When a father's love goes unexpressed

This USA Today commentary by Ray Wong, In death, assumptions about Dad melt away, seems typical of a child’s (or more specifically, a son’s) yearning for the blessing and love of a his Father. And it’s not really limited to Chinese or Asian cultures; it’s a common thing in many (most? all?) cultures for a son to want his father’s approval.

I didn’t think my father cared about me. I left Hong Kong at age 5, when my mother divorced my father in 1968. My father never contacted me. I lived in America. He lived a world away. …
…. After I married my wife, Quyen, in 1998, I visited Hong Kong again to introduce her to my father. When Quyen and I had kids, I heard through my mom that he wanted to see our children. So I invited him to the U.S., told him I would pay for his plane ticket and that he could stay with us. But I never received a response. I didn’t think he cared. So I went about my life.

… my father suffered a stroke and died. … my father’s younger brother brought my father’s possessions to me. … My father had kept every item relating to me and my family. … As I looked upon the pictures of my family with tears in my eyes, I knew I was wrong.

Read the full article.

Love unexpressed and love that doesn’t connect with the “love language” of the person of affection is love lost. What healing and joy there could be when love can freely flows, especially across cultures and generations.

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About djchuang

DJ Chuang is a social media strategist for churches and non-profit orgs, with a personal priority on next generation Asian Americans. He's a veteran blogger at djchuang.com and resides in Orange County, California

Comments

  1. Diane Louie (pen name) says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting this article. The Lord moves me with His truth through people’s transparency. God bless your heart!
    —————-
    Your article made me reflect on my own story, as well.

    Having recently accepted Christ, suddenly I became severely depressed. I grew up in an isolated Asian immigrant family and lived with an increasingly violent, hot-tempered Asian father for many years. I struggled with severe, dark depression, especially self-condemnation as I went to church and saw my SINS. (Did you know Asian American women have the highest suicide rates of ANY ethnic group?)I saw no way out, even trying three times to commit suicide. The second time, my Mom miraculously coaxed me to return the knife to her. The third time, the ambulance came, but I quietly signed a waiver, clamming up to their interrogation.
    I was an oustanding student, a “champion of all sorts”, prepared for both medical school and law school, graduated college even in my early teens, a national champion, a polyglot, a winning sportswoman – a living, overachieving testament to the hard work of Asian immigrants in pursuit of the American dream that even my elder relatives pointed out to my cousins. (I luckily did not have to pursue the MD-JD route, but am settling for just one degree.)

    Yet, I had filled the lack of fatherly love and huge “void” of basic paternal validation with self-pity, severe depression, even a relationship with an Asian guy which in retrospect was completely unrealistic. I left, realizing I was immature and I postponed dating for Jesus. The way our Asian parents (esp. Dads) sincerely but somehow rather ineffectively care for us often leaves us feeling love-needy. Unmet needs. Perfect “void” for the Cross, though! Yes, for sure, Jesus loves Asian Americans!

    As I prayed recently through post-grad years, I contemplated how eternally sorrowful I would be if the Lord took away my parents, despite our severe family brokenness. They had over-protected me, loved me, toiled for their children, worked hard to help me overachieve, in a way the world never could. I clung to my idol of pride for the secrets of my high achievement, well-rounded awards and national honors, and undying eagerness to push myself to perform at the top. (I still do, and am applying to thirty graduate schools as I type!)

    My awards, “genius” achievements, eyebrow-raising strengths, etc. all pointed to excellent parenting, thank the Lord. My own personal sins and egregious mistakes – which I even confessed later to parents – pointed to the fact I lacked an inviolable sense of self, deep family love, a clear sense of God, a lasting perception of truth, right and wrong. Ungodly things that probably never happen in most church families happened to me, in my own family and with friends. I finally knew the Heavenly Father loved me so much as to set me apart from other peoples. Before, I didn’t know I didn’t need the world to like me. I didn’t know why He had predestined, elected, saved me, but I wanted Him desperately now. (I’m a Calvinist, hehe.)

    I was a severely, extremely lacking daughter. Already far behind my churchgoing peers in strength of my family and life relationships, when I attended church and weekly fellowship, I built a wall between me and fellowship sisters and brothers – especially against Asian fathers and with mixed feelings for Asian American males – noticeably a difficult, moody person with my church friends and equally intolerant of the piercing, condemning words of my father. My world got darker, darker, and darker.

    Yet, as a sinner brought down to tears and up to joy by God’s grace, as an increasingly strong Christian who prays and does devotions with her Mom several times a week, I vowed to do what I could, while knowing my limits and staying sane.

    I do believe in the supernatural power of Jesus Christ. Instead of seeing a doctor, therapist, counselor, family friend, which required resources I lacked (I am kind of broke :), I came to Jesus. As a sinner deserving the greatest punishment, I confessed to the Lord my mistakes and asked for mercy and forgiveness, and He has given it in blessings and sheer grace. As an Asian American who still struggles with my identity as an Asian American Christian, I believe that the Cross offers a beautiful ticket of darkness. Problems, circumstances, the situation may never change. I may never be a Daddy’s girl or know what that feels like to be affirmed, loved, respected, not beaten, put down, and hurt for so long. But I know my Heavenly Father loved me so much as to give His only Son. And I live not for myself but for Him. And I have been active in fellowship now, finding His rewards in being myself and finding joy, peace, friendship, and family, which are all completely new to me. Praise the Lord, huh?

    I still try to do my best but I believe my family wants me to be well-rounded, too. A peerless genius and lone overachiever sure makes headlines, but a loved and loving, godly young woman is my next aspiration. (After that is dating towards marriage, haha, half-joking.)

    And I wish others may know of His love, too. Don’t be so envious of all overachievers. Behind every achievement lies a tough story. Behind every downcast churchgoer’s face is a brokenness, and we find it healed well, and then some, in His grace. Realize, at the end of the day, no matter how “bad” or “unloving” or non-Christian (like mine) your tough, cruel, encroaching, or nagging Asian parents are, they are still God’s gift of amazing grace. We might well be the same as them if we had lived their lives. And, we never deserve them. Let’s focus on His gifts which might leave never to return. Let’s thank Him in good and bad times.

    I still need desperate help to deal with my parents. I realize the Lord gives me limited time, and I still talk to my Dad at a safe distance, on the phone. I try to share my life’s good news with him, hoping no longer for his approval or kindness towards me, but rather hoping he might find some joy, peace, and love himself. My Asian father may never quit raging, blaming, and hitting me if I return to him. My Asian mother, thank the Lord, and I seek His protection, love, and care at an immigrant church with strong English ministry. For those of you reading who might consider praying for us, I really appreciate it from the bottom of my healed heart. I want to be an intentionally godly woman, though all the odds are against me. As an open believer, I have emerged into a new world now, and need all His protection, healing, and love to rough it. But we know the Lord is for us in Romans, rigth? That is what keeps me going, His light, His love, His promises in the New Testament. Did I mention the New Testament is my favorite book? His TRUTH enthralls me. And that is far more than enough.

    Thanks for posting the article! Hope you enjoy mine! My writing skills here are not that great, but please take heart in Him!
    ————-

  2. Brian says:

    Diane, that is some story. Thank you for sharing. I have to make sure my son knows I love him. I have to treat him better. Again, thank you for all of your words.

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