As the semester comes to an end, I can’t help but to look back and meditate on everything I’ve learned, the fears I’ve conquered, the good and bad grades, the change of perspective, the growth in knowledge, the growth in love, and last but not least; the people I’ve met. Being my first time living in the United States, I was afraid all my presuppositions about Americans were going to be true. And you know what? They were true. They still are. I had a few experiences with discrimination, and people making fun of the way I say particular words, or that I can’t even say nor know what words mean. It has been tough, but it has been good. I have to admit my first year at Eternity has been more good than bad. It has been incredible.
Last month in our Foundations class we were asked how the class or school in general has helped us grow or change the way we view life/people, the Bible, and/or God. It took me a while to think about the ways my views have changed. It’s a very simple question, right? But the answer can be very complex. I came to the United States thinking that Americans thought of themselves as the center of the universe, as people who were above everyone else, as people who see immigrants as invaders, as people who put their trust in the government, as people who think God is for wars and revenge. Instead, I found a small group of students/faculty who love cultures and want to respect them, who challenge and love one another in ways I have never seen before, who strive to trust in God alone, and whose love for Jesus is above everything else.
Most of my presuppositions about Americans are still true, but my culture is not without fault. I used to be so proud because I’m not an American -even though I still enjoy the benefits of U.S. citizenship. I wanted everyone to know that I am different, and that I am not Mexican. The typical phrase, “They’re all Mexicans to me.” used to drive me insane. I can only laugh at myself and feel really stupid. WHO CARES?! Seriously, why is that so important? Aren’t I a citizen of the Kingdom of God? (Is this correct grammar? It sounds funny.) So I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if people get confused between Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. I don’t care if people see me as another Mexican invading their country.
The United States is so diverse, and I find that beautiful. I don’t fully understand yet what it means to be created in God’s image, but there is a beauty I can now see in people that I couldn’t see before. I’m not sure if I would be able to see that if I hadn’t come to the United States. Maybe I would’ve, but God decided to teach me that lesson here.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not exalting the United States. I don’t even like calling it “America.” I am just recognizing the fact that there is beauty in all peoples, and recognizing that God is a God who challenges culture, but is still able to find us and meet us wherever we are. I am aware of how your country impacts your worldview. I think the way I think because of where I grew up, and the family I’m a part of. I love colorful clothing, dancing and salsa music, mostly because of where I grew up, but none of those things determine who I am. The fact that I lived in Puerto Rico for 20 years is important, but the fact that I’m God’s child goes above and beyond. I am thankful God allowed me to learn my lesson and humble me in a country that is not known for humbleness. I am thankful God taught me to not fight fire with fire, pride with pride, but to love.
See how great love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. – 1 John 3:1