Today last year I came back to Charlotte, after completing a year of service as YAV in Miami. As much as I want to write an eye-catching title and perfect post to commemorate 1 year anniversary of my being a YAV aluma, I know I will not be able to and will probably ramble. Regardless, I still wanted to reflect on my year after YAV year. So, bear with me.
My YAV year (’13-’14) in short was one of the most challenging times in my life. I saw God’s presence, but could not stand His silence. I was surrounded by sea of people, but never had felt more alone before. I went to be a part of healing in our community of faith and of the world, but came back utterly broken and hopeless. But, if you have talked to me about my year at all in person, I would have told you that I do not regret one bit of going to Miami to serve. And, I don’t, because YAV year was a year that allowed me to grow, to mature, and to be broken so that I can be free.
I came back home with overwhelming anger, bitterness, and depression. It has been a tough and dynamic year of transition. Quoting my mom, “it’s been a year that felt like 10 years”. And, it really has been. There were days and weeks that I couldn’t get out of my bed, wishing I wouldn’t have to open my eyes. Every step taken took so much out of me. I wanted to share, connect, and meet people, but I withdrew with fear and anger that gripped me to the core. I cut off myself from all the things I used to love and all the people I used to trust. In all this, I was incredibly bitter at God for what seemed like His continued silence.
I do not understand fully why or for what purpose, I struggled so hard. I can guess multiple reasons, but I do not have to think of why anymore. I just know that in the midst of this struggle, God was waiting. I see that it was needed for me to completely break everything within me so that I can really look at my pain and flaws and embrace them, rather than putting all my effort trying to fix them. Past year, I have learned that it is rewarding to learn about how God created me to be as well as who I can be, rather than trying with my all to make myself be who I “should be” and what I “should do”. I have learned to look at things within myself that made me cringe and forgive without making them my identity. I have learned that even in good things, hurt and broken pieces follow.
In more concrete terms, I have been reaffirmed that my passion, vision, and calling lie in serving immigrant population in the United States. That my pain and pride as an immigrant be used to assist those who have to live to survive rather than live to live. That I be a healing part of a community that is often belittled and disrespected because they are “aliens”. And, my role is not to lead a revolutionary changes in the front, but support, nurture, and advocate for those who are and will suffer but make these changes in the front. And, I accept and celebrate this vision as God’s calling for me now and where I am. Living differently from what the strongest voices of the world, whether right or left, tell me is the more “right” way to live.
In carrying this vision out, I have had the most amazing and privileged opportunities from volunteering as front desk/ legal assistant at International House Immigration Legal Clinic early this year and working as a literacy tutor for Rising Readers Program this summer. I have met a truly fantastic group of people who are passionate about serving international community and/or students of ELL background. And, learned a lot from teachers and professionals already in the field. And, I have been grateful for each day that I have interacted with them. Now, I am prayerfully preparing for Masters of Art in Teaching in English as a second language and more.
Do I still struggle? Yes, time to time. I still haven’t “figured it all out” and I know I never will. But, I am grateful for the vision and the people. Moreover, I’m so thankful for people who prayed for me when I couldn’t pray. For people who gave me grace and understanding when I couldn’t give any to others or to myself. For people who tapped on my shoulder and reached out their hands when I hid in the shadow. If it weren’t for those people who showed God’s love, grace and mercy in my darkest time, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know what I would have done without my parents, my family in Christ, and many other awesome people.
I have never felt freer than I am right now, despite the same circumstances. And, I am truly and honestly thankful for everything that was, has been, and will be. And, I pray that I continue to be even in my imperfection and hardships.