I have been living in Korea for over five years now.
Sometimes I feel incredibly at home here. It was like that since the beginning. There are moments of frustration, miscommunication, and helplessness, but then there are unexpected experiences like the $7 hair cut I got last Saturday..
I stepped into a salon on my street
to find one middle-aged woman holding scissors, another middle-aged woman in a chair getting her hair done, and a bunch of other middle-aged women congregated on the couch. When I asked if they were all waiting for hair cuts, they said no, only one of them was. The others were just chilling. So I joined them.
Soon, a middle-aged man walked in, and room was made for him. Korean news was playing on the TV; discussion ensued. I, meanwhile, found myself nodding off to sleep, not out of boredom, but from a deep feeling of safety and peace.
Unable to understand a word they were saying, unsure how long the wait would be, I was overtaken by a feeling of home. I was sitting in another version of my Korean grandparents’ house on a Saturday afternoon. And soon every muscle in my body had relaxed.
Despite these moments of feeling like I was primed for this life since I was a child,
like I was meant to find my home here, I do sometimes feel restless. I get hit with homesickness for America and my family. I get caught up in all the possibilities that are not here. That are out there somewhere else.
Sometimes I feel the urge to bolt.
Recently God told me: I want you to put down roots here.
And I realized that, for me, putting down roots is scary. I’m not used to staying in one place for more than a couple years, and I’ve already been in this city for three. I don’t like staying behind when others are leaving, and some close friends are. It’s difficult having a mentality of permanence when certain dreams and desires don’t seem possible in my current situation.
But I keep coming back to the simple question: Do I trust Him?
Five and a half years ago, God led me to leave everything familiar behind. I left America, my family, and most of my prospects to come to Korea. That was my act of faith.
Now, He is leading me to stay. A different act of faith. A different opportunity to trust and to obey.
There is a process to these things, to making decisions and sifting through one’s heart, and as an emotional person, it is inevitably an emotional one. But when I made unquestioning obedience my foundation, my heart profoundly shifted. The restlessness fell away. I began to recognize the value of what I have right here in this season, all the many fruits God has given me to enjoy. I got clarity.
In the end, it’s bigger than Korea or any circumstance of my life.
It’s about Him.
Without God, my life would be little more than aimless wandering and spurts of excitement. With Him, my life becomes something much more: A continual discovery of goodness that far surpasses my understanding.
Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”
So I choose to follow, to obey. Because I want to be close to Him. No treasure or accomplishment, no possibility I could ever dream up, could ever come anywhere close to the sweetness of having Him near.
“Direct me in the path of Your commands,
for there I find delight.”
– Psalm 119:35