Personal Testimony : Amanda Kim
All my life, I’ve sought after two basic things: security and purpose. From my youth I was taught that God is omnipotent and omnipresent – all-powerful. And this almighty God sent Jesus to die for the world’s sins, including mine, so I should be thankful and worship Him. So being a good kid, that’s exactly what I did. I thanked him every now and then, and I prayed to him when things got rough. God was like a distant grandfather figure that was too great for the likes of me to really approach, and that’s just the way it always was. My family had gone to church most Sundays and almost every holiday, and we were blessed with means enough to support a family of five plus my grandparents. We had security.
I went through most of my life with this idea that I had to maintain that type of lifestyle: one that earns enough to support my family and going to church enough not to get smote, and that that’s what it meant to have a good life.
I started college on a six-year track in pharmacy. Up until that point my main purpose in life had been to be a good student, and now that I had to choose my own life’s purpose I had no idea what I wanted to do. Choosing a college and a major felt like solidifying the trajectory for the next 60 years of my life within the span of a couple of months – that’s a lot of pressure. But I figured if I make it through the pharmacy program and earn a good enough living, I could support my family and myself, and figure out what I actually wanted to do afterwards. Purpose.
I started school, and eventually stopped going to church because I needed that time to study and do work. I didn’t have time for anything else; especially not something that didn’t believe had a direct impact on my life as it was. It felt like paying into an insurance policy I wouldn’t need for a long while. I could always go to church later when I had the time.
By the third semester of school, I hated my life. I went to school, I went to work, and I came home to study – that’s it. I had no friends because I had no time (also I wasn’t very friendly and couldn’t make new friends, but that’s a whole other story), and I had no life outside of school and studying. I excelled in all of my classes, yet I was failing in chemistry. I spent most of my days trying to wrap my mind around it, and even went to private tutoring for chemistry in an effort to make it through. And what I found was that no matter how hard I tried, it just wasn’t cutting it.
On my own account I had gotten into this program with scholarships, and on my own account I was failing and racking up thousands of dollars of debt. As a last ditch effort to minimize the fire that was my life, I dropped out of school mid-semester and cut my costs there. The plan I had for the rest of my life went out the window and all of the expectations I had for myself and for my family came crumbling down. I couldn’t fulfill my purpose and I was stripped of any sense of security for my future. I felt like a dried up pen. And what do you do with pens you cannot use? You throw them out.
I fell into a deep depression, and I knew I had gotten myself into it. “If you’re not helping, you’re hurting,” and that’s what I felt I was doing to my family – I felt like a burden, unable to help even myself. Without a sense of worth and without any hope I could pull myself out, I contemplated ending my life.
As I thought about it more, the Asian in me kicked in. If I were to take my own life, I’d cause my family so much shame. They’d be known as the ones whose dropout daughter killed herself because she couldn’t deal with school stress. Fortunately for me and for my family, I’d decided that however I earn it in the future, I would pay my parents back the debt that I owed for being useless.
I knew I had to return to school and get a degree to move forward with my life, so I applied to Queens College and, by the grace of God I got in. I had one friend from high school - the only friend I had kept throughout the years, and she attended QC. She was a part of a movement called KCCC, and was on student leadership for the coming year. Though she knew it had been a while since I attended church, she approached me and told me that as a leader she now had to have bible study with girls and lead a “small group,” and asked me if I would be willing to join hers. She was the only friend I had, and I would do anything for her, so of course I agreed.
She introduced me to the other leaders as well, and they were really nice – I thought too nice. They seemed too nice to be authentic, and too happy to be real too, so I was suspicious. ‘Why were they so nice?’ ‘What makes them this way?’ ‘I want to be happy too.’ As I got to know them better, I realized that their lives weren’t perfect either. But their happiness, their joy, wasn’t dependent upon their grades or their circumstances – their joy was dependent upon God. As I went deeper into Bible study with my friend, I realized that Jesus was personal, and that I could have an actual relationship with Him. I had no idea this was possible until I started learning more about the gospel and what it actually means.
And as I learned more about God and his character, I saw everything so differently. I was so filled with myself, and what I wanted to achieve, that I had shut God out of my life. I was blind and carrying a mountain on my back, moving down a path I could not walk. I realized that I had to come to this point, emptied and stripped of everything, in order to actually see things for what they were.
In every moment of my struggle when I felt very much alone, there was the Lord actively pursuing me. My own strength had failed me and I fell, and Jesus now assured me I don’t have to rely on myself anymore – I could rely on him and his unfailing strength. I had no plan for my future, no security, no purpose, and no confidence to try to make new plans. But God has a plan for me. He has secured my life through what Jesus had done for me on the cross. And He’s given me purpose that is beyond what I could’ve imagined for myself, but seeing the transformation he’s already brought into my life and with the assurance of the Holy Spirit, I have every confidence to fulfill it in the Lord.
My life has not since “fallen into place” – I’m still navigating the waters that is young adulthood, though I guess I’m not so young anymore so, “adulthood.” And I’m still trying to find where in the workforce I fit best. My life and its circumstances are changing all the time. What remains unchanged is since receiving Christ into my life, I know that he actively pursues me still – and that Jesus is very personal, and his love very much real. I am secure in Christ who gave his life for me. And though my job or life circumstances change, I have a purpose that does not: to live a life that is evident of the love of Christ, and to share that love just as those before me have shared it with me.