In this bookmarked summer of mine, Between Worlds brought a refreshing wash of memories for me of living cross-culturally. I miss the years we spent as a family in North Africa. Marilyn Gardner writes in colorful strokes of her third culture kid (TCK) experience of growing up in Pakistan. She also described vividly what it was like as an adult raising children (her own TCKs) back overseas. Read Between Worlds and you are transported to the places she lived as a child and again as an adult. She speaks of her family’s years in Cairo, Egypt, and I am also taken back to one of my favorite cities in the whole world. The smells, sights, and sounds are there…you will be enchanted.
Marilyn also shares with clarity and vulnerability that experience of living essentially between worlds. Of living among peoples not your own and yet you feel they are. Of returning to the US and appearing to be like all around you, and yet you are an “invisible alien”…not fully of this world either. Her stories are marked with lessons of deep living cross-culturally. We can all gain from these lessons – whether we’ve lived a third culture life or not.
Her stories I will leave for you to read in your own personal places…but some of her wisdom I share with you through these quotes from Between Worlds.
“Home is where our story begins.” For a third culture kid who questions the definition of home, this is both reassuring and sad. If home is where our story begins, what happens when we cannot go back?” (p. 4)
“I read in Psalm 84: ‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage…They go from strength to strength until each appears before God in Zion.’ In my journey, this Psalm makes ‘Home is where your suitcase is’ a spiritual reality.” (p. 8)
“I was raised on chai…It was not just the taste; it was the full experience of comfort that nourished body and soul.” (p. 21)
“There can be strength in remembering…Perhaps writing helps keep some of the bricks intact, because memories are precious and if used properly give strength to the present.” (p. 26)
“Turns out identity isn’t about a place you live at – but a Person you live in.” (p. 44)
“Those childhood wounds that brand us, that tell us lies about who we are and what we’ll become, are not strong when they come up against the Image of the God who made us.” (p. 55)
“Pieces of childhood are important foundations to building adults…in the pieces of childhood there is grace and a Father God who delights in putting together the pieces.” (p. 71)
“When I finally stopped grasping at success, at confidence, at belonging, I inexplicably found it.” (p. 87)
“If you don’t start kids on the road or plane when they are young then too soon they, and you, will move into a place and state of mind that sees all the obstacles instead of the benefits.” (p. 102)
“It is amazing how much waiting there is in a life of movement…Above all, we wait for God. We move forward in faith, only to be stopped in transit. So we wait. It’s not time. We sit tight. There are dozens of ways that God moves in and orchestrates our plans, our movements…For waiting is nothing new in the work of God.” (p. 109)
“Behind every third culture kid is a parent – a parent who wishes, hopes, and prays that they are doing the right thing.” (p. 120)
“God chooses ‘place’ to reveal himself to people, to show who He is, to remind them of his love, his care, his sovereignty, to call them to himself.” (p.138)
“Cultural humility gives up the role of expert, instead seeing ourselves as students of our host culture. I puts us on our knees, the best posture possible for learning.” (p. 193)
“May I forever hurt with the goodbyes that I say. May I forever remember the strength of the words ‘God Be With You.'” (p. 202)
Whether you’re a chai or coffee drinker – you will want a cup of one or the other, as you savor this book of life Between Worlds.