Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gena, We'll Be Friends Forever

I'm not a crying person. In fact, before I came to investigate the Church... I cried
1) when some bullies threatened to beat me up in 5th grade
2) when I got a C+ in PE and my mom became furious and grounded me (I was really really weak and running a mile was beyond anything I could ever do)
3) when I had a dream that my lil brother died
4) when a hs boyfriend refused to talk to me during a speech tournament because I forgot to meet him after my round and was instead playing games with the rest of the team
5) when my grandmother died
6) when I got dumped by a boyfriend of less than a week out of nowhere
My point is.. I can pinpoint everytime I have cried .. because it has been rare.

Lately, I've been an "almost crying" person. Many times, after feeling the Spirit, I have been moved to tears in my eyes, finding it hard to breathe and sniffeling a whole lot. I used to watch people on the stands at Church, bearing their testimony, confused at how easily they were moved to tears.
I cried like a baby this weekend at the realization that I may lose some of my closest non-LDS friends. I cried at the realization that as great as this experience has been, there will be trials such as this, that challenges me beyond my own capabilities and strength. I cried and cried as I journaled some of the emotions and confusion I was experiencing at how something so great could also take away a part of my past that made me who I am today.

Since that day, part of my daily prayer is for God to strengthen me and that those relationships remain strong and maybe some of my friends will start to see me as an example or at the very minimum, respect my decision and support it. So far, all my friends have been very supportive but I know they are still confused at how quickly I have come to know the Church and changed my life.
I don't like sharing that I cried. In a way, I'm ashamed that this strong person I thought I was, never really crying, is now balling like a kid who got hit in the head by a basketball. But I felt moved by the Spirit after having a long conversation with one of my bestest friends, Gena, yesterday over the internet (she's in the UK on tour for work).

And so Gena, I know you're reading this ... this one is dedicated to you. I love you so much and I hope if anything, this entry brings a smile to your beautiful face and that you believe me when I say, we'll be friends forever. Friends of different faiths can be friends too.

Gena, I am still the same Daisy you met in econ tutoring class in 2000. I may be a little more put together now on the inside and outside. Whereas before, I might have been the duck in the pond who looked calm above but was frantically treading water below, I am now that duck on land, chilling and relaxing, just taking life in and loving it every moment.

And as I sit here, typing these words, my eyes are already filled with tears.
Gena has always been a very devoted Christian since I met her in 2000. She has a heart so large and filled with love for everyone and had tried to share her religion with me many times in college. I always shrugged her off when she started to talk about religion and denied her anytime to go beyond inviting me to Pathfinder, the religious organization at school that she was active in. In reality, I never told Gena this but she was one of those friends I was sometimes afraid to fully be myself around because I wanted to shield her from the horrors of my own life (which albeit not entirely crazy was probably a bit out there compared to her). I felt bad about myself sometimes when I was around her, because she was an example of a good daughter of God. I'll never forget her telling me she had alcohol with me for the first time on my birthday. I felt guilty, like I had taken a piece of her innocence and introduced her to another world, one of drunken nights and stupid but funny regrets.

Gena was one of the the smartest, funnest and most naturally beautiful and amazing person I had met in college. The moment I met her, I knew I wanted to be her friend. I took her by surprise when she asked our other friend, Andrew Kim, what his ethnicity was. I blatantly blurted out in a condescending voice, "Duh, he's Korean, can't you tell from his last name?" I now realize, in retrospect, that that one phrase not only shocked her but could have turned her away from me forever. Instead, despite her shock, she laughed it off and still became my friend.
Over the years, we talked about our lives, our goals for the future, struggled together on accounting exams, interviewed for the same company, worked for the same company, complained about our jobs to each other but also remembering we were so blessed to have a job, talked about relationships, provided advice, comfort, laughter and incessant friendship. When my boyfriend of three and a half years and I broke up, Gena was one of the first people there by my side, maybe not physically, but emotionally and completely, despite being in Texas at the time. I didn't need words of comfort because the relationship had been dead for so long, but I'll never forget Gena un-facebook friending him to show her love for me. It seems so silly now, but it meant a lot to me that she was willing to cut off any ties to him based on the disloyalty and way he had treated me.

As we grew into real adults, Gena and I have always remained close despite distance or time zones. As I came into my late 20's and became more bitter about the world, Gena has always remained a positive influence, and been the only one who took the time to ask me, are you okay. She realized the surmounting cynicism in my tone when I wrote and wanted to make sure I was okay. Naturally, Gena was one I was a bit afraid to tell I was investigating the Church. When I finally got the guts to tell her, she had mixed feelings. On one side, she was esctatic I was developing a relationship with God, and on the other, she was not sure about the Mormon church.

And then yesterday, she told me she loved reading the blog but felt like an outsider everytime something about the LDS Church came up that was foreign to her or mentioned it being the true church. I tried explaining to her that just because we were of different faiths, did not mean we would fall apart. She didn't believe me and she told me again and again, how much she wanted to share in my joy with God and Jesus Christ.

Gena's example to me is only one more reason why I love the Gospel so much. I struggled with her, telling her that so many other faiths don't really admit others to Heaven if they don't believe and asked what that meant for those in places where the gospel is not shared with them. I told her about the baptisms for the dead and tried to cite some Bible verses from John (I do pay attention and take notes during Sunday school) but she was not sold and over and over again, told me how happy she is .. but sad that she is just an outsider.

Nobody is an outsider. Gena is and still will be one of my dearest friends. In a way, I think maybe she is scared that now, I have other religious friends and not just her. What she doesn't realize is, she is just like those friends. And again, like I say so often, Mormons are Christians too. We believe in the same God, the same saviour and that he died so that we could live. We're the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Gena, if anything, the gospel has brought me closer to you because all those things I once admired of you, I know fully appreciate, beyond what I knew before.

Gena, we'll be friends forever. I love you and I hope you understand, my faith won't change that or the way I feel about you or our friendship. We have grown together for 9 years and this is only the beginning...
Although.. at my wedding, we will have our shoulders covered .. but we'll still be cute, promise.
I love you Gena. Sincerely.. entirely, and forever.

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