— a bit of background

I grew up with church being my primary form of community. Especially since I went to a Korean church. The Asian population in Missouri isn’t exactly thriving. Both of my parents were Bible study teachers at one point. Now, my dad points people to where they should park in the church lot wearing one of those bright orange vests and my mom keeps track of our church finances. I’ve been pretty involved too. I’ve always been active, and I served on the worship team from eighth grade to junior year.

I loved serving. It was challenging at times. We were all angsty teens going through life, trying to serve. Sometimes we forgot what it meant to serve. Despite the struggles, I loved it. I grew to love the people I was serving with. A lot of us had grown up together, and it really did feel like family.

And then I got hurt. Hurt by people that I thought would never do what they did. And it resulted in me stepping down at the beginning of my junior year.

I had never been that hurt before. That year was characterized by a lot of struggle. A lot of dryness. A lot of waiting. And in that waiting, instead of holding on to God’s truth, it became convoluted in my mind. I made it all about myself- how often I prayed, how deep my QT’s were, how insightful my words were.

No wonder it felt so dry! I grew more and more frustrated, unable to shake the rut I was in.

My senior year was a bit better. Perhaps it was the frenzy of college applications and decisions that made me so desperate for stability. God started to remind me of my inherent weakness and need for Him. I started to seek him more, but there was still something missing. I felt frustration and weariness from my own shortcomings. This wasn’t how I wanted to start college.

A few weeks before I left Missouri to start school in California, I went to a conference called the Joshua Generation. It takes place every year in Indiana, and Asian-American churches from all over the Midwest attend. I’ve been going since the seventh grade.

I knew what to expect. Day 1: Intro. Day 2: Pre-Hype. Day 3: HYPE. Day 4: Riding the Hype, go home.

It was the first night, and I was up in the balcony with all the other recent high school graduates. I could see the other 800 students and counselors in the area below with the worship team on stage up front.

It was great. I’ve always loved J-Gen. I got to meet new people and the worship team was super epic. Super super epic. So epic man.

So it was the first night, and the worship team started playing “Son of God.” The chorus came around; there’s a line that says, “The Father’s love came pouring down for us.” And then I started to tear up.

I was so confused. I didn’t know why I was getting so emotional. It was the first night. The Unofficial Handbook of Youth Retreat Clichés dictated that this did not happen until the second night at earliest.

But it wasn’t just an emotional high or a response to they hype-ness of the music.

The truth that I had forgotten for such a long time had come back to me. My salvation and my relationship with God weren’t based on how high I could reach, but how far down God’s grace had to come to reach me.

It was such a beautiful realization. How had I forgotten this precious truth? I was in awe of the gospel’s beauty once again.

I suppose that every day is a fight to remember that beauty and to choose God’s truth over all the other voices. And I forget, I mess up, I fall to the same insecurities and weaknesses time and time again.

I think this is what kept getting me down in the latter half of my high school career. I forgot that there is grace. I forgot that God’s love is bigger than my own ineptitude.

Thank God I don’t have to hold on with my own strength. Thank God for never ending grace.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22–23
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