So, today was my first day busking. If you don’t know what busking is, it’s pretty much just playing music out in public for tips. I have a regular Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf that I go to, so I thought I would try to busk for the first time on the steps near it before I went inside. I played for about five minutes, people ignored me and walked by awkwardly, but one lady was watching me from a distance. I saw her from the corner of my eye as I played the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” mash up. She walked towards me and asked if she could listen to me play, I nodded yes to her and I saw her smile brighten as she listened to me play and sing. I was honestly almost moved to tears.
When my song had come to a close, she said, “Can I take you to Jamba Juice? You remind me of how I was when I was young!” I was moved, she was so sweet to make the offer. We walked towards Jamba Juice, got our orders, and sat down outside on the patio. We talked about our lives, her name was Lan, she used to play the mandolin in Vietnam when she was younger. That’s what drew her to me. She told me that my music made her depression go away, it made her happier to hear me play and sing.
I proceeded to tell her about the Define Love Project, and for once in this project… she asked me what I thought love was first. (But that’s for another time) Before she answered the question, she asked,
“Is it okay if I am really honest about it?”
I said yes, and assured her that it would all be okay if she did.
This is what she said….
“Honestly, even though I am fifty-four years old right now I really don’t know what love is. Because, I never really had love since I was born. I was born unwanted, and my mom tried to kill me in her womb. When I was born I existed in a family where I was totally rejected. I had no father love, no mother love, no brother or sister love. So I grew up in an environment where I don’t know what love is. And, like you, I’m just trying to figure out what love is. And one day, when I was 16 or 17 years old, one of my friends came up to me and she hugged me. That was the first real hug I have felt in my life. She hugged me and she said, ‘Do you know that God loves you?’ I was moved, because nobody ever said “I love you” to me before. So the first time my friend came up to me and said, ‘Do you know that God loves you?’ I almost cried. I asked ‘Really, God loves me?’ she said ‘Yes, God loves you no matter how you are or what you are. And she took me to church and the preacher talked about paradise, heaven. Where you don’t suffer and you don’t have to cry every day, because back then I cried every day. And, there, you will be loved by God and his son Jesus Christ and your brothers and sisters in heaven. So I cried for that place, when I was only 16 years old. From then, I’ve been through a lot, and I have not found love within Christian Communities. I don’t see it. So, I still wonder what love is. I met a Vietnamese man and I thought he loved me, he took care of me, took care of my health, gave me food, cooked for me, he was always with me when I was sick or depressed. But, he didn’t want me to go to Church, he didn’t want me to do anything for God because I believed God loved me. He controlled me in his love, so I got out of his love. I only moved here about 8 month ago. The pastor who asked me to move here, he’s like my father. He helped me a lot when I went through depression and when my first husband passed away. The pastor asked me to leave the man and move here and he will find a place for me to live. He said he would help me and support me. But, when the church congregation and his wife found out that he cared for me a lot, I don’t know maybe they were jealous, they begin to talk bad about my relationship with my pastor. My pastor had to protect his reputation, and people started to talk bad about me and say stuff about my pastor. He slowly started to stay away, until he stayed away for good and rejected me. And I don’t see love, even in Christian community. Then, I didn’t want to be in Vietnamese community, I moved to an American church. I hoped American church is better, but I am still hated. Some people love me, but not all. So, if you ask me to define what love means. For me love is only found in Jesus, and in Him I really found peace, love, protection, and care. I don’t see love in human beings.”