Trying to live between two cultures is much like being in my own cult. The lonely feeling of ostracism is almost palpable at times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with my internal editor about you name it, we’ve debated or argued about it. You see, my internal editor identifies more with the Chinese culture while I tend to identify more with the American culture. I’ve struggled with this inner conflict for as long as I can remember. I believe it was because I was racially teased and bullied as a child that I learned early on that to fit in, I needed to be American rather than Chinese. So, as a young child I became ashamed of my Chinese heritage and learned to disconnect from that part of me and voilà! My internal editor was born.
It wasn’t until after I came to faith in Jesus, that I became aware of how much this inner conflict has effected the way I live and see myself. Jesus has blessed me with a greater self-awareness where I’ve begun to literally hear the inner dialogue between the two cultures living within me. He has also helped me to reconnect with my Chinese heritage and embrace my internal editor rather than being combative with him. You see, what I always thought I needed to do was to just continue denying that I was Chinese and just become more and more American which only created more disconnectedness rather than healing. What I am learning today is that I need to embrace that I am Chinese, but to also embrace that I am American and allow God to redeem all that is good in both cultures. This has helped me to see being bicultural as a blessing, rather than an annoyance or even a curse.
Why I feel this is so important is that the burden of this inner conflict was one of the factors that pushed me towards drug use in the first place. Because if I consicously knew it or not, I wanted an escape from the inner struggle of trying to understand myself. It was just easier to stop dealing with it. Inwardly, the pains of rejection and the failed attempts of fitting in only fueled the growing inferiority complex that was first birthed in my heart through the racial teasing and bullying of my childhood. I feel like I am really only beginning this journey of becoming who God created and redeemed me to be. I am learning more and more everyday that He loves that I’m a Chinese American and wants me to embrace all that is good in both cultures. It’s who I am and I need to begin to celebrate this because when I do I also embrace and accept how God sees me. I feel like I’ve spent most of my life asking God why – rather than simply telling Him thank you for creating me and giving me life.
9 “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
‘How clumsy can you be?’
10 How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,
‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,
‘Why did you make me this way?’” (Isaiah 45:9, 10 NLT)
I’m learning Lord, I’m learning… ~Gerry::also posted at The Slanted View: reflections on faith, brokenness, culture and manhood from a Pan-Asian American perspective::