this free slave

The other day in counseling, I was asked how I’ve seen or experienced God in the part of me that’s Chinese. I had to think for a moment, and I realized I’m not sure about this one. From the beginning, I met God in a pretty American setting. We met at a Chinese church in Anaheim, CA. I learned about Him in English while surrounded by my fellow ABCs.

But I think as I’ve been working out more of my history, I’ve come to appreciate and experience God in a way that is uniquely my own.

See, my Chinese culture places high value on family. This is why my rebellion was considered level with blasphemy. This is why, to this day, I cannot have a blood family.

I chose my voice over family pride.

Pride is a parasite. It is an incomplete that distorts the complete. And yet, for our family, there was no basis even for pride. We were a fraud of a family. But boy, did we look the part.

And I would learn just what it means to sacrifice for this God romance.

In my Chinese culture, your surname – your family – is your all.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/subtlenuance/

Therein lies the conflict.

God clearly tells me that He is above all, and I must choose Him above mother and surname if I want to come to Him; I must love God to the point where love for anyone else looks suspiciously similar to hate.

Gaining my family’s respect was my life. Giving up my family for God gave up my life.

I wonder how many people can appreciate the gravity of this situation. I wonder how many people have experienced just how invasive Christianity is, how much it demands.

In shrugging off the burden of being my family’s scapegoat, I donned a new set if fetters: I am enslaved to my God for the work of His glory, doing His will.

But being God’s slave is more freedom than I ever knew in my fifteen years prior to our meeting. It’s hard to wrap your mind around, isn’t it? But that’s okay. God’s big enough to handle paradox.

My counselor suggested that perhaps it is my Chinese culture that readied me to sacrifice all for who is worthy. I think it is very likely so.

Although it backfired for everyone else.

Worked out great for me, though.

And here is where God humbles me again.

Dear relatives,

Thank you for getting me here.

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half the sky

Women hold up half the sky.

This quote is from one Chairman Mao Tse-tung. Yes, he was a communist. Yes, he lowered the Iron Curtain. Say what you will, but the man showed more respect to women in one sentence than the entire world does on any given day.

Women hold up half the sky.

Adrienne Rich* called for re-vision, for an awakening. Women must be re-cast. They must step into roles once denied them. They must be the poets, the enchanters, the achievers. Their voices must be unsilenced. Once we identify that their voices are hidden, how can we not hear them?

But… if women must be re-cast, does that not also necessitate that men must also be re-cast? What does this re-casting look like? Having never been a man, I can’t genuinely answer. But from what little I’d seen growing up in my cross-cultural traumatic identity-building, I know one mold they must be re-cast from: for a man to stand tall, it required the kneeling of a woman.

But…

Women hold up half the sky.

If she is constantly forced on her knees in submission, how will she be able to do so?

The sky is falling.

One of the biggest taboos was for a man to be feminine. What’s wrong with being woman-like? What’s wrong with being a “beautiful man”?

Unless being a woman is already inferior. In which, there cannot be beautiful men.

The sky is falling.

I realized at some point, it wasn’t limited to just my relatives. I see it in my people. In “red communist backward China”—for a man to stand tall, it required the kneeling of a woman. In the colorful melting pot of “the land of the free and the home of the brave”—for a man to stand tall, it required the kneeling of a woman.

The sky is falling.

Woman has become commodified. She is bought. She is sold. She is traded. She is told to be silent. She is told to know her place.

But what is her place? Who decided this was her fate?

Her gender, her femininity—that which makes her unique, beautiful—has been reduced to biology; it has been reduced to performatives.

If woman is reduced, then so is man.

Who is holding up the sky now?

“Few are guilty, all are responsible.” — Abraham Heschel

Survival, advancement, evolution, and common dignity necessitates re-vision.

Stand her on her feet. Brush off her knees. Dress her wounds. Look her in the eyes.

Tell her she is valuable.

And stand back and watch what she can do.

Women hold up half the sky.

For the other half of the sky, re-vision must also take place.

Stand him on his feet. Look each other in the eyes. Teach him to steward his burden. Let him define his own identity.

Together, we will hold up the sky.

(written in observance of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013)

*”When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”