Is culture shock something that only happens when you move somewhere that people speak a different language?
Let me answer this question from recent personal experience. While the degree of difference from the way that we are used to life being is much more when there is a language barrier, there are other forms of culture shock, some that are slight enough that we sometimes are unable to recognize them. It may be that a move from geographical region to another within the same country (much like the move that my wife and I made) results in culture shock. It is in the small things, in the things that we take for granted being a certain way.
For example, a move from a city of 159,498 to a small town of about 600 means that there are going to be significant differences in the way life is lived. Entertainment is either homegrown or about 30 minutes away, something that isn’t too difficult, but when you’re used to having much more access it can be the kind of difference that wears on you with time. In the city we were about 15 minutes from where our church met and able to be incredibly involved in the life of other Christians. In the country we’re still able to find the involvement with other Christians. But it doesn’t look the same. It’s easy to be disappointed.
There is a churning quality to disappointment though. It isn’t an emotion that lends itself to giving up, at least not at first. Disappointment suggests that either something external is not quite right, something internal is not quite right, or some combination of the two. For those who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus over the entire the Universe we have to consider that it is often some combination of the two. There are injustices, inadequacies, and iniquities in the external; yet there is often pride, inadequacies, and darkness on the inside that keep us from trusting that the Spirit of God is at work in the world. The disappointment that comes with culture shock reminds us that there is still pride in our hearts that often says that we know the way to do the small pieces of life better than others.
Someone that I consider a mentor told me to expect the geography of the Plains to produce a monastic effect in our life; our days that were moving so quickly have slowed down and have a greater capability to bring out the contents of the heart. There is much ground and much time for the work of the Spirit, yet there are many ways to distract ourselves from where our disappointment comes from. Disappointment becomes complacency, giving up, when we lose ourselves in distraction.
If you’re disappointed it’s an opportunity for God to do something in the world, in your heart, or maybe some of both.
Remember, we live in a universe where a loving God is king.