There are many words to describe who I am, both self-described and by others. The latter are subject to different perspectives, contexts, and historical engagements.
But there is only 1 “name”: John Lee Saddington. Well, actually 2. The other is Lee Joon Han.
Or, it was.
You see, one of the most significant and difficult truths that have been uncovered through my adoption process is that my other name is something different. That the name that I held onto for so long is wrong.
Lee Jin Han.
There are few words to describe this particular feeling and I’m honestly still managing to reconcile the change. To english-speaking mortals, the change actually looks relatively insignificant and minimal from a visual perspective. But you’d have to understand the korean alphabet to see how the difference.
Look at this below:
What you’ll see is “Joon” on the left and “Jin” on the right. To get this wrong is not just a simple error, it’s a deliberately different type of stroke from a horizontal secondary to a vertical one.
It’s like writing my name “John” as “Jason” in english… You got the first and last letters right, but completely went stupid in the middle. No, they’re not the same. No one in their right mind, even the stretch of imagination, could consider them the same.
And like John and Jason, Joon and Jin both have historical understandings, cultural implications, and not to mention family ties and emotional connections. The shock has been so substantial that it’s been the biggest focus during the nightly defrags as I’ve drifted off into the land of the jumping sheep.
It’s neither my mother’s nor the organization’s fault. It’s a mistake. But a big one for me, and perhaps only for me. Forget the special garments, decorative wear, blankets, and souvenirs that I’ve collected with “Joon” stenciled in… forget all of that. It’s the memories. It’s the way I described myself to others. It was how I saw myself. It was me. It was me. It was me…!
And it’s no longer.
It’s like starting over, but not really. It’s like when you get married, knowing that you’re starting something exciting and brand new, but knowing that you carry all the other failed relationships in your back pocket. They don’t necessarily hold you down or hold you back, but they are there; they create context, historical narrative, and punctuated memories, both good and bad.
It is what it is.
But thank God for His Word. It brings comfort because it never fails me. I headed to the book of Revelations to be reminded that He has provided a way, through the blood of Christ, that my name, whatever it is, can be found in the Lamb’s book of Life.
As long as He gets it right, then I’m good.