Holy Saturday

I’m going through major transitions.

First, we’re having another boy, and he’s due in September. Second, we’re moving to Los Angeles. We don’t know the exact timing, but we’re heading up there sometime in the next seven months or so. Third, I’ll be out of a job in six weeks as a director for San Diego InterVarsity.

Conception, location, and vocation. What else could possibly change?

And the transitions weighed down on me like a burlap sack full of black coal. First, I really loved the first seven years of my marriage. No kids. Eat out? Anytime. Movies? We’ll be there. Sleep in? Enjoy the snooze button. Life was good in no-kid-ville. Don’t get me wrong: Ice is a joy. But when he came into the world, my lover became a mother. And I became the help.

Second, L.A. is Nineveh to me. I grew up a Laker-hater. Plus, add lung-blackening smog, parking-lot traffic, and the expectation to drive 45 minutes to see friends, and it’s hard to think of a city that can be any more aggressively anti-community. Throw in materialism and rampant image-consciousness into the mix, and it seems to stand against everything I live for. I hate L.A. so much that though my wife hails from its South Bay, we drove down to San Diego when I proposed because I couldn’t stand to think of being engaged in L.A. See, I’ve got serious issues.

Third, I couldn’t dream. With my wife’s job lasting for only a year, I found myself again in limbo. I can’t live out a dream. I have to wait for another year — possibly two — before I can work for something longer term. I’ve often felt like a racehorse at the starting line, where the other gates have opened while mine has stalled shut. And now, I have to wait even longer.

Eyes downcast, it’s hard to stay upbeat.

But I’ve been called to let go of what isn’t real. The wife of my first seven years is no longer. She’s now a mother. A beautiful, tender, nothing-held-back kind of mother, the best kind that my son could ever have. I need to let the old wife pass away to embrace the wife I truly have. Because the wife I have, though different, is still the wife I desperately need and deeply adore. And L.A. may be Nineveh, but I can’t go to Tarshish. Sure, what place can be more idyllic than San Diego? But it will soon no longer my home. Instead, l’ll need to embrace my new home. (Though, rooting for the Lakers may take some time.) Besides, I hear the food can’t be beat. And my past director role — and all the identity that was wrapped up in it — needs to die, so I can embrace what will come next. Letting it go gives me an empty hand to grasp the new thing. And I want to make sure that I’ll be able to catch it when it comes by.

For Christians, Fridays always come before Sundays. Crosses are the way to crowns. And resurrection is always preceded by death. The two are never separated — in faith and in reality.

But perhaps we don’t give enough attention to Holy Saturday. Good Friday and Easter Sunday get a lot of attention in liturgical calendars, but many of us live in Holy Saturday: we know death has already come, and we wait to be reborn.

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  1. 1. Love the Lakers.

    2. Tell me you read rolheisers book…

    3. After resurrection is Ascension (letting go) and then Pentecost (be filled with what we desire).

    Much love to you and the familia. You’re a gem to the Kingdom.


  2. I definitely want to read Rolheiser. Holy Longing is at the top of my wish list.


  3. I grew up in Seattle too – we’re a LA hating community, but after living here for 10 years I can tell you…it’s only gotten worse. I will never be a fan of LA anything. The good news is that they’re are a lot of people here, hidden away in their little enclaves, that are pretty cool.

    Perhaps more importantly, I have MLB extra innings, and I get every Mariner game. Also every Husky basketball and football game. So if you need a Seattle fix, you know who to call.


  4. thanks for sharing.

    ps- LA can be cool and enjoyable. just avoid things like hollywood, korean churches, and long commutes. :)


  5. good thoughts…!
    we’ve been having a tough time adjusting to this town for precisely what you’ve listed. (being sandwiched between ktown, beverly hills/hollywood really isn’t helping)
    but, trying to make the most of life here even though it feels really transitional…
    will continue to think of you, jinhee, isaiah, and baby during your season of transition.
    it’ll be good to be a bit closer. :)


  6. James, great post. Great thoughts. Thank you!


  7. thanks for these words james. it’s good to know that sunday is coming.


  8. i enjoyed reading this, james. i’m in the 5th month of my transition from LA to chicago. i think the last month or so has been the hardest time for me. chicago is probably easier to adjust to than LA, but man, the winter months can be pretty brutal here.


  9. Well, you had the luxury of no-kids married life… me? My wife was prego after ONE MONTH! >.< So needless to say, I don’t even know what that’s like to get out to do things whenever wherever with your spouse… Perhaps seven years was too long to learn to let go. But you are a fighter … and a father and a husband. So you will adjust. :) Fatherhood, as tough as it is, is a beautiful thing. I know you wouldn’t either and I sure wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    And in the end, fatherhood has taught me much over and over and over about how God the Father has loved such undeserving child like me so unconditionally.


  10. I thought I hated LA because the only parts I saw were K-town and Hollywood. If you can, come to West LA. I actually think it’s quite beautiful here. My theory is that since the wind is always blowing west to east, the further west you are the more healthy the environment. Anyway, congrats on boy #2. For us it saved a whole lot of clothes/gear shopping.


  11. Gosh you are an excellent writer James!
    And with the very real emotion backing up this prose, all the better it was too.

    But that’s not the point.

    So just to say:

    Thanks very much – useful!

    And wishing you all good things…


  12. James–Thanks for including me in your list of friends. I see that you are in a great transition. Your comment about letting go so that you can be ready to grab onto to the next opportunity is a very valuable tool. Looks like you have many good friends to help you through this time of sifting. You are definitely a man of reflection so you will come come through it and add another stone to your Gilgal pile that makes you strong and ready to fight the battles of life. Like Mother Teresa has said “Life is an opportunity, benefit from it… Life is a game, play it…Life is costly, take care of it…Life is a mystery, know it…Life is a promise, fulfill it…Life is a struggle, accept it…Life is an adventure, dare it…Life is luck, make it…Life is life, fight for it!”


  13. well at least you got some ktown food.


  14. yes — there’s always a silver lining, and good Korean food (especially after San Diego) is definitely a whole lot of lining!


  15. mm… good friday before resurrection sunday. ;) old but good word. will be praying for you guys. congrats on son #2


  16. reading this a bit late, but nonetheless. must say our family can defn understand your sentiments . . . :) thanks for sharing!


  17. Does it have to be Los Angeles?! How about Orange County? That’s a good mediating location, and if that option is open for your consideration, I live in Aliso Viejo, and there’s plenty of room this way for ya :)


  18. Coming to this now, meandering from somewhere else. I loved your description of pre- and post-children life. I know motherhood is hard on husbands. I loved how you described those feelings. Thanks.


  19. La Mikia Castillo May 13, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    So, I’m clearly a year late on this, but as an LA native, I must say that LA is a great city. Sure, San Diego is pretty to look at, but LA is full of life and culture. Community is here, you just have to find it. I mean, when I was in SD, I could never imagine living there– the environment was hostile for me. God blessed me with a great community through IV, but I still faced challenges there (as you well know). Even with all of its faults, I’d much rather be in LA than SD…

    I think that there are many misperceptions about LA that lead people to believe that it is a less than desirable place to live. For me, it is home– full of the ugly black smog and bad traffic you mentioned, but also rich with cultural diversity, delicious food, meaningful entertainment like museums and culture clash (not just Hollywood), and so much more.

    I will admit that my relationship with LA is a love-hate relationship. I love so many things about this place, but hate so many things about it, as well. I think that once you spend more time here, you’ll know what I mean…

    Now that you have lived here for a few months, I’d love to hear how you’re coping =D We should definitely find a time to hang out. Please send Jinhee and the boys my love.


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