Looking back at my teenage years, it was such a simple time, yet I also cringe because of how narrow-minded my perspective was on life. Whether it be relationships, future, school, pleasures or struggles, it really is funny how much unnecessary weight we put on these things. It is funny how wise and grown up we think we are at that age.
And what’s most cringe-worthy is the view many teenagers hold of their parents, especially me. I remember how embarrassed I was of my parents, the way they talked, dressed, and acted. I was envious of my non-Asian friends’ parents who were “hip and cool,” who seemed like they understood the culture, who bought their kids the nice clothes and neat gadgets. I was embarrassed of friends coming over because of what they might think of the smell of the house, while I had no problem when no one was around. I hated shopping because my mother would immediately go to the sale section. I would get self-conscious in public when speaking my parents’ native tongue, responding to them in English, even though when alone with them I would do otherwise.
The stories are endless and it amazes me how they not only put up with me, but more so continue to pour out love to me to this day. I remember a time period in my life when I thought I was an adult, and that I no longer needed my parents. The hardened heart, the arrogance, the pride, it was so foolish! And even through that, my parents would still want to have a meal with me, would support me in my endeavors, would be there for me when deathly sick, when in need and in struggle.
Finally when I was able to see through the muddled views and assumptions of my parents, when an ounce of maturity blossomed, I realized how amazing my parents truly are. The risk and sacrifice they made when moving to a foreign country, with no more than a few dollars in their pockets, without knowing a single word of English, with hopes to have better lives for themselves and their future children is something unfathomable to the wealthy children of middle class America. I have so much respect for them now as I discovered their unending pursuit in businesses, failing again and again, yet it really speaks of their entrepreneurial spirit, something the technological age is tapping into now. The amount of appreciation and gratitude was nonexistent when I was a child, because I was so self-focused, because I didn’t know who my parents were, because I so foolishly couldn’t see past the accent they had when speaking.
Now, I love who they are and I am not ashamed of them. I can comfortably speak in their native tongue in public, I love the thick stench and smell of garlic and red pepper paste when walking into their home, I love buying clothes on sale and save a ton of money on something so fleeting, I love the different perspective they gave me for being bicultural, I love that they didn’t excessively spoil me and disciplined me when necessary, I love and am so proud of where they are in life and how much they accomplished. I could not have asked for better parents, despite the struggles growing up, despite the hiccups we have here and there presently, at the end of the day, there is nothing but gratitude, respect, admiration, and most importantly love.
Yet, there is something lurking in my heart, something tugging at my consciousness, something that does not sit well.
There is someone whom I view with a lens similar to the perspective I had of my parents when I was a child, when I was immature, when I didn’t really know who they were in entirety—My Father.
My Father who when we’re alone at home, I am so content with, so secure, so joyful, basking in His entire fragrance, yet when someone comes near, I get a little self-conscious of what they might think of the aroma. I get self-conscious when speaking to Him in public, yet I have no problem when it is just us. I sometimes get embarrassed of the different culture, I get self-aware when certain behaviors don’t match what the majority of people do. I hesitate to speak highly of My Father, I question the decisions and “parenting” style, thinking that I am a grown adult and that I know what’s best.
I am still such a child, an arrogant teenager, a prideful, foolish young adult when it comes to knowing my Father in Heaven. Even as I write, it is a private matter between me and God. In my heart, I am aware of how good my Father in Heaven is, how God has demonstrated the characteristics and attributes of my parents even more so than they have. I know how God has not only put up with me, but pours out a love that is greater than that of my earthly parents. I know God doesn’t stop wanting to meet with me, have a meal with me, despite how many times I’ve turned away, how many times I’ve tried to hide God when in front of others. I know how many times God has been there for me when deathly sick, in my darkest days, when in times of greatest need. I know like a child, how much God loves me, yet I am ashamed. I am ashamed of my Father. I am ashamed of the gospel. I am afraid to shine the light. I am afraid of what others might think if I speak too boldly of my Father in Heaven. I am afraid of the weird looks I’ll get when others smell the different aroma, when others come across this different culture, despite knowing how much better it is to be not just bicultural, but knowing an entirely different realm of spiritual culture. It is foolishness, yet I still cower. It is not childlike, but just childish.
As my heart breaks, I hope that even through this process, it is the similar ounce of maturity I experienced when realizing the amazingness of my earthly parents. I hope to rid myself of all childish notions and assumptions of my Father in Heaven. I hope I can understand in entirety the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for me, a sacrifice so much greater than my parents moving to this country. I hope that one day, I will be able to proclaim and testify,
“… I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”