What was interesting about this Christmas was that I was able to talk with my family about the cross-cultural pieces I have been engaging and learning about on and off campus these past few months. I love my family, and think they are spectacular - though this didn't mean that there weren't conversations that needed to be had around how our family engaged matters of multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism. There were some seemingly innocuous jokes or comments that had made their home in our family over the years that, upon deeper reflection, have been gateways to disrespecting people who are different from us. We were often oblivious because, well, when you are in a place of power and privilege in any given place, it's difficult to see beyond yourself to others - to see how simple fun on one end is hurtful on another end.
So I ended up having some calm, though firm, conversations with my parents and siblings around how we engage other cultures and ethnicities as a family. It was difficult to bring up, but the fruits were worth it. I would say most of my family were keen to talk about it, and open to being shaped and changed for the sake of others. It was a true blessing, because I was afraid that by bringing up the topic, I would be derided as the 'holier-than-thou' member of the family. Not so! People were receptive and willing to explore this large issue. A new journey has begun for us.
So, here is why I am a proud son. A few days after these initial conversations, my Dad and I were out driving together, and decided to grab some food. I saw a sushi restaurant, and asked if Dad would be up for going. He said yes (note: when we go out to eat, it is usually Wendy's, Harvey's, Pizza Pizza, etc., so you can imagine how different this was). So I taught my Dad how to eat sushi and how to use chop sticks. He didn't fare too well at first, and admitted that he felt embarrassed not being able use the chop sticks properly. But he still tried, and said he would practice some more before heading out for sushi again. He liked something new and foreign to him, and is now going to make an effort to enjoy it even more.
This is huge. Change is a pretty massive thing to introduce to a family that has always done things certain ways. My family could have shut this door rather quickly, and brushed me off. But I knew that there was a willingness to explore things, to try something new. I struggle with change, but am growing into someone who tries, and takes interest in, new things. I think, and now know, that my family is growing in that same way too.
I am thankful to God for my family, and the way that following Jesus becomes not so much for our own salvation, but for our family's as well.