The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves make us who we are. The stories we tell others about ourselves make us known and understood.
We must know our own story so we understand the world and how we fit into it. And we must know our story so we can share and connect our story with others.
Telling Our Family Story
Our family’s story changed suddenly when a military coup required us to leave our home. There were so many varied losses: we left our home in 24 hours with just two suitcases for our family of eight. But the greatest loss for our children was the complete loss of all that was normal to them.
They are young, and they didn’t understand what the political situation had to do with them or with us leaving our home. They needed to process not just a singular event on our family timeline, but the hundreds of little things from our daily norm that we lost when we were forced to move away.
I wrote a picture book to show our simple daily rhythms and the familiar normal that was shattered first by the pandemic, then the military coup, and the deep mourning of our old life that followed.
It is a book of remembering what was and what no longer is, what parts have since been healed, and what parts will always ache.
Connecting Our Story to the Stories of Other TCK Families
When We Called Myanmar Home is our own personal family story, but it is a story that can connect with the stories of other families too. It is designed to help Third Culture Kids process their cross-cultural life and share their own stories of joy and loss as they reflect on the question, “Where is home?”
Remembering past experiences together as a family is an emotional journey. But it is in remembering both the joys and the pains of the past where we can process our life experiences, create our unique family narrative, and move into a space of healing and renewed hope. This book helps create the space for those conversations and that healing to happen.
Family narratives help us process painful experiences and celebrate joyful ones. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are form our identity, create a healthy self-concept, and give us a sense of continuity and resilience. Family narratives cultivate a healthy soil for our children to plant roots again when they’ve been pulled up. These stories help us mourn all that we no longer have and at the same time help us remember all that we still do.
At the end of the book is a TCK Guide to help facilitate the processing of the “daily normal” that is lost for young children when they move between cultures. Remembering both the joy and the grief of what was lost gives voice to the feelings of the child.
The guide can be used by a loving parent or caring adult who is doing a debrief with a child. A free download of the processing chart is available on my website.
Connecting Our Story to Our Passport Culture
When We Called Myanmar Home is also designed to help kids from our passport culture ponder what life is like as a kid raised in a culture very different from their own. One challenge we have as cross-cultural workers is effectively communicating our story to our friends, family, and supporters.
This short book uses vivid watercolor pictures, sensory descriptions, and poetic language to evoke an emotional response and help people better empathize with our family story. This narrative will help people in our passport culture expand their worldview and see how experiences in life can be very similar and very different at the same time.
As we live and minister cross-culturally, our family culture is neither exactly like our passport culture nor exactly like our host culture. It is our own unique family culture representing what is valuable, meaningful, and most significant to us.
When We Called Myanmar Home is uniquely our family story, but it will create a space for you to tell your family narrative, too.
May it be a blessing to you, your Third Culture Kids, and all those who love you and your Third Culture Kids. May it show you a path forward as you process your own story, share your joys, and mourn your losses – for you are never alone on this Kingdom journey. We have a Father who walks with each of us, who understands loss and who can hold everything we bring to Him. May we find in Him our true home.
When We Called Myanmar Home is available now on Amazon.