The TCK and Identity
Today’s post is written by Kaitlyn Stewart. Kaitlyn just returned from serving for a year, under Envision, as a teacher for several of our TCKs in West Africa.
Third culture kids (TCKs) are in a unique place to experience and grow up in multiple cultures that are not their parents’. I know something about this, having grown up overseas and then teaching three TCKs last year in West Africa.
Sometimes people think growing up third culture is a glorified life with great experiences like riding tigers, living in mud huts, and hunting lions. They seem to expect those neat kinds of answers. But it’s the answers to questions of identity that might surprise them.
Who are you? Where are you really from? What country do you call home? Those questions are the hardest to answer.
Working with three TCKs last year, it was interesting to see them going through some of the same things I did as a kid—trying to figure out who they were in a world that often seems confusing. And through my own struggles, I could remind these third culture kids of something that took me a long time to learn:
My identity may never be in a country, but it will always be in Jesus.
Life changes quickly and often. TCKs might be on one continent one year and a new one the next. When we try to identify home, or where we come from, the list of countries and places bounce around inside our minds like pinballs, hitting all of them and never landing on one. That causes confusion—if we can’t call anywhere home what do I call myself? American? Malian? What?
In a desire to seek something to call home, we try to gain identity in places, and things, and cultures. The truth is: our identity is found in who we are in Christ, always and forever. We are foremost His sons and daughters, doing His work in multiple countries, and never losing our status as His adopted and beloved children.
Yes, each culture impacts and shapes us, giving us challenges that have allowed us to grow and change in unique and unexpected ways.
But until we ground our identity in who we are in Jesus Christ, we may never see past the confusing conglomeration of cultures that make up our unique lives. We might easily be lost in our struggle to find who we are, and forget that forever and always we are children of a God who gave His son that we might be His children too. Always, and forever.
We want to thank Kaitlyn for her year with CAMA. Please pray for her as she resettles back in the United States.