This is a reblog of a blog that I personally follow. As a matter of fact, it was written as a guest blog for Communicating across Boundaries last Sunday. It is well written and touches on the theme that I will be writing about periodically for the next 2 weeks: Homesickness and longing for Heaven. This is Anne Alexander, Third Culture Kid (TCK) from Taiwan.
Yesterday I went to a funeral for a dear friend. It was a true celebration (the most joyful, Christ-honoring I’ve ever attended), but that couldn’t stop the tears, even in worship.
As funerals and farewells often do, this one brought up the pain of losing my brothers in childhood, and all the related pain of leaving relatives and friends on both sides of the ocean time after time after time. It brought up the longing for the ‘other place’, whichever one I wasn’t in, and the people I love around the world.
TCK lives are filled and colored with losses of all kinds.
Some of us stuff feelings really well for a long time (for me, until middle age), but some of us are blessed, unable to do so.
In the long run, the ‘expressers’ are less likely to develop physical or mental aberrations because ‘the truth must out’, and our pain is truth to us.
The angst the world feels because of the God-shaped, Heaven-shaped longings implanted when we were created for Him hums in their experience like an irritatingly loud refrigerator– sometimes softer, sometimes louder, but ultimately ignorable until the margins of our lives are used up.
As TCKs we live with less margin most of our lives, continually pushed into areas of growth, change and challenge. We may disguise the irritation and angst of being between homes and Home, but we can’t hide it any more than a person with 3 arms can hide it under a 2-armed shirt.
Growing up, we’ve sampled more fulfillment and full-use of our potential, more of and varied pleasures and experiences, more pain and loss, than many of our passport-country friends do in an entire lifetime.
We are accustomed to adrenaline in traffic and true life-threatening experiences, to fox-hole friendships with those we work and worship with, to ‘relatives’ closer in spirit, purpose and faith than any blood relatives we could find in our passport country.
We have lived life without the bubble wrap, warfare without boxing gloves, and the exhilaration of seeing God come through when it really matters. And we know it’s more than just making the next traffic light green so we can get to work on time.
Is it any wonder that we grieve the distancing from LIFE that sometimes seems to accompany return to our passport country? Is it any wonder that we long for friends and ‘relatives’ like those with whom we grew up, or worked with in our country of adoption?
Thank God for a word like ‘saudade’ that helps us express the inexpressible longing for that remembered world of discovery, friendship, growth and possibilities. We are not alone. And there will at last be a place where all potentials will be realized as they were meant to be.
But until then, my heart will go on singing (even if sometimes the minor key spirituals of hope);
But until then, with joy I’ll carry on (knowing that even if no one else understands, my Creator, Companion and Burden-bearer does)–
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me Home. (Until Then chorus by Ray Price)
And in the meantime, that third arm comes in handy for all kinds of tasks, like wiping the tears I sometimes can’t hide, or helping a friend in need.
Kindergarten in Mandarin was TCK Anne Alexander’s introduction to Taiwan, and for 44 years she has called Taiwan home. At present she’s teaching and researching Bible storytelling in Mandarin for a doctorate from Biola’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies.