My Country

In my lifetime, I’ve been called, Chink and Bruce Lee (and I’m not even Chinese). I’ve been called Tight-eye, Darkie, and Dog-eater. Because I was born on the Island of Guam, I’ve been called Guam-alien.

I’ve also been told to “Go back to the country where you came from.”

And every time these words were spoken to me, I was always made to feel low. Inferior. Less than. Invaluable. Even oppressed.

Needless to say, racist phrases and words that were said to me growing up has left an emotional sting even to this day. And, every time these words rear its ugly head out of the hole they came from, I tense up. My heart beats a little faster. My throat tightens. I become emotionally low.

Because of my empathy for others, these emotional feelings are triggered when I hear these horrible remarks spit in the faces of my fellow human beings.

It’s been a tough week, if I’m being honest.

But, as a person of faith in Jesus, I hang on to the hope of restoration, healing, and redemption.

I remember passages like the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I cling on to illustrations where Jesus embraces those who weren’t like Him (social, ethnic, and gender). I celebrate the apostles breaking racial barriers to welcome diversity into their communities. I hold on to verses like 1 Corinthians 12:13 that says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

I hold on.

We all need to hold on.

We all need to hold on and persevere.

I can’t go back to the country I came from, because I’m already here.


Secrets and hard to talk about stuff being swept under the rug was common practice in my family. The uncomfortable tsunami that comes with the truth always made sensitive issues difficult waters to tread. Asian shame is a real thing and it also contributed to the silence. Add in the fact that I was always an introverted minority in every social setting I found myself in, being honest about the internal war that was ensuing within was a foreign concept.

I never allowed myself the freedom to be vulnerable.

And, because, putting on a coarse exterior was somewhat expected, I never developed the backbone to stand firm in the face of emotional adversity. I never knew how to process pain and hurt. I never knew how to embrace depression and anxiety. I didn’t know how to move forward.

The result? A mid-life implosion that has left emotional shrapnel stuck in the sides of my everything.

Being vulnerable usually leaves us open to harm. The other side, however, is the ability to open one’s self to a trusted community. Keeping myself at an emotional distance did more damage than good; which eventually led me down a path of unhealthy mental habits that resulted in depression, anxiety, and suicidal tug-of-war matches.

I put up fronts when I need to tear down the façades that I was creating. I bulked up my fists when I needed to open up my palms toward communal embrace. I turned my back on support when I needed to run toward help.

In this week’s episode of the “Breathe: Faith and Creativity” Podcast, Rachel Hall speaks about the power of vulnerability and the ability to create healthy rhythms from our transparency.

Click HERE to catch her episode and be encouraged.