Posted in Charity, Childhood, Faith, Third Culture Kid

I’m an MK. What are You?

“I don’t like that man.  I must get to know him better.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

TTYL – Talk To You Later
SSDD – Same Stuff Different Day
LMK – Let Me Know
PAW – Parents are Watching (my personal favorite…not really!)

We live in a world where we communicate with all kinds of capital letters.  It just makes it easier when using our thumbs to type words designed for five fingers.  And sometimes, things can get lost in translation.  Here’s my favorite:

“I heard your aunt passed away.  LOL.”
(If you’re struggling with this one, the person sending thought LOL meant “Lots of Love” and it really means “Laugh Out Loud”)

In the olden days, instead of #textspeak, we called these capital letters acronyms.

I grew up with one that identified me:  MK (Missionary Kid).  For as long as I can remember, I have used those two letters to tell people who I am.   In fact, I just did it again this week when meeting someone for the first time.  And I haven’t lived overseas for 4/5 of my life.  I guess it’s supposed to give insight into some depth of my being for the curious or just be used as a conversation starter.  Sometimes, people are fascinated and other times, I get the feeling they feel a little sorry for me.  It’s a funny dichotomy.

Life as an MK is BOTH fascinating AND difficult.  BOTH wonderful AND confusing.  Kind of like your life.  It does pose BOTH a unique set of challenges AND a particular group of rewards (CHECK OUT MINE HERE).  Just like your life.

For a long time, I felt strange and unusual, almost like an animal in a zoo for everyone to gawk at.  We were on display, especially when we came home on deputation…a fancy word for visiting churches to raise money (and believe me, my parents did their best to protect us from the insanity of standing up in front of churches and singing songs in Ethiopia’s native tongue).  **CHECK OUT MY PARENT’S BIRD’S EYE VIEW HERE**  I felt excluded, like everyone else was in some kind of inner circle and I was on the outside.  It was partly true.  I did have a different story than those I eventually went to school with here in the US.  I did have a life that didn’t resemble theirs.  But it wasn’t the whole truth.

The WHOLE TRUTH is that each one of us has a unique life story that encompasses sorrow AND joy, hardship AND celebration, beauty AND darkness.  The WHOLE TRUTH is that I can accept BOTH myself and my particular journey AND love others as I get to know theirs.  The WHOLE TRUTH is that instead of a wall of division between US (MKs) and THEM (RJs – Regular Joes – who might have lived in the same house in the same town for their whole childhood), there is solidarity that we ALL are in the same big giant circle as humans. After all, I now have a husband and children who are RJs and I certainly never want any division between us.  Blogger Janet Newberry calls this divided place a “two-circle world,” one that’s based on exclusion and isolation, not inclusion and community.  The WHOLE TRUTH (the one that sets us free) is that our distinct stories don’t divide us.  They unite us.  This makes room for a “one-circle” world.

We all tend to find people who relate to our stories, our beliefs, our way of living.  We tend to group ourselves according to these commonalities.  It doesn’t just happen to MKs and RJs.  It happens everywhere:  politics, religion, race, hobbies, life status, you name it. Just looking at groups on Facebook reminds me that this happens in spades.  If I look around me, I’m not sure it’s working great.  Yes.  It matters that we find others who are going through/have gone through what we have, share a similar story.  In fact, it’s important.  It creates a place of understanding, of being known, of safety, of belonging.   But again, it’s only partly true.  It isn’t the whole truth.  The WHOLE TRUTH is that excluding others because we feel excluded doesn’t ensure us true belonging.  The WHOLE TRUTH is that Jesus’ prayer that “we are one just as He and His Father are one” provides the love and belonging we all were designed to have and long for.  The WHOLE TRUTH is love and exclusion cannot coexist and that God invites us all into this great, inclusive love story.   We already belong!!

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 4.40.25 PM

I want to live out of that WHOLE TRUTH.  I want to live FROM a place of belonging, not FOR it.  I want to invite myself and others into this “one-circle world,” to unwrap the gift of each person God has for me to enjoy, no matter what their story, background, political affiliation, race, etc.  If I am honest, I’m not there yet.  My world is “two-circlish” right now.  I want that to change.  It might mean more work on my part.  But more work usually means more reward.  One way is that I would love to unwrap the gift that is you.  I would love to know your story.  Here’s one little step for me and you to take (this blog post is my part in it):

If you had to describe your life in #textspeak, what would it be?  Mine has now changed to PMKNRJ (Previous Missionary Kid, Now Regular Joe).  Let me know here in the comment section or out on social media.  Can’t wait to hear!

If you want to share your deeper story with me, please go to the contact page and send me an email.  Or “friend” me on Facebook.  I will count it as a very sacred privilege to get to know you.  Thank you.


Last thing:  if you are wondering where the pics are from up top, it’s from the Dr. Seuss book, “The Sneetches and Other Stories.”  Great read!




Sappy, sarcastic, serious and spiritual hope-bringer. Eat my potato chips with milk.

20 thoughts on “I’m an MK. What are You?

  1. ooooh Glenn, I love that!!
    I can’t think of one that fast Esther, but what a great thing to ponder . . . of course I won’t be able to think of just one, my mind is whirring with possibilities (but none of them cohesive!) How about this for the moment? WICLACMT
    Wish I Could Lasso And Coral My Thoughts . . . . LOL

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oooohhhhh Glenn, I love that!

    I can’t think of one that fast, but what a great thing to ponder . . . of course I won’t be able to think of just one – my mind is whirring with possibilities (but none of them cohesive!) How about this for the moment? WICLACMT
    Wish I Could Lasso And Coral My Thoughts . . . . LOL

    I love hearing all the aspects of your MK experience Esther, I love unwrapping the gift that is you 💝!
    It’s so essential to search for the Whole Truth, or at least as much truth as we can open up to and hold at the moment; and to tell others where we were, where we were, and where we hope to go – thank you for doing that Esther. One of my favorite lines is “If I am honest I am not there yet”. but I know that’s where you are heading! I would say that excluding others because we feel excluded will guarantee that we will never experience true belonging, most of us don’t even belong to ourselves yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, great read and I like Glenn’s too! I do tell people I am an MK twin sinner saved by grace, MKTSSBG but then elaborate from there. It has been a privilege to have such a multicultural life, as I have lived in several places by God’s leading and design! (I love the airmail design around this note too! nice international touch that those of us who used them remember!) Who am I now… people tell me I am a compassionate wise counselor. CWC. Certainly not a title I would have picked, but I have made it a point to ask God to teach me with each new painful experience I have had, what I need to know of Him to encourage others. because of this, He has given me words of comfort to offer to others who are hurting in the ways I have. I did ask God to give me wisdom like Solomon when I was in my late teens… I just did not know what life would need to look like to gain that kind of wisdom. But it certainly is encouraging to know that I can call back to someone else on the trial and say. “keep taking the next step, Your Savior is there beside you even when you don’t see Him, and He will lead you all the way to glory!”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m am mk from Senegal. So much of this is so relatable. My parents never made us go up in front of churches. They tried to make it as fun and pressure-less as possible, something I’m very grateful for. I’ve been back “home-side” for 10 years now and there are still days I feel so out of place. Slowly though I’m starting to be able to understand things from the “normies” side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mara! For being so open. It helps me to understand each story is unique and we can all learn from and truly love each other. Thank you again! I hope you continue to grow and learn as you navigate your own story!!


  5. So well said! Followed the link from Debbie Jones Warren and I’m so glad I did! By the way, I grew up on Dr. Seuss and loved the star bellied Sneeches. Got so excited when I saw the pictures. Lol! (The laughing one, not the love version.)

    I’m gonna go with RPP: Recovering People Pleaser. I should probably add, BGG—by God’s Grace.

    Liked by 1 person

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