High School Years
My Christian life is similar to wild and windy storm with volcanoes erupting … to be followed by calm peace of soft wind, reflection of rising sun, warmth of embracing sunshine, and grazing of deer in a safe pasture. …then long struggle of walking in deep dark tunnel, when it became too much to bear I would see the light…Yet my outward life seemed very peaceful, many people have told me that I am so calm and cannot imagine me getting angry or mad, and that my life seems so steady…it was always my inner turmoil.
I remember as an insecure immigrant girl, always being so lonely. The loneliness was so intense I would sometimes find myself crying…”maybe I would not have children when I grow up”, I thought. I did not want them to experience what I was experiencing. American kids were into having fun, parties, TV programs…I could not relate to any of it. I have seen too much sufferings of aftermath of war, mainly through overhearing what people went through. The radio program I listened to faithfully was a testimony program which consisted of struggles of life, how the war robbed them of their loved ones and possessions. The general theme was suffering in rising from street life due to war to a respectable life....Most of the songs on radio, in my growing up years in Korea, was the heartache and pain of losing loved ones.
When I started Carl Schurz High School in Chicago, I realized that I must do something about my loneliness. I must change who I am and have friends. I must accept the way of American kids…oh such superficial life. Before long I was called “Jay bird” because I talked much. I went from silent, invisible child to a chatter box. Soon I was realizing that making friends was not that hard. During the first year I experienced another extreme of loneliness. I had many friends now. I would spend many afternoons with friends, yet I was so lonely. I was so lonely in the midst of a crowd. I still felt no one knew the real me. In this backdrop of loneliness in the midst of a crowd I got saved as described in the beginning of my memoir.
During the first two weeks after receiving the Lord, He filled my loneliness. The painful loneliness that I carried for 15 years of my life was gone. He filled me with love and embrace. I have never experienced this. I found a bible in our apartment. My little sister had gone to a bible study with her friend and brought home a bible. That was 1970. The girl who introduced the Lord to me wrote to me every week. She told me that I must seek other Christians.
I remember walking to many churches. I did not yet know that churches had their services mainly on Sundays. I would walk to a neighboring church on Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday evening, and other odd times only to be met by forlorn buildings with hollow sound of emptiness as I knocked on their doors. One day I actually came at a right time, Sunday morning. It was a long room with many long wooden chairs. The pattern of people’s seating arrangement was big U. The front of the speaker was empty. People clung to the edges and towards the back. I seated myself at the end. In about an hour the program ended and everyone stood up to leave. I was so excited to meet these “Christians”, yet they passed me by. It seemed no one saw me. When the hall was about empty, one man noticed me. “So you are new here. Welcome”. We shook hands and then he left. Was that all? What about this wonderful “Christian Family” that I was getting?
Well there must be another place. I waited a whole week until the next Sunday for I knew better. This time I did not go to service. I waited outside. I wanted to find a welcoming people before going into their building. This time it was a Catholic church. I immediately was drawn to a friendly family. I walked up to the mom and said, “Are you a Christian? I just became one!” She said “Well, we are Catholics, and you could say we are Christians”. I wasn’t sure what she meant but that was good enough. That family took me out to breakfast that morning. They talked about a retreat they were going to and invited me to come along. It was a Catholic retreat in Canada. They could give me a ride. I remember saving up all my babysitting money that summer so that I could go to this retreat.
That retreat was memorable. It was a conference with many special speakers. There was much love and acceptance. I spent my 15th birthday there and they gave me a surprise party. I would spend many meetings with these people over the course of next years. Yet something bothered me. There were many young students. When ones declared that they would give their life to stay single for Jesus (to go into life of celibacy) there was the most applause. I was told that they would go into Brotherhood or Sisterhood. They lived in Brother’s home or Sister’s home, and had normal jobs. They had serenity about their person. I was 15 and with new love for Jesus, I was not ready to give up having a family life.
I remember as I was entering sophomore year in high school, I prayed, “Dear Jesus, I am not sure if you are real or not. Please do not bother me any more. I do not want to give my life to you.” Soon I forgot about Jesus and my life began in pursuit of academics.