Waves of homesickness have been hitting pretty hard recently.
To the point where I have even asked myself, Why am I here?
Why have I given up the place I have waiting for me back in the US as part of a family where I am loved, known, cherished, and valued? Why am I choosing to live as a foreigner in a country on the other side of the world?
Recently I have been feeling how natural it would be to return to the US. I would instantly be so much more capable, have so much more freedom, be surrounded by so much more love and support.
A few months ago, I felt committed to God to live here long-term. I think only now is the reality of what I am sacrificing by being here sinking in. I am sacrificing a lot.
When that reality first hit me, I felt a bit overwhelmed.
I just wanted so badly to eat my mom’s cooking, to go visit my grandparents, to play the piano in my living room, to sit and chill in a room with my siblings, and I couldn’t. I simply could not. But in that place of desperation and confusion came an opportunity for the painful act of obedience that is essential to the life of faith: Surrender.
As I thought back on my time here in Korea, I knew that God’s calling for me to stay here was clear, but I couldn’t understand why logically or emotionally. I felt this prayer coming to my lips: “Well if I have to be here, then use me here so powerfully that it will make up for everything I am missing out on back home.”
But as the words formed in my mouth, they didn’t feel right. Who was I to make such a demand of God?
Instead, this declaration spilled out of me: “God, even if the next 10 years seem like a waste to me, even if I never understand why you called me here or see any fruit, even if such a thing were possible and happened, I pour myself out as a drink offering to you.”
Sobbing, bent over on the ground, I poured myself out afresh to the One who is worthy of everything I am.
Then I went to the grocery store.
And while I was checking out, the cashier showed me a little more tenderness than usual. Usually the cashiers are too busy processing my groceries as quickly as possible to look at me or say much, but that day, the cashier looked me in the eyes and greeted me, then helped me load my groceries into the bag I had brought.
And then, instead of asking me if I had a Point Card (a question to which I always respond “no”), she simply handed me one with my receipt.
A long time ago, back when I first got to Korea, I tried to ask a cashier how to get a point card, but I could not get the woman to understand what I was saying. The experience was so frustrating and discouraging that I never bothered trying again. So when I walked out of the store and saw that point card stamped and tucked into my receipt, I started to cry. No words of encouragement from a friend or family member could have touched me as deeply as that little act of kindness touched me in that moment.
I got sudden clarity about what I am doing here.
Just as that woman was able to touch me in that moment because she was a stranger and because she was a Korean native, I have a special and specific ability to touch people here. Because I am a foreigner, because I am half-Korean.
All the things I am that sometimes make me feel out of place actually qualify me for a special role. In fact, all that I amㅡmy personality, my giftings, my ethnicity, my passions, my experiences, my abilitiesㅡGod is going to use all of it to touch people in specific ways, sometimes without me even realizing it.
(Even these past couple weeks while I’ve been in this valley of sorts, several people have mentioned how encouraged they are by me. Apparently me just being myself, even not the “best” version of myself, brings joy and clarity to people. I am very warmed by that apparent reality.)
I am thankful God has given me such a wonderful calling.
Much of the time, I feel a lot of joy about being here. But even in those moments when all I am in the valley, when all I can see is the weight of all I am sacrificing, I lift my hands to the Lord and say, “Have your way.”
Because when it comes down to it, He is the only one I couldn’t live without.