Being in an intercultural marriage often leaves me feeling like a bit of a pioneer – I’m the first in my family blazing this trail, and there’s a lot I’m learning by simple trial and error. One of my struggles has been how to communicate my passion for cross-cultural partnership with those who do not share this vision. In my younger years, I often grew angry and judgmental of those who did not share my “enlightened”, global perspective.
When I lived outside of Washington, DC, where one strip mall boasted stores from multiple continents, there was no short supply of global perspective. However, returning to my Midwestern roots in Indiana has been much more challenging in this regard. Hoosiers (Indiana natives) often deeply cherish their rural roots. While this positively nurtures a deep sense of community, it can also unknowingly encourage an insular, nervous reaction toward different people, places, and perspectives.
My initial reaction was to bemoan this trait. The longer I live here, though, I am beginning to understand how the passions God gives individuals help us remind each other of His character. I know individuals with a passion for the beauty of classical music, the compassion of listening well, the intricacy of nature, the selflessness in caring for the poor, the generosity of service to others. My own giftings in these areas are weak, and from rubbing shoulders repeatedly with such individuals, I learn better how to live.
I recently heard a story about a family who had just returned home with their newborn son. Their three-year-old daughter was insistent on talking to her new sibling in his room, alone, with the door shut. The parents were understandably hesitant, but the little girl was so insistent that they relented, realizing that they could monitor her through the intercom system and intervene if necessary.
Listening curiously, the parents heard the little girl enter her brother’s room, shut the door, walk to the crib and whisper, “Can you tell me what God’s like?” she paused. “I’ve almost forgotten.”
Being a mother of such children so fresh from God, this story staggers me.
What is God like, and how much have we forgotten?
I believe He reminds us of the things we once knew through the unique passions He distributes to his children – nurturing tenderness as a loving mother; expressing passion as defenders of justice; seeking wisdom like a teacher; discovering previously known truths through science; and, for me, relishing in the remarkable diversity of people and cultures He has created.
May God grant us the humility to offer our own passion as a reminder of the depths and diversity of His beauty, and to seek glimpses of what we’ve forgotten as we share with each other.