Tasha Jun remembers how uncomfortable she felt sharing about her experience as a biracial Korean American with some women in a Bible study at her church.
Things got even more awkward when one of the women tried to smooth over the discomfort. “I don’t even think of you as Asian!” she said, brightly, oblivious to the fact that she was blithely expunging half of Jun’s heritage. It was yet another instance of someone trying to fit Jun into their own version of who she should be.
“Colorblind theology has always been a sugarcoated death threat to everything Korean in me,” Jun writes in her debut book, a sumptuously written memoir-in-essays about being biracial, feeling too Asian and not Asian enough, and learning to accept the full spectrum of her identity and her family’s broken stories. “True unity requires whole people, full of their colors—and hard, holy humbling work.”
As the mother of a Korean daughter, I gleaned valuable truths about my daughter’s homeland, culture and what it is like to try and belong in a white world. Because, as Jun points out, there is a big difference between fitting in and belonging. To fit in or assimilate, you must hide pieces of yourself in order to be acceptable. But belonging means you are fully accepted for all your unique colors and cultures, enfolded just the way God intended for you to be when he made you.
Though Jun tried to hide certain aspects of her Koreanness (she greeted school friends outside the front door so they wouldn’t smell the kimchi emanating from the kitchen), she ultimately realized that God was calling out her true identity. “Like David, there was nowhere I could go from his spirit, no way I could flee the intentions of his creation.”
I also gained insights into healing the fractured parts of my own story as the daughter of a World War II refugee and immigrant, who suffered deep trauma and loss during his childhood.
Jun’s mother, a childhood trauma survivor of the Korean War, carried heavy secrets and losses, the pain of which filtered through her attempts to cover them up. “My mom didn’t want my sister or me to carry any of it, but the more hidden the truth, the more shame passes on from one generation to the next,” she wrote.
But Jesus faithfully enters our messiest family dynamics; he always shows up to redeem, restore and heal. Grief might swim through oceans, cross borders, and even stretch across centuries, but it doesn’t have the last word. “We carry the stories of our families alongside God’s intentional redemption of those stories,” she writes. In other words, the pain is real, but so is the healing.
Lyrically rendered and woven with wisdom and mercy, this book holds many transforming truths.
For anyone who has ever hidden a crucial part of themselves to be more acceptable to others, Tell Me the Dream Again leads us to embrace who we were divinely knit to be, in every color and scent, cultural and family detail. (Tyndale)
About the Author
Lorilee Craker, a native of Winnipeg, Man., lives in Grand Rapids, Mich. The author of 15 books, she is the Mixed Media editor of The Banner. Find her on Instagram @thebooksellersdaughter or on her podcast Eat Like a Heroine.