The Chameleon

My entire life has been a search for identity, and a search for a personality that I am comfortable in. I know that this is a common quest for many, as each of us has their own journey…but for me, I don’t know if this search will come to a satisfactory conclusion.

There is a term used to describe people like me. A TCK…Third Culture Kid. These are a growing group of people who grow up outside of their own culture. They adapt to new environments, and new cultures quite easily. They make themselves at home, but aren’t quite sure what “home” actually means. Inclusive in this group are diplomats kids, missionary kids, immigrant kids…there are others as well, but you get the idea, they are kids that grow up in a different culture than what their roots are.

“Where is home?” This is a question that I have heard asked many times. “I honestly don’t know”, is the answer I give often. “Home is where the heart is”, “home is where the rump rests”…these are quips that are thrown out when I joke about where I feel most at home. But they aren’t true. I can make myself at home anywhere…but I still don’t feel quite settled.

By the age of 7 I was living on my 3rd continent, 5th country. My parents were from 2 different cultures, and I identified with both. Adopting a 3rd culture just felt normal, and we became immigrants. Packing and moving was something that started when I was 9 months old…hence, the familiar sound of a suitcase zipper closing makes me happy! Something so frequently heard, it meant that I was off to new adventures. (Probably explains my career choice of flight attendant!)

“A Chameleon”, that’s what a friend called me yesterday. Makes sense. Adaptable, and blends in to it’s environment. I can change my colour according to my environment. Often it feels like I have 360 degree vision…and I can see all around me. I look confident, but am constantly vulnerable. Desperately trying to fit in. A loner, but not lonely.

When I started making and selling bags a decade ago, there was a choice to be made. There needed to be a label to define the “brand”. The choice was easy for me…I would name the brand after my other self. The other half of my family. I was living as a Finnish immigrant, but I was also British. This would be my english side. Sara Maxwell was the name. There are days when I think it’s my real name. Talk about confusion. My blogs are written in my given/married name, Saara Leppanen. Both of the names fit very well. The 2 Saras!

Raising my children in 1 culture was not really a conscious choice. I always wanted them to see the world as a place they had options in. They didn’t need to ever limit themselves to one country, or one culture. The world we live in is so interesting, and full of life-defining experiences. They needed to see that, and I can see it now…my restlessness has been passed on to the next generation. At this point, my 3 sons are on 3 continents. 1 is still with us, but never know where life will take him. Living in Africa will forever be part of his identity…he can’t erase that part of him anymore. It will forever be a part of him. Will he be as restless as his mother, I don’t know…time will only tell.

So, going back to the beginning of this blog, is there a conclusion to my search? Will there ever be a place I feel at home? I think there is…in spite of everything, and in spite of where I am…there is one constant home. It doesn’t matter where I live, or where I am going…Jesus is always with me. He comforts me when I am confused, and tells me that I belong to His family. I belong in His world, and I can spread His culture wherever I am.

My identity is in Christ. He is my home now, and for eternity.

He is preparing my “forever home”…and that is where I will finally belong.

“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” (John 14:1-4 MSG)