This Is Where I Live
If you have been a part of my organization for a while, you’ve probably seen a video called “This Is Where I Live“. It’s a recruiting video encouraging students to step out in faith and live in a new place somewhere in the world. Every person on the video talks about what country they live in and what it’s like to minister there. The tagline is “This Is Where I Live”.
I’ve been thinking about this video and wondering how different ethnic minorities in our organization would describe the place they live. Each has their own specific story being lived out in a different role and different ministry, but all are wanting to bring the full image of God with them into that place. That place where they live. The place that is always filled with ambiguity and tension as they live out the bicultural life.
There is a quote by Orlando Crespo from his book Being Latino in Christ that I feel like gives a small glimpse into where I live. He writes about how in coming to terms with what it means to live life as a mestizo (a person living in two cultural worlds) he has also come to understand his own struggles with inferiority and low sense of self-worth. I really resonate with this paragraph below:
Negative thoughts about myself are always with me, lurking behind every new way, ready to pounce just as I am about to trust God in a new way…. Having a healthy perspective on being Latino is an act of faith. Our blood is from a mixture that was viewed negatively from the very beginning of our people’s history. This is not something you just deal with and move on from, because it eats at the soul of a people.
This quote speaks to such a deep place in me. A place in me where I struggle to step into any new opportunity, even though it may be enticing and exciting. A place where, just as I get comfortable with bringing my whole self to any given setting, I’m standing and staring straight into the face of another big step of faith and risk that I’m unsure I’ll be able to make. I’m realizing that this place is not unique to me but is a part of many people’s stories that are living out the ethnic minority experience. It is a part of our collective narrative.
I also live in a place where, as a Latina, most people around me have more power and more of a voice than me. For some it comes from their background, the way they were raised, or their ethnicity. For me, my low sense of personal power comes from my own history, how I was raised, and the ethnicity I’ve grown to embrace as a part of me. The place I live has people around me that both encourage me on my journey towards embracing my own strength and some that discourage me in that pursuit too. Both have an impact. Both have influence over me.
I’ve also learned that in this place I live, I have to lean into the deeply spiritual in me in order not to lose hope. That deep core of me where I meet with God has to be nurtured continuously in solitude and silence so that I can remember, when I feel like I don’t belong anywhere, that I am a child of the King. I’m his daughter. I’m family.
The place I live crosses paths sometimes with advocates too. They are people that love me and want to see me fully living out of my God-given identity. Those people are blessings to me and speak life into me when things are hard or when the world around me feels unwelcoming to strangers.
The place I live is one where I am always aware of the power structures around me. I’m aware of who carries the most power and who has the least. I’m aware of what influence I can or can’t have on the events encircling me.
Where I live is also a sweet place of intimacy with the Gallilean Jesus. He knows what it feels like to live on the margins. He knows the bicultural story because he lived it in all his humanity. The human Jesus meets with me in this place and says to me, “I know you. I see you. I want to walk with you.”
So what does your world look like? Where do you live? Do you live in a place that grants you access to the spaces of influence? Do you live in the shadows, afraid even to be seen? Or are you like me, a Latina fighting to find her voice in a place that feels resistant at times to such a goal?
My prayer for myself is that I will learn to be bold in the place that I live. I pray that I will learn to embrace the image of God in me in all its beauty, and that I would also allow him access to all the broken places in me that are still in need of redemption. My prayer is that I would not hold back, but I would move forward in faith in those moments when He is calling me to more. The strain I feel in those times is hard, but it is worth it.
My prayer for all of us, both as majority and minority culture ministers, is that we would all learn to truly love one another in our different stories and lives. That we would live out the peaceable kingdom to come with one another. That we would display to the world that we are partnering together with God to make right all that is still broken in and around us, including our relationships with one another.
Let us love one another in the different places that we live. To even begin to do that we need to really SEE one another, and really enter into the realities of people different than ourselves-especially when they live right next door. Loving begins with seeing. Do you see where others live?
photo courtesy: joshpatten