This past weekend has been an absolute joy for me to experience in so many ways. On Saturday, two of my suitemates and I ran a 5K. It was our first official 5K (I don’t really think the Color Run 5K counts since it’s not competitive in the slightest), and something we were so glad we could do together as senior year comes to a close. It was difficult for me, no lie, since I run… never. I went out running the day before to prepare myself, which turned out to be a good idea, seeing as I didn’t feel like completely collapsing when I was done.
In fact, afterward, I. felt. amazing. We all did! The feeling of accomplishment, of pride, of unity, gotten from completing this simple event was palpable as we eventually made our way back to our room. I think I finally understand how running can give you that on-top-of-the-world feeling. I felt it all day long. (I’ve decided to embark on the Couch-to-5K plan to really begin my running regimen, too.)
In the evening, one of my suitemates and I went to Local Foods, this fantastic restaurant with fresh, organic, creatively-made food. The highlight of that meal? Not only did I enjoy conversation with my roomie, but when I went back up to the cash register to buy a cupcake after my dinner (the woman at the register was so happy that I was back to get dessert, that she yelled YAY really loudly), I handed my card over to pay and the guy looked at me and said, “It’s on the house.”
Something like that had never happened to me before, so obviously, I blinked, pushed my card toward him and said, “Hm, what?” I hadn’t really heard what he’d said.
So he smiled and said, “It’s on me.” And of course I continued on to say something along the lines of, “Oh my goodness, wow! Thank you so much! This really is the best day ever.” He probably didn’t even know what I was referring to (completing the 5K earlier), but oh well, my day was made even more over that random kind act from him.
On Sunday, I (barely) made it to my church here in Houston, West U. I’m so glad I went this particular Sunday. The message was about finding joy in suffering, rather than allowing ourselves to wallow in despair. Instead, we can have hope that all things will work out, by looking to Jesus and how He had joy despite the suffering He went through on this earth. And then, in Dr. Tour’s college class, probably the most dynamic, eye-opening speaker I’ve ever heard thus far, Nabeel Qureshi, came to speak to us about his life story and why (and how) he chose Jesus.
Everything he said was amazing. He grew up in a devoutly Muslim home with loving parents who taught him to follow his religion and question everyone who tried to talk to him about Christianity after moving to the US from Pakistan (because there was an unfortunate link between Christianity and the questionable western morals we see nowadays on television through things like reality shows – he said that rarely are Muslims today invited into American homes, so they can see that Christianity is actually not linked with the standards seen rampant in society today). He said when friends would ask if he knew Jesus, the situation would eventually end with the friend wide-eyed in thought when he asked them, “Why Jesus? Why did you choose Him?”
I can’t do his story justice; his videos on his website speak to how enthralling and dynamic he is. But all in all, he eventually discovered Jesus and came to truly believe that everything about Him was, and is, true. He studied historical texts, he searched, he talked for months with a close friend he trusted, and he found that Jesus’ sacrifice, in coming to the earth to die for us, gave us hope for purposeful life in Him when He resurrected. He lost his family and friends, even though they loved each other, because he knew that following Jesus was worth it. I can’t properly put into words how much this speaker impacted me. I can’t properly explain everything he said in our class on Sunday. But since I couldn’t tape his talk to us, I’m sure the Youtube videos and his website will suffice.
I can definitively say now, without hesitation or worry of saying the wrong thing, why I chose Jesus. That His sacrifice gives me daily hope. That without the power of Jesus’ resurrection, suddenly life would have no purpose or meaning for me. I’m incredibly grateful and in love with the Lord; He is AWESOME!
So anyway, I promised (myself, in my head) that for my 22nd post, I would also finally explain what “simplechara” means, and why I chose it over my previous “parisiannights” title. So why “simplechara”? Looking back on this past weekend, I realize that simplechara was the essence of my weekend.
Simplechara is the essence of my life.
It’s me, finding the absolute simplest joys in life – completing a 5K, enjoying conversation and good food, receiving a cupcake on the house, sitting in God’s presence and enjoying worship, laughing till my sides hurt, listening to raucous Houston thunderstorms at night – and delighting in the experience of them. Chara is a Greek word, meaning “delight,” “gladness,” “exceeding joy.”
Greek is a language that has been around for thousands of years; it’s a foundational language that fueled many writing systems and modern languages used today. In the same way, chara’s meaning – joy – is the fuel that drives my life. The way I live my life, the things I say, the things I do… those are all birthed and fueled from the foundation of joy in my life. Plus, Greece is one of my top places I want to travel to (based on my love for my favorite childhood-reminiscent book series, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants)… and my name means “God’s Joy”. All these reasons combined – both serious and light-hearted ones – inspired the simplechara moniker. So there you have it!
Have happy weeks!
P.S. Keeping the people and city of Boston in my prayers. We love you all over there.