The Bible and People Who Manipulate It

I stumbled upon this article by Paul Oestreicher, an Anglican priest who claims that Jesus was “probably gay”. Although I haven’t attended seminary school, I like many know how to approach articles critically.

As someone who grew up with a best friend/relative who is LGBT, I think that the church needs to change its approach on how it deals with LGBT individuals. It needs to be about love and communication –  not condemnation.

However, it’s quite different when someone – especially a priest- maligns the word of God for political purposes. Based on everything I’ve read in this article, that’s clearly evident in all of Oestreicher’s points.

His first argument is based upon Jesus telling Mary, his mother, that John was her son. It comes from the passage where Jesus was dying on the cross and He said to Mary, “behold, your son!” and then to John, “Behold, your mother!”

Dying, Jesus asks John to look after his mother and asks his mother to accept John as her son. John takes Mary home. John becomes unmistakably part of Jesus’s family.

Here, he’s implying that John and Jesus were lovers because Jesus wanted His mother to accept John as part of the family. However, that is a sign of a close relationship – not necessarily a romantic one. If I were about to die, I would also ask my closest friends – people who I considered my brothers and sisters as well as my lover – to take care of my parents in my place.

His next point comes from the place that John, the supposed disciple whom Jesus loved, had a special place in Jesus’ heart. It’s obvious that Jesus had great affection for John, but the word ‘loved’ itself comes from a definition that can be neutral and platonic and is not necessarily used in a romantic sense.

The author writes:

That disciple was John whom Jesus, the gospels affirm, loved in a special way. All the other disciples had fled in fear. Three women but only one man had the courage to go with Jesus to his execution. That man clearly had a unique place in the affection of Jesus.

When you write, “three women but only one man”, it implies that the women gave up on Jesus and had LESS affection for Him. Interesting how the author downplays the affection that the women – including Mary, who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears – had for Jesus.

Again, this shows that John had a strong bond with Jesus. A brotherly bond – not a romantic one. And we’ll soon see why I feel that it is a brotherly bond.

The author also says:

In all classic depictions of the Last Supper, a favourite subject of Christian art, John is next to Jesus, very often his head resting on Jesus’s breast.

From Ellicot’s Commentary for English Readers: 

(23) Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom.–Leonardo’s picture is in one respect misleading, and, like most paintings of the Lord’s Supper, has not represented the method in which the guests reclined rather than sat at table. Each leaned on his left arm, leaving the right arm free. The feet were stretched out behind the guest on his right hand, and the back of the head reached near to the bosom of the guest on the left. (Comp. Note on John 13:25.) The Jews followed this Persian method of reclining on couches at meals from the time of the Captivity, and this method of eating the Passover had the special significance of security and possession of the Promised Land, as opposed to the attitude of one undertaking a journey, which was part of the original institution (Exodus 12:11).

Jesus was a Hebrew rabbi. Unusually, he was unmarried. The idea that he had a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene is the stuff of fiction, based on no biblical evidence. The evidence, on the other hand, that he may have been what we today call gay is very strong. But even gay rights campaigners in the church have been reluctant to suggest it. A significant exception was Hugh Montefiore, bishop of Birmingham and a convert from a prominent Jewish family. He dared to suggest that possibility and was met with disdain, as though he were simply out to shock.

Is it truly unusual that Jesus remained unmarried? If Jesus had a wife and children, would He have been as willing to go to the Cross as a sacrifice?

Here, the author writes that He may have been ‘gay’ and that this is supported by strong evidence. However, up to this point, the author has presented virtually no evidence. He talks about how Jesus and John had a strong relationship , which is great, and this relationship can be interpreted as a brotherly friendship.

One of my close friends and I used to text each other every day. My mom kept seeing our imessages on the phone and thought we were lovers. We’re very close and fond of each other and it’s a platonic, sisterly friendship. And people who read into things like your friend being there for you in your moments of crisis have a motive.

Also, he writes about how the reaction of people to the thought of Jesus being gay tends to be intense. That’s like saying the Da Vinci code wasn’t controversial. What do you expect?

After much reflection and with certainly no wish to shock, I felt I was left with no option but to suggest, for the first time in half a century of my Anglican priesthood, that Jesus may well have been homosexual. Had he been devoid of sexuality, he would not have been truly human. To believe that would be heretical.

Whether or not Jesus was devoid of sexuality isn’t the case. His central message is His sacrifice on the cross and the lessons He taught about how others should treat each other.

It is likely that Jesus had sexual feelings  – but why read into it and why connect homosexuality to it? What motive is there in that?

Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual: Jesus could have been any of these. There can be no certainty which. The homosexual option simply seems the most likely. The intimate relationship with the beloved disciple points in that direction. It would be so interpreted in any person today.

The interesting thing about this article is that it keeps stating that there is ample evidence that Jesus was gay. That if only one could really do her Google-search, she could see that Jesus was totes homosexual. But that is not the truth. He has not presented any real evidence.

Let’s recount: the only evidence this author has presented are Biblical events that could very well have taken place between two friends who have a brotherly bond. The other piece of ‘evidence’ he uses to support his argument is what artists in the past have depicted. Were those artists divinely inspired? Did they ever claim to be? If not, what they draw does not matter.

If I had someone draw me as a six-foot model with long silky blonde hair and blue eyes, it wouldn’t make it any more accurate.

I’ve quoted each paragraph of this article successively. If he makes such a ‘shocking’ point, he should introduce the best support he can have to offer. And so far, there is no biblical basis for what he has written.

Although there is no rabbinic tradition of celibacy, Jesus could well have chosen to refrain from sexual activity, whether he was gay or not. Many Christians will wish to assume it, but I see no theological need to. The physical expression of faithful love is godly. To suggest otherwise is to buy into a kind of puritanism that has long tainted the churches

This paragraph implies that Jesus could have been sexually active. The author’s point is, “why not? If Jesus was sexually active, sex between two loving faithful people is a great expression of godliness. I see no theological need to assume otherwise. Only puritans would disagree – and their thoughts have tainted the churches for ages.”

To say that Jesus was sexually active is an inflammatory statement that seeks to distract from His mission and what He had to say. To call anyone who disagrees ‘puritans’ shows that this person has shrugged off the views of others. Anyone who disagrees with him is just a bigot who holds outdated views.

Even if I were not a Christian, I would still say that this article is as misleading as it is inflammatory. It’s not based on Biblical evidence. It’s based on total conjecture and supports a political agenda.

All that, I felt deeply, had to be addressed on Good Friday. I saw it as an act of penitence for the suffering and persecution of homosexual people that still persists in many parts of the church. Few readers of this column are likely to be outraged any more than the liberal congregation to whom I was preaching, yet I am only too aware how hurtful these reflections will be to most theologically conservative or simply traditional Christians. The essential question for me is: what does love demand? For my critics it is more often: what does scripture say? In this case, both point in the same direction.

In other words, “I know the truth. And I know the truth is going to hurt a lot of you traditional, bigoted Christians. But what does LOVE say? What does Scripture say? They’ll both prove my point, right?”

If you are writing an article about such a controversial topic, you should provide your best arguments. So far, you’ve only mentioned events that could be taken any other way. You have prevented no real Biblical evidence for your views and written this article for a secular newspaper that would be delighted at having the next Da Vinci Code.

Mr. Paul Oestreicher, love demands you to love your neighbor. It demands you to open your wallet and your heart to people who are in need. It asks for you to have love for your enemies – even those puritans who may disagree with your views. It does not, however, ask you to focus on the sexual activities of Jesus or slant certain events to fit your political views.

Whether Jesus was gay or straight in no way affects who he was and what he means for the world today. Spiritually it is immaterial. What matters in this context is that there are many gay and lesbian followers of Jesus – ordained and lay – who, despite the church, remarkably and humbly remain its faithful members. Would the Christian churches in their many guises more openly accept, embrace and love them, there would be many more disciples.

What we agree on is that churches should embrace LGBT individuals. There needs to be better communication and transparency. I know amazing, wonderful LGBT Christians who really want to serve God and follow Him.
What we disagree on is imposing your views on passages of the Bible to promote your political agenda.
Whether Jesus was gay or straight actually is significant – otherwise this author wouldn’t have written about it. However, there is no biblical evidence that suggests in any way that Jesus was gay.
This author’s article evokes the same emotions in me as everything Joel Osteen, prosperity gospel figure, preaches. They’re both the same. And Jesus warned us about people who force their own agenda.
For anyone who’s ever read the Bible from beginning to end, it’s more than obvious that Jesus was not in the least bit gay. Whether He may have struggled with lust or sexuality is a different issue, but if He engaged in sexual activity, it would’ve undermined His mission. Why? Because Jesus’ mission was about saving souls and lives – not about sexual satisfaction.
Also tying back into the author’s argument that Jesus telling John to take care of His mother was like welcoming John as His romantic lover into the family:

“Don’t you read the Scriptures?” he replied. “In them it is written that at the beginning God created man and woman, 5-6 and that a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife. The two shall become one—no longer two, but one! And no man may divorce what God has joined together.”

When Jesus says this, He is implicitly affirming His culture’s belief that the relationship between a man and a woman are sacred in the eyes of God. If He had been engaging in any kind of sex, He would never have said this (because He wasn’t married). He saw sex as something sacred and cherished – it’s something to be taken so seriously it’s as if you become one person before God.

The author of this article is as incendiary and deceptive as prosperity Gospel preachers who ask you to donate your life’s savings to plant some ‘seeds of faith, y’all’. Claiming to speak out of love and the Scripture, he’s presented no real evidence.

What gets me upset is not the insinuation he’s making. It’s the lack of biblical evidence he presents and his motive – which is apparent. He truly does want to shock.

Also, some might quote John 20:2 where it is insinuated that John is the disciple whom Jesus loved. Using Strong’s concordance, this type of love is referred to as:

phileó: to love

Original Word: φιλέω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: phileó
Phonetic Spelling: (fil-eh’-o)
Short Definition: I love, kiss
Definition: I love (of friendship), regard with affection, cherish; I kiss.

Strong’s exhaustive concordance states:

From philos; to be a friend to (fond of (an individual or an object)), i.e. Have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while agapao is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as ethelo and boulomai, or as thumos and nousrespectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specially, to kiss (as a mark of tenderness) — kiss, love.

This word for love is used to refer to the way Jesus felt about Lazarus as well. It is the type of love that I have for my close friends and my family.

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A Note About Authenticity: II

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“You’re so corporate,” my cousin said, rolling his eyes. We were in my hotel room at the Holiday Inn in Macau (where we got a free upgrade to business class). I had just finished telling him about how I had built relationships with some of the people in the firm I’ll be starting with. I laughed his comment off but that comment stuck with me for a while.

Corporate.

What does being corporate mean?

So I’ve realized over these past few months how easy it is to fall into a Corporate Mindset.

At the last Meet the Firms I attended as an ambassador, a girl came up to me and through a gritted smile, asked, “Ophie, where are the important people?” I looked at her for a long, long time.

After having been involved in an accounting organization for a very long time and meeting hundreds of people, after finishing a sophomore conference and my internship, I’ve identified at least two types of people in the public accounting world.

The first type of person is genuine. This person treats everyone the same – regardless of whether or not that other person can help them. This person smiles, makes an attempt to make small talk, and is friendly just because he/she strives to be a good person. Then there is the second type.

Regarding the girl I discussed earlier, when I first joined the organization she was pretty cold to me and would not engage in conversation with me at all. I think I tried at least four times that semester to make some sort of small talk with her but she would just give one-word answers and not even look in my direction. Apparently, she does this with a lot of other people too – mainly her peers and people who are new to the club.

The second type of person that I have identified is actually quite rare but they are out there. These are the people who, if you don’t have anything to offer them, don’t have a reason to really want to talk to you or get to know you. They might not always be mean or cold, but they just don’t care. And that’s okay, because that’s being human.

But tying this back into the discussion of being corporate, I realize that I am that first type of person. Even if people think I am kissing ass, I know that I genuinely like to meet people and get to know them. Whether I am talking with a partner or  an intern, I am the exact same way.  I am the SAME person.

Wherever God takes me, I never want to sink into a Corporate mindset where it’s all about getting to know the ‘important people’ and disregarding everyone else. Where you’re so focused on being politically correct and glossy that you forget what it’s like to be human. For a while, the idea of having to kiss ass and be fake tortured me. I was like, ‘that’s not who I am.’ But I’ve just began to really understand that if you are genuine, people appreciate that. And the ones who don’t… don’t matter.

The last conversation I had with a partner lasted about forty minutes. I was at the full-time offer celebration event in Florida and mistook him for an intern initially  – lol. But I got to talk to him one-on-one and I was just genuinely myself that time. I had spent half my internship stifling who I was so I didn’t offend people so by the time that I got my offer, I was like, “Nope. This is me. No more faking it.”

Later on, he would tell a friend of me that he was impressed by how ambitious I was. And I was just myself. I treated him the exact same way I would have treated someone I was meeting for the first time at church. And that’s just who I am. And it makes me feel good to understand this.

When I was new to the club, I was rejected a lot during my first semester. A lot of the board members didn’t even remember meeting me – let alone my name (introducing myself twice). But I never gave up, because I remembered that those who don’t mind are the ones who matter.

I was also encouraged by something Heather Lindsey shared about God and where He’s placed us in this world. She said that God placed us here for a unique purpose, and that if we don’t fulfill that purpose and if we are not true to ourselves… that the world is worse off.

So even though I got quite a few cold looks that semester (and the one after) … and even though people would forget even MEETING me let alone my name… I never gave up. I focused on those who DID matter, friends who I would rise to the top with. And when I came into power, I promised myself that I would do my best to make sure that the members after me would have a better experience. One where they felt accepted and welcomed into the club.

Fast forward from 2014 to 2017.. when I was having lunch with a good friend of mine. We met through a system that I had implemented. She is now part of the executive board at the club. She looked at me and said that because I pushed the idea of everyone treating everyone equally so hard, she was going to do her best to promote that same atmosphere of openness and hospitality.

Authenticity and Plagiarism

A Note on Authenticity

After visiting several churches and completing an internship with a Christian non-profit, I learned more about who I am. It was hard to relate to people at one point, even when I was involved on campus, because I lacked empathy for people. And strangely enough, it was the Lord who brought this to my attention. I remember just praying about it and asking God what I could do to relate to people more, and He showed me that I needed to have empathy for others.

A childhood friend of mine likes to tell the story of when we were both in pre-school. We went to the same pre-school in Chinatown and I refused to pick up after my toys after I finished playing with them. The teacher said that if I did not pick up my toys, I could not leave the room so I sat there crying. I honestly don’t remember this story (lol), but apparently, my friend was the one who picked up my toys for me.

I think for a while, that’s the sort of mindset I had in my relationship with others… for the most part. Although I did consciously try to be a good friend and to show my friends and family my appreciation for them, I’m actually more selfish than I realize.

How many of us can sit here and honestly say that we really care about what others feel like or what their stories are if it doesn’t benefit us in some way?

I know that in my own carnal nature, I honestly just don’t care too much. But then, I think back to the moments when I did care to actually get to know people regardless of whether or not they could ‘help’ me, and I realize that it was all in the context of my relationship with God. Basically, being able to see people as creations of God instead of just blank faces walking around helps me to actually be more invested in them and care. Suddenly, I want to get to know them and what their stories are. I want to learn about who they are because they suddenly seem more human.

It might be a bit sad to say but it’s true, haha. And I realize that when I would be meeting new people or trying to make new friendships, I would have to force myself to really appear or be interested in what they had to say. When I went on an overseas trip a few months ago, I remember thinking that I needed to be more curious about the world around me. But then there was that crass voice that was just like, “lol, who cares.”

In the end, I’m really blessed to have someone like God in my life because I see that He truly makes me a better person. When I’m close to Him, I’m the best version of myself. Some of the closest friends I’ve made have been because of Him. I spent way too long compartmentalizing Him and putting Him off to the side, but the truth is He should be at the focal point of everything I do – especially when I’m meeting others.

Plagiarism 

So sales have been very slow for my online writing business. Cool fact though, I actually wrote a biography for a partner at EY. He’s a leader in FS at EY Vietnam and he needed help with a biography for one of his proposals. I don’t know if he liked my work, but that was pretty cool! I can add that to my list of celebrities… including that one prisoner from Beyond Scared Straight and Kenya Moore’s boyfriend on Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Anyway, I noticed that a lot of the other sellers have actually copied my work. Not only that, but my shop descriptions as well. I was actually the first one to come up with the idea of a personalized questionnaire and now everyone and their grandma has it.

Well, I’m closing shop for good later this month anyway so.. yeah. I still have enough earnings to tide me over until I start full-time next week. I’ve decided to start saving up for a house soon. A few years ago, my stepfather bought a house in Corona that was newly constructed and it was gorgeous and pretty affordable. I would like a house just like that.

It’ll take a while to save for the down payment but God-willing, we’ll get it hahaha.

Giant Lightbulb

So right as my mosquito bites were healing, I got extreme TMJ pain … the worse that I’ve ever had. And I used to have TMJ pain that I would have to take four ibuprofen four at a time. But I’ve been using ibuprofen so much that I feel like it doesn’t even have an effect on me anymore.

Like I mentioned a few posts ago, things have finally gotten scary. I went from feeling, “okay, well, this sucks but it’ll get better” to “now I’m getting worried, what am I doing wrong?” to “what’s going to happen next?”

And so today, as I was swimming in a sea of pain while lying in bed, I realized that I’ve been praying to God about this pain and looking at random verses but I have never really been investigating His word. So I decided to put on a sermon about God and health issues while laying in bed trying to not throw up.

As I listened to the sermon, I had a couple of strong realizations:

First, that maybe this is happening because I need to become humble again. If you know me, you know that I love to be active and workout. It’s what gives me that extra burst of energy. But I haven’t worked out in months because it’s been one health thing after another. And each one is getting worse.

The ideal image I had of myself was always of an energetic and athletic person. Before all this started and went into full swing, I was doing more cardio and loving it. Now I’m lucky if I get my daily walk in.

If you asked me to envision a scenario where not exercising would ever be good for me, I’d laugh. But now I realize that maybe this is happening so that I can become more down to earth again.

Second, maybe God wants me to slow down. Part of the reason why I was so anxious about going out there and exploring new things once I graduated (had plans to travel, go to resorts, sky dive, learn a new sport, etc) was because I felt insecure whenever I slowed down.

Even just lying down there was a huge obstacle for me. Unless it’s to sleep, I don’t like to down and just close my eyes and wait. It took this huge wave of pain radiating across my face and my shoulders and my neck and even my stomach to make me lie down and be still.

I realized also that life won’t end when I work. I can do these things when I work too. Maybe not as much but maybe just on the weekends. The hours will be rough but I can still live life and be happy.

Third, I was keeping most of this to myself. At first, when it was all unusual and not normal and chronic, I told my friends about it and they would all be very sympathetic. But like I mentioned before, it’s only a matter of time when people get sick about hearing about your problems. Eventually when they see you it’s the first thing they ask, “how’s your pain?”

But then in this sermon I realized that I haven’t really been going to other Christians and trying to investigate why this is all happening. The speaker spoke about going to the elders of the church and being prayed over. Why, in these six months, have I not done that?

Instead, I’ve been praying and reading random Bible verses but maybe God wants me to go to church so that I can ask other Christians – especially my pastor – about it.

Recently, I’ve been wondering, “What WILL God do next? Am I going to break my arm? Am I going to get yet another infection? Is all my hair going to fall out?”

But really, the only way to find out why this is happening is to ask God. And I’m barely starting to realize that to find out what God thinks, maybe I have to turn to other Christians too. Maybe I can’t just rely on my own prayers and random Bible verses.

So when the speaker mentioned ruthless independence in his message and how sickness can move us to want to go to other people in church for help, it struck me. I plan to go to church this Sunday and prayerfully, I can talk to the pastor after service and ask him.

Before all of this happened, I really did live in my own world where life was like a television show and I was the main character. It was the Ophie Show. But now, now maybe it’s not. What do you do when all the lights in your studio turn off and the cameras stop working? You start to realize who you are beneath that once confident, slightly arrogant exterior whose biggest worry was that her arms would get flabby again.

If you are a Christian and you are reading this, I really ask you to pray for me. Any prayer will help. 

Updates on Health

A.) I’m 100% going to get a new general dentist. The one I have now was super sweet and really great to work with initially but my visits recently have changed my mind about her.  A few months ago, she gave me free movie tickets when I got my wisdom teeth removed (definitely not something that was done for everyone) and even gave me a huge discount on Nitrous. I got discounts for a lot of stuff and know everyone in the office on a first-name basis (since I’m usually the type of person who will go to one dentist, one optometrist and etc for life, I like to get to know as many people in the office as possible to establish a relationship). But I feel like through this health saga, she has gotten impatient with me and so I feel like I could get better care somewhere else.

Also, I wish she would charge me for all the times I come to see her. She doesn’t charge me for a lot of my visits and then she ends up rushing through some of them which is not good. So I’ve decided to just try out a new dentist in the area who looks really good.

As someone who does client work, I know that most people who don’t get paid to do their work won’t do that great of a job at it. So that’s why I’d rather pay. I’d pay over $500 if you just give me the care that I need and not rush through.

The first time I went to see her about this pain, she gave me amoxicillin and then rushed to her next appointment. Very disappointing.

B.) It turns out I might have a cyst where my teeth have been hurting on and off for the past month. I take great care of my teeth and brush and floss three times a day. So this is rather discouraging :/. It might not be a cyst but my endo wants me to see a specialist to make sure. He said it’s not root canal related.

C.) I’m exhausted. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt normal.

The bright side is that I have two coffee dates with two new friends from church this week. I had coffee with one this week and she is just so energetic and easy to talk to. I feel like it was a success!

I have another one coming up so that’ll be fun :).

I also have a tennis date with my good friend this week too. I can’t play tennis really well but it’ll be fun.

And finally, I have a movie with date with another girl friend on Saturday. We’re going to see Wonder Woman at this fancy upscale movie theater with big leather seats and where they deliver food directly to where you’re sitting.

I’m also planning to check out Toastmasters soon. The last time I went to a meeting, I ended up winning a ribbon for best table topics (: . I stopped attending once I got involved on campus but it was a really great experience.

I’m still in pain right now but I’ve learned that life doesn’t stop when you feel uncomfortable.

God also gave me these two verses:

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Cor 4:16-18
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Summer Crush

I’m still in pain :/. But if there’s anything I’ve learned these past six months, it’s that sometimes you just have to move on regardless of the pain. I woke up yesterday wincing and it was a conscious decision to decide to even crack open my devotional and pray. I thought He would heal me by now so I don’t understand but I choose to have faith. But in a way, I feel that I have grown. I’m certain I’ve grown. I feel a new maturity that I have never felt before.

It’s as I sit here feeling uncomfortable, tired and fatigued (can’t exercise until I get this looked at and I’ve been on a liquid diet because I can’t chew), I’m thinking about a date I could have went on many semesters ago. I accidentally stumbled upon a bar in Anaheim on Yelp. I thought the name – the Blind Rabbit – sounded familiar until I realized that was where he had suggested we go for our first date.

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As I think about to the way he asked me out, I can’t help but smile. We haven’t spoken in years as he graduated before me and is already working but I think I remember it fondly because of how it made me feel. This is embarrassing but I think of him when I hear the song ‘Summer Boy’ by Lady Gaga. When’s the last time I went out on a proper date, let alone go out at all? I had all this stuff planned for the break between work and graduating but I haven’t been able to do much of it because I’ve been getting sick one time after the other. But there’s a reason for everything…

Anyway, it started when we went out to lunch with a mutual friend. It was the day that my firm came to do a speaking event at our school. There he was in the audience, dressed in a crisp white shirt that showed off his muscles pretty well. He was cute and people noticed. Someone told me, I forgot who, that when he walked into the theater to do a presentation for our board information session the semester before, the president of the club remarked that he was a good-looking fellow.

A mutual friend of ours came up to me after the meeting and asked if I wanted to go to lunch with them. A light bulb went off. “Yea,” I said. “Oh, by the way, did you ask (let’s call him Tom) Tom if he was coming too?”

“No,” our friend said. “But that’s a good idea.”

Later on, I’d learn that Tom decided to come only because he heard I was coming. So we met at this burger place right across from campus. My operations management professor, who I had a crush on for a few months as well, was awkwardly sitting next to us and would hear the entire exchange.

It started off with a few flirtatious jokes. I said, “so why aren’t you married yet?” and he grinned and replied, “Well, I was waiting for you.” Then I’d giggle and our mutual friend would pause for a long moment. “I’m going to get a soda,” our mutual friend said. The two of us, with my operations professor in the background eating a burger, immediately turned to look at each other. A soft smile crept up on his lips.

“Hey,” he leaned forward. I leaned forward as well. “So, Ophie, do you want to hang out sometime?” He bit his lips and grinned. “Like, on a date? I think you’re really cute and sweet and I want to get to know you better.”

And in that moment I paused. I realized that as cute he was, for some reason, I just didn’t feel anything powerful. I think it was because of this date I went on a few weeks before that ended really, really badly.

But I said yes. He said he wanted to meet at the Blind Rabbit and I remember thinking that that was a bad sign – that if he wanted to have our first date at a bar, he probably wasn’t too serious about me. Now that I see the Yelp reviews more closely, it looks like it’s actually a great place for a first date. It’s romantic, darkly lit and it’s…  A BAR!! With alcohol. I actually didn’t drink back then but I like to drink now for social purposes. How fun would a date like that be now -__-‘.

Even if it’s nothing serious, I’d love to just get dressed up and go on a date again. Pull on my Levi’s, a cute top and a pair of black booties. Sit on a stool and say flirtatious stuff and just be able to look in his eyes and see attraction. But… if we’re being honest, that’s not going to happen for a long time. :/

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The Blind Rabbit never happened because I cancelled and we ended up having our date at… the guess… SCHOOL LIBRARY! Not even in the library but outside of it on some benches underneath the threes.

It’s a shame. He was cute. I’d see him a few times during the semester. Once, he was carrying a giant box of water back to his car after our speaker meeting. I remember walking with him and inwardly smiling at how muscley his arms were as he hoisted the giant pack of water on his shoulder. I poked his arm and said, “Dang, you’ve got nice arms.”

Anyway, that was the most of it. We haven’t talked since. But I hope he is doing well. I think if I hadn’t gone on that previous date, maybe we would have had at least one or two dates. He was good on the eyes and he was also someone who could make you laugh. Regardless, life is too short to focus on the past. It was just a funny, bubbly memory that made me realize that “dang! I must be at least somewhat attractive if a guy like this wants to ask me out…” and confidence is what I need most right now in what might be one of the most stressful periods of my life where it seems like my health is under attack every week.

Like I said, I don’t know why I don’t feel better but I choose to trust God. But I feel like I’ve grown so much from all the ordeals I’ve gone through. And even with Tom, I guess things didn’t work out for a reason. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. I know that in order to follow Christ, I have to take the good and the bad. The good is all those times that God has come through for me in explicable ways and all the times He will come through for me in the future and just having the blessing of knowing Him. The bad? These health issues and missing out on smaller pleasures like dates at a bar. For now, anyway.

 

Loving God Through Fear

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It’s been a crazy six months, that’s for sure.

It’s been almost a month since I had an issue with my bite. It has somewhat fixed itself now that I’ve been wearing my retainers full-time.

Before the issue with the bite happened and it felt like my teeth were on fire, I remember praying to God and just asking Him to heal me. He sent me this verse:

LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

Psalm 30:2

I thought I was finally going to be able to feel normal again soon after the issue with my wisdom teeth and my bite were fixed.

Long story short, I had a few red bumps pop up where my impetigo had been months prior. The impetigo I had was rather severe and seeing it really worried me.

Itchy, upset and afraid, I knew that I could go a variety of routes. I could do what I usually did, which was freak out and withdraw from God for a few weeks. Whenever a random health thing would pop up, I would stop studying God’s word, stop writing in my prayer journal and stop praying.

But this time, I decided to run to God and change the course of doing what I was used to doing. I felt that God had allowed those red suspicious bumps to pop up again because my heart was still not changed to the way He wanted it to be. And it made sense.

For a while, I’ve been dealing with a lot of pride and competitiveness and discontent in my spirit. I think we all have a little bit of a control freak in us and for a while, I let mine run free.

Since I’ve been out of the “spotlight” for over a year now, I failed to see the sliver of pride and conceit that still lay buried in my heart. It was distracting me from God and causing me to turn into a snob. There are little moments that escape me during the day. Maybe when I see someone do something that I don’t approve of and I judge them for it. Or maybe judging someone by the way he or she looks. Maybe thinking I’m ‘too good’ to associate with certain people.

So just when I thought that I could reach the end of the tunnel, God presented me with yet another dark path.

I saw this horrible doctor on Amwell and he had no tact at all. He took one look at my face and said, “yup. that’s impetigo.” I asked him questions and he didn’t really answer any of them. He shrugged off any questions I had and looked like he was ready for the conversation to be over.

Thankfully, I called the company for a refund and they are processing one for me right now. I had to follow up with a quality control specialist and everything but she was very sympathetic as I told her what had happened. As someone who works in client service and will be having a full-time career in it soon, I think that this doctor really needs a lesson in learning how to deal with his patients especially when they’re worried and upset.

I saw my physician the next day and she said it did not seem like impetigo but it looked more like acne or another type of infection. Regardless, the ointment she prescribed me helped. I think I got my impetigo from my yoga mat which I had stupidly not washed since December, when I had impetigo…

I’ve been getting sick lately so I have not been able to exercise and haven’t really used my yoga mat since then. I’ve wiped down my mat with lysol wipes and also a disinfectant spray.

Anyway, the day after the impetigo issue I started getting pain in my teeth again. This made me feel really upset and I wondered if I was cursed. I even looked up “am I cursed” on Google.

“If you experience health incidents continually, you may be cursed,” the internet said. “Curses tend to ebb and flow.”

A chill ran through my spine. Could it be?

I prayed to God and I asked Him, “Lord, am I cursed or is this really all coming from You?” I closed my eyes and just prayed for Him to answer me. I went to a random Bible verse generator and the first verse that popped up was Psalm 39 – a psalm where the psalmist is dealing with sickness and is crying out to God to heal him.

Every single verse in that Psalm touched me.

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Psalm 39

This confirmed to me that this impetigo  might be God’s way of taking my hand and bringing me back to Him. Before this, I had never realized how much pride and contempt was in my heart. I did not realize how far and how quickly I was drifting away from Him. I was not surrendered to Him in the least. It’s going to be a long journey.

Everything that’s happening to me is from God and God only. He doesn’t allow His people to be cursed but He does discipline them. And this is my discipline. This is my hard lesson to learn.

And even if it seems foolish to the world, I’m going to wait on God and put all my trust in Him and let Him change and mold my heart.

An now, strangely enough, I’m growing closer to God in a way that I have never been before.