For the past two months we have been on furlough traveling the States with our newborn, a 2 1/2 year old toddler, all of the coffee, and an industrial size container of animal crackers.
Lots of people take the time to ask if we’ve adjusted…if we’ve gotten used to the land of flushable toilet paper yet.
It’s a misleading term because a shock usually comes and goes pretty quickly.
As a family living cross-culturally for two years now, I would choose to change the term to “culture stunned.”
To fully explore the meaning, I looked up some synonyms on Thesaurus.com for the word stunned:
Amazed, confused, dazed, dumbfounded, overwhelmed, paralyzed, rocked, shook up, surprised.
I can relate to ALL of these terms as we re-experience the USA from a new perspective.
I feel AMAZED at the beauty of landscapes, buildings, skin/hair color, and the simplest things as I look at my home country from a totally different viewpoint.
I feel CONFUSED when long-term relationships seem to take more effort than they did before.
I feel DAZED on days where it seems like I can’t snap out of my “brain-fog.” It is like being a different person living in the body of my former self, walking through routines and activities that no longer seem familiar and comfortable.
I feel DUMBFOUNDED when I have to consciously think of responses to questions like “Paper or plastic?”, “How are you today?”, or, my favorite, “What is your phone number?”
I feel OVERWHELMED when I run into the store to grab diapers, there are 12 brands to choose from, and I don’t have a clue how to determine which to purchase.
I feel PARALYZED for no explainable reason.
My whole world is ROCKED when for the first time ever, I see the same desperate need for the Gospel in people’s lives here as in Costa Rica.
I feel SHOOK UP when I am driving down the highway and see a police officer, and realize I have no idea what the speed limit has been for the past fifteen minutes, and can’t even remember what would be a normal velocity for a highway.
I feel constantly SURPRISED at differences. Differences in prices, parenting styles, values, and diets.
Sometimes I question if living cross-culturally is worth the “stun,” but I am beginning to see the growth my family has experienced because of it. When it seems like there is not a single place on earth where we fit in, we rely fully on our identity as heirs of the kingdom.
Having my world rocked by culture shock is exactly what I need sometimes to see beyond skin color and traditions and see God’s people for who they truly are.
The Message Bible translation states it best:
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. -Romans 12:2
So as I continue through this journey of being stunned, paralyzed, and overwhelmed, I look to the cross and point others to it.
And drink a whole lot of coffee because #momtired #livingoutofasuitcase #toddlertantrums.