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Church Adventure II

In my latest church adventure, I visited a church in Pasadena. Located inside of an elementary school, this church was an off-shoot of a larger church and had just opened its doors in March of this year. It was the first time in years that I’ve actually gone to a church and felt the presence of God. Those words carry some heavy weight but during worship, during the message and while listening to the pastor talk about how the church came to be started, I couldn’t help but feel that way.

The worship was great and the music was so lively. The audience and the band on stage were all very passionate. The message really inspired me. I also went to a class they had for visitors and I liked hearing about how the church came to be.

Lastly, I also got in touch with someone a few months ago about small groups and I’ve been assigned to one for a few months now. I just finished visiting another church so I haven’t gone to any of their meetings yet.

However, after my experience today, I don’t think I will be going back to this church either. I did my best to really get to know people and more about what the church’s culture is like. Everyone was friendly and made eye contact but I couldn’t feel a connection. It’s like they were just making conversation to give me some basic information, make some small talk and then on to the next.

My goal in every single conversation I had today was to really get a feel for this church and its people. I wanted to make a connection but it just kept fizzling out because I felt like they weren’t reciprocating. When I became the one asking questions and trying to move the conversation along, that’s when I knew that my church adventures would continue.

I expect this to happen at work of course and at the supermarket and anywhere else. You laugh, smile, make some awkward small talk, and then move on. But… in terms of a home church – which is TRULY what I am looking for , a place to serve and grow and build relationships with people – I’m looking for a place where I feel like I can build real friendships with people.

This is based off a church I used to go to when I was home-schooled. It was a small church but from the first meeting, I felt loved and welcomed. I fell in love with that church and at one point, I could say that my best friends were at that church. It’s a tall order and super hard to compare to – but that’s what I’m looking for and I’ve been searching for a church for years now and have yet to find one that has the same sense of connectivity.

What really confirmed my decision to move on and continue church-searching are two events:

1.)

Ophie in the Midst of Budding Romance 

I met some of the people from my small group. Right when I walked in through the doors, I met both of the leaders, Girl A and Boy B.

Boy B: Hey, Ophelia! You’re here!

Boy B and I had been in contact via email about the meetings.

Me: Yeah! It’s so great to finally meet you :-)!

Girl A: [pauses]

I noticed a weird look on her face.

Girl A: Oh, have you guys been contacting each other?

Me: Yeah! :] He’s been giving me some information about meeting up. I haven’t been able to attend any of the meetings lately but hopefully soon! ^__^

Girl A: Ah… okay…

Me: [Thinking: hmm, why does she look like that? Is there something going between them two?]

I shrugged it off the first time but my suspicions of jealousy and budding romance were confirmed after the service. I end up talking to Girl A again one-on-one after service while I was looking for their 1st Steps Class. Boy A joins us and then he says, “Oh yeah, I’m only attending these small group meetings so I can see [Girl A] more :)!” They smile glowingly at each other and a small uncomfortable smile grows on my face.

It was just really awkward to witness and so that kinda sealed the decision for me to find another church.

2.) The pastor kept forgetting my name. That WOULD be forgivable.. if I weren’t WEARING A NECKLACE WITH MY NAME WRITTEN ON IT. Yes, I had a personalized gold necklace made that said OPHIE. And I introduced myself as Ophie. (?#?#?#??#?#?#?##?##??#)

First he called me, “What was your name again?”

Then he called me, “Sophelia”

Then he called me, “Olivia”

By the time he got it right, I left their 1st Steps class early and knew that it was time to move on.

Although I did not feel a connection to the people there, I still really enjoyed the worship service and the message. I’m planning on attending a church on my dad’s side of town next Sunday so that’ll be fun!

Anyway, as a last note, I’ve started getting flashbacks of how I was like a few years ago. I think there was a point in time where I got used to others liking me that I forgot that there were many, many moments when others would underestimate me. For example, in 2015, I attended mock interviews for my school’s accounting club on campus where we could get interviewed by actual accounting recruiters and professionals.

My first choice was for the firm that I have an offer with now. Instead of giving me someone from that firm, the people who were in charge of the event gave me mock interviews with mid-tier and local firms. Now that I think back on it, they probably didn’t think I was Big 4 material.

Surprise surprise! I got my offer for the SLP, the internship and then full-time. And out of everyone who applied for a certain office, I was the only one who got an offer.

However, I will never forget to give glory to God for whatever I accomplish or do. Even if I didn’t have a job offer, I would still be grateful for everything He does.

Although things didn’t work out the way I thought they would, I’m still going to pray for this church because I feel like God is really moving there. Regardless of whether or not they remember my name, it doesn’t change the fact that they are doing their best to follow Jesus and glorify Him. I don’t have any ill-will to any of the churches I’ve visited for the past few years and I will always value the work that they are doing in the name of Christ. It really inspires me.

Call it ambitious, but I’m looking for a church where I feel a real connection.

 

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People Are Strange

Group conversations have never been my forte but I’ve always done my best to make be polite in group conversations, have something to contribute and make others feel welcome.

In my latest church adventure, I visited this church about 10 minutes away from my house. Most people have been really nice but an experience happened today that left me feeling confused and somewhat upset. I was having lunch with a group of people and when there was a lull, I turned to ask a girl beside me something about her internship since she was so excited about it. She gave me a glance and said that she was trying to hear what someone else was saying.

I feel like before that, I would try to make conversation with her and get to know her but she would answer in one word sentences (which I guess aren’t really sentences at all).

I just so happened to bring my close friend with me to church today so when we were talking about it, my friend encouraged me to let it go and to continue giving this church another chance.

I’m not so mad about what happened anymore as much as I’m upset with the way that this person texted me afterwards and her psuedo ‘apology’. She said that she was sorry if she had hurt my feelings and that she thought it would be rude to go into a side-conversation if someone else was speaking. To put it shortly, I don’t really believe that.

I honestly can sit here and say that I’ve tried my best to get to know people from this church and try to make some sort of connection happen but I think it’s time to just move on and find another one. For the most part, people have been welcoming but I don’t know if there’s really a connection there.

Jesus said to forgive your brother 77+ times in a day if he sins against you, and I do forgive her and I do wish her the best but stuff like that just makes me think twice about really wanting to get involved in this church. I’ve met a few really great people but I’m really put off by my experience today.

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So far, I’ve been feeling better… for the most part. I learned though that I tend to run from God when I feel nervous or anxious. So, I decided it’s time to really put my trust in God more even when I feel worried.

I did that today with my CPA exam. My results are coming in next month for these two sections I’ve taken, as well as the third one I’ll be taking next week. I am super anxious but I’ve decided to put my trust in Him and rely on His timing.

My jaw still hurts occasionally and I still have that same weird discomfort on my upper teeth. The general advice I’ve gotten is to wait it out because the symptoms are a bit strange. So that is what I am doing, I’m going to wait it out u_u.

I am really excited for Final Fantasy 12:Zodiac Age to come out and I’m also really excited to try Crash Bandicoot too. They’re both new releases on the PS4 so they’re out of my price range right now but I’m sure I can save enough Amazon points to play them.

Additionally, I tried this product called Moon Juice which is an herbal supplement I found on Goop. I visited Goop thinking that I would have a good laugh but I actually ended up really liking it. Advice like, “invest in these $3,000 Gucci loafers” is pretty pretentious but I just substituted that with, “invest in a nice pair of loafers – overall”.

I tried all the flavors of Moon Juice by ordering a variety pack from Nordstroms and actually, I don’t know if it’s the placebo effect but I noticed a difference in my health. I think around this time, my dental pain felt better too. My favorite dusts are Spirit Dust and Beauty Dust.

Don’t get me started on Sex Dust though. It has this ingredient called Horny Goat Weed. I laughed at that and then when I tried it, I woke up in the middle of the night and I don’t know if it was the dust or anything but I… felt quite awake. If you know what I mean.

Moon juice or not, I choose to trust in God even when I’m in pain. I think it’s a big part of my faith and being able to mature in Christ. Being able to run to Him even when I feel anxious is a big step in my relationship with Him.

 

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I went to church today. It was my third visit and I feel like people here are quite welcoming. I’ve gotten coffee with two girls from church and I enjoyed getting to know them. I haven’t been regularly attending church for years so it’s going to be hard to know how to be part of a community again but I’m looking forward to whatever it is that God wants to do.

The pastor last week talked about fear and how in the midst of fear, we should set our eyes, mind and desire upon God. And it fit this week perfectly, because this past week was one filled with fear and anxiety and pain. It was a conscious effort to look to God every day.

I think my future plans for church is just to keep attending and maybe attend their small groups after I get BEC done. Everyone has been really warm and welcoming and it’s a relief from all the other more cliquey churches I’ve been through.

As for the pain, it’s eased up. The first oral surgeon I saw I think was jumping the gun when he advised me for to get it extracted. Actually, now that I think about it, I was the one who asked him for a quote on the dental implant. I think he said I should wait as well. My relative referred me to another dentist yesterday who’s had 30 years of experience and he asked me to wait and said it was most likely my grinding.

My biggest fear is that I’ll be driving to work and a toothache will come on. Nothing like a random toothache during a 40-minute commute, eh?

But I choose to trust in God. Not just that even if a toothache occurs, that He’ll help me handle it but also that even if I feel like things at work aren’t going great, He will be there to help me like He always has. And in the past, He has come through for me many times before.

Even if I did have to get this tooth extracted, I would thank God for just giving me the resources I need to get it taken care of. Nothing like going to your first day of work with a missing molar… but still. God has provided for me in countless ways.

My first semester being involved on campus as a board member, I wanted the position of Marketing Director and Mentoring Chair. Those were my first two choices. I think membership chair was my third choice (if I’m not mistaken). I ended up getting membership chair but the semester after that, I got three positions, two of which were Marketing Director and Mentoring Chair. No matter what anyone says, I believe firmly that it was something God orchestrated. And it’s not because I was witty and got along with everyone, I wasn’t even there that much during my first semester. I feel like God just orchestrated things to give me a chance.

Public accounting is a crazy world and I’ve heard stories from people and experiences from my friends and relatives. My internship was great but there were moments of disillusion. For example, once the senior had to give a presentation to the audit partner in front of us in this cramped audit room. He asked her really hard questions and the room was really tense. I laugh when I’m nervous, so that’s a recipe for disaster. I tried not to laugh because it was so awkward and weird. I really hope I didn’t offend her cause she was one of the coolest seniors I met but that moment was really disillusioning.

At the same time, the HR person I talked with at the end of my internship said the lead partner was ‘a big fan of mine’ and had great things to say about me. Also, he tried to get lunch with everyone on the audit team at least once – even the associates. But I just wonder if they were trying to get me to accept my offer.

When I chose accounting, I did so because my spiritual mentor was in accounting and I also enjoyed my class in accounting. It’s a stable field and I have a roadmap that I already want to follow. But sometimes the stories do scare me.

Regardless, these past six months have taught me a lot about trusting God in the midst of fear and in times of pressure.

Even though these past six months were full of trials and there were weeks that I felt like I was at the end of my rope, God helped me to learn in the midst of affliction.

The biggest lesson? That He is always watching and that it’s not always about me.

On a side note, I won’t be blogging much about work on here for confidentiality reasons but this blog is about honoring God and sharing about everything He’s doing in my life.

 

As for starting work full-time, they asked for a celebrity lookalike and I googled “asian girl red blouse” and also used a celebrity lookalike generator. The generator said I most resembled Kim Tae Yeon but I was like… no… hahah. In the end, I chose Jennifer Ushkowitz and I’m kind of predicting this super awkward moment where they’ll show my picture and her picture side-by-side somewhere. I think I’m not bad-looking on my own right, but there’s always the risk of looking a bit mousey when your picture is put next to a glammed up celebrity …

 

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What I Learned About Myself Today

I went to see yet another oral surgeon today and it actually was not a bad experience. The oral surgeon was very kind and the people in his office were super sweet. Although he was booked up until next week, his receptionist managed to squeeze me in today.

He basically suggested that I wait before doing anything drastic and I truly appreciated him saying that. The price he quoted me was half of what the other oral surgeon quoted me. I got really excited when he told me and I wish I hadn’t, haha -__-. But I was just so shocked because the difference between what they quoted was so vast. The first one quoted me $6,050 for the procedure and the one I saw today gave me a ballpark figure around $3,500.

It was quite interesting. I think that I will return to him again and hopefully he won’t be like, “dang, if that other surgeon charged so much, I should charge more too.” Haha.

Teeth pain and oral surgeons aside, I learned something really interesting about myself today. It’s a realization that I don’t think would have come if I didn’t really listen to God. Basically, I’m a colder person than I realized.

During all these doctor visits, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in dental offices. The last office I went to had this super friendly receptionist and she was like, “wow, you’re so nice! (: “and the receptionist and the assistant at the second office I went to today were both saying pretty much that I was a nice person.

Like I said, I do my best to be a good person and spread good vibes but I realized that I have a tendency to make people feel bad when I feel threatened. Which is normal, of course.. but it’s something I never realized until today. I went home and then I felt this distance between God and me. I prayed about it… and then I realized that before I went to see the oral surgeon today, I had an encounter with a homeless man on the street.

It seriously would have slipped my mind if God hadn’t brought it up to me. Basically, I was waiting at the stoplight. The homeless man crossed the street and I stared ahead. I felt him make eye contact with me and then he turned and kept asking me for change. I put on my best ice-queen face and stared ahead, glaring.

My mom caught up to me and told me that I forgot the DVD for my CT scan in the car. I quickly strode off without even casting another look at the homeless man.

So here I was, at home in my comfortable bed listening to music on my IPad and drinking the expensive Gwenyth-Paltrow endorsed Moon Juice that costs an arm and a leg per satchel, and I felt that I was a pretty good person because some dental assistants said that I was nice. But the truth is that I’m not a good person at all. God’s got a lot of work to do in me.

And God showed me that I had no place in ignoring that homeless man. I should not have glared ahead and treated him like he wasn’t human. Why did I do that?

I think I was scared that if I made eye contact, he would hit me or try to hurt me. A lot of the things I do that are cold are just out of fear. I don’t like being vulnerable and if it comes down to it, I’m determined to be the one who strikes first. When people tell me I’m nice, it only reinforces the feeling that I need to do something to show people that they can’t take advantage of me.

As I write this, I get flashbacks to moments when I really did hurt people out of fear.  I have a vague memory of me doing something and a friend wincing and saying, “Oohh, that’s cold.”

There are few people who hurt others for the fun of it. Most of us just hurt others because we’re afraid.

But regardless, I should have, and if I could go back I would, at least made eye contact with him and acknowledged him as a human being. Even if it was to say, “Sorry, I don’t have change” or “Can I buy you some food instead?”

And what if he did try to punch me or hit me? I could dodge and it was a busy street. The truth is, it was wrong to ignore him and treat him worse than I would a homeless dog on the street. And I thank God for showing me what I did… because it was wrong.

Because what’s really separating me from a homeless person on the street? We’re just a job, an apartment and a few weeks apart.

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Trusting God in the Good Times and Bad Times

 

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I saw another specialist today. The visit with the X-ray cost me $445 in total but I did it for peace of mind. I’ve been dealing with phantom tooth pain that had me going to three dentists in one day. My endodontist thought I might have had a cyst but it turns out that I might have a microfracture instead which explains why all the other dentists haven’t been able to catch it.

The specialist today was really nice but he is expensive as heck. I don’t want to play the waiting game and wait for my insurance to come in so the plan now is to go implant-shopping (because I have to get it removed, since I had the tooth treated twice). If it comes down to it, I might just have to eat the cost. I guess it helps that I graduated with zero student debt haha and that I’ll be getting my paycheck in September.

I was really angry with God after walking out of that office because I didn’t understand. I brush my teeth and floss meticulously three times a day. I get checkups every half-year and 99% of the time have stayed away from any hard foods. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had saltine crackers? Do you know how many bananas I’ve eaten instead of Frito chips?

in all seriousness, I cried about it for a little bit and then, with my mom’s help, I realized that God never promised me I wouldn’t have tooth problems in this life. He only promised me that

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

I realized that yes, I’m upset about the pain and upset about the cost. I took audit with a toothache and I don’t just have $6,000 lying around my house. But God has blessed me with so much. For one thing, He’s given me the resources that I need to be able to afford this implant.

As a freelance writer, my business has been thriving and I’ve been making more this month than I ever have. I made enough this month to cover the expensive consultation. People pay me for my writing and that in itself is already a huge blessing.

It sucks to have to get expensive dental work and no, I don’t feel like I ‘deserve’ this pain… but God let it happen for a reason and I need to trust Him even when times are bad.

This is a huge and critical lesson for me to learn in trusting God because I’ve come to realize that trusting in God and walking with Him means doing so even when you’re in pain.

These past six months have been full of trials for me health-wise. I’ve never felt so vulnerable in my life. But I feel like I’ve grown more than ever as a person.

The biggest step is in the realization that God won’t always give me prosperity but He’ll give me the strength and the resources I need to get through each and every trial. I don’t know what’s waiting for me in the future but I’m ready to just learn. Even if it hurts.

So Lord, I’m ready to trust You. I do trust You. And I hope this will all pay off someday. All I can do is wait and trust and depend on you. Amen.

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Diiiiirty Laundry

So it’s been a few days and I’ve been feeling a little bit better. I felt normal again enough to exercise once or twice this week. Hopefully and prayerfully, I can start to just exercise again every day. Really looking forward to that.

I realized that everything that’s happened has been a crazy experience that I would never have expected. But it’s helped me come back to God and learn a powerful lesson about His discipline. I’ve learned that to be judged by God and to experience His discipline is beyond anything I’ve ever dreamed of.

In the past, my fears consisted of awkward social dinners and not getting promoted or people taking advantage of me. I realized though that even if I get to a point in my life where I’m doing well, making a steady income, in great health and etc, God is always watching me. It sounds paranoid but it’s true. What if during that time I get prideful again and I start to just be a big douche to people? God sees and then, like a loving Father, He’ll just help me learn – albeit through some not easy lessons – to come back to Him and to become grounded in Him again. To walk in a way that is worthy of Him.

It took just four hours this morning for me to realize just how very ‘urgh’ I can be. I try my best to be a good person and to be nice and easy to get along with but I never realized that I am actually more snobby than I realize. I made some comments this morning about my neighbors that, immediately, made me feel ashamed.

If I had said those words a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t even have blinked an eye to be honest. But what I said and thought just made me realize, “I’m not who I want to be right now.”

Then when I went to take a stroll in the park with my mom, I would see people pass by and think angry thoughts about them. Even old people. To be honest, and this is really hard to admit, seeing the weak and vulnerable stirs up a sense of anger and disdain in me. It never hit me as hard as it did today. Because I was always too afraid to admit it. That I’m very bitter and angry inside and that  I’m afraid of being hurt and taken advantage of so I lash out at people. I build up a wall of ice that keeps people just far enough away so that they can’t touch me.

I guess that’s why I only have one best friend and the other one I have is slowly drifting away from me and won’t take my calls.

When I’m at home and reading a Christian book, it’s easy to get excited and then feel like I can go out there and love the homeless and start serving in the soup kitchen asap. But in reality, I’m more angry and my heart is made of stone more than I realize.

Then I went home and I saw an angry message from someone who wanted my help on his biography. He submitted this long and outdrawn document and asked me to help him summarize it. It’s exactly the type of project I don’t like. Things have been busy and chaotic lately what with the influx of work I’ve gotten along with BEC drawing near so I haven’t had the time to reply to him. He kept sending me messages like ‘hello’ ‘hello’ and ‘any update’. If you want to work with someone, maybe try showing more enthusiasm.

So I sent a message yesterday respectfully declining, saying “Hi! Thanks for reaching out but I won’t be able to take on this project currently. Best of luck to you!”

He wrote back, “So why did you waste my time?”

And I took his bait this morning. Without stopping, I wrote back, “Hmmm, I’m not the one who kept messaging these past few days to someone who’s clearly not interested. I’m grateful that I won’t be working with you and I do not need to reply to your messages. Good luck and God bless!”

Then I immediately felt ashamed after pressing send cause I realized that no matter who’s right or wrong, this wasn’t the way I wanted to treat someone. Yea, he’s rude, but that doesn’t mean I have to be rude either.

I’m proud to say though that after he sent another message trying to bait me into getting angry, I just reported and blocked him.

What scares me the most about myself right now is my lack of love for people who need help.