THIS IS HOW THE LOST GET FOUND
Recently, I've been doing a lot of sighing. And I've been remarking to myself, either out loud or silently, that I've been really tired lately. Maybe even exhausted. The funny thing is that the fatigue isn't even necessarily physical. In fact, I think I feel the least tired when I'm in the middle of a workout. Instead, I think the majority of the weariness is mental and emotional.
There are plenty of good reasons for that of course. Working in the intersection of mental health and social services, there are endless opportunities to run yourself emotionally dry, and the process of differentiating yourself and your own emotions and circumstances from those of the clients you work with is draining in and of itself. But more than that, I think I've really been feeling the weight of what it means to just be in the world, and a question that often accompanies that weight is the question of why am I here? Why am I, a queer Asian kid studying at a seminary, of all places, to become a mental health therapist, here? Why am I here?
That question is a heavy one, and it's question that brings up all sorts of existential questions that I don't necessarily have answers for. I ask myself all the time why I write here about things like this, why I want to be a therapist, and sometimes even why I still call myself a Christian. I mean, I'm not delusional enough to think I'm important enough to stand out among the probably tens of thousands of blogs out there on the monstrosity of the internet. And there are lots of mental health professionals out in the field. Actually, I heard a statistic the other day that said the mental health field is actually saturated with providers in Minnesota right now. And then of course that last one is a big one. Christians aren't necessarily known for the greatest things right now in 2018, but I still call myself one. And why?
BECAUSE REPRESENTATION GIVES YOU PERMISSION TO SEE YOURSELF
I've been thinking about a lot of those things recently, and I think part of the very large answer is that all of those threads come together into something that matters. Maybe that's because things that hardline conservatives would call trivial, like representation, matter. Because representation gives you permission to see yourself. And that matters.
That's what I've been thinking about more recently. And it shows up in a myriad of ways, with different spokes branching off of each core piece of my own self. I think about how with all the different mental health organizations I've interacted with through work. I only know of one Asian therapist. I think about how it's incredibly difficult to find male therapists for the clients I work with, much less a male Asian therapist. The same goes for queer therapists. I still only know of one queer therapist, and if you bring all that together, I think you'd probably have to use a pretty savvy internet search tool to find a queer male Asian therapist, who also happens to be a Christian, if that's your thing.
And I think that's why I'm here. I think that's why people like us, queer people, people of color, people who are different, I think that's why we're here, because maybe someday someone just like me will be able to see themselves reflected in a real person. And that matters, especially to someone who had to learn how to like himself.
MAYBE SOMEDAY SOMEONE JUST LIKE ME WILL BE ABLE TO SEE THEMSELVES REFLECTED IN A REAL PERSON
Like I said, as a contemplative person, I frequently find myself asking questions like: why am I here? And I think this is why. I see it as a corollary to that quote that goes something like if the only person you're able to save is yourself, then that's okay. In the same way, I think so often we might save people without ever knowing about it, just because someone saw us, trying our hardest, maybe even dying a little inside, and they saw a bit of themselves in us, and that gave them permission to be who they are.
And I think that's why I'm still here, doing all the weird things I'm doing. I'm still writing. I'm still in school. I'm still hella queer, and I'm still DEFINITELY sticking out like a sore thumb for all of it. But every time I think to myself that it doesn't really matter, that I'm never going to be one of those famous bloggers who gets to go around on speaking tours and, you know, ACTUALLY make a difference, I try to take a deep breath, practice of the self-differentiation skills we're learning in school, and remind myself that's not necessarily the point. The point is just to live the life the Lord has given us to live. Maybe that means we never change anyone's life. Maybe that means we never get to have one of those gigantic platforms we (or maybe just I) dream about to REALLY change the world. But also, maybe we're still starting revolutions even without realizing it.
MAYBE WE'RE STILL STARTING REVOLUTIONS EVEN WITHOUT REALIZING IT
One way I see this playing out in real life is how cool it's been to see both the 2018 Winter Olympics being held in PyeongChang, South Korea this year, where the majority of the people look a little more like me than a lot of the people I'm around on daily basis, and where a HUGE segment of the USA Olympic team does too.
And isn't that funny? Most of us have probably never seen or heard of these Asian American Olympians prior to late last week, unless of course you followed those specific sports, but for a couple weeks, a lot of people who look like me, especially kids, are going to see people who look like them on primetime TV. That. Matters.
I don't think most of these athletes went into the Olympics with that specific dynamic in mind, but I have no doubt that they will leave thinking about it. And I think that's the beautiful thing. Until now, no one really knew who they were, but at least for right now, they're household names. Prior to all the press surrounding the Olympics going out, they were just doing their own thing, living their lives, not necessarily to become famous or to attain that platform, but just because that's the life they happened to be living. And I'm sure that they are influencing more people around the world now than they even realize, and I think the same goes for us. We might never be on international TV getting a medal, but we can still show up, because we never know who's watching us and we never know who's going to be changed because they saw a little of themselves in us because of our being different. This is how the lost get found.
P.S. If you've never heard that Britt Nicole song "Lost Get Found," you need to. She might not know it either, but somehow she's kinda the queen of Christian music for the queers. Go figure.