Belonging. As human beings, we all want to belong. We all long to be accepted and feel the sense of belonging, whether it’s with our family, our church, or a group of friends. It is an essential part of being human; our sense of belonging is tightly knit with our sense of identity.
For me, I have specifically wrestled with the idea of belonging to a certain country. If you read part (I) of this post, you will know that I have lived in two countries. Let me give a little more background on that.
I am a Chinese-Indonesian born in Indonesia. My ancestors were originally from China, but the majority of my great-grandparents’ generation migrated to Indonesia. When I was 3 years old, I moved to America. I lived there for almost my entire childhood, before moving back to Indonesia 13 years later.
Whenever people ask me “where are you from?” I always get confused on how to answer this question. Do they mean where I was born? where I grew up? where my ancestors were from?
But back to the idea of belonging. When I think about which country I belong to, these thoughts roll in my mind: In America, people viewed me as Asian. In Indonesia, people view me as “that girl from America”.
In order for us to feel that we belong, the people/group/country that we want to belong to must accept us. Now, in my case, both countries see me as a sort of “foreigner”, if I must.
Technically I am an Indonesian citizen because I was born here. And I really came to love Indonesia, which I hope to post about in further detail sometime. But at the same time, I have lived in America for much longer. So here’s my million dollar question: To which country do I belong to?
I recently heard the term “Third-Culture Kid”, which is defined as “a child who was raised in a culture other than the culture that is of the country given on the passport”. Yep. Definitely me. After researching more on the “Third-Culture Kid” (there’s even an official website), I discovered that there are many others out there just like me, and they go through the same struggles and questions. It is nice to know that I am not the only one.
But I still ask myself this question once in a while. Where do I belong? And maybe I’ll never be able to tell for sure. America or Indonesia?
However, I recently realized that I don’t have to worry. You may ask “why?”. Isn’t a sense of belonging essential to identity? Yes, of course it is. But my identity does not have to lie in a certain country. There is somewhere, Someone, to be more exact, far greater than any country on this earth to place my identity in (Philippians 3:20).
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…
I’m not saying that I will completely disregard any sense of belonging to a country. As I mentioned, I love Indonesia, and I love America. I feel I can belong to one or the other, or both. As for my identity, I can be a “Chinese-Indonesian”, “Indonesian”, or “Indonesian-raised-American”. All of these are true. But I have found that there is a sense of belonging and identity that trumps all those earthly ones. And that is the identity I have in Jesus Christ my Lord.
Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to be the children of God…