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me plus you

Yesie Chang

For many of you who know me, also know Bevy.

Bevy is my produce store that has been in the works for the past year and a half. I remember going to Korea as my last hurrah, telling my grandma, uncles and aunts that I'm going to open up a produce store! At the time, what a relief! Quitting 4 part-time jobs and mounted up with excitement at a plunge into realizing long-carried dreams.

As weeks turned into months, and moons continued to wax and wane, things changed. Bevy was my everything, my complete horizon and identity. But in the process of opening this store, my tight grip over Bevy became painfully unsustainable in the consistent failures I had to face. Regarding life circumstances as well as my own weak abilities. I started to look around, see if there was anyone hurting as much as me. As poor in spirit as myself. To my surprise, there was a lot more people than I could account for.

During the year and half delay, my heart began to soften towards the blunt fact that in life, there are and will be many trials and hardships. Roadblocks are a promise, not a surprise. Undeserved pain is secured, not something to be avoided. At least when my world becomes me plus you. When my world is about "us".

The strains of living a life completely accountable for myself can be deep, yet manageable...I imagine. Working on Bevy however, opened my eyes to the illusion of aloneness. I experienced in a very painful way that for every "us" I'm a part of, we all hurt for all of our failures.

As my mistakes started causing real consequences in other people's lives, and theirs as well for me, the grief was overwhelming. Who knew my inner emotional middle-school kid was still alive? Thankfully, it was these very people who taught me that they are willing to stick around. That being happy together, with me, is more important than being happy, without me.

"Us" used to scare me because it means collective accountability. It means that as a farmer, I am responsible for the food that is killing people and our soil. As a consumer, I am a part of our food system that exploits workers and exacerbates world hunger. The reality of living life here in America, in the social economic culture I live in, usually means that someone else is paying for my selfishness. We expense the poor for our comforts as they absorb undeserved injustice and pain. They carry the weight to service our needs yet in so many ways, do we even remember that they exist? Am I willing to incorporate the weak and humble into my "us"?

I look on my life, my privilege, and see that I have only received the best. The best kind of farmers who care for people and our land. Resourceful parents who don't waste a square of toilet paper nor a grain of rice. Friends who model with their lives what it means to feed the hungry and heal the broken.

How can I be accountable for my family, for my nation, for ultimately humanity?

In the Bible, God says that he remembers the least of these. I know that's why he has created my farmers, my family, my friends. They are living examples of what it means to take up responsibility for mankind. To painfully absorb the consequences of others' mistakes while joyfully investing in a less evil, more good place, for someone, anyone, some time, along the way. So we can all be "us" together and ultimately the whole will be greater than the parts.

Us farmers.

Us women.

Us millennials.

Us Korean Americans.

Us Christians.

Us humans.

In each, we each carry our successes and our burdens. The good and bad connotation. The consequences of all our actions but that's what it means to be "us".

Yet still, the obstacle of being together is a challenge worth facing. I believe that in our daily faithfulness, the broken will be healed and the lost will be saved. I believe that all this pain and strife will win us a greater joy and glory ever fathomed. The hard times are hard but I know that ultimately, we are blessed to be in this together.

Me plus you can be difficult, but thank you for walking with me. Carrying my dragging, unwilling feet at times. I love love love this journey with you. In being a farmer, in being a person of faith, and foremost in being simply human in need of God's infinite grace and eternal love.

And for that random person who is persevering today, thank you. What you do matters and please keep fighting for us.