2010/07/18 Su

Yingjima started talking to me again a week ago.  This time I was careful to not say anything about her government.  She has a face that very quickly grows on you, but I have my reservations about some of her attire as seen in pictures.  She is one of those very nice, innocent girls who, if they turn aside to lower roads, do not surprise anybody by doing so, because they first conformed to the world in little things like dress.

Some weeks ago… well, let’s see.  Three Fridays ago, I missed a certain assignment deadline because that was my study-buddy day and I spent far too long at the appointment.  Myeong-seon came to the school library; well, maybe we went there together.  We ended up sitting on the elevated grass just outside the eastern main entrance.  That time, I told her about the movie I’d seen, “Shallow Hal”, and I preached a fair amount of religious pluralism to her, trying to convince her that God both heard and answered the good prayers of all his children, and had given his laws to all nations.

Our next talk took place out on the benches in the centre of the promenade between the library and the ASB.  I forget the day.  We (that is, I) talked into the evening; part of my message then was to clarify to her my notions of the fatherhood of God and the divinity of marriage.  She has a good enough grip of the Bible, but my only breakthrough came through an appeal to her cultural sensibility, after I claimed that the closest and best example we had on earth of the love of God was the love of a mother.  She thought about it and apparently agreed, and I fell silent, suddenly aware of my own blasphemy in daring to speak even a word about God when I was so mired in my puny mortality.  We soon departed.

After that, we met once in the library and had a very long talk about the necessity of living prophets.  I encouraged her to pray God to send them anew to her church, which once claimed prophecy.

My next talk with her was outside my apartment.  That was… on a Sunday, I think.  Maybe last Sunday.  I’d called her in boredom, and we’d met at the duck pond (she came on her bike).  Oh… that was the fourth of July.  The day before, we’d gone to the ELC firework-watching event.  Anyway, we talked, and then she left, becoming angry when I seemed to not want to escort her back home through the late and dangerous night.  She returned soon after (I had just reached my apartment), and we sat there on the lawn for some time.  I forget our topic…

Oh, I’m confusing two things.  That time she got angry, she had just shown me her pictures of the Provo parade…  I ended up walking her halfway back home, at which time she sent me back, realizing how much longer it took me to walk than it took her to ride.

So, some other time, we were sitting on the lawn outside my place.  All I remember was that it was a struggle, though successful, to keep my distance from her.

Last Thursday… no, last Friday, we were back at that site of the attack after studying and eating together and visiting Selnate (the supervisor was leaving soon, and I wasn’t able to do any work on our project there).  The day before, or Wednesday, I’d gone with a few Selnate kids to the school’s “planetarium”.  Anyhow, I walked Myeong-Seon home…  We must have gone to the library or something before that, then to her place, where we sat for quite a while discussing why we weren’t right for each other.

To make the story short, after three or perhaps nearly four years, I once again held somebody close.  We sat there into the morning hours; she had to wake me up and send me on my way with her bike.  I eventually regained full consciousness as I wobbled along on those two wheels…  She called me once I got home to confirm my arrival.

Nothing extremely much had taken place, but the next day, I was still worried about it.  She had said a short prayer the night before on my suggestion, that we might become more certain about how we should treat each other.  For me, the certainty came, though I don’t know whether to credit it to God’s blessing or to my own brutish selfishness.  Her feeling was slightly different from mine.  After spending most of the day at Selnate trying to finish my part in the project, I eventually met back up with her.  I apologized for my sleepy carelessness the night before, telling her that it had been a mistake… and tried to convince her that it was best to remain study buddies.  Then I left for the library…

I was able to sit on the knoll diagonally across from the Hinckley building and watch the clouds as the daylight began to dim.  I felt humbled by how heedless those clouds were of all human affairs.  Myeong-seon soon called me, wanting to meet again.  I found her waiting for me at the library.  We talked more.  I tried my best to sooth her feelings and restore our friendship.  I think it went well.

Today after church, she called again and met me at the JSB.  She again was confused about why I had suddenly seemed to reject her, and had several theories she wanted to run by me.  I did what I could to not offend her in any way, but I admitted that although I had wanted to give “us” a chance, I had later decided that we were not right for each other…  I left unspoken the strange fact that as I held her in my arms two nights before, I kept seeing a different face instead of hers…  The face belonged to somebody of little consequence to me — somebody at the ELC whom I am no more than passingly acquainted with, and who in spite of her pleasant smile is of no serious interest to me.  But the feeling I was left with was that she was not the one I was waiting for.

As we talked today, I tried to warn her that it might turn destructive if she held too tightly to new feelings that could instead very easily be released at this point, and I tried to share with her my view of her as a perfectly reasonable individual who certainly would receive interest from others.  I assured her that I was still her friend.  She seemed to leave much less troubled than when she had arrived.  I wondered if she would start to dislike me, although, again, comparatively little had transpired between us, and I felt we were still in our innocence, with no reason for resentment.

She has a good spirit…  She does remain committed to her acquired religious tradition, but that is not something that has been at the forefront of my mind.  To me, our beliefs are the same, only she hasn’t yet reasoned everything out yet; and from the start, I have tried my hardest to both verbally and sincerely give credit to her chosen faith, and have made it clear to her that I mean her no pressure.  My desire in discussing things so intently with her has not involved historical identities, lifestyles, or loyalties, but only ideas, and the balance of evidences.  Virtually none of my scriptural points have gone beyond her own canon; they haven’t really needed to.  We have immeasurably more in common than we have separating us, religiously.

I hope she feels fine.  It’s been very strange to have somebody show interest in me again.  In many ways, it’s an uncomfortable role for me, to be wanted by anyone, as if suddenly I have any advantage in the eyes of a gender that I feel has very consistently rejected and hated me, and that because of their own blindness and littleness.  Though I very often imagine an opposite situation, I’ve become very comfortable with solitude…

Anyway, I hope her prayers are answered.  I’ll still leave my mind open enough, in the case that by longer association I see something else in her and change my judgement of our incompatibility… but, honestly, it seems a better and better decision the more time passes.  I think she belongs to somebody else… and I too…

-Steve Foster

[Edit: Nine years have now passed, plus a day, since I arrived in the tiny city of Hong Kong — and discovered there an entire world.  On that day, the God who comprehends the universe was also my personal benefactor.

I must say again how beautiful this BYU campus is in all seasons, owing to the care of the many who have contributed to its design and upkeep.

I must also confess here the testimony I gained some weeks ago, when my small prayer was answered, and when I felt assured that my prayers have always, always been answered.]

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