One of the most difficult challenges for MKs is their move back to the United States. While a few MKs stay overseas and study or even marry a national, they are the exception. Most of you will move back to your “home country.”
For those of us who have already made the jump and adjusted back to the American way of life, we still have third-culture struggles! Just last week I had a dental appointment. The nurse asked me to move my hands to where I put them when the national anthem is played. I was really confused! I had no idea what she was talking about. She noticed my confusion and said, “Place your right hand over your heart.” I felt really silly. I should have known! How many times have I taken MKs to baseball games and stood for our national anthem? For those of us raised overseas, some of these American traditions are learned behavior and do not come naturally to us.
One of our biggest challenges is the concept of the United States of America (which we refer to as “Americana”) and American culture. I have heard pastors say, “America is the greatest country on earth.” I have often wondered, Have these pastors been to every country on earth? How can they make that bold statement if they have not?
No matter what country we live in (even temporarily), we see a tremendous amount of cultural pride. Pride in a country is not a bad thing. People create culture, and America’s culture is created by those living in it. Seems simple. Every country, region, and city has its own culture.
As non-nationals, we need to understand that a country’s citizens are the creators of their culture, and they love it. While we may not understand that culture, we can accept that people love what they have created.
What about your country? Do your friends love their country? I would hope so! As you look at the United States of America and its culture, I’m sure there are things you don’t like. However, we must remind ourselves that there is no perfect place or perfect people. The only perfection is found in God!
I challenge you to look at the cultures around you with grace. Learn to be a person of kindness. It is sometimes a challenge, but I am always reminded that I am not perfect and I need grace as well. Without it we live in a harsh and unkind society. However, with it we exemplify how God sees us!
We can look at the culture around us and enjoy its passions, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. And hopefully, as we model grace, it will be extended back to us!