“By the Grace of God I Am What I Am”

This is a long overdue post that I meant to write on November 30, when I was reading Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest.” And by write, I mean tell you all the great things that Oswald Chambers has to say.

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain…” – 1 Corinthians 15:10″

The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us. […] Never worry about whether what you say sounds humble before others or not. But always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all. There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord. If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purposes, and yours may be that life.

We complain about our incompetency as much as we acknowledge our imperfection, all in an attempt to achieve some sense of humility. I think, though, that we forget that the standard for perfection is different from the standard for competency. God created perfection; God is perfection. Compared to Jesus’ example, we all fall short. We are imperfect. Competency is world-created, based on the people in our lives and in this world who seem to do certain things particularly well. We strive to meet their standard and complain when we do not reach it, but perhaps not all standards of competency are ours to meet.

Glee Episode #8: Mash-up

Word of the Day: Popularity. In “Mash-Up”, Finn and Quinn struggle with popularity, trying to figure out how to regain social status and whether or not it really matters. Or rather, trying to figure out what matters. This week, I’m changing things a bit in my blog. There were too many good quotes to comment only on the popularity-related ones.

“My weave!” – Mercedes
I laugh out loud every time I hear this line. Part of it is the delivery. The other part is my new understanding of Black hair thanks to Chris Rock promoting Good Hair on Oprah.

“Now that you’ve joined Lullaby Lees and sperminated the queen of the Chastity Ball and dropped below us hockey dudes on the food chain, it’s open season.” – Karovsky
It’s interesting how people think that having sex makes you cool. At the same time, though, teen pregnancy – one consequence of having sex in high school, can cripple a couple’s social status. And now that Finn and Quinn have lost status in the eyes of their peers, the hockey dudes finally find themselves as predators in the food chain. I like to think that there is something good in humanity that allows us to empathize with our fellow prey, but Karovsky proves that is not always true.

Emma: Yes, and Ken has convinced me that we need to at least be in the same room when the marriage is certified.
Ken: What can I say, I’m a traditionalist.
No Ken, you’re just normal and the only person in the relationship who actually wants to get married.

“This is a disaster. Our reputation as McKinley High’s ‘it’ couple is in serious jeopardy if we don’t find some way to be cool again, Finn.” – Quinn
The head cheerleader/football star combination is always the ‘it’ couple in high school. At my school, there was Craig and Ashleigh. I wasn’t friends with them or part of their crowd, so I don’t know how hard they tried to maintain their status. I don’t know if they felt their popularity was ever threatened. I do know that considering social status as most important turns something small like a slushee facial into a major disaster.

“There’s an important lesson to be learned with mash-ups. Sometimes things are so different they don’t feel like they go together. But the big difference between them is what makes them great. Like chocolate and bacon.” – Will
I enjoy a good mash-up, not just musically but also metaphorically. It’s like life, the way things come together and result in unexpected greatness. But I’m hesitant about chocolate and bacon. I’m tempted to try it and experience the big difference that makes it great.

“Status is like currency. When your bank account is full, you can get away with doing just about anything.” – Quinn
Money is currency. And when your bank account is full, you can get away with a lot then, too. Just ask all the celebrities who face no consequences for their offenses.

Finn: Totally! It’s like you can’t see their eyes, so they have all the power. I could be looking at your boobs and you’d have no idea.
Emma: Um, no – kids, look. The most important thing is that you be yourselves. Ok? So if people don’t like you for that, I’m sorry but who needs them?
1. It kinda creeps me out when I can’t see someone’s eyes through their sunglasses. And I am not surprised that Finn would take advantage of that and look at someone’s boobs.
2. Why is it so hard for people to be themselves? Is it the fear of rejection and judgment? I say that if people don’t like you for yourself, you don’t need their judgment. You don’t need to go out of your way to be what they want. But it doesn’t mean you don’t need them as a person since everyone has something to offer, and it doesn’t mean you should refuse to accept them for who they are.

“She didn’t wear it to her dance rehearsals, and the night of the wedding her husband kept stepping on the train. It was really bad. The fight was epic. The priest cried. They were divorced three months later. Actually, maybe I shouldn’t wear it.” – Emma
I guess Emma is hoping a bad dance will be her ticket out.

“I know. It’s whack. But I also remember what my history teacher told us last semester. Only Nixon can go to China. I have no idea what she meant, but it reminded me of when my family ordered Chinese food and sat down together for our traditional Simchas Torah screening of Schindler’s List.” – Puck
I missed the first half of this quote during the original broadcast of the episode because I was squealing too loudly and jumping up and down.

Puck: Are you questioning my badassness? Have you seen my guns?
Rachel: No. I’m sorry, but – your arms are lovely. But I just don’t see us working out.
Yes, his arms are lovely. And I will justify my crush on Puck with the fact that the actor, Mark Salling, is really 27. It’s like how everyone roots for Josie and Mr. Coulson to get together when they watch Never Been Kissed. It’s creepy that the teacher is flirting with a student who is supposed to be 17, but we think it’s okay because (dramatic irony!) we know she’s really 25.

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be popular. It just means you want people to like you. I think that’s healthy.” – Finn
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting friends. Friendship is healthy; changing who you are in order to form many surface-level relationships is not. There’s a difference between wanting to be liked and denying your true self to achieve that. There are people who are truly popular, who always act like themselves and have many friends. Those are the people who make me jealous. Not the stereotypical “cool” people whose friendships people use to climb the social ladder.

I hear people say, ‘That’s not how I define marriage.’ Well to them I say, ‘Love knows no bounds.’ Why can’t people marry dogs? I’m certainly not advocating intimacy with your pets. I for one think intimacy has no place in a marriage. I walked in on my parents once, and it was like seeing two walruses wrestling. So ‘Woof!’ on Prop 15, Ohio. And that’s how Sue “C’s” it.” – Sue
I find this more amusing than I should, probably because I just watched Jane Lynch in Best in Show, about dog competitions. And I’m about to finish my first week working for a company that produces dog grooming expos and magazines for dog groomers.

“Your commitment to football is about as long as your pants.” – Will
I was just thinking about Ken’s short shorts. Isn’t it supposed to be cold in Ohio?

“You and I and the whole world knows that I am just a consolation prize. How do you think that makes me feel? … Emma is settling for me, and I love her so much I don’t care. But it doesn’t mean I appreciate you coming with your Gene Kelly charm and getting high off of her fawning over you.” – Ken
I feel such sympathy, and sometimes empathy, for Ken. He’s really a good guy, so why doesn’t Emma see that?

Puck: No one deserves this feeling. You know what the worst part is? It’s not the burning in your eyes or the way the slushee drips all the way into your underpants. It’s the humiliation. I feel like I could burst into tears at any moment. Rachel, I’m sorry, but today when the clock strikes 3:30…
Rachel: You’re choosing football over glee, which means we probably can’t be together anymore.
Puck: Yes. Damn, I feel like such a bad Jew.
This scene (the whole episode, really) continued to melt my heart for Mr. Noah Puckerman. The sensitivity, the understanding, the vulnerability… *swoon* But my favorite part was at the end when he whipped a yarmulke out of his pocket.

Rachel: Are you sure about this, Noah? I mean, choosing us over the team means you might get a slushie in your face every day.
Puck: Bring it.
Artie: Where’s Finn?
Oh, Noah Puckerman. Such bravery and maturity in risking the humiliation that makes him want to cry. And Artie. The delivery of his line was subtly brilliant. It carried the perfect amount of sadness and naivete, like a kid eating steak, wondering where his pet Bessie could be.

Finn: If I don’t do it, the guys on the team are going to kick the crap out of me.
Kurt: Well we can’t have that, can we?
Finn: What are you doing?
Kurt: It’s called taking one for the team. Now get out of here! And take some time to think whether or not any of your friends on the football team would have done that for you… Someone get me to a day spa, stat!
Kurt, this is why everyone loves you. Such a good lesson about friendship.

Rod: You didn’t think that we were exclusive, did you?
Sue: That’s the only way I do it, Rod.
For some reason, I wouldn’t expect this of Sue. But I suppose if Sue wants something, she has to be the only one who gets it.

Will: These are the moments, Finn. The crossroads. The ones you look back on when you get old and think, ‘What if’.
Finn: I don’t buy that. I don’t think any one decision makes your life. Unless you accidentally invent some kind of zombie virus or something.
Will: No, you’re right. Life’s a series of choices. A combination of moments. Little ones that add up to big ones that create who you are.
In high school, I used to put too much emphasis on the weight my decisions had on my future. I stressed out about choosing classes and whether or not I could get a job if I took art in 9th grade instead of Spanish. But every moment is a part of who you are, whether it’s something life-changing or mundane. Unfortunately, I missed the poignancy of this scene when watching it on TV, because we were viewing it on a standard definition screen. On the wide shots, both Will and Finn were off the screen. We could hear the voices but could only see the goal post.

“If it is one minute late, I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat, and then on some dark cold night I will steal away into your home and punch you in the face.” – Sue
EPIC.

Will: I just can’t get those two songs to go together.
Emma: Yeah, it’s because they don’t. We both know that. They’re both good songs, though.
Will: Great ones.
If Emma could only see the value of the “Thong Song”, then maybe they could make it work! Try harder to make it work, Will.

Rachel: They’re delicious.
Kurt: And filled with empty calories. You know why they’re called slushees, don’t you? Because your butt looks like one if you have too many of them.
You are what you eat, I suppose.

“You’ve never been hit by a slushee before, Mr. Schue?” – Artie
The best part about this line is the way Artie slowly rolls his wheelchair toward Will as he speaks.

Glee Episode #7: Throwdown

Word of the Day: Power. It’s amazing what people will do to gain or regain power and how some people are naturally powerful. It is also interesting to see what people do with the power they have, whether they use it for good or “evil”. Do they become a super hero or a super villain? I also enjoyed this episode’s look at the minority group in the midst of the power struggle over glee club.

“It sucks. You get all the stress and the worry, and none of the control.” – Finn
I suppose depending on your beliefs about the world, all of life is like this. In the grand scheme of things, we have very little or no control over what happens. The only thing we really have control over is ourselves and the decisions we make. We can choose to react to the world without the stress and the worry, even though everything else is out of our hands.

“Santana. Wheels. Gay kid. C’mon, move it! Asian. Other Asian. Aretha. Shaft.” – Sue
We’ve grown to expect this kind of insensitivity from Sue, but it still catches me off guard. I guess I would like to think that no one would be this insensitive. Yet I laughed. Maybe it’s because it reminded me of a personal incident when a professor asked the class to discuss what we liked best about being white. He turned to me and seeing my confused expression said, “Or fill-in-the-blank. There’s only two of you.” He didn’t even say Asian. Or other Asian. Fill-in-the-blank. Oh man, was I angry. After a while, though, I was able to see the comment for the ridiculousness and awkwardness that it was.

“I’m all about empowerment. I empower my Cheerios to live in a state of constant fear by creating an environment of irrational random terror.” – Sue
Sue is the kind of person who does not use her power for good. She’s also the kind of person who doesn’t understand empowerment. The root of empowerment is overpowering fear, stirring up within you the strength to achieve. Empowerment is not about instilling more fear.

“You can’t stand to see a woman in a position of power. Your psychosexual derangement would be fascinating if it weren’t so terrifying!” – Sue
Will doesn’t have a problem with women in positions of power. If he did, I don’t think he would try so hard to get all of his students, male and female, to succeed in school. No, his problem is that almost all of the women in his life are emasculating him. Do I think that being a man means having dominance over women? No, not entirely. But it is his inability to defend himself, to go from being abused by Sue at school to being abused at home by Terri (“I just don’t want to feel as powerless in my home as I do at school.”), that threatens his manhood.

“Here’s the deal Wu. My husband does the taxes for some very powerful mid-sized law firms in this town, and I’m sure somebody will be more than happy to take on my lawsuit.” – Kendra
Because there’s nothing more powerful than a mid-sized law firm. In a small town. With two OB/GYNs. Who are both Asian?

Finn: If we wanted to hear Mom and Dad fight, those of us who still have two parents would just stay at home on pay day.
Mercedes: I agree. Glee is supposed to be fun. And furthermore, I don’t like this minority business. I may be a strong, proud, Black woman, but I’m a lot more than that.
1. Loved Finn’s line and the perspective he offers.
2. I’m really glad that Mercedes acknowledges that her identity goes beyond race. I think race and ethnicity are important parts of one’s identity, but sometimes people fail to see anything else in themselves. I have encountered people who are so centered around their racial identity that they have developed a negative attitude toward the world, because in their eyes everyone is probably “ignorant” or “racist”. They have probably spent so much time self-segregating that they fail to see the common ground that we all share.

Glee Episode #6: Vitamin D

Word of the Day: Competition. It happens when two parties want the same thing, and sharing is not an option. One trophy. One job. One man. Sometimes competition is real, and sometimes it is only perceived.

Will: Competition. Every one of these people or elements was a champion in their own right. But they use competing with each other to make themselves even better.
Kurt: I don’t understand how lightning is in competition with an above-ground swimming pool.
Those who have a good understanding of competition are the ones who become better. They realize that the focus is on becoming better than they were before. Those who are overcome by competition only focus on being better than others. As for the lightning, I’m pretty sure it always trumps swimming pool. Every other time, the pool’s just lucky.

“A mashup is when you take two songs and mash them together to make an even richer explosion of musical expression.” – Will
A mashup is a good metaphor for the positive spirit of competition. Two songs come together but do not destroy the other in order to emerge as the dominant sound. Rather, what results is something beautiful and each song is better than before. For some good mashups, check out Norwegian Recycling on YouTube.

“Every time I try to destroy that clutch of scab-eating mouth breathers, it only comes back stronger like some sexually ambiguous horror movie villain.” – Sue
Sue is one of those people who doesn’t understand the spirit of healthy competition. She finds success by destroying others rather than bettering herself. Glee on the other hand, come back stronger because Sue’s attacks don’t expose weaknesses but rather give them opportunities for improvement.

“Don’t bend or break, baby, don’t back down.” – Bon Jovi
Persistance wins competitions. I knew Bon Jovi was wise.

Rachel: I know everyone expects us to be enemies and be in competition, but I don’t hate you.
Quinn: Why not? I’ve been awful to you.
Rachel: That was before you knew what it felt like to be me. An outsider.
Competition isn’t always real. I think that’s when it can be the most damaging, because you are unnecessarily focused on an imaginary prize. You take others down, even if they are not standing in your way. I’ve found myself in competition with others, though they were unaware of it. I lost a friendship because I saw my friend as an enemy instead. It wasn’t until I realized we were on the same side that we became friends again. (Truth is, there was an unexpected third party. My friend and I rekindled our relationship when we realized we both lost, and we understood what it was like to be the other person.)

“I know you have this thing about being clean. Now I can’t promise to pick up my underwear or squeegee the shower door, but I can promise to keep you life clean of sadness and loneliness and any other dark clouds that might float into it.” – Ken
This doesn’t have anything to do with the theme of competition, but I gotta say, who can compete with this speech?! Ken is probably one of the more sensible adults on the show, as much as I may hate to admit that. And though I’m a female, I think I am most similar to Ken out of all the characters.

“You might think there’s some kind of competition going on between you and I, but that’s like saying a nail is competing with a hammer.” – Terri
I’ve been on the receiving end of this statement before, though at the time, I was also the one saying the words. During my imaginary competition, I always saw myself as the nail and my friend as the hammer. I wanted to win so badly but kept telling myself that I never had a chance. Sure, the nail could put up a good fight, but there was no way the nail could beat the hammer. I realize now that I was my own hammer and could never win against my negative thinking.

I guess I get caught up in the competitive hysteria too. My goals are too selfish. It’s time for me to stop competing against everyone and start competing alongside them.
It’s like a mashup. Instead of trying to destroy others, how can you work with them to create something even better?

Glee Episode #5: The Rhodes Not Taken

Word of the Day: Why. It is probably the most important question we can ask of ourselves. Honest answers to the question “Why?” give us a better glimpse of who a person is and who we are. “Why” shows us what motivates a person or what is considered important. The answer doesn’t always come right away – if we want the real answer. That’s probably why it takes a whole episode for the characters to understand their reasons why.

“We have obligations as teachers to give kids opportunities for growth and enrichment.” – Emma
If only all teachers acknowledged this obligation as their reason for teaching. There are too many teachers who focus on the salary (however much or little) over the students. The best teachers out there are the ones who make you better people, not better test takers. They’re the ones who teach you about life and academics, and help you to realize your full potential.

“If Glee’s gonna win, I need to give her a second chance. She is a talented performer, and I really think that the kids are going to learn a lot of valuable technique from her.” – Will
Will has a couple reasons for keeping April around, both seemingly focused on his students. His first reason is to help April and allow her to achieve what she was 3 credits short from achieving. His second reason is to help his current students become better singers and performers. At the root of it all, though, is Will’s desire for Glee to win and reclaim his glory days.

“You need to think about why you’re doing this and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get it.” – Emma
Not only should you think about what you’re willing to sacrifice, but you should also consider whether “this” is even worth the sacrifice. And is the “why” worth the sacrifice, too? Is the businessman willing to sacrifice family time to get the promotion just because he wants prestige at work? Am I willing to sacrifice a couple homework-less years of my life to get my Master’s degree in order to pursue my desire to work with college students? Is Will willing to sacrifice the integrity and innocence of his students in exchange for April Rhodes just so Glee can succeed?

“I just know that I want to spend more time with you now.” – Finn
Goodness, who knows how many times this has been my reason why…

Kurt: Maybe Quinn is lactose intolerant.
Artie: That doesn’t explain all the crying.
Tina: Maybe she just doesn’t like the group.
No amount of speculation about the “why” behind Quinn’s recent behavior can replace Quinn’s personal obligation to face the truth.

“I need to get a music scholarship so I can go to college, so I can get a good job, so I can take care of my kid. And I can’t do that if you don’t come back to glee club.” – Finn
I remember the idea of college driving my decisions, even down to the courses I studied in junior high. I needed to take the right classes so I could get into a good school, so I could get a good job. But that’s all. Finn’s motivation is much weightier and goes beyond just having a good job. He wants a good life, something that college can provide.

“I realized being a star didn’t make me feel as special as being your friend. If I let you down when you needed me the most, I’d never forgive myself.” – Rachel
Rachel said in the pilot episode that “being a part of something special makes you special”. She thought that “something special” was glee club, but now she realizes it’s the friendship she has with the glee kids. The relationships we form are often the strongest reasons why we do anything.