My dad became a Christian when he was 30 years old.
It’s really interesting to hear how he became a Christian. Some people have some kind of watershed moment, maybe a deeply emotional event or something. I don’t think my dad was like that. For him, it was more a process, I think. One of the most influential things in this process was C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. SN. I was almost named Lewis.
But in the end, I think it was like a phrase Albert Shim once used – the weight of truth eventually broke through.
Before that, believe it or not, he was a pretty typical Korean male. Meaning, he was an engineer, and he smoke and drank a lot. I always knew he smoke and drank, and that he abruptly quit before I was born. But I didn’t know the extent of it until recently. He didn’t just drink – he got drunk. In fact, he once spent a night in jail for drunk driving. I found this out after he spoke about it in a sermon, which is why I think it’s OK to mention it here. His point by the way was that sin is forgiven but it has consequences, just like he’ll always have that drunk driving thing on his record.
But yeah, for a lot of his life he wasn’t a Christian.
The thing about my dad is that he’s the most authentic person I know. Meaning, if he believes something, he’ll completely rearrange his life according to that, and darn the consequences. Like, we took a pretty serious financial hit when he decided to become a pastor. He was pretty much on the fast track to success, and we were accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and he gave it up. I don’t know how well off we were, but to compare, Irving’s parents do essentially the same thing mine do (our mothers actually worked together for a time) and he lives in Saratoga. But anyway.
And yeah, not to get too specific, but he even went above and beyond what we absolutely had to do, because he didn’t even want a hint of anything worldly, even if there was no basis for it. So yeah, it was quite a sacrifice.
It’s not just money. I’ve told this story before. But when my greatgrandmother was dying, he urged all his relatives not to bother flying out because we’d just see her in heaven anyway (she was a believer). It was incredibly insensitive. But he definitely believes what he says he does.
So the reason I mention this is because I think my biggest struggle is with authenticity. Meaning, living my life as if I really believe the things I say I do are true. I honestly believe certain things. But for some reason I have a hard time living like it, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why.
In a way I think my dad has an advantage over me because he became a believer later in life than I did. What I think is, to him, it’s inconceivable to just say you believe something or really believe it and not compeletely live your life based on those beliefs. Because he became a believer later. If his beliefs weren’t enough to change his life, he just never would have become a Christian.
But for me, I was raised in the church, so there’s a part of me that knows how to do all the outward things in church without being authentic about it. Now the problem I guess is kind of the opposite – I honestly believe things but I can’t always get my behavior to match that. But I think it’s similar. Just, I’ve known for a lot of my life how to believe in Christianity without completely centering my actions on it, so authenticity is a constant struggle.
I dunno, maybe my analysis is wrong. But in the end, just what I’m saying is, I wish I could my actions completely reflected the beliefs that I know to be true. Why that’s not so makes absolutely no sense to me. It quite literally makes zero sense. But it’s my biggest struggle.