What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the word untitled?
Not to worry about status—what defines you. A lot of times people think that who you are is defined by who you know, what you look like, or what your job is. But untitled shows that none of those outside things matter. That’s not who you are. Your identity is based on who He thinks you are.
We have such a variety of different titles—what are some of the earthly titles you have felt driven to chase or run away from?
Being Asian American, you kind of automatically get a title. You always have that box you're put into. In college I realized how I was doing everything I could to avoid being labeled as Asian. It had such a negative connotation for me. In the media, if we are represented, we’re labelled as smart, super-sexy, exotic—and then later we will be a ninja who will cut your throat and seduce you.
I tried to run away from that stereotype. I didn't want to be studious and convinced myself that I was bad at school, bad at math. I didn't like being labelled, put into boxes or for others to assume I was a certain way, defined by what I looked like and where my family was from. So I did everything to prove what I wasn't.
Were there other things you did to relabel yourself?
I was really into art. In my school there are 3 academies to go into: humanities and arts, math and science, and business and industry. I was always into arts. All my classes were based around graphic design, photography, drawing, pottery and things like that. Choosing that at a young age limited me in a number of ways. I always placed myself in the category of not being book-smart, because I didn’t want to try. If I had actually put effort in, I feel like I could have been so much better at academics. I might’ve been really good at math and science (because I actually like science), but, you know, I didn't want to be labelled so I tried being different.
At what point did your relationship with God mature to accept His titles for you, instead of your own?
There are two defining moments where His view of me shifted. The first moment I went to this conference in Kansas. I was in high school at the time. I really didn't want to go, but I was forced to by my parents. I grew up in Baptist church where they spoke in tongues so I was used to that, but I wasn’t used to the conference people prophesying, or people speaking into your life. I was very jaded—I guess I was hard hearted and didn’t really engage with people there. I didn’t care about them. I remember praying to God, “I don't care what other people say. I don't care what they think of me when they look at me. I don’t care, just as long as you think I'm beautiful.” I didn’t mean looks or anything. I just wanted Him to look at my heart and know who I was from the inside and just love me for who I was, and that was my prayer for the entire week that I was there. I didn't tell anyone.
There was one day where people pray over you and they just kind of speak into your life. These three people prayed over me. They turned to a verse in the Bible, and the first girl said, "You’re beautiful. He sees you. You’re beautiful, and He calls you good." When the girl said that, I just broke down. I hadn't told anyone what I was going through. I was like, Oh, my God, He hears me! That’s so true. He calls me good, He calls me beautiful, and it's not because of what I look like: it's because of who I am. And that was when I was like, man, God’s got me.
How did that change your walk with Christ resting in that new revelation?
In college, things kind of shifted. I knew that God loved me and He still called me good. So I went down this life being rebellious and just doing my own thing, not caring what other people thought about me. It was a really dark path that wasn't healthy.
I went to another leadership thing that I didn't want to go to—again—but my parents made me. Thank goodness for my parents. This time I was gone for a month and a half. They give you alone time while you’re there, to meditate and pray. During that time I read the New Testament and just read it all the way through. That was really the first time that I did that. It’s like, when do you have time to do that? But I had 40 days of doing nothing and they give you set time to be still, and encourage you to sit there and read your Bible. That was when God spoke to me. I was like, God is real and His characteristics are so distinct and perfect. And I thought, I really want to be like Him, and if you’re like Him then the way that others see you does matter. You affect so many people. Living my life for Jesus is not just about me anymore—it's for other people, too. You have to be that light to other people. That's when I became less selfish and stopped living for myself and my own selfish worldly desires. I knew it wasn’t about me anymore. It's about me being like God and like Jesus—and being an example and a light to others.
These are two of the titles I’ve adopted from Christ: He calls me good and He calls me to be a light.
What is an area that you want to see the Untitled “theme” realized more in?
Being here in NY you start comparing yourself to other people; there's always somebody that can do what you do a hundred times better, that it comes easier to or who has more talent. Not comparing myself so much is something I’m working through.
When I was living in Seattle I had everything. I knew where I was going. Each area of my life was compartmentalized. I knew what I was getting myself into, everywhere I went. I kept busy, and I had an agenda for each day of what I needed to do. I had it together in my head, or so I thought. When I moved to New York, all that changed. I was suddenly in a job where I had no experience, no business background, and I'm like, "What am I doing here?" Even now, I have no idea what I'm doing. It's such an opposite side of what life was like in Seattle. For the longest time I was struggling because I was like, "Caitlin you don’t have it together, what are you doing? Other people have it together, they know where they’re going. You don’t even know why you’re here?"
You know, Ps Josh said one time, "The humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled." And I think that was really powerful for me, especially living in New York where everyone is so ready to take what’s theirs.
That’s exactly what happened to me when I moved here. I thought really highly of myself in Seattle, I thought I’ve got myself together, and I'm going to New York. When I got here I was super humbled. I have to remember I need to stay humble— It's not about status and titles and what you do anymore. I am learning a lot, and I still have a lot to learn. And, I'm being humbled so I can grow—humbling myself so I can be open to new ideas and open to learning from other people.