Wow. This is a long journal post. But this is an important life lesson I’ve learned. I can’t say that it’s the most important lesson, but it’s higher up there on the list. Here is my thrilling life story.
Once upon a time, there lived a little girl. That little girl wasn’t me.
Just kidding. That little girl obviously was me, otherwise I wouldn’t be telling this story. But technically she also wasn’t me – not the me that I am today, anyway, because she was a lot younger and cuter and hopefully a little more foolish.
But anyway, my family moved overseas to East Asia eleven years ago. When we visit the United States people like to ask questions like, “How does it feel to be home?”, but if you know anything about TCKs, you’ll know that that, along with the question “Where are you from?”, really bugs us. Home for me has always been plural, and it travels around the world with the people and places that I love. And when you ask where I’m from, are you asking where I was born, where I have lived, or where I’m currently staying for a few months? But if you want to know where I have lived, that means I have to explain the whole long story again about how my parents immigrated from Asia when they were young, so I’m 50% Chinese, 50% Korean, but 100% American (when I confess it) but also 100% organic-grown TCK because I’m American but also not since I live back in Asia, where I still don’t fully fit in because of the six years I grew up in the U.S.
When people continued to ask me these kinds of infuriating questions, and I continued to pause stupidly until they wondered if I was a half-wit who didn’t even know where I was from, I started feeling really out-of-place: a kid without a cultural home. But Father showed me an epic verse in Hebrews, one that speaks to me not only because it’s cool like Lord of the Rings and satisfies my need for awesome fantasy, but also because it comforts me in my situation.
Hebrews 11 talks about past people’s faith even through trial, and in verse 16 it talks about how well-known people from the Bible left their countries and didn’t turn back because “…they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” I find that inspiring; it not only gives a really cool mental image, but also tells us that God will fulfill our longing for something better. Whenever we feel out-of-place, we know we have a reason for it, because we don’t belong here anyway; we were made to live with and depend on God. It reminds me of where home for Christians really is, and it helps me to cope with my cultural differences.
So now, when people ask me where I’m from, I can just tell them I was born in Washington State. It saves explanation; and where I live right now doesn’t really matter anyway, because I’m not home yet.