When a father’s love goes unexpressed

This USA Today commentary by Ray Wong, In death, assumptions about Dad melt away, seems typical of a child’s (or more specifically, a son’s) yearning for the blessing and love of a his Father. And it’s not really limited to Chinese or Asian cultures; it’s a common thing in many (most? all?) cultures for a son to want his father’s approval.

I didn’t think my father cared about me. I left Hong Kong at age 5, when my mother divorced my father in 1968. My father never contacted me. I lived in America. He lived a world away. …
…. After I married my wife, Quyen, in 1998, I visited Hong Kong again to introduce her to my father. When Quyen and I had kids, I heard through my mom that he wanted to see our children. So I invited him to the U.S., told him I would pay for his plane ticket and that he could stay with us. But I never received a response. I didn’t think he cared. So I went about my life.

… my father suffered a stroke and died. … my father’s younger brother brought my father’s possessions to me. … My father had kept every item relating to me and my family. … As I looked upon the pictures of my family with tears in my eyes, I knew I was wrong.

Read the full article.

Love unexpressed and love that doesn’t connect with the “love language” of the person of affection is love lost. What healing and joy there could be when love can freely flows, especially across cultures and generations.

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Naming The Nameless

My friend Tim and I have been close friends since we met in 2001 or so, but over the last two years or so, we’ve been “holding each other accountable”. (Although we’re overdue for a phone conversation, I’m calling you this week Tim!)

As men who are learning to be honest and vulnerable, strong and broken, we have found that there are many obstacles that keep men isolated even in the most friendly of circles. Simply put, men don’t talk, don’t know how to talk, and don’t know what to say if and when they ever get there.

As an Asian guy, I would say this is doubly hard for me. Just to say that I have a problem or that I even need to talk elicits all kinds of conflicted feelings including guilt, shame, and even the occasional fit of despair, all before I’ve even said anything at all.

Tim, on the other hand, is all-Americana, a once-farm boy from the big city of Wabash, Indiana now living in Nashville, TN and can’t stand it when I can’t say what I mean, or even worse, when I don’t do what I say.And so, Tim has held me accountable for the last two years, often kicking and screaming.

But in that span, I will say that I have found freedom. I have learned to be more honest about the temptations and proto-addictions that I face. I have gained the strength to talk about them more openly and ask for help from my wife. I have seen God’s power to be more than just friends, but to be active in the process of forming one another in the image of Christ.

In my new and growing understanding of temptation, idolatry, and addiction, I have found that we tend not to name the things we value most. We often make weak, watered-down confessions that objectify the thing, “I have a problem with lust” or “Pray for my problem with work”, but never subjectify it–”I am a sex addict” or “I am a procrastinator”. We are rarely specific nor do we own up to the fact that the “thing” is in us, has infiltrated our very being, has grafted itself into our very DNA, family life, church life, etc. Continue reading

Be A Man, Do the Right Thing

Found this post on Racialicious featuring this video:

Asian American males are often portrayed in the media as less  than”manly”, maybe even asexual. Christian males often are seen as “safe” and “nice”. When combined, Asian American Christian men can often be the most “harmless”  and “nicest” across the spectrum of men. I wonder if some of the behaviors I see in young Asians is largely reactionary to this type of stigma.

I’m not saying that we swing the pendulum the other way into some sort of violent, brutish, testosterone bloodthirsty frenzy, but I wonder does our discipleship require emasculation? Is there repressed aggression under this double layer of church and Asian culture that can take harmful forms in our friendships, relationships, marriages, and other areas even as we might be “high performers”?

Are there ways our churches can serve as places to encourage stronger formation of Asian American Christian men? I understand that the goal of the gospel is not necessarily to create us in some sort of projected image of what we’d like to be, but does the church provide us the means to show transformed lives from what we have seen thus far?