All posts by ehjae

photographer of life and love~

How Aziz Ansari has changed my life for the better and hopefully yours too.

This whole Aziz Ansari situation has opened up a door for me to say some things I have been holding in for years.  I didn’t necessarily want to, but the narrative has deafened all other thoughts while the words gathered and churned loudly in my mind.

To start, there are some people who will read this and learn about something deeply embedded inside of my soul and wonder why I didn’t tell them.  While I am not sorry for doing what I needed to do in order to find healing and protect myself, I am sorry if it upsets you to be reading this instead of hearing it directly from me.  I don’t want people to act differently around me. I’ve also held it in because I worry that speaking out will somehow negate my opinion on certain topics. It’s almost like I can hear some people’s thoughts, “Oh. That’s why she’s fighting for women’s rights. She hates men because of what happened to her.” Please hear me. I do not hate men.  I do hate how society is structured for situations like what happened with Aziz Ansari to be normalized. That’s what I want to change.

(Also, true feminism is not at the expense of men’s rights, in case we need to clarify that. If you want to chat more about feminism, let me know.)

Years ago, I was hanging out with a friend. Well, he was more than a friend. We were definitely interested in each other, so I had a conversation with him. I told him that I was a virgin and that I planned to keep it that way until I was married.  He assured me that it didn’t matter and that we could continue as we were. Later that week, as I lay on a bed unmoving, paralyzed by what I can only ascribe to as being shock, I stared at a lamp while he went back on his word and changed the course of my life in a mere 30 seconds. Afterwards, I cried and he held me tenderly. It was weird. As he was leaving, I made a joke about not being a virgin anymore and laughed (bitterly), because humour is my defence mechanism and what I resort to in awkward moments.  We spent a lot of time together in the weeks following. I was confused. I was hurt. I hadn’t said no in the moments leading up to what happened.  I hadn’t had a chance, it had progressed so quickly. But I also hadn’t expressed to him that I felt differently than I had in our previous conversation. The thoughts and questions were numerous and flooded my brain more quickly than I could process them.

I had been clear in our conversation about how I felt about sex, hadn’t I?

What had I done for him to interpret that I had magically and silently changed my mind?

I liked him. So, I must have wanted it, right?

Who takes someone’s virginity violently, aggressively and without checking in with them, without even asking if they were ready?

He’s a nice guy. He wouldn’t do that unless he liked me, so I’m probably just being sensitive because my plans for my life have changed.

It goes on and on.

So, I spent a lot more time with him. I tried to “redeem” the situation. Maybe we would date. Maybe I was so into him subconsciously that I really had wanted that to happen. Maybe it was his intense feelings for me that led to that situation. Every time I came to that conclusion, I immediately knew that it wasn’t true. Because men are more than just wild animals with no control over their actions. I felt anxious and trapped by the thought of being with this person, yet I couldn’t understand why I kept spending time with him. I felt like he owned me.  I felt cheap, dirty, and used- but I figured that was all I could get, now that I was a “slut”.

I also was determined to not let what had happened affect me or my life. I decided that I would take this secret with me to the grave. No one needed to know. Obviously, this doesn’t work.

As time went on, the right people came into my life at the right time. The healing process began. One night, I told a brand new friend what had happened in a weird moment of desperation and trust. That was the first moment I acknowledged what had happened and was even able to accept the word “rape” in my vocabulary.
Another new friend gave me a book, “Dear Sister“. I cannot fully express the freedom I experienced from reading words written by strangers that seemed to come from my own soul.

Sometimes it is easier to share your darkest moments with complete strangers. It won’t change their perception of you. You can walk away from having shared that secret and never have to talk about it again.

I could tell very easily from social media who would be supportive and who would not be. (It’s interesting what your Facebook comments say about you.) So I either built up walls to protect myself from hurtful words unknowingly directed at me as a victim, or cut out interactions with those people altogether.

Time went on. Later, I was hanging out with a different guy; another friend- someone I trusted- someone I liked.  I was trying to be honest and have a clear conversation, once again; this time about how sex was traumatic for me. After I had finished sharing what had happened to me, he tried to initiate sex with me multiple times. I had to tell him no more than once.  It triggered an anxiety attack, which seemed to surprise him immensely.

Right now, my impulse is to clarify that when someone shares their story of sexual abuse, they do not want to be comforted by sex with you. The fact that I even feel the need to clarify this weighs heavily on my spirit. Part of what is so upsetting about assault is the violation of trust.  The fact that someone’s desire for sex can supersede their ability to acknowledge another person’s pain and vulnerability is extremely distressing. In fact, I considered that experience to be a more profound and piercing violation than the first.

If you are in a position where someone has placed their trust in you, respect that, and listen to them. If you are not sure what they want from you, then ask them. Respect that they know what they need, and ask them to tell you. If you are too distracted by wanting to have sex with that person to listen to what they are saying, then it’s probably a good time to remove yourself from the situation.

Now, both of the men in these stories would be considered “nice guys”. They are well-known and well-liked. They are kind, funny, talented, and people enjoy being around them. I don’t think either of them meant to be inherently selfish or destructive in either of these situations, in the same way that Aziz says this wasn’t his intention.  However, lacking the intentionality to confirm comfort and reciprocation from both parties indicates that they are clearly products of a society that hasn’t been properly trained in the language and culture of consent.

Consent is not the absence of a “No”. Consent is the confident and eager articulation of  a “Yes”.

The reason I shared this post is because I think my stories are more relatable than I wish they were. I know that there are some of you who have experienced a moment that sounds similar to mine. I also think that there are some of you out there who are lucky enough to not have experienced something similar and therefore don’t believe it happens as much as it does.  Maybe my story will somehow show you the truth.

Needless to say, the Aziz Ansari situation shines a light on the problem: Consent should never be assumed, and is something that can never be negotiated or induced. I would venture so far as to say that the only assumption we should ever make about consent is that we do not have it until we definitely have it. How do we know that we definitely have it? Because someone says yes, and then says yes again, and then again. As adults having sex, I think it’s totally sexy to actually check in to A) See if your partner is still in it to win it and B) Actually enjoying whatever you’re doing together.

How to know if someone wants to have sex with you:
1) If you are attracted to someone and want to have sex with them, it should be assumed that they don’t want to have sex with you unless they explicitly say that they do.

2) If someone has told you that they don’t want to have sex, it should be assumed that they don’t want to have sex unless they explicitly say that they do.

source3) If someone has said no to your request  for oral sex, or anal sex, or any other kind of sex, you don’t have to repeat your request. They know that you want it, and you should assume that they still don’t want it unless they explicitly say that they do.

The other reason I’m sharing this is because sadly, I think that some people believe that girls are just “making stories up” to get guys into trouble.* For every girl who has the courage to come forward, there are sixteen** holding tightly and silently onto their truths and reading your comments. I don’t share this to incite anger towards perpetrators, because there’s obviously a bigger issue at play here. To say that every “perpetrator” is evil or intentionally harming people is not hitting the mark. We have to be dissatisfied with the rate in which these things are happening. (1 in 4 women, 1 in 4!) I actually care about creating a better, safer society for everyone.

One of my amazing friends summed this up on her social media recently,

“I care about this person thinking consent is “blurry” when it is absolutely clear that anything short of “hell yes!” is no. I care about this person caring more about having sex than asking if their partner wants to have sex, and “risking” them saying no. Because why the hell else wouldn’t you ask? Would you not want to know, for sure, that the person you want to have sex with is actually into having sex with you? I care about this person thinking that “no” means “keep trying” or “convince me.” Because it absolutely doesn’t. I care about this person thinking that because the victim flirted, she consented to something other than more flirting. Or that because she didn’t leave, she consented. She didn’t. I care about this person hearing you questioning the victim and, in their next sexual interaction, thinking “who knows what she wants! She should be more clear,” instead of “who knows what she wants! I should probably ASK HER and make it clear that i’m Ok with whatever answer.” And then actually being ok with the answer.”

So, while this post is partially about me finally being able to relay part of the narrative that has been missing from my story over the past few years, I desperately hope that it’s more about initiating change. Let’s shift our views about sex and consent.


To my dear ones out there who are listening to the deafening sound of your heartbeat racing to match mine because my story sounds too familiar:  You are not alone. It’s not your fault. You ARE worthy of love and greatness. You are NOT defined by your pain or by your anger. How you feel is valid and you do not have to convince me about your truth. I believe you. And #metoo.
There is purpose in the pain, join me in the journey.


On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.
*Only 2 – 4% of all sexual assaults reported are false reports
**Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police
1 – 2% of “date rape” sexual assaults are reported to the police
**1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime
11% of women have physical injury resulting from sexual assault

Dear Danielle

A few hours ago, a post was shared in one of our Women’s Football Facebook pages.

‘Yesterday I received a message from a lady named Jamie. She has an 8-year old daughter named Danielle who loves football and is getting ready to play her first season of tackle football. Yesterday was her first football camp. She was the only girl at the camp and the only girl registered to play tackle this year and first for their league. She had a boy tell her yesterday “girls don’t play football, what are you trying to prove’ “

I wrote this post for Danielle, but I also wrote it for all of the girls out there. You are all warriors, heroes and ground breakers. Keep chasing after your dreams, no matter what they are.

Dear Danielle,

I know how you feel. Maybe not exactly the same, but I have an idea. I was just like you, I just wanted to play my favourite sport. I just wanted to be the football player I knew I was inside. Unfortunately, unlike you, I lacked the bravado to step out and actually play organized football until I was older. In fact, I allowed society to tell me it wasn’t even an option. You didn’t let that stop you, and for that, you are my hero.

You are inspiring. You are showing other girls that they too can play whatever sport, be whomever they want to be, and chase any dreams they dream, regardless of what is considered “normal”.

I used to skateboard too. But I let insecurities surface when I was asked over and over again, “What are you doing here?” None of the guys I skated with were asked that question, and quitting because I let their fears seep into my consciousness is one of my greatest regrets still to this day.

“What do you have to prove?” Nothing. Not to yourself, not to anyone. The better question is for those who questioned you, and it is “why are you so threatened?”

They’re insecure and feel like they are going to have to prove themselves beside you.

You do belong out there. You belong because you want to play football and it is a football field. You have no one to answer to besides yourself. It is my prayer for you that you push yourself into greatness in whatever you choose in life for your sake and your sake alone.

I actually wrote about some other amazing girls who were just like you in my previous post,  “Girls Games” . Their names are  Mo’ Ne Davis and Maria Pepe. Both faced adversity while playing baseball, especially Maria. The boys were so scared of her as a pitcher that they fought to have her thrown out of the league because she was too good! But she didn’t let it stop her. Her inner warrior came out, and she changed the rules for girls who came to play after her. When Mo’Ne Davis came to play, she became one of the best in the league!  Whenever it gets frustrating, just remember that you are doing amazing things. Don’t let anyone take that from you.

We’re rooting for you.

Love, Ehjae

I’ve posted other responses below too! (many have been shortened but not altered in any other way.)

“I play semi-pro Female Football in SC in the USA. It isn’t very popular here for women to play unless they are wearing little to no clothing. Danielle you are doing what you love and need to prove that boy and all the boys that say a girl can’t play wrong! Practice and play your heart out! The most important thing is to have fun! Danielle you are my hero for taking this step at such a young age! Go get em!”- Amanda

“Never let anyone say you can’t do anything.”
Love from the Oklahoma Lady Force.

“I have been playing for three years. At this time, I am the only girl on a men’s semi pro tackle football team. I have to practice with guys, and have to play against men that are two or three times my size, weight, stregnth and are faster than me.
When I first started playing, no one believed I could do it. Some of the men were rude, some of their wives and girlfriends were rude.
There were alot of days that I came home from practice frustrated, sad, or angry. I cried so very many tears… but NEVER in front of the men on the team. What I learned was that girls are stronger than anyone expects them to be, girls can both be beautiful and strong, girls can do absolutely anything they dream of.
My advice to you, young lady… is to go to practice every day and be the best that you can be..
Its absolutely ok to be scared, to be sad…
Do not give up on what you want, because someone doesnt believe in you.
Above all else, love yourself, and your family, do good in school and believe that you can do anything. BECAUSE YOU CAN!!”- Dani

” Don’t let them break you down just use that to help you get better and stronger, hit them like no one has hit them before keep your head up and no matter what we all have your back , and never stop your love for the game”- Patti

“Go Danielle! Always remember that you’re not alone when you have this entire international football family to support you. Keep it up girl you’re awesome! Much love from the Budapest Wolves Ladies all the way in Hungary” – Anna

The amazing comments go on and on. You are not alone. Please feel free to comment below if you have a message for the Danielles of the world.

All photos courtesy of Louis Christ,

Oh Canada, National Humiliation Day

July 1st is a date that brings mixed emotions for me. I am incredibly proud to be Canadian. My father is from Hong Kong and my mother descended from Norwegian settlers. I am a literal manifestation of the cultural mosaic we claim to love and celebrate in Canada, I have no other land to claim as my home. However, claiming Canadian soil as my “own” doesn’t sit well either. Every time I see signs for 150 celebrations, I cringe a little. Can I still be proud? How do I live tethered to a horrible past while living in respectful remembrance? 
How do we rectify the truth that our success and flourishing economy has been built upon lies, oppression, and even slavery?
Not everything about the past 150 years on this soil should be celebrated. In our honest history books, you would read that we have broken treaties, corruption is at almost every turn, and death and terrorism and cultural genocide are strong narrative themes.  And if you think that our contemptible, racist history is limited to treaties being broken, you are sadly mistaken.
July 1st holds a significantly racist tinge to it for Indigenous peoples, but it also holds a significant pang for the Chinese community in Canada. Not being part of an Indigenous group, I can’t speak for their oppression. However, I can add more to the discussion about our nation’s corrupt and racist past.
“The progeny of Chinese and whites cannot procreate, or their offspring would be so imperfect that perhaps in the majority of offsprings it would be no better than a mule… they are a fungus, a foreign substance, and unhealt(h)y substance; they are not freemen.” – Report of the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration: Report and Evidence pg. 303 (Printed in Ottawa, 1885)
(My nieces are a pretty perfect example of how wrong this conclusion was, if you ask me.)
On July 1st, 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act was enacted, prohibiting Chinese immigration to Canada. At the time, thousands of Chinese workers had been working and dying on the treacherous CN railroad (For which we stole land and killed Indigenous people to build our nations economic success, yay. Go us.) and hoped to bring family members to join them. Until July 1st, 1923, a Chinese Head Tax had been instituted to discourage Chinese immigration once Chinese workers were no longer required for construction of the railway.  The government had found the Head Tax “in parts, defective”, and decided to prohibit entry altogether.  This act separated families indefinitely and it wasn’t repealed until 1947. Then, Chinese-Canadians were finally granted rights to VOTE. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 1967 that Chinese immigrants were actually able enter Canada under the same criteria as others.
Did you know that only 11 years ago, on June 22nd, 2006, our Prime Minister at the time finally issued an official apology?
What’s the Chinese Head tax?:

There has been a video circulating on the internet these days. It raises the concerns many Indigenous Peoples are justified in having about the Canada 150 celebrations that are planned across the nation this summer. While this video raises awareness and relays some hard truths, what it doesn’t do is offer any practical solutions. If we are to boycott these celebrations, what should we do on July 1st instead of joining in? How are we supposed to act, what should we be doing in order to bring about positive change? Conversations are compelling, but conversations only become powerful when paired with action. So, here is the constant question on my brain, now that we’ve raised the concerns: What now?

Do we hold a trial and convict John A. McDonald and his colleagues posthumously for racism, murder, fraud, and other crimes? How can we learn from our past without becoming anchored to it? How do we move forward without dismissing just recourse? What are some realistic conclusions that we could honestly follow through on to bring reconciliation and harmony?
How do we work towards an inclusive land where we are working together for a better future for every person? (even-no, especially- if that means being willing to work a little harder)
We’ve also accomplished some incredible things as a nation: On July 20, 2005, Canada became the first country outside Europe and the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide after the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act.
You can read about many other steps forward we have taken here:
What I wonder is, “How can we celebrate our achievements while reflecting on and acknowledging the dark spots in our past?”
I’m guilty of having a lot to say, but lacking some kind of applicable thought in conclusion.
Racism and prejudice are still alive and well in this country and I wish I could say that I am immune. None of us are immune. If you think you are incapable of subversive racism and prejudice, you are sorely mistaken. Unless you are consciously working towards understanding those around you who look, live, and believe differently from you, you will slip into that treacherously comfortable place among those who agree with you all of the time.
I’ve got nothing.
But here are the practical things I’m trying to do in order to be a better citizen on earth, period:
1) Get over Myself
 Stop being so defensive. The end.
2) Listen
It is so hard to listen to people who differ from me if I’m caught up in my own defensiveness. I’m trying to become better at listening and understanding that not everything in disagreement with me is an attack on me
3) Trying to change myself first before trying to change the world
At the end of the day, I can only truly, 100% effect change through my own actions. I can’t control others, and I can’t control what happens. I can control my own words. I can control my own attitude, and I can be a force for change by listening and being present
4) Show Up
Be present for people and for the things that matter to them.
I am ashamed to say that I have only partially participated in some of our local Indigenous celebrations. I feel so strange being so uninformed about traditions that are as Canadian as the earth that I walk upon each day. I want to participate, but I want to do so respectfully and without somehow becoming ignorantly guilty of cultural appropriation. I could really use some guidance in this area, so please, HELP!
At the end of the day, I am thankful for the land that I call home. I am thankful for those who cared for it before me, and I am thankful for the privileges I now reap as a result. I don’t want to lose sight of what was taken so that I could thrive here today.
Maybe this year’s celebration is in asking the question:  “What now?” and being willing to just listen.
PS. If you are someone who is getting frustrated by all the conversation regarding the 150 Celebrations, instead of thinking, “Why don’t they all just get over it?” Or “Stop being so sensitive”, I encourage you to take a second, take a breath, and instead of asking, “Why are we even talking about this?” ask, “Why am I so upset by all of this?” I too, shared some of your sentiments once. But when I took a moment to ask myself some hard questions, I found myself in a more compassionate position and maybe you will too!

Dimmed but not Extinguished

It has been months since I touched my journal, and even longer since I could bear to open my bible. These two staples of my life that once brought healing, peace, and comfort have been collecting dust as my heart seemingly turns to ash.

It’s not for lack of desire, but an overwhelming sense of fear. It’s not for lack of content, but the presence of unanswered questions upon questions and a pervasive loathing and contempt for the person reflected in my own writing.

I am not who I once was and I am not who I want to be. The words of Paul echo in my mind “I do not do what I want to do, but the very things I do not want to do, I do.” Yes, Paul. I feel you. I am often selfish, impatient, cold, and hard-hearted. I have never seen the direct result of disregarding God’s presence reflected so strongly in my own life.

It’s been a bit more than a month since I started medication for my depression and anxiety. I’ve spent a lot of time hiding from the “darkest” emotions in my soul, which has (in my uneducated opinion) led me to this place where I struggle to see the light. It’s funny how something so tiny can represent hope.

Why do I even write? I’m not sure. Some people call it courageous (it doesn’t feel courageous). Others say I need the attention.  I think this is my way of reminding myself that I’m not alone in this darkness, and I suppose I hope to God that there is someone out there who resonates with my words and it brings them a glimmer of light in their darkness.  I once lived as a person who could simply “choose” to see the beauty, optimism, and good in every person and every situation. I’m realizing that I was incredibly blessed to have had that ability, and I’m thankful for this new understanding that I now grasp.  Life happens, things change. We learn through life, and we grow and are ever-changing. My greatest fear is that I will burn every bridge in this journey. Will God really still love me after my desertion? Is He really patient, faithful, and kind? Will my family still love me after I continually let them down in my selfishness? Will my friends?

I’m learning that I can believe something to be true despite how I feel. I still believe that the same beauty, optimism and good exists in the world, but that my sight has been clouded by a dark veil. The light has been dimmed in my soul, but it is not extinguished.

To my loved ones: I am not lost, I have only been diverted.

To my dear broken souls: We are not alone. You will be OK. We will be OK. Today may not be the day, nor tomorrow, but SOMEDAY WE WILL BE OK.

Your light is only dimmed, it is not extinguished.

It’s Gone

I’ve never been ready. I’m still not ready. I don’t know how to express what’s inside and I’ve never been able to prepare myself for the responses I may receive. I’m still not prepared. This was an immensely difficult post to write and share, and my only request is that any responses could be thought out sensitively and lovingly. I’m battling this out the best way I can, and I fear that in sharing, I may retreat even further. I know that as soon as I share this, I will want to wither up into a ball. I will feel small, judged, useless, and far, far away from where I want to be. However, I also hope that in sharing, I leave some of this darkness behind. With that hope leading the way, here we go.

There are parts of my story that I just can’t talk about yet. This part of my story has been clawing its way out for a while now and I suppose the monster finally got out.   I’m sorry in advance, this is not an uplifting post. I know that this blog has served to bring light and love and hope to some, and that has always been my prayer and my purpose. More than that, I’ve always made it my purpose to be honest and genuine, no matter how raw it may be.  There is a gaping hole in my soul that can’t seem to be filled, and to keep it inside seems to be untrue to you and untrue to my journey.

I don’t know how to start, because the brokenness of my spirit seems so fragmented that I’m not sure I can.

The gaping hole? My faith. It’s gone. It wasn’t a decision. It can’t be forced back in. (Please, I beg of you not to try.) I’ve tried. I’m still trying.  Oh if I could only describe to you the desperation in which I have called out to God, the broken-hearted tears that I have sobbed, the emptiness in scouring the Bible for that glimmer of truth and light that used to always find me in the darkness.

The best way I can describe how I feel is as if someone has died; someone so dear to me that a piece of me died with them. I suppose that is true in a way.

I’ve had dark moments, but in those times- the light always shone in the window to guide me home. Today, I am lost in the woods and the candle has quit burning.

It’s not like I’ve become a drug addict, I’m not sleeping around, and I don’t party so hard that I don’t know what day it is (all things thought to lead to a lack of faith within the church world) My life looks the same.  I just. Don’t. Feel. God’s presence anymore. Surprisingly, life didn’t end there.

But I won’t sugar coat it either and try to tell you that everything is ok. I’m less patient, I’m less kind, and I’m less capable. My depression, which used to hit me hard somedays but always lifted shortly after, has become persistent, overbearing, and debilitating at times. I’m not going to deny that this isn’t a massive battle for my mental health as well as my spiritual life.

I am just a girl who has had some crappy things happen. In the midst of the pain I sought God’s comfort. I sought Biblical counsel. I desperately ran after healing. I busied myself with things that I love doing. I tried to do the right things and often failed, I’ll admit that. I tried to find meaning in the healing, and purpose in the journey. More and more, as the feelings of being lost, hopeless and the overwhelming desperation settled in, I felt myself floundering and often wondering why I was doing what I was doing, but I was just trying to survive. I still am.  I needed a break from feeling completely, and utterly broken. I think the worst part is having grown up in the church. I know all the answers that I could possibly hear:
1. I need to pray more.
2. I need to go to church more.
3. I need to just let God love me more.
4. I need more time in a community (which is effing hard when you are dealing with external and internal demons)
5. I’m probably making sinful choices that block me from sensing God’s love.
6. “Here are the top 10 verses when faith is hard.”
7. ETC…

(I even know that some people will be thinking, “no, you don’t do anything– it’s God who does the work”)

I would be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that I resented every word.  Songs that used to encourage now discourage. Quotes that used to inspire now breed hopelessness. I always wanted to be a better version of myself, because I was never good enough– and now I just wonder why I felt that way? Outside of the church, I have never felt more loved for my brokenness and struggles– loved Just as I am. Seem backwards to anyone else? Please hear me when I say that I don’t think it was the fault of any church body that I attended. I just wasn’t in a place where being at church seemed to help more than hinder. (I attended an amazing church for the past few years, I want to say that right now.) I  don’t understand how being in the midst of those people made me feel terrible, while being with non-christians felt more uplifting/less judgmental/more safe. I think it’s because so many people within the church seek to live honestly with their struggles, and I didn’t want to think about what I was going through, I didn’t want to be asked, I just wanted to hide from the pain.

Oh what I wouldn’t give to just love Jesus and walk with him like I used to. We were so close. He was my best friend. And now, I feel like He’s moved on. Like he was my imaginary friend and has decided to make me grow up from my childhood fantasies. I feel like I’m the desperate one post break-up who just doesn’t get why things had to end.

Right now, there are so many people who think I’m still the girl who loves and leads with a godly heart, and earnest faith. Oh if I could only just BE that person again. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time. There are moments, when I feel so lost. Because now, with all of these questions- if God isn’t real. If Jesus didn’t live and die for me. If my whole relationship with this “living” “loving” God has been a lie, then my whole life’s purpose has been shattered. I still live for love. I still live for people. I still believe every person is created/here with a purpose. I just don’t know what is at the root of that purpose anymore. And I’m not saying that I reject the idea that God exists either, I’m simply admitting that I struggle with it immensely. This is NOT where I wanted to be at 26 years old. This is NOT how I wanted to feel, and this is a faith journey/struggle that I NEVER expected, perhaps that was my problem: believing that this “Blessed Assurance” would never leave me.

I’ll leave you with my last journal entry, I think it really captures the internal battle that wages on. I can’t face the thoughts in my soul, but maybe someone else is struggling with this too. Power to you, my fellow desperate faith-vagabonds, my soul aches for you and with you and our journeys. I hope and pray (to anyOne who will listen and care) is that your souls find rest and peace.

December 14, 2015

I’m back. It’s been another long haul. I wish I could blame my silence on the fact that I can’t find my journal, but the fact of the matter is that I was avoiding the act of journalling. I didn’t want to self-reflect. I didn’t want to think about the things that have been consuming my mind– the questions and fears that I have been relentlessly pushing as far away as possible. There is a dark, ugly, black pit in the midst of my soul and I fear it grows everyday.


I lack faith in all regards. I lack it in a way that I have never known; In a way that terrifies me, yet brings me to a new horizon of true, honest questioning.

For the first time, I’m standing in an understanding of how calloused, insensitive, and ridiculous Christianity can sound to an unbelieving mind. Sadly, that is because I currently possess such a mind.

Although, most days, I still can’t admit it. It hurts too much.  I still possess all of the “Biblical, Apologetic knowlege”  that my hungry mind and eager soul has consumed over the years. My mind, when I allow it, is wrought with an internal struggle; an endless debate.  I desperately long for intimacy with Jesus, yet feel hopelessly lost in the thought that He might exist solely as an imaginary character that I have loved, cherished, and clung to all of these years because a religion enabled it. Simultaneously, my flaws are both embraced and disgraced. I love and hate myself because 1. God is love, yet 2. He “calls me to be Holy and Righteous, which are attributes far from how I would describe myself these days.  I celebrate and despise myself because we should love everyone, including ourselves but I still wonder how that lines up with conservative Christian opinions on many topics.

However, in the midst of this struggle, I have never felt more earnest, genuine, or willing to be unbiased in my questioning.  Is THAT love? Am I ignorant? Who is right? Can love and righteousness co-exist? How can/does love have limits? Can faith and science be reconciled? Where does faith come from?

For the first time in my entire life, no answers bring me peace.  Nothing makes me feel safe, nothing makes me feel sure of anything except that I am sure that I will never be the same. I will never fit in where I once did– and I will never fully understand any of the ideas that I currently question.

I say this out of desperation, not of arrogance– I’m not sure if there are any answers that exist that I haven’t heard, nor speeches that could help me in this journey. I’ve always been one to enjoy the journey of life, but this one can’t help but feel like a massive shackle that I will never shake. It all seems too big.

I still find myself talking to whom I used to call Jesus. I still call Him Jesus. Because I’m not prepared to give up on “It” being Him. He’s all I’ve ever known– But I can’t deny this growing knot inside. “What if I just needed Jesus to exist? What if I just believed that He is there so that I could feel more at peace about the unknowns in life? What if I want to be a Christian so that I can be the person that everyone has thought me to be?” I’m trying so hard. I only hope that if I’m totally wrong, and that the God I’ve loved and served with my whole heart for over 25 years is truly there listening and loving me- that He truly is as patient and kind as I always used to say that He was; As kind, and patient, and loving as I believe that He would be.

God, if you are real, I desperately need you to show me.  I don’t know how I go from believing with every fibre of my being that you love me and hear me and care for me, to this listless sense that I’ve been living a lie and talking to an imaginary being for my whole life.
What is happening? Why can’t I feel you? I know, I know.. it’s not you, it’s me, right? You’ve never left.. I’m the one who “turned away”, right? But why, when I’m turning and turning and turning around, I still don’t see you? I still don’t feel you?
Emotionally, everything inside of me wants you to be true; to be real; to not be a fairy tale.  But I can’t wish you into reality anymore than I could with a dragon. I want to be sure that you are real- that would be easier.  All I know is that my so-called faith as of late is nothing more that this: a desperate hope that you are true.  But for my lack of trust, I can’t help but feel as though I wouldn’t really deserve your love if it is there.

love ehjae

Why I was ashamed to be a Canadian

I think the best way to begin this is by telling you about my family history.
My father arrived to this beautiful country all by himself as a teenager. After finishing high school in Manitoba, he came to study at the University of Saskatchewan where he met my mother, received his two degrees and proceeded to work there for another two decades.

Over my entire lifetime, I have had to learn about ignorance because it wasn’t something that even existed to cross my mind as a child. My household was a literal example of cross-cultural acceptance.  I simply thought it was normal that people had different backgrounds and cultures. I learnt about Norwegian customs: we celebrated Christmas eve with Yule Bread, the Nativity scene, and lefse. I learnt about Chinese New Year: All of the superstitions, what the big meal meant, and how to get that red envelope from my elders 😉 Two of my great aunts spent several decades overseas, one in India and the other in Ethiopia, so we heard all kinds of stories about life across the globe and how differently people lived, yet how similarly we all love.

Most importantly, I learnt about how crucial it is to embrace people and make them feel like they are home. My mom has taught English as an Additional Language to immigrants, and my dad worked as a researcher out of the University for years. Through their jobs, we met several different people from all over the globe.  Over the years, on holidays and for different family events, we welcomed foreign students, new immigrants and some people who just couldn’t get all the way home for special holidays. I remember my dad once telling me that it was important to him to do so because so many people welcomed him and made him feel at home when he came to Canada. It never really was a question, if we knew someone would be alone for a holiday, they were to be invited to the Chan household.

Tonight I sat in shock as he recounted the following story to me. He has an assigned parking spot at the location where he has been working. When he came to park in that spot, he was surprised to find someone sitting in the spot. After pointing to indicate that it was his spot, the driver refused to move for him. After a bit of a standoff, he had to go back to work, so he got out of his car and asked the lady to move out of his parking spot. Her response still confuses me. “You’re trouble. You immigrants are the problem.” She then threatened to call the police and told him he was in trouble.

Ok, let me just stop there. I’m very confused by this statement. So, his immigration to Canada over 4 decades ago somehow relates to YOU parking in HIS spot HOW? This person repeated this phrase and sentences similar to it over and over again, somehow insulted by his simple request to park in the spot that he was entitled to.

In light of recent events around the world, the issue of immigration/refugees has garnered quite a lot of spotlight. Ignorant, rude, racist statements have been exchanged over social media and fear has somehow overtaken this once open-hearted nation. My father, who always seems to find a way to make new friends laugh, yet possesses a quiet, strong way of taking in the world around him has never been one to “cause trouble” because he believes it wouldn’t change anything. Perhaps he is right. I’m sure there are people who will always harbour this kind of fear, anger, hatred and ignorance in their hearts. But I have to believe that the more we talk about how wrong these kinds of occurrences are, the less it will happen.  My heart is broken, and it took me a while to figure out why.

My heart is broken, because I realized that it had nothing to do with my father being an immigrant, and everything to do with the fact that he wasn’t white. And some white person somehow believed that she was more entitled to a parking spot for that simple fact. Here’s a thought: Unless you can trace your ancestry back and are 100% native to this land, all of us have been immigrants, or come from people who immigrated at some point.  And, not only have we broken the hearts of those who cared for and loved this land before we set foot on it, but have flourished simply from being here, instead of somewhere else.  How does that entitle any of us to anything more than another? This kind of hatred and ignorance is something that I had believed in my heart of hearts wasn’t part of Canada. I don’t know that I could say that I’ve ever felt ashamed of being a Canadian until tonight. Because tonight, I am ashamed of sharing citizenship with someone who could be so wrong.

But then, I think of others who have immigrated to this country. And it makes me proud to share citizenship with someone who could be so right. And this is what being a Canadian is truly about. My father has taught me a lot of things about being a Canadian: do not create conflict- but stand up for yourself and what is right, respect your government, seek peace,  care for your neighbours and your neighbours’ neighbours, always do what is right-even when no one is watching, work hard, do your best, be proud of who you are, show grace and forgiveness even if it is unsolicited and probably undeserved.  I suppose I have a lot to learn from my father, who it seems, has grasped the true nature of being Canadian better than some who were born on this soil.

Initially I was angry, and wanted to post an image of that person, but I knew it would only create more anger and backlash for that person. I guess you could say that I then became ashamed of my own anger and hateful attitude.  Plus, I just don’t believe this kind of hurtful behaviour really deserves specific attention. Despite my own initial anger, I know this is not the Canadian way.

In conclusion, I’m not ashamed of our country at all and I’m sorry if the title threw you off. I’m ashamed that we still have people like this here. Because I do believe that we are a nation that stands for multiculturalism and tolerance and peace. None of these attributes were represented in this woman’s actions, but I believe that my dad did stand for these things in his response. Initially what I wrote began as an angry outlet, which I didn’t necessarily intend to share, given the amount of anger already floating around on the Internet. It soon became my attempt to write a different sort of post- one that doesn’t just stand by and let this kind of behavior simply happen without note, but brings to light a more positive outlook instead of feeding the monster I call the angry Internet troll. Peace, love, grace and patriotism do prevail- I LOVE being Canadian. It’s true: pride ourselves on being kind, polite, and welcoming, and we do love beer, maple syrup and hockey (along with apologizing too much, eh?).

But let’s not fool ourselves, we still have much work to do. Above all my patriotism lies with the human race and all of the people fighting to let love win. Far too often, people stand on two sides of an issue and fire different kinds of hatred at each other. I’m hoping this encourages people to stand for justice while keeping in mind that love and kindness go a long way.

My dearest Canadians and fellow citizens of this beautiful planet, let us open up our hearts again. Fight hate and fear with love, grace and forgiveness.


love ehjae




An Open letter to the Brokenhearted

I’m sorry. Those are words that you need to hear, but you may not have heard them yet. So, I am sorry that you are hurting.

You are hurt and confused.  You thought this relationship was the end of the games, the confusion and the hurt. You’ve thought, “Given the pain I’ve been through, there can’t be more.” Yet here you are again, alone with the pieces of your fragmented heart, wondering how it could happen again. After all of the time that you spent rebuilding and learning to trust again, how are you sitting in your room, crying over someone?

It will be your first inclination to close off that wonderful heart of yours. You are thinking, “That’s it. I’m not doing this again.  I don’t ever want to hurt like this ever again.” Please don’t hide that light from the world.  Not everyone will speak lies.  Not everyone will betray you.  Not everyone will hurt you in your weakest moments.  But everyone DOES see that glittering light that shines from your soul, and they are drawn to your love and joy. Don’t let him/her steal that from you on top of everything else.

You are asking yourself, “How will I ever trust anyone again? How will I ever trust myself again?” You will.  Not today, and probably not tomorrow; but you will. How do I know? Because that’s what makes you you.  Your resilient heart, your enduring optimism, and the light that you see in every other person. You have your own beautifully unique way of reaching others. Only you can love people the way that you do. Don’t let anyone put out your light.

Don’t run away from those wonderful friends and family in your life; those people who see your worth and never capitalize on your love.  They will endure with you, encourage you, and speak truth to you. (Even when you don’t want to hear the truth).  They will listen with love and care for you in the ways that you need.

Do listen to your feelings.  Do feel. Do process with your closest people. Do trust again, it will be worth it. The right person will never let you feel like this. The right person will never let you question your worth. The right person will see you, all of your darkness and scarring, and they will still choose you.  The right person will make you feel like you are the only person in the world that they could possibly love. The right person will be the one who makes you feel alive again.

For now, let that person be you.  Love You with all that you have.  You are worth loving.  Your heart is worth protecting.  Your mind is worth knowing.  Your soul is worth celebrating.

You will wake up one morning and the ache will be a memory; you will breathe deeply into your soul and celebrate the new adventures you are about to embark on. When that day comes, I hope I can join you on that journey.


love ehjae