I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me.
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.
― Walt Whitman
I know, I know. Two more months have passed since I last wrote. In those two months, I went to my first Pride Parade abroad (followed by a meltdown at seeing how many conservative Christians felt it was their God-ordained duty to protest said parade), started to work out again, made a new Korean friend, lost/was ghosted by said Korean friend for reasons I may never know, signed a new contract to extend my time in Korea by another year, and as of this week, finished another semester of teaching (including my first high school class). It would be a huge understatement to call the past two months busy/hectic/insane.
I can honestly say without hesitation that moving and living abroad has tested and continues to test my ability to adapt to new environments and cope with new stresses in ways no blogger can put into words. Communicating with people whose first language differs from your own requires the patience of Job (or maybe someone who was actually patient since I don’t think Job was always that successful). Choosing to move past my anxiety and actually speak Korean was a big milestone in the last two months, and the more I do it, the easier it feels. Hell, there are even days when I’m able to make a sentence using more than three words. Nothing like seeing the surprised faces of elementary school students when I’ve pulled that off.
Truth is, despite having another successful open class and hearing that all of my principals and vice principals want me to stay, despite reaching the 6-month mark of not smoking, despite all evidence to the contrary, the past two months have been the hardest I’ve faced in a long time. I’ve wrestled with voices from the past in my head telling me I’ll never be good enough. I’ve dealt with doubts and fears and anxieties about ever being financially stable. I’ve questioned all my life choices several times. I’ve yelled at my students when they simply wouldn’t listen, and then felt like a horrible human being afterwards. I’ve cried when it felt like one lesson after another simply went horribly wrong, when it seems like no one was learning, when I thought I’d never seen a more bored and uninterested child sitting in front of me.
And then I’d come back the next day, and they’d all say “Hi Teacher” with a smile and a high-five/fist-bump/spontaneous round of rock-paper-scissors and act like nothing was wrong, act like I was the best teacher in the world… maybe even the best human…
Somewhere along the way, somewhere early in life, we seeing ourselves truthfully, clearly. Instead of seeing our goodness, our value, our worth, many of us start seeing only our deficits, our faults and failures, our shortcomings and wrongdoings. But there is something powerful about letting those glasses fall off, replacing them with the eyes of a child — kind, forgiving, loving, and brutally honest. It may not be all kittens/cotton candy/unicorns/rainbows, but viewing ourselves in such an unbiased fashion can help remind us of a deep truth, the truth of our uniqueness, our goodness, our belovedness. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect, usually far from it. But it means that our flaws and faults don’t diminish our value and worth.
I’m trying to be a good man, a good teacher, a good friend. I make mistakes like we all do, and something those mistakes have painful consequences. But I have to believe that if I keep trying, I can be as genuinely good as I hope to be, as my faith challenges me to be, and the good of who I am will seep into what I do, and the good I do will make this world a little bit better. If we all do that, just imagine what we can accomplish. It all starts with taking a good, hard look at ourselves.
photo credit: Rudolf Vlček (via Flickr)