I have tried all day to articulate my thoughts and feelings re: 9/11. This is my meager attempt.
As a TCK (Third-Culture Kid) it’s confusing, and so many mono-cultural individuals misunderstand our worldview. If you are Mono-Cultural, I ask that you extend grace and seek to understand. While God purposed for me to be born in the USA and hold a US passport, citizenship, and all the rights and privileges that come along with that, He also ordained for me to be uprooted and live overseas from the time I was 2 years old. He allowed me the incredible privilege to grow up between worlds, in a clash of East meets West, white rice vs. potatoes, bulgogi and hamburgers, howdy y’all and deep bows with eyes averted, English at home and Korean everywhere outside those 4 concrete apartment walls. Was it a sacrifice, yes. But, it was also an incredible dynamic that has shaped my life, my personality, and my soul. I promise, I’m getting to September 11, 2001.
I have never quite felt at home here in America, never quite felt like I truly belonged, and struggle still to own my American identity. I think like a Korean at times, have a strong sense of shame, and am incensed at people’s cultural ignorance. One of the greatest compliments I ever received was to have a native South Korean tell me that as well as I spoke the language, and as long as I lived there, I was truly Korean. I nearly cried on the spot. Giving birth to our first daughter there in South Korea was fitting, and I always feel like I have a piece of my Korean “home” with me having her around. What a gift God gave me as I don’t anticipate life there again in the near future. I began shifting my identity to that of a citizen of heaven when I was 14–I clearly acknowledged that I didn’t belong anywhere on this earth. I was His, and He had made me for His presence, so no matter where I lived, this tension would exist, and I would struggle with national pride, pledging allegiance to any flag, or raising up a symbol and worshipping anything other than my God.
On to my reflections…
I almost felt as if I had nothing to say today. However, today I look back and I remember. I remember feeling such a high of excitement as my parents and younger siblings arrived in South Korea that day. I had come weeks earlier to begin the school year and was living with other missionaries. Yes, I travelled internationally by myself at 15 years old. My parents stayed to finish up things in the US and send my older sister off to college. As I laid in bed that night, I remember watching the CNN World News cast live at night (the end of our 9/11 day) in Korea as the second plane hit the tower. Whatever quiz I had been studying for would wait. An extreme relief washed over me in that my family was safe–Dad had just flown through one of the airports days earlier, and just hours different their flights would have been grounded. I remember having the USAF base locked down, and our classes at International Christian School – Pyeongtaek canceled for several days until tensions had eased at least a bit. I remember having a much smaller midweek church service turned prayer gathering. It was eerie. Quiet. Even the streets in Korea were a little solemn the next 2 days. I also remember the sense of unity, resolve, and bravery that exuded from our military members, the missionaries, and the international community. This wasn’t *just* an attack on America, it was an attack on humanity. It was evil. hatred. It was unfathomable.
I respond today in tears, remembering the sacrifice, the stories and loss, the struggle and the grief. With every video I see, every social media post that pops up, my heart is heavy. I remember as an American and as a citizen of the world, but most importantly as a Citizen of Heaven. This is an identity I cling to, a banner I wave with every breath God gives me. This is a “nationality” no one can take from me, and a place, a belonging that resides no matter where I lay my head at night.
Always remember, and always cling to what is true.