I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting and praying before I wrote this post. Not only am I sharing part of my day and memories, but I am sharing a decision my husband and I made as Christians. I hope I can be clear.
LG didn’t set his alarm this morning, so he woke up just on time to get himself ready. But I always ask him to make sure I get a few increments of him waking me up, because I just need that much time to get ready. Instead of trying to have me rush ready, he messaged my mom and asked her to come get me later. He called me when he got to church and told me to get ready; he’d call me back in five minutes to make sure I got out of bed. Mistake! Don’t tell me that! All I hear is that I have five more minutes to sleep! My mom ends up calling me from the car to tell me she’s on the way. I roll out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face, and throw on some clothes. I was actually ready before she got to the house.
I was so out of it that when Mom mentioned how early we were that we could get coffee I was all like ohhhh I could do coffee. That’s when I noticed, almost ten minutes into the car ride, that she’d actually bought me a tea! We still had some time so we visited the Chinese bakery in the plaza nearby, just for a bun to munch on. We walked out with fifty (okay, not fifty, but still) buns.
After church, we made our way to the cemetery to visit my grandmother with my dad’s side. There’s this Chinese death day at the beginning of April, but since my dad was out of the country for work we put it off until now. We did the same last year. We had more to do then because there was no base garden. We dug and filled and put up a border-wall thing to keep it all together. This year, we just pulled out the ones that wouldn’t be able to grow again and cleaned it up to put new flowers inside. I say we, but this year I stood back – let the ones who actually garden and dig get in there. Our family always seems to be in the ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ situations.
“Put that one there. Dirt first. Dig first. Too much dirt. Too little dirt. Not enough spacing. Pull that out. Leave it there.”
I stood back with the umbrella that LG so cleverly thought to bring and the littles.
After they finished the mini garden, my dad started setting out the food and tea and stuff. I don’t know what it’s all about, but I think it’s like an offering to my grandmother – like having her join us for a meal or something. They burned incense afterwards, which was difficult because of the rain. Then they burned other offerings – paper clothes, paper money, paper prayers – so that she could have them to use wherever they think she is. My dad said a few words, and we stood as a group to bow three times.
I feel like this is the part where I have to explain myself; and because I feel like I don’t know exactly why or remember all the passages to ‘argue’ my side, I hope that I can be clear.
I know that my grandmother is in heaven with our God. The one true God. The one who has power over everything. The thing is my family doesn’t believe the same. They only know how to practice what is ‘proper’ in our Chinese culture. My great-uncle taught my family what to buy, how to set up the offerings, and what to do; so my family follows suit. I think it also eases their minds a little bit, thinking that even though Mama isn’t here with us they can still ‘take care of her’ in some way. Especially for my grandfather. He was so happy with the ‘clothes’ he picked out to ‘send’ to my grandmother. The other thing is that they’ve all experienced that “in your face I’m right you’re wrong I will argue it with you until I’m blue in the face” Christianity (all out of the love of their hearts I’m sure).
They’ve become so against it that it’s hard for us (LG and me and even my sister in some ways) to always shove it in their face. They don’t pray before a meal, so we’ll thank God quietly to ourselves. They want to have dim sum Sunday mornings all together, but we cannot join because we have church to go to. They want to send offerings to my grandmother…we’ll be there even though for us it’s just burning paper. I think that doesn’t sit well for some Christians. But how can I show them God’s love by shutting them out and not accepting them? We can set ourselves apart through our actions so that our actions can be a witness to them, so that God’s glory and love and forgiveness can shine through us.
“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” – Luke 5:30-32
We do not believe that those foods are an offering to go to ‘another world’. We do not believe that my grandmother needs us to send anything let alone paper money to her in heaven. When they said prayers to my grandmother, LG and I prayed to God and thanked him for taking care of her and taking away her pain. When they bowed three times, LG and I bowed our heads.
I just can’t imagine abandoning my family because I am too good or too holy or too righteous for them, especially when I know that my God is the only God who has power over me.
Am I totally wrong? If you have some other passages to share, I’d really like to hear. I don’t want to argue it. I don’t want to debate. I want to be there for my family and show them God’s love since I can’t always tell it to them.
We warmed up in the car and had a quick lunch. Hot soup Vietnamese noodles on a cold day along with some bbt (smart thinking, I know).
We went home. I napped, and LG watched some of his shows before preparing dinner (which he got a little fancy with).
It was really yummy, but not going to lie I was kind of looking forward to spaghetti :p.