Portraits ReadingCase2

Portraits ReadingCase2 - as 35: $5 53 IQ 28 CASE 2 THINGS...

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Unformatted text preview: as 35: $5 53 IQ 28 CASE 2 THINGS BEGAN TO CLICK Jennifer is a firstAgeneration Asian American who grows up in middle-class suburbia. When she returns to the United States from two years in Hong Kong with her family, she is in middle school, and she wants to be normal, to fit in, to belong. Invited by a friend to attend a youth group meeting at a lacal church, ,lennifm‘ finds herself engaged by the people, and, to her surprise, by the ideas of Christianity to which she is being introduced. After joining the church, she finds that she continues to compartinentalize different aspects of her life: friends, family, school, belief. In college, however, she makes the conscious decision to have Christianity “permeate” her life, a challenge on which she continues to work. I am going to keep my eyes closed. I am going to stay calm. ”. . . And Lord, we just ask that your Holy Spirit would be upon us tonight.” Why are there so many people in here? “God, as we enter into your presence now—m” Why am I here? “Lord, we pray that you would show us your face." Good God, this is taking long. “We pray that our worship would be pleasing to you.” I wonder when you say amen. "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen." Oh, there it is. Crap. A muffled “amen” worked its way through the crowd as I looked around nervously. The lights were out now, and the girl behind the keyboard began to play a simple melody, eyes closed and clearly enjoying something, though iwasn’t quite sure what. Others around me looked placidly ahead to the projector screen, and as the kid with the guitar began to strum, a chorus of voices swelled up around me, singing a song I did not know with words I did not understand. In my confusion, I instinctively began attempting to follow the melody, stumbling my CASE 2 THINGS BEGAN TO CLICK 29 way through four very, very long songs until someone began to pray again and the lights flickered back on. As my pupils adjusted to the light, I began to wonder about the Friday night lineup I was Currently missing for this. Someone tapped my shoulder. I turned to my right and saw Hannah’s smil~ ing face, apparentiy encouraging me to do something. I looked beyond her and saw a sea of identically smiling faces. They wanted me to introduce myself. Oh God. Do I really have to stand? I mumbled something about sixth grade and Raleigh and sat down. This was going to be a long night. By the time everything was over, I was exhausted. Names and faces blurred in my mind, and the newness and strangeness of it all made my head ache. I did not see myself coming back. Friday night television was definitely better than this. I have always considered myself to be a fairly average person. I am middle of the roadmaverage looks, average interests, average abilities. I am. the Good. Girl: I follow the rules, color within the lines, and avoid dangerous thin gs. I am an expert at mainstream unobtrusiveness, a social chameleon. At the same time, I have aiso always wanted to be different. As a young girl, Ihated dolls. Ihated dresses, skirts, the color pink, and the ballet class I was in for two days. Growing up surrounded by boy cousins, my boy brother, and all his boy buddies, I became convinced that boy things were cool and girl things were not. And yet, whenever I played with boys, I became acutely aware of my inability to make a decent catch, my disinterest in video games, and my poor knowledge of baseball cards and cars. So I didn’t say anything. It was easier to follow them around wishing i could be cool like them than to deviate from the role of good, so- cially accepted iittle girl I had already established for myself. These two somewhat conflicting character traits have been with me through out my life and to a certain extent are still with me now. My desire to be Different But The Same has colored my story in many ways, influencing to at least a small degree the many life decisions and choices that I have struggled through and made, including my move from nonreligious person to Christian woman and from nonathlete to field hockey and iacrosse player. The interesting thing about life, though, is the fact that it is never just one personality trait or experience that reigns supreme over all that occurs. It is an intricately complicated weaving of people, places, events, and experiences that make up a. iite, and it seems inaccurate to point to one aspect of myself as THE reason for so much change and development, as in- fluential as it may have been. For the first nine years of my iife, i lived in New Jersey suburbia. My parents both grew up in Taiwan—my mother in the city and my father in the country—~ and met the summer after their freshman year in college at an "adventure camp” sponsored by the military. (Somehow my mother, who is not what you. might conw sider an outdoors person, thought it would be fun.) They dated through college, and after graduating in the late seventies, they both came to the United States to at- tend graduate school. They Were married shortly after arriving, and five years later, I came along. At the time, we were living in a cute little house in a cute little neighborhood, right next to a not-as«cute little shopping mall in the suburbs of the glorious Garden State. 30 PART I lDENTlTY Though my parents were very proficient at English, they only spoke Chinese to me and to each other when we were at home. My maternal grandmother and 93. ternal grandparents also watched after me at some time or another during those first few years, and they did not know any English. Needless to say, Mandarin Chi- nese was my first language, and evidently, it was very good. My parents Would sometimes tease me later about how good my Chinese used to be! and about how} could just jabber on and an! 1' cannot attest to any 01‘ this myself, but I’ll take their word for it. i eventually learned English lay being plopped down in the middle of a preschool ciass at the age of four and hanging around other little kids who hap~ pened to speak English. I was scared to the point of stunned silence the first day, watching in wide-eyed horror as twenty other boys and girls ran around me speak- ing nonsense. Fortimately for me, the teacher just so happened to be a Taiwanese immigrant about my parents’ age, and she was able to help make my acquisition of English as smooth as possible. Within a month, I was speaking English as if it was my mother tongue. My parents continued speaking Chinese with me, but now that 1 spoke English all day at school, I started speaking more of it and less of Chi- nese at home. I was, however, still required to attend Chinese School every Satur- day morning. It was there that I began to learn (and to detest) reading and writing When I had finished up with kindergarten and my brother was just entering his last year of preschool, my parents decidedmin the grand tradition of many Tai- wanese immigrant families of my areamto move to a nearby town with a better school district. The town itself was upper middle class with a population that con- sisted predominantly of Iewish, Italian, and Western European families, as well as a growing number of Asian immigrant families with backgrounds similar to our own. it was a more affluent area than where we had been. before, but as a 6wyear- old, the only difference I noticed was my bigger house and the huge amount of trees in our neighbor’s backyard. I began first grade that fall, and thus began my illustrious career in the Raleigh Township school system. In the middle of third grade, however, my father decided to accept an offer to become a professor at a university in Hong Kong. Needless to say, I was not happy. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing—taking piano lessons, going to Chinese School, getting good grades. What was I supposed to do in Hong Kong? What about my life here? What about my friends? i didn’t even know where Plong Kong was! After much goading, however, my parents finally con- vinced me that moving there might not be so bad. I even became a"little excited as we packed up our house and slept on air mattresses the last few nights in Amer— ica. i felt like I was going on an adventure into a crazy foreign land. For me, living in Hong Kong ultimately became one of those extremely for- mative experiences that tend to be taken completely for granted until much later in life. Despite my initial excitement, l eventually did not see any of it as terribly spe- cial or out of the ordinary. I assumed that I was living an ordinary American life and just happened to be doing it in a foreign country. Our apartment was on a rel~ atively sprawling university campus far from the cramped spaces of the main city, CASE 2 Tl-il’NGS BEGAN TO CLlCK 31 and my brother and 1 attended a private American international school. (One of the most amazing testaments to the insularity of our lives is that We got away with liv- ing there for two and a half years without learning Cantonese.) At the same time, however, the people with whom we interacted, the places we went, and the things we did exposed us to entirely new and different worlds, all of which inevitably, though perhaps subconsciously, had an impact upon our future selves. We were able to be friends with a truly diverse and international group of people. We were able to travel to places all over the world that I had never even dreamed of visit- ing. We were able to do ordinary things, like shopping for groceries, taking art and music lessons, and eating out, in a (in my mind) less-than—ordinary place. Fast forward two and a half years, and we come back to America, back to the same town and the same school district. I was scared out of my mind. 1” had re» cently come to the horrible, horribie realization that I had missed nearly THREE YEARS of real American life, and l' was about to enter middle school. I didn’t know what clothes to wear, what music to listen to, or what movie stars to be drooling over. Who were all these people? Why did they care so much about clothes? Actu- ally, where did they get those nice clothes? Why am I still wearing the Disney T— shirts and the—good God—~tapered jeans my mother bought me? Despite coming back to America for at least a week every year, I felt desperately out of the loop and desperately uncooi, and. though I had attended elementary school with all these kids, I still felt like I was brand-spanking, very conspicuously new and painfully different. I panicked, slowly and silentiy, keeping my nervousness at a slow boil in the back of my mind. The first day of sixth grade, I latched onto two old friends, Cara and Angie, as soon as i could find them. Cara was the first friend I ever made in first grade, and I had come to know Angie through Chinese School and because we were in the same third grade class. i siowiy made my way into their different friend groups: Care’s was a mix of girls linked by band and who knows what else, while Angie’s consisted chiefly of more "bookish”——thongh not what I would con~ sider nerdymChinese giris. i started by sitting at the appropriate lunch tables and moved siowly on toward the sleepovers and birthday parties. Thankfully, sixth grade was the lowest grade in the school, so i was not the only one making major adjustments. As I kept a vigilant eye on the other girls, fashioning myself carefully by subtly imitating the cues I picked up regarding fashion, music, and other im— portant details, others around me were doing similar things. But I didn't know that, of course. Many months later, I had reached what I thought to be a reasonable state of mainstream normalcy. Most of my clothes were from the right stores (or looked like it), my musical taste was appropriately sprinkled with boy-bands and angst— ridden women with acoustic guitars, and I was starting to feel less awkward and shy. I was not popular by any means, but 1 had found groups of friends who were like me, with similar senses of humor, similar tastes, and with some, similar fam- ily backgrounds. i had found my niche. Somewhere in that settling time, one of those friends, Hannah, invited me to come to her Friday night youth group gathering. She, as well as a few other school- mates of mine, attended a Chinese and Chinese American (the parents were mostly 32 PART I IDENTITY immigrants from Taiwan while the children were mostly born here) nondenomi— national Protestant church about five minutes from my house, where every Friday night the sixth through twelfth graders would come together fora small worship service, Bible study, talks, and hanging out. My family had never been religious, and my parents had raised my brother and me with the mixture of Confucian, Daoist, and humanist values they themselves had grown up on, along with whats ever else they acquired on the way. As a result, I had never been to church before and had no idea. what it was about. But Hannah was nice, and it didn’t seem like it would be so bad. I never did anything on Friday nights anyway, aside from watching television and doing the Chinese homework I had neglected during the week. The whole night was basically a blur to rue—a blur of confusion, awkward- ness, and nerves. I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t know anybody well except for Hannah. Aside from being completely lost and awkward, however, I think I had an okay time. The people were friendly and the singing, though con- fusing, was actually kind of fun. But I didn’t plan on going back any time soon. Though i didn’t have a terrible time, the exhaustion and headache from the new~ ness and strangeness of the experience was too fresh in my mind to make a second trip worth it. I decided that church was “interesting” and the people were nice, but it definitely was not for me. Thankfully, Hannah didn’t mention anything about it the next week, so I. was free to forget about it all. I did a good job of that and went on happily with the rest of my life, becoming more comfortable with school, getting more involved with afterwschool activities, and engaging in all the myriad activities vital to ado» lescent life (namely, going to the mall and hanging out with friends). Classes were going well, and l maintained my straight—A streak with relative ease. I began to grow closer to my friends as we banded together and began to grow up together, influencing one another’s tastes, hobbies, activities, and classes. We rarely moved into any new realm alone, always making sure to grab someone along if we were brave enough to explore. Ifollowed my friends into most of the after-school activ- ities I was involved in. l. joined a community service club, attended quiz bowl tourn naments, participated in a research club, worked on stage crew, and even tried track for a while, though I quit that after realizing I wasn’t ever going to make it to a meet. Though i did not have and have never had a “best friend” to whom i talked on the phone every day, i did not consider myself to be friendiess. i enjoyed hanging out with the different groups lwas in, and they could always entertain me and make me laugh until. my stomach hurt. There were many lunch periods where l was barely able to finish my sandwich because I had been laughing so hard and talking for so long about things i cannot even recall now. I would sometimes get jealous of the pairs and subdivisions of my cliques, butl fought hard to get beyond that. i remember one time when a friend of mine called me up, upset and fuming about how so~and~so was always with so-and-so and about how she always felt SO left out because they would never invite her to do things with them. We whined and commiserated together about our feelings of abandonment and neglect, and though the resolution of that conversation is fuzzy now, I distinctly remember CASE 2 THINGS BEGAN TO CLICK 33 feeling incredible relief in discovering that my jealousy was not abnormal. As time went on, i began to be more comfortable with my lack of a best friend and even ‘oegan to embrace the fact that I was not so strictly attached to anyone. My reta- tionship with my parents throughout ail this was fairiy good, and I might even say that I was closer to my mother than many girls my age, confiding in her as I might have with a best friend. My father was my father, serious and somewhat boring some of the time, but joking and good-natured the rest, and my littie brother was a little brother, unfortunately teased and slightly bullied, but loved all the same. Life seemed to be going the way it ought to be. All the while, though, i still found myself lacking in that amorphous quaiity of “cool.” I would label other people as cool, but never myself. My heroes were friends who could do the things I could not—sing, dance, draw, paint, play sports well. Especially the sports part. When a group of my friends began to play on school teams, a strange sort of jealousy began to eat at me. Why couldn’t I be like them? Why couldn’t I go out for these teams and be amazing and cooi? Naturally, though, I found it easier not to say or do anything. I simply admired them quietly as I had admired my boy cousins and boy brother, continuing to plod along in my self~appointed role of “the average good student." Some time later in eighth grade, I was invited, yet again, to that Friday night youth group gathering. This time, my friend. Katie did the inviting, but her ap- proach seemed less daunting than Hannah’s had. She called me up one Friday at— ternoon. “Hey jen. What are you doing tonight?” “Nothing really. Why?” (At this point, I was hoping that she would invite me to go somewhere with her. She was one of my hero-worshipped friends—I thought she was funny, cute, and awesome for piaying field hockey.) "I was wondering . . . if you wanted . . . to come to Fellowship with me?“ "What? Why?” “Oh. Well . . . my brother keeps bugging me about it, and I promised him I’d go, and I thought maybe you could maybe come with me? I feel kinda weird going by myself.” “Oh. Ummrn . . I thought for a minute. “I guess so.” "OOOH, good. Thanks, Jen! How about my mom drives us and we pick you up at 7:25?” Ifokay ‘ ‘ .II “Coolf I’ll see you then. BYEE” {IBye - . .11 I wasn’t too sure of what I was getting myself into. I vaguely remembered what my first visit had been like and was hoping that it would be different this time. Going with someone else who was new made me feel a little better, and going as that someone else’s security blanket made me feel a whoie lot better. Somehow, being the tagalong friend seemed like it would provide me with im- munity from the hordes of scarin friendly people who wanted to know all about what I thought of God and Jesus. To be honest, I didn’t even. know. I kind of knew I beiieved in God and I kind of thought I was a good person, but I didn’t know 34 PARTI IDENTITY anything about trinities or blood , ‘ . say that 1' was in this more for the social scene than for the 313 g, clinging to Katie, and not feel- and Wiser) were hiIa " regulafly that year. _ . here, and my mether would a] us home. Katie seeme ' e an the outskirts 01‘ I wanted to be bef- ordmarily fun and witty group of people, and t pnse, I wanted to unders ‘ ' ' ' ' 0d, the simple yet in- Cass 2 THINGS BEGAN TO CLICK 35 ing the Bible on my own every now and then. Though they were not religious themseives, my parents never objected to any of this and continued to drive me to church every Friday night and to pay for weekend retreats. During some of this time, my brother also began attending Feliowship and though we never taiked about it together, I am certain that he was questioning and searching the way I was. He accepted Christ at a retreat one spring, and for a while, he was the one who had to drag me to church. A few years later, however, after I myseit became close their eyes so that they can pray. The lights are dim, everyone’s head is bowed, and after a brief moment of silence, the speaker begins in a serious and contem— plative voice, "Now, for those of you who don’t know Christ. . .” After this foiiows an invitation to tell God that YESL you believe that Iesus was his son who came to die on behalf of all our sins and was raised to life, thus conquering death and sin and bringing mankind back to its rightful place in communion with God. This is what is commonly known as an “altar cail.” lhad heard them many times before that night and have heard it many times since so Imake tight of it now in affirmation was merely brought on, by the pressure of the invitation (he’s talk— ing to me, that one person who doesn’t know Christ, after all) and my desire for be- ionging, but something was different this time. Things were making incredible amounts of sense, and it all just seemed so right. Despite the perpetual presence of doubt in the back of my mind those past months, God had slowly been chan ing upset. I am surprised and a littie saddened to say that I remember nothm how my family took this decision, nor do i remember how I told them. I do know, however, that this change was not met with any sort of opposition, and l was able to begin my Christian life freely and comfortably. For many people, Christian conversion is equated with a complete change in lifestyle. Drug addicts become sober, the hardened and bitter become joyous, and rebellious teens stop cursing and start listening to their parents. I was none of 36 PARTI IDENTITY ents were so horri CASE 2 THINGS BEGAN TO CLICK 37 before meals, for instance} to remind my family and non-Christian friends about my "Christiananessf but did little else. My Bible was generally in action only on Fridays and Sundays, and my deep contemplationsl of and conversations with God clustered themselves around retreats, Fellowship, and church. Yet, in spite of my half-hearted dedication, l was still growing and changing, learning more about God and wanting more and more (most of the time) to be like Him in His selfless love, goodness, and righteousness. When I wasn’t paying attention, He quietly shaped me regardless, and whenever I did pay attention again, He would meet me pOWerfully and remind me of His constant faithfulness and love for me. I remember this happening frequently at retreats, where we would spend an entire weekend listening to speakers, studying the Bible, and worshipping God. ln~ powerful emotion, but these were some of the few times where that wa happened. Generally, it would start out as a regular worship service. There would be a band up in the front, and we’d all. be singing songs together. ’l‘hen somewhere along the way, many of the people there would begin to feel especially moved. As more and more began to feel it, the worship service would transition into a time of prayer, with people praying hard, often tearfully, in little clusters or individually. (To an outsider, it would probably look weird and cultish.) Many times, these emotionally and spiritually intense experiences would center on repenting of our sinful behavior or of our neglecting God (hence the tears). It would blow me away every time—“feelings of incredible sorrow, awe, and peaceful joy hitting me all at once, my heart aching, somehow breaking and healing simultaneously, as I saw a glimpse of this God who loved my wandering soul so abundantly, so uncondi— tionally. But there were also times when we would simply be rejoicing in how amazing it was to know God. and to know His love personally, with this essentiall feeling like unadulterated bliss and absolute peace. It is somewhat difficult to put into words, and all I can really say is these were and still are experiences unlike anything else. While l do not regret that they often happened at retreats, I am now wary of the id ea of using retreats to recharge one’s “spiritual battery." 1 remember one speaker warning against this sort of "Tarzan Christianity,” where a person re- lies solely on special events to meet with God, jumping from retreat to retreat to get his or her spiritual fill. At the time, however, experiences such as these really did a lotto combat my periods of doubt and apathy. As my new relationship with God was developing, I began high school. To my utter shock and surprise, something miraculous happened. As the field hockey preseason was beginning, my friends on the team casually mentioned that the freshman team was in need of more players, and somehow, Hannah and i began to think about joining. This is it, I told myself. Finally, l was being given a chance to prove thatl could do something outside of myselfwoutside of being typically good and typically smart. At the same time, I was incredibly unsure of my abilities. What if I suck? Then what? Does this mean i will be forever doomed to being boring? Looking back now, 1 think the growing self-confidence, comfort in my own skin, and all that good maturation stuff which generally accompanies getting over 38 PAR‘FI IDENTITY we spent time together in class, at practice, at games, at church, and at retreats. Being the busy high school students that we were, most of that time together was spent on activitiesw—We "did stuff” together, making jokes and discussing what- ever we happened to be doing—“but we did, on occasion (such as sleepovers or more serious sharing times in Bible study), discuss the big things that were on our hearts and minds. I would say the most frequent topics of serious conversation CASE 2 THINGS BEGAN TO CLICK 39 it was not until my senior year when l was invited to serve on the leadership board of the Fellowship that I began to think more seriously about my faith and walking actively with God. Serving there with a group of people so committed to God challenged me to rethink priorities I had. set in my life. As I applied to colleges that fall and awaited the acceptances and rejections in the spring, I became more and more aware of my need to trust GodM—to trust that He would lead me to the right place for the right reasons. Talking to old friends coming back from college during their breaks, I realized the necessity of consciously striving to keep focused on God and His big picture as I made my decisions and entered college. Without this consciousness, I knew that i, being a perpetual perfectionist, could easily lose my center and fall into that endless race of striving to be the best, at the best school, in the best field. I knew that striving to do my best was not wrong; it was forsak- ing my relationship with the God who loved and saved me, all for the sake of my own achievement, that would hurt me. As I began to take my relationship with God more seriously, I also began to grow closer to my friends at church. Much of it was because of proximity (Friday nights, Sunday mornings, Sunday afternoons for meetings, entire weekends for re— treats, and other hangout times), but looking back now, it seems that much of it was also because of a certain likemindedness when it came to views on life and the world and ultimate purpose. As with friends from my teams and school, we shared similar life experiences and educational aspirations, but at the same time, we also shared a deep desire to know and follow God. We had laughed, cried, danced, sung, debated, and sweat together, not simply for the sake of being friends, getting into college, or athletic honor, but for the sake of becoming closer to the One who created us, loved us, and had a wonderfully unique plan for each of us. i loved my other friends and still do immensely, but the unique kind of closeness that developed with others who believed in Christ simply made for dif- ferent kinds of relationships. At the end of senior year, as various sports, classes, and school—related activities drew to a close, I found myself seeing less and less of my friends who were not Christian and more and more of the ones who were, since church still happened every weekend. I cannot say that this drifting apart happened solely because of the difference between Christian and nonMChrist-ianw other factors, such as the ways different personalities click or simply the other friends and interests different people have, were critical as Well. A though, the relative split was rather noticeable. The funny thing about entering college is that no one there knows you. These people have never seen you before. They don’t know anything about you. Your past, your interests, your goals, your family, and your old friendsm—all of this is there, yet not there, implicitly informing the way you think and act but essentially a mystery to the new people in front of you. The blankness of the slate is remarlo able, and you are drawing yourself anew, making (consciously or unconsciously} what people see in you and what you see in yourself as different or as similar to what you saw in yourself a few months before. As i entered my freshman year college, i made several conscious choices about this personal revision. The in basic of these was to break down the little boxes and categories i had previously ll the same, of ost set 40 PA RT 1 IDENTITY up for my iife. I was determined to let God permeate and touch every aspect of liv- ing, from the friendships I made to the major I chose. I wanted to purposefully in- volve myself in a Christian fellowship on campus and attend church every week, understanding that connection to other people who were seeking God was just as important as seeking God on my own. I wanted to self-identify as a Christian to whoever was curious and to try hard to live a life worthy of Christ that was neither hypocritical nor obnoxiously devout (in a hit—you-over-the-head-with-a -Bible kind of way). I did not want my faith to be just a Sunday thing. I wanted it to be real and living. Following through with all this was a little awkward at first. For the most part, i found myself preoccupied with working through the typical freshman year adjustments. i didn’t know what classes to take, what major to choose, how to work the dining hall, where anything was, or why i missed my friends at home so badly. Nevertheless, I did manage to begin taking steps toward putting God in the center of my life. I made a point of spending more time with God on my own time and tried. to make prayer and the Bible parts of my everyday routine. This began first with attempts to read the Bible and pray before going to bed, but unfortu- nately, being tired. and overworked does really bad things for concentration. I then tried switching to mornings, but as the year went on, i found myself sleeping later and later and eventually making the roll—out~of—bed-fifteen-minutes-before—class thing a daily routine. Needless to say, this left little time for pretty much anything. My goal of achieving reguiarity with the Bible didn’t work out so well, but this ir- regularity was not “bad” the same way it was had in high school. Because I was be» ginning to see God as part of my everyday reality, I began to see spending time in His Word less as a chore but more as an exciting opportunity to learn more. As a result, the feelings of “bad” that accompanied my lackluster results with Bible- reading were less often guilt-ridden than they had been before. As that was going on, I also dutifully followed the advice of older friends and became involved with an on—campus Christian group. Because I had such a tight group of friends in my Christian group at home, lhalf expected similar friendships to spring up as soon as l walked into the room. Surely, we would be able to con- nect right away and be super best friends forever. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite happen that way. In general, with all the friends I was making at college, the process was slower than I anticipated. While all of my friends at home could make me laugh until l ached, none of the friends I was making at college could. While my Christian friends at home and I would frequently stay at church for hOurs after Friday night meetings just talking, people here (and especially other freshmen) would bolt out the door as soon as the meeting was over. Does no one here like me? Is no one on this campus funny? It didn’t make any sense! As the year progressed, slowly begin to feel connected to the Christian community on campus. CASE 2 THINGS BEGAN ’10 CLICK 41 This feeling of connection was helped along by interacting weekly with. the group of peopie with whom I began attending church. Like many of my friends who went away to college, I went to a church consisting primarily of Korean American college students and young adults. Basically, the group of students I went with brought most of the "diversity" the church had at the time. Though there were some very Korean American—specific cultural. elements (for instance, eating kimchee and noodles after service or the occasional reference to growing up Korean American in a sermon), I did not find it difficult to fit in with the congre- gation: more important to me than the ethnic makeup of the church body was the presence of God among them. I learned much from observing the genuine desire to bring God’s restoration to the urban area where the church was situated, as Well. as the fervor with which they worshipped God. I also found myself being chal- lenged to grow in my knowledge of God every week from the solid theological teaching spoken so powerfully by the pastor, as well as being challenged to reflect regularly on what His presence meant to my life. Outside of church and Christian clubs, I became involved with a number of service—oriented activities, ranging from tutoring to assisting the blind. i worked hard. to adjust to the intellectual demands of college classes (probably hard er than I needed to}, and I got to know my hailmates and classmates through things like barging in on each other’s rooms randomly to procrastinate or going out to movies or parties. Though I loved field hockey and lacrosse deariy, I decided not to be on the college teams, mostly because of a fear of the time commitment and partly be- cause of a fear of my relative inadequacy (it was college ball, after all). Much to my surprise, i missed sports quite a bit. Every time I saw a girl walk into the dining hall with her field hockey gear, 1 got that funny feeling of longing one gets for a fa- vorite shirt that’s been lost or an experience that has come and gone too quickly. I missed the camaraderie of the team, the intensity of the games, the crack of my stick against the bail, and my ability to climb up stairs without losing my breath (self—regulated exercising is often a challenge). My feelings of longing and slight rew morse, however, eventually evolved into a greater appreciation. and savoring of those past times with sports, and i do not regret my decision not to play in college. I see it now as part of my journey into other pursuits—refigious, academic, and otherwise. In these “non-Christian” realms, I succeeded in self-identifying as a Christ— ian, though this was not as easy as E had hoped sometimes. "Yes, I am Christian,” l Would say to new friends, all the while hoping that they would not ask any more but also hoping that something brilliant would come out of my mouth if they did. Yet, even though I felt awkward, the more i said it and the more often I talked about God, the more naturai the words became. As the years Went on, and even just after my freshman year, I began to see God as more real and more relevant than ever before. He became (and is stiii becoming) a part of my everyday reality. I see His fingerprints on every part of my life, from the gorgeous fiowers and trees outside, to the flowing prose I read. in class, to the students, staff, and faculty with whom I interact. ' 41 PART I IDENTITY You could say that all. this growth resulted from my increased involvement in “Christian things.” Yet, one could easily do all these things—"mgo to church, read the Bible, and attend Christian. meetings—wand glean little more from it than a busy schedule. I could have easily gone on with my stu dies and friendships, graduated, Inin without experiencing the fullness and God as I did. My college ex ’ competition, and ( I . , 3 good dare I say it?) considers herself time. cool at least 95 percent of the ...
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