Thoughts of a TCK: “I don’t fit in anywhere”

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I struggled so much with these words: I don’t fit anywhere.

Growing up, I really never found a place or a group of people where I could say  “Hey, I belong here.” At home, my parents raised me with Chinese cultural values, biblical values and as far as treating people nicely and with warmth, it was definitely Venezuelan. That Latin American sazón. At our Chinese church, I grew up with my VBC (Venezuelan-Born-Chinese, lol) friends who pretty much felt the same way. We would all say, they call me “chino” in my classroom. Yeah. That was pretty common. Not offensive. Maybe. Sometimes. We learned to overcome that.  

I went to an international school, and we learned a lot about cultures around the world. Our teachers were missionaries who would spend a lot of time, investing in the lives of the students. At school, I learned what a TCK meant. Third cultural kid. To be born in a specific place, raised in a different culture from that place, and honestly, the people whom I connect with the most are other TCKs.  

I was blessed to learn to be very adaptable and open to cultures, mainly because I knew how to get along with friends who came from all kinds of backgrounds. Being fluent in two languages and understanding the language from my family really came in handy! I really didn’t know where God was going to take me next.

During my university years, I moved to a whole different country, Ameeerica! Yep, almost by myself, but thankfully I had my aunts and their families as my bridge. They really helped me transition through those challenging years of adapting. In South Florida, I began to know more people from different parts of the world, or at least their parents were! Latin American countries, Carribean countries, definitely lots of Colombians, Haitians Puerto Ricans, Dominicanos and Cubans, haha! 

Still in the United States, it was pretty difficult to find a “place to belong.” I would go back home to Venezuela at least one a year, being torn between my two realities. Going back home but missing my other home. Still, I was very frustrated because my multi-cultural background really didn’t stand in one place. It was all over the place. 

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There was one night at church, my friend Marcella spent some time with me, she shared with me that God had specifically put me in different cultures for His good plans and purposes. That I no longer had to cling to a cultural identity, but to find my identity in Jesus. My identity in God’s kingdom. God spoke to me through my friend, saying that I was His daughter and that I belonged to His kingdom and His culture. 

That brought me so much freedom and relief! 

Of course, there are days when I talk to my friends back home, friends in the US, or my new friends who are missionaries in Asia, there are still many things that might bring cultural shock or the feeling of “I don’t completely understand what you are going through” but God created cultures, He created nations and there is so much beauty in every people group in the world! How detailed He is! What an amazing Creator we have.  

I don’t have to belong anywhere. I belong to Jesus.  

I embrace where I was raised, the culture my family has, but I’ve learned to be thankful for the person God prepared and designed me to be. I might not fully be from just one place, and that is totally fine. It might be frustrating at times, I can’t completely relate, but I’m so grateful I get to understand and get more revelation of God’s perspective of how He loves every nation, every tribe and every language! And He wants to reach all the nations, so they can know Jesus and become His sons and daughters. 

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Janeth Ng