Tag Archives: life

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.

xoxo

love ehjae

 

Chan

 

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

Moment

Life is full of moments.

Moments that stand still

Moments that fly by, where you soar high

Moments when you can’t see and you can’t breathe

and you begin to wonder if you’ve ceased to be

       Anything

Worth loving

——-

NO

——–

We

need

to see

that this is not who we’re meant to be

That life is full of these moments

So that we know what it means to be free

One step at a time

I’ve discovered a peace in my life lately that has settled into my soul.

Unshakeable, unbreakable, yet fragile and vulnerable. That’s how I feel.

I can look back on my life and see moment after moment of brokenness, but moment after moment after moment of the light breaking into that dark brokenness. I want to be real. I want to be genuine. I want people to know that they are loved; That I love them; That the love that pours out of me is an outpouring of the love I’ve been given.

How much do I share from my heart? How much of my soul do I bare? Somedays, the darkness is unbearable and all I can do is cry out one single word. “Jesus!” He just knows. I know that some of you who may read this don’t share my beliefs. I don’t care, because I’ll love you just the same. But if I could only express the comfort in knowing in those dark, dark moments that He knows and loves me despite my shortcomings.. Oh.. if I could only share that with the world.

Dead leaves

Dead Leaves

I wrote this sometime in the fall, and didn’t post it then for some reason. However, it was a good reminder for me today in the midst of the bitter cold.

Dead leaves always remind me of my life.

I have learned that life is a series of cycles.

I’m sad because the trees that were once vibrant with colour and life have lost their covering and are now standing naked and vulnerable. I can relate to that. I think back to Spring in my life, times where I sat in the presence of God, soaking in His goodness and life was good.

Yet it doesn’t last,  crap happens, and all of a sudden the cold and dreary take over my heart and suddenly I find myself reflecting upon mere remembrances of the vibrance and beauty.

I don’t want to acknowledge it.  If I rake up the leaves, that means that snow is coming. Winter is hard. There is so much to persevere in winter. Cold, dark mornings. Struggling to get out of bed. Struggling into and out of winter clothing. Shovelling. I don’t hate winter, but I think we would all agree that waking up in the summer to a bright, shining sun and 20+ weather is less of a struggle.

I know that it has to be done. But I’m stubborn. I want to rake the leaves myself.  I’ve had several people knock on the door to ask if they could rake the leaves for me. No, I want to do it myself. I need to do it myself.

I know that if I can make it through the Winter, Spring will soon return and suddenly, I will not be naked and exposed, but stronger for having braved the cold, bitter elements

the change in my life

Over the past couple of years, my life has consisted of so much change. Since I graduated from high school, I’ve moved 9 times. My heart has gone on more rollercoasters than I would care to admit. I’ve gone to school, then not gone to school, then back to school more times than I want to even figure out.  These are all things I’ve chosen to pursue.

It’s taken me THIS long to realize that I’ve had the wrong perspective. I’ve been praying about everything the wrong way.

Every time something changed, every time my heart broke and the ground fell out from underneath me, I clung to this:

I trusted that God had a plan.

I prayed for my circumstances to change and come into alignment with that plan; That something crazy would happen so that I would know with absolute certainty what the future held.

But that’s not really what needed to change. My Heart needed to change.

I’m not saying that it’s bad to pray for a change in circumstances, but I don’t want that to be the first priority. Now, I’m trying to pray for my heart to come into alignment with His regardless of my circumstances.  Why not declare the things that are known to be true over the uncertainties that give me anxiety? No matter how I feel, even if the numbness has overtaken me, I will declare His truth.

Life is uncertain and full of change, I don’t know what’s next.

He is unchanging, forever the same and one thing that I do know is that He is good.

I stumbled upon this song today accidentally, but it totally expressed what I’ve been feeling in my heart. This song is a declaration of the truths that God has been revealing to me lately. I’m overwhelmed with the ways that He continues to remind me every day about how much He knows my heart and cares about me.

His light shines and my heart glows.

Comparison Game Over

There is a certain type of question that I hear almost daily, and I have decided to divert conversations, politely decline to answer or, in extreme cases, simply walk away if asked.

“What did you get on that test/assignment?”

When someone asks the question I mentioned above, someone always loses. It’s a seemingly harmless question, but one that can take a person’s confidence and shatter it into pieces.

It’s the comparison game. We all play it. Who’s prettier? Who’s stronger? Who’s smarter? Who’s uglier? Who’s weakest? Who’s stupid? Usually we ask the positive ones: “Who’s prettier?” But in doing so, we also answer “Who’s uglier?” Why in the world are we doing this to ourselves? To each other?

When I’ve been asked about my marks in the past, I’ve felt either one of two ways in the end: Pleased with myself or completely dejected. The reality is that I don’t really want to know what you got on your midterm. I do want to know how you felt about it, but please don’t tell me your mark. One of us will be suddenly filled with a sense of relief and victory whilst the other is suddenly thrown into a pit of self-loathing and a sense of hopeless stupidity. I’m tired of it. I don’t want to feel either way. Either way, no one wins.

I purposely stopped weighing myself a couple of years ago because I don’t want to know what I weigh.  What I do want to know is that I’m healthy. How do I measure that? Not by numbers, but by my lifestyle. Am I staying active? Am I eating well? Do I feel happy, well-rested and healthy?I don’t want to compare myself to someone else’s numbers. I don’t ask another person how much they weigh.
Because one of us, regardless of how content we may have been before the question, will undoubtedly leave with a mountain of new questions. “Why don’t I weigh the same? Does that mean I’m fat? Does that mean I’m ugly?”

The comparison game is the same with school. I don’t want to measure my intelligence by comparing it with yours. I want to learn all that I can, and measure my intelligence by my pursuit of knowledge. I want to compare myself with myself. I want to compete with myself, to be the best that I can be. The only academic standard that I need to meet is my own. You should meet yours. We can study together to help each other learn more, to grow more and to be all that we can be. But let’s learn and grow together so that we can learn to be better versions of ourselves, not better than each other because then no one grows.

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

STUPID

I’ve cried after every single one of the tests I’ve written this year in school so far.

(Yes. I am a sensitive person. Perhaps overly sensitive.)

After every one of these exams, the greatest lie that I’ve had to battle is this one:

“I AM STUPID.”

Of course to which, all of my lovely friends (when I’ve expressed this struggle) have lovingly responded, “You’re not stupid.”  But of course, I don’t believe that. It’s because I’ve stubbornly chosen to dictate my worth through these numbers

What I’m realizing is that it comes down to this silly fact that in our society, we base our identities on numbers.

Weight

Calories

Facebook friends/likes

How much money we make

How many relationships we have or haven’t had

How much square footage in our houses

How old we are

How many countries we’ve visited

GRADES

There are so many other numbers that we use to dictate our worth.

WHY do we do that?!

I’ve chosen to believe that all there is to me is what you see,

what can be measured by a one or a three, but really- in reality

if my worth was completely based on something created,

then I am flawed like a Picasso

out of key like an old piano

swept

     aside

But what if my worth was based on a perfect love? A perfect creator?

Someone who sees me, who loves me, and adores me and tells me my purpose is for something greater?

What if I saw myself the way that He sees me?

Then the numbers would fall away

I would see the beauty and  the design of my brokenness,

masterpiece created by a Master Artist

I could hear that perfect pitch, my verse in harmony

  just a small piece of the Great Symphony

Swept

up

by the gust of great love,
a fierce wind that shatters the prison of numbers

I could be free, if I would only believe that He is the only number that matters. He’s the ONE who cares for me. He’s the ONE who created me.  He’s the ONE who died for me.

I am not stupid. I am not dumb. I am blessed to go to school, and to learn, but more than that: I am blessed to be known, loved and called worthy by a perfect Creator who loves with His perfect, unconditional love.

Renovations on a dungeon.

Down in the dumps.
Feeling blue.
Not quite myself.

One of my favourite characters puts it quite eloquently as being in the “depths of despair.” (Thanks Anne Shirley)

One of the things that has always frustrated me in my life are those moments when the darkness creeps in.

The joy that I so easily embraced suddenly becomes contaminated by that tar-like void that seems to contaminate and seep so quickly that suddenly I am suffocating in a quicksand pit of despair, loneliness and depression.

“Why?”  I always ask myself.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  Yet, sometimes I do, but I don’t know know how to change my behaviour.  Instead, I allow the lies and shame to seep in further and isolate myself from people who love me, who can and want to pull me out of the pit.

A couple of dear friends have been challenging me by being transparent and sharing about their struggles.  How often do I admit out loud that I don’t know the answers, that I am struggling to even think about picking up my Bible, and *gasp*, sometimes I just don’t want to go to church. Yet at the back of my mind, that truthful voice is telling me that this has been where I discovered my joy, love, freedom, family, salvation, hope, truth, grace and forgiveness for even the darkest, most shameful, disgraceful moments in my life.

I’ve been challenged and humbled by my own words.  I’ve often said that we are weakest and most vulnerable when we are isolated from each other. We were made for community, to grow together, to love together and even to be weak together, which actually makes us stronger. Yet, in the past couple of weeks, a true hypocrite, I have been isolating myself and avoiding the people that I need the most.

More of my hypocrisy: It would be so easy for me to spend an hour looking and thinking up words of wisdom and thinking of spiritual ways to guide and help my fellow-downers through this journey. I would come up with an eloquent way to express how I had entered into and then defeated the darkness that I had supposedly now conquered.
I haven’t conquered it.  I won’t.  Not on my own. I’m not the one who will defeat it.  Scratch that.. I’m not the one who HAS defeated it.

This post is not about my great thoughts or revelations on the Bible. This is about my weaknesses and being transparent.

I am still struggling.

So once again, challenged and humbled, I am writing to expose the darkness that has been overwhelming me and to ask for help.  I can’t do it on my own.  I’ve been trying to do it that way for a long time.  But it’s so clear that that’s not the way to do it.

Yet, in the midst of this pit of despair, there has been a peep hole of piercing light.  It never fades, and the warmth that emanates from it is almost delightfully painful in comparison to the emotionless, cold, dark corner of the dungeon that I have chosen for myself.

God has never left my side, and I know that he is the reason for my hope and the peace that has never left my heart amidst all of the craziness that has happened in my entire life.

The beautiful thing is the simplicity of this truth and revelation that first broke through the wall around my heart( and it continues to do so every day) :

It is the moments like these, when we are shamed, naked, starving and covered in our own filth, that Jesus says, “Yes, I love you. I choose you.”

And that is how my God turns my dungeon into a palace.

 

What’s going on with Ehjae?

What’s going on with Ehjae?
Many of you have been wondering this for the past little while.  If you haven’t been, now you probably are.
Let me start off by saying that I have been through possibly the most topsy-turvy, stressful, emotional, life-giving, spirit-filled, faith-testing, yet irrational times of my life to date.
Yet, after that segue, I still feel like I don’t have the right words to describe what I have been going through.
However, I am a person of many words.. too many words as some of you are well aware, and I can’t keep this to myself because the things that God has been doing have been too full of His goodness.
Some of you may have been aware that I went to Africa this summer, then from there I moved out to BC. My original plan was that I would work and then attend Trinity Western beginning in the fall of 2013.
After applying at more jobs than I have ever even considered in my life prior to this, I got a job, however that fell apart quickly. I was treated unfairly (and have yet to even receive pay for the work that I did do there. (Don’t worry, I will contact the labour board if I still don’t have it soon.)
What followed was one of the darkest times of my life.  I couldn’t find work. I couldn’t find a place to call my home.  After being so loved and allowed to love and minister to people at Ebenezer, I found it incredibly difficult. I prayed that God would open my eyes to see where he would have me serve in BC.  I learned a lot about God’s family.  I was challenged in my perspective of where and who I could call home and family.   (I talked about this in a previous blog)
As I watched my bank account drain, in my moments of despair and distress I was blessed to see that God is my provider.  As money would miraculously appear from someone, I would receive a generous discount on services, suddenly I would have just enough for what I needed.
In the early days of me living in BC, I applied for a job at an airline.  I was very hopeful that something would come of it, but unsure whether I was who they wanted.  It was in the midst of a very dark time that I heard back from them and was asked to fly to Calgary at my own expense to interview for a possible opening.  I pray about it and I sensed within my heart that if I didn’t do it, I would regret it.  I also sensed that if I didn’t do it, I would know that it would be because I didn’t trust that God would take care of me. I was terrified of the extra costs of flying at my own expense, but I knew that I should do it.
In that 2 day time frame of booking flights, packing and ending up in Calgary, it just happened to work out that a friend of mine was driving home for the weekend from Edmonton.  I bought a cheap bus pass and ended up at home unexpectedly.
While at home, I felt like God gave me a fresh perspective. (Here’s the blog post )
I was not choosing the joy and peace that He offers to us every day.  I was choosing to see the negatives and the failures.  I had chosen to see the worst of myself and my situation.  In that week, I was reminded of my responsibility.  It wasn’t to find a job.. it was to trust God and choose joy.  So, with new energy, I set out to do what I could.  If I couldn’t work, why not go to Trinity in January? I applied to Trinity and waited to hear back.  I was still not at peace about attending, but I couldn’t know why that was, and I didn’t know what else to do.  All I sensed when I prayed was that I was supposed to WAIT.
I returned to BC rejuvenated and reminded of God’s faithfulness.  At this point, I was absolutely, completely uncertain of what would come, but for once in my life, I wasn’t fazed by that.  God had shown up. I trusted him.  I knew that He would do good things. So, we took it day by day..
There is nothing greater than sitting in the midst of chaos and having utter peace because you know that the presence of the Lord is in your midst and NOTHING can shake you. Nothing.
I decided that if walking with God in absolute faith for each unknown upcoming moment but having this peace that literally surpasses ALL kinds of understanding meant financial instability, looking absolutely irrationa,l and life not always making sense..then I’d choose it every day for the rest of my life.
Once I came home, I realized that even though I thought my lessons were over, God hadn’t even begun yet. We went on this journey of discovering what it was that I actually want to do.  My answer has changed throughout the years, and I have never been able to give a solid answer because the truth is that I didn’t know.  I could come up with really great sounding answers, but something never really felt quite right about the options I allowed myself to consider.
I realized that life as a people-pleaser has made me completely unable to make a decision based on what I actually want.  I also realized that it’s not bad to have a dream or a desire or to pursue them.  I guess I always thought that it was selfish on some level. I am learning about choices.. choosing what direction to go, choosing joy over despair, choosing truth over lies, choosing to protect myself from words, situations and lies that hurt me.. and choosing to stand in the authority of the truth of who I am in Christ over anything the enemy tries to throw at me.
After isolating myself from people, and not allowing myself to ask people for their opinions, I finally encountered a feeling of freedom in deciding what I want to do.
So to answer your questions, I am back. I am going to pursue my love of photography full-time. All cards in, fully committed to my dream. I want a  degree, so I’m going to study business. I wanted to be back, and I’m allowed to want to be here. It’s not selfish.  It took me a long time to realize that.  I`m still realizing it.
There are so many things that God has been revealing to me about myself. I need to grow in so many ways, it seems impossible when I think about it.  I know that I am SO far from even grasping at where I would love to be. But then Holy Spirit comes in and gives me that fresh, truthful perspective and reminds me that I can’t fix those things on my own.  In walking in faith, trusting His word in humility and eager expectation, I know that God will complete these current renovations in my life in His good timing.  It’s just the beginning, and I am so ready for what’s next.
A really crazy thing that happened was the day that I decided that photography was what I wanted to do, and had just sent in my application to study commerce,  I actually heard back from the airline that I had been successful and I had a job offer! Of course, the rational response would be that I should’ve been jumping at the opportunity.  All that I saw though was that I had finally figured out what I wanted to do, and pursuing this crazy lifestyle change and working with the airline would have jeopardized my dream and my desires.  For the first time in my life, I was able to make a solid decision based upon what I thought would be best in my life, despite what would probably make more sense.  What a huge opportunity! But it was the wrong opportunity for me.  So I graciously turned down the job.
I am so full of joy. I am so full of thankfulness.  I am so full of peace.  Yet, I can’t actually describe the freedom and this sense of knowing, TRULY KNOWING, that God is with me.
Thank you to those of you who have spoken truth to me.  You have no idea how timely your words were or how desperately I needed to be reminded of the things that you shared with me.  Know that you are a blessing and that you have been God’s hands and feet and mouth of truth.
(If you’re wondering whether this is you, it probably is you..)I am still so far from where I need to be, or who I want to be.  Now I at least know who I want to be, and I have this undying peace because I know without a doubt that beside me walks a God who loves me, delights in me and desires to be with me every step of the way.

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.”
C. S. Lewis
Couple of things that spoke to me:
Prayers For All Seasons Sermon Series (Leyton and Scott)
Hebrews 12
Romans 8
Psalm 32
Psalm 136
Psalm 138
Psalm 23
(Pretty much the entire book of Psalms)
Forgotten God- Francis Chan