She is wearing a light brown winter coat with her straight dark shoulder-length hair highlighted in dark-red. A thick cotton skirt just above her knees matching a pair of half-height glossy purple leather shoes. Also, you can tell she is Asian. In fact, she is Chinese.
However, what you see is far from who she is.
People tend to categorize what they see. We tend to judge from appearances. We pull out all kinds of stereotypes from the boxes in mind when we hear this person is from the US, that person is black or brown, or she is Chinese.
As a Chinese living in Europe, I’ve faced many different responses when I first introduced myself. “My name is June. I’m from China.” Most people were friendly and my nationality didn’t bother them. A lot of them were loving and kind, expressing their interest in this ancient country. Some others though, were indifferent, perhaps with a subtle contempt and making jokes about how Chinese loving rice and hating cheese. The truth is there are many Chinese living in this continent with various backgrounds and jobs. Some are doing great work here and contributing much to this land, and others are struggling and contributing little…Each individual is very different even if it’s two siblings from the same parents, let alone China is a huge country and every province in it is different. And it adds even more complications when considering people’s overseas experiences. So, really, let there be no more stereotypes when next time someone from China, or Nigeria introducing themselves to you. 😉
We have many ways to position our identities to find out who we are. Often people identify themselves by nationalities, educations, work titles, family backgrounds and so on. But when you live in a culture that is not the one you grew up with, and you speak a language that feels more comfortable sometimes than your mother tongue, you can get confused. You look around the friends you have, a lot of internationals, some Chinese. You love eating rice probably more than your Spanish friends but you also love cheese no less than your Swiss friends! You keep thinking, where do I fit?
Where do I fit? Who I am? As I ponder upon this question again, I was led to go back to the Bible.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13, 14)
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:8-11)
Paul was writing these two passages respectively to the church of Colossians and Ephesians. He was addressing the believers in the churches about their new identity in Christ. It also applies to Christians today, therefore it applies to me in my “complicated situation”.
I have come into a new Kingdom with a new identity which was given by God through me receiving Jesus into my life. What does that mean? I think it means that I can no longer fully fit in (and rightly so) any categories in this world, because “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son”, therefore I don’t belong to this world anymore. I belong to Him.
So instead of trying to fit in the culture of my original country or the country I live in right now, can I refocus on how I can walk out my new identity in Christ by yielding more fruit of light in all that is good and right and true? Can we make our own new Kingdom-identity box on the life resume and tick it and be proud?
What if a generation of us hold tightly to our Kingdom identity and refuse to allow the culture of the world define us no matter what nationality we are, striving to walk in the light of who we are? I think at least we will see each other much more clearly and will soon have learned how wonderfully unique and precious we are.