My birthday, 2016

about ten years ago, i had an ‘incident’

i was very involved in the church, serving as a teacher in high school ministry.

i had amazing relationships with my students, sophomore girls.

i knew they saw me a friend that they deeply respected i.e. someone with ‘authority’ who never pulled the authority card.

i loved them a lot.

one sunday, i came to church hungover.

i had a work event the night before and, as i liked to at the time, i drank quite a bit.

i didn’t consider myself conflicted, drinking the way i did while serving in high school ministry.

by that time, i was coming into my personal experience of god, of spirituality, and that involved exploration, touching, and pushing my edges, the edges set up for me by society, by church, by my parents.

i knew i was on my evolution and i was learning to define what it meant to live, live fully, live in faith, live. period.

i wrestled for about one second whether i should go to church at all.

i decided i would rather be there than be a no-show.

i then wrestled for half a second whether i should tell them why i was in a condition – it was quite clear i wasn’t well.

i trusted my desire to be open and honest with them, and so i told them.

they seemed to understand and were sympathetic.

i received their well wishes and dismissed them early for my sanity.

it was all good.

the following week, after bible studies were over, my pastor pulled me to the side, asked to speak with me.

he and i sat in the middle of an empty room and he asked me if i had come to church hungover the previous week.

i said yes.

he said that the educational department had heard the news and decided that i was not fit to be a teacher,

that this was my last week serving in high school ministry.

i think he apologized.

i think i nodded and maybe even smiled, and said i understand.

i then went off to college service feeling like i was being pulled inside of me into a black hole.

i felt a little numb, a lot shook.

i let my girls know and we had a good-bye hangout.

one of them told me that she had slipped that i was hungover to her parents when they asked why she was out so early that sunday.

her father was part of the educational department, and, you can imagine how things unfolded from there.

i trust that she had done it completely obliviously and innocently.

i held nothing against her.

the whole thing as it transpired at church was pretty clean.

i didn’t face the elders at church, they didn’t reach out to me.

i stopped attending high school ministry meetings and whatnot.

but at home, it was a different story.

i told my mom what happened.

i don’t know what i expected, but it was clear, after seeing her response to the story, that i wanted more compassion, empathy, shit i’d even take sympathy.

anything that let me know i was held by someone on the physical level.

i knew me and god were good.

it turns out my mom not only disagreed with what i had done, but she agreed with the elders, with their decision.

she told me to do some soul searching, to ask god what he wanted for me, how i should live my life, to read the bible, to pray and repent.

my heart dropped.

it endlessly dropped.

i remember we’d get into it a couple, few times, and i would literally collapse on the floor in hot tears, so frustrated, so forlorn, so at a loss of words,

at the woman who would not hear my words, that i just needed someone to be there, to hear me, to extend grace to me.

not that i did something wrong, but simply because i was experiencing so much pain and sadness by how everything went down.

we had several arguments about this, always ending with my mom preaching to me, me asking her to just see me as her daughter, not a christian.

until finally, i realized that she is not responsible for my peace, my wholeness, my justification for who i am, for how i choose to live my life…

and so, at some point, i held myself, honored where i was at, and trusted my faith that i was okay.

over time, as i journeyed into my healing and evolution, beyond the situation, i realized that my mom was loving me the best she could and the limitation of her ability to love as i perceived it, was just that – my perception.

i integrated the truth that my mother never stopped loving me, and in some way, she was expressing her love even deeper, even stronger in that time, asking, begging me to repent and renounce my fun-loving ways.

she was trying to save me, herself.

anyway, that whole getting kicked off high school ministry happened ten-ish years ago.

ten years, i learned to mother myself, re-parent myself.

ten years, i learned to forgive myself for my misperceptions about my aloneness, 

forgive myself for judging my mom as ungracious, a malicious cold hearted self-righteous bitch,

forgive myself for the misperception that my mom abandoned me at any point.

two days ago, my mom and i were talking about thanksgiving dinner and the topic of things she felt she failed as a mom came up

just another casual conversation piece lol

let me also preface what i’m about to share with the fact that my mom and i have a fairly healthy relationship now

not living at home probably helps with that

plus me not blaming her for anything having to do with who i am and who i’ve become

those things definitely helped.

oh and also, me not expecting and wanting her to see what i see, understand what i believe.

the one thing she is still working through is my relationship with Soul.

that’s another story.

but anyway, we have been good for a while, and i’ve learned to have a healthy respect and appreciation and love for her and her role in my life.

so back to the call.

she said she learned something else she had failed in regards to me

i asked what?

she said, ‘a couple days ago, i thought about that situation (she didn’t name or describe it, but we both knew),

and a thought crossed my mind… about how lonely she (me) must have been…

and how she just needed someone to be there,

and i wasn’t.

joo young (my korean name), i’m sorry.’




my tears arrived more gracefully than that lol but what a moment

what a fucking moment

truly, time stopped, i couldn’t believe my ears.

for years, i worked through the pain and absolute rage around that event

i healed and opened my heart to love my mom fully and deeply

and to arrive at this moment, it was… surreal

but also, not

because i knew that she loved me

and i learned to see beyond my judgment and fear, the truth,

that i am absolutely totally completely loved and lovable

regardless of _________

she quietly hung in the space at the other end of the phone, while i cried

i cried because of the tenderness,

the beauty of the moment,

the evolution to get to this moment,

the love of my mom that prevailed over everything.

the amount of time didn’t matter.

we were here now

and that’s all that was real to me, and still is

in fact, that amount of time was grace to me,

grace for me to come home to myself again and again and again,

to remember Who I Am.

and it was all just so perfect,

me crying, sweetly surrendering into vulnerability with the one who gave me life,

the one who loved and loves me in ways she doesn’t yet know how to describe or express,

but loves me in a way i could never deny, once i came home to me.

she continued, ‘i thought i’d always been a chill christian, one of those progressive christians,

but looking back, i didn’t realize how narrow minded and rigid i was…

but joo young, i’m getting better.

i’ve come a long way.’

more tears

tears and tears and tears

tears on tears on tears

ugh mom

you kill me

you kill me differently now lol

in a good way

but i guess it’s all been a good way if i really think about it

i tell this story as a eulogy to my belief that people can’t change, especially not their values,

that redemption is an idealistic concept that happens in feel good movies only,

and that coming home to me will only ever affect myself.

to my pastor that didn’t stand up for me, i love you.

to the elders that made the decision, i love you.

to the other pastor that met with me separately after that sunday to try to guilt me into believing i was wrong, go to hell.

just kidding.

i love you too.

i love all you mofos.





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