The past 10 weeks have been one of the most grueling yet powerful experiences of my life. I discovered many hidden critters within my heart closet, and as I have been literally taking things out of my real-life closet, I uncovered one of the biggest critters within me... REJECTION. As I shared previously, I often struggle with the idea of “looking good” and would find acceptance from others, but I recently realized that the root problem goes much deeper. Throughout the years, I experienced pain and hurt from my people group, Koreans, and I have been unknowingly harboring resentment and bitterness throughout my life. For this reason, looking good and making it appear that I have it all together became my defense mechanism. I didn't have a clue this was the root issue to many strongholds in my life because I often surrounded myself with Koreans. However now that it surfaced, I am ready to exercise total forgiveness so that I can walk with even greater freedom.
As a little girl, I had two amazing best friends that I loved with all my heart and even til this day, I can vividly remember their beautiful faces and their loving souls. I was a super shy uber introverted girl, and I had the hardest time expressing myself. It was so bad to the point that I often refused to raise my hand to tell the teacher I really needed to use the restroom, which led to one of the most mortifying moments of my life. Despite my shortcomings and my awkwardness, Naomi and Tammy, accepted me and loved me just as I was. I was Korean and they were not, but that didn’t matter to us! However somewhere along the way, I was told by another Korean that my friendship with people like Naomi and Tammy wouldn’t last because they weren’t like us. I didn’t understand what that meant, but one day that became a reality. Unfortunately, I started to believe that lie, even though our parting was simply because our family moved into a new neighborhood. During the summers, our parents would send us (my brother and me) to Korea to spend time with our grandparents. We loved going to Korea because our grandparents spoiled us and gave us everything we wanted! However as I grew older, I began to notice that the people in Korea looked at me like I was from another planet because I was 10 shades darker than them and my Korean sounded funny. I started to believe another lie, which was that I would never measure up to the real Koreans because I was born in America.
The list goes on and on, but that’s not what I want to focus on because the list really doesn’t matter. I want to face the real problem for what it is and prayerfully ask God to help me through my process with greater humility and love. It’s not about Korean culture, but rather my brokenness and how I perceived various circumstances and created my own story in my head. Throughout the years, I realized that I took 2 different approaches: savior mentality and apathetic tendencies. Both are unhealthy ways of dealing, and I am thankful I now have the eyes to see the truth but also recognize that my process is just the beginning.
There are certain stereotypes and labels that have been placed on all people group. For Koreans, the common ones I grew up to know are as follows: men are not affectionate and they are harsh when dealing with situations, women are jealous and controlling when dealing with situations, parents are overly strict and demanding of their children, and everyone is judgemental. As I developed relationships with many Koreans throughout my life, I began to believe those stereotypes and thought I could be the one to help save and change them. Over time, I became that controlling girl who often judged people and thought I had all the “right” answers...I became the label. My perception would only allow me to see one way so I often directed the blame on others. In reality, I should've been owning up to my mistakes. After many failed attempts of playing “savior”, I eventually became apathetic towards Korean culture and began creating a wall. Because I was not seeing change or very little change from my attempts to save, I stopped caring and began pulling away. I figured Koreans are the way they are, and I just had to accept those stereotypes and move forward without caring. I’d be cordial and understanding to some degree, but kept them at arms length so I wouldn’t get disappointed or discouraged.
I want to do something different this time. I want to simply own up to my mistakes and stop playing the blame game. I want to humbly apologize to my people group for passing judgement and for speaking those stereotypes into existence throughout the years. I am sorry for trying to play savior and also for my apathetic behaviors. I am sorry to each person I judged, gossiped about, tried to change, or pushed away. There’s so much value and integrity within the Korean culture, but somehow I became blind to them over the years. Korean men, your drive and fervor are created for greatness, and I'm thankful for your existence. Korean women, your beauty and worthiness are meant to be cherished and honored and I am thankful to be one of the many. Korean parents, your wisdom and perseverance are only a few of the many things you teach us...so thank you for loving us so well! I still have a mountain of things I need to sort through, but thank you Jesus that faith can move mountains! Thank you Heavenly Father for adopting me as your daughter, even with all my messed up and broken parts! Thank you Holy Spirit for living inside of my heart so I am not alone as I face these daunting and mortifying moments...like right now!
From my heart to yours # 12
What does forgiveness look like for you? I absolutely love that everyone's story is uniquely special so please keep sharing yours. Every response and every encouragement is well-received with overflowing gratitude, and I am praying with each and every one of you!!!
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit....I wonder what will happen if I give it 52 weeks?!?!!!
I was having a passing conversation with a girlfriend, and I told her that I was going to try out this thing where I would only shop from my closet. But days later, I realized there was no real weight to my words as I caught myself reasoning why I must buy this adorable jumpsuit that was beautifully hanging on a sale rack. Yes you guys....it was on sale so that gives me a good reason to buy...why not?!?!!! And then there’s this other thing. I absolutely love my parents, but one thing I have picked up from them, and I really, really don't want it carrying over to my next generation is holding onto stuff...some people might call it hoarding. It's not too crazy excessive or maybe it is...really depends on one's perspective...haha! My problem may not be too noticeable to most because I'm pretty good at organizing...Btw, I was really good at Tetris! However if I'm being real with myself, I have accumulated a lot of junk over the years.
When you experience third world living in a place like Africa, it does something to you. You don’t return the same. You just want everything around you to slow down so that you can mindfully live a simple life. Africa, along with other profound experiences, have become my perspective anchors:
1. Heidi Baker, missionary from Africa, believes in stopping for the one and remembering to go low and slow.
2. At the Yellow conference, I learned that I am my only problem, but I'm also the solution.
3. Author and Essentialist, Greg McKeown explains, "Essentialism is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter."
These profound words of wisdom have inspired me to call myself higher so that I can become the solution to my problem. For the next 52 weeks, I will commit to only shop from my own closet, and humbly give from my own possessions. In other words, I am making a promise to myself and all of you, that I will not buy any articles of clothing, shoes, accessories, and other non-essentials. I am also promising to weekly give away a prized possession I own to any random person. My purpose: I want to breathe life into an area that has held me captive throughout my life. No more excuses and no more shameful spending on non-essentials.
Accountability and vulnerability will keep me from drifting and compromising, so I am inviting all of you to journey with me as I embark on my #breathelife52 challenge. To all my friends and family, giving you all a heads up...I'll be doing a lot of re-gifting and hand-me-downs for the next 52 weeks. Please don't be mad if you see me giving away something you gifted me. It just means I really really loved it, and that's why I chose to give it away. The thought of me giving away 52 of my favorite things makes me want to throw up a little...not gonna lie! I figure, if I start giving away my favorite things, I'll no longer feel an attachment to my stuff. I admire those who know how to purge and live minimalistic lives. I hope to get there one day, and I hope to get there with ya'll!
#breathelife52 in a nutshell:
I'm bringing you all along with me in this because I simply need people to keep me in check and not let things slide for the next 52 weeks. What happens after the 52...only God knows! Let's see where I end up. Identifying the problem is the initial mountain. The bigger one is actually doing something about it! Mountain, move over because sjinspired is armed with Grit. Valor. Love (credit goes to Yellow Conference for adopting those 3 values and imparting them to entrepreneurial woman, like me!) I am not a fashionista/stylist and definitely not trying to be one. I am also not a noble philanthropist, although I wish I could be one. I'm just your average girl who’s willing to share my problems and ask for your help as I work through my mess.
From my heart to yours #11
What are the mountains in your life? Do something about it, and remember to have fun while doing it!
Exercising perspective writing as I share my Africa story…
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that my Daddy is the creator of all things beautiful. He sacrificially loves with no expectations, abundantly provides beyond measure, and relentlessly pursues with mercy and grace. He’s in the business of fun and adventure so the journey with him is always full of unexpected joyful surprises. I want to grow up to be just like him and I want to share his story.
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that a man named Jesus gave up his supernatural powers to dwell among us and be just like us…except he’s perfect…without blemish. He’s the son of my Daddy, which makes us family! Just like Daddy, he graciously loved the broken, lost, and poor when he walked this earth. One Good Friday, Jesus chose to become all of our sins, wretched sins, unforgivable sins, and it was for one purpose…to save us! He became sin, so all the darkness and evil would perish, never to return. He is the reason I believe the dead can come alive. His death proves all sins and darkness died with him, and everything was made new as he resurrected on the third day. Before he returned home, he left us with the greatest gift of all…salvation!
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that Holy Spirit is alive and well, and believe it or not, he’s my best friend. He’s my personal advisor of all decision-makings, he’s the fashion consultant that picks out my outfit every morning, and he’s also my internal navigation that often redirects me. In other words, I would be lost without him. Thankfully he never wanders off because he forever resides in my heart!
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Savior, and Holy Spirit are three as one. They are separate but united as one. This is the story of my Daddy!
To my dearest Daddy up above,
Your faithfulness and glorious wonder always leaves me speechless without fail. I am finally learning to let go of my own expectations and allow you to have full access to my life. I am discovering that your ways are always higher and all I need to do is stay in my secret place with you all the days of my life. I had my doubts at first, but removing all my securities and comfort and sending me off to Africa was your best idea thus far.
Thank you for taking me all the way to Africa to strip me of all my ugly parts so that your glory can shine through me. Goodbye compromise! I’m choosing to clothe myself with tenacity, humility, dignity, and purity so that I can love Jesus and people with abundance. Your passionate and spirit-filled Mozambican people taught me to sacrificially serve and generously give even when one has nothing to offer. They taught me to understand what genuine gratitude looks like day to day, and I am challenged and encouraged to do more and give more.
After spending 2.5 months in Mozambique, I don’t mind being covered in red dirt and periodically taking a shower here and there. Waking up to the majestic African sunrise will forever be cherished and captured in my heart. The joyful laughter of your precious children has left a lasting memory, never to be forgotten. Thank you for opening my eyes to my wasteful, mindless, and unappreciative mentality when using your precious provisions like water and electricity. Knowing the reality and severity of the needs in places like Africa, I will do my part in conserving and implementing my creativity to maximize and increase resources around the world.
I’m in awe that each encounter was meticulously catered and orchestrated for not only the masses but for little ole me as well! In the midst of all the vastness of your works, you somehow manage to care for the one! I am completely and utterly in love with you, for who you are and what you do for me. I’m so underserving, but you miraculously pour your merciful love day after day. I can’t believe my time in Africa is coming to an end, but I know this is only the beginning of many more adventures up ahead. I’m looking forward the endless unknowns and venturing into more faith journeys with you!
Sjinspired…inspired by you
To my beloved daughter,
Oh how I love you so! Your surrender and obedience brings me such pleasure and joy. I’m so proud of you for who you were yesterday, who you are today, and who you will become. Thank you for choosing me! Your relentless pursuit is the very reason our relationship has developed into an unwavering and everlasting friendship. Don’t ever give up and persevere through all the ups and downs. All you need to do is keep your eyes focused on me and me alone, and I will never lead you astray. You can trust that I will be holding your hand and lighting your every step. Always walk with confidence in knowing my timing is perfect and the promises I made with you will all come to pass. The desires of your heart are mine so keep holding onto my truth and hoping in me.
The boldness and passion I deposited into you is intended to change lives one person at a time. Don’t forget to stop for the one wherever you go, and love them as I would. Take risks, dream big, and move forward! If you make a mistake, that’s ok! I will be right there to pick you back up and dust you off. I’ll be your #1 cheerleader so be encouraged and empowered to make your dreams a reality. Just a friendly reminder, I can make the impossible, POSSIBLE!
Africa is just the beginning of something new I’m doing with you, and I can’t wait to reveal all that I have in stored for you. It will never be what you expect, but I can promise that it will always be better. You’re forever my daughter, and you always deserve the best!
Your Heavenly Daddy
From my heart to yours #10
If you want to practice hearing God's voice, maybe you can try writing him a letter and listening for his response. You'll be pleasantly surprised...I promise!
Discovering more of who we are can be an ongoing process. If we choose to become a better version of who we are today, we must be willing to embrace change and transformation and break away from things like complacency and competition. Some of us may prefer to stay in our comfortable bubble because it provides security, and we are good just as we are. There are those of us who thrive in competition, and look for the next best thing because we must win at all cost, or we need to be better than the person next to us. I am personally guilty of living in a comfortable box within a competitive box, which led to a tunneled perspective and lifestyle. I’m now choosing to live outside of my box. So what does living outside my box look like? I really don’t think there is a one-solution formula to live it out, but I believe it’s about listening to the nudging of the inner voice and honoring all the desires of our heart.
Starting up Faithful Artisans and traveling to Africa would be two ways I chose to live outside of my box within a box. If someone told me I would be leaving the teaching profession to take a risk as an entrepreneur, I would’ve never believed it. I invested 12 years trying to perfect the art of teaching, and over time it provided stability and security I didn’t want to give up. In addition, spending 2.5 months in Africa and experiencing life outside of my comfort zone seemed unlikely and unimaginable. How could I give up precious time, when I had things to do and places to be?
I am discovering that venturing into a start-up business and traveling to a third world country is stretching me in ways I would’ve never imagined. Thankfully, I eventually end up resting in a place that brings forth overshadowing peace with my choices, but the process doesn’t particularly look graceful or promising on occasions. There are times when I find discouragement creeping in, and I end up dealing with unsettling doubts. Those are the moments I have to be reminded of my greater purpose and the grace of my Heavenly Father. He is the very reason I am choosing to walk in faith even when it seems impossible; He is the very reason I see hope in hopeless situations; and He is the very reason I pursue love even in challenging circumstances.
The vision of Faithful Artisans has evolved into something beyond my imagination and capabilities, but I trust I am the right fit to steward what was given because my Creator is the source of my creativity and abilities. However, I had to dig through layers of fears and insecurities before I could believe with confidence. Am I good enough? Will this business idea even work? Finance and marketing is not my forte, how am I going to pull this off? I am learning that my inadequacies and shortcomings will be covered by His grace, and I need to actively motivate myself to grow and learn in the areas of weaknesses. The opportunities for creative expression is limitless, and I believe Faithful Artisans can be the place where others and I can learn to explore and discover hidden talents.
I had no idea what to expect as I committed to do life in Africa for 2.5 months. Although my time here has only been a short 2 weeks, I’m radically being stretched and humbled by each cross-cultural encounter and communal experience. If I was still holding onto anything comfortable, I’m definitely being stripped of it all here in Mozambique! Learning to adjust to third world conditions mean, water source is limited and running water is more valuable than gold. We are encouraged to ration water and only allotted two 1.5 liter of water bottles to wash up. My perception of cleanliness has taken on new meaning and purpose, and I’m learning to let go! As a foreigner in a country, you learn very quickly that it’s important to commune and converse with them, despite the language barrier. As westerners, we often think our way of living is better than those living in third world countries. However in reality, I’m discovering that they’re so much richer and fuller in spirit, and we have so much more to learn from them. The people of Mozambique carry immense passion, and they live life with abundant fervor. The Mamas, Papas and especially the children of Mozambique, demonstrate what sacrificial and overflowing love looks like. They are teaching me how to find joy in any and all circumstances because we have the choice and power to decide how we live our life.
From my heart to yours #9
How many boxes have you placed yourself in? Do you want to get out? What does living outside of your box look like for you?
Every time I would see another engagement posted on instagram or I would come across another status change “married” on Facebook, it was when the level of anxiety kicked up another notch. Every time a family member asked, (with good intentions of course, but it didn’t feel like that at the time) “Shouldn’t you be thinking about settling down and getting married?”, it was when I frustratingly wanted to scream “YES! Of course I do!” Then there were other days when the fear of being left behind, being overlooked or even completely forgotten that stirred up all kinds of ugly. That pretty much summed up my twenties and early thirties, and the load eventually got way too heavy for me to carry.
Hello! My name is Sarah Jung, and I am a recovering Serial Monogamous Dater. It all started sometime in middle school, and somehow I found myself in a constant cycle year after year. I didn’t know how to be alone, and I didn’t want to be alone. I found my self-worth in men, and cultivated an unhealthy dependency on them. The way I bounced back from a heartbreak was jumping right into another relationship. Worst choice ever, but that was the stupid choice I made. I say stupid because I never allowed my heart to heal, I compromised my character, and I hurt other people along the way. The jaded, hopeless, and heartless person was the result of my choices.
Today, I am 36 going on 37 years old, and I would’ve never imagined that I would still be unmarried and single. I can proudly celebrate and declare that I finally broke that sick cycle and remained completely independent the past 2 years…whooohooo! To be completely honest, it was really, REALLY tough at times, and I was tempted to go back to my old ways one too many times. However truth be told, I wasn’t completely alone throughout the process. I had nowhere else to turn, and found myself turning to Jesus for answers and comfort. Sometimes He even became my punching bag when I was faced with anger, frustration, and discouragement, but thank goodness I’m forgiven! There were layers upon layers of unresolved pain and scars, and it was crucial I spent careful time fully healing and restoring before I even thought about dating again.
As I share my story, there may be some that parallel mine. However, although everything could look and sound the same, the process and struggle we’re working out may be different. And for those who experienced something completely different from me, might discover that the process and struggle could actually be the same. We are truly the only ones that know what’s going on in our hearts so we have to be willing to be real and honest with ourselves. Stop covering it up and brushing it under the rug…let everything out and get rid of the junk (note to self)! When vulnerability becomes more natural, we’ll discover that all those weighted burdens will begin to fall to the ground one by one. Doing regular heart checks was one way I experienced freedom and growth the past two years. I’ve learned to admit my flaws and also created healthy boundaries with people and circumstances. I don’t get it right all the time, but thank goodness tomorrow is always a new day!
From my heart to yours #8:
Here are some practical things I do to renew my mind and restore my heart:
I spend many hours on the road, and because I personally find time to be more valuable than money, I like to be productive and maximize the little time we all have in a day. With that said, I often like to listen to podcasts or audio books to keep the wheels turning in my mind and to keep me inspired to do more. Several weeks ago, this one particular episode from Michael Hyatt’s “This is your Life” podcast struck a cord in me, and I found myself listening to it a few more times afterwards. Of course, not knowing how much I would need it in the near future…being today!
Recently I have been faced with challenging circumstances, and I thought I was way past sulking and drowning in misery because that’s what I have been declaring in my previous blog posts! Hello Sarah…go back and re-read what you wrote! You’re stronger than this…you’re above all these unwarranted circumstances. And YES…I AM! Because I’m human, and because I can be quite forgetful at times…I messed up! But you know what…that’s ok…more than ok…it’s perfect! It’s perfect because I’m learning to be a better version of who I am today.
I had to remind myself to change my story because the story I was telling was dis-empowering and destructive. I needed to change my narrative and start sharing the empowering story…the real story! Our mind is one of our greatest assets, but it can also be our worst enemy. That’s why it’s sooooo important to cherish it, nourish it, and protect it with everything we've got! Keep those guards up at all times! But you know what….if you mess up like me, take a deep breath and change it up!
So this was the story I was telling before… “My character is being questioned, and I can’t let it go! I don’t understand at all! Am I missing the mark? I’m offended and the words are very hurtful and not nice!”
This is my narrative today… Humility~this word is packed with so much!!! Of course only good stuff! I keep getting smacked in the face with it lately, and I have no one else to blame but myself because I desired more of it in my life. How can one word carry so much weight? Why is it so hard to exercise humility? I’m discovering the act of humility carries more REAL power and strength than the actual words, power & strength. I definitely don’t have all the answers because I recognize that living out humility will be an ongoing process for me. I will get it right on some occasions and often times I’ll be wrong, but I’ll get through it! We grow and learn from our mistakes. We become a better version of ourselves when we’re willing to face struggles and persevere through the ups and downs.
From my heart to yours #7:
Next time you’re on the road, download Michael Hyatt’s podcast “This is Your Life” Season 6 Episode 3: “Change your Story, Change your Life”
I suffered from a fear of man, fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of death, fear of the unknown…in other words, FEAR has been my worst enemy all throughout my life. When I was a little girl, it started off very innocent and just like most children, I was afraid of the dark. But as I started to be exposed to the reality of this world, the lingering innocent fear I had as a little girl grew to become this hideous gigantic monster. I continued to feed this monstrous enemy with more stuff, more junk, and more crap! I had uncontrollably created a gluttonous, ruthless, and unrecognizable beast. This beast was the very reason why I have been delayed in becoming an influential entrepreneur, delayed in finding my life partner, delayed in connecting and communicating with my family, delayed in pursuing the things my heart desired. BUT NO MORE!!! I AM TAKING BACK EVERYTHING THE ENEMY HAS STOLEN FROM ME!!!
A friend helped me to reflect on fear just the other day, and I came to realize that 2014 -2015 was my time to stand up and face fear right in the face and finally defend myself! I took a lot of blows to the face, literally and figuratively. From a slap to the face from a complete stranger, to being rejected by a love interest, I learned how to stand tall and to love myself even during the most trying moments of my life. 2016 is going to be my year to take the offensive approach against fear, to blast and demolish it into a million pieces before it can grow into something ugly!
That same friend asked me to share my tricks of killing fear, and so far the only trick that seems to work effectively is love, and I mean the crazy kind of love…the kind that challenges others to sacrificially and humbly love, the kind that encourages people to love without any expectations, the kind of love that is relentless and forever constant. I keep going back to the verses in 1 Corinthians 13, “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Those are some loaded words, because let’s be real…who in the world is able to love like that?!?!?!! I’ve read these verses with various perspectives and interpretations, but found it was still quite overwhelming for me. So my new approach, take bite-size pieces of them and relate it to the current circumstance or problem.
I’m going to share a story I thought I would never share, but I’m killing fear so here it goes. I recently went on a business trip to Arizona with my business partner, and we stayed with some friends in Globe, Arizona. The town and the home we were staying at depicted something that was a blast from the past, and given that Esther and I love vintage anything and thrift stores, we were in thrifting heaven. We chose to dedicate a full day to drive around town and thrift until we can lift no more. I got up bright and early needing to use the restroom, but soon realized that the vintage toilet was clogged when I went to the bathroom. I really, REALLY needed to use the restroom but everyone else was asleep, and I had no idea what in the world to do. I ran downstairs and knocked on my friend’s door to ask if I could use hers, but no answer. I was pacing back and forth trying to figure out what to do because there wasn’t a plunger or anything in sight. I had no choice, I had to just go, and so I did. I was hoping and praying that the toilet will miraculously unclog, and it will flush with no problem after I took care of business. Unfortunately, it didn’t…I had just added to the mess and made it worse!
I decided to patiently wait until my friends woke up to ask if I could use their plunger. Thankfully they had one and I tried everything I could to fix the problem. It wasn’t working. I was too embarrassed to allow or ask someone to help me deal with the situation. I figured, it was best to give it some time to settle before I gave it another attempt. So we went on our thrifting adventure around town in the pouring rain. Throughout the day, I kept hoping and praying the toilet was slowly flushing down the mess. When we finally returned early evening, I ran straight to the restroom to assess the situation. My prayers were answered! The water level did go down, but what a mess! I immediately flushed the toilet, but soon discovered the problem wasn’t fixed and now the vintage toilet was overflowing. I was mortified! Without thinking, I plunged away and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight. I kept plunging and plunging and Hallelujah!!!!...it had finally worked! I unclogged the toilet by practicing patience and perseverance.
This incident taught me a lot about love…sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it doesn’t work, and sometimes it takes time, but in the end, if we’re willing to stick it out and sift through all the crap, it’s all worth it! I ended up disinfecting the entire bathroom for my friends. We both came up at the end. Love conquers all!
From my heart to yours #6:
Let’s form an army and attack fear from all directions and trap it never to return again! What are some ways you overcome fear in your life? Have you discovered any tricks that you found to be effective? For me, my weapon of choice will be to smother everything around me with love and use the handy dandy 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as my love o-meter.
November has been a challenging month for me in so many ways, and I found myself riding a roller coaster of emotions as I faced each obstacle. I can’t seem to make sense of anything, but I’m still choosing to live each day with gratitude and thankfulness because I'm alive and kicking, and this time with more fervor and conviction to make the best of each new day. I've always been a passionate person (in a good and also not so good way), and when I was flooded with emotions in unexpected circumstances, I allowed them to get the best of me. I've had a long list of random and unusual experiences that really revealed how ugly uncontrolled emotions can get. That all changed after my almost fatal accident exactly one year ago. I discovered that my passion only needs to serve one purpose, and my emotions no longer need to lead to unpredictable behaviors and responses.
For too many years, I often played the victim role all too well, and it became a continuous pattern over and over again. I found myself thinking "Poor me", "Why does this happen to me?", and "What did I ever do to deserve this?" When I was a little girl, I was the biggest tomboy who always played sports with the boys, and my dad would often have to tell me, "Sarah, girls are not supposed to do that!" Well, one day at church I was chasing after some boys because they took something that belonged to a friend. Not long after, I hear glass shattering, and I stood there completely dumbfounded as blood was dripping down my wrist. I had pushed open the door using the glass portion of it instead of using the door handle, which of course I should've used. It became one of those "Boohoo, look at me", "It wasn't my fault, it was theirs!" moment.
As I got a little older (and I wish I could say wiser), I finally grew out of my tomboy stage and became a girly-girl who cared too much about hair, make-up, and clothes. I had always wanted to become a teacher one day, and I was finally living out my dream. Because of my passionate nature, I found myself working overtime night after night, and one day I was locked in and left with 2 choices: climb the towering fence in my high heels or call my principal to get me out. I went with the latter. So when it was finally winter break, my body was screaming for rest. I didn't listen. Couple days later, I found myself waking up in a pool of blood and crawling over to my parents’ door for help. I had passed out in the kitchen as I was getting a drink of water, and I ended up busting my chin, lips, and two front teeth. I looked hideous, and this time I was crying, "I'm gonna look ugly forever!"
And I got a little more older and still not wiser. Some friends wanted to participate in a bike-a-thon, and I was eager to join. We had started out in downtown LA, rode all the way out to Venice Beach, and started to make our way back to downtown. One of my friends got a little too close to my bike, and our bikes tangled and we both went flying off our bikes. He had scraped his elbow, and I ended up with a busted knee. Again, it became one of those "It's his fault my knee looks the way it does!" Bitterness grew in my heart as my wound became a keloid scar, and I went in for multiple treatments. I didn't need to go in for those treatments, but I wanted the doctors to do something about my protruding scar that wasn't healing properly. These incidents were a reflection of a person that responded to unfortunate circumstances with negativity, and I was choosing to wallow in them. I was in a place of darkness, and it was getting darker and darker.
Being stuck and drowning in negativity was not a fun place to be, and I’m beyond thankful that God rescued me from that place. But I had to choose to take the first step forward, and He did all the rest thereafter. The initial act of obedience led to my process of healing, growing, and restoring, so when I was faced with the most challenging experience of my life, I was given the opportunity to respond differently from my past.
On November 24, 2014, my friend Esther and I were on our way back home from Salvation Mountain, and unexpectedly we were t-boned by a big rig going 63 mph. By God’s grace, neither one of us have memory of the actual accident, and we both woke up in the car feeling disoriented. I was covered in blood with a broken nose, broken clavicle, and punctured lung, and thankfully my friend did not suffer any open wounds or broken bones. The car was totaled, and I had to be airlifted to the nearest trauma center. However, these were minor adversities knowing the severity of what should’ve been, and we thank God every day because our worst day turned out to be the most blessed and redemptive day of our lives. We are both walking miracles to show how real our Heavenly Father is, and we’re choosing to live a life of gratitude no matter the circumstance.
Life on earth has new meaning and purpose for me, which is to celebrate every moment…big or small, good or bad…thanking God for the opportunities of growth, change, and restoration. I am learning how to find joy even in the most challenging circumstances. When I find myself go down a path filled with complaints, criticisms, and even complacency, I have to look deep within and redirect my heart to a place of gratitude and thankfulness. My passionate heart now only serves the Heavenly Father up above, and it is His love and grace that saves me, realigns me, and keeps me rooted.
From my heart to yours #5:
As November approaches year after year, most of us are reminded to reflect on the things we’re thankful for. However, I believe if we practiced the act of gratitude and declared words of thankfulness in all seasons, we can walk with an extra bounce in our step and the goodness we carry can overflow into those around us. What are some practical ways you can continually practice gratitude especially during those stormy nights or dry seasons? Maybe you can wake up each morning declaring “Thank you for a good day!” even before your day has started, or maybe you can turn to someone and simply thank them for being in your life, or maybe you can start a gratitude journal that keeps records of all the things you’re thankful for. I’m always looking for creative ways to practice gratitude to renew my mind and heart, and sharing my story with each of you is definitely one way I’m uncomfortably yet passionately walking that out. Thank you to all my friends, family, and blog readers for taking the time to hear my story and for encouraging me to keep sharing! Starting a blog surfaced a lot of fears I needed to overcome, and I’m thankful that in my weakness, I find strength in my Father up above.
When we look at the world we live in, it’s easy for us to simply perceive things to be just as our eyes see them to be. People who are “troublemakers” or “drama queens” will never change because they continue to create problems everywhere they are present. Places like Las Vegas are called “Sin City” for a reason so it only means you’re asking for trouble when you step foot into a place that promotes gluttony, lust, and addiction. Things like money are “the root of all evil” and we’re better off not desiring to be rich because we will only become more greedy and selfish when money is thrown our direction. Ideas like romance are considered “hopeless” because passion dies, and it eventually leads to broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams. So it’s better to play it safe or make compromises when it comes to finding our future mate. Although there might be some truth to each of these, I believe a shift in our perspectives and hearts will help us to not fear conformity but rather redefine the things of this world. It’s about finding the gold and value in the crummiest circumstances and celebrating even the smallest things set before us.
After spending too many years being stuck and unknowingly going around and around in circles, I finally had reached a turning point and I had to make a clear choice…change or be left behind. Change and transformation needed to take place in my life. I needed to look deep within myself and be real with the person I had become over the years. Instead of pointing fingers at others, I needed to point the finger inward. I became the jaded person who often had one too many drinks when I partied with friends. I became the guarded person who ran the other direction when drama came my way. I became the selfish person that only wanted to spend money when it benefited me or horded my possessions because I didn’t want to share my wealth with others. I became the clingy hopeless romantic that found my identity in relationships so I didn’t know my self worth. In other words, I spent way too many years numbing my pain with other means, and I had mounds of unresolved problems and issues because I continued to brush them under the rug. In addition, I figured looking pretty and focusing on having a reputable career was enough to be marriage material because finding my "Prince Charming" was important to me, which has and continues to be my heart’s desire. I had lost sight of my true nature and the person God designed me to be. I needed to redefine Sarah Jung and rediscover all the hidden gold within me.
As I chose to pursue a life of transformation, I soon discovered it was going to be a painful and arduous journey. I needed to let all parts of ME die in order to be restored and renewed the RIGHT WAY! So it meant I had to surrender and give up all things I loved and build a firm foundation with ZERO dependency on people or possessions. The only truth I held onto was the everlasting love of my Heavenly Father and being saved by His grace. I am so thankful for His abounding grace and understanding because I found myself making mistakes and falling on my face A LOT, throwing tantrums at God when things didn’t go my way, and sulking when things got tough. But there was a glimmer of hope breaking through as I continued to take steps forward and faced the GIANT in my life…unresolved pain and wounds. Today, I am learning to live a balanced life loving people, myself, and God with authenticity and vulnerability. I’m understanding that it’s not only important to know how to love generously but to receive with openness, and most importantly, have NO EXPECTATIONS in return.
As I was redefining my identity, I started to view this world through a different lens. I started to understand the importance of being a light in a dark place because hidden beauty and treasures were waiting to be uncovered. I needed to be in the midst of all the action and not be fearful of conforming to the patterns of this world but redefine the struggles and challenges I encountered. I now found myself gravitating toward “troublemakers” because they carried unique authority and power but only needed a recalibration to achieve promising greatness. I wasn’t supposed to run the other direction when drama came my way. Instead, I was supposed to run into their arms and love on them without holding back and accept them just as they are. Then there are places like Vegas, which I spent many months avoiding, but now understanding that there’s more than meets the eye. When you look past the towering casinos and enticing food buffets, you can go on hiking adventures to Red Rock Canyon and fishing excursions at Lake Mead. However, I believe when one can exhibit self-control as they walk the Las Vegas strip and rise above all the sin and temptation surrounding the city, they are setting themselves apart from others. In 1 Timothy 6:10 it states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Money is not the cause of problems but rather the LOVE of money that drives people into dark places. Wealth is a God-given gift, whether it’s from family inheritance or hard-earned living. Therefore, it’s important to steward it with wisdom and a heart of gratitude. Money can be positively powerful if we are driven and motivated to use it with clear purpose and vision. Then there’s romance. I was having a conversation with a friend and I described myself to be a "hopeless romantic", and she immediately corrected me and shared I was actually a HOPEFUL romantic. Redefining romance helped me to wholeheartedly believe God will fulfill the desires of my heart in His perfect timing. I trust I will one day meet THE ONE God has reserved to be my BEST friend, running mate, and life partner. I await in hopeful anticipation to meet my God-chosen husband who shares similar vision, lives life fervently and humbly serves others, and loves and accepts me just as I am.
The once jaded and selfish Korean American girl is now choosing to celebrate what’s right with the world. I am breaking free from fear, pride, judgment, expectations, and discouragement and replacing them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
From my heart to yours #4:
If you’re willing to choose change because you’re desiring to experience breakthrough, allow yourself to look deep within and face all the things that have been hiding in the little crevices of your life. What are some practical and actionable methods you can exercise without feeling overwhelmed or defeated? I believe starting off with modest goals and working toward influential goals, while celebrating each accomplishment, will lead to favorable change and shifts in perspectives. Do you want to join me in discovering gold and celebrating all the goodness around us?
I was reminded today how quickly time flies by and not a second or moment should ever go wasted. Exactly a year ago today, God called you to go up and sit alongside Him in Heaven, and you are dearly missed by so many. Whenever I think of you, I am always challenged to live my life to the fullest because that was exactly what you did and you did it so well! When I looked up at the sky and clearly saw with my own two eyes what a beautiful day it was, I couldn’t understand why my spirit felt so burdened and heavy today. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly and a cool breeze brushed up against my face, but I couldn’t shake off the weariness lingering in the air. I continued to pray throughout the day and asked the Father to reveal what this unexplainable feeling was.
As I spoke with different people throughout the day, I started to gather some idea of what it could be. However, I was still left confused. Then later in the evening some of your friends and our family had a small get together to celebrate our memories of you, and we all laughed and cried together sharing all of our unique stories. When your memorial gathering ended, I started walking the streets of Pasadena still feeling the same heaviness. Then suddenly, a man named Bob, who was comfortably sitting on the sidewalk, gently interrupted me. “Have a good one” was all he said, and I just walked right past him. But something in me knew I needed to turn around and talk to him. After a little bit of “Should I… or shouldn’t I…” I decided to take a moment and hear his story. From a simple conversation, a short walk to the nearest restaurant, and a time of prayer, I learned that Bob loves the Lord SO MUCH! In the eyes of the world, he may not have any possessions to show his worth, but he clearly knew his self-worth because of his GREAT FAITH in God. He knew he was a beloved son of the Father up above and nothing can steal that away from him. Bob may not have riches here on this earth, but it was so clear he is going to be one of the richest men up in heaven!!!
After the unexpected divine appointment, I was driving home and suddenly found myself weeping all the way home. All the heaviness I felt throughout the day was now streaming down my face, and the only thing running through my mind was… “Man, this is so hard! Life is so hard!” That’s when it dawned on me that I was feeling the burden of our Heavenly Father. He mourns for our souls day and night because He loves us so much and wants the best for each and every one of us. The BEST is right in front of us, and all we need to do is receive the eternal gift He has placed in our hands, but we often choose to replace it with instant gratification, fluff, pride, fear, loneliness; things that either cloud our mind of the REAL prize up in Heaven or darken our soul with lies told by the enemy. And for some of us who have received the eternal gift become so consumed with our day to day (work, school, family, friends, marriage, kids and so on) that we forget to simply love even our worst enemy, find joy even in the mist of our struggles, be patient with the person that cuts us off on the fwy, find peace even in chaos, be kind to a stranger on the street, and extend grace to those who offend us.
Bob is a perfect example of someone who simply has faith and trust in the Lord even when worldly possessions were taken away. There was no blame or shame weighing him down. He was thankful the Lord provided for him each day. TIME IS PRECIOUS & LIFE IS SO SHORT! And looking back, I now know you knew that...really knew it! Because you lived it with so much joy and passion and with no regret. We will never know when our possessions will be taken away or when we will be called to join you and the Father in heaven. And today was such a great reminder to me that we cannot aimlessly live our lives. We need to live it with GREAT PURPOSE…with CLEAR VISION!!!
Thank you for having been an amazing cousin when you walked this earth, and thank you for continuing to watch over me during my good days and especially my bad ones! You are so loved and you have left a colorful imprint on so many lives. Give God a high-five for me :).
From my heart to yours #3:
It’s easy to get caught up with things and be distracted by the busyness of life, but lets remember to take a moment, actually take many moments, to reflect on our actions. Are we making compromises when we should be living life with integrity? Are we passing judgment on others when we should be loving them because we are just as messed up as they are? Are we pointing fingers at others when we should humbly serve and help one another? Are we being lazy when we should be fighting the good fight because let’s face it…we live in a tough world? I am definitely guilty of falling short more often than I would like, but because of God’s grace I am able to redirect my focus and renew my mind each and every day. As I stumble along the way and make some mistakes here and there, I’m choosing to live this short life with a PURPOSE to love without discrimination and with a MISSION to empower others to discover their true nature and beauty. What is your vision and are you willing to persevere even during the most trying times?
I'm using this space to simply share the meaningful things that burn my heart and the random things that run through my mind. Simply desiring more vulnerability and authenticity in my life.