Welcome to Culture Shock!

Dear Friend,

I may or may not personally know you, but I’m going to consider you a friend if you’re reading this because we can all use friends right now.  In the past couple days I’ve had an email newsletter from Taking Route blog and one from one of our wonderful prayer supporters that both noted that is seems like we are in days of widespread culture shock.  How can this be when few people are traveling away from home? Because in the past week or two, the culture shifted dramatically. It is not what it was two weeks ago.

The language has changed. The food has changed. Your ability to move around has changed. So much of what you knew to be true has changed without even leaving your house. And that in and of itself is probably a change. Very few of the people going through this drastic cultural shift prepped and planned for culture shock and adjustment.  We’ve been here before, trained for culture shock years ago, and are adapting just like everyone else. You probably didn’t.

Some aspects of this new culture are always true for us. We live a consistently inconsistent life. Yes, this is on a much larger level, but we’re starting at a higher level than some. It’s very hard to live a consistently inconsistent life and I feel for you as you’re finding your way through it. It’s hard to see grocery store shelves empty. It makes you do things like buy 4 cans of refried beans because you haven’t seen them anywhere else and you might want to make super nacho some time, so you better get them and plenty because who knows when you’ll see it again. Eventually you learn that you just sometimes have to wait a week or 27 for that item to come back in stock and it’s all good, but learning to wait for things when you’re used to being able to get everything every time you go in the store is a strange adjustment.

You’re overwhelmed and confused. Your brain feels fuzzy. Getting out of bed and doing anything can feel like a HUGE accomplishment. Very seriously, it is. Doing anything while you’re in culture shock or cultural stress is a HUGE accomplishment.  It’s good to give yourself heaps and heaps of grace and set aside some things for now. Simplify and prioritize.

I have a few things to suggest now and I’ll probably post more things later, especially about having your kids home all day, every day while also trying to educate them.

Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s SO easy to do, especially when the culture shock/stress is hitting almost everyone, but every single person is different. Every family is different. Needs and wants vary from person to person. Values are different between people, which will change how people are affected. Some people seem like they’re doing great, not bothered at all, but then one day they just lose it and explode. Some people get out their culture shock in small doses as things come up. No matter what, you be you and don’t compare yourself/family to others.

Get rest. Sleep is so important for you heart, mind, soul, and body. Get sleep. It helps a lot with stress.

Laugh. I mean, like, watch a tv show or movie, play a game, read a book, find funny memes-whatever will give you good, full belly laughs, do it. Laughter is very, very good medicine.

Grieve your losses.  You certainly have losses as a result of this cultural shift. Talk about them, grieve them, process them.  Take time in your household or on a call with a friend or family member if you live alone and recount the losses. I know some people may think that ignoring them is the best route, but acknowledging them, processing them, and grieving them will be much more beneficial for you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Pray. When we did our pre-field training one of the things that has stuck with us is a powerful and simple prayer, “God, help!”  So much is recognized in those two seemingly simple words.  We have found God incredibly faithful every single time we have prayed this prayer. And we have prayed it A LOT!

God is with you. He has gone before you, He is beside you, He is behind you. He is not in the least surprised or unprepared for this season even if we humans are.

Grace and Peace, dear Friend,

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