I’m not a Third Culture Kid, but I spend much of my time and energy interacting with them, being part of their world, and doing my best to understand them and the things that impact them. I definitely identify with them. My friend Libby would say I’m a Third Culture Adult . . . not to be confused with an Adult TCK.
Third Culture Kids have their roots in people not places. In the last few weeks I’ve been reminded so many times that my roots are in people. Certainly there are places that are special to me. Every time I’m in the region of NY where I grew up, I drive by the two houses I remember living in. They were home to me for most of my growing up years and still hold some importance, but they are no longer home.
There’s a piece of my home in my friend Brenda who I saw a few weeks ago. She spends most of her time living in a village in Guinea. I mean V-I-L-L-A-G-E . . . village. Think no electricity, no running water, some form of basic structure that isn’t much more than a few walls and a roof. I realized as we sat in a comfy condo in suburban Denver that she is a piece of my home. Part of my history that I can’t just drive past and reminisce about. When I’m with Brenda I see the stresses and ravages of the war and the coups we went through. I see the grace of a God who gives us what we need when we need it. I see there really is no going home because home is scattered in hundreds of people living in seemingly countless places around the world.
There’s a piece of my home in my Jewel who sits next to me in the lecture hall for two weeks every summer. Our friendship extends 20 years into the past. We’ve shared birthdays, Christmases, side-splitting laughter, class sponsorships, private tears, public joys, amazing triumphs and jarring tragedies. This week I have been blessed to spend a few hours sitting between Jewel and her eldest daughter Tiece who is pregnant with Jewel’s first grandchild. Tears of joy mingled with salty homesickness as we linked arms, sat, and listened to the speaker. I was home and yet so far from home.
My heart finds a piece of home this week when seven year old Lauren jumps into my arms as I walk past her. Her family is part of my ministry support team. I’ve known her for the last five or so years—soon after she was adopted in Cambodia. I taught with her Mom in Cote d’Ivoire one year. Time spent with her family gains me moments of home in both Africa and Oregon.
Amber, a former student whose class I sponsored ten years ago, came to visit for 24 hours earlier this week. Suddenly another piece of my heart’s home was in front of me, sleeping in the bed on the other side of the room, and sitting at meals with me. Talk of her classmates and their upcoming reunion flooded my heart with more home and yearning.
These homes are old homes. Full of the familiar, the steadfast, the comfortable they are. They change and mature, have new paintjobs and landscaping, but I know home when I see it.
There are newer homes around where my pieces of my heart have started to reside. Newer friends I see once a year at this conference who carry pieces of me to Australia, Taiwan, Canada, Malaysia, Germany, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois and right down the road to Colorado Springs. I relish these moments when I can pull so many pieces of my heart together in one place, but I am simultaneously pained by the knowledge that this conjoinment is impermanent.
During this training we’re looking hard at I Peter 1. “To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout . . . Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” It’s good to know God thought of my scattered heart long, long, long ago and knew how to take care of it.