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A Letter, Better Late than Never

I am ashamed to say that in my more than three decades of existence, I have not read Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from the Birmingham jail.

The shame doesn’t end there.

As a privileged, educated Christian who is a minority but often treated like the majority, I cringe at knowing the injustice that existed less than a century ago – and the fact that injustice still exists now.

I cringe because there are still Christians who “stand on the sidelines” and while they mouth the right words when facing inhumane circumstances or possibilities for sacrifice, the hands stay closed and the eyes are dull.

I cringe when recognizing the disgust with the church has not diminished; in fact, the faith I believe in is frequently dismissed by outsiders because we are no longer extremists as Jesus Christ was. Were we ever? Could we be?

I know myself, and I see the potential for such standoffishness in me. Yes, me who graduated from an Ivy League university and chose to work part-time at a news station, dreamy about telling the stories of the voiceless. Yes, me who has grown up ‘churched’ and reciting Bible verses her entire life. Yes, me who left a provocative career for one that seems less ‘glamorous’ in order to ‘do good.’

We’re all frighteningly capable of indifference. Today I saw a man ahead of me who appeared to be mentally unstable based on his loud ranting and stumbling gait. I set my teeth, determined to walk straight past him as a sign that he was a human being and not a ‘body’ to avoid.

Then a well-dressed gentleman stranger walking from that direction passed me and suggested kindly, “Hey, you should cross the street.”

I crossed.

When the lesser-dressed man caught my eye from over the hood of a car, I gave a weak smile. He grinned and kept on singing and leaning against a pole, and I walked the remaining block to work, wondering if I had given into irrational fear by creating a distance of 10 feet rather than 10 inches between us.

 

This letter is to me. This letter is to you.

“The question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of justice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 1963

Status Report: 6 Weeks

It’s been exactly six weeks since I walked out of YNN (still in the habit, dang it. I mean Time Warner Cable News). As I recount my thought process anew to friends I haven’t seen in years, others are checking back in.

 

“What are you learning?”

“Any clarity on where God is leading you?”

“Did you find your spirit animal yet?”

 

Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is still: ____________________.

Well, perhaps not the latter. That’s just a “no.”

 

Or is it…?

I'd like to think mine is either a dolphin, giraffe, or koala. The latter a new addition because of my recent stint in Australia.

I’d like to think mine is either a dolphin, giraffe, or koala. The latter a new addition because of my recent visit to Australia.

 

As exhilarating and exciting as these six weeks have been, there have been moments of anxiety, even agony. Looking ahead also means looking back, and tearfests have made their way into my life more often than brainstorming sessions.

 

Truth serum. Better known as some crazy concoction of alcohol my recent college grad of a niece decided to order for us.

Truth serum, or some crazy concoction of alcohol my recent college grad of a niece decided to order for us?

 

 

I knew it was going to be difficult. I didn’t realize how difficult.

 

For example: the balancing of time.

If you know me, you know I’m delighted by people. I’m also a chronic people-pleaser. This manifests itself in a packed schedule, day-in, day-out, with friends/family/strangers (?!) lined up in my calendar. As I meet with them, I have to look ahead to also plan which activities will be on my agenda in the rest of the Pacific Northwest, then on the East Coast, then across the Atlantic, and oh wait, Texas too?

 

*breathe*

 

It may not sound like a task to you, but for an über-organizer like myself, it’s been overwhelming. And there have been more moments of helplessness.

 

Yet, even in that simpler of examples, it becomes clear. This period is not just about who I will be, but who I already am.* Who I am not. And most importantly, who God is.

 

In which case, falling apart is acceptable.

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*TEASER: Expect a post ahead about a truly insightful book called “Let Your Life Speak.”

Home: Where the Heart… and Hate is

“So much love and hate.” Words from my father at dinner two nights ago.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh because that’s exactly what I felt I needed to write about next.

 

We all have our issues with our hometowns. Too small, too big, too indifferent, too intimate. And the relationship between Seoul and me is no different.

 

For example, LOVES:

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

Transportability

Transportability

ddukboki

More food. [떡복이/ddukboki]

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Did I mention food?

There are so many reasons why being home = happiness.

 

At the same time, there are moments where being home can bring about a sense of lowness.

 

Here’s where I get real (welcome to the new-and-improved blog?)

 

A few things make S. Korea less palatable. Hard to believe with some of those photos I just showed, I know.

 

1. The land of couples

Don’t believe me? In 10 seconds, I snapped these four photos.

They're everywhere.

They’re everywhere.

 

With the Westernization of its culture, Koreans began to embrace romance wholeheartedly. A little obsessively so. Now, wherever you go, you will find yourself surrounded by couples, arm-in-arm. For a single lady, it’s a bit trying. I may sound bitter, and you can judge me for that, but I do enjoy being alone right now. That gets shaken when I realize I’m the only solo person on the street.

2. The image paradigm

Even after years of being in a career where one’s physical image is scrutinized, I feel the most insecure when I’m in Seoul. Women here are just naturally tiny, and somehow I didn’t get those genes. I grew up in a city that didn’t carry my size in clothing. I was taller than most. While those two facts are now false with the passage of time, the warped self-image still takes hold: I need to diet. Why am I so large? How do I look like her? I can’t possibly be attractive in this country.

 

While I was reflecting on this, thankfully, another fact came to mind.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

– Psalm 139:13-14

 

This home is not my home forever. I don’t write that because I know I’m returning to the States. I write this knowing that I have faith in a God who gives me a greater purpose than looking like the elevated example of beauty. He sees me as beautiful, born to belong to Him, and better for that.

 

 

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It’s time to enjoy the city and all I love.