Monday, April 14, 2014

There is Room Enough

The past three weeks, different events kept leading me back to the
same question. “ Is there room for me in the Church? I just don’t fit
in.”

I stood with the Filipino sisters in an elevator when a local Chinese
member staring at them with a duck face. I faced ridicule when I
disagreed with bigotry and refuse to follow.I put my arms around a
troubled soul and love regardless of choices and values.I heard story
after story of faithful, strong, and caring Filipino sisters facing
challenges in their lives, gasping for air in a stormy sea.

I pled and implored my whole soul wanting to feel the reassurance
that God was aware of my situations, my feelings towards all the
injustice. He might not decide to fix everything, but I needed to know
that He knew, and that He had heard my cry.

I will not leave the Church but how do I stay?

With the lens of a researcher, I was seeking for the unconventional/
unorthodox views in General Conference and here is the list of part of
my findings:

1.  The number of blessing doesn’t positively correlated to the level
     of gratitude.
2.  Being grateful does not simply mean being cheerful in distress.
3.  We shouldn’t wait for positive outcome in order to be grateful.
4.  God’s awareness of us isn’t equal to the response time of
     answers to prayers but he knows us and hears the pleading of our
     hearts.
5.  What seemingly is considered a burden, weights, provides the way
     to safe/lift us.
6.  Happiness isn’t the absences of trials/burden.

My heart rejoiced with this renewing sense of the gospel. Years of
listening to “thank-i-mony”, and very narrow-minded sense of
understanding motivated me to stay outside of the box.

Just when I was getting ready to start watching the last session, I felt
a little hand tapping my shoulder. We hugged, and cried as I
facilitated and witnessed this child of God overcoming doubts and
confusions by diligently seeking answers and exercising agency. It
was miraculous and I once again appreciated Heavenly Father’s
humour for He kept putting people on my path to help eventually
leading to a way of rescuing my struggling self. 


I sat down and rejoined the conference.
As women, young, and elderly across the world singing
“I am a child of God; and He has sent me here”,

I knew,
there was room enough for me.


K.D.







Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Will Ye Also Go Away?

We read in John 6:66-71 where the disciples “went back and
walked no more with him.” The Savior turned around and asked
the twelve, “Will ye also go away?” It is clear that the Savior has
already known the answer but He extended the chance of
reflection (verse 67).

The past weekend was one of the hardest times when my
testimony was challenged. For me, an individual who loves
learning and am super passionate about equality and justice, my
experience shattered my confidence and questioned the very
essence of my conviction of the gospel.

I pulled myself together and was very diplomatic about it knowing
my action would be a reflection of what I believed in. It took all
my strength to restrain myself from doing anything stupid
because of my anger and frustration. Notwithstanding my
calmness, I fought for my dignity and refused to be manipulated
even when my personality, reputation were at stake.

When the shell shock passed, my feelings surfaced. To be
utterly honest with you, I was crushed. The feeling of being
insulted, humiliated, and torn apart by a priesthood leader was
brutal. The anguish was so tremendous that I wanted to cry
every awaking moment. My energy was drained, and I kept
having flash backs of the interview.

I stand with Peter, who responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go?
Thou hast the words of eternal life.”


In an earthly justice sense, I want to clear my name and I want
him to be responsible for all the awful accusations
(without grounds) pounced against me.

But that’s not the way leading to true healing. As much as I want
justice, I have to rely on the atonement to heal the consequence
of other’s misuse of agency. Once again I have chosen to stay in
the Church, not because the condemnations are right or I
support the actions affected me. I stay because I know this is the
restored Church of Jesus Christ. If I hold on, heal, and learn from
this experience, it will be beneficial for my spirituality in a way I
could have never imagined.

“Indeed, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive
experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of
your life—
in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful
injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and
opposition you have ever faced.”
– Elder Jeffrey R. Holland,  “Lessons from Liberty Jail”


K.D.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ordinary Courage

Our lives are shaped by these moments of truth. Whether is
the chance of loving the right person at the right time, reveal a
piece of truth that will turn the table, or even following the
prompting of the spirit, these events alter the course our destiny
and unleash all sorts of emotions such as joy, regrets, shame,
authenticity, freedom, etc…

My defining moment was a difficult lesson.

Because of my athletic, nerdy, and geeky lifestyle, I was a
Tomboy looking girl with a terrible sense of insecurity in collage.
I had a close group of friends but I longed to fit in. One day, my
cell phone rang. To my surprised, the call was from a classmate
who was also from Hong Kong, a talented student, and a
dashing star on campus. I was so flattered that she would even
know my existence let alone calling me.

Soon her intension was revealed. She would be leaving on a
trip and wanted me to check her presence on the attendance
list. She gave a few pretty good justifications and quickly hung
up. I couldn’t refuse her request becauseI thought I was helping
a friend. I clearly knew it was wrong but instead I traded my
integrity with the chance of being accepted. 

How did it end?
She came back from the trip and of course never spoke a word
to me. 

I felt used. I felt stupid. I felt unoriginal because deep down I
was not comfortable in my own skin. It was very shameful to
even think back how insecure, not confident, and shy I was. But
I’ve learned and grown from it. I’ve vowed to follow my gut and
do the right thing.

In her moral development model, Psychologist/feminist Carol
Gillian proposed 3 stages of female’s moral development.

Stage 1: Pre-conventional: Focus on self-survival 
We tend to focus on individual survival criteria like living condition.

Stage 2: Conventional: responsibility to others, the nurturer role

Stage 3: Post-conventional: decision reflecting the balance of
caring for self and others.

Gillian elaborated that  when teenage girls transition from stage 1 
to stage 2, they struggled to maintain their ordinary courage and
muffled their voices as they were expected to choose
relationship over justice fulfilling the nurturer role.
They likewise experienced tension balancing self and relational 
obligation. Sadly, some people would be stuck in the process 
and the perspective rooted deeply influencing daily decisions.

Another learning opportunity surfaced again this week as I was
asked to do something unethical. To be very honest, I had no
problem dodging the task but the thought of remaining in
silence troubled me. Knowing my action to seek help and stop it
would cause not only disagreement but contention, I acted
upon my moral judgement. 

It has not been easy and I am well aware of the consequence.
The nerd in me keep counting all the possible retaliation and
the Mulan in me wanting to fight injustice and protect the
innocent. 

Tonight when I go to bed, I know I’ll have a clear conscience
knowing I have found my ordinary courage. 


Come what may, and love it!

K.D.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Get-Over-It Attitude

Last weekend I had this opportunity to attend conference at Berkeley, California. The conference is focused on sharing research on Mormonism in Asia. Honestly I had a great time there. I got the chance to meet with many great people and scholars. It was a great event for ideas exchange. All researches and papers were great and can't list them all here. However there's a little incident happened that I really wanted to share my thoughts on that.

During the Q&A session of the panel that I was in, a lady raised her hand, stood up and shared her comments right after and other lady in the crowd asked her question. I can't record the exact wordings of what she had said, but simply what she was trying to say was something like these, "we know all the answers to the issues and questions you all mentioned in your research. I am grateful that I know there are answers to these questions." She then stood up and walked out the room. I hope I didn't get it wrong but to me, what she meant was "you all just need get over it, for whatever you guys are talking about. There're answers in the gospel!" I agree that there are answers in the gospel that can solve our problems, however I don't believe that we can just simply say "get over it" and let that be the solution to any questions.

On the same day my friend shared with me that she struggled a lot in her ward, simply because people are having this get-over-it attitude. She said one time the teacher taught about forgiveness and a sister shared her struggle and not able to forgive someone at this stage of her life. Another sister just spoke up and said" oh! Just get over it!" The sister was disappointed, not that she couldn't forgive that person, but it definitely takes time to be able to forgive someone. In that situation, she is being categorized as the stubborn-not-forgiving person.

It seems like among members we seek to be result-orientated. We rejoice in hearing others successful story on overcoming challenges and struggles in life rather than listening to how they walked through the painful path. When we share our experiences, we tend to skip describing the process but focus on glorifying the outcome and what a great person we have become. Needless to say how we look down and step our feet onto those who are struggling because we accuse them being stubborn and not having enough faith that all things will eventually work out.


No one on this earth have the ability to fully comprehend what other person are going through in their lives. Nor should we tempt to believe that we have this ability and go around to mock those who are struggling, belittling them as the little-faith. Even though we seem to know that we can find most of the answers in life in the gospel, but God wants us to experience, ask question and seek help. He doesn't want us to just know the answer and get over it. We are all different. We all have our own challenges and struggles in life. Be a good listener to those who suffer. Let him/her share what they have been going through. Most importantly, we need to get rid of the get-over-it attitude. Don't pretend to be the expert in dealing with struggles and challenges because only the Lord is able to guide us through.


G.K.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Voices of Women

Pouting and exclaiming “It’s so unfair!” was my common gig 
complaining about unequal treatments between me and my brothers.
As a strong-willed little girl, I laid out my logical argument, letting my
tears streaming down my cheek freely and passionately negotiating
my demands. When my wish was granted, my mother recalled me
bouncing off with a big laugh and a slimy smile covered by a smear of
booger and tears. 

That was the beginning of my training in advocacy.

My voice was not necessary heard in all of the situations but I have
kept speaking (minus the slimy smile most of the time). That is my
right as a human being to express, to own my voice. In her book Lean In,
Sheryl Sandberg described an observation seeing women stepping
back and not sitting at the table along with their male colleagues. She
pointed out the core reasoning of this phenomenon was like the great
chicken-and-egg debate.

“Do we have gender inequality or under performing women women
first?”

Without being sucked into the debate, she offered a simple yet
powerful solution— LEAN IN. There goes with my answer of how to
get ourselves heard. When we speak up, not only we are empowering
ourselves but also buying that chance to be heard. 

Ever since I started this blog, I attracted quite a truckload of
overzealous comments on gender issues. It can get really frustrating
trying to get through some thick scalps but I truly enjoy the
opportunity to take a stand on gender equality in all honesty.

Here is a real life example:
A poor soul came to me at work the other day telling me that the
equal number of elders and sisters in the MTC was the result of
lowing sister’s age requirement for a full-time mission. Granted that
was legit justification, he elaborated on women could now choose a
mission then a marriage rather than a marriage over a mission. 

That statement alone was enough gasoline to set me on fire.. haha

1. As researches, we recognize the possibility of the existence of
latent variables while attending to lineally explain complex issues
(cause and effect). In this situations, there are many many
possible latent variables such as the delay of first marriage.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the median age of
first marriage in 1990 for women was 23.9. In 2010, however the
number grew to 26.1. From the delaying trend of data, it is to
believe that women generally get married in a later age for
whatever reasons. Will more sisters now choose to serve
missions only because of the availability of choice over marriage,
I don’t think so.

2. There are plenty of choices besides a mission or a marriage.
Limiting the options down to two occurs to be utterly disrespectful
and objectifying women. With more equal opportunities, women
today have the options to be professionals, receive higher
education, and participate in civil services. Unlike many other
options, the decision of servicing a full-time mission should be
made between God and the individuals. It’s certainly not
something that anyone should just lightly choose and act upon
without further spiritual confirmation.

3. Our dispositions matter. The statement coming from a male,
Caucasian person do appear to be quite condescending. It’s not
that he can’t talk about it but let’s  be more open to different
voices. I was in shock how my reasons were shut right back down
as a female returned missionary who once made that choice to
serve. Be kind, be open, and be prepared to gracefully discuss
issues in different perspectives. 

I love being a woman who speaks up. 
I enjoy helping other women finding their own voices.
My highest respect and salute to you, the many men I know, who
listen compassionately and civilly.


Now, go and speak up :)

K.D



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why a PhD?


Being a girl was simple as a kid.
I could play with legos, and own a pink Sailor Moon umbrella. 
I wanted to be a doctor, and fell in love with prince charming. 
With a head filled with curiosity and mischievousness,
the sky had no limits and being happy was not complicated.

But something changed.
Social sanction shaped me.
Conformity constrained me.
A part of me died every day when I chose not to be myself.
I lost my color, my sense of the world, and my identity.
No make up or fake smile could cover the emptiness,
dissatisfaction of soul.

What’s so funny was that I could have stayed as a victim of
many things for the rest of my life justifying why it has
gone so wrong.


But I did not.
I chose not to.
I knew the only way out was working even harder to
overcome them.
And so I did.


I follow my ambitions and dreams.
I keep getting back in the game until I can settle and love
someone wholeheartedly.
I am getting a PhD to help minorities to whom help isn’t
always available. 
To some it’s the kiss of death of my chance of
getting married.
To me it’s the liberation that frees me and draws
me even closer to God.


Only because a girl dreams to be a girl. 

K.D.






Sunday, February 16, 2014

Leadership Is More Than a Title

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can
manipulate it or you can inspire it. Leading is not the same as being
the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either
by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading,
however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they
have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.”
― Simon Sinek


I don’t like it when people call me “president”. 

It’s not that I don’t like being a Young Women President but it isn’t the
title that makes me one. Almost 3 year of services has surety taught
me that lesson.

I could have told them I was called by divine revelation.
I could have made them call me “President Mok”.
I could have pushed them to look great in public and be “successful”. 

But until I’ve shown them how much I love them and everything I do is 
about them (not me), “president” is just a title, not a description of my
role as a leader.

Today’s lesson was a bench mark and a comforting reassurance.
A super quiet and anxious YW read a 5 minute story starting the
discussion. A YW shared a recent lesson she learnt about making
right choices and bursted into tears. Another YW emotionally shared
her constant struggle choose her priority for spiritual and worldly
matters. My new counsellor shared her own experience doing the
same. I talked about my experiences interviewing for a PhD program
and how faith has been my hope and the only comfort.

These precious moments don’t come because of my title. 
They come from the little moments when I respond to their texts and
Facebook messages late at night.
The tissues I pull out and wipe off their tears and just simply listen to
their struggles.
The heat and blame I have taken allowing them to exercise their
agency and learn from their choices.
Sometimes even the frustration I swallow and the last bit of courage
I hold on to come back and do it again next Sunday.

I thank all the leaders in my life who show true leadership by their
actions and love. 

K.D.

“Leadership is not a rank, it’s a decision.” Simon Sinek