this winter break, my mum told me she's a christian now. she said it casually, yes of course i am, in reply to a hesitantly asked question in the kitchen.
"WHAT?!" i shouted, perplexed. "how come you didn't tell me?!" the biggest decision she'd ever make in her life and an answer to a prayer prayed only for eleven whole years and she didn't think to share this with me of her own accord. alright, cool. "when did this happen??"
"what do you mean, 'when did this happen,' i've believed in God for like a year now." she was almost annoyingly unruffled, stirring jjigae on the stove top. i kind of wanted to swat her on the head for taking this so complacently, but there was no good swatting material in sight.
"did you like, pray the salvation prayer and ask jesus to come into your life and everything?"
"yurie-yah, if you believe in God, like i do, you're a christian. and i believe now. i've seen him take care of our family this past year -- that had to be him, i'm sure of it. knowing that gives me a lot of peace. i've been happier now. you've seen it."
"do you... do you believe in jesus? and that God sent him to die for your sins and he was crucified and then raised back to life? do you believe all of that?" always double checking, of course.
"yah, i told you i believe all of it now."
"..." this was my response as i tried to take it all in, thrown off by this incredible example of nonchalance. while i was musing, my mum started up again.
"but you know," and here she turned and gave me a joky smile, the kind she gives me whenever she's about to say something she knows is going to ruffle me, "i was always a goooood person to begin with."
"no, NO, that's the exact opposite of what christianity is about! you weren't a good person. you are a sinner!" i almost yelled it at her, half exasperated and half amused. i knew she was teasing, or at least, i really really hoped she was.
"i know, i know, i'm just kidding." she has been my mother for twenty one years but she still gets a kick out of winding me up. something tells me this will not change. i tried again.
"do you ever read the Bible?"
"eh. i've always hated reading."
"umma!!" groaning at the thought of her fragile salvation. lord, have mercy.
"i read the verses that my friends send me on kakao talk...does that count?" her eyes were laughing, rainbow-shaped and crinkled at the sides.
i was not to be deterred. i tried to steer back the conversation to the important topic at hand and, resuming my most earnest and grown-up tone, i asked another question: "do you believe you're going to heaven when you die?"
my mum's response to that one came easily, "of course i'm going." she paused, and then: "especially since junghoon-ee's there too."
she smiled -- there's no other word for it but serenely -- at me. no teasing this time. i smiled too, silenced out of my questions for the time being.
i always thought that when the day came that my mum finally told me she was a christian, i would weep and weep and weep with joy. instead what i got was this bizarre, bemused back-and-forth with her, daughter interrogating mother to triple check that she was for real. (i guess the things we look forward to the most usually end up happening in a manner entirely unaligned with our expectations.) even after all my persistent questioning, i'm still not sure, exactly. not sure how much she knows and understands, not sure how she interacts with God, not sure how she pursues him in her daily life.
but there are other things of which i am dazedly, joyfully sure. sure that the same mum who used to try and prevent me from going to church in high school now believes in God with a beautiful, childlike certainty. sure that the mum who once told me never to expect to convert our family to christianity now talks of how God has been watching over our family all along and prays for the rest of them to be saved. sure that the worried, anxious mum of last year now has faith, joy, and peace that things will be okay for our family -- a peace that can only come from the Lord.
and most of all, i am sure that He is faithful and good and that He has heard every single prayer that has ever been lifted up for my mother, my father, and my sisters. may His name be glorified through this household in the days and years to come.
but do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. - 2 peter 3:8-9