Poetry in Progress: A Life Alive with Esther Yoon

“So, about me… I’m boring with sprinkles but with exploding colors.”

_mg_7513 Boring with sprinkles, and exploding colors is how Esther Yoon describes herself. Sprinkles and exploding colors, yes. Boring, the last thing to come to anyone’s mind.

As an administrative coordinator for a university and occasional worship leader, she works with college students everyday, yet studies theology and writes songs in her free time. She creates circles of safe spaces for people. “Because I think even though I’m constantly changing, I believe I can really feel for people,” she says. “I think a lot of people will try to find the one thing that they’re passionate about, and for a really long time, I couldn’t find what that was.”

Hunger, sex trafficking, depression, anxiety.  The stories of healing. The stories of love and redemption and new beginnings. She saw those passions, those fascinations, those ruminations trickle down to one passion, life.

“I just love seeing people living life alive, because I believe you can be living life dead, dormant, indifferent,” she says. “And I don’t think that is the way we were meant to live our one life.”

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How do you feel like you’re living out your passion?

“That’s actually a funny question, because for the past couple years I’ve constantly been in transition. It’s been a lot of fun but also extremely challenging. Some things were constantly changing where it was really easy to be more alive, to feel like I’m more alive. Because I think being more alive is also connected to growth, but I think the hardest place to grow is when you feel like there’s no change happening. That’s been like my year. Constantly in places where okay, I’m working a 9-5 Monday through Friday, the kind of schedule I never really thought I would ever be in.

For the past ten years, I always thought I would be the person, right out of college, doing ministry. Yet that’s the thing, I am. It just looks different. Life has been kind of boring, and I’ve been struggling with that. What does it look like to be alive in the midst of my responsibilities and duties, things that I don’t always look forward to?

I think the biggest thing is paying attention.

I was reading that book called Kisses from Katie, and she was saying that world changers have one thing in common: they know the importance of the individual. They’re satisfied with one smile, on stomach, one life.

I feel like as a generation of what I would like to think of dreamers, we’re called to dream, but we’re also called to sacrifice. Those dreams really start from the humility of knowing that we are so unworthy but also so graced to be used, and I think that’s where it kind of starts to be able to live life alive in the mundane Monday through Friday 9-5.

To be awake and present and pay attention to the many stories around you. We don’t even have to know if we’re affecting it or not. Sometimes we’re blessed to have certain reminders that we are, but it starts with paying attention.”

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As a part of the generation of dreamers, what are your dreams like?

“One of the biggest dreams I have personally is…

Well how I figured out this dream is, there were two worship leaders leading a song, in two very different settings. One was deep gospel and another was super conservative and angelic worship. I remember seeing the worship leaders and I had no idea who they were; I’ve never met them, but when they started to lead worship, it felt like straight magic where I just felt like I knew them.

They were both women, and I remember thinking, I know these women. The spirit was so all-consuming that I felt like I knew this person, because we both were in the spirit together. I can’t verbally describe what that feeling or experience was like, but it was insane.

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If magic is a thing, this is what it was. I could feel like I was somehow in oneness with a body, and my dream is to be that living invitation where when people see me, that I would be so all-consumed by the Holy Spirit in the presence of God, where when I’m inviting someone to sing to the Lord, it’s like they already know me.

It’s that safety, that oneness, that warmth of a presence where there’s no mask. It’s the feeling of being understood. I can’t verbally grasp what that was like, but I knew that’s what I was called to do. To be that living invitation.

There’s a humility in leaning on God and seeking Him, knowing that I can’t do that, but that he could use me to be that vessel.

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Dreams for the world?

I dream more people would care about each other. I think that would change the world.

If people could pay attention to each other, to where they could feel understood (not saying that they’re always going to agree on everything, because they’re not), but to feel like man, they’re paying attention to me. I’m being heard. To give people the opportunity to be that person for each other. That would change the world.”

How important do you feel like the idea of someone’s story is?

“It’s funny because when I tell people my story, sometimes I feel like, ‘Do they even believe me?’

I’ve gone through sexual abuse as a toddler, was suicidal growing up, was extremely depressed and still have symptoms of depression every now and then, and was bullied.

But it all goes back to paying attention and the importance of the individual, because I think if people could genuinely pay attention to a person, before the person even has to tell their story, I feel like there is a freshness in treating them as who they are now.

Because sometimes, people don’t have to know my story, because I met them now. It’s beautiful when we share how we became who we are. It’s crucial, because I feel like it shows the magnitude of how God is so specific towards people, in the ways he draws them to his heart. Knowing someone’s story isn’t completely necessary, but it does show the amazing beauty of how wide and how deep the Father’s love is. There truly is no bounds. No one is marked off from being loved by Him— being sought and pursued by Him.”

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What are you struggling with right now?

“I think there’s a lot of fear in what I’m struggling with right now. Fear of, you know, you don’t really know much, everything’s changing, and I feel it. You feel, after college, the crushing of certain dreams or the feeling of your dreams being crushed, even if they’re not. The questioning of what your life looks like as well as the fight in your head trying to be like ‘No, Esther, this is not the end. You’re still so young.’

I’m struggling with wondering if I’m authentic enough, if I’m good enough with my talents or if they’re even talents. I struggle with fighting off those thoughts and admitting those thoughts and feeling stupid for thinking them. It’s a constant tension.

We live in that tension of what our flesh and mind naturally goes to, and I feel it. You know they say the more you know, the more you’re responsible for. And I love to learn, but as I grow up, I’m realizing the more I decide to learn, the more responsibility I’m putting on my shoulders to carry, especially with my faith.

Sometimes, I struggle with missing being ignorant and being able to make stupid mistakes, because it’s so easy to look around and see people being apathetic and indifferent about each other and this world. It’s starting to feel like the norm is indifference.

The struggle is knowing that the road is narrow but still seeking to be satisfied by God, knowing He can. But I can only really do that if I fix my eyes on Him.”

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A letter, from Esther to Esther:

Hello Esther,

You’re freaking weird dude. Like, I know at times, you can feel like you wish for once in your life that you could feel belonging- this yearning to just have what others have, but don’t. This yearning is a heavenly tension, don’t make this place your home. It’s not. You want more from God, but He has already given it to you. He has healed, and brought to life all your “impossibles” and He will surely bring you home. He holds you so intimately close. He thinks of you and loves your being. Talk to Him. You miss Him, so talk to Him. Tell Him the truth, and stop saying “You already know” to Him, because more so, you saying it out loud is for you.

Love Him, for He loves you.

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photos by Gina Yu ©2016

Esther, you are fire and light. Imperfectly, poetically divine. Thank you.

To share your stories or contribute, email story@poetryofimperfection.com.

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