Eugene Cho

maybe it’s not supposed to feel right

As I’m writing this, I’m on an airplane en route to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It’s a long flight starting from Seattle and making stops in Chicago and Fort Lauderdale before arriving in Haiti early Friday morning. I’ll write about the purpose of the trip to Haiti in my next entry.

But I wanted to share a bit with my blog community about the ongoing tension of balance, priorities, schedules, focus, goals, joy, etc.

Minhee and I have started three organization in the past 9 years – Quest, Q Cafe, and One Day’s Wages. Not small things but ventures that have required a great amount of time, commitment, sacrifice, energy, funds, courage, stupidity, prayers, and collaboration.

On top of that, my marriage and my family are very important to me. Not just important on paper or for the sake of sermons but important for my heart and soul. Having said that, I don’t want to hold marriage or family as idolatries in my life. Or in other words, my desire to serve God certainly includes my identities as husband and father but is not encompassed by only these two things.

Marriage is not my God. Family is not my God. They are some of the means by which God expresses His love for me and means by which I serve and honor Him but they are not my gods.

I remember sharing with Minhee during our dating years that we wanted to live our lives faithfully, dangerously, and passionately for the glory of Christ – then and in the future. We didn’t just want to get married, have 2.4 kids, a doggie named Chewbacca, a nice home with a manageable mortgage with a nice backyard, two cars including a Minivan, get our kids to college, save a nice nest egg for retirement, and watch Korean dramas during the latter days of our lives.

We wanted to live faithfully, dangerously, and passionately.

But what we’ve learned is that it’s easier said than done which is why in recent years, we found ourselves slowly gravitating towards complacency rather than the trajectory of  “vision, mission, passion” we had to agreed years ago.

Now or never might be a melodramatic statement but do you ever get the sense how fast time flies. Before you know it, you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and bam. You wonder…”Where did my life go?”

This is why we decided to start ODW – it was now or never. The longer we waited…the more burdensome it became; the more petrifying it became; the more reasons and excuses we came up with; the more we thought about “we should really start saving for the kids’ college tuitions.”

This is why Minhee is back in grad school and studying for another Master’s degree (this time in Marriage and Family Therapy) so that she can be a source of hope and healing for immigrant communities. This is why I’m en route to Haiti. This is why Minhee and I are traveling to Guatemala in two weeks to do some visioning with NGOs and CBOs.

And yet, it never feels completely RIGHT.

Leaving the wife and kids this morning didn’t feel right. Minhee and I are leaving the kids with a mix-mash of various friends when we go to Guatemala for a few days and that doesn’t feel right. Taking out loans for grad school at this juncture of our life doesn’t feel completely right. Juggling Minhee’s grad school, the kids’ schedules, and my various hats…don’t always feel right.  Trying to make tight financial decisions don’t always feel right.

There’s this constant tension because I want it to feel right. I want them to feel right. I want to feel right…I want to be right.

And maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe there’s something about following Christ that just doesn’t feel right.

Or rather, how did we get duped into thinking that taking up the Cross felt right?

Be encouraged my friends. If things aren’t “right with you,” maybe you’re in a good place…

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41 Responses

  1. ananymous says:

    great post. thanks for this.

  2. Janet says:

    Thanks Eugene for this. We want everything to be in a nice package and it’s just not like that. And the more that leaders speak of this package, the more I think that folks are selling something.

  3. Brilliant, inspiring, encouraging and frightening all in one.

  4. dmbaldwin says:

    Hey Eugene,
    At 59 years of age — 60 next month — I can relate to this post. Part of what we need to do though is to look back over the years and see where God has used us for His glory. As I look back over the last 35 years of ministry I can see God’s hand on our ministry, family and my relationship with my wife (Louise).
    However, there’s more to do, to be, so I am not resting on the last 35 years. Today is a new day to serve Him and be all we can be in Him. It’s time to move the Kingdom forward as He works through us!
    You are going to a part of the world that is not safe these days. God doesn’t call us to the safe places always. So be careful, and we’ll be praying for you.
    Looking forward to great things as you continue to post and report.
    Blessings,
    Dave

  5. your friend says:

    You so much speak out what is in my heart (the only difference is that I could not express it that well!) Thanks, friend!

  6. Daphne says:

    Thank you Pastor Eugene.

  7. Kendall says:

    Thank you for this.

  8. tom fullmer says:

    Your post reminds me of that song by Five for Fighting, 100years. Anyway I think what your are doing is awesome and unfortunate. Unfortunate that you and others have had or are doing so much work. Like you said, before you know it you are 40,50 etc and your life is over. But it’s just not your life but your wife’s and your kids’ lives. I have two boys, the oldest is 7 and it’s like where has the time gone,(the youngest is 2 but it seems like he has been in the terrible twos for years :). But then again how often can you solve one persons troubles with a simple hug? Sorry about the digression, but I had a problem of making my relationship with God and my family a dichotomy. I thought I was serving God but I was neglecting my family and I didn’t realize it. We shouldn’t make our families our idols/gods but I believe that in serving and raising/teaching them we are serving God.

    Your story is not mine and I think you are a better man than I.

    I guess my point is I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy, but it should feel right. Unfortunately everyone doesn’t make small sacrifices in their lives meaning that you and others have to make such a large ones.

  9. Chet Galaska says:

    You exemplify the difficulty of following Christ to the exclusion of other important things in your life. It demonstrates how truly hard, probably even impossible, it is for even the most dedicated Christian to live like Christ.

    You’re going to Haiti. I posted a short blog this week on that subject. I think you’d find it interesting and it may let you look at their culture in a different way. If you have a chance to read it you may be able to blog about your take on things when you get back.

    You can find it at http://www.triadpress.blogspot.com

  10. Julie says:

    Thank you. I can’t say that enough. How often do we refuse to take risks because we’re idolizing “Balance”…?

    Anyway, thanks for standing up for the terrifying, exhilarating life of taking up the cross. Thanks for reminding us that it’s going to involve tension. And that that’s okay.

  11. Wonderful post, PE. Thanks for the reality check. 🙂

  12. lauren e. says:

    I will read this time and time again. My prayers are with you on your travels.

  13. Sarah says:

    PE, thank you so much for this…really…
    I hope you’re all right in Haiti, I am praying for you.
    So is the Q Cafe, and I mean the people not the building…

  14. joanne says:

    pastor eugene, i am so glad that you shared these thoughts. i have the hardest times making decisions when it doesnt all “feel” right but i know that it is…ive made huge steps this past year but need constant inspiration and reminders of the bigger picture/plan. thank you for this. praying for you and the family. be safe…

  15. Thank you for naming the wrestling – it is the ever-present reality. I find your words comforting – a gift to cling to in the messiness of determining the next step(s)…

  16. scott says:

    great word brother. appreciate your heart. blessings in haiti –

  17. chomama says:

    i don’t feel right either but i have faith in Him thus we are doing our best in His work with family, church and bigger community..well, i really think that we will never feel right, until we find ourselves in His place. That is why God teach us to trust and put faith in him, that is His desire and His plan for us…and He uses us…love you.

    Pressing on Toward the Goal

    12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me

  18. Outi says:

    Just came to your blog from another one, and found this writing very interesting. In my country we say “Time for everything and everything in its time”. I think that there is enough to do in the world every year and for everybody. One just has to find out what is the best time for certain things in one’s life. It is surely difficult. My boss was asked join the rally for head of her party (which would have meant that she would have become also the prime minister of my country – she was the favourite). She has two sons, both under 7. Her work is already now very demanding and time-consuming, but as a prime minister she would be away A LOT. She said that right now her sons need their mother the most. And that she is still young and has plenty of career years and can achieve a lot. Maybe she can do even more in her current position.

    In the same time I think that children are happy when their parents are happy. It doesn’t really matter what they do, as long as they have time and love.

    I think that one just have to find out what is best for oneself in any given situation. No person or situation is the same. Good luck with whatever you choose!

  19. kyle steed says:

    Boom. Encouraged. Thanks man.

  20. Rob Go says:

    Great post. And I love the image of Jacob and the Angel.

  21. steph says:

    love these thoughts. thanks for living out loud.

  22. […] I chose to spend some time doing that for selfish reasons. I was and am still learning how to take better care of myself in ministry (as evidenced by the scary picture above) – while completely acknowledging that sometimes, it’s not supposed to feel right. […]

  23. […] I chose to spend some time doing that for selfish reasons. I was and am still learning how to take better care of myself in ministry (as evidenced by the scary picture above) — while completely acknowledging that sometimes, it’s not supposed to feel right. […]

  24. Tripp says:

    This is great…Thoughtful and challenging. Thank you. I’m struggling with the balance right now. There is tremendous vulnerability in following Christ. Romanticizing it and wanting it to “feel right” may indeed be a mistaken desire when one follows the man who had no place to lay his head.

  25. Rob Morris says:

    Thank you for this Eugene. Really.

  26. cathysfiddle says:

    I’m in my sixties. Are you telling me that “bam” is next?

  27. Rob says:

    Does the “not feeling right” ever go away, or do we just get used to it?

  28. Scott Nickell says:

    Great post. Nice meeting you last night on the flight from Dulles. Maybe when you return from Guatemala i could buy you a cup of coffee one evening. I’d like to learn more about Quest and ODW. Thanks, Scott

    • Eugene Cho says:

      hey scott.

      nice to meet you as well. sorry to left. i couldn’t pass down the upgrade to 1st class.

      my schedule is such that i need to focus on some priorities i’ve made out. you’ll soon hear about ODW’s annual fundraiser. hope you’ll be able to join that on november 5.

  29. Andrea Catlett says:

    Thanks! Just what I needed to hear.

  30. […] Maybe It’s Not Supposed to Feel Right […]

  31. […] More Than Dodgeball “Adults Are Better … Students Are Best” […]

  32. […] Yes, it doesn’t feel right… […]

  33. […] Yes, it doesn’t feel right… […]

  34. […] Maybe it’s not supposed to feel right. Well, maybe I should just led Bonhoeffer speak  for himself. Read his poem entitled, Who Am I? This was also written during his imprisonment […]

  35. […] how to take better care of myself in ministry while completely acknowledging that sometimes, it’s not supposed to feel right. We all know that work…well…is supposed to be laborious. And those in ministry know […]

  36. […] With these emotions swirling around, I came across Eugene Cho’s blog post for today. […]

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One Day’s Wages

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"He Makes All Things New." In other words, Christ is our eternal hope. I'm sitting in my swinging bench on the comforts of my front porch after an exhilarating and exhausting day at church. It never gets tiring, stale, or old to preach and proclaim the good news of the Gospel - not just on Resurrection Sunday but every week as we gather as the body of Christ.

But it was this picture of Coptic Christians in Egypt pouring into churches on Easter Sunday that deeply moved my heart...just a week after two churches were bombed by ISIS terrorists taking 45 lives and injuring hundreds.

Even in the face of persecution and suffering, I'm so grateful for the witness of these sisters and brothers in Christ. May they be comforted and strengthened...and wherever you are reading this post, stay encouraged. Be faithful and steadfast. Don't give up. May we keep running the race set before us as we fix our eyes on Christ.

It's not just there. It's all over the world...God is still at work. The Holy Spirit is still moving. God is not yet done. There's only one explanation: 
Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed! Jesus is alive! Hallelujah! #OneChurch Remember, there is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion; No Easter Sunday without Passion Friday; No empty tomb without the Cross.

So, before we move too swiftly to the celebration of the risen Christ, may we sit at the foot of the Cross...and consider the depths of His sacrifice and love. "Oh, what love is this..." Just when we think we get what it means to follow Him, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples including...the one He knew would betray Him,

and the one that would deny him,

and the others that would abandon Him in His greatest need.

What amazing love.
What amazing grace. Oh. What. Amazing. Grace. M(inhee) + E(ugene). Not taking anything for granted. 20 years = 7300 days = 175,200 hours. A flourishing  marriage doesn't just happen. The idea that two Christians who choose to get married will produce a Christ honoring marriage is a gigantic myth. Its also extremely dangerous. The truth is that it takes so much intentionality and work. Intimacy definitely includes physical touch but is not only about physical touch. We have to pray, read, listen, learn, mutually submit, confess, forgive, repent, laugh, dream, rest, play, and the list goes on.

In other words, we have to keep Christ at the center because it's inevitable, there's a lot of messing up. So much messing up. It's both beautiful and painful and without grace, it's impossible.

Grateful. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace. And thank you, Minhee...

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