Thought I’d share my story tonight.
I’m not sure why, except that our stories are important.
They help others to know they are not alone.
They can inspire.
They can give hope.
But most of all, they show the brush strokes of a God who puts all the pieces together of our brokenness into something beautiful.
I grew up with a deaf, schizophrenic mother.
And because of my mother’s mental condition, my dad and I suffered, for a lot of years.
My mother had times when she would do really well, but I remember more of the times that she wasn’t.
She was suicidal at times.
Homicidal at other times.
You were never sure, what to expect.
And most of it, I’d be happy to forget.
But because she wasn’t well and was hospitalized for so much of my childhood, I began living with other families.
I lost a lot of my identity.
Because that’s what a stable family gives a kid, a healthy identity.
And mine was well, shattered.
And here is a really good place to interject that if any kid needed a good healthy identity, it was me.
I was the kid with buck teeth and huge, I mean, HUGE glasses.
I had aviators before they were cool.
And as if that weren’t enough, I had the stereotypical Asian bob haircut. . . and I’m Asian.
It’s just wrong. Wrong, I tell you.
And no, I’m not going to post pictures.
My parents later divorced despite so much effort from my dad to keep the marriage together.
My mother moved back to South Korea and I learned to bottle up everything I was feeling.
Because that’s really what growing up is all about, learning the art of stuffing your emotions somewhere dark and deep.
I grew up well with that mindset, until the year that my mother was murdered.
She was murdered, beaten to death by a pastor.
She had confronted him about money that had been embezzled from the orphanage where she worked.
Her body was left in a ditch.
And believe me, I know this sounds crazy.
People don’t really have lives like this, unless it’s on t.v.
And even then, they get paid lots of money to have terrible things happen to their character.
Me, not so much.
But this is how my life unfolded and I’m telling you now, how it happened to me.
Fast-forward through about 10 years of guilt, fear, and general floundering through life and I found myself in a strange place.
I couldn’t bottle up my pain anymore.
It was leaking out through all sorts of really unhealthy ways.
I had a wall, a moat, and a man-eating crocodile around my heart.
No one was getting in.
But all my pain was leaking out.
You know, like some gross puss filled scab.
A puss-filled scab with a wall, a moat and a man-eating crocodile around it.
And I found my saved, Christian-self in dire need of a new type of salvation.
An emotional salvation.
I needed Jesus in a whole new way.
And I found out that it was not as painful to trust him with healing the darkest places of my childhood as it was for me to bottle it up.
Now, I gotta tell you. I had had some emotional healing in the past.
God had done some pretty amazing things even.
But this was different.
Things that had interwoven themselves with who I thought I was, were being unwoven.
So, and some of you know this part, I felt like I was supposed to start writing.
To start writing down everything I could remember from my childhood.
And I did.
And things began to make sense.
And I stopped stuffing.
And I started leaking from my eyes instead.
And I cried.
And I cried some more.
I cried a lot.
Which makes me sound like I’m a big pansy.
Maybe I am.
But I’m an emotionally healthy pansy now.
So there, ha ha!
And I kept writing, you know, when I wasn’t crying.
When I got to a place that I couldn’t think of anything else to write, I thought to myself.
And my self said, “What?”
I said, “Self, don’t interrupt. You should write a letter to Korea. You know, to the orphanage where your mom was and ask if they have any belongings of hers or any details from her life. Because well, closure is good.”
And after a lot of hemming and hawwing and more donkey-like behaviors from me. I was finally convinced by friends and family to send the letter.
Weeks passed and I got a letter back.
I opened the envelope and 2 pictures of my mother fell out along with a letter saying that my mother was still alive.
Whoever had been murdered 10 years ago, was not her.
I felt like I was on the Truman Show.
Another 8 years have passed since that letter.
And a lot of letters and packages have gone from our house to Korea. And from Korea to our house.
And while things are not perfect, I am amazed.
Amazed at how God can take everything. Even the parts of our stories that we thought were over and redeem them.
I guess that’s why we call Jesus, Redeemer.
My favorite story in the whole Bible is about Joseph.
He was sold into slavery by his brothers, taken to a foreign country, accused of sleeping around with his boss’s wife, and thrown into prison.
I don’t care who you are.
But after everything, he becomes the Prime Minister of the most powerful country in the world.
And when his brother’s come to his country to seek aid, this is his response.
Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now – life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.
Genesis 50:19-21 (The Message)
God takes poopy and somehow makes it into a story worth telling.
He’s good at this kind of thing.
So, I’m not really sure why I’m sharing all of this with you tonight, except maybe just to say. . .
Your story isn’t over.
Jesus is still redeeming stories, all the over the world.
All throughout history.
For all types of people.
You and me included.
Photo Credit: “Typewriter” by tsg1, permissions through C.C. by 2.0