Centred in Atlanta, Georgia in the Northern tip of Emory is my favorite study space: Kaldi’s. Light trickles into this cafe — a harbinger that used to be a train station for utilities back in the 80s. It is now my harbinger where I come almost every night to write my essays, thought papers, read Latin, or cram for a German midterm. Here is the place that allows me to become a thoughtful chef of word concoctions and cocktails. And here, I am alone. Here I see friends come and go, grabbing coffee or late night meals. However, I am able to to sit still and be one with my thoughts and my studies. Here is my place to cook my literature that feeds my soul. I love this place the most when night falls: every hour a train will pass, blaring its whistle and shaking the grounds. But, last night, the train shook my heart.

: the train shook my heart, faith in God’s love. It shook my faith in friends.

“Don’t put your trust in man”, they’ll say.

“I know.” I reply.

***

“Do you want to get coffee?”

Last night, I was sitting and getting coffee with someone I cared for.

The train came, and we sat there in silence. Our conversation broke into a long hiatus of long breaths, and I realized that I wasn’t ready to start a relationship. Not with him. Not with anyone just yet.

I told him I was sorry. He left.

He couldn’t satiate my needs. And neither could I.

“That’s not love,” I say.

***

The Woo Girls Pt. 1

When I told my girlfriends this, they weren’t really fazed. In fact, they didn’t know why I was upset because it was short term and not much investment. They didn’t understand the root cause of my wound. This hurt even more.

***

Struggling.

“Who are you?” they ask.

It’s hard when you’ve lived alone since you were 14. It’s hard to figure out who you’ve become without the presence of your parents telling you what you should do or not do. I’ve learned to figure these things out by myself based upon social cues or my individual morals. However, being centered or swayed as such by my environment, I have realized this behavior or way of life is not safe. When you are dependent upon the judgment of others, the foundation of house can never be resolute. It’s funny though. See, I could care less about how others perceive me as an individual, but when someone close critiques my behavior as something unacceptable, I’m hurt. Not offended, but hurt.

And this I perceived was because I had a want of self-love.

There are two determinants to this: 1. I’m not connected to the main source of love as I should be; 2. the home or train station I have established for myself here is prone to break down when hardship or criticisms come my way.

To address the latter: the friendships I made here weren’t constructed with love, but criticism and justice. Criticism or adjustments can be easily made without hurting when it is spoken in love and when the individual walks with you in life. However, when a stranger tells you, “hey, what you did was your fault and was not cool”, it hurts. The friends that I made have yet to go in their ways of life to understand what it means to sacrifice and to yield; to listen and to speak truth into. They don’t know how to speak in love yet. And that’s okay. But I need to seek out a new house in which is constructed with the foundation of love.

I realized this today.

I’m in the peak of my first semester of college — a completely different ball game from boarding school. And now it is up to me to discern and select who I choose to put into my environment. And recently, I’ve realized that I have yet to find my community. Heck, the people I slowly tried to open up to end up turning out to be not exactly who I want to devote time to. And that happens. I’m not upset about that. All this to say that this disappointment led me to realize that it is crucial to proactive surround yourself with people I need to fill my soul.

***

What God Taught Lily at Groton:

Lily should not depend on her brothers to help her stand up.

Lily shouldn’t be on the phone, depending on her family who is far away to make her feel better.

Lily can’t depend on her work to distract her when she needs to push through emotional stress.

Lily shouldn’t depend on other substances to mollify her anxiety for the short term.

***

The Woo Girls Pt.2

I can’t depend on my girlfriends as a crutch for affirmation or self-love. However, they are the agents who corroborate and bolster you to love yourself as a woman.

This is extremely important, particularly as a woman. You are the bride. You love because Jesus loves you as he loves the church, the body.

And as a woman of faith, I’m now pushing myself to bring this self-love issue to God. I’m going to wrestle with the fact that I will withstand lonely moments and remind myself that I am not in fact lonely. That when I am studying — what purpose I am studying for, and in the thickest of thick, his love conquers these chaotic and spinning lies in my head. That though man may fail and abandon me, He resurrects and chooses me again and again. And I am going to push myself to extend myself to find girlfriends who can walk with me in this journey.

This is self-love.

I am not taking out my faith in man and relinquishing it: that allows for bitterness and cynicism to creep in. I am replacing and substituting my love for man with my love for Jesus because He seeks after me endlessly. He never leaves me. He never left me in Boston; he never left me in Seoul; Atlanta; and wherever I’ll be next year. This love is my foundation of self-love. And when I build my house of love with friends and eventually a partner, the train will come through, and it will be unshakable.

Li/li/as bids you a warm welcome. A Canadian-Korean-born US historian, a singer-songwriter, and an avid baker, she shares her thoughts with you from her life.

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