A big part of being in a new country is getting acclimated to the culture. It's not just what is eaten but how we cook the food we eat. I am not only learning a new language but must brave the laughter of the locals when I do try to speak that language.
It's the expectations of 'this is how I do it’ vs 'this is how you do it’. This craziness causes unmet expectations, miscommunication and even hurt feelings.
If you are not being intentional about walking in the Spirit while living in a community with cultures from around the world, you can default to defiantly defending yourself or folding in with self critique.
Since being in this new country I have vacillated between wanting to lift my chin in defiance, albeit to the detriment of community, and bowing to the majority, second guessing myself and feeling insecure about who God made me to be.
I have said things that have hurt people's feelings. I have been misunderstood and misunderstood others. I have wondered if I am hard to deal with or if the people I live with need to be more open to my views. Is it me, or is them? Seeking God's heart on the matter has opened up a whole other challenge to me for building my character.
What I have learnt is that my culture is not being Jamaican, Caribbean, black, or Western. My culture is a heavenly Kingdom culture. Being a follower of Christ supersedes everything. I am called to operate in a manner that treats differences as a blessing and benefit to the body of Christ. Yes, I do prefer that the pot is not washed in the same place as the bathroom mop, but I can communicate that without being condescending.
How to respond
How I respond to people should be through spiritual lens. In doing this I won't think less of myself and I also won't trample on the feelings and way of life of others.
If I operate the way Christ did - humbling myself and living without grumbling and complaining - I show others Christ. I can be confident in my personal quirks while being mindful of how my sisters and brothers experience me.
Godliness fits into every culture. A gentle spirit, a compassionate heart, temperance, forgivness and humility transcends one's longitude and latitude of origin.
I'm still in process and I know God is working in me to will and to do His good pleasure. But I now realise that the question then is not ‘is it me’ or ‘is it you’ instead it's ‘is this God?’
Stacy-Ann Smith - is apart of YWAM Indonesia and is a child therapist. She is involved with children's ministry and working girls has a heart to teach them the ways of the Lord.
Stacy-Ann Smith’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/stacy-ann-smith.html