope you can push past this. I hope you don’t take it too personally. Every creature has an instinct of self-preservation, and if you call me out, I will naturally fight back until I feel safe enough to let my guard down. The only thing we can do is to endure the scratching and stumble through those first reactions, and maybe we can move past this part a little quicker each time.

I also don’t mean we call out everything that bothers us. There’s plenty to just let go. I don’t mean we become behavior-police or try to catch a slip-up all the time. Sometimes it’s not your job. I’ve been there, and that’s not friendship either. Being accountable is nothing without love and vision, and if you have a self-satisfying relish when you rebuke, you’re not in it for your friend, but yourself. None of this is about ultimatums or “getting things off my chest.” It’s because I love you too much to stay silent.

I hope we can pursue rebuke, to pursue truth. I hope we are not only surrounded by yes-men and glad-handlers and kiss-ups. I hope we are not overly sensitive to spiritual surgery. I hope you can run through my overreactions and get to that core inside, where you believe I can do better, and you sincerely do love me. I hope you will hear my heart breaking.

— J.S. Park

Next YouTube Videos

Hello friends of Planet Tumblr! Thank you for the kind comments on the last video and for subscribing :)

The next two videos will be

- Why Do We Need Feminism? And What Is “Check Your Privilege?”  Not pandering or preaching to the choir, but a reasonable look at both feminism and privilege, and how we can thoughtfully speak to others about gender quality and the blindness to privilege. 

- Be Passionate For Your Friend’s Passion. When your friend totally loves something, you don’t have to get it, but just get them. That’s what friendship is: you too, me too.

Love y’all and be blessed!

— J.S.

I refuse to have a faith that idolizes earthly marriage as more important than being sanctified.

I refuse to have a faith that makes single people feel useless, when Christ has called us all to be active now.

I refuse to have a faith that says my purpose happens down the road, when it should be happening now.

I refuse to believe the lies that God only wants people who have an audience, and that He only chooses certain people.

I refuse to believe any of that, because my faith is based on a God who said “Follow me.” and so I’m gonna follow Him, and be sanctified in that pursuit.

- T.B. LaBerge // Go Now (via tblaberge)

We have a Maker,
who calls each of us by name,
as if I was the only one who was ever made.

The most important thing here is that if your friend is struggling, to NOT list the ‘Ten Reasons Why God Is Good.’ Don’t be the guy who carpet-bombs with cliches to rush along the process of healing. Too many preachers do this too quickly, pack up their little sermon notes, and hope that we can store this backpocket theology for a rainy day — when all the while, the hurting congregation just needs someone to be there.

Jesus did the same. He suffered what we suffer in solidarity with us. He was crushed not only to exchange our sins for joy, but also to heal our hearts with a peace beyond our circumstances. He reminds us in his resurrection that this world is not our final home. And we’re called to go at our friends with this kind of love, hope, patience, and wisdom — because your presence is really enough.

We are not short of reasonable theology for the goodness of God, but when it comes to the gritty ordeal of life — the best theology is you.

- J.S. from What The Church Won’t Talk About

I really love you, friend. Your testimony is so powerful. Honestly, I just want to grab a cup of tea and talk for hours with you about Jesus and life. I love your openness and transparency; how open you are with your struggles and how you are so so open to learn from the Lord. I love that you're not above learning from other people and I love that you don't feel that you have reached 'supreme Christianity'. Your humility is awesome and so are you. Keep representing, bro

My friend, thank you so much for your wonderful words. I really needed this today. I’ve been quite stressed lately from so many new changes and twists and turns, and mostly just plain discouragement both from inside and outside.  I’ve been rising and falling too much with elevation and criticism. At times I wonder if I should just be positive smiley-blogger or let loose with honesty (I’ve been told I write better under pressure, so why not hah).  But then I also don’t want to posture with false humility or to even suggest that I shouldn’t be rejoicing in Christ, so it’s all confusing sometimes. Yet at the end of each day, I trust Him.  I rest in Him.  I trust He receives me in every condition.  I trust He is grace no matter where I am, and He does not leave me where He finds me, but gets me to that better place.  It’s never easy, but man, His grace is never better than during times like these.

You get the tea, I’ll get the coffee.  Appreciate you, dear friend, truly.

— J.S.

The Crushing Truth About Christian Books and Authors and Big Preachers

I was speaking with a literary agent for the Christian writing industry about some of my favorite authors, and at some point she says, “Yes, her writing style is really easy to imitate, it’s easier for her publisher.”

I ask, “How do you mean?”

She says, “Oh, she hires someone who copies her style and writes her books.  She doesn’t have time to writer her own.  You didn’t know?  Tons of authors do this, those big celebrity preachers just pay someone to ghost-write.”

I was seriously crushed. Before I could ask her to stop, she began dropping names.  Each one hurt me a little more than the last.  I won’t share them here.  Maybe it would’ve been better if the names weren’t of Christians that I looked up to, but some of my heroes were slapped down from their pedestals.

 

I feel this might be just as bad as plagiarism. I’m trying to imagine Tolstoy or Picasso or Mozart or Augustine becoming too busy to create their own work because of publicity tours and mega-conferences.

I also think about the amazing bloggers and artists and dancers and painters, whom no one has ever heard of, pouring hours of their soul into perfecting their craft and marketing their art and shaping each movement, and the years they would spend in anonymity but continuing to share their hearts in their corner of the world.

I think of unsung heroes who don’t have big platforms but persevere in writing and speaking about justice and faith and politics and life, from their very own pen, with no one telling them to make it easier or palatable or more mainstream.

I don’t mean to demonize the “celebrity Christians.”  It’s a whole different level of responsibility.  To have influence is humbling.  Yet it’s so easy to get trapped into speaking impactful things without first being impacted; it’s easy to talk about justice without living justly; it’s easy to ask others what we’re first not doing ourselves.  And if there’s ever a time I’m about to sell out or go cheap or think I’m too big for myself, I would hope someone would confront me painfully and lovingly with the force of a ten ton freight train, because we each have blind spots of our own that need grace and surgical rebuke. 

I have to gut-check myself, because maybe we’re all just as capable of selling out.  I’m not any better than “them.”

To those who speak from the heart, in their own words, with no fear: you’re doing a good thing.  Here’s to humility, integrity, honesty.

— J.S.

Pictures of my book from friends all over! From:

Eric Choi in Chicago, Illinois

Deb Simon in Cadillac, Michigan

Alexa Rae in Long Island, New York

Chan-Woo Park at UF in Gainesville, Florida

One of my mentors, Pastor Jake English in Lutz, FL

The book is on Amazon for sale here! Be blessed and love y’all :)

— J.S.

Here’s my first YouTube video, called "We Can Disagree, And That’s Okay."

You like cats AND dogs? That’s okay.
You’re into science AND religion? That’s okay.
You prefer romantic-comedy Ryan Gosling over Oscar-serious Ryan Gosling? That’s okay.
Single and not looking? That’s okay.
Introverted or extroverted? That’s okay.
Republican or Democrat or neither? That’s okay.
Cheese on your ramen noodles? Well … maybe not okay.

Please subscribe to my channel and love y’all!

— J.S.

jspark3000:

For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son to die for your mean neighbor and your crazy roommate and the picketing bigot and the racist blogger and your gay friend and all the politicians and our crazy parents and the pastor down the street and the uptight religious folk and the girl at work you can’t stand, because Jesus didn’t just die for the people you like, but for people like you and me.

So my first YouTube video is going up tomorrow morning. This is one of my lovely faces.
The video is called, "We Can Disagree, And That’s Okay."
You like cats AND dogs? That’s okay. You’re into science AND religion? That’s okay. Single and not looking? That’s okay.You prefer romantic-comedy Ryan Gosling over Oscar-serious Ryan Gosling? That’s okay. Republican or Democrat? That’s okay.  Cheese on your ramen noodles? Well … maybe not okay.
Subscribe to my channel here. Love y’all!
— J.S.

So my first YouTube video is going up tomorrow morning.
This is one of my lovely faces.

The video is called, "We Can Disagree, And That’s Okay."

You like cats AND dogs? That’s okay.
You’re into science AND religion? That’s okay.
Single and not looking? That’s okay.
You prefer romantic-comedy Ryan Gosling over Oscar-serious Ryan Gosling? That’s okay.
Republican or Democrat? That’s okay.
Cheese on your ramen noodles? Well … maybe not okay.

Subscribe to my channel here. Love y’all!

— J.S.

Thank you so much Breanna!  I’m a huge fan of your blog so this is totally awesome. You’re one of my favorites, for real. :)
The book is still on sale at Amazon! Also if you got the paperback, the e-book drops to only 1.99. Love y’all! — J.S.
breanna-lynn:

Such a refreshing read.
I’m thankful people like @jspark3000 exist, who genuinely care about meeting people where they are at and humbling walking with them through their questions -especially the ones many feel they can’t even ask- and offering encouragement, truth, and hope. We all experience questions, doubts, confusion and need someone to say, ‘hey, you’re free to be real with me. Let’s talk about this’- which is exactly what J. did in “What The Church Won’t Talk about”. He hits on so many needed topics that anyone could relate to wrestling with personally. I found myself resonating at different portions of the book and being touched by the truth that answered back. I appreciate the humility, grace, wisdom in these pages and most of all, that after all is shared and said, Jesus is the main point.

Thank you so much Breanna!  I’m a huge fan of your blog so this is totally awesome. You’re one of my favorites, for real. :)

The book is still on sale at Amazon! Also if you got the paperback, the e-book drops to only 1.99. Love y’all! — J.S.

breanna-lynn:

Such a refreshing read.

I’m thankful people like @jspark3000 exist, who genuinely care about meeting people where they are at and humbling walking with them through their questions -especially the ones many feel they can’t even ask- and offering encouragement, truth, and hope. We all experience questions, doubts, confusion and need someone to say, ‘hey, you’re free to be real with me. Let’s talk about this’- which is exactly what J. did in “What The Church Won’t Talk about”. He hits on so many needed topics that anyone could relate to wrestling with personally. I found myself resonating at different portions of the book and being touched by the truth that answered back. I appreciate the humility, grace, wisdom in these pages and most of all, that after all is shared and said, Jesus is the main point.

jspark3000:

My mentor was about to pray for me and he says:

"Don’t you know that if Jesus were walking the earth right now, he would actually look for you and pick even a guy like you? We can’t even understand how huge that is."

I just about lost it.

— J

jspark3000:

Anything you have learned in church today:
Put it into practice.
Not because you have to,
not to earn God or attention or applause,
but because God has saved you and made you for this —
and He has already begun to work in you.

— J

jspark3000:

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless. — G.K. Chesterton

jspark3000:

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless. — G.K. Chesterton