~ Guest Writer, Julia Rael ~

What Boba Taught Me About Forgiveness

Life is full of firsts.

The first time I drove a car was a monumental day in my life. The first time I went to a job interview was traumatizing and exciting. And the first time I tried surfing was an absolute disaster.

For better or for worse, our first times can influence the way we approach things for the rest of our lives.

I’m reminded of the first time I tried boba – a milk tea that is very popular here in Los Angeles. I had heard about this trendy tea for some time and was very curious as to what all the hype was about. I had a lot of friends tell me it was great, but part of me was skeptical. On the day I finally tried it for myself for the first time, I walked confidently up to a food truck in downtown LA and ordered a rose-flavored milk tea with classic boba. It was so disgusting I could hardly bear to take a second drink.

A couple of years later, I decided to give boba another chance. This time, I ordered a flavor that I knew I would like, and I ordered it in slushie form so the texture wouldn’t affect my opinion. It was delicious! My life was changed. My entire family now goes on boba outings regularly.

The reason I tell this story is this: If I had not given boba a second chance, I would have missed out on something terrific. I would have missed out on something that now brings my family together. But in order to give it that second chance, I had to erase my memory of the first time I had boba. If I hadn’t, I could have let that bad memory prevent me from trying something that I have now come to love.

First impressions are different for everyone.

My first impression of Boba was very different than countless other people around the world that tried it for the first time and loved it. Whether or not we realize it, our perspectives are altered by the way we experienced things for the first time. First impressions can affect us positively, or they can affect us negatively.

Sometimes the things that hold us back in life are not as big as we think they are. Maybe your misgivings are as shallow as my temporary grudge against milk tea. It takes a decent amount of humility to be able to step back from bad experiences we may have had and give things a second chance. This may be especially hard when it comes to giving people a second chance. When people ignore us, speak badly about us, or just generally hurt our feelings, the easiest thing for us to do in return is to cut that person out of our lives and wallow in our own self-pity.

But what does that do for our personal growth?

Nothing. Does it make us feel any better? No.

Consider what it would be like to unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, and before you have time to realize what you had done, you are cut out of their lives and you don’t even have a chance to apologize. Being treated that way can hurt us deeply. Little do we realize that when we do this, we may be missing out on relationships that can fill our lives with joy. Sometimes when we have bad first impressions, it takes a second chance before we can see what we’re missing.

As a musician, I’m always looking for music that inspires me and teaches me lessons about life. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of content out there in the music world that touches on the subject of new beginnings.

I’ve recently come across a version of the old African American Spiritual, Down in the River to Pray. (The original Facebook video has been viewed over 9 million times!) This particular version of the song has been arranged for a four-part women’s a capella choir, and the result is breathtaking. The vocal parts intertwine in beautiful harmonies that work together to bring out the inspiring message of this song. The choir music is available from National Music Publishers.

This song is part of conductor Elena Sharkova’s choral series. Ms. Sharkova is a passionate conductor and music educator who has received awards from prestigious organizations around the world. The lyrics of this song piece together a beautiful metaphor: “Oh brothers… sisters…let’s go down… down in the river to pray.” Here, the idea of washing clean is presented. Starting over. Letting go. Trying again. These things are essential to new beginnings. It is only when we let go of our past that we can truly make strides toward the future.

But forgiveness is not an easy process.

As a woman of faith, I have been taught my whole life that we must forgive if we ever expect to be forgiven. When I believe someone has treated me wrongfully, it is my faith that I rely on to give me the strength to forgive them. I generally find that it helps to look at the situation from another perspective. Put yourself in their shoes. When you look at a situation through another person’s eyes, what do you see? Do you see malicious intent? Or do you see misunderstanding, ignorance, and innocence? If we never forgive others, how do we expect to be forgiven? If we never start over after a mistake, how will we ever succeed?

Sometimes we take it for granted when we have been given a second chance. Our first inclination is to say “Yes, thank you – I deserved that!” without realizing that we should be incredibly grateful to the person who washed our slate clean and gave us the opportunity of a new beginning. Being grateful for the little things in life prepares us for being grateful for the big things.

I am incredibly grateful for Boba.

I’m grateful for the flavors, the textures, and all the memories I’ve made while drinking it with my family and friends. But mostly I’m grateful that I gave it a second chance. And the next time someone hurts my feelings or makes a mistake that upsets me, I’ll think about Boba before I judge them.

Julia Rael

Julia is a young, enthusiastic writer whose love for music is threatened by only one thing: her love for coffee. She is currently a choral music student and barista in Los Angeles, where she likes to spend her free time bullet journaling, hiking, and laughing at her two English Bulldogs – Emma and Charlie.

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