This reflection was written the night before my British citizenship ceremony in 2018 and captures so many of my thoughts with submerging myself into my husband’s culture and what it means to gain a new identity. And a Happy Birthday to our Queen Elizabeth II for her public celebration on Saturday!
Tonight is my last night to be just American, for tomorrow, I take an oath to the Queen of England and officially become British. I’m not sure it has hit me yet what is actually happening but I have a calm excitement on my heart. In many ways I have been both American and British for a long time, so tomorrow is very much a formality. I will always have a love and fondness for my America. I say “my America” because depending on where you live in America, your version will look different. Many British people think of America as holidays to Florida, but my memories include growing up just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, in perhaps one of the sunniest and pleasant small towns around. Near to the beach, wine country, the city, and lots of beautiful scenery too, my America is quaint and simplistic, yet it leaves my heart always warm and full of nostalgic contentment.
Fast forwarding the clock with eleven years spent in Greater London and I cannot believe where the time has gone. From newlyweds and our first flat, to a semi-detached house and two kids later, life has been both busy and rewarding. I think the thing I keep thinking about the most is how much England is now my home just as much as California. I love the richness of history here and our English life with hints of Americanism woven throughout our story.
I had so much to learn upon arrival with assimilation and finding friends and also making community was an investment that took years to set up. But I am so amazed that God brought me here. I’m proud of my English husband and his cultural roots, so what a better way to appreciate the man I love, than to jump right into life here where he is from? I appreciate that many people are genuine here and intentional of making you feel comfortable. I like that when you are in someone’s way, both people say, “Sorry,” and have a humble attitude that doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone. I like that the British appreciate nature, walks, cream tea, and are so well-travelled and internationally minded. I hope that tomorrow brings a lovely official merge of Charlie and my worlds and that now, I take the final step to fully becoming British.
I’m really not sure when it all happened, but I think I genuinely because British a long time ago. From making Toad In The Hole, eating Baked Beans on Toast and making bunting for the kids’ rooms, celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday and visiting quaint pubs and churches, I think I became more British. Or maybe it was giving birth to our two children in English hospitals? But then again seeing our kids starting school, meeting mums from all over the world, and having weekly women’s Bible study at our local church have also contributed to my becoming British. From gardening to riding the Tube and appreciating the skilful grocery delivery drivers who bring my weekly order, from eating a full English breakfast to sharing our little world with the few US friends and family who have come to see us, I have become a bit more English every day.
Two worlds united when Charlie and I got married eleven years ago and I am so glad that God had us designed for each other. It’s certainly been very difficult at times to be in a transatlantic marriage and wanting to make life work in two different cities over five thousand miles apart. Yet there is a richness of cultures, appreciation and understanding for both nations and an ever-present longing to merge our worlds. I will proudly give allegiance to the United Kingdom tomorrow and someday I hope my kids will be so proud of their American mummy who has come so far and learned so much.
Even now, I feel tears welling up because I know in my heart I have given it my all to be here and live here fully, to not keep wondering what life would be like back in California. Instead I’ve steeped myself in British life and culture while also maintaining and incorporating bits of who I was and how I grew up in America. It is an honour and I am so proud to be both American and British in a matter of hours. All praise be to God through this crazy, wild ride. It is a privilege to catch a glimpse of who I have been crafted into here and is such a special part of my story to have been landed in London to fully grow up, face married life, motherhood and other adventures.
Beyond nationalities and having two passports, there is another leader and place that has my allegiance. God in the heavenly realms has my heart and through Jesus, I have an eternal identity. Isaiah 43:1 says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
Isn’t it nice to know that regardless of where we are on earth, our spiritual identity is secure in Jesus?