I’m a long way, geographically and metaphorically, from my roots – Taiwan is well over 10,000 miles away from Philly, and my parents had been in the US for few years before I arrived on the scene – but those roots still largely define who I am. It’s hard to say whether it’s the Taiwaneseness or the immigration experience of my parents, but I find that the following three core values are indelibly hard-wired into me:
1) Waste nothing. Whether it is natural resources, objects, food, time, or money, you don’t waste anything. You just don’t.
2) Work hard and don’t complain. If something isn’t fair, you don’t whine about it or try to change it; you just work extra hard to overcome it.
3) All for family. Everything you do is for the good of the family. The worst possible thing you can do in life is bring shame to your family.
Having come to the Christian faith relatively late in my life (in my late teens), and now living in a very different sort of milieu than my formative childhood years (urban East Coast, vs. suburban West Coast), there have been moments in which these ingrained traits represented positive things I was glad to have hammered into me. And, there have been moments in which they represented negative things I had to actively work against in order to do what I thought was the right thing to do.
As a parent, I think often of whether my kids will be ready to make tough choices when they come to the inflection points scattered along the journey of their lives. What sorts of core values will their lives under my watch leave them with? Will they learn to understand the subtle balance between healthy socialization on the one hand, and knowing when not to give into peer pressure on the other hand? And will they know when to hold fast to what they’ve learned from Amy and me, and when to break from those hard-wired traits as needed?
I believe in a Great Author who is able – despite the corrupting influences of the enemy of our souls, a darkening world, and our own perverted nature – to send us on a breathtaking life trajectory, one in which every incident can be used for good, every wound healed, every plot line pointing to glory. Mine happens to include Taiwanese and immigrant roots; and, so far, those roots have intertwined in a lot of places in my life narrative. I hope for eyes and ears open enough, and life long enough, to take in where else they will intersect, what roots my kids are forming, and where those roots will take them on their journeys.