“You Get Me Thinking”

I just got an email from a course instructor. I am taking an online class and found myself questioning quite a few of the preconceived notions and vocabulary definitions given by the course and expressing them on our online forum. The instructor wrote me a long email and said its length was “a complement to you… you get me thinking.”

Apparently, I make people think. Although I don’t want to, I seem to end up challenging the status quo or bringing in “tough questions.” Knowing this has always made me cringe a little bit. Because after thirty years of life, I found that people usually find it somewhat amusing or invigorating when they meet my questions on a surface level, but once it gets closer to their personal identities, I have felt the backlash. Trust me, I don’t want to attack your identity! But… I just have a question that might relate to some discrepancies or issues that are noticeable to me and the question left my mouth before I could stop it.

Close friends and family members might have often heard me saying something along the lines of, “Sigh. I wish I was a feely-girly-no-question kind of girl. That would make more likable and less intimidating. I wonder what it’s like to not have a thousand questions pop up… to not be curious about the logic behind some things… to just accept.” I will often say this when I have recently hurt or made someone uncomfortable with my tough questions. Because I know that cringing face people get (when my questions are getting too close for comfort) by memory.

My dad often said that the problem was that I was saying these things without love. Two close friends recently told me that my presence or the way I spoke made them feel boxed in—as if they had to be perfect somehow and meet unachievable standards. Yes, I unfortunately have a strong sense of right and wrong, and naturally speak about them. But I tried looking into my heart and see if I was really expecting everyone to act or think like me. And I don’t think I do.

Unfortunately, many of the lovely people I have come across in life attach those questions or my questioning to their selves and identities. This usually means they either get defensive against me or shut me off because they think I think less of them because of my questions. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I am capable of deeply disagreeing with what I consider to be foundational things (for example, abortion) and fully loving the person I disagree with. I know this to be true because of the people around me who openly disagree with me yet I hold very loving relationships with.

As a prime example, my brother, who believes and lives out a worldview completely different than mine, once said this to a friend of mine about me. “If my sister can accept me completely as I am, she can accept anyone.” Tears fell when my friend told me about this. Because I have often been misunderstood by so many people in regards to this, knowing that my brother, whom I love very much, knew that I loved and accepted him completely as he was, I felt understood. Understood by someone with whom I disagree on so much. I felt as though I now had a strong witness to stand by me to prove that my questioning or disagreeing or bringing tough questions on the table does not signify that I am not accepting your person.

But what I am also learning that regardless of intention, the acting out of my questions need to change in view of my love for that person. I am learning that there are people who cannot take my “tough questions” because their brains are like spaghetti—all things are connected to each other. And I cannot convince them that I love them AND have uncomfortable questions about them.

So, I am learning a new way of communication. I need to accept that there are people whom I can deeply hurt unintentionally through my questions. What I need is wisdom and balance to learn how to phrase my tough questions, when to pose them, where to pose them. Easier said than done. With an acute lack of nunchi, what I need is a miracle to learn to do what I just proposed.

But! Remember I believe in a supernaturally wonderfully thoughtfully awesome God. I know He is guiding and will guide me in this, my earnest endeavor of loving God and loving my neighbor, even if it means learning the foreign language of not asking acute questions all the time.

Learning to be still with some of my questions. Learning to prayerfully ask those blessed questions.
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The Perks of Being a Teacher – Part 2: Fellow Teachers

It has been a long time—too long—since I wrote The Perks of Being a Teacher / Part 1: Students. It was always in the back of my mind that one day I should and would sit down to write about the co-workers I had the privilege of working with as a teacher, which made teaching so much more meaningful and fun.

I believe there is a special kinship that forms between teachers as we go through similar issues: students who are acting up, parents who complain or blame, administrative officers who are not cooperative, classroom management, government requirements, the list is pretty much unending.

There’s something special about suffering together that bonds people faster and closer than a life of no worries. And trust me, the life of an average teacher is rife with reasons to worry or stress. But because there is such a rich mix of experiences, personalities, and methods of teaching by different teachers that we support and learn from each other in unique ways. So, yes, suffering brings us together. 😉

But trust me, we also know how to have fun! I loved having co-workers who were humble enough to share in suffering yet also knew how to cheer each other up. Even a short meeting at the photocopy machine or the blessed lunch break would be enough to refuel us. We would sometimes share crazy stuff that happened in our classes, a sweet comment by a student, or go on about our own inside jokes that might have started as we co-led some school event.

At the two schools I worked at, going out or hanging out in someone’s house was a regular way of letting off steam. At one particular school, I especially bonded with this friend with whom we would have impromptu meal dates, short trip dates, and music jamming dates.

I guess what I am trying to say is that as a teacher, I felt that my co-workers were not just co-workers. They were like brothers and sisters; friends; empathy-givers. Our relationship was strengthened all the more because we all had the mentality of serving to the best of our ability. No one was just trying to “put in hours.” We all had the common goal of providing the best sort of education we could to the best of our ability.

We all had our own share of weaknesses and lazy sides, but the engine of love for students was one and the same, and there was always something to learn from each other.

So, here is to all my fellow teachers, who laughed and cried with me, listened and shared with me, learned with me and taught me: thank you and I love you!

A virtual bouquet of wild flowers for you, my wild teacher friends!

I’m Glad

I’m glad it was you and no one else.

I’m glad God used you
to shine a warm light
to a very dank, dark space in my heart.

I’m glad that through you,
I saw empathy personified
and experienced loving patience.

I’m glad I’m glad about you
yet not dependent nor reliant
upon you doing things “right”
in order for me to love you.

I’m glad to realize that loving you
doesn’t need to play itself out
into any result or measurable goal;
nor that you need to reciprocate in any way
for this statement to be true.

I’m glad for this whole experience;
as confusing as it got at times…
…because this has been
and is…
one Big-Milestone-Epiphany kind of Epiphany
about how good and faithful God is;
about how much I love and need Him.

God is. (Ontology!)
Therefore, I am.
And so are you.

I’m so glad we met when we did.

Perhaps our meeting was like that of ‘La Jonction’ in Geneva: where the Rhone, with its blue waters, and the Arve, with brown waters, meet temporarily to bring about a different color into each other’s distinctly colored waters. (Photo archive from July 2018)

More Dependent on You <3

Letter I wrote to God back in August 15, 2013.

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Dearest God,

I don’t know how to date. I wanted to spend the whole day in special quality time with You, but I am at a loss of how to do so. I woke up sort of late, ate yummy lunch thanks to 정읍 tios(aunt and uncle), read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, slept, went out for a walk, and prepared for E’s care package. But God, I don’t feel as though I spent time with You directly. Quiero enamorarme de Ti pero nose como. Guia mis preguntas y mis pensamientos para que este sea un sabatico dentro de Ti, mi Dios. (I want to fall in love with You, but I don’t know how to. Guide my questions and thoughts so that this may be a Sabbath I spend in You, my God.)

아버지(Abba). I love you. I’m amazed at how You created me and others and how we are so different yet similar and how You understand each of us completely. God, do not allow me to become blind/deaf to Your voice. Awaken me to Your endless love and mercy every day. Never let me have things my way but Your way, Abba. I praise You and thank You for your goodness to me and my family. I pray You’d pour out your favor upon us so that we may glorify You by blessing others and by running on Your love.

God, Paul’s earnest desire to have his fellow Jews know Jesus was to the point that he could say, “I’d rather be cursed so that they may be saved” and I realize I cannot honestly say that… God, may I die to the point that I’ll be able to say what Paul said… May you take over all of me to such a point that I’ll be consumed by You thoughts, Your love, Your anguish. I’m the weakest of all. And that’s why I’m confident that as I let go of my “independence” and become more and more dependent on You, You will shine through me in great ways. God, use me according to Your will.

Thanks for You and I love you.

Your daughter Eli

잠에 대한 뜻 깊은 시ㅋㅋ (Extremely deep poem about sleep lol)

(English below)

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I Am Sleepy

Although I slept… I am sleepy.

Although I napped… I am sleepy.

Am I sleepy… because I ate so much?

Am I sleepy… because I didn’t do anything?

On this day that I feel so sleepy…

Should I just sleep?

In the “May” of My Life

When we say “May,” people who live in the Northern hemisphere and have a large influence on current media and culture contents, think of upcoming summer… the perfect season for weddings. Growing up in South America, May has always been very much autumn going into winter. Trees shed their leaves not in pretty oranges, yellows, and reds, but from green to brown—moldy black, straight out brown-going-on-black.

This paradox of being told at school (I went to an American school) and media (I was more into Hollywood movies, where May is summer) and college (went to college in Korea where May is summer) that May is young and budding with new life was very different from the May I grew up in.

Now, eight years later, I am experiencing a cold May, a May where things are dying; not budding with new life. In this, I cannot help but reflect myself in the playing of the seasons.

In the “May” of my youth, where I am supposed to be enhancing or building my career, skills, and relationships, I see myself instead in a cold, dying “May,” where I am isolated—without friends nearby, without direction, and without strength. I feel like the winter southern hemisphere May befits me more than the summer May I see portrayed by the West.

In winter May, I turn on my electric blanket and heater to keep me warm. I need artificial help to keep me warm. In my soul’s May, I also need outer, artificial help. What help? I don’t know. I believe that the paradox of seasons is also a paradox in my heart. It is a season of both the death of something and the sprouting of something new in my heart. What’s uprooted, what’s dying, and what’s planted is only up to the Gardener of my life. May the winter and summer of my life end and begin in Christ.

 

(Journal entry from May 27, 2017)

 


I wrote this meditation on May of 2017 during a time of great loneliness and difficulty. Now, two years later, I can say God has given me that outer, artificial help in too many ways to count. 😊

 

First Impressions of L’Abri

Before I lose track of time and forget the first thoughts I had on L’Abri, I want to leave a record of what this place has come to mean to me.

In 2018, I was admitting my loneliness and overall depressive mood as I found it hard to adapt to life in Argentina. I had come back to Argentina in 2017 after eight years of living abroad, and fitting in with the family and the Korean Argentinean community proved to be extremely difficult. I felt awkward and unlikable overall and this seeped into my self-esteem—causing it to hit rock bottom. My mom, who saw all of this and yet couldn’t do much to help, suggested I take some kind of long vacation. She mentioned L’Abri, and I remembered having heard of it in Korea as well. The name had never stuck with me, so throughout the first half of 2018, I kept forgetting about L’Abri until I read a book by Francis Chan, where he mentioned it. After this, I decided to Google it and see if times matched up, and when I saw that everything would line up so that I could go to the Swiss L’Abri on a summer term, I decided to give it a go.

Fast forward to a journal entry I wrote back during my student days at L’Abri in 2018 to explain my initial thoughts of this fascinating place:

When I came here, I didn’t have any expectations of the “institution” itself, but had expectations on what God could and would do through it. And after three weeks here, I can say that I like L’Abri in a subtle, profound way.

I say subtle because there hasn’t been any dramatic “wow” factor happening, but in the midst of the daily work, study, fellowship, solitude, and meals, there’s something slowly shifting gears in me. I can’t pinpoint it and say, “AHA! This is what’s transforming and nourishing me!” But I feel something solid building deep down in me as I meet His nature, His Word, His people. And this is how it’s profound.

I feel like God had been telling me for some time that if I truly wanted to be a Kingdom of God agent, I first needed to receive love from Him. I thought I had been doing that, but seeing how badly my broken relationship with family affected my self-esteem and identity proved I was receiving His love theoretically and not practically. Thus, I’m learning to delight in the Lord every day… to be mesmerized by His beauty and glory and honor and majesty.

 

After writing this journal and having many subtle epiphanies, I came to trust God in a deeper way, so that even though I didn’t know how I was going to afford my trip to Korea, what kind of jobs I would find, or how my friends were going to welcome me, I knew on a deep level that this was a trip I had to make. And God gave me just what I needed for that trip. He provided the exact amount of money I needed, the exact jobs I could work, the exact communities I needed. Most importantly, I learned and experienced a deep joy in all that God kept pouring into me.

 

To be continued….

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