A classmate of mine is no longer walking this earth.
I feel the loss deeply.
I wonder for the umpteenth time why the bonds between third culture kids are so strong. After all, it’s been decades since we shared a campus. Only a small fraction of my life was spent building friendships in that arena. And, yet, the impact is inexplicably profound.
I’ve pondered it again this week as I have before. But, this time, I’ve come to some new conclusions.
The pyschological explanation is that we all met during impressionable, vulnerable years when our identities were in formation. We all experienced two or more cultures and were trying to decide which culture we personally identified with. “Who am I?” just became more complicated. And here we are surrounded by a group facing this same challenge.
Most of us were not living in our passport country and far from extended family. Into that vacuum emerges a third culture. A group of expats on the same journey. Kindred spirits who knew what it was like to be transplanted. To be dropped into an island of English speakers surrounded by foreign languages, food and ways. In this context, we struggle to answer the questions: Who am I? Which culture will I choose? Who are my people? Where is my tribe? Where do I belong and how do I get there?
Those same fundamental questions we were all facing and answering, mostly oblivious to the process, but mindful that we were not alone.
The spiritual explanation took me by surprise. I woke up one morning with verses from Mark 10 on my mind. “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel, who will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields– and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”
The bonds are strong, the connection is deep because Jesus promised to provide family to those who had given up family. He hard-wired the bonds to be stronger than passing friendships. Many in that expat community were missionaries. They had made sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. Jesus promised to recompense those sacrifices. Not only in the life to come, but in this life as well. Inexplicable.