Real Food, Real Drink
For most of my teenage years, I was dissatisfied, always looking back and wanting what was. I would always compare the dismal present with the halcyon days of my youth.
Before I reached the age of 13, my life was nearly perfect, according to my standards. I had very good grades, I was known to be gifted at the piano, and the high school gym teachers eyed me as a potential track and cross-country star. Whatever I put my mind to, I usually got. But by age 13, things changed, and one thing went beyond my control.
I saw how skinny the world liked women to be. And having always followed the insistent voice inside telling me to be perfect, I resolved, in the midst of adolescence, to stay exactly how I was.
I starved myself. Diagnosed as an anorexic, I was placed in a cold clinic for two long weeks. I got what I wanted – along with a close encounter with death and a great loss of confidence, friends, and sensibility.
All other treasures, those which gave me a sense of worth and pride, dried up soon afterwards. Obsessed with staying dangerously thin, I could not perform as well as before. I could not practice piano effectively; lessons became sporadic. It was physically impossible for me to run. And in a school where I had had many friends and much attention, I felt alone and very scared.
I lacked the fuel to do many things completely–as fully as before. Though I had recovered physically, for years, deep down inside, I felt I was dying.
What grew in me instead was evil, an evil I could not even control. Though considered widely as sweet and “good,” in secret I cursed, I stole, I cheated. Though people would never think so, I raged at my parents. In my heart I condemned close ones.
In my innermost being I was hopelessly selfish–wanting everything perfectly arranged for me, me, me. Soon when all had become so disjointed, both outside and inside, the despair began to mount, and I was a miserable soul.
That was deep inside. Outside, I seemed fine. The piano, the friends–these I had picked up again. I even got into Yale, after much hard work. But after investing so much of myself (time, energy, hopes of security) into entering an Ivy League school, I was not rewarded in the measure I had longed for.
At Yale, I got into top organizations. The New Blue singing group tapped me freshman year, and sophomore year I made my dream choral group, the Glee Club. I also tried to keep up with piano, since I had connections with some top teachers in the Music Department.
But the night I got tapped, I was not happy at all. In fact, I was very troubled, and could not say “yes” right away. It was great to have gotten so far and earned recognition, but somehow, even the idea of being known all over campus did not quench my growing thirst for the joy I lacked.
That was my freshman year. All my calculated plans–medical school, piano on the side, and a good core of friends–did not cut it for me. I did not like my classes, grew disappointed by the shifting nature of people around me, and for everything kept asking, “What is the point?” I knew some students admired me because of what they saw–achievements and nice clothes and such. All seemed so suffocatingly fake.
That same year a few Christians from Jonathan Edwards and Christian groups on campus invited me to their meetings. I went once, a bit uncomfortable, but grateful for some reason. I liked one song, ‘Purify My Heart,’ and cried a bit through another.
Only the next year, on my own, did I want to know this God Whom others worshipped, and Whom I could not understand. I remember walking along Elm Street on my way to Durfee’s, tired from struggling to hold the pieces of my life together. I was desperate for something sure, something real, something that would heal the core of my being. That day, in my heart, I made a vow to know God, to know him intimately, as I would a person.
I began visiting Christian groups and after several weeks, prayed for God to save me.
What I discovered was that God loved me, a revelation which lifted the despair from my heart. I knew God had changed me, for earlier, even when I wanted to know Him, things in the Bible remained vague. Before I could never say with certainty that I was a Christian.
Now I can say that God has given me life. Since the night I said “Yes” to Him up until this day, God has provided life-giving counsel, joy, and peace. Through his Son Jesus Christ, I am fed; I have received the life-giving fuel that this world cannot give.
He is the hope that satisfies.
“Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22).
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink…Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me” (John 6).
“He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107)
Jenny Kang, Jonathan Edwards, ’96
© 1995 The Yale Standard Committee