Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves ...
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.
Rainier Maria Rilke
We are in a new place in life, my darling daughter. We are at the beginning of endings and the endings of beginnings. Most importantly, we are at beginning of beginnings. Your life is open before you as you finish up your last semester of high school and go off to college. It’s a wonderful and amazing time.
You are in Beijing this weekend, at a seminar for TCK’s (third culture kids). We’ve raised you in an environment that celebrated and embraced other cultures. We wanted you to see the intrinsic value of human beings, made in the image of God. I was raised that way and I married your father who also believed that way. I couldn’t have married anyone who didn’t share that value.
So this weekend, you are talking with other high school Seniors from around China about adapting back to your home culture. I don’t know the specifics but I would imagine that you are discussing practical and more theoretical issues. What happens when you say to someone something like “One time when we were in Beijing…..” or “In Thailand we saw….” and they think you are a snob or pretentious? What happens when you feel out-of- date music or movies? What happens when people can’t relate to you and you feel like an outsider. The internet has changed quite a bit of that but there is still a gap.
The life we have led has been hard for you sometimes. We have moved quite a bit. We haven’t had much money. You have seen your father verbally beaten up by people he has invested in. You have seen him take much criticism. You have often felt that our priority was the work we did, instead of you. You have struggled in deep and personal ways. We hope and pray that those are things you can process well and that you would grow strong in all the broken places.
You are stubborn, my darling girl and strong-willed. You get that from your mother and your father. However, I often feel as though you mirror me in good ways and bad. When you were very young, I read a book that said that strong-willed children don’t need to be broken. Their strong will needs to be redeemed and used for Kingdom purposes. I see that in you and I am glad we didn’t try to “break your will.” Because your will would have won.
We moved to China when you were fifteen, after many years of working in international environments in the US. We knew we were taking a risk. Moving teenagers is a risky business. But you have blossomed and grown here. Your heart has enlarged in amazing way. Your faith has deepened and grown and become truly your own.
You have grown in practical ways here. You have an unusual skill set- getting through customs, hailing a taxi, tackling the subways of Beijing, using a squatty potty. Your favorite foods are Korean, thanks to the influence of Korean classmates. You have an independence that is admirable and courage to try new things. You have seen incredible things here- the Hong Kong Harbor on New Year’s Eve, the Forbidden City, the mountains of Yunnan, Mongolian herders. You have slept in a yurt. You have gone to school with students from many countries and have grown from both the good and bad experiences that has brought you. You have seen China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines. You have been blessed.
But living here has also brought the hard questions – the questions that have no answers. You have seen poverty and injustice in the Philippines as you volunteered there. You have learned the reality of Psalm 68:6 that God places the lonely in families. You have been amazing as you let a lonely little boy into our family and given up some of your rights and privileges.
The questions are often unanswered. Why are there orphans? Why is it so hard to get them into families? Where the people who will stand up for what are is right? For justice? Why are families broken up? These are the big questions that you have struggle with- the questions that don’t have answers right now.
So my darling girl, I pray that you will live the questions. Never be satisfied with easy answers. Live in the tension of the now and the not yet kingdom. Keep asking the questions. The answers will come some day and on that day, all things will be made right. Keep your passion for what is true and right. Never lose hope.
Written for my friend Sarah's Practices of Parenting carnival. Click on the Emerging Mummy link on my sidebar to see what other people have written on this topic.