moment #2: proud to be

**This post is part 2 of 7 in counting down my most memorable moments of 2011 in no particular order…  Read here if you haven’t

February 17th, 2011.

After almost 10 years since I left Korea, I was finally sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America.

It was a three part process — I was interviewed by the immigration officer, then I dominated the citizenship test, then I finally was sworn in through the Oath of Allegiance.

I remember the rest of that day very vividly:  As I drove home, I blasted out my iTunes playlist titled “Proud To Be” (which included famous American songs such as Take Me Home Country Roads, Party in the USA, American Boy, and etc… ).   I don’t think I’ve ever sang “God Bless the USA” with more emotion than I did that day.  I was crying out “Proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free,” and I meant it with all sincerity.  As the rather patriotic and personal jam session ensued, I knew had 1 more stop to make before I headed home:  Wal-Mart.   I bought 3 American Flags- 1 huge one and 2 smaller ones.  All for about 15 bucks!  Truly the land of the free!

When I look at my Certificate of Naturalization, I have mixed feelings of awe, joy and reminiscence.  Actually, I don’t even know how I feel.  I always joke about how “proud” I am of my country after I became a citizen, but when I think about it, it’s not like it was something that I really wanted or so desperately needed.   I just somehow… ended up here…?

So I get a little confused.

I think about how I didn’t know God when I was in Korea.  I think about how God I never knew brought me to this new continent… and through divine appointment, somehow, in someway, using many people and circumstances over the years, revealed Himself to me.

I then see the “little things” in my life that happened in between and they start to take on a little more significance.  The milestones, like my citizenship, are merely there to help us remember the hand that was orchestrating everything all along.   Hindsight screams out God’s faithfulness..

I also can’t help but think about my parents.  My beautiful parents who valiantly gave away their status, leaving their comforts to face a foreign frontier.  “Typical first generation Koreans“, you say, but talk about boldness.   It’s not even about the fact that they did this for me, but that they were fearless enough to let go of what they had for a shot at a whole new life.  To let go of their temporary “success” for a chance to experience life through an entirely new lens.

To me, that’s the kind of living that makes sense in light of the gospel– If we really believe that we’ll never reach “home” until we get to heaven.

Boldness.  Fearlessness.  Courage.  Sacrifice.  Freedom.

Here’s where the American Dream comes in.

and I’m not talking about the evolved, glorified and dramatized version of the American Dream that overemphasizes our pursuit of “happiness” and the opportunity for “prosperity” and “success,” however you want to define those terms…

But many of us, including me, find ourselves somewhat stuck in the middle, no?  In our lives filled with contentment, boredom, tolerance, mediocrity, minivans, video games and sports betting, we lost sight of why and how we got here.  What about the cost of freedom?  The cost of justice?  Isn’t that what the American Dream was all about?  Isn’t that what the US History textbook tells us of how our nation came to be?  That sometimes we just have to leave home to find another in a whole new place?   That it’s the process, not the outcome that tells a good story?

Boldness.  Fearlessness.  Courage.  Sacrifice.  Freedom.

That we must let go of the things we like for the thing that we LOVE.

Get up and go!

What is there to lose?  What is there to fear?

My home is in heaven, and while I’m here there’s always grace.

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