There is a day in my life that I will never forget.
I love South Korea very much. In a certain sense, it is my birth country because I left that county a very different person from the one who arrived. That time almost seems like a dream, a nightmare really.
When my family moved to Seoul in 1999, I was suffering from the final stages of alcoholism. My doctor later told me that had I continued drinking, I would have been dead within three months.
For many years, I was self-medicating to alleviate emotional pain, feelings of loneliness, despair and to forget some painful experiences that were no fault of my own.
That day in Korea started like so many before — waking in my my bed, bile rising in my throat, trembling from withdrawal, and trying desperately to get more alcohol into my system so I could me feel normal again.
That morning turned out to be very different, however.
I lay there watching the sparkly dust fairies in the sunlight streaming across my bed, mesmerized by the glow of the dust in the sunlight and the dance of each individual piece of sparkling dust.
Without warning, I heard the voice of God rise within me, telling me to move. It literally felt physical as I experienced a sudden revelation and conviction rise in my soul. I suddenly knew that if I didn’t do something immediately, I would die.
Fear gripped my heart as I got out of bed and dressed. I somehow managed to grab some money, get myself down the hill from our house, into a taxi and ask for a hospital.
It took an hour to get to the hospital and I thought I would die at any moment all the way there.
A few hours later, I found myself locked up in the mental ward of Samsung Hospital in Seoul. They didn’t know what to do with me. At the time, there was no such thing as a cushy rehab center for alcoholics in Korea, and the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions was still in the infancy stage.
I didn’t speak any Korean and none of the doctors seemed to speak much English. I was so scared. And let me tell you, withdrawal is as awful as you might imagine. It feels like you have bugs crawling under your skin, like you might die of fright, you can’t stop trembling. It’s just impossible to describe.
I was so sick and the pleasures of drinking had now turned on me. It wasn’t fun anymore. It never made me feel good, or cute or funny or anything but horrible. It was hell on earth. I think I understand a little bit of what hell is — what it feels like to be completely separated from God.
It is desolation.
They took everything from me and just locked me up. I had nothing but an IV in my arm and a gown on my back. I was terrified and I was completely alone. No friends. No family. My husband took my little boys to his family’s home in France and my three daughters were left home alone with the “adjumonie.”
The guilt and pain and fear was unbearable. I couldn’t stand the thought that my kids would have to tell their friends their mother had died an alcoholic, and I knew that’s exactly what would happen, and soon, if I didn’t do something. I thought I would die right there. And I sort of wanted to die right there.
My soul felt empty and my life worthless. I have never felt so powerless and lost and there were no more excuses. No where else to turn. No one to reach out to.
It was just me and God in that room. He held his hand out to me …
I fell off my bed right there in Samsung hospital, literally onto the cold floor, and gave it all to him. I gave up the fight of trying to control my life and my pain, and I surrendered. I begged him for help. I begged, begged and begged some more. It was the most heart-felt prayer I had ever offered. I was a broken, broken woman. And, although I have never felt more alone in the world, locked up in a Korean mental ward, I know Jesus was in that room holding out his hand to me, begging me to just hold out my own.
And I did. I held out my hand.
In answer to my pleading, God sent an angel in the face of a young, Korean man. Just a few moments after begging God to save my life so I could be the mother I longed to be for my children, the man walked into my room. He didn’t seem much older than a teen.
He walked in, placed a bible in my hands without saying a single word, bowed low, and and then walked out the door. I didn’t know who he was and I never saw him again.
There I was in a Korean mental ward with nothing but an IV in my arm, a hospital gown on my back — and now a Korean-English Bible in my hand. Needless to say, it was a powerful moment — a tender, precious moment.
I eventually came to believe he was the answer to my prayer. I believe the young, Korean man was an angel sent to answer my prayer.
That’s how grace and love resurrected my life and, eventually, that of my family. All I had to do was ask. Over the course of the next few months and years of healing, God comforted me, he held me and I never want to let go of his hand again.
I see my life in two halves — before God stepped into my life in a mental ward and after that memorable day. Life is really no easier now, and it can sometimes knock me upside the head. But, it’s an entirely different way of living.
I know that God is with me, even in the loneliest of times and through the greatest difficulties and moments of grief.
Before that September morning, when I awoke to the vision of dancing dust fairies in the streaming sunlight and the voice of God, I felt entirely left on my own. Since that day, I know I am never alone and I never have to feel that way again. I rely on that truth.
The resurrected life has far-reaching consequences of its own.
Ever since that day in Seoul, I’ve prayed relentlessly to see a change in my family’s legacy of dysfunction and addiction. I prayed for years that my children would learn about a different life than the one I knew before that day in Seoul — a resurrected life, a life for God.
I am seeing those prayers being answered each and every day, and I watch my children — and their children — live out their lives centered in Christ.