“So, how do you like it here?” he asked. My eyes followed his teacup as he took a sip and placed the cup back on the table.
I hesitated. Playing for time, I also took a sip of tea. “He’s a TCK,” I told myself. “He probably gets it.” Reminding myself of this gave me the courage to speak the words I assumed only a TCK would truly understand.
“To be honest, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. There are some things I love and there are others I don’t,” I shrugged. “I think you know what I mean. I belong here and yet at the same time I don’t.”
He nodded. “It’s the same for me.”
What followed was one of the best conversations about being a TCK I had ever had. Talking to someone who got it ended up encouraging me more than I had ever thought possible.
As I watched houses zip past on my way to the station, I was so thankful I took the step, took the risk, and shared my thoughts truthfully. I felt encouraged even in my vulnerability.
Vulnerability is Risk
Opening up about how I truly felt about one of the cultures and countries that are a part of me required me to be vulnerable, to show a part of myself that I am not always proud of or happy with. It required opening my heart to potential hurt where wounds and scars already existed.
That’s what being vulnerable means. It means taking a risk.
Every time a topic comes up that is close to my heart because of my struggles regarding it, I hesitate to share. I know what being vulnerable entails. In many situations, I have remained silent out of fear of man.
However, the times I have opened up, taken the first step, and reached out to another person by sharing my story, it has been worth it every time. We experience a deeper level of understanding when we acknowledge our pain and struggles together, building on the vulnerability of our stories.
Encourage and Be Encouraged
A few months ago, I was talking with a long-time friend. For the first time in our friendship, we talked about being a TCK. We said a whole lot of energized “yeses!” and nodded vigorously. Together, we laughed about the cultural mistakes we have made and groaned at the assumptions others make.
We both left that day feeling uplifted. Again, it was a case of mutual encouragement. That is the beautiful thing about being vulnerable. Not only one person comes away understood and strengthened. Both do.
Reaching out to others is scary, yes! But not only does it often cause deep conversations, it is also a part of what a living Christian community is all about. We thrive on encouraging and being encouraged.
I love the passage in Romans 1:12 where Paul says that he desires to visit, that both parties might encourage one another. One might think that of all people, Paul would be the one to do more of the giving rather than the receiving, but he makes it clear: it is mutual.
You’re Not Alone
For the longest time, I thought I was alone in my TCK struggles. (Back then, I didn’t even have a name for it.) Over the last few years, I have discovered that this is far from the truth. Yes, everyone’s story is different, and I have yet to find someone with my exact experiences, but I have found so many people who can relate to what I have wrestled with.
I have talked to people who, too, have wondered how to define the word “home,” as well as about how others categorize them and how hard it can be to take this. I have also talked to people who understand what it’s like to feel like you belong and yet don’t belong at the same time.
And the surprising factor in all of this? Many of these people – such as my friend mentioned above – were already around me, all just a conversation away. This could even apply to talking with your siblings.
In order to relate, all I had to do was take a step of vulnerability, open up, and share from my heart.
I have seen that these conversations result in mutual encouragement. And through it all, I have seen time and time again that I am far from alone in my struggles.
What about you? Are you seeking out those around you? TCK, you are not alone. Reach out to encourage and to be encouraged.
TCKs for Christ: Writer & Email Manager
is an MCK from Europe who is fluent in both English and German. She has cried many tears over the question of home, mother tongue, and identity, and wants to use these experiences to encourage others. Aside from writing, she loves reading, butterflies, and sunsets. Sarah wants to live her life for Christ and writes to glorify Him. You can connect with her at Truth & Hope.