So, I’ve had a word bumping against my heart and brain for a bit now…
- to decorate or add beauty to, as by ornaments
- to make more pleasing, attractive, impressive, etc.; enhance
This word happens to be one, among others such as gentle, noble, refined, etc., that together is the meaning of my name, “Adina.”
I’ve known for years what my name meant, and I’ve dug deeper into some aspects of that, but not yet into this word, “Adorned.” Yet, for whatever reason, this past week I can’t seem to avoid it. I keep seeing it in scriptures I’m reading, such as 1 Peter 3:3-5a:
3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.”
I realize many people have many things to say about the rest of this passage, as it concerns wives and submission and then some. That’s not what I’m talking about today, though.
I’m talking about how we adorn our physical selves vs. our spiritual selves. I’m talking about that certain word that’s used there, adorn, to describe the way the beauty of those women is added to, how they can enhance their spirit through this distinction, how they are made more impressive, attractive, pleasing, etc. to God. And that is not through braids (as much as I adore them!) or through a snazzy necklace I own which has a piece of meteorite in it, that I like to pretend is Kryptonite (as awesome as that is), or through some sweet Superman Converse high-tops I love to wear. I so enjoy adorning myself with all those things, but they’re not as good as when I adorn myself with prayer, with thankfulness, with purity, with the confidence of His truths, with joy in anything and everything, with carving out a quiet part in the busy metropolis of Seoul and having a loving conversation with the lover of my soul, my Beloved. That’s what Jesus is to me, and I want to adorn myself the way that He asks me to, the way He loves me to.
Y’know, I think that’s my main point right there. That’s my big takeaway from Korea: I’ve been learning more and more what it means to be adorned with the identity that Christ has given me, and what He says it means to be…Adina. That sounds very general, and it is (God has been very comprehensive, this year). I’ve learned a sliver more of what it meant when God planned for an auburn-haired, freckle-faced girl to be born to a kooky, wonderful family in Canada. I’ve seen just a tad more of what He had envisioned for me, and the different ways that I can use who I am, who He has made me, to bless others. I’ve seen just a wee bit of what He wants for me, yet that bit has changed me – more than a bit. It still is changing me; here’s what I mean:
Tonight, during my last night in Korea, I decided to check out Dongdaemun where there are malls aplenty and a night market and underground malls. I’d already found some stellar cafes (of the Lego, nap, cat, kitschy-but-cool, sheep, cupcake, etc., variety). It was raining tonight, and I was waiting amidst all the flashing lights, zippy cars and delivery mopeds with buzzing lights and tunes, for the light to change green. A few people had already zipped across the street during some car-less spaces, but this woman and I were still there, at the sidewalk’s edge.
I had my umbrella, but I was surprised to see she had none. 99% of Koreans I saw either had one, or had a suitable hood if they didn’t. (But seriously, umbrellas everywhere and at the slightest drizzle. Do you know how hard they work on their hair?! I don’t, actually, but I can imagine).
We had been standing there for a good 7 seconds when I thought, “I should place my umbrella over the both of us.” And I thought about that just enough to start doubting that idea, because what if there was a cultural nuance I didn’t know about and I goofed?
Too bad I didn’t think about that any further because then I would’ve realized that simple kindness has a way of often transcending those barriers.
So, I settled for subtly (in my opinion) inching over beside her, moving my arm closer and closer toward her, slowly, so that I ended up about half covering her, I think. Those pedestrian lights in Korea take a long time, too, so it was a bit later that the light changed and we quickly crossed the street.
Once we did, she turned and spoke a clear, “Thank you!” and ducked down into the underground entrance of a mall.
Slightly surprised (remember, I thought I had been subtle), I grinned and continued on my way, to another nearby underground entrance, this one to the subway.
I was just digging out my subway card when the same woman appeared alongside me again, and repeated her “Thank you.” I explained my earlier inward hesitance and my thusly decided course of action, because I can’t help but spill all my guts (and because I regretted not having the courage to fully enact that kindness).
She just smiled and asked where I was from, and I explained that I was from Canada and was an English teacher in Pohang for the last year, but was flying home the next day. She repeated her “Thank you” again, and I made sure she knew how very welcome she was.
I was still grinning on the subway.
So yes, Jesus is still teaching me more and more of that confidence, but I’ve been noticing it more and more – even just in little things that I normally wouldn’t deign to try by myself. And perhaps that story wasn’t the best example of that confidence, but it was an example of what I want to be able to do, at the snap of an umbrella! It was a simple glimpse into my heart showing the small manifestations of big ways that Jesus is ever sculpting it.
This year in Korea has adorned me in ways I know Jesus was counting on, too. I know that He’ll use these experiences to enhance me, to make it so that I can better serve others. Whether it’s extending an umbrella to someone, having my commitment to Him be tangible, the way I talk about Him on this blog, the empathetic understanding I can now better offer to other foreigners, the confidence I’ve gained from comfortably traversing one of the world’s largest modern cities or the confidence I’ve gained from the same, good ‘ole Jesus-truths that I knew but have now seen in awesome, Korean ways…any and all of these things He’ll pour out to others.
And just as well, because I feel very full right now! Full of experiences in Korea, full of God’s goodness and grace, full of thankfulness to Him for bringing me to Korea, and full of good food! I’m full, and so I’m ready to return home tomorrow and share that fullness.
Through Korea and the people here, through this awe-inspiring culture of traditional and modern blended together to make this sweet, honourable, confident, and wise people, I have been further adorned. I have been further enhanced and beautified.
Jesus has been adorning me all my life, really, but here in Korea it’s been a special kind – the kind that fills in cracks with gold, that plucks chords in my heart I never knew existed, the kind that blankets my heart, mind, and soul with the fragrance of spring-induced cherry blossoms, and the kind that the Author used to fill his a pen and to write upon my heart in a beautiful script older than time.