Image is Everything

Do you care about what others think of you?

I do. Sometimes I don’t care at all because I’m at the gym to get my cardio done and mascara and my version of cardio don’t mix well.¬†Sometimes I care too much (like during junior high and high school, and when I’m around a group of people I don’t know well). Maybe it was all that great training I got in high school – poms, speech team, student council and the school newspaper. You learn about image and presenting yourself well. You learn about diction, eye contact and presence. You learn that even if you don’t care what other people think of you those people are forming opinions about you.

This weekend I’m headed off to Ohio to spend the weekend with some amazing InterVarsity students and staff to talk with and learn from one another about God, Jesus, faith, culture, ethnicity and identity. I cannot say this enough. I love my job.

We will be talking about image – what we think of ourselves and perhaps what others think of us. My hope is that we will be honest with ourselves and with one another.

So I’ll be honest. The worst part of public speaking isn’t the public speaking (even if it can feel as vulnerable as standing on stage with nothing on but your underwear). It’s packing for speaking gigs. Yup. Stupid? Yes. No. Maybe. Packing unnerves me because I want to project just the right vibe – accessible, warm, engaging, cool, but not trying-too-hard-to-be-cool cool, fashionable but not in a materialistic way, intelligent, prepared and wise but not old. That is a lot of for an outfit to do, right? And knowing that about myself makes me feel vain and foolish.

Where is the middle or appropriate ground when dealing with the way we look and present ourselves? I feel like it’s particularly dicey for women, and there additional issues for women of color. What do you worry about when it comes to your image and where or how do you draw the line?

More Than Serving Tea in Seattle

I know that coffee is the official drink of Seattle, but More Than Serving Tea heads out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest Saturday, October 18 for a one-day gathering “for Asian American women to be inspired, encouraged, connected and empowered” at Seattle Pacific University.

The event is sponsored by Seattle Pacific University, Japanese Evangelical Missions Society, and International Students Inc., in partnership with local churches.

The idea for this event came from¬†Bo Lim, scripture prof at Seattle Pacific University. He and his wife Sarah Han Lim, are friends of mine from their days in Chicago. We attended the same church and were in the same small group that was a source of life during the early-parenting days. Two years ago I invited Bo and Sarah to the More Than Serving Tea book launch party, but by then they were already in Seattle. They couldn’t make it down to LA, but Bo asked if I would come out to Seattle and the rest was a lot of networking, advocating and coordinating – on Bo’s part.

I’m not personally connected with SPU or International Students Inc. but the fact that JEMS is sponsoring the event is personal. As a freshmen at Northwestern University, I wanted a Christian community that spoke my heart language. I found it in Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF), which at the time was affiliated with JEMS. It was there I heard the gospel preached and taught by a woman who loved God and believed the campus could be changed by Christ. My experience with AACF stuck with me and shaped my journey of faith in ways I could not have imagined at that time. AACF eventually affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the end of my junior year. Six years later I went into ministry with IVCF and AACF at Northwestern.

The other personal part is that this event started out in Bo’s mind.

Bo and his wife Sarah Han Lim are friends from their Chicago days. We attended the same church and were in the same small group during our early parenting season.

Two years ago I invited them to attend a book launch event in LA, but by then they were already in Seattle. Bo asked if I would be open to coming out to Seattle, and then he ran with it being the advocate and champion so many of us long for and often need. Why? Because self-promotion goes against every grain in my being. As an Asian American, the Asian part kicks in whispering “do not put yourself before others”. As a woman, I am not often in the places or positions of influence to promote others (though I do recognize this is beginning to change a bit for me, and even writing that feels a bit uncomfortable and self-promoting. ugh). As an Asian American Christian woman, all of that gets mixed up for me as I wrestle with being humble but being a good steward of my gifts.

All that to say it really is an honor to be invited to speak at this event, and I am looking forward to learning from and walking with my fellow Asian American women on this journey. You can go here to register or for more information.

I hope to see you there!