Balanced Identification

There are so many ways that cross-cultural relationships can go wrong. But when they go right, they're beautiful.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a couple of friends about healthy cross-cultural relationships. One of my friends is a historian (well ... studying history, but really serious about it). He shared about a fascinating book that lays out a complex model for cross cultural relationships. It's organized around x and y and z axes.

The most interesting axis for me was the Identification axis.

On one end, there's "I want you to be like me." People have have too much of this end up imperialistic. They foist their culture on others. They press and oppress.

On the other end, there's "I want to be like you." People who go too far down this road spiral into self-loathing and self-hatred. They become imposters.

I found this axis interesting because of the tension, the balance. You don't want to go too far in either direction, but you do want to go in both directions. The "I want you to be like me" impulse leads to openness and blessing. The "I want to be like you" impulse leads to humility and growth. But you can't go too far.

As a bi-racial person, I feel this tension every day. I want people to come toward me and I want to head over toward them. But I end up in the middle. Confused.

This is one of the reason I deeply value my bi-racial friends. They're just as confused as me. They feel this tension too, this push and pull. God meets us in this tension, not resolving it, but using it to form and shape us.

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