As someone who grew up resisting my Chinese heritage and language, I think a lot about what could have been different to change my prior perspective. I have fond memories of my late parents sharing stories about their life in China. Otherwise, my Chinese-related childhood memories are often associated with heartache. I wonder – what if my parents had the means and know-how to create fun and positive Chinese learning environment? Instead, Chinese was the language that we fought with at home. It was the language in which I received criticism. We had little faith, hope, and love in this language.
In addition, many factors were out of their control:
Looks from people in our non-diverse community…
Racist comments from mean kids at school…
And everybody spoke English.
These external realities would have put the brakes on any motivation to speak Chinese. As such, I could not see any positive value for being and learning Chinese outside of my home. Although Chinese is my heritage, the words and culture were foreign and tainted with strife.
Finding faith, hope, and love in a foreign heritage language
When my daughter was 2, I suddenly had a strong compulsion to learn Chinese with her. At that time, we spoke only English together. I had not spoken Chinese in years, and I forgot almost everything I learned when I was young. But through prayer, God led us on this Chinese learning journey. Although our family has had no immediate need to use Chinese and the obstacles are countless, the effort is for a higher purpose. Our Chinese learning journey has been a means of forgiveness to my parents and myself. It is love for God’s creation, for how he made us. When I put all of my faith in Him, fears begin to melt, and I can see that He has plan.
I think of all the people who have approached me in the past (eg, patients, foreign exchange students, tourists, etc.) who assumed and hoped that I could speak Chinese. They asked me for help, but I could not say much to them at the time. My children and I are still far from fluent, and we have so much to learn. But I pray that my kids and I can connect with more people and spread positivity through the gift of language.
When I came across the above photo, I was drawn to the verse on the white bookmark:
愛中無懼 / 爱中无惧 (Ài zhōng wú jù / Fearless in love).
I asked my auntie to help me translate it, and she explained:
心中有愛，就不會害怕 / 心中有爱，就不会害怕 (Xīnzhōng yǒu ài, jiù bù huì hàipà / With love, there is no fear.)
Another Chinese-speaking mom explained that this is from 1 John 4:18 愛裡沒有懼怕 / 爱里没有惧怕 (Ài lǐ méiyǒu jùpà / There is no fear in love.)
More encouraging Bible verses
When I look left and right and see our performance-driven world, I get overwhelmed and distracted by worldly goals. So when I need encouragement, I try to redirect my attention and look up. Although I am inspired by this bilingual list of wise Chinese sayings, Bible verses breathe faith and focus on God. Here are motivating Bible verses from NIV (New International Version):
- But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. Corinthians 12:9
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
- The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
For more Chinese Christian resources, you may be interested in:
Many thanks to our wonderful Facebook group Christian Parents Raising Bilingual Children in English & Chinese for their prayers, support, and sharing of resources! You’re welcome to join our community here!