I Won’t Confess

Some of the stereotypes are simply true. We have a culture that has made it hard for us to talk about ourselves. At times, we have very little sensitivity to what is going on inside of us and can barely name our emotions. Sure, there are the exceptions, but it’s one thing to be loud and obnoxious about the stuff that doesn’t matter, even if they are taboo subjects to Western sensibilities. The stuff that is hard to get to is the stuff we keep under our vest.

Here’s the thing, I know Asian American brothers and sisters who can analyze the junk out of the stock market, or a book of financial reports, or a research project, or even theology…or even Asian American churches. But my heart remains a closed, unanalyzed place. And the miscarriages, the marital strife, the wilderness season when I dropped out of college, the wrestling with pornography, my temper tantrums, and oh my fears, my fears and doubts. And my hatreds. I am just getting to know me.

And therein lies one of the chief problems with talking about what is wrong with the Asian American church, is that I am part of the problem, and I barely know how to talk about myself. And neither do many of my brothers and sisters.

8 thoughts on “I Won’t Confess”

  1. Hi, I’d like to get more information on this site and possibly how I could get more involved with it.

    – David

  2. Great thoughts. We are theologically astute, keen on the particulars, and yet so maladjusted and hurting. Come with your healing, O Christ.

  3. Great insights there David, good of you to make a personal confession too. Yes, our culture seems to resist giving us the openness to speak of our soul matters, the internal world of emotions, and the vulnerability of our humanity. The arts of poetry and reflective expressions of Asian cultures hints at some of those internal stirrings, but I’d say they’re not enough. And, given that culture and language is closely related, we don’t even have the language for this internal spiritual and emotional world. What we wind up with, methinks, is a spirituality that is mostly outward expressions of righteousness and morality (i.e. holiness of marriages without divorce, hours of prayer times, faithful service in the church, missionary zeal to evangelize) – and I think Jesus had something to say about that.

  4. Very important thoughts here. You’re right that it’s one thing to be able to talk boldly about issues, and another to know and verbalize the things in our own hearts. Great reminder that ministry must flow out of our identity, and many of us still wrestle with knowing who we are.

  5. Amen @wayne.
    @djchuang, I agree with you with the observation that we have a religion of outward appearances. That’s very difficult to uncover. I have people in my family (non-believers) who wrestle with Christianity because it seems to so guilt-inducing as opposed to self-awakening (ironically as Eastern religions boast this trait), but of course, superficially they are far more “moral” than their Western counterparts, almost to the point of naiveté. It’s quite embarrassing actually, to try and say, “so you’ve never had even a thought of killing someone?” “No! what’s the matter with you? I don’t think that way.” “oh. well if you’ had, that would be as bad as actually killing them.” “What? You’re very strange.”
    Sin is enculturated out because there is less of a sense of duality — good and evil. Everything is duty and fulfillment. Anyway, good fodder for Christian counseling, eh?

  6. David – Thanks for sharing with honesty and openness. Someone always has to take the first step — even if, particularly with Asian Americans, they’re left hanging for awhile as the rest of us gather our courage to share.

    I think what you share above relates to why I’ve enjoyed my thirties so much more than previous decades. Sure, my body won’t let me make that killer crossover on the court anymore (maybe that was just in my mind?), but I’ll gladly trade that for a more sure sense of God-given identity and genuine peace.

    I just had a college student share with me some of his struggles about really, deeply *knowing* that God is there. He’s part of a ministry that’s heavy on the doctrine, but light on true friendship. As he was sharing, he told me, “I could never say this in my discipleship group.” So, so sad that “discipleship” has been reduced to memorization and attendance instead of the very place where life — in all its messiness, struggle, and glory — can actually be shared in following Christ together.

  7. That’s so right. I think real life is where it’s at. Doctrine is objective, it’s safe. we can argue the finer points, but it’s terrible if I don’t know myself or you any better, that is the tragedy of “discipleship.” ultimately, we aren’t capable of loving one another more unless we let each other in.

    btw, i totally feel ya on the 30’s > 20s. but then again, my crossover was like timmy soft away!

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