We give a lot of thought to stories here at Grotto, and we’re always looking for ways to deepen the impact of the narratives we help craft and share. One way we’re taking a new approach to that task is by gathering stories together around a certain theme to put them in dialogue with one another.
When we started exploring this new direction, we wondered if we’d be able to find a marquee narrative that would set the focus for a whole edition — and then JD Kim’s story arrived. We immediately knew it was a story that we could build around because it was just so powerful.
This first edition gathers stories about gratitude in the face of hardship, and my goodness, we’re excited about this short feature documentary about JD called “5 Minutes.” Down to a person, each member of our team was moved by the pathway he’s found through adversity. The key that unlocked this transformation? Gratitude.
So give yourself 10 minutes to take this one in — it’s a story that will change your outlook on life.
Dr. Jihoon Kim: Life is full of unexpected things. It could come and go anytime, and when hardships or unexpected things happen to us, we often focus on the things that we do not have.
(Dr. Kim going through a library in a wheelchair)
Well, I had dreams, not like the dreams of Martin Luther king, Jr. or anything like that, but dreams to become a professional, and successful sushi chef, open up my own business, dreams to have fun with my friends, travel around the world.
Dr. Kim: Hi.
Librarian: Hi. I can check that out for you.
Dr. Kim: Thanks.
Librarian: What’s your last name?
Dr. Kim: Kim.
Librarian: And first name?
Dr. Kim: J-I-H-O-O-N.
My friends and I went snowboarding and we are having a great time. And as I was snowboarding, I went over the mogul and I was on the air, and I fell. And as soon as I fell, I heard sound going “beep”, and immediately I knew something was wrong. I tried to tell myself “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.” And then I slowly tried to move my body as usual, but something was different. My legs and my arms weren’t moving. I tried again, but they didn’t obey my command. And after two months, the doctor told me that because of my injury level, I’m not going to be able to walk for the rest of my life. And that was like a death sentence to me.
(Dr. Kim’s dad prepares a toothbrush for him and gives him a cup of water.)
I wanted to end my life. One of the most sad thing was I couldn’t even attempt to use any weapons to take away my life. But as I wanted to just fall myself down on the stairs at Craig Hospital, I remembered about the stories of Jesus, story of God loving us. And at that moment, I prayed to God, “Lord, I don’t even know if you really exist, I don’t even know that all the stories that are recorded in the Bible are truth or not, but, if you can still do something about my situation, if you can still do something for me, please help me. Please help me.”
(Dr. Kim underlines verses in his Bible.)
And at that moment, really, I felt comfort and peace and had the sensation of maybe God can do something about this situation. Maybe there is something more about my life.
Now, I have experienced, you know, many incidents where God will answer my prayers and gives me strength when I was going through really difficult time. But at the same time, I experienced many more troubles, even after my snowboarding accident. So I had to really wrestle with these issues. So if God is good, why does he allow suffering to my life? Over the years, through reflection, and prayers, and reading and research, I reached the conclusion that God is good and God loves us. But at the same time, the purpose of my life is not simply about overcoming suffering. Suffering is part of our lives. It is always there, but it is about how to respond to suffering with God. And that’s the reason how I was able to go through them and still trust in God and live with joy and gratitude.
I started my PhD study in 2016. After the graduation, I am teaching at Denver Seminary as an adjunct professor.
(dictating to computer) This week’s theological topic: Spend at least 15 minutes for your initial response.
And I also serve my own nonprofit organization, JD Kim Ministries. It is about sharing God’s love with others and helping people who are going through different types of sufferings.
(Dr. Kim and his dad pray in a foreign language before a meal)
So I was always so focused on what I cannot do. I complained that I couldn’t move my fingers, I couldn’t move my legs. But then I began to realize that some of the things that I can do, the movements that I have already, can be a blessing for some others. Some people that I have known over the years, they also had a spinal cord injury, but they couldn’t even move their wrist, they couldn’t even move their shoulders. They needed someone’s help to mobilize their wheelchairs. So as I began just thanking God and be more positive about the things that I had already, I was able to do things more gladly, and with gratitude and joy and hope.
Once I began focusing on what I can do already, it also changed my disadvantage as well. I need to recline my wheelchair every 15 minutes to prevent blood pressure. So when I study or research, and when I do that, it disrupts everything. And I used to complain about my condition, but then I changed my attitude. Even though I recline my wheelchair, what can I do in this moment? How can I use these five minutes? (Dr. Kim reclines his wheelchair outside in the sun) And I decided to pray to God for those five minutes. I may not be able to spend the many, many hours to pray to God, but I will use these five minutes to not just pray for myself, but I could pray for others, I could pray for my loved ones, and I will utilize these five minutes and do something about it instead of just focusing what I cannot do. So I encourage all of us to just focus what we can do for others or what we can do already instead of what we cannot do and what we do not have yet.