Friday, July 23, 2010

Adjusting


Adjusting to life back in the States continues to prove difficult.

I still have not been able to get on a regular sleep schedule - in fact, I slept until 11 o'clock today.

We have not yet been able to settle into our own place, so we are currently living with my parents. They are so kind to let us do this and we love getting to spend so much time with them (especially after a year away), but it is certainly not the ideal situation for any of us.

Since we haven't been able to get a place of our own, most of our belongings are in Tennessee, while we're in Texas. It gets frustrating having to dig around for things (such as social security cards) when you're not even sure if they're in the same state as you.

But by far, the hardest adjustment has been church culture.

In China, there were 7 to 9 of us who met every Sunday. We had no set time to meet. We wore whatever we had on - shorts, jeans, t-shirts...it didn't matter. Our meetings usually lasted 3 or 4 hours. But the greatest thing about church for us was that we shared a deep spiritual intimacy. That was something I had never experienced before. Every week, we shared the joys that we had encountered. Every week, we shared the struggles that we were trying to overcome. I knew what was going on in all of their lives - every day of every week. And they knew what was going on in mine. We prayed for each other very specifically every day. We studied God's Word and then we held each other accountable in obeying what we had learned throughout the week.

I miss that.

I don't think that American church culture is wrong. I just think it's different. And it's hard to adjust back to, after coming from the Chinese church culture that we created. It's difficult sitting in a room with hundreds upon hundreds of people, most of whom I don't know - and if I do know, I don't know that well. They don't know me - not really. They don't know what made me laugh or cry the week before. They don't know what I'm worried about in the upcoming week. They don't know what sin I am struggling with. My first Sunday back at worship in America, I cried most of the way through. I was upset that it felt like a fashion show, when so many in the world didn't even know the name of Jesus. Of course, the people of that congregation are wonderful, and most of them probably didn't wear what they wore to get attention or to look the best. That was just how it appeared to me from what and where I was coming from.

It is hard for me to explain (and I'm sure hard for you to understand if you haven't experienced it). I just have to keep reminding myself that it's not wrong, it's just different. But mostly I just miss my brothers and sisters in China that knew me better than any others, and still loved me, and with whom I grew so much.

8 comments:

  1. Kris, re-entry is often harder than the culture shock you experience when you go because everyone expects it to happen when you go to a new culture. Most people assume you will immediately fit in when you return since this was your home before you went to China. The challenges you face validate the real changes you experienced in China. They also highlight that much of what we experience here is cultural more than biblical, and we don't even realize it! Your year away has removed some of your cultural veil and now you are seeing more clearly. Years ago our son got glasses for the first time in the fall of the year. When he walked out of the office and noticed leaves on the roof of a nearby house. He commented to his mom that he had not realized they were all different colors. He had seen swirls of colors without his glasses, but had not recognized that such was created by a red leaf next to a yellow leaf, next to an orange leaf. He did not know what he did not know. That is where most believers here in the U.S. spend their whole lives.

    Technology will allow you to stay in touch with the folks you were close to in China. Now that you have experienced real authenticity, build the same with others. I especially encourage you to find a group of not-yet-believers to get to know well through a DBS.

    God has you on a journey. He will use all of these insights for his glory!

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  2. Thanks for that Kris, and John's comment was helpful for me as well.

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  3. Although I have not experienced a worship setting like you had in China, I can expect that it is similar to what the early church experienced. Advancements in transportation, freedom of religion, and a number of other factors have made it so that Christians can gather in larger numbers to worship today than ever before.

    But I still feel that it is extremely important to have that very close group of Christians that you can spend time with and tell your accomplishments and struggles. We attend a church of about 400 members. And we have a group of about 10 or 12 adults all about our age that we spend more time with and that we are closer to than most of the congregation. It's these people who share our joys and our struggles. It's this group who lifts us up and encourages us during difficult times. It's this group who is first to know joyful news.

    I am sure that readjusting is difficult, but gathering with a small, intimate group while you are here may make help to bridge the gap between the two cultures.

    Hope you and your family are doing well!

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  5. great blog site - keep up the good work

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  6. Maybe in your new home you will be able to find a smaller church that will help you readjust to the U.S. Church culture. Best of luck!

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  7. Kris, how is the new job going? I just dropped by hoping there would be a post that I had missed. Thinking of you, Michael and the rest of your friends!

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