Monday, December 17, 2012

100 Things I Love About Korea - #20 - People: Shannon Smith

This month our church members are sharing testimonies during the worship service.  This is Shannon's testimony from two weeks ago.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I am not a person who likes change. I came to Korea 4 1/2 years ago with the intention to stay here one year and go back to the U.S. I didn't want to come to Korea, but after living here a few months, I made many friends, learned to love Korean food, as well as love Korea's people and culture. As I said though, I hate change and I have experienced a lot of change while living here. Since moving to Korea, I have worked at 5 different schools, lived in 5 different apartments, and said goodbye to so many friends. It hasn't been easy for me. Part of the reason is because when I care about people, I care about them deeply, so it’s hard for me to let them go. It’s good because it means I genuinely love others, but it’s bad because it means I am often easily hurt. 
For most of my life, my self-worth and acceptance have come from what other people think about me. I am a people-pleaser. I often feel like I can't say "no" to people, because I worry about whether they will still love me or care about me. And even though I have been a Christian for almost 20 years, my relationship with God was the same. I never felt good enough or worthy enough for God to love me. No matter how many times I asked God to forgive me, I never felt like I was really forgiven. I believed God could heal and forgive everyone, except me. I walked around with so much guilt, shame, brokenness, and negativity. I felt so lonely, even though I was rarely alone. 
Most people didn't know this though, because I was too afraid to share it with others. I cried almost every day for months and it was even hard for me to pray. I just felt so heavy and burdened by all of it. I wanted to fix it, but there was nothing I could do. Throughout this whole time of struggle, I was so focused on what "I" should do, that I never really surrendered it all to God. I was never really honest with God about all of my angry and hurt feelings. Just like my fear of telling people about my struggles, I was even afraid to tell God. It wasn't until I simply said, "God, I need you. I need you. I need you", over and over through my tears that I began to really experience God's love and grace in my life. There never would have been anything I could have done to heal my brokenness and pain. I needed God to heal me. I needed God to reassure me that no matter what my past looks like, He still loves me and forgives it all. I needed God to give me peace where there was so much despair. And I needed God to give me hope that no matter what my future holds, He is with me and will never leave me alone. 
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