I thought I’d write this week about each of the CHOICE elements throughout the week as I pray on each topic each day (as Pastor Shawn suggested that we do) but write about something that hits home for me.
Well, in compassion, the first thing that came up in my head is my first year in England. I was 12 then. The only preparation I had prior to going to England was learning a few vocabulary words. In other words, I didn’t know any. With my father’s decision to attend seminary in England, we followed. But for a 12 year old, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to face.
Back in ’85, there were no more than 2000 Koreans in England altogether. Needless to say, I felt alienated. Being thrown into a school system of unfamiliarity of both place and people, if I were shy before (and I was), I was now hidden. My more outgoing younger brother had adjusted better than I had. I just shriveled up and made minimal contact with those around me. It wasn’t like other kids were trying to make an extra effort to the newcomer either.
Being forced to wear a uniform and this prison-like garment called a necktie, I had no idea of what others asked of me, from me, or about me. Thus entered my guessing game for the first year. I call it “Yes no game”. It is basically taking any question that was thrown at me and I just did a simple guessing at the question and answering either yes or no. I just watched the lips move. In fact, my own theory on my personality having developed to the current state is that it was my own adaptation method to be able to deal with the situation. That’s another story for another time.
So what does this have to do with the compassion? Plenty. It still lingers strongly in my head what it felt like those first two years. They were painstakingly rough and difficult. For those of you that had grown up in the English-speaking country since infant years, this will not be a picture you can paint inside your mind very well, if at all. Having gone through this painful process myself was in fact a God-given gift, to be able to share compassion with those that are new to this culture and this language.
You see, I have realized that, over the years, compassion can’t really be had towards the people you do not understand what they are going through. We all have had our different shares of tough times and difficulties. But instead of trying to forget about it and shun it, I want to embrace it (yeah, I sound cheesy!) and allow it to help those around me to better embrace the new change that they themselves have to go through. I pray that we all will.