Thursday, March 10, 2011

There is Hope

Those three words best sum up my day today. Granted, it had its hiccups - I had to wait in the really hot sun for a bus that seemed awfully late (but maybe I missed the one that comes around 20 minutes till the hour), and I was late to my Cultural Studies class because I was in the cafeteria looking at stuff on my laptop and lost track of time. But overall, it was a very good day.

The day started with me sleeping in to make up for my lack of sleep the previous night, one of the luxuries I have thanks to having afternoon classes on Tuesday and Thursday. I got up, got ready, ate breakfast, and even got around to making a lunch, something I don't always feel up to doing.

I had to get to school a little earlier than I usually do because Chi Alpha - the Christian club I'm now actively a part of - was having a pizza party today and Tara, our club director, wanted me to help her set up. So I met her and we carried things to the room we were having the party in. Later, I had to go out and help carry the pizza in while one of the other girls parked her car.

The party went ok, although there wasn't much of a turnout - three new people and then all but two members of the club. At one point, Tara shared her testimony, which got my attention. It was quite a story. Her talking about God being there for us and his Spirit being in us and everything made me feel like there just might be some hope for me, even though I've lost a lot of trust in God. My testimony isn't nearly as amazing as hers is; I grew up in church and a Christian school and "prayed the prayer" at age 7. For some reason, I didn't get baptized right away; that didn't happen till I was like 13. I was pretty close to God during junior high and was going to church pretty much every week. In 8th grade I was even on the leadership team, S.A.L.T.

In 9th grade, things were still going pretty strong - my dad had overcome cancer, and my prayer, along with many other people's prayers, had helped bring healing to the dying daughter of this one leader guy in the junior high group. Then in September of my freshman year, my grandma (mom's side) died. We'd known she was sick for a long time, but her death was still kinda sudden since we'd just gone and seen her the week before. At that time, I was rather angry at God, since I'd prayed and prayed for my grandma to get better and she didn't. I'd also prayed for her salvation, but, as far as I know, she died unsaved. So that made my anger worse.

The anger - and accompanying bitterness toward God - just got worse. In 10th grade, I became friends with a guy I met at church. His name was Kyle. I was friends with his sister Rhoda and she introduced us. We pretty much just talked on the phone a lot since we went to different schools. I did go to the movies with him (and my parents) once, and we also went to my school's Sadie Hawkins Christmas Progressive Dinner together, though that was very awkward because my friend who'd convinced me to ask him and her boyfriend were supposed to be there to hang out with us, but they never showed, so Kyle and I just ended up alone most of the time. He actually put his arms around me to "warm me up" at the ice-skating rink (a stage of the "dinner"), which felt both nice and awkward at the same time. That's the first and only time I've let a guy who wasn't my dad or my brother touch me like that. I also went to his house once or twice, and one of those times he taught me how to shoot a BB gun. He also introduced me to the anime/manga Project A-ko, which is a series with a somewhat confusing plot (involving a friendly rivalry between the title character and her "friend" B-ko, a kid named C-ko who's caught in the middle, and a mostly unexplained alien invasion) and art that borders on porn.

Unfortunately, things ended up not going well with Kyle. I started developing feelings for him, but had to hold them back because at the time he already had a girlfriend. Then, after about 5 months as friends, I found out - while being the passive member of a 3-way phone call between him, me, and a friend of his - that he wasn't a Christian like I thought he was. This made things difficult after that. The fact that he denied any concern over the "Winter Formal incident" (me telling him on the phone that Winter Formal was happening at my school, only to get chewed out by his girlfriend, who thought I was asking him to the event, instead of just telling him about it) was troublesome as well. My parents finally advised me to end it. The day I was going to call him to tell him "not to call me for a while" was Valentine's Day. He actually called first, to wish me a happy Valentine's Day, and I almost lost my nerve. But I finally did it. He tried to protest, and finally I just hung up. (This might be the real reason I dislike Valentine's Day - not just being single, which is the reason I usually give people).

Nothing happened at first, until a few months later when my best friend wanted to call him to ask about Comic-Con (this was in 2001, the first time either of us went to that con). For some reason, I hadn't told her about the "breakup." I protested, but finally gave in. This gave Kyle reason to start calling again, and finally I had to tell him to stop calling me altogether.

I tried to forget Kyle, but he popped again a few times once I started school at Mira Costa, most infamously when I was at a Bible study for InterVarsity. I just told me to leave me alone. The last time I saw him he said he was going to move somewhere else in the state. I haven't seen him since.

So, back to high school. So the Kyle thing was a fiasco, and I was mad at God again for not stopping me before I developed feelings for Kyle, so that I could've avoided a broken heart. I also realized I became too easily emotionally attached to boys and decided to try to remedy this before having a relationship again.

My junior year was a tough year school-wise - probably my toughest - and of course, 9/11 happened that year too. I'm not sure if I had a faith crisis then but I might've. During my senior year, my grandmother (father's side) passed away, after having not fully recovered from a stroke.

Somehow I have survived 8 years of college and the loss of both of my grandfathers and an uncle since then. But while I still believe God exists and all that stuff, it seems all mental - like there's no heart to my relationship with God. And I'm not sure how to apply his Word, which I still read regularly, to my life -- especially the parts which seem to have no application, like the laws in Leviticus or the genealogies in the history books. And, perhaps due to my history with unanswered prayers, I've stopped praying regularly. And I can't grasp the idea of praying for seemingly "normal" things - like how my mom prayed when she couldn't find one of her boots. I'm also scared to trust God with every aspect of my life, including my future and especially my finances. I even worried that me coming up with a "Plan B" in case my writing doesn't work out (i.e., taking web design classes) was a sign that I wasn't willing to trust God to provide for me, though Mum said that what I was doing was ok.

So my testimony's nothing amazing, like some of the ones you hear. Just a long-time Christian with problems. And unlike most people who give their testimony (including Tara today), I can't bring myself to tell people my story publicly and especially to tell people that my story proves there is hope for humanity. Granted, evangelism isn't one of my top spiritual gifts (according to the tests I've taken) but Missionary is, and isn't that kind of the same thing? And aren't all Christians supposed to witness? It's a constant worry for me, that.

But anyway, now I'm getting all bummed, and I said this was a GOOD day!

Another good thing is that I got caught up on my homework - even my Flash class, which I was having trouble keeping up in - which means I can take a bit of a breather. Yay!

Today, I was thinking again about reviving my old sites Liquid Mercury and Ayeka's Palace. The Ayeka one is particularly on my mind, since the roots of its Ayeka-POV blog is the focus of the project I'm currently working on for LTWR 475. I'd also put out a desperate plea for help on the Miss Dream forums regarding Liquid Mercury the other day, so it was on my mind too.

I decided that it was worth looking at some examples of Sailor Moon character shrines - after all, a lot has changed since 2000 or whenever it was I had that site up last. So I looked at examples from the Deep Submerge Directory (now known as Ten(sen)shi), the most well-known Sailor Moon website directory (Myu Corner's listed there!), and The Worst Sailormoon Pages Ever, a site known and respected throughout the Moonie fandom for pointing out the best and the worst Sailor Moon websites. (It used to be a big deal if you won one of their awards. They haven't been actually active since 2004, though). And I found a lot of good examples! That gave me hope that even though character shrines aren't as popular as they used to be, it can still be done.

Unfortunately, shrines specifically to Mercury are a bit hard to find. Based on the links I found on sites that were still up, there were quite a lot of them at one point, but many of the ones that stayed up were hosted on GeoCities, a service which has since been shut down. I did find a few good ones though - Into the Water, Rainstorm (a site which seemed rather familiar to me), Second Ripple, and The Sailormercury Shrine of Water (which I think may be where I got all the old screenshots of Ami-chan no Hatsukoi that I found in an old folder I'd copied onto a CD-R).

There being a lack of Mercury shrines, I decided to look at shrines for other characters. I was particularly impressed by Emerald Star, a Sailor Jupiter shrine made by someone named "Kotono." The depth of that site was amazing, and the layout was nice and clean. I particularly liked the "Always, Makoto" section, which featured a fanfic done by Kotono where she imagined the girls' lives after Stars in a series of letters written by Makoto to different characters (including her mysterious sempai). The letters looked like real letters too! It was awesome. Having been impressed by this site, I was pleased to later discover that the same webmistress was responsible for Crimson Mysteria, an equally deep and well-laid out shrine for Sailor Pluto (one of my personal favorite senshi).

My search continued, from sites I knew like the famous Memoirs of a Fish (a shrine to Fish Eye from the Amazon Trio), to ones I'd never seen before, like the clever wedding-themed Usagi shrine A Soldier's Policy and three good Sailor Saturn shrines, Eventide being the most visually interesting. (That there are several Saturn shrines kind of surprised me - I thought she was kind of a forgotten character in the world of character shrines, being upstaged by all the Uranus/Neptune shrines and even perhaps by the several Pluto shrines).

Well, I got to go to bed because I have an early appointment with Dr. Wilson, my Writing Process teacher, tomorrow morning. (I had to change to an earlier time because of work). More on this stuff later!

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