Eugene Cho

trying to re-live the past

I’ve spent the past couple days in Princeton, New Jersey and will be returning to Seattle shortly.  I so much enjoy returning to Princeton for various reasons.  I went to grad school here at Princeton Seminary and Minhee and I began our marriage here before we trekked out to Seattle.  But mostly, I return to Princeton as often as I can because of REGRETS.  Watch the video reflection for my explanation and enjoy the pics. 

I was 21 when I entered seminary.  I breezed through college in 3 years and just wanted to get through seminary as fast as I could.  Now 38, I wish I knew then what I know now.  Sigh.  I would have enjoyed and learned so much more.  Whatever season you are in: student, worker, transition between jobs, stay at home mom or dad, or whatever…learn to find beauty and meaning in the mundane and daily.   

You have some regrets too, right?

And for your enjoyment, some pics of the incredibly beautiful campuses of Princeton Seminary and University:

Filed under: , family, religion, ,

24 Responses

  1. Pastor,

    When the email went out for a student driver to pick you up from the airport, I immediately volunteered. I did so because after having followed your ministry for a few years now I really wanted to spend even just a few minutes one on one… and here you didn’t have a choice! I wish I had talked less about myself and asked more questions of you. Maybe I’ll get another chance to buy you a cup of coffee one day, and hear more of your story.

    I hope you had a great visit here, and I know our community was enriched by your presence. Thanks for the video, too… especially at this point in the semester, it was a welcome message. Thank you for sharing a little bit about your family and background. I will pray for you, your wife and children, and your ministry. Please continue the incredible work you are doing in Seattle.

    -Aaron Twitchell

  2. Thanks for the honest reflection and for the reminder to fully engage in the present and enjoy it for what it is now. May we find a redeeming value in experiences like yours at Princeton.

  3. Tyler says:

    well said. thanks for the reminder.

  4. Daniel says:

    Great video Eugene and a great reminder.

  5. Emily says:

    I started seminary at 21, too, and graduated two years later. Now (less than five years later), I have the same regrets of wishing that I had taken more time to soak-up the opportunities to learn and grow. I did enjoy it as much as I could, but my husband and I were dating long-distance, and I just couldn’t wait to finish so I could move back home and get married. Marriage has been great, but soon after graduating I realized everything I had left behind and wished I had taken more time to get through my program rather than going through it as fast as I could. Even just having a few more years of life experience under my belt, I get everything on a deeper level than I did in school, I see the real-life application of what we were studying that I just couldn’t as a new college grad. Now I would kill for the opportunity to sit through another class, and I wish I could just go back and do it all over again because I would learn and appreciate it so much more.

  6. Sarah H says:

    Thanks for your honest reflection. I often advise people to wait a little bit after undergraduate before coming to seminary because those that do approach it differently. As I am nearing the end of my seminary education, I am so thankful for the process that this has been. Yes, there have been a few “hoops”, but overall I have had a lot of self-reflection, processing, and have made life long friends to journey with me along the way that I know will make me a better pastor. Last year I wasn’t at all ready to be done. Now, I am ready and looking forward to the next season God has for us.

  7. jason says:

    very timely post…i just happen to be in a season where I needed this encouragement…

    okay now that I have unlurked myself…[is that even a word?]…..been reading this blog for a while….great stuff here

  8. eugenecho says:

    @aaron: hey, thanks for picking me up at the airport and taking me to hoagie haven. :) i did have a good visit. let me know when you’re back in seattle.

    @emily: where did you go to seminary?

    @jason: glad you unlurked. welcome…

  9. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Thank you for these timely and encouraging words. I always feel the same way about my time at Princeton. I would gladly jump at the opportunity to do it again and really *be* there. I was so caught up in the “real” ministry of serving as a youth pastor and trying to get ‘er done and get out of town, that I wasn’t really there either. As a student, a learner, a listener and as a friend, I would want to approach things very differently. About the only thing I would do the same is meet my amazing wife there! :)

  10. wayne park says:

    oddly i regret taking too much time to finish school. now in my 30’s i often ask why in the h did i take so long?

  11. Jennifer says:


    I entered seminary in my 30’s and have often thought that I am getting much more out of it now than I would have in my 20’s. This wouldnt be true for everyone, but it sure is for me. I’m a year and a half into a 4 year program, and I’m already wondering if I’ll really be ready to leave when its over. I’m soaking in every bit.

  12. Emily says:

    I went to the Institute for Spiritual Formation at Talbot School of Theology. (that’s a mouthful!)

  13. Jon says:

    Wow. I kind of have the same feeling like what you said when i was in bible college. I was more into finishing it and moving on because I was concerned with my age. I was 24 when i was in bible college by the way. Your advice is right on!

  14. Hi Eugene, I came to this video through God’s Politics links where I also blog every so often. The Princeton chapel in the video looks just like the one at Eastern Seminary in Philly where I attended, which looks just like the one at Asbury Seminary where I also attended…so my first impressions of the video were nostalgic (but also a bit creepy when I think of why they all look alike).

    I breezed through my first two years at Eastern in the way you said. The summer before my last year I became a single dad and was forced through personal pain and reflection to notice the beauty and love coming from all the people around me. I learned much more that last year than the two prior because I think I was ready to learn.

    I also went through four years at Asbury on the slowed down friendly pace. Sure, lots of people sped by me but there were also some profs, fellow students and others who acted like real people with lives and feelings. It was great! I’m now teaching adjunct at George Fox Seminary in Portland and I see students choosing both ways…I hope I am there for the ones who want the less fast track..

    I just want to chime in as one who learned this lesson early and can attest to the rewards of practicing being a human being while in seminary. The dividends come in a sorts of ways, and really didn’t effect my grades probably by more than 2/10 of a point-which I can live with. Thanks for the space. I hope we can connect sometime.

  15. Recently I’ve been regretting the number of relationships that I obliterated in the varying stages of pious arrogance that encompassed my Sophomore and Junior years of college. I really made some mistakes that I wish I could undo. :-(

  16. mike says:

    I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog. I don’t know about most people, but I think I am defined by failure and regret, not by my so-called successes. By the way, one of the priests at the orthodox parish where my wife and I worship is a Princeton Seminary school grad. Does the name Danny Reese ring a bell? This parish, by the way, is mostly comprised of evangelical ex-pats with a few Catholics and Episcopalians thrown in just to make it interesting. I fowarded a link to the Angry Asian web site to my oldest son, Sam, who is a junior at Gonzaga. He’s Korean, as are my other two kids.

    Warms regards!

  17. eugenecho says:

    hmm. i didn’t intend this to be about just about regrets & reflections about bible college and/or seminary but very interesting comments.

    @mike: i do like the thoughts about us being defined by both our “failure and regret.” i think even that takes a certain level of wisdom to get to that point.

  18. Vicar of Grace says:

    Eugene. Thanks. Regret and Gratitude can co-mingle. I was at Princeton from 80-82 and regret not staying longer or enjoying the challenge of being an Anglican in the land of Reform. I was there with Danny Reese. And Eugene, thanks for your work and honesty here in the “None Zone.” From my perch on Bainbridge Island I can almost see you lighting up the horizon in InterBay.

  19. Terri says:

    Thanks for the reminder, PE. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  20. Stephen Mook says:

    I’m visiting Princeton for an interview next week after recently applying there.

    I’ll be remembering your words during this season.


  21. stefan says:

    some of my friends went to hoagie haven this summer but i decided to get a burrito from some place across the street. that is my one regret.

  22. Kevin Sam says:

    Seminary for me seemed kind of slow. I did get to enjoy my friends, chapel and classes. Maybe because it was because I already got my masters so seminary was just a time to relax and soak in what I can. Now I’m getting ready to look for a call.

    Blessings to you,
    Kevin Sam

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One Day’s Wages

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The Western Wall in Old City of Jerusalem (aka The Wailing Wall) - from the Second Jewish Temple.

I'm hoping to share a few stories of people that I met (Jewish, Muslims, and Christians) in the Holy Land in the days to come. One of our Palestinian tour guides said to me, "You will leave with more questions...and that's a good thing." He was absolutely right. We want everything so nicely packaged but if we're honest, it's very rare in a broken, complex world...and I can't think of too many things more complex than the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While I certainly understand and resonate with Israel and its history and its need to protect itself from harm, one can't deny the history and existence of Palestine as well. 
Is peace possible? This was the focus of my trip to the Holy learn more about the conflict and those that are working towards peace. My friend, Scott (and other pastor), Mae (our guide) and I had the privilege of going to a Jewish synagogue this past Friday. We were then hosted by a local rabbi and his family for a Shabbat meal. It was marvelous. Incredible. Illuminating. Delicious. A true honor to be invited to his home with his wife and three children. To pray, learn, share, and ask questions. 
What I loved the most was the story of how Rabbi Daniel and his wife rented a bus to take 15 of their friends to the West Bank ... to see for themselves the impact of the wall and the Israeli policies. Some of their friends had never even entered the West Bank...don't personally know a Palestinian. It's impossible to work towards peace when we don't know anyone from the other side...when we don't understand the other side.

Thank you, Rabbi Daniel. Old Jerusalem. So many stories. So much history. The synagogue in Capernaum (Galilee) where Jesus began his public ministry. He taught with authority... Pray for your pastors and teachers...that they may teach with courage, conviction, humility, and ultimately, directing people to Christ - the Word made flesh.

Speaking of, so excited to be teaching at @Quest Church tomorrow. If you're in the Seattle area, join us. A glimpse of Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." What amazes me most about this event is about...timing and patience. For Christ, it wasn't about "if" but about "when." In a world of supersonic pace,  impatience, quick results, hurry and now and NOW...Jesus waited for the Father's timing. He was patient and faithful. I need to learn that waiting on the Lord in itself isn't apathy but rather an act of faith. The town of Bethlehem and at the site of the cave (aka manger) of the birth of Christ.

One of the highlights was a class of Palestinian Muslims and Christian kids in a local public school singing a Christmas carol for us in Bethlehem...just across the Shepherd's Field. Galilee. Surreal to be at the mountainside where Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount" ... aka The Beatitudes. Walking around praying for Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Nigeria, Mali, Palestine/Israel... This verse is so particularly important in light of all the violence in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

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