Nobody gets an A in drawing.
We’re started off at a C, and work our way down or up. It’s not meant to be an easy class. One would have been quite pleased with a B.
I’m not proud of myself because I got a perfect A.
And this isn’t humble bragging — the credit isn’t mine.
I’m humbled and awed by the powerful work Jesus has done through me. Although it was my hand and eyes that were moving, it was Christ who strengthened them to do so.
Christ’s strength is not something that I alone know and experience in my heart. His power is undeniable to myself, and it is so apparent to people around me that my heart is aflame for my calling.
A candle can’t help but to stand out in the dark.
Isn’t it a delight to walk on the path that the Lord sets before us?
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“I wanted to create a narrative, because I have found that the role of the maker is not to simply arrive at a final product, but to engage with every step of the process. I decided to engage in the world of carpentry, because it gets to the root of building as a discipline, and has a somewhat spiritual connotation. The verb “to make” resonates with me more than “to repair,” because I see myself as a series of reinventions, rather than continuous reparations. I also found a striking parallel from the raw materials used in carpentry — wood, stones, metal — to the same elements used in drawing — paper, charcoal, graphite….” . “The Maker, The Making, The Made.” Excerpt from artist statement. Gloria Sun, 2018. Pencil and charcoal. Wellesley College. _____________________ Read more about my final drawing project, and its personal meaning, in my bio!
A Conquest of Skill
As I have progressed through my education, I learned that I cannot separate my heart from what I do. When I integrate a function, the symbols etch themselves deep into my mind, and I feel my soul stirred up by the answer I have found. When I type up a lab report, it feels as intimate as writing in my own diary. It’s never enough for my mind to simply understand the literature I am reading, so I ponder on it until some deeper truth reveals itself to me.
Cheesy, right? Perhaps this is why tasks that inherently require logic are so tiresome for me. I endlessly, and often needlessly, attach my emotions to every step of thought.
At the same time, I searched for ways to use my mind at its full potential. I happened to do this best in the field of science, whether it was through competing in regional events, doing my own research, scrolling through science news, or performing enviously well in STEM classes.
And if my Inner Mongolian shepherd father, living in rural poverty, could earn a doctorate in Chemical Engineering, and become the first in his family to leave the country, couldn’t I achieve greatly, too?
I was awfully greedy. I decided that I liked the chemical side of biology, and the biological side of chemistry the best, but hey — I also wanted to engineer things, to make scientific breakthroughs, and to be a doctor in the future. In the meanwhile, I wanted to read three books a week, to write a book of my own, to travel the world, and to keep playing music in my free time.
I wanted, I wanted, I wanted …
I vaguely felt that these wants were sourced in a selfish desire for achievement, because my career decisions were made outside of an intention to glorify the Lord. It brought me approval from my family, and admiration from my peers, so I made the excuse that I was putting my gifts to good use.
The dream was to study Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, but God closed that door and sent me to Wellesley College, where I picked up the closest thing possible to the original plan: Biochemistry, while preparing for medical school.
I spent nearly two years searching for intellectual satisfaction. As I tried adding more (i.e. a French double major, various clubs, a leadership role), it tired me out. My emotional being was starved of nutrition, and cried out in pain to be expressed.
By God’s amazing grace, He broke me gently and showed me a way out.
I spent my hours exploring a page with pen instead. God used my creativity to bring me joy and outrun my spiritual enemies.
My parents looked at my work in confusion, initially. What is that? You spent all day making these?
So did the people around me. Where are you getting these from? What are you going to do with that?
And I was confused, too. Did I really drop half of my classes this term just so I could empty my pens over miles of invisible lines? Is this really the best use of my time?
I had no answers. It seemed reckless, abandoning a path I had been on since high school. But I knew that if I didn’t leave now, I would forever regret not trying. Learning about Biochemistry just wasn’t satisfying anymore.
And somehow, I felt only peace this time, being led into the unknown, for I had God’s blessing.
I was attacked many times on the way to accepting my identity as a creatively endowed mind. As I got more and more used to thinking without words once again, a condition I still remember gradually losing as a child, it required discipline and a commitment.
I suspect that I can only use words so much as my mind allows me to consciously think. Words are cliche and limiting, because they come from an overflow of thought. Anything else can’t escape the mind into the physical world, unless it finds another outlet that transcends words.
For example, I knew the Truth of my beauty, however it wasn’t my personal truth yet. Without needing to force my thoughts into words, I could work out this understanding with lines. A line of graphite has no judgement or value attached to it. When I lay it down, that is all it is. And I was moved to greater compassion by regarding myself as my subject, without all the emotional baggage.
I would not have been able to accomplish the same work one, two, five years ago, because I wasn’t there in my personal growth yet.
During this time, I discerned the huge mountain in my life which needed to be moved. I was born with a massive burden of unworthiness and dissatisfaction.
My childhood was filled with shame, disappointment, and sadness, but because I have never known anything else my entire life, clearing the debris is a monumental undertaking.
I believe that now is the time to face it down. And as a sister prayed over me this weekend, I’m not starting the fight with nothing. She said that I’m not a small lion cub who still needs to mature: I have been grown into a powerful lioness already, and I am prepared for this mountain.
So today, here is my prayer.
“I’m not a warrior, I’m too afraid to lose
I feel unqualified for what you’re calling me to
But Lord with your strength, I’ve got no excuse
‘Cause broken people are exactly who you use
“You took a shepherd boy, And made him a King
So I’m gonna trust you and give you everything
I’ll be a conquerer, ’cause you fight for me
I’ll be a champion claiming your victory.
“I’m gonna sing and shout and shake the walls,
I won’t stop until I see ’em fall.
“So give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den,
Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness,
Give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense
So I can face my giants with confidence.”
— Confidence, Sanctus Real
Through our brokenness, we can be confident in where the Lord is leading us, because He fights for us.
There is a lion who lives in my heart, and it is unafraid of the giants in my life.