Cornbread. Collards. Fried chicken. Kimchi. Bulgogi. Kimbap. The soul food of my youth. Raised in Alabama by a military dad and a Korean mom, my life was a mixing and clashing of western individualistic and eastern collectivist cultures. Two very different worlds collided in my childhood. But my life didn’t start that way.
In a small house with sliding paper doors during the cold of winter, the Lord gave me my first breath. South Korea was my first home. I only spoke Korean, ate Korean food and looked like everyone else.
Then in 1980 my family and I moved to a small Alabama town. I only spoke Korean, ate Korean food and looked like no one else. I didn’t look like the vanilla people with yellow and brown hair. And I didn’t look like the chocolate people either. (FYI – I really thought African Americans were made of chocolate and would taste sweet if I licked them. No lie. I probably shouldn’t even confess that, but here it is. Out in the open. Confessions of a once confused Asian American.)
It was here at a local church that my mother learned English, as did I. I was the only Asian kid at my elementary school. And I confused everyone. Was I white? No. Was I black? No. Did I know kung fu? No. Did I play the violin? No. Was I good at math? No. Did I want to be a biomedical engineer when I grew up? No. Did I eat cats? No.
But military life wasn’t static and a move was inevitable. So when the U.S. Army said it was time to go to Italy, it was time to go. It was the best move of my life. I made horribly, bad decisions in my early teens, and my self esteem was in the mud. I believed the move would be a fresh start for me. And it was. Three years of pasta, pizza, gondolas, music, friends and cute Italian boys made for a sweet life. I thought I had kicked my past to the curb. But then graduation came and we all moved back to Alabama.
College was a dark time. I was lonely and I also decided church was no longer for me. My bad decision making came back to fill the void. How in the world would God accept a bad person like me? That was a gateway thought to the worst thought – that God wasn’t real. I rejected God and chose a dark, lonely path, never realizing the Lord never left me.
In this dark time, I met my future husband. So sweet, so kind and also not a Christian. We had an accidental first date and have been together ever since. A large group of poor college students got together one night to play poker. The last one standing would be taken out by all the losers. Guess who won? This girl. The night came to go out and one by one, everyone bailed. Except for one. The one. My one. He swears he didn’t set that up. He’s an honest guy, almost to a fault, so I believed him. And I still do. But I now know it was set up. By God. My husband is perfect for me and my personality. The Lord still surprises me as He reveals things about my husband that complement me. I adore my husband.
Along the way, The Lord showed me His everlasting love and I was restored! And when my husband saw the new me, he surrendered his life to Christ. We now have two beautiful children who bring us great joy.
I delight in John 14:23.
Jesus replied, ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”
Not only has the Lord made His home with me, He has made a home in my home with each of my people. My home that is now filled with prayer and worship and scripture and laughter and joy and peace and cornbread and collards and fried chicken and kimchi and bulgogi and kimbap. – Vicky Cullison