During my childhood, I didn’t have any role models. Since I’ve grown older, I found that my mother has become one of my role models. Not because she is my mother and I love her, but because of her conviction to her beliefs.
My mother is a very religious Roman Catholic. She was the women’s president of the Korean Catholic Church in Tacoma for 10 years. She attends mass every day. She is a member of the Legion of Mary where oddly enough she is trying to break the world record for attendance to those meetings. And she is also a Third Order Nun (an order for married people). All of these things would have never come about if she had not stuck to her religious convictions much earlier in Korea.
My mother grew up in a Buddhist household but rejected Buddhism at an early age. From her explanations, there were just things she didn’t believe and things she found too wasteful for her practical mind to embrace. Then she met my future aunt, a girl from a wealthy family who attended a Protestant church. My mother attended that church one day and never looked back.
Though my mother embraced Christianity, she knew her family would not tolerate her new religion. She tried to keep it a secret but eventually my grandmother discovered my mother’s extracurricular activities.
I don’t know what it was like for other Korean families during that time, but my mother grew up in an abusive household. My grandfather beat up my grandmother who in turn beat her children. Then my uncles in turn beat up my mother (the youngest). Because my mother rejected the family religion, my grandmother severely beat up her daughter. Fortunately, my mother felt nothing. Instead, her consciousness floated above the scene, as she watched my grandmother beat her. When she returned to her body, she made a decision – she would run away.
Running away was no easy task in those days. At the time, the leader of South Korea was Park Jung Hee, a ruthless military dictator. As part of his efforts to control Korean protests against his rule, Park Jung Hee issued a curfew and running away meant my mother would be breaking that curfew, risking jail or worse.
Despite the fear of punishment, my mother took the train to Seoul. She knew no one in the city. She had no where to go. Park Jung Hee’s soldiers patrolled the streets, looking for people just like my mother.
She looked up at the night sky, hoping to find some sign. She believed in God and that God would protect her. She saw one star shine more brightly than all the others. She followed that star and found herself at a church. There she safely stayed the night.
I don’t possess my mother’s religious convictions but I hope my convictions to believe in myself and my creativity will be just as strong one day. Have a great weekend!