“What was Korea like?”
There are no better questions than those from a delightful 6-year-old’s mouth. They knock you into your seat and take the wind out of you with a smile.
How do I even answer that?! I wondered, so I kept it simple.
“It was great. It was difficult. But it was very good,” I smiled and genuinely held back a laugh at myself. Thus, a need was born to start trying to articulate the decent answer.
What is it like living in South Korea? Living on the 13th floor of 22-story building, one of 100 other buildings in the same complex, with five other complexes around you? Every building on our street was a sea of five story buildings all holding restaurants, cell phone stores, clothing shops, bars, coffee shops, every specialized medical clinic imaginable, spas, and convenience stores— all pretty much the size of my bedroom as a child. Scads of people walking on the streets every day, many of whom like to smoke cigarettes while they walk. Different traffic laws, stop lights are a suggestion and motorcycles can drive on the sidewalks. Constant noise, especially during voting season when candidates scream their spiel on a loudspeaker outside your window and even two sets of window glass and cement walls can’t keep out. Having to line dry every piece of laundry you own because you don’t own a clothes dryer – not because you’re frugal but because very few people use dryers in Korea. Having to hand wash every dish because the US version of dishwasher doesn’t exist in the country…and no garbage disposal in the sink. Food scraps and recycling are placed in special containers outside in the parking lot so you would have less garbage. CostCo has two stories and so does the British store, Home Plus. You go to the mall Prada, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, and Chanel greet you on the first floor… and there are nine floors. 3-D movies aren’t enough, you can watch the latest super hero movie in 4-D in which your seat actually throws you around with the characters. The legal system is completely different in Korea, and people generally don’t sue for injury. If you’re not prepared for it, it’s incredibly overwhelming.
Yet there is one place that is not a sea of swirling overstimulation: SpaLand. The world-renowned spa. You go in, change into your spa uniform and chill outside in one of the foot pools. Then you might lounge in one of the 25 saunas, soak in a heated pool, or sit in a massage chair that conforms to your body. Absolute bliss. Always calm, always peaceful. It’s not just restful, it’s energizing.
Every time I was there I was reminded that this is what being in God’s presence is. Every time we open up our Bibles and every time we pray. Every time we hum a hymn while we clean up from dinner and every time we speak God’s truth to someone. Spending time with God should be like that every day of our lives. A chance to unbutton your cares like a heavy winter coat, unzip your stresses like a pair of last season’s boots, and toss them into an untidy pile at God’s feet to let Him take over and speak truth into each one. A chance to put on truth that never conforms to our flesh but is applicable in every situation we face. Truth that lets us rest yet energizes us.
We’re no longer in Korea, but everyone has the same choice every day. We can get caught up in the overwhelm or rest in the ecstasy of His presence. Today which will you choose?