Please help me get a selfie with Jeremy so I can bring honor to my family.
I quietly prayed in the back row of the Jubilee Project Conference, where Jeremy Lin was doing a Q&A. Long story short, I didn’t bring my family honor. My head made up a couple pixels in a selfie Jeremy took with the entire conference. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers.
After Jeremy left, I bumped into a guy who had raised his hand during the Q&A. “Dude, you got to talk to Jeremy Lin!” I joked with him. Social constructs dictated we introduce ourselves. His name was Marshall (not really, I changed his name for ambiguity’s sake), and his dream was to be an actor.
I switched into director mode, analyzing Marshall’s physique. He resembled an Asian Seth Rogen. Somewhat. I tried picturing this guy becoming a famous actor and Seth Rogen was the closest equivalence. I hope he’s good at comedy, I thought to myself. Turns out he was interested in action and drama. I imagined myself directing Mission Impossible 6 with him in the cast. Nah. “Are you good at comedy?” I asked. Marshall shrugged. “I guess I’m open to that,” he replied.
I forced a smile as I word-vomited every encouragement cliché that came to mind. “Keep pursuing your dreams, man. Nothing’s impossible, as long as you work hard and stay focused.”
Marshall grinned and thanked me for the kind words. He then went into detail about how his parents didn’t support his acting dreams. He had come all the way from Texas, lied to his folks about the trip, and was looking for a break because he couldn’t stand his current major. I began looking for my friends. “Well, good luck dude,” I told him, and split.
As the conference went on, it seemed I would either constantly bump into him, or hear other people talk about him.
“There’s a guy who really wants to be an actor.”
“Oh yeah, that’s him.”
One conference speaker told us to get into pairs and discuss a question: imagine ten years from now, you’ve accomplished your dreams. What do you do next?
Lo and behold, Marshall saw me and smiled. Can’t turn back now! I reluctantly sat next to him, smiling back. During the ten minutes we had to chat, he talked for nine. He had a huge dream, and oh the possibilities if it were to come true! My knee began bouncing like a vibrating cell phone. This was my last day at the Jubilee Project Fellowship, and I really wanted to spend quality time with my fellows, not a stranger who I’d probably never see again. I quickly told him what I might do if my dream came true (buy a yacht or something), then went back to my fellows, leaving Marshall sitting alone in the back row.
Several fellows were wearing cool wristbands with a metal ring attached, called MyIntent bracelets. On the metal ring, you could choose a word that you wanted to intentionally live out, such as love, forgiveness, etc. I asked how much it was. Twenty-five dollars. Da heck. Too pricey for some string and ring.
One fellow, Xing, who is an incredible dentist and poet along with being a filmmaker, asked me what my word was. Generation, I said. I liked the second verse from the song “Hosanna”, which talks about seeing a generation rising up with selfless faith. “That’s what I hope to see in this generation, and the generation after us,” I said. “I want to help people live for something greater, which is my way of living for something greater.”
Before I knew it, Xing had pulled me over to the MyIntent booth and bought a wristband for me. “Dude, you didn’t have to!” I stammered, yet extremely grateful. I didn’t think my love language was gifts, but receiving an awesome bracelet made me rethink it.
The booth operator, Peter, asked me what my word meant. I went through my spiel about investing in our generation. Peter looked me in the eye. “You know,” he said, “there are a lot of people at this conference who are alone. They could use someone like you to be there for them.”
A ghostly, Lord of the Rings-esque voice whispered into my brain. Maaaaarrshaaalll.
I knew what I had to do.
Marshall was walking up the stairs when I ran into him again. “Hey man,” I said, stopping him where he was. I let some people pass us. “I just wanted to say, if you ever need help putting together a demo reel, let me know.”
For me, this was the closest thing to saying “I believe in you” without actually saying it.
Marshall glanced at me, and this time, looked genuinely grateful. He knew I meant it. “Thanks bro, that really means a lot.”
“Like I said, let me know.” We exchanged contact information, then parted ways for the last time.
As I played with the MyIntent bracelet, it occurred to me that I actually suck at investing in people. My natural default is to stay in my comfort zones. If Xing hadn’t bought me the bracelet, if Peter hadn’t reminded me of Marshall, I would have spent the entire conference chilling with my friends. And there’s nothing morally wrong with that. However, if I were to pursue God’s calling on my life and truly live for something greater than my own wants and desires, then I have to be intentional about it. Like my bracelet.
I wear that bracelet every day now. Not gonna lie, it’s super difficult to constantly invest in other people. So the next time you see me with the word generation around my wrist, feel free to stop and ask if I’ve been intentional about living for other people. Hopefully the answer will be yes, along with a new story to tell. If not, I’ll keep working on it, which I pray I always will be.
Also, I still want a selfie with Jeremy Lin.
P.S. check out a recap of the JP Conference in this video! I'm in it several times: https://youtu.be/rfz_le-J7YY