Korea: The Love I Wanted To Leave

Have you ever had a relationship that you realized was over? Did you mourn, or did you sigh in relief?

How about a relationship that was actually just beginning that you knew was going to take a lot from you?

Korea is that mistress that I laid with for so many years unaware of our budding relationship. I had been so un-invested and so un-interested in her insides but yet so reliant on her to carry me. Just recently I have become increasingly aware of what exactly this relationship is becoming.

Korea… for me, has been a torrid love affair. By that I mean, there are so many moments that I have enjoyed and have seriously been shaped and changed by during my time in Korea. But now, as our relationship is entering into the next stage I am becoming increasingly aware of her downfalls, her mistakes, and her problems. And it’s starting to hurt me. The thing with any relationship is, is that it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of concentration and care, and a lot of energy.

As I have been recently interacting with students and as I look into the future of my relationship with her I see a lot of love and a lot of heart break coming. You might be wondering why I would even think about that. Why would I be concerned with the heartbreak that may come? Because it’s already here.

Suicide, infanticide, prostitution, plastic surgery, self-steem killer, respect demander, non-law abiding, dream killing, racist, agist, unforgiving, grudge holding, down talking, money worshipping, money withholding, family worshipping, over working, pushy, ajuma’s (grandmother) run the country that I love.

And she is many more things that I could not think of nor name here. This is just the tip of the ice berg.

This is also where God has brought me. I don’t always know why, and I don’t always know what I am to do, but I do know that this is a relationship I’ve been called into. Perhaps even a life long one. In which I’m called to endure the test of time. Where I am called to run the race. To leave everything at the alter. As a sacrifice.

Many of you might have been thinking about leaving. Maybe you think it’s just too hard to deal with the cultural differences. Maybe you think that teaching English is too stressful (I understand), or maybe you feel like you haven’t found your place. I would encourage you not to leave yet. I would encourage you not to go too soon. I, pleadingly, call you to stay a while longer. In Korea, at your job, with that annoying person you met the other day, that church you think isn’t giving you everything you want, what ever it is that you want to leave right now; don’t go.

So many of the people I have lived my life in Korea with have left for these and many other reasons. I can’t say for sure whether or not all of them should have stayed, but I can tell you that I do believe the majority of them didn’t finish what was begun in them. So often people run when things get hard. I know, it’s hard. But endurance builds character which stands the test of time, and according to the bible, produces hope.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Romans 5:3-4

There is a hope. If you don’t know him, it’s Jesus Christ. If you do, you are called to live your life in such a way that Christ is glorified in and through all the things that you do. THAT’S HARD! Holy moly is that hard. I’m so selfish all the time. I do it so often that I don’t even realize it. And after a while you start making so many decisions based off of your feelings, your desires, your wants and “needs” that you do it consistently without even considering what God may have called you to, why God may have called you there, and what God wants to use you for.

Life is hard, faith is hard, “Korea” is hard. But God brought you there, and He intends on doing something with you there. Just step back, out of your own perspective for a minute. Just long enough to take your sights off of yourself and put them into that eternal perspective that you’ve forgotten. Your life isn’t yours, it was paid with a price. A price you could never yourself repay. Think about that before you leave “Korea”. I pray that you don’t just leave “Korea” in haste. I pray that you pray for “Korea”, you love “Korea”, you provide for “Korea”, and that you would ask what God is doing in “Korea” before you leave. You may not get “Korea” ever again, don’t spend your time looking back wondering why you didn’t stay a little longer.