I didn’t really think much about what it means to be an American until I moved overseas.
It’s different when you are on the outside of your passport country looking in, isn’t it? Perhaps you learn how other countries perceive your home culture (things that are real and some that are quite off but humorous). News hits you differently when you are not right in the midst of the events happening. Conversations change as you get to know people from many different places.
For a time, all I saw were the flaws in my passport country. Maybe I’m not alone in that?
This week as we read the second chapter of Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey by Sarah Shin, I was struck by the beauty in the way she described and appreciated different cultural representations.
She said, “Beauty is how we reflect the image of God. It is possible to say that black is beautiful and simultaneously affirm the beauty in our white or Native or Asian or Latino brothers and sisters. There is no one ideal standard of beauty in ethnicity in God’s eyes”.
One example she gave was the beauty that is evident in the independent nature found in many western cultures. Usually I’m frustrated by the individualization that seems to push us apart in the US more than bringing us together to value community. But I hadn’t considered how this shows how the Father cares for each and every one us personally. He will pursue one of us, the one lost sheep.
When I made my home among the Cambodian people, I was struck by the lengths they would go to help their neighbors. When my teammate and I traveled to the southern part of the country to attend a friend’s wedding, we were surprised that the whole village area turned up to help prepare. Grandmothers sat on mats to tie up rice balls in banana leaves, uncles stood over large vats cooking duck and chicken, and children helped peel vegetables or wash dishes. It was beautiful.
I see God’s heart reflected in His desire for a personal, intimate relationship with each person and the longing for connection and community He has put in our hearts. His heart is reflected in the diversity of our perspectives and backgrounds, the straight-forward way that some of us communicate or the gentle, non-direct way that others do. It’s amazing, really, to think about the gifts that each of our different ethnicities bring to the table.
You can hear more stories and experiences talking about the beauty of our ethnicities in a short video from InterVarsity Press related to this chapter. Check that out HERE.
I’d love to hear what you thought about this chapter talking about how we can show hospitality and kindness by creating space for the beauty of each of our different ethnicities! What’s something that you appreciate from your passport culture or ethnic background? What’s one of your favorite things about the local culture where you are serving?
Is there anything in this book so far that is challenging or encouraging you?
Here’s our schedule for the rest of the book!
October- Part 1
October 20th: Chapter 3
October 27th: Chapters 4 and 5
November- Part 2
November 3: Chapter 6
November 10: Chapters 7 & 8
November 17: Chapter 9
November 24: Chapter 10