I had been consistent with blogging once a week, but after Easter, exhaustion overtook me because I used up so much of my energy on a very special project I was working on for two months!
Earlier this year I wrote about how I want to dedicate a big part of my life to mission work in the digital field because technology is the only thing that can bring people together faster than people themselves can. For my first tackle into digital missions, I traced my advertising roots and came up with the hashtag #OneLinerTestimony. I then invited friends to share their testimonies in just one sentence, because all of our stories are little pieces of a huge one. In order to make the project fun, I took photos of them posing to reflect the mood of what they wrote! I was able to get 30 friends to participate in the short amount of time I had!
We launched my hashtag on Easter! All my friends posted their testimony photos and stories on Facebook and also tagged their friends to share too. They have been seen collectively by at least 1000 friends of friends, which means at least 1000 people were inspired by our stories. The one consistent theme of all the stories is how despite the negative view of religious ideologies, our faith doesn’t control our lives but instead frees us from the darkness of this world. One darkness is how people use religion for hate-crimes, and how our tendency to judge leads us to hate others eventually without religion even playing a part.
Here is my own testimony and photo. Though I like to keep my blog a positive environment because I like to encourage you guys with happiness, I will be vulnerable in this post to share why I had a 180 degree turn after spending 22 years as an agnostic.
Before I took the step to faith in March 2015, I was a pretty messed up person. I couldn’t feel any emotions about anything, but would at times get outbursts of anger and sadness. If you read this blog back in 2010 I made series of posts just to rant about things that bothered me. Those rants eventually were unable to de-stress me and in more recent years I replaced that emptiness by constantly trying to please everyone because I thought I wasn’t good enough for anything.
Emotions have never been okay in my atheist Chinese family. Being the one American in my entire family, I sought their approval desperately while at the same time tried to hide all emotions from everyone. When the first boy came into my life 10 years ago I did everything I could to suppress how I felt simply because I was told that I’m a girl which means I’m not allowed to like boys even when dating them. Though for the last 10 years I brushed it aside, my faith showed me how it really stunted my emotional growth. I was self-destructive in high school – I thought everything would magically become okay with a cigarette and distanced my friends who reached out to me. I continued to hide in college and was easily manipulated by male friends who could sweet-talk me. I didn’t think there was such a thing as love. I let myself be assaulted and harassed by guys I trusted because I didn’t even have the emotions to care. I thought it was okay for them to treat me like that.
I went to grad school for two reasons. One, yes to get a six figure job when I graduate. Two, to somehow make a change in my emotionless life. When I was welcomed into a Christian campus family, I thought I could just hide away everything and start a new life with them. But this God all my new friends believed in challenged how I felt about things in ways I would never have imagined. Everything I did to let love into my heart also poured out emotions I never was allowed to have before. I was so, so happy. At the same time, I was so, so sad because it was too hard to re-position my entire life. Even after my baptism, emotions were too much for me to handle that I tried packing them away again. I pushed myself to prove that I was good enough for people. The one emotion I couldn’t pack away though, was pain. Around last Thanksgiving I became aware of how pain was the only thing I felt.
It was incredibly hard for me to open up to my friends when I didn’t have my parents to talk to anymore – they had been challenging my faith during my entire journey, by turning my old life against my new one. They said my old life – the one where I often felt I made the wrong choice of abstaining from smoking again and refusing shallow interactions with boys – was realistic. And that my new life of communal friendship and serving community – was a temporary delusion. I couldn’t talk to my friends when needed them so much. I was absolutely terrified that my old life of manipulation and harassment would return.
There were times I thought I was going to die. If I were to describe how that differs from suicidal, I would say that I consciously wanted to live. I really wanted to live, but lies and hurts from so many years of unresolved issues smothered me.
I was able to finally begin sharing my story in the last few months because I thought my life was already over, and that even if my friends judged me it didn’t matter anymore. That’s just wrong in every way. How can we live a life trapped in lies about ourselves that our own skin, metaphorically speaking, becomes toxic?
There were times as late as this February that I felt like life was a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. But since then, I have made a miraculous recovery because my friends gave me love, they watched me cry, they pushed me to not fear, they listened to every word, they forgave me for my mistakes, they kept telling me I was worthy, they never stopped reminding me I was not too broken to be healed by our God. But I had to do my own part too. I constantly prayed. However, prayer doesn’t equal making a wish. It doesn’t mean God will grant me what I want. But it does mean strengthening the connection in my relationship with God and being able to see myself only from His eyes. And I was able to see that I’m a human being. I’m a woman with emotions and plans for my life. I’m not an object of men’s desires. I can be the person I was born to be because I don’t have to please anyone, especially men. My life’s purpose is to use the talents given to me – like taking photos and making websites – to love and serve my family, my friends, and my community.
It really took just about all my energy to get better while I was working on #OneLinerTestimony at the same time that after Easter, I crashed. I woke up the next day completely unable to get out of bed. My body had taken the physical toll from the damage of my struggles, but I’ve been resting since then. The launch of #OneLinerTestimony has given me hope – I’ve met so many new people through it, gotten much closer with my friends, and spread love to people I’ve hardly spoken to. I look forward to using the upcoming summer for more recovery, and I hope to get back into blogging regularly and reading your blogs again!
It’s okay whether or not you share my faith. I wanna thank you lots for reading this post. No matter how you feel, I will tell you right now that you matter. Every person on Earth does. Whether you are a man or a woman; whether you are Christian or Muslim or atheist, etc; whether you are Asian or White or Black, etc; whether you are gay or transgender, etc; whether you are rich or poor; whether you hate me or love me; every part of you matter. All of your tears and smiles matter to me. And I think you are beautiful because I believe in creation – not a God wizard who conjured everything, but a God who created our humanity. Each of us was created to be loved and no one has the right to place anything else about you above that love.
I hope this open post about my struggles can encourage you to love yourself too. <3 I nominate Jenny & Becca to share their #OneLinerTestimony on social media and tell their churches about the hashtag!