Apr21

#OneLinerTestimony

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!

Thumbnails of my project! You can view all the photos here for now.

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.

That’s me!

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!

Write a Comment

9 Comments to "#OneLinerTestimony"

Georgie wrote on 21st April 2016 at 7:01 PM

What a beautiful post. I don’t share in your faith very much but I can see how finding God has made you a happier person and changed your life for the better. It’s a shame that for me it’s the other way around and that I went from being religious to not very religious at all, but I just didn’t feel the connection you had. When you mentioned prayer and feeling a connection with God and accepting yourself for being human, I feel like that was something I experienced when I found true love. I prayed a lot but I didn’t feel a connection with God.

I think that is what led me to destruction in the first place, to let people take advantage of me and to ‘rebel’ because I did not feel like God had helped me. I feel like I was stuck in the mentality that I was already broken, so how broken could I stand to get? I suppose if God loved me, I didn’t see it early enough, because my broken family was evidence of everything but love.

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Liv Reply:

Hey Georgie 🙂 thank you so much for reading all my spirituality posts and telling me about how you were driven away from your faith. I don’t know your story yet but I have many friends who gave up religion because they didn’t feel that God loved them. Perhaps it was through hurtful priests/pastors who forgot the commandment to love EVERYONE no matter how they feel about your preachings, or by oppressive parents who control their children on sexuality or expression. Each of these broken stories (and broken families) is a chance to let in a graceful love that CAN heal brokenness. It’s incredibly hard to forgive when we’ve been hurt but if we all forgive like God does, incredible things happen.

I’d love to talk to you in depth about love and relationships, with or without faith involved. 🙂

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Tara wrote on 23rd April 2016 at 1:00 AM

That’s a good project, and I’ve been doing something similar with the kids I work with on such as sharing one good thing about themselves or what they want to be when they grow up . . . I’ll have to think more on it. That might be a good summer project I can do with the kids. I’ll definitely think about it.

Thanks for sharing your story. I admit . . . all the religious aspect of it doesn’t affect me. I’ve always been quite content with my own self and not believing in anything. But then again, I feel that I am a strong person and I believe in myself, so that’s why religion is not something I will ever need. I don’t need religion or a higher being to feel happy. I’m happy with my hobbies, friends, and families. And chocolate, hahaha!

In the end, it’s great you were able to find what you needed with God and religion. It’s great those been helpful to you, and you found acceptance, love, and solace with them.

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Becca wrote on 24th April 2016 at 9:19 AM

I love love love the idea of doing the #onelinertestimony. Thanks so much for thinking of me and tagging me, Liv! While I can easily share my testimony, it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be to condense it into one line and still make it feel personal. It probably took me half an hour! I’ve not taken a picture yet, but I will try to this afternoon! 😛 I’ve settled on this for my #onelinertestimony:

Jesus has me saved from my deppression, worries, and fears through his unending mercy and grace, which is more than sufficient as his power is made perfect in my weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

I struggle a lot with worrying about the future and not knowing what’s going to happen, but God always provides and he is always there for me every step of the way. His plan is so much better than anything I could have planned, even if it’s not easy. Which is really hard for me to grasp because I am such a control freak and like to have everything planned out to the tee. My hardest part about my relationship with Christ is just trusting that he knows what’s best. I’ve struggled a lot with depression as a result, but being reminded that He is all powerful despite my weakness is just so incredibly encouraging. No matter how bad I mess up, his grace, mercy, and love will be there to pull me through.

Thanks so much for sharing this super personal post, Liv! I’ve come from such a different background where I grew up in church with my parents, so I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to not have that kind of support from them. I love one of your last lines, “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.”

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Liv Reply:

AH thanks for sharing your #onelinertestimony! One of my friends (in the photo) actually said almost exactly the same as you and pulled from the same verse!!! I think wanting everything planned out to the very last deet is not uncommon nor is it a bad character trait, but it becomes so much easier leaving it to God’s plan 🙂 I have noticed how not pushing myself on my own plan has made my life so much better. <3

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Jenny wrote on 25th April 2016 at 1:30 PM

Wow what a raw, incredible post! I always love reading people’s testimonies because it’s a reminder of the amazing things God is doing constantly in other people’s lives <3 The #OneLinerTestimony is a great idea, and thank you for tagging me to be a part of it!

I'll be honest and say that I've definitely slipped a lot recently when it comes my relationship with God, and I know a big part of it is because I'm not actively part of a fellowship at my local church. My mom has been encouraging me to join small groups ever since I started living on my own, but after a pretty terrible experience with my previous church' small group years, it's become extremely difficult for me to want to open up to other Christians and trust them again. Yet I have no problem trusting my non-Christian friends with personal issues, because ironically they're more understanding and less judgmental. It's kind of sad when I think about it. I'm so happy for you that you're surrounded by friends who are there to support you, encourage you, NOT judge you, and most of all, go through this journey of faith with you 🙂

I would love to participate in the #OneLinerTestimony project, but I'm not sure what I would share at this time. I've got a lot of internal issues + my relationship with God I need to sort out before I feel like I can honestly share something from the heart though. But thank you again for thinking of me <3

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Cat wrote on 30th April 2016 at 5:06 PM

What a great project! I also really like the photo for each person. I’m glad it came together and was a success 🙂

Sorry to hear that your parents keep challenging your faith. Chinese culture and expectations can be pretty rough. I’m really happy for you that you have such wonderful and supportive friends now! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Liv!

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Hiro wrote on 5th May 2016 at 3:00 PM

I love this post, even while being an atheist myself, because it’s like any other passion that helps you develop, expand, and make your life fuller than it was before. And it’s wonderful that you found something you can find purposeful and meaningful to you that will be an important cause. For me, it’s advocacy and disability rights, and for you, it’s God. We all need that really important something that gives our lives so much more fulfilling meaning, and I’m so glad you found it, and can make a testimony about it. ^_^ Cheer on!

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Michelle wrote on 10th May 2016 at 12:49 AM

Such an inspiring and beautiful post. We all find solace and happiness in things: faith, and in feelings we have. I’m not religious anymore and for good reason, but I don’t want to argue too much, but in my opinion, I find religion too confining and not full of love at all. It may seem like that at first, but in the end, it feels like you have exceptions and too many groups hating and denying people civil rights because of differences. It may be the minority but after studying and reading the bible for many years, I came to the conclusion, that religion is dangerous in the wrong people’s hands, and often it gets abused, but regardless of all that, I’m glad you and others found love in it. I just couldn’t.

I’m a buddhist because it not only appeals to me, but also is the core of my entire being, still I’m glad that I found it in time because I felt empty, and now I’m happier than ever in knowing that while suffering does happen, it doesn’t have to be the end. It never is. My life is back in color!

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