Shortly after returning from speaking for the chapel community at Edwards Air Force Base in California (where I have had the sincere privilege of being asked to come and speak for several consecutive years, and thus been able to build up a pretty good relationship with the students of that community), I returned to Belgium to speak at one of the local international schools as well as a Master’s Commission (a Christian leadership program for young adults) conference. At all three events, I spoke about different aspects underlying the importance of understanding identity. 

With the students at Edwards we looked at how to hold on to our identity amidst a world ever more influenced by the powers of social media and the ability to augment perception, often at the expense of true identity in reality. We have so many tools at our disposal to make ourselves look good, look popular, look connected that we can spend all our time propagating those perceptions and not enough time cultivating actual connections and actual depth. In truth, God sees us as we really are – not as our Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Instragram feeds and YouTube channels project us to be – and that’s a beautiful thing! The truth is that God loves us as we are, and to such a degree that he won’t leave us as we are but He continually draws us to the reality of who we are meant to be in Him.

Back in Europe, I was able to speak at one of Brussels’ many international schools about issues of identity as a Third Culture Kid. These students face some extra challenges when it comes to identity because they have grown up in a very transient world amidst several cultures. Simple questions like “where are you from?” aren’t so simple. Terms that usually offer some degree of explanation, like nationality, don’t actually accurately explain these students’ identities. Being able to help provide them with the language and imagery to navigate the complexities of their identity is one of my passions. These students are placed to make a huge difference in an increasingly globalized world that they are naturally suited for. Finally, speaking at the Master’s Commission conference I shared with a room full of Third Culture Kids who have taken a year of their young adult lives to be devoted to learning more about Christ ,about the unique gifts they bring to the mission field as people who have grown up in transience amidst cultures. It’s such a  beautiful thing to see people make the connection between their calling and the gifts God has been nurturing in them before they even knew they’d be using them.

By Chris O'Shaughnessy.  Born and raised in the military and having lived overseas for most of his life, Chris speaks and shares the gospel at gatherings ranging from service projects and leadership retreats to military events around the world. Based in Brussles, he gets to work with the diverse international community there while being easily accessible to various military and NATO installations throughout Europe.

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