Happiness. Everyone seems to be chasing it but happiness in this world seems so temporary—it always needs to be topped up.
When I was small, it was so easy to make me happy. At 8 years old, plastic robots or snacks worth only 100 won were enough to keep me happy all day! At 10, it was computer games—I could even skip meals and sacrifice sleep for the joy they gave me. But then as a teenager, it became harder to be happy. I was only happy when I did well in my exams and scored A’s. In University, I felt like an adult and that was wonderful! I drank alcohol and nobody told me what to do. At first it was like heaven, but after a while, I began to face the realities of life—like an unstable future with no real direction. I only felt happy when I was drinking, but I always felt so empty the next day. I left that university, switched majors and tried a better university.
Then I fell in love. But just a few months down the road, the loving relationship became more like a responsibility. Then after I joined the military—compulsory for all men to serve the army in Korea at the age of 20—my girlfriend decided to break up with me. I couldn’t do anything about it while I was away at service, but I decided to visit her during my leave. When I saw how someone who had once loved me suddenly closed off her heart to me, I became emotionally wounded. I lost my ability to trust anyone completely ever again. I had decided to never get married. However, God sent me an angel anyway—my wife. I was happy in love again! But of course, even romantic happiness doesn’t last forever. So, I kept on looking for something else.
I chased happiness, which then was a successful career in architecture. I was obsessed with proving myself at work and spent hours in the office, even sleeping there. I decided to work overseas and looked forward to handling bigger and bigger projects. That’s when I decided to move to Singapore, then China, and eventually Malaysia. I thought I had made it. However, after I completed a few projects, I asked myself and even my boss, “What are we working for?” I couldn’t find satisfaction in my career. So I left my firm to pursue my own business. I opened a restaurant and at first, I was full of excitement—it was full of new challenges! But we all know the story—that excitement also didn’t last.
As time passed, my passion and energy dropped—we find happiness but then we lose our enthusiasm when things become a routine. I didn’t see any benefit in staying in the restaurant business even though my partners kept encouraging me to stay on. I went back to my career in architecture but it was hard to find clients without an established network and experience in Malaysia. It was the toughest period of my life, especially financially.
During that time, I sometimes collected leftover veggies and fruits from the Pasar Malam for my family’s meals. I also tried to sell kimchi and kimbap in the night market in order to support my family. My wife was so embarrassed to meet her friends in the night market. I felt sorry for her and this phase of our lives really damaged our relationship. I found no more pleasure in life. I had no hope at all. Life was just a black hole that sucked all the life out of me. I was miserable.
Then my wife proposed that we attend church and I became a Christian not long after that. It was challenging to know God at first. My first question to my mentor was, “How can I understand God?” Her reply was simple, “How can an ant understand how computers work?”
At that moment, I had a sudden revelation and I understood that my brain was too small to understand God’s greatness! After that, I had no doubt left about God and Christ at all. I started to obey Him because I knew I had nothing left to lose—my relationship with my wife was broken, I had no money to eat, no career prospects, and no better solution. I was at rock bottom.
So, what changed me? Walking with Jesus made me realize an important truth—I had always owned a big bowl of desire which I was busy trying to fill up. It was a constant burden. Only when a giant bowl was full was I happy, and that was so hard to do. Plus, when my bowl was shaken, I was shaken too. God showed me that if I switched to a smaller bowl, then I wouldn’t have to worry about how to hold it and how to fill it all up.
Nowadays, when I wake up, I say, “Thank you God for a great morning.” I can praise God for even the simple things like my wife’s cooking and the birds singing outside. My happiness now comes through these small blessings. Walking with God, I seem to have found a satisfaction inside that lasts. My life has a purpose—to glorify God in all I do, and in this I am content. God has taught me to trust Him and hold His hand. I can now enjoy freedom from burdens and obstacles robbing my happiness. My happiness isn’t dependent on anything other than God’s love—and God’s love is the one thing that stays forever.
If my life story seems familiar to you, maybe like me, you too could find lasting happiness if you open up your heart for God. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a happiness that lasts? I found mine… in my friendship with Jesus.
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