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Can We Say "In Shock?"

>> 8.04.2011

Just days shy of one month in our new home (only an hour from our old!) and it has begun to set in: culture shock.  You laugh!  But I'm serious.  I knew it would happen...I guess I was just hoping it wouldn't-- again, considering we're less than 100 miles from where we were before.  None the less, it is a different culture here, baby, and the "honeymoon" stage of cultural adjustment is passing.  You know you're experiencing culture shock when you think (or worse, SAY) things like:

"Well, that's ODD," "you eat THAT here?" "You have to drive HOW far to get there?" "That's just not NORMAL" "That's not how NORMAL people say that" 

Of course, these are all thoughts that come from experiencing VERY MILD culture shock.  (I've experienced the international kind, this has been completely different.)  But I am still left with that feeling that says "I just want to go home."  Everything they do in the community is so different here and, as with any church, there is a new church culture that is very different from my previous experiences, too.  So, what's a person in ministry to do?

The stages of culture shock are:  1) Honeymoon 2) Rejection  3) Regression/ Isolation  4) Acceptance

It'd be nice if we could just skip over #2 and #3, but I don't actually think this is possible.  Like all things in life that are any kind of "trial," we must learn to lean into God.  It's sometimes easier to react in human pride and start asking all sorts of questions of God or just avoiding Him altogether, but that's never the answer as it leaves us more drained and empty than if we had just done what we were designed to do: cultivate a relationship with our Maker and worship Him -- like we studied just last week! 

James 4:6-8a says, "But He gives more grace.  Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."

In completely contextual honesty (is that a real phrase?), this passage is a strong warning against worldliness that has seeped into believers' lives causing pride and selfishness to wage war within the Christ-follower.  But I do believe it applies to my situation today as I know that if I let the normal, to-be-expected emotional blues overcome me, I am giving Satan a foot-hold.  I can not wallow in self-pity or phrases of "I wish" this or that (another curse of mine is "the grass is always greener syndrome"), but instead draw near to God and allow Him to chip away at my old sin nature and refine me as I look forward to the FINAL day of refining; HEAVEN!  With this perspective in mind (the "citizenship is in heaven," perspective) I can have the God-given joy that allows me to be the wife, mommy, and daughter of the King that He wants me to be to "shine like a star" as a testimony for Him.  After all, this is truly what I desire.

So, what's a person in ministry to do when culture shock sets in?  What EVERYONE'S supposed to do every minute of every day He gives us: Draw Near To God, and let Him take care of the rest.

I leave you with this:  Philippians 4: 4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, REJOICE!  Let you reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

UPDATE:  Our newest family members:


emily August 4, 2011 at 11:30 PM  

Sweet! Juanca reminded me today that I am a "It's not working - let's quit" kind of person. I need to hang in there too, give grace, wait patiently for God to lead...

Drumdaddy August 5, 2011 at 8:14 AM  

I never thought about what I was experiencing as culture shock, but this post made complete sense. Thank you again. The Lord is always exercising such patience with me. He is faithful!

I guess if I want to post, I just have to be drum daddy until Scott fixes whatever needs fixing:)

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